Category Archives: unemployment

It’s Been a While Since I’ve Rambled

It’s been a while since I’ve written an entry in this blog.  I think this says a lot about the state of things.  In general, there’s not much to say, and, in general, there’s not much nice for me to say.

About a month ago while driving home from a night out at the movies, my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Best Buy or Fry’s and wander the aisles.  My response was, “For what?”  That’s when we came to the sad realization that, beyond the iPad, there is nothing for gadget freaks and computer nerds to be excited about right now.  3D TV repulses me and there’s no reason to buy a new TV just because it has yellow pixels.  There are no new speed leaps in PC hardware and I already have a multitude of iPods and PC’s in various form factors.  Ironically, the next day, while listening to Marketplace on my local Public Radio station, one of the news stories was about how sales at Best Buy had fallen.  I guess my husband and my sentiments are widespread.  There’s nothing new and wonderful to aspire to purchase (except for an iPad) and we are only buying on necessity for the purpose of replacing  broken items.  Sadly enough, our non-functioning XBOX360 doesn’t rise to the level of necessity.  We are now watching Netflix VOD on the laptop that’s connected to our TV.

This realization brought about further thoughts about the current state of things.  There’s a push/pull conundrum with the jobs situation.  People are holding back on spending because they feel insecure about their jobs and finances and companies aren’t hiring because there’s not enough demand for produces and services.  I think though, that job and financial insecurity are only a  part of the demand problem.  I think a big part of the demand problem is that there’s nothing exciting and new for consumers to consume.  Why do I say this?  Well, because of Apple, of course.  Despite the downturn, they continue to churn out great products and they don’t seem to be having any problem selling them to cash strapped consumers.  And believe me, my unemployed-behind is saving my husband’s money for a Christmas iPad.

I’m tired of hearing companies whine that they won’t hire because there’s no demand for their offerings.  My response to that line of complaints is “what are you offering?”  If it’s not something new and exciting, regardless of state of the economy, demand will slump.  In good times and bad companies have create demand by innovating and coming up with great new products to drive consumption.  So, in other words, big companies are going to have to spend some of the money they are sitting on, hire some people, and offer some great new products and services in order to kick start demand and spark the economy.  At the same time, there has to be investment in innovative small companies to get new ideas out.

My Dad likes to say that the economy won’t  revive until some sort of phenomenal shift happens — something on scale of the Internet or the steam engine.  I’m not sure if I agree.  It seems to me that there are a lot of “little” things that can get done, too.  Interestingly enough to me, it seems like clean energy isn’t fueling people’s imaginations.   I thought the clean energy revolution would be a phenomenal shift, but it isn’t.  Why?  I think it’s because oil is very much ingrain in our worldwide psyche.  I’m not sure I understand this emotional attachment to oil, but despite the damage being done to the Gulf, I hear the tears in people’s voice as they talk about the spilled oil ruining the environment, while at the same time, ruining job prospects and a way of life in which oil and fishing are intertwined.  The same is true for families in the coal mining industry — it’s like coal mining is part of the family.  It’s weird to me — why love something that kills you and hurts everyone on the planet?    Also, I think oil and coal are tangible whereas solar, wind, nuclear, and the biological and chemical methods of energy generation seem abstract to most people.   I imagine “blue collar” workers don’t see how they fit into a world that they associate with hard science and engineering — though, it seems entirely ridiculous to me, but understandable since BP saw it fit to fire the very engineers and scientists that could have prevented or more reasonably responded to the Gulf oil spill.  (By the way “technicians,”  “engineers,” and “scientists”  are not interchangeable!)  Anyhow…it seems to me that our reliance on fossil fuels is emotional and until that emotional tie is cut, other forms of energy generation cannot rise in its place.  The “everyday worker” has to see how they fit into a new energy future before they will buy into it.    Making alternative energy seem more accessible is a good problem for marketers to solve…

On the other fronts…well,  inventing new ways to print money never got us anywhere.  Yet, “Wall Street innovation” will continue, driven by finding new ways to scam people without technically breaking the law…personally, I don’t need it…but I imagine the new legislation that just passed will fuel a whole new round of “Wall Street Innovation…”

On a personal front, I’m watching and participating in the electronic manga revolution.  I want to be more active in it.  I think, though,  this is one of those things in which the large companies have to reach out to the smaller companies and hobbyist groups to get things moving in the right direction for consumers.  I just hope lawyers and greed don’t blind folks such that we end up losing the current opportunity.

Welcome, 2010…

According to the movie, this is the year we should be orbiting Jupiter and checking out what’s the deal with Io.  It seems that we are about as far from that as we can be.  We’re navel gazing as we try to figure out where the money and jobs went and worrying about nebulous threats from people we don’t understand.   UGH, I wonder if we, collectively, can get any more pathetic and depressed.  I can’t say that my state of mind matches the collective depression.  I still maintain there’s too much that needs to be done and this level of unemployment and collective “meh” is completely unnecessary.  We also need to try a new strategy when dealing with the folks that don’t like us (showing fear, dropping bombs, reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, infringing upon civil liberties, and randomly fondling people at the airport aren’t working well).   I wonder will 2010 be the year some brave leader steps forwards and says, “SNAP OUT OF IT!!! Let’s hire some people to solve some of these tough problems!

Here are some things that have me excited that I would love to work on:

  • Perfecting e-readers and tablet computers — technology, UI, UX, and media distribution
  • The future of the newspaper — let’s really put the power of the Internet to work!
  • Dreaming up “bone headed” ways we can save our environment
  • Dreaming up fabulously cool ways we can save out environment — some of the wild ideas about creating synthetic plants to process CO2 and light into energy and water sound cool!
  • 3D that doesn’t make my head hurt!!!
  • Infrastructure —  both physical and Internet!!!
  • Figuring out EFFECTIVE ways to deal with our enemies (we could start by not making more of them…as well as change US management culture, use the full power of the Internet, cultural diplomacy, cultural transfer (AKA some clever and innocuous propaganda — Movies, music, and books are powerful things…and when combined with the Internet, spreading culture couldn’t be easier … our enemies are doing it, so what’s stopping us from a countering.)

Anyhow, if you are a person with some influence, be a brave leader and kick things off.  Come on, don’t you want to be the beacon that leads us out of this foggy funk?  I know you do :).  You’ll go down in history as our savior.  Hahaha!!!  Putting it that way, it sounds drop-dead easy for a company with deep pockets to jump and hire 5000 people for something dreamy.  I like a recent seed from Rahul Sood:  “Want to find technology to help create a fully renewable green server farm, runs off the sun, and re-cycles the heat into power. Ideas?”  (http://twitter.com/rahulsood)

Now, everyone, find a groove to dance to and shake it!   Hellz Yeah! 2010!!!  And if that doesn’t make you happy, then you are truly hopeless ;p

You Have to Keep Moving Forward

Nothing is more crushing than to have industry panelists confirm that nobody is hiring now, or that there are far too many people applying for the few positions that are open.  There are no “chances” now and they aren’t hiring under qualified or over qualified people.   The frustration was heavy amongst the crowd, but I think for the most part we’ve all accepted the situation.  Many of us are moving forward by learning new skills in continuing education programs and that’s a good thing.  You have to keep going.

I got a rejection e-mail  today for a job I really wanted.  I decided to let myself sulk in aftermath of that and the career fair only tonight.  Tomorrow I will resume moving forward.  I will continue to gain new skills, I will continue to apply for employment, and I will continue to enjoy my time between careers.  I thank the government for the “social safety net,” which without, my husband I would have become another statistic.  I hope the money the government is spending to get us out this mess works, whether I agree with the plan or not — and believe me, bailing out those Wallstreet and banking turds makes me sick to my stomach.  Despite everything, I remain hopeful because there is far too much that we could be doing.  It’s just a matter of getting the folks with the cash to invest in America again.  We all have to ignore the gruesome wreck and keep moving forward.

Lovely Items

“Lovely Items” is a concept that I got from years of watching anime and reading manga.  It’s the idea that a character needs a lovely item to endear them to the other characters within the story and with the viewing audience.  There’s a good discussion of this in “Ouran High School Host Club” in which the Host club tries to make the son of a yakuza boss more approachable.   The idea of a lovely item can be as abstract as a personality quirk and as concrete as a signature piece of jewelry.   In essence, a lovely item is something that gives an object or and individual a distinct personality and facilitates approachability.   And so, that is what I want to do with my Lovely Items website.  I want to share the lovely little graphics that I make with who ever wants them so they can add some personality and friendliness to whatever web or print project they are doing.

This idea was born out of a little discussion I had with my Dad last week.  I had just finished redoing my personal website and I was feeling very empowered.  I wanted to do more work on websites and expressed to him that I’m willing to do it voluntarily for the experience.  Our concern, though, had to do with my “cute affliction” in that if I can’t get passed it, the range of customers I can design for will be limited.  My feeling is practice, practice … but at the same time, I should get the most out my cute affliction and develop it.  So here are some short term and long term goals for myself with this website:

  1. Give away lovely graphic items I design for web and print (practice makes perfect and spread the joy while building a portfolio and credibility as a designer).
  2. Do some voluntary design work — web, print, and vanity books to get experience and recognition
  3. On a limited basis take on web, print, and vanity book projects for actual paying customers.

This is something that I would like to do on the side while having full-time career.  I figured that now while I’m looking for a job and while jobs are scarce I should use the time to learn new skills and develop my innate talents.  I would love to do this sort of thing, too, for a company, focusing on the usability and visual appeal of web, web-to-print, and print-to-web projects.

So please stay tuned as my Lovely Items adventure begins.  One of my good friends suggested that I start by making some lovely wallpapers for mobile devices like the iPhone and cell phones … :).

www.lovely-items.com coming soon to bring loveliness one pixel at a time.

Careers in Death and Taxes … those Ought to be Safe …

My search for a job has led me to think about sectors of the economy that might not be suffering so much right now.  I figured “death and taxes” should always be hiring … But all sectors are suffering I sadly found out (including the govt … not much hiring going on there and the cycles to get a job are 3 – 6-months …).  Anyhow, here’s a nice website I found for my friends in So. Cal that lists the biotech companies in SD.  I’m browsing for manufacturing jobs.  I see lots of openings for chemists and chemical engineers ;p.

link

As for the taxes … well, Intuit has job openings …