On new beginnings

In 1986, in his very first episode of “Saturday Night Live,” Dana Carvey played a British rock star with writer’s block who is called in by his record company who want a progress report on the new album.

Flustered by the surprise visit, the musician quickly improvises a song about a woman chopping broccoli. The song, later known as “Choppin’ Broccoli,” became an early hit of the season and a favourite among my friends at Saint John High School.

He also improvises a song that he says is about new beginnings called, “New Beginnings,” which simply contains the repeated lyrics, “new beginnings.” It goes nowhere but he promises “once they layer in the synthesizers,” they’ll really have something.

So, for those of us who spend a lot of time (too much time?) on various apps, lots of us are considering the new beginnings of a Twitter-sized hole through the internet. Elon Musk overpaid for the site and everyday, he figures out a way to make it worse. So now many of us search of a new home to make jokes and generally offer colour commentary on the news of the day.

For all its faults, and there are many, there isn’t anything like Twitter for breaking news, organizing marginalized communities, and snarking on the main character of the day. I fear all that will be lost as Musk pushes the site further to the right.

The problem is that there is no consensus on where the new home should be. Mastodon has been an early favourite and has seen a rise in new arrivals over the past two weeks, but people are struggling with its decentralized “instances.” From my own observations, it seems a lot of people are using it as a Twitter clone. Still, some high-profile users have embraced it like George Takei.

There are others, of course. Tumblr is still around. And Hive seems to combine the best features of Tumblr and Twitter and also seems to skew young which perhaps reflects its 22-year-old founder.

And then there are those who are embracing longform writing at the various newsletter services like Substack. I tried it out by setting up a account and even wrote a post. But email is not the best way to communicate. How often does it go to the spam folder?

Two options seem absent from the post-Twitter discussion: Facebook and blogs.

Facebook, despite its attempts to rebrand as Meta and set up shop in the Metaverse (something nobody I know wants), has become the platform of choice of the 50+ crowd. It’s just not a growing company. But it is a good source of six month old memes from your local hit radio station.

Blogs, to me, should be where services like Substack are now. There’s always been an email subscription option and there really isn’t anything happening in terms of functionality with the newsletters that didn’t already exist.

But I suppose when Google pulled the plug on Google Reader, that was it for getting your news and views from an RSS feed. I still hold out hope RSS will make a comeback.

It seems we’re in a period of transition where we’ll have to see how people are going to communicate with each other online.

So I guess we’re all waiting for the synthesizers to layer in.


Still on the job

Hey! Guess what? That job they offered three months ago? I’m still doing it. And I’m liking it.

It’s a proposal manager job at a national I.T. company. I’ve been nervous about passing that three month probationary period because my career history over the past five years has really shaken my confidence.

But I’m still there after three months and I dig it. I do not miss going to the office at all. And I couldn’t go anyway because my “office” is in suburban Toronto.

So that’s my update. How are you guys?

Working Update

Yesterday I had a follow up interview with that job I talked about last week. This time, it was with two sales people in Quebec, and somewhat to my surprise, entirely in French.

My French is ok at the best of times but my guess is, that if I am successful in getting this job, I’d be doing about 20% of it in la langue officielle du Québec as I would also be covering all of Canada.

It’s basically a proposal writer job for an IT company and I have some experience with proposal writing, but never owning the entire process, and I have zero experience in IT. I had zero experience with legal services but that worked out ok in the end, for a while. Until I got shitcanned.

In a lot of ways, this would be an ideal job for me. It’s remote and it’s mostly writing based. That used to be right in my wheelhouse before my career path went all weird because I was more passionate about food and shelter than crafting an elegant paragraph. So I will need to really ramp up my French again, as well my Word skills. I think I can do that.

But I would be lying if I said I was not nervous. This past year was difficult for me at work, and honestly, something happened at the beginning of the pandemic that broke something in my brain. Suddenly, I was struggling to manage my job as its requirements began to evolve. In March of last year, I was laid off when the company restructured and I was assured it was nothing to do with me personally even if it didn’t feel like it. It was a blow but it sparked the decision to move back to Saint John, which I think was the correct decision in the end.

My next job went ok but, again, my manager expressed doubts because I wasn’t delivering what he expected, even though, per the job description, I believe I was. Just the same, I left it after five months when I was offered a similar job to pricing gig at the previous law firm. I was let go after three months, for vaguely defined “performance issues.”

So it’s fair to say that I’m anxious about meeting any new challenges in a new career. Over the past four months, I’ve looked for new jobs in just about every industry, and wondered if a low stress, repetitive, entry level gig would be better for me. But I couldn’t even get a second interview with Costco. I feel like I’m overqualified for entry level work but underqualified for the jobs I actually get. I’m a great interview because I’ve had a lot of practice but I always struggle when I get the job.

But knowing this, and knowing what usually triggers these issues in advance, I think I can manage to anticipate what I will need to do to be, if not successful, competent.

So off to Word tutorials on YouTube I go.

More Job Huntin’

I just had what I think was my best interview since I lost my job in February. It’s a remote job for an IT firm to act as a proposal writer, which I’ve done in bits and bobs at my other jobs.

There will be a second interview, if I move on, in front of a panel, which is slightly terrifying and I’ll really need to get back into gear with my Word and PowerPoint skills but that’s what offline learning is for.

They keep saying Canada is in the best labour market ever but boy, you wouldn’t know it from my perspective. In the perspicacious words of Ms. Olivia Rodrigo, it’s brutal out here.