Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks. I’ll open this thread every morning at 10am.

86 Comment

  • Rant: Saw a beautiful home in Park View this weekend, but seriously bummed because it’s just not right for us right now. Too many unanswered questions.

    Rant: Applying for government jobs. How do people actually get hired? I can’t seem to break the code.

    Rave: I have a good job right now and I’m not in a hurry.

    Rant: Husband has a crappy job and has been applying and interviewing but can’t seem to seal the deal anywhere. Grrr.

    • Been looking for a gov’t job too. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not called in when you’ve applied to postings that are only live for a week or even two. Those are generally earmarked for somebody internally. I’ve also heard that you should play up your skills just to get past the HR dept. Don’t be afraid to lie a little on the questionnaires. There’s a general freeze on gov’t hiring too so I wouldn’t expect too much action right now.

      • Good luck in the thankless job of looking for gov’t jobs. Obviously I don’t know your situation at all but, for what it’s worth, I will say that the best thing you can possibly do (aside from having competitive experience) is to network (ugh, such a DC word) and arrange informational interviews with people at agencies you’re interested in. With all of the names on the rosters these days there needs to be something that allows your name to stand out amongst the crowd. Meeting with people who could POSSIBLY spread the word about you and/or remember you can make or break it sometimes.

        Also, similiar to what Anon 10:31 said, I wouldn’t say lie but I would definitely say that you should be mindful of not selling yourself and experiences short. You have one shot to do it in writing so make it count.

        Getting past HR is half the battle. The only thing that matters is getting your resume/name in the hands of the hiring officials. It’s not an easy task but worth it in the end. Good luck.

    • As a government employee who has moved to different positions within the same agency, I’d suggest that you tailor your application to look as close to the vacancy description as possible. Your application gets reviewed by HR first, and then by the office that posted the job. In order for HR to select your application for further review, there are certain “buzz words” that need to appear in your application or else they aren’t able to choose you and send you on to the next level of review. A lot of the time HR isn’t even all that familiar with the position itself, they just know the application needs to line up with what the vacancy description says.

      It’s an incredibly frustrating process and I wish you the best of luck!

      • Well-said. These are all important things to remember.

      • The application process for government jobs is a nightmare. They all use these poorly-coded online forms, and like you said, look for buzzwords, and ask you “Yes” or “No” questions when the answer is not that simple. It’s almost as if they don’t want anyone who can think outside the box or be innovative. Just hapless drones doing the most mundane, rote busywork all day.

    • Anonymous 10:25, check out this guide — “Applying for Federal Jobs—Federal Resumes and KSA’s” — from Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy:


    • anon. gardener

      This is the key to getting past HR: you need to rework your resume so the answers to the questions are right there in your resume. what you will probably have to do is see what the questions are, pause your application, go adjust your resume, then continue. HR looks for “evidence” in your resume that supports your answers to the questions. If a question asks about your experience leading a team, somewhere on your resume it should say “Led a team of six blah blah blah.” The more blantant the better. This makes it easy for the HR person to score your application. Other than that, check and see which agencies are doing the most hiring – usajobs has a section on this. And network like crazy.

    • ditto on what everyone else has said (slightly oversell yourself in the application, regurgitate the key words/job duties in your resume, and network).

      also, make sure you follow the application directions to the very last word, and call the HR contact if you have questions (though don’t be surprised if they never answer, call back, their voicemail inbox is full or not even set up). it seems like half of HR’s job is to weed people out who make the smallest of mistakes in the application process…i swear their annual eval has a metric on that.

      best of luck and don’t get discouraged!

  • rant: I officially hate every job I’ve ever had after 2 years.

    rave: I’ve never been unemployed.

    rant: gossipy coworkers. office politics that make people feel important when really nobody gives a shit. slackers and pain in the ass clients.

    rave: they’ll get theirs.

    • Yes! What is it about the two-year mark? I get restless after a couple of years at the same place, too. It must be a Thing, like the seven year itch or something.

  • Rave: Getting close to finally replacing the car I’ve been driving for 10 years! I think we’ve narrowed the field to Toyota Matrix or Prius, or Hyundai Accent hatchback. Does anyone own one of these and have any rants or raves?

    Rant: Why no donut shops in DC??

    • Heller’s in Mt. P!

    • Off the top of my head, here are a few places you can get fresh-ish doughtnuts in NW:
      Bethesda Bagel
      Universal Donuts
      Krispy Kreme
      Heller’s Bakery
      Dunkin’ Donuts

    • I just got my matrix last year and have loved it. It’s huge inside but gets very good gas mileage. We got the roof rack and have never had to rent a moving truck/van. Amazing Mary Poppins’s handbag ability to hold everything even though it looks like a smaller car. Used to own a Prius but like this Matrix design better (better visibility). Downside: a road noise is a little loud.

    • If you’re in the hatchback market, cross shop the Mazda3. One of those “I don’t know how all of that stuff fit in there, but it did!” cars. And if it matters, a little more fun to drive than the others on your list

    • em

      I have a 2003 Pontiac Vibe (same as the Matrix, just sportier outside) and I love it. My mom has a 2009 Vibe and it is also quite nice – although it seems to be a bit more cheaply made than the earlier versions of the car. I haven’t looked at the 2012 edition of the Matrix (if you are in the market for a new one), but I can tell you that the 2003 Vibe version is holding up great and is very versatile for loading up with bags, bikes, furniture, etc. as well as roomy enough to fit actual adults in the back seat. Plus, the Matrix is made in the USA! As for the Prius, it is also quite spacious – but when I’ve driven one, it is hard for me to see out of the back window because of the placement of the bar for the trunk.

    • I also own a Matrix and love it! Got it March of 2007. Used it to move an entire studio apartment once. Great space on the inside (even sitting in the backseat) and super versatile. Gas Mileage is killer and it rides well. I would buy another Matrix in a heartbeat!

    • saf

      In the world of hatchbacks, I say check out the Fit.

      I love my Fit.

    • I have the Prius and love it! The gas mileage is awesome, and it just fits so much. We have driven accross country with numerous large dogs, a super sized crate plus dog luggage and our luggage with no problem. It is nice and quiet inside and has the backup camera for fun! It’s not a performance car, but at this price range nothing is. For the price the performance is great. Worth a test drive to see if you like it.

  • Rave: Vacation tomorrow – I’m headed to the beach in Jamaica and I couldn’t be happier. Nothing but reading, swimming, snorkeling and napping!

    Rave: Adopting a cat has made me ridiculously happy! I wanted one for years, and she just brings a few extra jolts of joy into my life a few times a day – which is totally worth having to scoop the litter box.

    Rant: Not a one, today.

    • Awesome. Have been to Jamaica 4 times and love it there.

    • Rave: I love Jamaica. So many people knock it but I had a ton of fun. Say hello to my sweet Jamaican boyfriend in MoBay!

      Rave: My cat brings so many smiles to me on a daily basis. I think she’s more like a dog/young child. Loves to be held, loves belly scratches, follows me everywhere, and has too many toys to count.

  • Rant: Higher-ups at work making stupid decisions. They let go of a senior member of the team who is deeply loved (not to mention incredibly valuable) by the vast majority of the organization. If you need to make cuts, cutting out the heart and not the useless, over-inflated d*** of the organization is a stupid stupid stupid idea. Wherever he lands, he’ll be able to poach whoever he wants from my company now.

  • Rant: Can’t be creative because my deadlines are too tight. I don’t care if that sounds like an excuse it’s true.

    Rant: Full of rants and don’t want to be. Trying to be positive. :/

  • question: anyone know what’s going on with the 6th & Q market? it’s been dark for a few months now….

  • talula

    Rant: The interest rate on my federal student loans is too damn high. It’s so discouraging to see how much of my payment is applied interest and how little is applied to the principal balance. I’ll probably die before I’m able to fully repay the loan.

    Rave: I’m employed and I’m able to make my minimum monthly payments.

    • Are you able to pay a little bit more each month? If you pay over your monthly payments, typically the excess is applied towards principal. But please double check that…that’s how it works with my student loans, but I graduated eons ago and that may have changed. Hopefully it still stands true. Good luck!

      • talula

        Yes, I’m able to specify that any extra money should be applied to the principal balance. I’m trying to overpay my minimum balance by $50… it’s not that much but it’s what I can afford for right now. If I added an extra $50 to my payments every month from now on, I’d save a lot of money in the long term.

        • I always pay over my minimum balance by at least $150. But the interest compounded on a daily basis just blows.

          • It may help to develop a spreadsheet where you track the savings you get from the early payment. Each extra dollar gets a guaranteed pretax return of say 6.9% (or whatever APR you pay), which is like earning 8.5-9% in the stock market. Much better than the rates on your savings.

  • Rave: I have 4 weeks of use or lose leave this year PLUS another 4 weeks in the bank!! Suggestions where to go???

    Rant: Cold weather eww

  • Rave: My life.

  • Rant: Moving.

    Any recommendations for a moving company? Or places to avoid? Haul Zing, Great Scott, and Big Green all have good reviews on Yelp, any experiences with them?

    • me

      I have had WONDERFUL experiences with Gulliver’s Movers. I could provide details if you want, but there are many good things about them. (This is not an ad, I don’t know anyone who works for them.) After using a few really bad companies, I go with these guys every time now and recommend them to friends.

    • We used Gentle Giant last year and they were fantastic. On time, polite, friendly, super hard workers and very careful with our stuff.

    • Anytime Movers have always been great!

      • I’ll second A-Anytime Movers. I used them recently for my third move in about a year and a half and they were by far the best of the three moving companies. They were extremely prompt, professional, courteous and the most efficient. They completed the move quickly and our stuff was in better shape afterward (had some minor damage with the other companies). And their prices are very, very reasonable.

    • I can say without hesitation that HaulZing did a top notch job when I moved. They showed up early, they were professional and friendly, worked quickly but carefully, and I felt the price was extremely fair for the job they did. They will also dismantle beds and such and then re-assemble on the other end.

    • Haul Zing was great! We moved two homes into one on the hottest day of the year last July and they were still somehow done by 1:30pm. The guys were quick and efficient, left no damage and those poor souls said they were on their way to another job right after. We gave them all our frozen water.

    • Bookstore Movers! They are amazing, fast, a pleasure to work with and I can’t imagine ever having anyone else move me.
      I even rescheduled my move to have a date that worked for them.
      The first time I moved, it was after a snowstorm and the parking spots I reserved were taken – it didn’t phase or delay them.
      The second time, they noticed the little disks to protect your hardwood floors from chair legs and offered to put them on for me.
      Really, they are amazing!
      They were 10 minutes late and called to apologize. Just great guys doing great work.

    • em

      We used HaulZing on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the early summer (105F heat index) last year (bonus moving fun: I’d lost all the strength in one of my arms the week before due to a bad reaction to a vaccine). They were mostly great, although they underestimated the time and number of guys needed and took a couple of wrong turns getting from one place to the next. On the upside, the manager was in close contact, sent out an extra team at no charge, and let us know when the truck got lost (they didn’t charge for the extra 15-20 minutes the wrong turns cost them). It still cost a bit more than the estimate, but definitely worth not being the ones lugging all of the stuff around in the heat, especially since I wouldn’t have been much use to my partner.

    • I used Great Scott back in October, and they were quick, efficient, stuck to their estimate, and were a pleasure to work with.

  • Rave/Rant/I don’t know what this is: After a couple of dates with a new guy, I feel pressured to figure out whether he has “potential” and whether I should pursue it and see where it goes, or move on (and not “lead him on”). The pressure is entirely internal, and I know that at least in part it stems from not wanting to get involved only to have things not work out and wind up with both of us getting hurt. Is there a rational way to get myself past this point, or is dating just inherently irrational?

    • You need to stop thinking about it so much. Do you enjoy spending time with him? If so, pursue it. If not, get out of it.

    • It’s always been very cut and dry for me.
      It either is or it isn’t. If you’re questioning it at all then it isn’t.

    • Well, I’m both enjoying his company and also questioning it, hence the confusion! I think that it’s time to bring up some of the important compatability topics like religion, politics, etc and see how it goes…

      • Two or three dates is not a lot but what do I know. When I met my wife we went out a handful of times and then pretty much became inseperable. But that process took a couple of months if I recall.

      • Why are you questioning his company — is it enjoyable but you have some nagging doubts?

  • pablo .raw

    Rave: Opened the package of P90X a couple of days ago, a little bit overwhelmed with all the preparations, etc. Starting tomorrow.

    Rant: None yet, maybe tomorrow after the first session!

    • Take it slow. Don’t be afraid to have a “break-in” period where you are jsut trying out the different sessions to see where you stand. And keep faith in yourself when you’re only doing 5 pushups on the 8th set of the day, it’s a process to get to where Tony is.

    • Pablo!! That’s awesome news!! I second what Anon said. I gave myself a week to adjust (and I use ‘adjust’ loosely). Don’t make the same mistake I did – I got overwhelmed by all of the preparations, which ultimately caused me to put it off for weeks. Then I realized I don’t need to know every detail – I just need to stop reading/preparing and start doing it, the rest will fall into place. Everybody’s different but that strategy ended up working for me. I can’t wait to hear how you like it.

      • Anonymous-est = HumpDay from last week. I think I was excited about Wednesday last week and apparently trying to be even more anonymous.

      • pablo .raw

        Thanks! my goal is to do some exercise daily and eat healthy; I’m not planning to look like him in 3 months! I have decided not to get all the vitamins and supplements, etc. and I already have a pull up bar and bands so I’ll do my best with that and we’ll see! t.

        • Same here re: your goals. I didn’t get the supplements or vitamins from them either but I make sure I take in high-protein by similar means. As for looking like him, well, haha, I don’t see that happening since I’m a gal but I can already tell a difference in how my clothes fit, which feels good. Cheers, A

  • me

    Rant: Job moving me to a contract that is just over 40 miles away from my home a few weeks ago, and I expressed minor concern about the commute, and how it is not what they told me when I interviewed. How do they respond? By changing their mind and tentatively sending me to a job that is now 62 miles away from my home. I am trying not to freak out, but it’s difficult.

    Rave: Diversifying my skillset by responding favorably to a different manager asking for help in my spare time, so hopefully that will lead me somewhere better.

    • Kalorini

      Beware, me. My boyfriend has a 50 mile commute each way and it is absolutely killing his spirit. He’s got little to no free time/energy in the evenings after his 1.5 hr commute home, and is trying to find a job closer to home.

      • me

        Thanks. I’m putting feelers out there for a new job, but stuff is obviously limited. While I’d love to quit because I know I will be miserable, I need the health insurance. Yuck.

        • ” While I’d love to quit because I know I will be miserable, I need the health insurance.”

          Story of my life and the reason America will never succeed.

        • Actually, you DON’T need to stay in the job anymore just for health insurance now that Obama has passed health care. You can quit your job and be on COBRA for a while, though it may be a tad expensive. Then you apply for regular health insurance. Either you get approved for it or not. If you get approved then you have health insurance. If you get turned down for it then you can apply to the government pre-existing condition plan (which you won’t be turned down for). Granted, you will have to pay your own insurance and I don’t know if you can afford that. It can be upwards of a few hundred $ a month.

          • Has that already been implemented? I thought a lot of provisions of the Affordable Care Act weren’t scheduled to take effect until 2014.

          • me

            I’ll expand- while health insurance is the most important thing on my mind right now, there is the mortgage, car payments, home/car insurance payments, PLUS we are looking into adoption, which can cost up to $60k if you’re looking at certain countries. So it’s not just health insurance, just one of the biggest things on my mind right now. But thanks.

  • Rant: I feel like I need to bolster my resume in two places: 1 is quantitative analysis (i.e. Excel) and 2 is continuing writing/research. I focus a lot in my current resume on my writing (academic, thesis, work blogging/articles, etc.) but haven’t found an outlet recently since I switched jobs. Any suggestions on finding ways to contribute to general dialog in the media? Particularly looking to contribute on topics of energy security, international organizations, Russia/Eastern Europe…if anyone has any suggestions or leads, that would be great!

    Rave: Ran 2.75 miles last night on the treadmill and could have easily kept going if I hadn’t had to get home. What a great feeling!

    Rave 2: Making new friends! My first year here was fairly insular, hanging out with friends from back home, but I’ve been lucky to meet some diverse, interesting people in the city the last few months 🙂

  • Rave: my primary care doc.

    rave: getting a physical and being told i am in good condition.

    rant: one minor thing that i’ll need to get checked out by radiology but is most likely nothing.

    rave: feeling better than i was yesterday mentally and emotionally.

    rave: getting things in perspective.

    rant: i somehow need to overcome my entitlement issues and really start taking action on some things.

    • +1 on your last rant. I know I’ve been/am trying to escape that. A lot of us come out of school hearing how awesome and successful we’ll be and it turns out it’s a lot of work to get places. Recognizing it is step one to overcoming so to speak 🙂

  • Bear

    Rant: Dating. That is all.

  • Rave: Waterproof MP3 players- it blew my mind that I was swimming and had music to swim to!!

    Rave: Mom coming to town for a short two day visit tomorrow.

    Rant/Rave: Not sure I can get out of work at a decent time to hang – I have a proposal due tomorrow… Good news is my husband and mom get along swimmingly and he is taking her out to lunch while I work!

  • Rave: It’s my birthday.
    Rant: I’m getting older but not wiser. How can you be a parent and not really feel like an adult at times?
    Rave: Wife is planning something good for my birthday. I can just feel it.
    Rant: still had to work today, at the job I could coast through for the rest of my life.
    Rave: I can drop my son off at day care every morning and see him every night and be a good parent.
    Rant: sometimes instead of being a good parent I’d just like a nice dose of workahol and the sense that I’m bettering the human condition or at least using the talent everybody believed I had when I was younger. Ever want to work as much as those guys who do nothing else like on Law and Order, just so long as you know what you’re doing is for the greater good? I’ve just never been able to turn the corner toward finding that opportunity.
    Rave: wife’s career has been a great success and we really don’t want for anything.
    Rant: Depending on others for your standard of living knowing that your career hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to.
    Rave: I really have a great life despite the gnawing complaints.

    • Happy Birthday, Andy! Sounds like you’re happy!

    • Happy birthday, fellow Aquarian! Mine is tomorrow!

    • Happy birthday, andy! I hope you have a wonderful day. (BTW, a good dad is priceless. You’re definitely contributing to the greater good on that one, no doubt.)

    • Re: your 3rd rant about having a job that doesn’t really do anything for anyone, I can totally relate. My job makes me feel like a total creep. It’s not that I do anything shady or immoral, but I know for a fact that I do not have a job that improves the lives of others. I wish that I had a job where I knew that I was helping someone in some way. Maybe not a Law & Order-like job though, because I am too much of a wimp. 🙂 Sometimes I feel really guilty and upset about having such a superficial job. Funny how I thought that the career field I chose at 25 would be awesome. Now that I’m actually doing it, I wish I had known then what I know now and taken a totally different direction in life.

  • Rave: My 4 year old. He constantly makes me laugh and brings me such joy.

    Rave: My 4 month old. She doesn’t do much yet but last night she seemed upset and put on the cutest frown for about a half an hour. Not crying, more scowling. Should have taken a picture.

    Rant: No need. The small stuff that annoys me is just that. Small.

  • Rant: I am tired of bars acting like $4 Bud Light is a good deal. I’ve lived in this city for several years and I guess I’ll never get used to how overpriced EVERYTHING is. Jesus Christ.

  • Is there any value to belonging to an academic honor society? I’ve been invited to join one for my grad school work and pay $55, but I’m not sure I see the value or purpose… Anyone?

    • me

      I’m in Pi Sigma Alpha, and it has done a couple of things since I’ve gotten inducted about 13 years ago. One- resume booster. Two- online networking and job postings that are specifically targeted to what the field deals with. It’s not a huge foot in the door, but it’s something. (Actually, after I graduated, I interviewed with their office on New Hampshire by Dupont for a position, so there’s always that, too.)

  • Rave: Excited about trying new activities. Just bought the Groupon for knitting lessons, thinking about enrolling in either ballet or karate, and starting a new small group through church tomorrow night.

    Rave: Just had the most fantastic boxed lunch ever: turkey/brie/cranberry sandwich and the most fabulous potato salad I have ever tasted. The company did not skimp on this meal!

    Rave: Headed to the Caps game tonight! Woot!

    Rant: Its probably no longer cool to use the word ‘woot’.

    • I got ballet lessons at the Washington School of Ballet from my parents for Christmas and I love them. I haven’t danced in roughly 10 years but it’s fun to get back into and always the highlight of my week!

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