Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

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 and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

99 Comment

  • Rant – Current contract ends in April and no follow-on work on the horizon.
    Rave – Pregnant!
    Rant – Facing very real possibility of being laid off while pregnant.
    Rave – Finances won’t force me to look for a new job, so I may have lots of time on my hands to figure out my next move, which I hope is out of contracting/consulting entirely. Anyone have advice on escaping from billed hours hell?

    • gotryit

      Congrats on the first rave!
      What’s no good about contracting / consulting? I ask as someone who has never worked that side.

      • Corey

        the problem is stability, with contracts usually only lasting one year, with a potential option year. Its hard to settle in. I am young (25) so i dont mind this environment and i think you make slightly more money then a lot of other jobs on the same “playing field”

        • This exactly. I’ve been at it for ten years now, so I’ve become expensive and harder to place. Plus, with the second kid on the way, stability is looking more attractive, even if it means sacrificing a bit of salary.

          • It depends. I’m a contractor and feel my job situation is pretty stable, but I work for a big company and I’m involved in shipbuilding (it takes a very long time to build a ship).

        • Usually there’s no work-life balance, either. Every consultant I’ve ever known was required to put in really long days and weekends, and most eventually burnt out. Deloitte is notorious for doing this to their employees.

          • Corey

            I work in federal consulting, its very lax here. I would assume private sector is much much different

          • Federal contractor vs. corporate consultant (McKinsey, Bain, Delouitte, etc.) are extremely different.
            .
            Corporate consultant is very stable and well-compensated job, but the hours are brutal.

          • Yeah, I think the person was talking more about being a corporate consultant with the reference to billed hours.

          • Yeah, there is “consulting” in the sense of being a freelancer/1099-er and “consulting” as in Deloitte, McKinsey, Booz Allen, etc. My sister worked for Deloitte, and the hours were indeed brutal. On the plus side, the expense account perks were good, and it was less stressful than being an independent consultant, because even when a client project ends, you remain on the Deloitte (or whatever company) payroll until you get onto a new client project. However, not sure about the other big firms, but there was still some stress at Deloitte because the ratio of time during which you’re “utilized” on a project vs. time you’re between projects becomes a factor in your performance review. There are technically HR-type folks who are supposed to help assign consultants to projects, but my sister learned very quickly that it behooves you to hustle, network, make connections with partners and project managers, and promote your skills as much as possible to improve your chances of a project manager requesting you for his/her team early on, before the official call for project staff goes out through the HR channel. My sister also wasn’t part of Deloitte’s DC-area federal practice, so she was traveling all over the country, 90-100% of the time, to client sites–sounds glamorous and exciting at first, but it definitely wore on her after a while.

        • I’m really getting tired of hopping jobs every year, it’s almost impossible to build vacation time or a good pension. Also, within the contracting jobs I get, I have to jump to several work sites now. It seems like getting hired as a fed is also near impossible when you’re technically inclined. Feds get subsidized parking and day care, nice offices or cubes, they rarely solve development level problems, they only attend meetings and make decisions. It seems like a worsening class system over time. Contractors are disposable pawns that are required to work long hours and be at the mercy of contract managers. This is why Healthcare.Gov failed, because employees have no stake in doing a good job, they don’t last long enough to see the results of their work.

    • Anon–with you on this. I’m doing some consulting and trying to find a new job but I’m 10 weeks pregnant…We’ll see how that works out.

      Still, rave: pregnant!

    • Congrats!!!!! Enjoy this time, it’s super fun and exciting. I don’t have any career advice, but I do have pillow advice. I can’t say enough good things about this amazing pregnancy pillow!
      .
      http://www.diapers.com/p/leachco-back-n-belly-contoured-body-pillow-ivory-8320?site=CA&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc_D&utm_term=LO-004&utm_campaign=GooglePLA&CAWELAID=1338640862&utm_content=pla&ca_sku=LO-004&ca_gpa=pla&ca_kw={keyword}

  • Rave: Job interview sometime next week for a job I would kill to have!
    Rant: It will definitely mean at least a significant pay cut which I can’t really afford, and would be irresponsible for how I am currently doing, money wise
    Revel: Thinking that I am not above taking a second job if it came to it. Has anyone else done that in order to pursue career aspirations? How did that affect your life?

    Happy Wednesday, everyone!

  • Background: I’ve been coming in early several days a week to cover for a colleague who would otherwise have to pay for childcare. Totally unrecognized time: no overtime, no comp time, not a factor in my performance review.
    Rant: Learned yesterday that the reason his wife can’t care for the child on these mornings is b/c she goes to the gym.
    Rave: No longer having to come in early to cover for said colleague, which was really affecting my ability to fit my own runs into the day!
    Rave: Excellent run this morning, not nearly as icy as I expected given the news coverage.

    • You sound like a very good person. Glad your mornings are all yours again!

    • Pretty messed up. How did you address the issue? What was his reaction?

      • I just said, “I’m not running so she can be on a treadmill?!?!” and said I needed the time for my own workouts. I don’t think he realized it was actually cutting into my own time since I’m usually in early anyway. It was not really a big deal on either side. But I am glad to not HAVE to get in early, especially now that it’s getting light earlier and I’m more inclined to go for longer morning runs.

        • I really like how you are giving the coworker the benefit of the doubt of not knowing the imposition that he was imposing on you. It sounds like you handled the situation beautifully. I’m glad you have your morning runs back!

          • It shouldn’t even make a difference. How is his time, or his wife’s time, more valuable than hers, regardless of what she’s doing with it? If she was using that time to stay home watching episodes of Girls instead of running would that really change the unfairness of the situation?

          • It doesn’t make a difference, but I think it’s great that the OP just asserted him/herself without making it into a big deal. Why make it into a fight and get super upset about it when a calm conversation is all it takes? Coworker shouldn’t have asked and should have realized it was an imposition, but didn’t. Now he does and isn’t asking anymore. Problem solved.

            That said, the situation is super annoying.

    • Rave: My coworkers are all well past child-bearing age so I don’t have to deal with crap like this! Even if his wife had to be in to work early and they legitimately would need childcare otherwise… how is that your problem? Why does that trump anything you want or need to do with those extra hours?

    • The bottom line is, you did a good thing that helped them out for a while. Unfortunately it had to end, but I hope they appreciate the break you gave them. And I hope you appreciate the break you gave them.

      (I am a little sensitive to his, since getting up early – in winter! – is about the last thing I ever want to do.)

  • Rant: Home computer getting old and all of a sudden really slow. Anyone know of a good place to go and get it looked at?

    Rave: I know I’m weird, and I do hate these icy days, but I actually kind of like having a cold winter.

    Rave: I had an extra battery for my dead camera so I could take a cool picture of my frozen tree this morning.

    • computers are so cheap these days that youre much better off just buying a new one

      • Holy cow – I just looked at Consumer Reports and most of the computers the size I need (13 inch so that I can travel with it) that it recommends are over $1000. I don’t consider that inexpensive. I don’t know much about computers, so I wouldn’t know how else to choose one. Mine isn’t that old (maybe 3 years?). Sometimes I hate technology. It was working fine last month (which makes me scared something bad happened to it).

        • I don’t know much about computers either — but 3-4 years is a long time in computer years. When I had a windows laptop, I took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy — mostly because that was convenient. A few years ago, I bought a Macbook Pro — and genuinely enjoy it, something I never thought I’d say about a computer. I’m sure that other, much wiser folks in Popville will weigh in with opinions, but when you think about how much it will cost to get someone to look at your computer, and estimate the cost of any work that needs to be done, that could easily come to hundreds of dollars, which could be spent on a new computer. $1000 for a computer that lasts at least 3 years comes down to about a dollar a day. I’d go for new.

          • I feel like 3-4 years is no longer than long in computer years. My laptop is about 5 years old and I don’t think things have changed enough that it would be obsolete yet. I do fairly intensive stuff with it too, like photo processing.

          • It’s not so much “obsolete” — as that with my computers, once one thing started going wrong, other things did too. I kept my first two laptops for at least 5 years each. And once I added up virus protection, a geek squad visit, and replacement batteries, replacing an adapter…. it ended up being about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of a new laptop.

        • I would check out Microcenter. They have several 13″ notebooks for around $500.

        • Honestly, there’s no reason to pay $1000 for a new computer. Almost everything you do now is cloud based, so big hard drives and fast processors are not necessary. Unless you do some heavy application specific work (like video game design) you’re basically paying for a glorified web browser. That is why things like the chromebook make sense to most users. Even microsoft offers cloud based solutions, or go the free route and utilize google docs. If it’s not too far over your head, try backing all your files up, wipe out your hard drive, and re-install your operating system. 9 times out of 10 your computer will be working like new. If not, a chromebook or cheap laptop will do everything you need. Remember, those computer “fix-it” people are a lot like mechanics, some of them are just looking to take advantage and run up a bill, so be careful.

    • Besy Buy Geek Squad. They solved my pc problem in one day, for $69.

    • My husband had a good experience getting our computer fixed at Advanced Computer Center in Tenleytown. Has good reviews on Yelp, too.

  • Rant: Facebook Movies.
    Rave: Facebook Movies.

  • Rant/Rave: Decided to go back to school for a masters this fall
    Rave: really excited about that prospect
    Rant: I’ll have to keep working full-time… question is to stick with my current job, which is in MD and not related to what I’m going back to school for but relatively easy enough to hold out for two years… or get a job or two more menial that will pay the bills but keep me in DC and less 9-5, thus more flexibility.

    • houseintherear

      I just finished grad school… I am still amazed how quickly the two years passed by (even though it was hard and intense). So my advice is to have a job you’ll want to have when you’re done with school, because it’ll be over before you know it!

    • Will your current job cover any part of your tuition? Many jobs cover at least a small portion.
      GET THAT FREE MONEY!

    • What is the master’s program in? What is your motivation for starting it? Are you going to be paying for it yourself?
      .
      I can’t find the past PoPville discussion on the subject, but when this topic came up in the past, many people — including people who have been to grad school — advised AGAINST going to grad school UNLESS you need to do it for your job.
      .
      Maybe it’s a different kettle of fish if you don’t have to quit your job to go to grad school, but most worthwhile grad programs are demanding enough that keeping up with the program while working full-time is going to be tough.

      • I didn’t have a problem working full time and getting a Masters, except for a couple semesters where I was traveling a lot for work. I only did one or two classes a semester though. It hasn’t helped me at all professionally but it was a nice mental exercise (my job paid for it though; I’m not sure it would have been worthwhile otherwise).

      • Scrillin

        What is this, the 90s?

      • Not a wet blanket at all. I feel comfortable enough answering this stuff as I’ve been through the exercise several times in my mind when coming to this decision.

        Masters is in a field I want to get back into of the liberal arts persuasion. I’m considerably older and my career has deviated into sales for the past ten years, which I’d like to get out of. I would like to get back into this particular field but feel that even with my expansive work experience, it’s tough with just a bachelors to compete against younger folks who have done the straight undergrad->grad route.

        And let’s be honest: In this town, there is an intellectual survival of the fittest. It really seems to me that the masters is the new bachelors. You absolutely need it to have a career, rather than a job in the District. To me, my sales positions (which I’m really good at but tired of) are just jobs, not a career.

        I’m paying for this myself. I figure at $40k (which is what my private college tuition was for 4 years way back in the day) for two years, it’s still kind of a bargain.

        And yes, there’s the mental exercise/self-accomplishment aspect to it as I’m probably going through a bit of a mid-life crisis/self-rediscovery phase right now.

        • You sound like you’re doing something similar to what I did. I simply didn’t want to stay in the career I was in and I knew which direction I wanted to head in. I’m not nearly as financially well off as I would have been if I had just continued my career but it’s not all about money for me.
          .
          But I will reiterate what I mentioned below – consider leaving your current job before school. One, you may lose interest in it much quicker than you think once school starts, and two, it might take up time that you’d prefer to use making connections with your classmates and potential future employers.

        • You absolutely do not need a Masters to have a career here, what a silly statement. I know many people that have gone off to get their Masters and it hasn’t helped them get further in their desired fields. You are severely underestimating how valued experience and networking are here.

      • I quit grad school and am so happy to not have that debt hanging over my head. I’m constantly surprised by people who are already working in a certain field who go back to get a degree in the same field. To me work is much more relevant that a degree. But I’ve been able to work my way up sans MA.

      • Depends on how you look at a Masters degree. I went to grad school in part to keep up with pretty much EVERYONE I know, and I went because I love learning and debating (yes, I was the one who read through every single assignment with highlighters, pens, and glee). I also come from an academic family where the saying is, “A bachelors degree is now a high school degree.” I found the experience rewarding- it pushed me in terms of writing, analyzing, and speaking extemporaneously. Would do it again in a heart beat! (One big caveat, though: I did it because I could afford it. If my finances were tight, I might have more carefully weighed the decision since attending didn’t affect my current job outright)…

    • Hopefully you’ve already thought this through but a full-time job (plus commute) plus full-time (is it full-time?) masters program will be pretty challenging. It’s totally doable but you’ll probably have to work your butt off and say goodbye to your free time. Particularly if you’re looking to switch careers via grad school, you may lose all interest in your current job VERY quickly – it’s worth considering a clean break from that before school starts and getting something else more flexible (though this is a financial decision too.)

      • He’s saying it will take two years, so not full-time.

        • Does “full-time” not typically meant two years for a masters? In any event I forgot that he/she said two years, so what I said still stands. Others’ experience may differ from mine.

          • Full time is usually one year, with 15 credits/5 classes a semester.

          • Depends on the program. Where I went to grad school, “full-time” was two classes a semester and a total of 10 classes = 5 semesters = 2.5 years.
            .
            People on fellowship years (i.e., funded but with no teaching obligations) were encouraged to take 3 classes a semester. People with TAships, other kinds of assistantships, or otherwise employed were encouraged to take 2 classes a semester.

          • Well, learn something new everyday, I suppose. My masters program was two years and was called “full-time” so I guess it depends, as Anon 11:31 said. I just assumed it was fairly standard.

        • My masters program was 15 credits (4-5 classes) a semester, for four semesters.

      • Correct, have thought it through but you bring up a lot of good points I thought about. My current sales job is built up enough, I could probably get by being on cruise-control for two years with a little bit of hustle every now and then. I’ve already lost interest in my current job, which is part of driving force to go back to school. My commute is not that bad, worst it has been going home has been 45 minutes.

        But yeah, I’ve thought about the clean break, paring down my financial expectations and getting a menial job or two to more fully concentrate on school for two years. It would be nice to work in DC and not have to have my car any more (which is paid off but comes with expenses anyways).

        • If you can coast along in your current job, it might be easier than trying to juggle the scheduling of part-time jobs, where you may not know your schedule more than a week or two ahead, etc. You’ll also likely earn more, get benefits, etc. The commenter above is concerned that you’ll “lose interest” but how much interest would you have in these part-time jobs, either? Personally, I’d have a lot more interest in a job that pays me more.

          • Just to elaborate, I was speaking from my experience: I rapidly lost interest in my job, knowing that it was my past and not my future. I wasn’t “more interested” in the part time jobs that I picked up but they were less demanding than a full-time office job and some were related to my future career. If money is a major consideration then you do what you have to do, but I managed without my old full-time job.

        • Seriously, don’t quit your job! There’s no guarantee you’ll get a gig right away after grad school, or that you’ll want what you can get. I got my Masters in something related enough (but different enough to warrant more study) to my field but that I was interested in pursuing. The #1 thing the program will give you is connections. In the end, I ended up sticking with what I was doing initially because to take a low level job at my age (mid 30s) when my other job was paying much, much more just seemed stupid, and after going through the program, the other field lost its luster. I don’t regret going because I think I would have always wondered about it (and a Masters certainly doesn’t hurt), but my program wasn’t very expensive. However, once that last class was finished, a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders and I was so glad to be done. I would never do it again, but glad I did it once.

      • I worked a full time time and two part time jobs while enrolled in a fulltime master’s program. I think the amount of time required for school really depends on the program and how much effort you want to put in. i’m lucky because many of the required classes were offered multiple times and my bosses were all really flexible with me needing to schedule around classes. the best part of working through grad school is graduating with zero debt. coupled with a few scholarships, i actually ended up quite a bit ahead financially from grad school.

    • I say stick with your current job — which you’re good at, and which offers a considerable amount of security. Any part time jobs that you get will likely have some unpredictable aspects– with no leave, or good will built up, and possibly less flexibility than you have now, since you’ll be the new kid on the block. I’d suggest that you start the masters program — and evaluate how well you’re able to deal with combining school and your current job. You can decide to leave your current job at any point in the process — should you wish to. The option of menial jobs will always be out there.

      • I would also say, from the experience of my friends who have lost their jobs, that it is not always easy to get hired for “menial” or part-time jobs.

    • I went to grad school and worked full time in a somewhat menial job, but it paid the bills AND tuition (yay GW!) I couldn’t have afforded it any other way. The 2.5 years (part time) went by quickly, and now I have a rewarding job in the field I earned my masters in. While I was in school, the unrelated menial nature of my day job got to me sometimes, but ultimately the benefits (being on campus, not having to think too much when my brain was in need of a break during finals, and not paying for a really expensive grad degree) won out, but perhaps the most helpful part of working during grad school was the importance of maintaining a salary history during that time. Many of my classmates interned or didn’t work at all during school, and while they finished slightly sooner than I did, they had a real difficult time finding meaningful work when they graduated (partly because of the economic outlook in ’09, but mainly because they didn’t have any working experience for 2+ years) In any case, deciding on grad school, no matter how you do it, or what degree you pursue is a personal choice and has its own rewards, good luck!!!

      • Agreed. Employers look very favorably upon those who work and do grad school at the same time. It means that you’re financially smart, work hard, and are able to manage Big Life Changes.
        .
        Kids graduating in June with grad degrees paid for by Sallie Mae or Daddy are a dime-a-dozen. Stay in the job market.
        .
        I went to a great grad program and even 2.5 years after graduation, I have friends who struggle to find stable, well compensated work in the field.

    • If you decide to leave your current job, definitely look for positions (even menial ones) at the institution where you are doing your graduate work. Most have tuition waivers for full-time employees. That’s how I got my second masters- definitely wouldn’t have paid full price for it.

  • Rave: This picture is beautiful!

  • Rave: Zumba. My body hurts in a good way.
    Rave: Booking a short getaway to the Bahamas. I’m tired of the ice rain and salt.
    Rant: Waiting to hear back on an interview for a company I really want to work for. I guess if I didn’t get a ‘get lost’ message right away, there’s still room for hope, right?

  • Question: hey Textdoc, did you rent your basement unit yet? I have a friend who’s house she rents is being sold and is looking. Or if anyone else has some space they are looking to rent to a low-key professional women who cooks a ton and is under $1200ish, let me know please.
    Rave: I showed up at Ladies Night at the Hardware store last night and who is first in line? My cousin who recently moved here. It was good to have someone to hang out with and to catch up with her. It was a great event and the staff was so helpful. I saw a few women (at least) deciding to tackle some new to them projects.
    Rant: wow, did I way over dress this morning. Someday I’m going to have to drop the New Englander instincts and realize that I don’t need quite this much clothing on to walk 2 blocks to the metro.

  • Rave: Have a date tonight.
    Rant: Since DC is such a small world, said date shares mutual friends with my ex.

  • Rant: Having a hard time mentally waking up and getting started today. I blame the rain.
    Rave: Feeling much less anxious after 1) meticulously going over my budget, 2) calling the cable company and managing to save a significant amount on our monthly bill, and 3) having a really productive therapy session last night. Sometimes a good dose of perspective is just the medicine I need.
    Rave: Yoga tonight: keeps me mentally and physically flexible!
    Rave: I randomly ran into an old friend on the street yesterday. I love it when I have those moments where DC feels like a small town (in the best possible way).

  • Rave: Just booked flight to Atlanta to celebrate Mom’s 70th birthday this spring.
    Rant: The weather this morning.
    Rant: Nearly fell on icy sidewalk outside my hi-rise on the way to the Metro this morning.

  • Rave: Got a cold job interview offer for one of THE big tech companies. Ecstatic.
    Rant: Super intimidated.
    Rave: I can do this.

    • Congratulations! Was this through LinkedIn? I’ve resisted joining, but have been thinking about it lately.

      • I haven’t joined yet (but I definitely should) and have always resisted but there is no denying that it is a VERY powerful tool if used correctly.

    • Thanks! I applied to the company about four years ago and crickets, so yeah — I think this was probably because of Linkedin. I have had lots of luck with Linkedin — if anything, it’s helpful prior to interviews to learn about who will be interviewing you.

      • Thanks for the info. Maybe I’ll set some time aside this weekend to build a profile. Hopefully, I can do it without spamming everyone in my contact list with linkedin invites. I’m assuming you already know about Glassdoor? They tend to have interview questions and reviews for all the big companies.

      • What did you do exactly? Apply for an opening they posted there or through other means?

        • The recruiter found and e-mailed me, either through the internal database (from when I applied four years ago) or Linkedin, I’m not sure.

  • Now THIS is real wintertime in Washington weather. Enjoy!

  • Rave: My baby girl’s pink eye seems to have gone away rather quickly.
    Rave: Since we couldn’t take her to daycare and my wife had court, I took off work and spent the day with her. I love her so.
    Rant: My wife is home sick today. I hope she doesn’t pass it to the baby who I know will pass it on to me.
    Rant: That fact that I find it more than coincidental that George Zimmerman’s boxing match against DMX was announced today on what would be Trayvon Martin’s 19th birthday. Happy Birthday Trayvon. So sad.

    • Emilie504

      “Rave: … I took off work and spent the day with her. I love her so.” So sweet, reminds me of sick days spent with my Dad. He would make me whatever I wanted for lunch and hang out with me while I watched whatever I wanted on TV. When I was really really sick with like strep or flu he always came in to check on me regularly.
      .
      My mom is also good at taking care of sick people/kids, but because of her job she did less of it while I was a kid.
      .
      Rave: I have the best parents ever, and I love to hear about other awesome parents. Thanks Kam! (Don’t forget to take care of your wife! ;) )

    • I can’t wait to see DMX beat Zimmerman’s a$$.

  • Rant: Whenever I make pizza at home, the dough sticks to my peel before I can get it on the stone. Any tips other than “more cornmeal”?

    • How long is it sitting on the peel? Are you piling the on the toppings? Is the peel completely clean and dry (no spilled sauce from the previous pizza or whatever)? I don’t have a peel, but roll my dough out on a cutting board and slide it onto the stone from there. After rolling it’s good to lift the whole thing to make sure it’s not sticking anywhere. If it’s still sticking you might want to just do light sauce and throw the other toppings on quickly once it’s on the stone.

      • justinbc

        +1 I just make it on the pizza board and then slide it right off. Almost never have a problem unless the dough sits there too long or there’s too much sauce.

    • I don’t both with stone but use parchment paper on a baking sheet at 500 F and that works well for me. Just cut off the extra parchment that is not covered by dough so it doesn’t light on fire in the oven. And be careful–sometimes I over-enthusiastically pull it from the oven and it is close to flying off the backing sheet.

    • GiantSquid

      Pre-heat the peel for 15-20 minutes around 425 degrees. That way, when you put the dough on there, it sears the outside very quickly. But that also means you’ll have to be very careful when placing your dough and work quickly with toppings.

  • saf

    Rant: Stupid people who cannot open the doors of their multiple minivans without setting off the alarms.
    Even Rantier: Stupid people who set off car alarms and let them continue to go off as they load (and scream and swear at) multiple children.
    More ranting: Stupid people who let their indoor cat out because he doesn’t get along with the (newly acquired) dog and they don’t want to be bothered with training the animals. It’s cold. The cat does Not enjoy being outside. The car is not street smart, and has almost been hit by cars many times. He should not suffer in the cold and then die on the street because you are lazy. Find him a new indoor home if you are tired of him.
    Rave: Wonderful car mechanics who easily identified a problem that I feared would take forever to fix.

  • gotryit

    Rave: Hit the heavy bag over lunch today.
    Rant: Blood blister under my big toe.

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