Friday, July 27, 2007

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!

Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.

Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific
Harry PotterQuiz ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Minor Spoilers, No Real Details, Just My Reaction

After I bought the book on the 21st, it was a day before I could even open it. I read the first half of the chapter titles and the two poems in the beginning and then, that was it. I couldn't bring myself to turn the first page and I got too emotional every time I tried.

At around 2:00 am last night, I finally got brave and opened the book. I read all the way up to Chapter 24 and went to bed. I woke up around 10:00 am, got some breakfast and read straight through until 10 minutes ago when I just finished the book.

I wrote down some of my stronger reactions as I was reading, my first being-

Fuckety, fuck, fuck, fuck: I hate Polyjuice Potion.

Next: Dumbledore did not invite confidences.

Next: Harry should trust Dumbledore more. Dumbledore loved him.

Next: On a fucking Dragon! Wow. Just wow.

Next: O.G. Granny Longbottom, holding it down!

Next: Finally. we get to go into the Ravenclaw Common Room. I like the Ravenclaw Common Room. (I consider myself a Ravenclaw and I have an Outstanding on the W.O.M.B.A.T. to prove it.)

Next: J.K. Rowling, you are an absolute bitch. I can forgive all the rest but I can never forgive you for...

Next: Bitch, you even killed the fucking...what sort of sick twisted bitch does this sort of thing? All this time I thought Rowling was Dumbledore but now I know the truth...She IS fucking Voldemort.

And finally: J.K. Rowling, I'm sorry for calling you a bitch and for thinking that you're Voldemort (although I'm partly right because he belongs to you just as much as Harry and Ron and Hermione and Dumbledore although we fans don't like to think about that much, now do we?).

But anyway, I love this book and even though I'm very shaken and angry and sad and full of a whole bunch of emotions it's going to take me simply ages to sort out.

And since that's whole point and you do that with just your own brain, a pen and a lot of love, the gods will shudder whenever you choose to pick up a pen again: You can write your arse off and I can give you no higher praise than that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New York Times Angers Millions of Potter Fans

Clark Hoyt
Public Editor
New York Times

What were they thinking?

The New York Times printed a review about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the front page of their paper Thursday, July 19, a full two days before the official release date. (That there will be no link to the NYT article here should be understandable.) What's more, many fans feel that they were duped into reading an article that they believed was about the hype surrounding the release and instead were shocked to read a review full of spoilers.

Potter fans have been outraged at the NYT ever since. It seems the phones at The Times have been ringing off the hook and their email servers are taking a big hit as thousands of Potter fans from around the globe are calling or writing in to voice their displeasure. Fans are angered not only at The Times, but also at Michiko Kakutani, who wrote the article and the unnamed bookstore that broke the embargo by giving her a copy.

New York Times Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, posted a response to the furor on his online journal entitled Did The Times Betray Potter Fans? Sadly, he never really gets around to addressing that question or meeting his readers' demands for an apology to them or to J.K. Rowling (author of the 7 volume Potter series). Hoyt settles for describing how he handed out this assignment and that really had no legal obligation not to publish an early review. From Hoyt's journal entry:
Some readers said they thought it was unethical of the The Times to break the book’s official publication date.

I disagree.

Rick Lyman, the books and theatre editor, said, “Our feeling is that once a book is offered up for sale at any public, retail outlet, and we purchase a copy legally and openly, we are free to review it.”

I think it’s important to remember that there was never a contract or an agreement between The Times and Rowling or her publisher. The publisher set the release date unilaterally as part of the brilliant marketing campaign that has propelled the entire Harry Potter phenomenon. Neither The Times nor any other newspaper had an obligation to help enforce the release date.
Hoyt's off-handedness seems to imply that any other newspaper or journalist would have done the same, however this is refuted by the fact that many newspapers and journalists are doing the exact opposite and are determinedly respecting Rowling's requested embargo, as detailed by this professional reviewer:
#26. July 19th, 2007 9:02 pm
I believe this was a dubious decision. There was an understanding, usually respected in such situations. You may have a legal excuse for what you did, but you have no moral excuse. Many reviewers, I am one, have respected the request of the publishers involved, but, above all, respected the author who has shown so much respect for all of us.

I will get my copy after midnight on Friday, like everyone else, and I will spend most of the weekend reading and then writing my review so that it will appear as soon as possible. I would not dream of jumping the gun, nor would any of my colleagues I have spoken to. We are all very very angry with you.
— Posted by Ann Wright
Potter fans are not accepting Hoyt's non-apology. They're also not buying Hoyt's excuse that the novel was up for fair game merely because it was for sale. From the comments on Hoyt's Journal entry:
#27. July 19th, 2007 9:11 pm are correct that the Times did not have a contract with Scholastic or Rowling, However the store you bought if from did. Even if it isn’t illegal for you to use it was WELL known that it was not supposed to be available for sale. We deserve an apology, not person after person telling the fans that we have no right to be outraged.
— Posted by James Alexander
#70. July 20th, 2007 10:06 am
Whether or not the Times is legally or ethically permitted to report a story is not what the editorial board should be primarily concerned with — rather, the question is whether the public is well served by running it. Those who have little interest in the Potter series could only be marginally interested in reading the review in advance of the book’s general release; but those who have been dedicated fans for years could reasonably be expected to suffer outrage and disappointment by seeing even the review’s title printed here so long before they’d have an opportunity to read the book themselves.
— Posted by A. Boykowycz
Fans have also questioned The Times' motives on everything from the placement of the story- on the front page of the paper, when book reviews normally go in the Arts section- to the NYT double standards in reporting about Harry Potter and other stories.
#37. July 19th, 2007 11:14 pm
Whether or not it was ethical for the Times to publish a pre-release-date review of the book is less of an issue, I think, than the fact that editors decided to include the review in the news section rather than the arts section of the paper. As a regular reader of the Times I’ve come to expect book reviews—-and all the “spoilers” they may entail—-to be in the arts section or Sunday Book Review.

I would be interested to hear the justification for publishing this review in the news section, and to find out if this has ever been done before with another book. Certainly the Times realizes that the packaging of an article (its headline, photo, location in the paper, etc.) can be a just-as-powerful conveyor of meaning as the article’s text itself.
— Posted by L. Kruempel
#61. July 20th, 2007 8:58 am
The Times is trying to have it both ways. You want the headlines by beating other newspapers to the review of Book 7, yet you refuse to include the Potter books in your NYT Bestsellers list.
— Posted by Susan Fillippeli
(For more on this, see the article, Why Harry Potter Won't Be a Bestseller, from Huffington Post.)
#50. July 20th, 2007 5:10 am
Once again, annonymous sources are the only explanation for unprofessional behavior: days in advance of the embargoed release of one the most anticipated books in history, some unnamed NYT employee happened to be in some unnamed bookstore and find the book for sale over the counter at retail price. You insult the intelligence of your readers. From this point forward, I count Rick Lyman every bit as creditable as Judith Miller and Jayson Blair.
— Posted by party-of-one
As a long time Potter reader, I am squarely on the side of the outraged fans. For sheer the volume of global interest, J.K. Rowling has created a literary phenomenon. I am well aware that many people regard the Potter series as something of a fad akin to pet rocks in the 1970's. However, many in the industry agree that their hasn't been this much literary anticipation since Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, created it's 19th Century buzz with fans literally waiting for ships to come into port to get the latest installment. That Deathly Hallows publication is important to many is indisputable.

Never being one to miss an opportunity to lament George Bush's unfortunate administration of our country, I can't help but think of the NYT suppressing the White House wiretapping scandal for an entire year. Yet, they couldn't bear to hold a gentleman's agreement with Rowling and her fans for a mere two days. For those who are not Potter fans, this may seem trivial. I, for one see it as yet another footnote in the New York Times' slide from its place of honor as the "paper of record" to mere tabloid spoilsport.

Update: I'm not the only one who has drawn comparisons to the Bush administration! Infamous leaker Judith Miller is now on the record as defending The Times' right to leak out the Potter information. Outrageous.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wish Me Luck

Seven come eleven, I'm on a roll folks. Just when I thought I was sending out all those resumes for nothing, I'm getting call backs. Daily. I got one yesterday, on a Sunday even.

However, the two folks who left comments on my last post were quick to chip dents in the armor that is my self-esteem. They quickly let me know, that far from finding the humor in my situation, I should take myself far too seriously, thus guaranteeing that I'll never find a job.

The person posting as
hr office made sure to spell out clearly to me that if I don't get a good job it will always and only be my own fault. And most certainly, it would definitely have nothing to do with race. Not ever:
There's any number of reasons that you're getting passed over & I suspect it isn't the color of your skin. It's time to take serious stock & inventory.
FYI guy: I'm still in the 'sending out resumes' phase of my search, so I don't expect much in the way of discrimination yet and I've only been interviewed once so I haven't yet been passed over yet. I also suggest that you read Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickel and Dimed, so you can put paid to any such notions for people of any color.

But just in case there's something I missed, let's start with my resume.

My name doesn't send up any red flags so I don't have the Shaniqua/ Shaquon factor in my way (you can read more about that at this link). It took me much longer than it should have to realize that one of the reasons I get called back for nearly every job I apply for is that my full name is one people assume belongs to a white woman.

Calling my house doesn't screen me out either. I trained my daughter from an early age to answer the phone properly so there's no, "MOM-MEEE! Come and get the PHO-OWNE! She knows how to answer the phone properly and people are surprised to find out that she's my teen daughter, not an adult.

Even after speaking with me, I find, that most white interviewers register that particular brand of surprise unique to white folks when they unexpectedly come into contact with black people. It's only a look, a glance, a remark, a shuffle but it's telling and then I know what they are trying hard (and failing miserably) to hide - until the moment I showed up, they didn't realize I was black and they were glad that I wasn't.

Until suddenly I am, and then they have to compensate. I have a variety of techniques, as do all black people, that are designed to put white folks at ease. It's usually a joke, or a bit about some point of white culture - sports for men, fashion or a professional reference for women - and then suddenly they feel as if they can go on and at least get through the interview. At that point, either one of two things will happen. They will knuckle down, get over their shock and interview me as they would "anyone else".

Less frequently, but in my experience has happened distinctly as least three times that I was aware of, there is nothing I can do or say that will get me or anyone else who looks like me hired. I just got in under their radar that's all.

But back to my resume. My address and zip code don't spell out H-O-O-D or P-R-O-J-E-C-T-S, although I learned from a previous experience that if you do live in the hood or the projects to use a more affluent friend or relative's address.

In my earlier years, I worked as a front desk clerk at a Howard Johnson. I had previously applied at the Hamiltonian Hotel (formerly, now the Courtyard Marriott Hamilton), which was a scant 15 minute walk from the housing project where I lived. I never got a call back, let alone an interview despite much follow up. I finally applied at Howard Johnson, where even there it took them over a week to get over the shock that, no, I was not applying as a housekeeper, I expected to work the front desk.

I finally got that job only to find later that both hotels were owned, at the time, by the same parent company, BriLyn.

Both bloggers made points about appearance as I described myself, especially my comment that I may have smelled like a candy factory by the time I hit the interview, due to combination of raspberry lip gloss, vanilla perfume and nervously popping peppermints beforehand.

Anon 3:54
One word of advice - ditch the vanilla "perfume" fragrance. Your next interviewer may have horrific allergies & you won't make the cut!
hr office
Allergies are an entirely different path than migraines. Some fragrances cause very threatening reactions in people with allergic conditons. A neutral bath powder will solve the Summertime conditions. Some companies have put the brakes on colognes, "perfumes", & after shaves.
Their points about my perfume are well taken, although I do object to the statement that "allergies" and "migraines" are that far apart when it comes to scent triggers. As with this woman, I too understand what it means to have a strong reaction by merely being in the detergent or candle aisle, let alone the illness, nausea, skin reactions and headaches that can ensue when people overindulge in perfume. You'll simply have to take my word for it, that I'm not a "douser" and that the one scent I do wear is undetectable unless you are a really close talker, hand shaker or you hug me.

Both posters take issue with my use of the phrase "business casual".
Anon 3:54
You also need to be careful with the "business casual" threads, too. That sort of attire is OK after you get the job, not before.
Despite my assurances that I dressed quite professionally for this first interview, the second poster couldn't resist a quick admonishment either, while going on to describe exactly what I think of as business casual:
hr office
BTW, you could take a hint from
Anon 3:54. A black or blue skirt properly fitted with a conservative blouse and a jacket or sweater will make a much better impression. If you have hard-hitting, proven skills & a solid track record, you'll want your dress to reflect that.
I'll risk sounding a bit defensive and not quite nice to make my point clear: From that description of acceptable clothing, I am quite certain that my standards of job interview dress are higher than his. I was taught that a matching suit and sharply coordinated blouse for women- and for males, a matching suite and sharply coordinated shirt and tie - are professional dress.

Anything less is business casual - of which their are varying degrees but all are business casual nonetheless. I shudder to think of anyone showing up at a job interview in a cardigan, especially a woman. A cardigan denotes a schoolgirl, not a professional woman.

hr office also assured me that race isn't any factor as to whether I get the job (actually I'm more worried about my weight being a factor than race but please, no diatribes on weight loss) however he went on to say:
Diversity - buzzword du jour? There are very few companies in Cincinnati that promote & foster true diversity. The offices & plants just have a bunch of black & white people in them. That isn't diversity. I'm very fortunate to have an employer who has a United Nations of people in the place. It's been a wonderful ### of years. I wouldn't trade it in for what is now pseudo-diversity.
I could go write an entire other post on how he swings the difference between the contradictoray ideas of "race not being a factor" and "very few companies in Cincinnati that promote & foster true diversity" in the breadth of a paragraph or two. I will settle for simply shaking my head and commenting thusly: I think you'd be surprised at how many black folks will settle for pseudo-diversity if it means the difference between being employed or unemployed. By the same token (no pun intended) I can tell how well versed in "diversity" a place is by walking in the door or taking a short tour.

But really, what does it matter without a job? As with any job, you have to get in the door and work your but off proving yourself. Just know that if you're black, proving yourself is always going to be harder. Accept that and keep on trucking.

And black folks have to realize that sometimes desperation at getting a keeping a job, should not always override what you know to be true. We tell school children every day that they know the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad one" or how to recognize bullying and abuse. Yet somehow grown people, when black, suddenly don't know or recognize discrimination or subtle racism when it's right in front of them. Had I followed my instincts this time last year, I would never have had that awful experience working for Girl Scouts.

Lastly, just to prove that people don't always read
hr office had this to say:
You need to "interview" the company before you submit your resume & get an interview, to see if they're a good match for you. Then you present your solid, proven track to them so they can "interview" you.
But I had already told Anon 3:54:
They're not just interviewing me, hon, I'm most definitely interviewing them.
I know that "everyone" is not a racist. I know that every decision to hire me or other black people hasn't been made on the basis of race alone or even in spite of race. But it is folly for black people to surrender all notions of race playing no factor in the hiring decisions of many businesses in Cincinnati and across this nation.

It seems to me that even taking into the account the opinions of hyper-critical people who've never met me, I'm keeping my employment game pimp tight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Unemployment Blues

Child, you simply have not lived until you've been unemployed in Cincinnati.

Filing for unemployment is easy. Getting it and keeping there's a challenge. It seems a couple of the temp agencies I used to work for actually challenged the fact that I deserved my meager $190 a week unemployment check.

What the hell can I possibly do with $190 a week except fall behind on all my obligations? That and lie. You lie a lot when you get unemployment. No I am not self-employed except for my bootleg cab driving and sideline desktop publishing business. No I do not live with anyone - I am renting my bedroom apartment from my mother and Ye Old Matey...we're not married and for the first time I'm really glad because they probably wouldn't give me a penny if they counted his income.

Yes, this is my life. Trolling by Kroger and Aldi and every street in between asking, "Do you want a ride?" to anyone with more than two plastic shopping bags headed for a bus stop. I pray for hot days and rain and women with children or old ladies who are willing to pay $5 to get out of the rain and into a car. I know that I am a lot safer to them than a lot of the men who hang out in every grocery store parking lot doing the same thing I'm doing.

Four weeks ago, I finally broke down and went to the orientation they give down at SuperJobs. It's supposed to tell you how to hook up with their services. There were 75 of the nicest dressed black folks you ever wanted to see in that room. There were only 3 white people and only two of them were there for jobs, and both were visibly injured (which is kind of scary because what kind of hellish job tosses you out over a job-related injury. Frightening indeed). The orientation reminded me of an interview that I went on once where I knew I wasn't going to get the job because the only other two black people there were the janitor and the security guard.

I made an appointment to talk to a career coach but even after the two-week wait, there just wasn't much she could do for me. I'm not a displaced worker, so I'm not eligible for additional training, not even two lousy years at Cincinnati State for this Multi-media and Web Design course I'm dying to take and would fit under their category of Jobs in Demand: Technology.

I already know how to write a resume, do a job search via the paper and computer. That left only my interview skills, so she referred me to their interview skills guy and told me to come back and chat with her after my appointment with him. I lost his number on the way home after picking up a few "trips" driving folks, so I'll have to call her and let her know that I did actually get an interview.

Yep, after five weeks of sending out my resume, I actually had a job interview yesterday. I almost didn't recognize myself in the mirror in job interview dressed up business casual, with make up and lip gloss. It had been so long since I had actually been in an office that wasn't the corner of my bedroom, everything I owned from my old administrative assistant life was either in the back of the closet or on the floor of the closet.

My interviewer was "tied up" and running behind by about 25 minutes. By the time she met me I must have smelled like a candy factory. My perfume was vanilla, my lip gloss was raspberry and I had been popping peppermints like they were going out of style due to sheer nervousness.

Still, I think the interview went well and if they give me the job, I am confident that I can do well. My experience and skills match the job they're offering perfectly, but I was the first interview she had scheduled that day. Outside, I was all professional and confident and smiles but inside I felt like the Donkey in
Shrek, jumping up and down shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!"

After the interview, I went back out to the parking garage. I forgot to ask if they validate and that was a $6 mistake that cut into my grocery money, not to mention gas was a whopping $3.27 per gallon that day. Don't ever let anyone tell you job hunting is cheap.

The view from the parking garage was very pretty and I decided to drive to the top and take pictures. At the top of the garage, in addition to the lovely view, there was a very nice man practicing the bagpipes. He said he practiced there because it killed the noise factor and he was right. With sounds of traffic pouring in, I hadn't heard him at all from the floor I was parked on - even from a few feet away it was faint and pleasant.

I told Me Mum I saw a man playing bagpipes at the top of the parking garage and she thought I'd gone around the unemployment depression bend. I figured you might think I'd gone round the twist as well which is why I'm glad I took the above picture.

So I took the loveliest pictures of the city while listening to heartrending strains of Auld Lang Syne and Amazing Grace.

It made for a lovely end to my morning.

Darn, I want that job.