andrew ager, dot com

andrew ager, dot com

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

So yes, about two and a half weeks ago, I was laid off as part of Dartmouth’s financial woes and restructuring efforts. That kind of sucked … but having been through layoffs (and worse) before, I had a sense that it was coming, and more importantly knew what to do.

So I hopped on the job search nearly immediately. First thing I saw was “Associate Registrar for Research,” which immediately had me salivating: it’s the job, of course, that I wanted when we moved here 6 years ago, the (academic) career path I saw for myself 10 years ago! Of course, I was told in HR the next day that there was an offer out on the job already, so it was effectively closed.  Oh well.  On to other searches, no time to linger!  So I dug in to all the other stuff out there (there’s not a lot of stuff out there right now), found some good leads, started some great networking connections going, and generally got lots of balls rolling.

Then, a week later, and email from HR contact.  The Associate Registrar position was open again, please apply forthwith.  *please insert shocked googly-eyed emoticon here*  So hell yes, I whipped up a letter (it is truly amazing to note how much easier writing a strong cover letter is when you are really really INTO the job you’re writing it for), made some minor edits to the resume, got a few pieces of feedback, and submitted the whole shebang into the official electronic system.  That was on Wednesday, February 18.  The next day, I scheduled an interview for Tuesday, February 24.

That interview went very well indeed, and a follow-up was discussed.  I went off to the gym, and returned to a voice mail asking if the round 2 interview could be … that afternoon!  Well, yes.  So off I went a few hours later.  That also went well, and contained various hints that things were looking extremely good.  I walked out of the building thinking “I think I just got a job.”

And yes, the offer came at noon the next day (Wednesday, Feb. 25).  I officially accepted later that afternoon, and it’s now down to signing papers and getting the transition going.

My head is still spinning! Because not only have I managed to re-secure employment in nothing flat, but I’ve landed EXACTLY where I want to be professionally.  I’m sure there will be some upcoming moments of panic as I get up to speed in a new environment and rapidly dust off some rustier technical skills, but it’s that good kind of panic that comes with increased responsibility and accountability … things that I wanted very, very much. 

Going forward here in blogland, of course, there will be virtually nothing said about this job: rather a lot of privacy laws that I have zero desire to tangle with.  But now is the time to shout from the rooftops!

Civics

For the past 10 months, I’ve been the Chair of the Lebanon Energy Advisory Committee. After months of discussion, the Committee prepared a series of recommendations for the City Council and the City Manager, and presented them last Wednesday night.  That is to say, I, as Chair, presented the recommendations.

To say it went well is something of an understatement. The Council was happily unanimous in accepting our recommendations (signing on to various climate and energy agreements, committing to work for reductions, etc.), and fit in a fair amount of praise as well, even down to the level of our document that went into their meeting binders!

I was VERY VERY happy about this, as were the two Committee members who were in the audience for support.  The two Council members on our Committee were also quite pleased — I ‘m sure they had realized that the Council as a whole was receptive to our mission, but I would venture to guess that the reception we received may have gone beyond their expectations.

Having that kind of reception was also good for the old ego after the previous week’s events (getting laid off), so not only did I emerge from that meeting proud and happy about the Committee’s work, but also filled with a sense that I could, in fact, do really good things under pressure.  A useful boost when you’re on a job hunt!

Now, of course, it’s time to get to work: this means some long nights of data entry and processing on various software tools to assess the City’s energy usage, forming a baseline of data to work off of in developing energy reduction strategies more comprehensive than the “make it warm in the summer, cool in the winter, and turn off the lights” policies that we started with. Not to dismiss those, as such things can be pretty powerful when writ large, but they are still just a starting point. 

For a guy who was never really involved in local politics/action, this is a fairly large first step … but so, so worth it.

Resolute

New Year’s Resolutions suck.

Big promises, fervent attention to them for a few weeks, then a few weeks of less effort, followed by giving up completely, feeling guilty for a bit, then just going with the flow.  And that’s the best case most of the time!

I stopped making them a long time ago, or keeping it to just one or two small things, usually adjustments (I’ll be better at keeping in touch this year! oh wait, I’ve failed that one 15 years running).  The past 2-3 years, though, I’ve made summer changes, largely by chance.  The first successful one involves a near-daily morning routine all men dread: shaving.  I put down the multiblade cartridge razor + electric that had been my routine for nearly a decade, and picked up a few vintage safety razors on eBay, along with a lifetime supply (well, many years, at any rate) of razor blades.  I grabbed up a wide variety of non-gel/foamy shaving creams and soaps, stuff that came in tubes and tubs rather than spray cans.  I bought a few badger-hair shaving brushes.  I spent a few weeks fumbling nervously with dragging a sharp exposed blade around my face, gradually got more comfortably with it, and at this point, two years in, I get awesome shaves every morning, razor burn is a thing of the past, and I’ve got a solid knowledge of using a cool, manly tool that most guys wouldn’t touch.  No, I’m not moving into straight razors yet, that’s a few years off, but the simple safety razor can still be pretty fearsome if you don’t know what you’re doing.  That I DO know is a good feeling.

The second big shift came last summer. (See this post.)  Again, it sprang from a desire to change, but also from a lot of reading and research. And it avoided the whole “this year will be TOTALLY DIFFERENT!” trap — I approached both changes by thinking, hell, let’s see what happens for a few weeks and whether or not I like this/can do this.  Turns out yes, I do like these changes and I can make them.  The results of shifting my eating and my workout routines are pretty notable so far: net 10-pound weight loss from the summer (which covers a 10-pound yo-yo in October), becoming noticeably stronger, and actually seeing muscles on my body for the first time since the mid-1990s.

I have no idea what funny idea will trigger something this summer.  But I do want to make one small resolution for the beginning of the year: write more.  Easy, right?  We’ll see.  No daily-posting pressure, but I would like to get a post a week up, minimum.  That’s a nice, basic goal.  Hopefully it will carry over to more contact with my friends, more posts on the kidblog, etc., etc.

I think if I get even half the success with this that I’ve pulled off with the other two, I’ll be in good shape.

Forget the iPods …

… and start rolling with the iPOOds!

Second-Best Chicago-Related Story This Month

What’s the first?  Some dude.

This post, though, is about my favorite brewpub of all time. They just got a lease extension! Until yesterday, they were set to close up the Clybourn pub in late December of this year, but now:

John Hall, Goose Island’s founder and chief executive, said he reached a last-minute deal with the pub’s landlord to stay at 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. for three to five years, averting the closing of the homebase for Honker’s Ale and other brews at the end of 2008.

“I’m thrilled,” said Hall, who bought everyone in the place a beer. “They called me last week and said we want to try to do a deal. We compromised in a week on something we couldn’t do for a long time.”

I am absolutely ecstatic about this.  Closing this place would rip my heart up!

A Good Loss

Watched a good chunk of the Cardinals/49ers on Monday night waiting for Naomi to fall asleep, and was very heartened to see strong defensive play, and not-terrible offensive play.  They did a LOT right, which I haven’t seen in years. Yes, they lost in the end, but the overall impression I got was of a team that could finally, actually, start contending again. This would be AWESOME.

On a related note, I’m no Kurt Warner fan, but man, that dude still has that crazy magic he had with the Rams nearly 10 years ago.  Insane.

Dual-ing Topics: Exercise and the Economy

As that post-election glow starts to fade, the ugly reality of the current economy creeps back into focus. There are a bunch of related pieces on how to deal with it, but the common thread is: go big, go hard. (Folks listed there are Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Noam Scheiber.)

And exercise? Well, the workouts I’m doing now follow the same philosophy: all-in, max effort. Take today: as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of 10 65-pound thrusters (front squat that ends in a press) and 10 pullups (I ran with assisted pullups since I’m still a beginner on them).  I pulled off 5 rounds + 8 thrusters, and was completely blown at the end. In a good way.

Hopefully we’ll unload some crazy cash into the economy in smart ways (infrastructure, clean energy, green building, state/local government assistance) and wind up shocked, amazed, and happy that we did it afterwards.

Headlines

A collection of newspaper front pages.  Awesome.

Election thoughts

First, a few choice quotes from around the Web:

Ezra Klein:

Barack Hussein Obama was, arguably, the country’s most unlikely candidate for highest office. He embodied, or at least invoked, much of what America feared. His color recalled our racist past. His name was a reminder of our anxious present. His spiritual mentor displayed a streak of radical Afro-nationalism. He knew domestic terrorists and had lived in predominantly Muslim countries. There was hardly a specter lurking in the American subconscious that he did not call forth.And that was his great strength. He robbed fear of its ability to work through quiet insinuation. He forced America to confront its own subconscious. Obama actually is black. His middle name actually is “Hussein.” He actually does know William Ayers. He actually was married by Jeremiah Wright. He actually had lived in Indonesia. These were not smears, though they were often used as such. They were facts. And this election was fundamentally about what happened when fear collided with fact.

Matthew Yglesias:

People want Obama to implement his agenda, and his agenda is a progressive one — cutting carbon emissions, expanding access to health insurance and early childhood education, making the tax code more progressive, and spreading the wealth around building broad-based prosperity.

The Onion:

Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked. Another contributing factor to Obama’s victory, political experts said, may have been the growing number of Americans who, faced with the complete collapse of their country, were at last able to abandon their preconceptions and cast their vote for a progressive African-American.

Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday’s election.

Also via The Onion, this headline: Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job

FiveThirtyEight’s projection looks startlingly spot-on: 349 for Obama.  The AP has Obama at 349 without having confirmed North Carolina, Missouri, or Georgia.  That’s some good projecting right there!

My friend Steve wrote this:

It’s not just because the person I wanted to win did. Of course I’m happy about that.

But I’m elated because of how proud I am. Just 40 years after blacks were literally dying for the right to vote, my country has elected a black man president. This doesn’t erase our racial sins of the past, nor does it eliminate the racism that still exists today, but it says something truly remarkable about our country. Indeed, this is the one place where literally anyone can become anything, including president.

That’s something for us to be proud of as a country. And that’s why I’m more than simply happy about what’s happened tonight.

For my part, over the course of the primaries and the campaign, I’ve found myself becoming more and more fired up, interested, and even involved in progressive policies and politics.  I’ve joined and taken the leadership role of my town’s energy committee.  I’m blogging about policy (a bit).  I think about all this more than the headline-skim way I got by with for years.  I followed the primaries closely, read endless policy statements, considered what I liked and what I wanted and what I believed in.  I went to see candidates in action.  I gave money to a campaign for the first time in my life.  Yesterday, I volunteered for a campaign for only the second time in my life.

My first Presidential vote was for Clinton in 1992 — it was somewhat, no, completely unreflective.  I just didn’t like Bush, and was generically left in my sympathies.  I had virtually no deep political beliefs that I’d be willing to stand behind other than vague senses of social justice and fairness.  In ‘96, I was repulsed by the growing shrillness of the Republican/talk radio world, and felt generally fine with Clinton.  After 2000, and the mess that followed, I felt a shift to W would be cruddy, but not awful … that was wrong, so wrong, even had 9/11 not happened.  And in that aftermath, and the leadup to Iraq, where I strenuously argued the idiocy of an Iraq war to anyone who would listen, I drifted away from reading about politics, because it was all so depressing.

Kerry in ‘04 had me hopeful in the primaries, but despondent in the general.  And I still couldn’t bring myself to delve into the issues.  But now, I feel engaged and confident.  And I think that a progressive agenda is a real, doable thing, although there is much work to do going forward.

And I think that a man named Barack Hussein Obama leading our country with intelligence, deliberation, and a clear belief in progressive ideals is the best thing for America, and for the world, that could happen right now.  I’m proud to have voted for him, proud to have worked (even just my one day) for him, and proud of my country right now, and going forward.

Election Night

Ohio called, Pennsylvania called … I suspect this thing is close to over.

Still waiting to see VA, NC, IN, etc.

~12 minutes or so for notions on the West Coast, too.

10:56PM: VA called for Obama?  Game over, man. Holy shit!

11:05PM: Oh my, yes.

Our long national nightmare is OVER!

Obama '08

Yes We Did

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