If I’m not job hunting, why am I going through the job sites? (and going on the road!)

Another Monday, another week forward. Things bubbling under the surface, mostly. I spent much of the week buried deep in a book on nutrition; these are things I typically read through in an evening or two, and this one took most of the week, and I found myself taking notes, something I rarely do. It’s now mutating into a piece for this blog, but it’s challenging to write something that gets the information across and doesn’t collapse into an unreadable pile of TL;DR. Some really fascinating and important stuff in the book, and I will share as soon as I figure out how to do so in a readable form.

Last week was cortisone shot day. That meant a trip to the clinic where I met my doctor, who is back from maternity leave (healthy boy! Sleeping through the night a few times a week!) and we went over the state of the knees, and she then shoved big needles behind both kneecaps and injected cortisone in the areas behind both of them.

I hate needles. I’m pretty good at medical stuff overall, but I hate needles. And I do okay with needles except actually seeing them inserted — it’s not the pain or sensation, it’s actually seeing it happen. So I’ve learned that if I close my eyes just before it happens, I do fine; if I don’t, it’s stress-out city. I find it a weird reaction, but when you know how to cope with it, it’s no big deal. From some informal chats with doctors and techs, not too unusual, either.

We’re at the point where I’m in and out of the treatment room in about 15 minutes. There’s information she wants to know how things are going, I can pass that along as we chat. She asked about the spider bite (it’s gone, the hand that was most affected is currently peeling like a bad sunburn), Lidocaine, alcohol, iodine, injections, bandages and home for the ice bags (to minimize swelling). And I realized about two hours later the knees felt like, well, knees again.

Which got me thinking about how long this has been going on. I honestly had no idea, I had to go look it up. And it turns out, to my surprise, that I’ve been taking cortisone for the knees for almost four years, about every 15 weeks. And I’ve been in orthopedic care for the damn things since 2007 — nine years since I fell in that gopher hole and tore my other meniscus and started down this path.

Which is amazing; back in 2007 the goal was to try to put off knee replacement for a few years, which we started with 500mg of Relafen daily, and after a couple of years, doubled the dose. And Relafen kept things under control for five years before we had to take the next step and go to cortisone, and in the four years since there’s been almost no progression of the arthritis. When we originally started this they told me that if we could hold things off 3-5 years, that’d be good. We’re at nine and counting, and I can’t see needing to change course for a number of years, barring another gopher hole or something. We also thought we might have to rotate me through other NSAIDs over time, but I tolerate the Relafen well and it continues to work against both the knees and the rest of the arthritis, and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

The reason you want to delay knee replacement as long as possible is that the lifespan of a replacement knee is typically 10-15 years, after which you probably need to have it replaced again. The later you can wait to do the initial replacement, the less chance there is you’ll ahem need that second set of knees put in.

The cortisone cycle is one of the small cycles of life I have to plan around: the first few weeks after a shot, the knees almost feel normal, and it’s the best time to plan to be active. And the last few weeks (typically 3-4) the knees tend to be fairly grumpy, in what I call rusty gate hinge mode, where things work, but reluctantly, sometimes with complaints, and occasionally requiring a hammer or a crowbar to get going again.

Also, for better or worse, it’s another week without me announcing public office hours, because it’s another week where I’m sitting down to talk to someone about, well, things. Good things, stuff that I hope will lead to interesting new things, but not things I can talk about beyond calling them things yet. And no, not job related.

If I’m not job hunting, why am I going through the job sites?

I’m not close to thinking of re-entering the job market, but I have to admit that I’ve started browsing the job boards, and those of you who pay close attention to LinkedIn may notice some minor tweaks. I think it’s a good idea to keep the resume (online, at least) up to date anyway, and so I’m usually tweaking it a little every few months — if only because that way it’s less obvious that something’s going on if you decide you want to change jobs and a LinkedIn profile that hasn’t been touched in a couple of years springs to life. I’ve been known to watch for that among my peers, and I’ve freaked out a couple when I’ve reached out to them privately to offer to be a reference when they thought nobody knew they were looking. Whoops! But a good reminder that meta-data can tell people a lot more than you might think, and that’s a reality we’re still learning to grapple with online.

But if I’m not looking for a job yet, why am I putting time into the job sites?

I’m of the belief we should always have an eye open to options. You never know when that one special opportunity is going to appear, the one where even though you’re quite happy with what you’re doing, you gotta reach out after it. It’s hard for opportunity to find you if you are sitting behind a closed door with earbuds in and the drapes drawn.

And I have questions. Do I want to go back and do what I was doing when I take on a new role? Do I want to pivot into some other direction, like perhaps product management? Is now a time where I do a hard reset, step back and shift into some entirely new role, such as technical or marketing writing? Are there opportunities here for me to shift into a non-profit track or into a new industry completely?

These are the kinds of questions best asked when there aren’t deadlines attached, when you can do your research slowly and ponder the answers and options over time. And this sabbatical gives me a perfect opportunity to do so.

There are some other things I want to consider before I wade back into the job market. For instance:

  • Are there companies that should be on my radar?
  • Are there companies that should be banned from my radar?
  • Where should I be looking beyond the obvious job titles?
  • Are there places I want to target my skills, and do I need to do anything to be ready for that? For instance, one company that’s been on my they’re doing interesting things well list for a while is Roku; what kind of skills would I need to develop to become very attractive to them, for instance?
  • Are there skills or tools I should be investing time in that seem to becoming necessary for the roles I’m considering? One thing that keeps popping up as the new community hot toy is Slack, for instance, and so I’ve been exploring it a bit (and honestly, I’m not convinced and it’s starting to prove one of my worries is true: it scales badly and they need to get that under control)

Right now, this is all early stage investing, so to speak: 1-2 hours a week of mostly browsing and pondering. I’m finding some interesting stuff (both positive and negative) about job types and companies, but it’s all about planting seeds; there’s a long time between now and harvesting. I’m also chatting with recruiters when they contact me, although in all but one case, that conversation has been to explain I’m on sabbatical (and in that one special case, it didn’t go anywhere, but they do exist). I know it’s almost as trendy to diss LinkedIn among the geeks as it is to dump on Facebook, and there are definitely things LinkedIn does poorly, but in terms of understanding the job market around here, I don’t see a better alternative and like a flower garden, if you put a little time into it here and there you get beautiful flowers, and if you ignore it you get weeds, and it seems to me most people complaining the loudest about both platforms magically expect flowers as the result of neglect. A bit of tending matters a lot.

And in working through all of this, I have a few thoughts on how recruiters can improve their chances to get my attention and get me to open up discussions with them:

  • If the role ties into my secondary skills or interests (hint: photography, writing, my interests in nature and outdoors, or my photography) it’s going to catch my eye a lot faster.
  • Talk to me, don’t just dump an email in my inbox. If I can find no evidence you looked at my profile before sending me a note on LinkedIn that’s a bad thing. Being part of a bulk inMail generic message isn’t a great way to market your position to me. As with everything, a bit of a personal touch where it shows you actually did a bit of thought and research does wonders.
  • Bonus points if you do something that makes it clear you checked out my web site and/or blog.
  • Major bonus points if you bother to find my (publicly listed on my site) email instead of using LinkedIn Inmail, because now I can tell you’re actually engaged a bit.
  • And if you mention this blog post, I’ll sit down with you somewhere here in Silicon Valley and buy you a round or two of coffees.

Oh, did I mention that if I could find a role that took great advantage of my skills and also of my interests (hint: photography) I would find that very hard to pass up?

Unfortunately those kind of roles are rare. Fortunately, I have the ability to be patient right now.

On the road in June

I’ve been planning a trip in June, and I’m starting to finalize the itinerary. The way I do this is to make a list of all of the places I want to explore, decide that the list is way too long and that I’d be spending all of my time in transit and no time exploring, and start paring down the list until I’m happy with it. As of right now I’ve set my sights on exploring the Washington coast and Olympic National Park as the key location, and then settling in near Portland for a few days to explore around there. This will involve an overnight in Astoria and then a few nights in Port Angeles, a good central location to explore the Olympic Peninsula in general, which gives me access to the coastal areas on the way up as well as Hoh, Forks and Hurricane Ridge. This is an area that, despite having a family cabin in Port Ludlow area for years back in the day, I’ve never visited, so it’s time to (finally) fix that. I probably will stay north of Portland proper since my goal is to explore Ridgefield NWR and probably Sauvie Island, Mt. St. Helens and a gorge run out to Pendleton and back.

If you’re in one of those locations and want to try to set up a time for dinner or a coffee, let me know. I’ll be doing some serious driving from here to there as well (overnights in Medford most likely) but on the distance runs I rarely have energy for much more than finding my room and crashing.

Left off the list for this trip was the whole eastern Oregon/Washington swing (no Malheur NWR this trip), Klamath, Crater Lake, Nisqually NWR, any time along the Oregon coast other than transit to Astoria… I could easily double the length of the trip and not see what was on my “short” list.

The other trip in the plans around Labor Day was when when Laurie and I were looking at returning to Yellowstone. Recently we realized that this year was the National Park centennial and that was (a) why rooms were so bloody expensive and (b) the place was going to be absolutely packed, and so we put it off a year when we won’t be up against the celebration interest and attendance. Hopefully Yellowstone will be a bit less insanely busy next year. Instead, we’re looking to take the time to get back to and old favorite stomping ground and visit Victoria, and perhaps a bit of time in Vancouver (or Seattle or Portland, or… TBD). It feels weird to realize it’s been a decade since I’ve gotten there, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s happened to the place and visiting some of the galleries I used to haunt. One of the things I’m wondering is whether we want to schedule a couple of days out in Tofino or not; plenty of time to make that call.

Now that we’ve decided to head that way, I’m looking forward to it.