Monday, December 29, 2014

Specifics

Howdy
I've heard that depending on the need languages develop nuances to help us communicate better.  In Ohio just the word snow will mostly suffice for the winter precipitation we get.  Sometimes its sleet or freezing rain, but mostly its snow.  Wet snow, dry snow, powder but basically its all variations on the same theme.  Maybe we just don't get enough snow to really worry about the lack of flair this limited vocabulary illustrates. Its been suggested that the Inuit use upwards of 50-100 terms, Inuit Words for Snow and Ice.  A lot of people think this is just a trope. It can be hard to explain most of this terminology since our own languages prevents us from fully understand the differences between pirtuk 'blizzard, snowstorm' and pirrelvag- 'to blizzard severely.'  Beyond snow there's also 12 Wonderfully Quirky Words with No English Equivalent. Fisselig is my favorite. 
This German adjective means "flustered to the point of incompetence." It's different from English words like jittery, Rheingold says, because "it conveys a temporary state of inexactitude and sloppiness that is elicited by another person's nagging."
Where am I going with this awfully big tangent?  I have a point, I promise. I really like words.  I like new words and better words.  I hate when I'm thinking or feeling something that I just cannot describe to my own satisfaction.  I feel there is no way to express myself accurately. You'll notice I say "I mean" a lot.  Its a habit born of the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively.  


Hiraeth is Welsh , pronounced [hɨraɪ̯θ]
I've been home for a month now and I have this strange sensation.  I'm not homeless since I have a home. However I still find myself thinking about where I am and how I got here.  I think about where I was and why I left. I wonder why lives in my apartment in Franklin and who lives in my apartment in Doha.  Neither place is my home anymore, each had issues like a toilet that leaked or lightbulbs that seemed  permanently burnt  out. Yet I think of them wistfully as if they no longer exist. Oddly I don't know that I would or could go back to either of them. I don't think they would feel like my own spaces if I did. Until recently I didn't have word for this peculiar absence.  How can you miss what was never really yours? How can you miss what you don't want back? Is this hiraeth, an amplified sense of sentiment? Maybe Hiraeth (Welsh), originated in the same manner as Saudade (Portuguese), Morrina (Spanish- Galacian) and Dor (Romanian) as each can be traced, at least vaguely, back to the specific loss of a homeland. Hiraeth can be specifically used to mean you miss Wales.

Since I have a degree in English I think I'm well qualified to create some new words to define things in a more exacting manner. I love the word 'horrocious', its a blend of horrendous and atrocious and I like to use it when something unspeakably gross happens.  It hasn't quite caught on yet. 

I'd love a words for the following situations :

Awestruck at the Aquarium
  • When you are hungry but nothing looks good so you just don't eat
  • When you spend the whole day deciding what to do but never actually do anything
  • Happy crying
  • the sensation of the pressure changing almost imperceptibly when someone opens a door
  • delighting in something that should be scary and still sort of is but you like it, like thunderstorms 
  • when you are cold but sweaty at the same time

I think if we had more of the right words to use we wouldn't misuse some many other words like awesome or magic.  Awe is a profound state of nearly overwhelming emotion, your hamburger probably isn't awesome.  It doesn't make much sense the way we use wonderful either.  Are you actually filled with wonder? Magic is a delightful and creative art that influences the way we perceive and understand the world; yet people use magic to describe sporting events.  Save your words, use them correctly and people will understand you better.  

If you are truly speechless, its ok to just stop talking. 

Laura


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Unexpected Mail

Howdy
Two weird, and possibly related, things happened this week.  Both of which involved the mail. When I was in Qatar I got mail occasionally.  

When I moved in November I missed a letter that was in transit.  I assumed I would never see it again.  It was mailed from Ohio November 13th and arrived in Doha on the 19th.  I fly home on the 25th and somewhere in the middle the letter and I missed each other.  Qatar's postal service is growing but lacks a lot of aspects I take for granted in the US.  It is uncommon to see mailboxes at residences or to receive mail regularly. Although the letter didn't contain anything on monetary value, mail had been a very important part of living overseas.  I was sorry I wouldn't get one last letter from home.   


Wait a minute Mr. Postman
So just to be strange I got two things in the mail but they didn't arrive at mom's house where I currently live and lived before the move.  No, they showed up on two different days at my sister's house.  The house of the darling mail slot thats not in the door but in the wall of a hall closet. Now if you weren't aware I have quite a fondness for postcards.  I have several hundred, maybe up to a thousand.  I have postcards from many countries and now I have a postcard from Qatar.  The post card is from Souq Waqif the famous market in downtown Doha.  Also on the post card is FANAR, Qatar Islamic Cultural Center in Doha (Fanar on facebook). Famous for its beautiful sea shell like spiral, Fanar is a fantastic landmark for both the downtown and the souq itself. Special thanks to my coworker to whom I was never able to say goodbye in person. 

Perhaps the lone postcard is not so mysterious in the greater scheme of things but when the letter from my sister arrived things got really strange.  Here is the kicker, the letter is in another envelope with no return address and it has your standard US postage, not an international stamp.  The post card and the letter are not in the same handwriting but they both have the same post mark.  Both items were mailed from within the United States.  So while the postcard's author is known, I haven't a the foggiest notion how the letter made its way back to Ohio.  I'm really happy to know that at least two people were involved in getting this letter back to me.  I assume it was the efforts of another coworker but since the letter was mailed back to my sister and not my mom its really hard to guess who it could be. 


Good news will come to you by mail.

 I didn't want or expect much in the way of presents this season.  The best gifts are always surprises so in a funny way I got my wish after all. 


Laura


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hiring Librarians - Job Hunter Interview

Howdy
For those who know me and have worked with me you might be aware that detail work is challenging.  I lack the amount of focus necessary to sew, bake or write neatly.  You will often find me standing at my desk so that my bottom half can fidget while my top half gets work done.  It looks strange but it totally works.  In fact I had a desk chair and one day I put it in storage; I didn't use it and often found it was in my way.

While job hunting I have been asked to do a lot of meticulous work in documenting my training, skills and other assets.  Since a lot of libraries have their own form which is a pdf, you are required to add a text box for each field (you can also print and fill the form out by hand but as I mentioned, if it needs to be legible then I have to type it).  After completing this task 15+ times its easy to wonder if there is a better way to highlight all my strengths.  As a visual learner who loves a hands on environment it can be exacting to define oneself based only on text.  I want to show people what I can do and the standard employment packet requires that I deliver my message with just my words.  This feels a bit like speaking when I cannot use my hands.  Like an aspect of myself has been muted. 

I have been using a lot of the online tools at The Hiring Librarians, and volunteered to share my take on the employment process for library professionals. This article is the result. 

It is hard to imagine all the form completing and hoop jumping I have been doing really results in finding quality staff

At first I was a little worried about the title, its incredibly long and well, snarky.  But honestly I hate redundancy and I think my meaning and message are clear.  Repetitious tasks that have the appearance of being time wasters tend to get shuffled to the bottom of my To Do list. I hope that re-reading the article will help me focus on the task at hand.  I also hope that if I ever get the chance to streamline and simplify the hiring process that I will remember the challenges I was presented with and work that much harder to make it easier for someone else.  

Laura


Thursday, December 25, 2014

YALSA the Hub : What are you reading over the Holidays?

Howdy
Check out What are you reading over the Holidays?, featuring pictures of all the reading the Hub bloggers will be doing this season.  You'll see two pics of me working on my to do list of titles, both of which were taken by my sis the photog. 

Photography by Barbara Perenic.

Laura

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wahhab Mosque

Howdy All

Over the Eid Holiday in October I took a tour of the Wahhab Mosque (Al Muhandiseen Street).  I never did anything with the pictures and forgot them somehow. I made an album so you can see the grounds and the inside of the mosque.   Officially it is the Imam Sheikh Muhammed Ibin Abdul Wahhab Mosque.  My driver had never heard of it no matter how I tried to pronounce the name.  I ended up showing him a picture from my cell phone and that clicked.  This was also the first time I started sitting in the front seat when I hired a driver.  I got to a point where I basically called the same fellow over and over.  Turns out he wasn't afraid of me and I wasn't afraid of him.  We both got a lot more out our daily commute when we took the time to talk. My driver was pretty confused as to why I wanted to visit the mosque but I didn't understand his reservations.  He knew I wasn't dressed  appropriately but I think he was embarrassed to say so.  When I got to the mosque the ladies at the front door lent me an abaya and head scarf.  I had always wondered how my coworkers kept their scarves in place.  I didn't think to bring pins and boy without them it sure was a challenge to keep my head and hair covered correctly. There was supposed to be a tour but it turned out to be self led so I didn't learn very much about the history of the mosque.
The mosque covers a total area of 175,164 sq.m. As many as 11,000 men can offer prayers in the air-conditioned central hall of the mosque and the adjacent special enclosure is spacious enough for 1200 women. There are three main doors and 17 side entrances to the mosque. As many as 28 large domes cover the central hall while 65 domes cover the outer quadrangle. On the whole the mosque can hold a congregation of 30,000 people. (Mosque)

I met with a friend for this tour and thankfully she and I were not the only westerners to muddle through our self guided visit. You really cannot go anywhere without meeting teachers and there were perhaps 10 or so ladies from one of the local elementary schools. After getting dressed we were directed to an elevator.  We went up a few floors and arrived in brightly lit, carpeted hallway.  At no point beyond the elevator did we meet anyone else; no one was there to pray or study. There was a large sign in the hallway that directed us to remove our shoes and remain quiet as we walked around. If you look closely at the sign you can see they suggest you not use your cell phone but there are also instagram (Everything links to Islam Web but they don't actually seem to have an Instagram feed) and YouTube logos at the bottom.   This picture is in the slide show below in case you find it too small to be able to read all the rules.  

After taking off our shoes we wandered around a bit.  There were a lot of door and none of them were labeled.  I was nervous about just walking into random rooms so we gingerly opened the doors one at a time.  From the outside its clear the mosque is enormous. Inside its also staggeringly large.  As women, we weren't allowed into the main sanctuary which comprises most of the bottom floor.  The women's prayer area is elevated and partitioned with filigree. 



I took some pretty fantastic panorama shots that I hope will give you a sense of scope.  Everything is faceted to the nth degree, each column, chandelier and door is intricate many times over. The ladies prayer area had two main doors.  The whole area was divided in half by the door you see to the right.  Straight ahead you see the lattice partitions that overlook the main prayer area.  One of my favorite things was the incredibly plush carpet. It was really deep, like walking on snow.  I felt really self conscious about being barefoot in such a sacred space.  I knew my feet were clean because I had washed them downstairs.  I still felt uncomfortable about leaving my shoes behind.  




Not only is the inside of the building arranged to keep the sexes separate; the outside establishes the rules immediately. There are different entrances for men and women.  We did go walk on the terrace after the tour and you cannot even walk around to the other half of the building or be anywhere near the men's entrance. 

If I could visit again and hear about the building from a guide that would be great.  I really felt I missed some important aspects of the mosque and its relevance to Islam and Qatar. 

Laura

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Online Job App Fail


Howdy
There are a lot of things in the world that do not make sense.  Language errors account for a lot of amusement in my day.  Normally these are awesome puns or fun things to ponder, not illogic running rampant on my ability to apply for a job. Case in point this screen shot from a company's online job application that requires a 50+ question quiz on your morals in addition to the usual details about your education and job experience.  There is a section of the form designed for you to add your resume so that the website can autofill some content from the file.  I hit this intriguing road block when the page seemed to be telling me contradictory information. 



At first it seems I am only allowed to upload a single document.  Why else would the site tell me the maximum number of attachments is 1? Now that it appears my mistake was trying to attach yet another document I was really confused by the next statement telling me "You can attach files."  Umm...ok.  So thats plural, as in more than one?  I think one of us is confused but its probably not me. If I am limited to 1 attachment as the first statement suggests how do they think I will "attached files to the candidate records(e.g. cover, letter, resume,references, transcripts, etc.)"?

The good news is, I made it work.  

Laura


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Resume Review

Howdy

There are a lot of kind people in the world, who despite having jobs and busy lives of their own, take it upon themselves to help out the unemployed.  I'm sure each profession has its own batch of this altruistic sort.  I have been using the services of The Hiring Librarians. This blog has many handy features for librarians with skills in a variety of sectors who find themselves unemployed,  underemployed or just needing a change. 

I submitted my resume for review and so far I have  received a lot of good feedback. You can check out For Public Review - Job Hunter LP to see my original resume, the comments I received and the form for  submitting  any  comments you might have. Some suggestions made a lot of sense.  I took the ideas to heart and made plenty of changes.  You ca see some of the edits by checking out my updated resume on this blog

 Another section I've used is the Interview Questions Repository where you can submit questions posed to you during an interview and also read questions other librarians have been asked in their job searches.  Forewarned is forearmed.  I had an in person interview Monday and I have a phone interview Wednesday.  Brushing up on common questions or being aware of new techniques will help me from flubbing an answer.  Also it should keep me from loosing my thought and blurting out 'brain fart.' I am pretty sure that is a deal breaker. 

Did you know that Microsoft Excel and Mac Numbers are great programs to use for keeping track of your applications?  I keep a spread sheet of each job with information on the employer, application requirements and when I applied so I can follow up.  This is also helpful if anyone at Job and Family Services asks you what avenues you have explored. 


Other resources that are smoothing the way to employment are Open Cover Letters,  I Need a Library Job, and Library Career People.  This last one isn't specific to just librarians : 
How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets (When You Don't Work With Numbers). I enjoyed this article especially since I didn't realize some people are really opposed to bullets on a resume. 

One thing that would make this whole process easier, if Google Chrome would go back to its original method for managing bookmarks.  I am trying to keep my job hunt organized and wow they sure don't make it easy. 

Normally I complain about people being complete tools but this latest batch of online tools has been really helpful.

Laura

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Word Hoarding

Howdy
The Fray, a band known for the song Waiting on a Cue (Cable Car), has a lyric I often ponder. 
I never knew
I never knew that everything was falling through
That everyone I knew was waiting on a cue

All the things!
I realized that many people, regardless of profession, keep a portfolio.  I somehow got the idea that since my medium isn't entirely visual, that I couldn't or should't collect my work. This might also because I think the word 'dossier' is funny. Aside from my resume I haven't documented my work beyond basic facts. Until I find vocabulary to fit my project, I have started hoarding my blog posts.  Basically any instance I can find of my writing online I am going to collate on a page in my blog for quick reference


Laura

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adventures in Insurance

Howdy


Call me maybe?
I left my number with the OhioMedicaid customer services  system which is supposed to save my place in line and guarantee that someday I will get a call.  This didn't happen so after 24 hours I attempted the online form.  It took so long to fill out that the page closed out and didn't finish my application.  When I tried to log back in the form won't save.  I can call Job and Family Services but they don't know a thing about the page.  They suggested I call Medicaid. So I called Medicaid again and left my name and number.  Ironically processing your application should take about two weeks but I wonder if that means two weeks from when the get you start the application or two weeks once they have all your paperwork.  I haven't even actually gotten proof I am eligible for Medicaid.  I just know you can't run around with no coverage but aside from scaring people they aren't doing an awesome job explaining what to do next.  I mean excuse me for not having been unemployed before.  Anyone who doesn't think being unemployed isn't a full time job should try it for awhile. It's just as stressful but with way less pay. 

Other favorite things about the online form; when it asks your marital status.  You can choose from married or not married.  How about single?  Please don't define my jobless state based on my inability to find love as well.  Honestly. 

On the third day there was success, at least in that I finally got my application to go through. Now I just have to wait for processing to see if I am in fact eligible.  You have fill out the form to see if you can have state health insurance but filling out the form doesn't mean you will really get coverage.  Meanwhile I do not know if I should look elsewhere for health insurance. 

Eventually I got a phone call and would you believe it takes 30 days to establish if I can have health insurance?  I was told it took two weeks. In fact if you call Medicaid their automated message says it takes two weeks. Are they not even drinking their own Koolaid? So for right now I have two plans: hurry up and find a job, and don't get sick.

Laura


Monday, December 1, 2014

Welcome Packet

Howdy All
When I moved to Qatar I was intensely aware of making a large number of mistakes on a regular basis.  In fact I joked about making at least one major social faux pas a week. (like the night I landed and I didn't know you couldn't just sit in the front seat of the car because this will freak your driver out) Well I've decided to continue in that vein while job hunting.  I only seem to see the typos after the emails sent.  Its all rather cringe worthy.  I think I call my sister at least once a day to have a good flap about something stupid I've done.  I really don't know what worries me more; the mistakes I've made that I know about or the mistakes that go unseen by me but surely not the delighted HR staff just waiting to shuffle me to the bottom of the stack.  I am still working on craft the perfect cover letter that is the correct mix of humility, creativity and desire to please just let me do all the things. 

I decided that unemployment needs a Welcome Packet.  It should remind you of things that you've possibly not yet had the misfortune of needing to know. I have to get health insurance.  This is now a law.  I tried to call Job and Family Services.  Once its just rang for about 5 minutes.  The second time I talked to a person who then transferred me to a voicemail box that was full so I couldn't leave a message.  I was then hung up on.  Next I tried to call Medicaid.  They are experiencing a higher than average call volume so I was prompted to leave my name and number.  This didn't result in a call back yet.  I see commercials about a deadline for health insurance.  I don't know when the deadline is or what happens if you miss it or what happens if the deadlines passes and then you loose you job. 

I attempted the health insurance website and despite being a decently intelligent person I was bamboozled. I was stumped by the 3rd question which asks to estimate your monthly salary.  Um, zero? Unless you mean usually, like when I am employed? Help! No really how to people figure this out normally?  Can I just eat a lot of broccoli and try not to get sick?

When I am not job hunting or over analyzing my cover letters I make soup and go running. I have finally started to sleep through the night but I cannot seem to stay awake passed about 9pm.  I blame some of this on a round of shots I needed that all have fatigue as a side effect.  

In other random news, apparently my car has has the wrong size tires since I bought a new set back in August of 2012.  It hasn't been an issue up until now thankfully. 


While job hunting I have been debating what else to work on so that I maintain my knowledge of kid and YA lit.  I miss book reviewing and blogging.  I think I'll pick up with VOYA and YALSA again.  Maybe I'll get back into SOYAMRG too.  I am starting to understand why people like to blog so much and they do it for a living. It can be a great way to reflect on what you have been up to. I really think the worst part of this whole  experience is that I do not trust my intuition.  Sometimes I reread my posts and I want to rewrite them to cram in a little more reality. I really thought moving to Qatar was an awesome idea until it failed epically.  Now I find myself unable to make decisions.  I don't know what I want or how to get it.  I feel quite lumpish. Which might explain my renewed interest in running as its the rare time of day during which I feel productive. 

Laura