Monday, August 19, 2013

The Nesting Doll Chores Trap

Happy Monday, Blogger world!

I intended to do some serious Cafepress housekeeping today.  I did work on my Cafepress, but mostly in the way of adding new products.  It wasn't nothing, in fact I got a lot of work done, just not the work I intended.  This brings to mind a blog post I read just today by a promising young blogger, which I will link to here:

This practical-procrastination thing might be a good way to deal with one of my least favorite chores/work day conundrums - something I call The Nesting Doll Chores Trap.  This is when a task looks small, but leads to one extra job, then another, then another, and so on until you just spent half your day on this string of chores all in the name of getting one thing crossed off your to-do list.

Example:  I go to put something in the compost.  The compost is full, so I have to empty it out.  Then I realize I'm out of compost box liners, so I get more of those.  I do groceries at the same time, because I have to do that anyway.  Ultimately, putting something in the compost took 2 hours.

I've run into a version of that in my Cafepress chores.  I wanted to pare down the extra things in my shops, but first I must organizing my shops so I can keep track of what I've sold (so I don't delete any of those things).  Organizing my shop has lead to having to open other shops because I've run up against the limit of how many sections I can have in a shop, not to mention the fact that going through my shops is making me noticing everything else that's missing/needs doing my shops.

Obviously these things can manifest any way.  Want to do a quick repair job?  A missing part leads to a trip to the hardware store, right after a trip to the bank, then leads to another trip to another hardware store if they don't have what you need, leads to a trip to the gas station because of all the driving around (or a trip to the corner store to get more bus tickets), etc...

There are ways of minimizing these repercussions.  Only go to the grocery store for the compost bucket liners, or save the compost run for later.  Prioritizing can feel a lot like procrastination when you've got more of a to-do-list than you can realistically do in a day.  For me, it's gotten to the point where everything feels like procrastination, because everything ultimately 'needs' doing.  I'd love to take the time to do a good job on things, and sometimes I can manage that.  But the longer I take, the less worthwhile it seems.  This goes double for things I don't get paid for - mainly cleaning.  It doesn't matter how good a job I do, nobody's going to pay me to clean my own home.  It's still important, but not as urgent as the growing vacuum in my bank account.  Perhaps if I alternate between job hunting, cleaning my place, and working on something I actually want to work on, I'll feel like something got done in the end...:/

Anyway, that's my thought for the day.  Thanks for reading!  'Till next time...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cafepress News & Stuff - The Admin Shop

Good Day Blogger world!

I may have mentioned that I'm on Cafepress, and I have a shop.  Actually, I have a few - and there will probably be more because I've run up against the limit of sections for one shop (again :P).  In case you haven't heard of it, Cafepress is a customization site with a marketplace component that allows users to sell things with their own designs on them.  I've been a Cafepress shop owner since about 2010, and now I earn enough to cover my internet costs each month.  Bear in mind, this is at the lowest price I could get internet, but there is often a little left over after that too.

Here's something interesting that Cafepress does, or has done for me in the recent past.  Not too long ago, another shop appeared in my account, one that I did not create.  I was taken aback at first, but apparently this is something Cafepress does if it (they?) feel(s) that certain of your designs would work well on products they don't currently appear on.  I have actually had 2 sales result from that, so I'm cool with it.  I try not to meddle with it too much, but I felt the need to spruce it up today as I was doing some Cafepress housekeeping.  Here's the link if you'd like to see what it looks like:

Here is an example of one of the things that has sold through this shop.

Maiko Silhouette Dark Maternity T-Shirt Maternity Shirt (dark) Admin Store

These are not things I decided to include (although there may be some duplicates between my other shops and this one), and I wouldn't have guessed that a black on black design would sell (when this item sold, the shirt was only available in black).  When it did sell, I realized that this particular design actually does look nice on a black background - it adds an air of mystery to it, which suits the subject matter.  So I added a similar product to my main shop.

I don't know how much of this is an actual person stocking this shop and how much is automated.  Not sure how well the white seahorse is going to work out on the white background of this phone cover, but that remains to be seen.  I haven't changed any of the products so far , though I may decide to adjust some of them.

In other news (as I mentioned earlier), I'm going to have to put up a new shop to make room in my old shop.  I've decided to make a few mini shops containing images from my calendars.  This could get confusing.  I will have to find a way around that, and for the near future it will probably involve links.

That's all the news for now!  As always, thanks for reading!  :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Job Prospects - Also, Space Opera In Your Pants

Good Day, Blogger world!  :)

Another week begins!  Or rather, my 5-day weekend begins, as I just finished my 2 day work week.  The job search continues, though I am hoping hard that one of my recent applications does come to fruition.  It is that rare gem that is actually in the field I studied.  This wouldn't just be a way of paying my mortgage - it could be a solid stepping-stone in my career.  I've sent the application in already, so now all I can do is wait and think of ways to prepare for the potential interview - and possibly even success.  It's easy to forget to prepare for success.  It requires cautious optimism, and more than a little bit of foresight.  I shall attempt a vision of the future, and prepare as necessary.

In other news, I just got back from vacation, which, among other things, means I've finished reading a book!  Not something that happens as often as it used to, and I'm working on changing that.  I bought this book of short stories quite a few years ago, and I've been making my way through it very slowly.  All the stories in this book are sci-fi/fantasy, and they are all in some way about music.  It seemed like a really interesting premise - not to mention a shoe-in for the suffix "In Your Pants".  If you don't know what I'm talking bout, this video should give you the necessary background (applicable information beginning at 2:18):

Honestly, I may have bought this book before Vlogbrothers had even gotten started.  Just to give you an idea of how long I've had it, I just noticed I'd been using a Kleenex coupon that expired on the last day of 2007 as a bookmark.

The book was put together by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and contains 20 stories in total.  They make a varied and interesting collection, each story by a different author, with as diverse a range of settings and characters as one could ask.  I love music, as do a lot of people of course.  It's possible that a story inspired by music has that touch of magic to it.  I know this book had more than a few gems that I'll remember fondly.  A good read over all - bite-sized pieces of diverse imaginations, each interpreting the theme in their own way.

I think that's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Later Blogger world!  :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: The Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery

Good Day Blogger world!

On Monday I posted a review of an exhibit at MSVU, and it occurs to me that the gallery itself would be worthy of further description.   It's a nice little space, just off the main entrance of the Seaton building, but it tends to escape notice.  That's a shame, because boring content is a rarity in this venue.

It's not a big gallery - technically just one room - but the gymnasium-height ceiling allows for some very unique exhibitions.  Most recently, artist-in-residence Steve Higgens constructed a very large wooden structure devised of clashing architectural elements reminiscent of his charcoal drawings.  This took up most of the lower gallery, which made for an amazing view from the mezannine.  There's been art of all sizes in this space.  The one that sticks out in my memory is the life-sized latex lighthouse by Kim Mornga, which hung diagonally from the ceiling in front of the Mezzanine to the floor a the opposite end of the gallery  I think this openness also speaks to the kind of art that has been housed here over the years.

Part of the MSVU Art Gallery's mandate is to give representation to women artists and their work, as well as local artists and artisans, often in the early stages of their careers.  I love that about the place, and I feel it's brought in some really interesting and unique content.  I've made reference to the exhibit by Christine Redfern that included the actual drawn cartoon panels of "Who is Ana Mendieta", the graphic novel, specifically in this post:  Also included in this exhibit was a film that showed one of Mendieta's art works, a flaming armature silhouette, possibly a goddess symbol, burning on a continuous loop.  Sharing the gallery, and the exhibit, with these, was a curtained-off projecting of a woman in a sheet, seeming to be asleep and shifting around in charcoal dust.  The animation would speed up and slow down as the viewers' movements were detected by motion sensors.  This installation by Philomne Longpre (titled "Xia"), and the "Who is Ana Mendieta" display, were shown as a joint exhibit.  I find them both to be good examples of work focused on women's issues, one on the struggles of decades past, and the other on the lingering struggles that still permeate culture, society, and psychological conditioning.

The gallery does not shy way from controversial subjects or potentially offensive subject matter.  The exhibit "Oriental Ornamental" featured walls full of giant silk flowers, each featuring what appeared to be human genitalia, complete with human hair.  These were also made of fabric, and perhaps this went some way toward disguising their intended nature, as there were people who actually took each other's graduation day pictures in front of them.  Or perhaps this was completely deliberate.  I like to think that MSVU attracts people with a healthy sense of humour, or at least irony.  This exhibit also featured a giant wig, on which visitors could pin origami flowers with over-sexualized images of oriental women printed on them.  In the upper gallery, there was an entire faux opium den, put together by another artist and assembled entirely from "oriental" style decor such as one might find at wicker emporium and other decidedly inauthentic sources.  I found this exhibit to be exceptionally interesting.  The one thing I found really off-putting was the background soundtrack in the opium den, which included 5 minutes of screaming every 15 minutes.  A key to the intent of the work, but it did begin to grate after a while.  The subject of this joint exhibit was to do with ethnic stereotyping, specifically of Oriental people.  Plenty of food for thought to be had.

Other exhibits have brought large colour photos of railway systems across North America, a forest of umbrellas attached to toy accordions that played themselves on loop, gigantic canvasses painted with poured acrylic, a pile of 1 million pennies, and numerous other wonders of contemporary art. The work often takes some explaining, but that's what makes it interesting.  Definitely worth a visit, or two, or more if you get the chance.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Exhibit Review - Arthur Lismer: Halifax Harbour at War Time

Good Day, Blogger world! 

I've decided to devote some time to actual art review on this blog.  I often have the opportunity to see good art, and it's an experience worth sharing. 

Today I'd like to talk about a small collection of paintings and lithographs by Arthur Lismer currently on display at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.  This is a slightly unusual exhibit for this particular gallery.  The kind of work on display in this venue tends to be very contemporary, by artists who are still midway through their careers, or at least still alive.  This work has more history behind it, not to mention the name of one of the Group of 7 members.  It has a lot of local relevance too, which is part of what MSVU looks for.  As indicated in the name, all the work in this exhibit depicts scenes of Halifax Harbour during World War I, in the form of lithographs and paintings which Arthur Lismer was commissioned by the Canadian War Records to create.  All told, this is a pretty special show for the gallery. 

Seascape and landscape painting are one of those genres that gets taken for granted in this era.  We think of them as something nice to have on one's wall - tasteful, unobtrusive, and unexciting.  Even though we can usually appreciate the work that goes into such a thing, it's hard to get fired up about them, no matter what the historical significance.  At first glance, the paintngs included in this exhibit are calm, even tranquil-looking.  The lithographs are somewhat more exciting, perhaps because they have more images of people, or perhaps because of the raw sketchiness of the medium.  The paintings may hold one's interest too on second glance.  Once we get past the instantaneous impression of the collection of shapes and colours that says "seascape", it's worth it to look at the paint itself. 

The quality of mark-making is really spontaneous, careless even.  In the long panoramic painting "View From Chebucto Head", the strokes are clearly visible.  You can see canvas between the strokes in some spots, but the paint goes on thick, forming glossy ridges where the bristles drew it along.  This particular painting reminds me of something I heard second/third-hand about Lismer and his practice:  that he would collection garbage and detritus on the way to his studio, and then ask his studio assistant "Landscape or seascape?".  He would then arrange his findings in some kind of formation and paint said land or seascape from that arrangement.  Not sure that this is an established truth, but looking at that one painting I can imagine him doing that.  Great idea, really. 

When looking at these paintings, it's interesting to look at the painting technique and try to imagine what the artist was thinking at the time.  The technical competence is clear, even thought the technique does not imply that minute detail was the be-all-end-all for this artist.  This wasn't created as an image rendered in paint - it is a painting.  The subject matter is stayed, though impressive - the technique is exciting. 

This exhibit is up until August 11th, so if you have a chance, I recommend checking it out.  Thanks for reading.  Later Blogger world!  :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Online Job Hunting and My Conspiracy Theory

So, here is how NOT to recruit online.

So I get this email from Name I Don't Recognize that reads very much like spam.  The subject line starts with FYI, for one thing.  It seems the status of my job application for TEAMsomeoddnumber is changed.  This email didn't end up in my spam folder, so I opened it to find it contained very little information, as well as an attachment and a link.  This is all looking very spammy to me.  I check the full header, and it actually appears to be from a place I applied to months ago.  I plug the name into my inbox box to be sure, and find this email looks like most of the others I have received from said establishment.  OK, fine.  So I go to find out what has changed about my application, only to find out that either I've forgotten my password or my account no longer exists even though they can still send me emails (I'm now thinking that's what this change in status was, because I was not allowed to use the lost password option).  I won't go into all the infuriating details, but in conclusion I find that obscure language, mixed signals, and general over-automation is not a great strategy for online recruitment.

Seriously, I have to wonder how well this actually works, even for big corporations in a weak job market.  It seems like an awful lot of resources to put into the process of elimination.  They must be sure that all these hoops to jump through really will narrow the field down to the ones who can do the job best.  Perhaps they've calculated it all so that only a specific type of mind can actually make it through the application process.  I've made it to the interview stage a handful of times, but I have yet to actually acquire a job that I originally applied for online.

Some would argue that comparatively few jobs are actually gained by responding to any type of advertisement, and my own job experience would seem to back that up.  Very often it's about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.  This makes this shift toward online recruitment even more mysterious.  Seems like an awful lot effort to put into something that won't do the bulk of the hiring for you.  Some places don't even give you the option of applying any other way except online!  What are you doing collecting hypothetical employees in an online database if only a fraction of a fraction of them make it to your team?

One alternative explanation occurs to me:  information.  This is the age where corporations want to know about you.  Your likes, dislikes, gender, age, beliefs, politics, and anything else they can use in order to sell their product to you.  Most privacy statements will say that they would never share your information with a third party, which is the prevailing fear.  But if the company you're applying to is a big retailer, why would they sell your information?  They're the ones who need it in order to sell you stuff!

Seriously, I've talked about this before:

Sketches and Swatches: Do I really have to sign up for everything?

I give more information to these online recruitment sites than I would give most places, unless I'm filing my taxes or renewing my passport.  What bugs me, if this theory turned out to be true and online recruitment sites are just consumer information banks for corporations, is that I could tolerate this if I actually got a paying job out of it!  That's why people sign up for Vindale Research, and other "Surveys for Cash" sites.  We all know that corporations benefit from our information - why not sell it to them directly and reap some fringe benefits?  Sadly, it doesn't work that way, because there are enough ways to get our information already, that nobody has to pay you for it.

Maybe this isn't news at all.  It certainly would explain the psych-test style questionnaires and the recruitment engines using other recruitment engines to recruit.  I have to say that my job search has gone better of late.  I've had 2 interviews this past week.  One did result from an online ad, though I delivered the actual application in person.  The other was one I'd heard about through word of mouth - in fact, a friend of a family member offered me an interview.  It was at a place where I'm kind of a regular, which is nice.  The whole "it's about who you know" thing isn't as superfluous as it sounds, really.  It's good to have a real-world idea of who you're hiring and who you're being hired by.  It's not a bad place to start, at least.

This post took a turn I hadn't anticipated.  Funny the things that will occur to you when writing/wild-goose-job chasing/venting.  Thanks for reading, Blogger world!  Until next time!

PS:  Having given no time to art-talk in this blog, I feel like I should at least include some of my recent work:

Inkblot Seraphim by ~Eseopia on deviantART

Seraphim - the highest order of angel.  Covered in wings because they can't be seen by mere human beings, though that's probably an oversimplification.  I must say, angels are more interesting and diverse than they appear in pop culture, even going by what research I've done on my own time.  I've put together a calendar containing my drawings of angels that I've done over the years.  It is available through Deviantart...

Angels and Shades Calendar by ~Eseopia on deviantART

and Cafepress:

Enough product placement?  :B  I thought so.  Later!