The point when you can’t do free anymore

This is a tough topic, and I even hesitate to mention anything about it. Still, it’s worth opening up a discussion because as I get deeper and deeper into my career that revolves around technology, whether it’s in radio, web design, podcasting, or content producing, this is something that similar people are running into.

What do you do when you can’t do what you love to do for free anymore? After all of those favors or helpful tips that you give out to other people are just too much for the amount of time that you have in a day where you have to ask for some compensation, what else can you do?
Continue reading “The point when you can’t do free anymore”

Yes, that’s me

Zanstorm posted about this on Waiting for Stanley some time back when he saw me in the background during the Nashville game, and he asked if I knew I was on TV. I honestly didn’t know if I made it on the TV, but it didn’t surprise me. We’re all down there doing our sports coverage thing.

It was when I got an email from faithful TCC listener GZ Expat that it was kind of fun to acknowledge that yes, that’s me in the background… the really short guy with Brad Isbister, #27. That guy is huge.

"Is that you??"

If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I’ve posted, this is apart of that. It’s been quite the month with my day job. After Northern Voice, the pace has gone nonstop, even if we did make a weekend for ourselves on Salt Spring Island. The toughest part is coming home and wanting to do much of anything except relax.

I hope to do more soon, but the season isn’t over for the Canucks just yet (which could be an entire other post for another time). One more regular season game, then, I hope, things will slow down. Hope is the key word there.

Nuts and dried fruit goes a long way

Christmas thanks at work If there is one thing that everyone should remember, at least during one point in a year, it’s to thank the folks that work hard, behind the scenes, to make things happen. I only say this because when it happens, it makes those people feel good for all the hours of labor that often wouldn’t be possible unless you had people willing to do the task and not demand a lot of credit.

That might sound selfish, but let me be completely honest. I work in radio, and that’s exactly what I do. It’s not a cry for attention or a need to be just as recognized as those people that are on the mic day in and day out. This is more of a plea for the rest of the world, at least those in the working force who rely on people with technical expertise on a daily basis, to just show a token of appreciation.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had quite the week already, the twelve hour day I just got done with, or the thought of the tasks looming on the horizon. When someone brought the gift basket into our department from the sales folks, it certainly made me feel good, no matter how many fires I have to put out in a day or how much my brain hurts by the time it hits the pillow.

And seriously, if this sounds at all familiar to you, remember to at least thank those people.

The Canada Line pains me

Going back to my post about having the new day job and becoming a commuter via the beauties of TransLink, I have developed a relationship with the Canada Line that tugs at the feelings I once had for it.


I’ve watched this project take off with extreme enthusiasm, anxiously waiting for that day that we can grab a train from downtown to YVR to escape to some (hopefully tropical) destination. I also hear a lot about this “Richmond” place, and if there is a train that will take me there, I’m more than likely going to drag Rebecca to some other place that I wanna go explore just because we can. That’s not to say that she isn’t usually up for my crazed ideas of exploring places people often don’t think of exploring, but you get the idea.

I’m still trying to nail down my commuting route, and there is no easy way of getting from home to work without transferring to at least one bus. That’s really no big deal, but the easiest way to get there is by taking the, sometimes elusive, #15 Cambie.

Broadway & Cambie construction for Canada Line

I took this picture while waiting for the #15, heading back downtown. That hole is where the street should be, and the bus stop is carved out on a ledge with only a metal, construction fence protecting you from a fifty foot drop.

I know that most Vancouverites are saying, “Dude, there’s your problem.” Trust me, I knew that going into this because for those not in the know, Cambie is the street that, starting on the same side of False Creek that I go to every morning now, is in the wanning stages of being tore up and tunneled through for said Canada Line.

In the mixing and mashing of routes that I’ve been taking, you can’t rely on that Cambie bus ever being on time. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes of waiting at the transfer point, and a few times I’ve been lucky to have it pull up just as the first bus pulls away. A few other days, it’s been much worse, 35 minutes of waiting at the worst point. Even after waiting, you might get two #15’s following each other. Pleasant and frustrating all at the same time.

Taken: August 18, 2006 | Location: Queen Elizabeth Park

I realize that I’ve only been doing this in a total of about two weeks, but it wasn’t until that awful day of waiting of more than a half hour and being crammed in a bus full of people that I figured that this wasn’t all in my head. I guess I wasn’t just some newbie transit rider that didn’t know the system well enough yet. Some woman, somewhere in the pile of people, yells out, “More people should complain to TransLink about this because I’m tired of being the only one!”

So that afternoon, I wrote a complaint via email, and TransLink replied. They said, “I have checked our records and I do not see anything in particular regarding any service problems with this route. I do apologize, I will document and process for Vancouver Transit Centre.”

It wasn’t so much that I was late for work as to the amount of people calling on their cellphones to let work know that they’d be late, not to mention the one woman who was really ticked that she would have to miss her morning coffee break, was enough to lay effort to the cause. Trust me, I wanted a coffee that morning, too, but being on time to a new job is more uber-important.

Some mornings are good, some mornings are not. It doesn’t help that once you get on the False Creek side of the Cambie bridge that there are numerous other developments, not to mention an Olympic village being built by an army of cranes, mucking up everything. Single lane traffic, lane closures, heavy machinery, cement trucks taking numerous tries of backing into a work site just right, stupid people, high traffic volume, etc. There is always the #50 False Creek, which is way better but comes less frequently downtown.

It’ll be nice when it’s all done, and that’s all you can really say. Just really hoping it’s soon. It shouldn’t take an hour to get from the West End to Southeast False Creek. At that point, it’s easier to just walk.

Rocking the False Creek

View from work 1

Tis true. I’ve landed myself a new gig and become one of the many public transit commuters in Vancouver. And oddly, there is something satisfying to being able to strap on my iPod in the mornings and make the trek over to the new job. There’s a lot for me to do there, and it’s very much a clock in and clock out operation. I’m all for getting things done, and only after a week, I feel like I’ve been there a month.

I’m sure details will sort themselves out, but there isn’t a need, at least by my own standards, to shout from the rooftops as to where I’m at now. Regardless, it’s a massive step up from anything I could have ever imagined, and I consider myself lucky to be where I am. I didn’t seek it out. It found me.

So my apologies for not talking about it much before now. I would say that I’ve been more busy getting used to the new lifestyle versus being crazy busy like I was over the summer. As it all sorts it self out, there will be a reprisal of content, and that goes for here and the podcasts, RZ more than TCC.

Right now, I’m having a hard time adapting to the lifestyle of being tagged with a Blackberry and released into the wild. I wouldn’t say that I’m loving it as much as getting used to it. I’ll try to give a better post about it later, but getting that “crackberry” fixation just isn’t as catching to me as I thought it would be.

Working when it’s a lot like playing

Last night, I had the opportunity to do something that I have never done before, but it was only a matter of time before it was going to happen. I mean, this is Canada. If you read between the lines enough, you know that I’m back to doing the radio thing in and around Vancouver, all on the technical back end. I’m the guy making things work and the people on the air sound good.

So when I was going through the setup for Friday night on Wednesday afternoon, it struck me. I’m working my first ever sports broadcast, and on top of that, it was a Vancouver Giants hockey game.

View from press row

That might not sound incredible or awesome to some, but that’s the point where I realized how far I’ve come in my radio career. From those early, blood shot eye, 4AM Saturday mornings at a tiny, 100 watt college radio station to a group of commercial radio stations in the #2 market in Canada, it hit me as I was getting everything in place for the guys doing play by play for the game.

When I saw a semi-professional hockey game for the first time, it was for the UHL Quad City Mallards[wiki], now known as the Quad City Flames (and recently an AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames). I kinda thought that it would be cool to do radio stuff for them, but it always seemed like I might be doing something for the Hawkeyes basketball or football team before something like minor league hockey would come my way. I came close once, but it never panned out.

Giants Post-Game Show In all actuality, my first days doing any sort of sports broadcasts was being board operator for Iowa Women’s Softball games at KRUI. That’s when I developed my affinity for good music during sporting events, and you can believe that I took some pleasure in parsing the library to find some killer tracks to play as beds and bumpers. These days, it’s a boarder line obsession with restraint.

The Giants game was simple setup and tear down with some minor sweating as we got the broadcast on the air. There is always that moment where you second guess everything you just setup and pray that when the show goes live, you can breathe again once you’re sure it works.

Crazy thing is, the only fire to creep up on us last night was an actual fire. I usually refer to having problems as “putting out fires” or “having a complete flame out”, but there was an actual fire in the rafters of Pacific Coliseum, just above the goalie on north end of the rink.

At least my night wasn’t that bad, and when it seemed like it might not be all that serious, the flames gave a nice pop and some flaming debris fell to the ice. They had to stop the game to get it all cleaned up and repair the ice for about ten minutes, but it made for an interesting first period. Never worked a hockey broadcast before, and I certainly have never seen a fire like that either.

Fire in Pacific Coliseum
Best shot I could get with my cellphone.
That small, orange spec near the middle of the shot is the fire.

No damage to really be seen, and it was too high up to see what it actually was. Some guy ran to the location to first see what it was, and then ran back to, presumably, find something to put it out with. Instead, he came back to stomp on it, but then another few guys ran up with a fire extinguisher to kill it.

Giants lost to the Chilliwack Bruins in OT, 5-4, but still a pretty good night.

Massive Tech Show 2006

I know there hasn’t been much for updates as of late, but it’s been a hectic time. A combination of job searching and projects has kept my mind pretty awash in the last week.

I will be hitting the Massive Tech Show tomorrow in downtown Vancouver, thanks to some free, all access passes. To tell the truth, I’m not all too sure what to expect. There’s a conference plus trade show and exhibition. I imagine that means that I’m going to come home with a bunch of pamphlets, pens, and other promotional goodies that will clutter up my work space after their novelty wears off. Then I can say, “I got that from the Massive Tech Show.” Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

This will also be a great opportunity to search for potential employment opportunities. How and what and where, I can’t really tell you. I just like doing geeky things, and someone should totally be paying me to do those sorts of things for them. Watch for on location posts, but no promises.

Canada Post owes me money

I’ve made my best effort to first spread the news to my family about my immigration status here in Canada. The good news is that my permanent residence application has gone through, and that has allowed me to apply for my open work permit. Alas, I will finally be able to have an income from within Canada, not that I was able to do much for myself from my homeland back in the states.

The thing is, applying for my open work permit was not as easy as we hoped. A small fee (small in terms of being less than a few hundred dollars compared to much of everything else that comes with this process) and an “Xpresspost” with Canada Post was all it takes to get that little piece of paper saying I can now be employed. Piece of cake, right?

Open Work Permit! Wrong. Checking that tracking number a few days after it was sent, the package, according to the Canada Post website, was still sitting at the post office in which we sent it from. The guarantee says that it was to be delivered two days after it was handed it to the nice lady who slapped the stickers on it for the mail truck to come take it away. Being three days later, it was time to call the mammoth.

To be honest, Canada Post was really pleasant on the phone. Very helpful, but had no clue as to where my parcel was. Yes, the parcel with fairly pertinent details of both of our lives. Crap! So what do we do? Open a trace. I’m not sure what that really accomplishes, but they gave me a reference number and said to call back to check on what they find in 7-15 business days.

Business days??? By that time, someone could take that parcel and become me in some foreign land somewhere. I’d say that they could live like a king, but the bank account wasn’t detailed, nor does it have a lot of kingly qualities to it right now. To say that we were a little concerned about this is a tad of an understatement, not to mention that the end of this month sees my ticket to stay in the country expire unless that permit comes through.

I called them about a week (in business days) later to find things still in a SNAFU. They found it “highly unusual” and would get back to me as soon as they found something out. If I didn’t hear anything within three days, then contact should be made to resolve the matter. Yeah, that makes me feel oh so confident.

Immigration PaybackThen a crazy thing happened. Checking the mailbox last week, there was my work permit, just sitting inside. I come into the apartment and hand it to Rebecca nonchalantly. Checking the tracking number earlier that afternoon on the website, Canada Post said it was still sitting in that same post office in Vancouver. Rebecca jumping up and down said otherwise.

Fast forward to today, and there is another letter in the mailbox that finalizes this chapter of the process. Canada Post sent me a check for the parcel they have seemingly lost. I’m sure it’s in their agreement of some sort, but they paid us back for the cost of sending the package. $15 isn’t going to get you much, maybe a box of wine, but it’s a funny conclusion to the whole thing.

Next time, we’ll entrust our life to someone else other than Canada Post, but they sure are swell to pay us back for the cost of sending something they have no idea how, where, or when the holy hell it got there. With a big thumb up, I say thanks Canada Post.

Edit: Ok, this story popped up this morning in regards to Canada Post and was just too precious to not pass on.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

In about a month, give or take one to five because the Canadian government is just that awesome with paperwork, I’ll have my green light to be fully employable. We haven’t had the bash to celebrate because this whole process has been a long story of hurry up and wait. It’s a multi-stage process where you’re happy to hear good news when you just start to abandon all hope. Then there is a wave of elation, followed by the reality of more paperwork that you have to send in to start the waiting process once again.

The biggest dilemma is the question that I’ve been fielding quite often lately, and Northern Voice was the worst places of all to have this come to be a moment of clarity. What do I want to do once I’m able to, legally, work?

That’s a lot harder for me to answer with a simple, concise, non-lengthy explanation. I have seven years experience in radio, a combination of on-air talent, production, producing, I.T. and engineering(not uncommon for people in radio these days to wear many hats). There’s the fact that I’m interested in all things new media, especially the world of podcasting and blogging.

I’ve been doing designing of websites since I was 16, wavering in and out of doing a lot of it. For a time, I worked for my parents where we had a side project doing this for local businesses in the town I grew up in, a different time and era for sure. Blogging has really brightened my understanding of PHP, SQL, and CSS a whole lot, and I’m in the middle of a couple of projects, unrelated to my current ones, that are using these skills in full force.

So when someone asks me this question of what do I want to do, it’s tough. Would I like to get into the radio market of Vancouver? Absolutely, and I’ve actually interviewed with a lot of the major players since first coming here in 2005, CKNW and Team1040 being a few prominent ones to mention. All those ventures came up short when they get to that part about having the necessary status that makes you legit for getting a paycheck.

I’m gearing up to start the hunt when the time comes, but there is no simple answer to the question. I’ve had the past year and a half to think about it, and during that time, I’ve watched a lot of opportunity pass me by, if not slip through my fingers. That’s bound to change, and Rebecca can’t wait until she can have me out of the apartment more often. Quite frankly, I can’t either.

Trust me, everything I have done in life has been an earnest effort of tackling it with persistence. More than a few people in Vancouver have mentioned that about me, and I hope that was a compliment.

Godin declares job interviews are dead

I’ve known about Seth Godin for a long time now and don’t read his stuff nearly as much as I should. CNet mentioned a recent post on his blog that declares job interviews being a thing of the past. It’s well worth the read, and a few of the points stuck out to me.

I’ve been to thousands of job interviews (thankfully as an interviewer mostly) and I have come to the conclusion that the entire effort is a waste of time.

At least half the interview finds the interviewer giving an unplanned and not very good overview of what the applicant should expect from this job. Unlike most of the marketing communications the organization does, this spiel is unvetted, unnatural and unmeasured. No one has ever sat down and said, “when we say X, is it likely the applicant understands what we mean? Are we putting our best foot forward? Does it make it more likely that the right people will want to work here, for the right reasons?” […]

The other half is dedicated to figuring out whether the applicant is good at job interviews or not.

I should have learned this lesson in 1981, when my partner and I (and three of our managers) hired Susan, who was perhaps the best interviewer I have ever met. And one of the worst employees we ever hired. Too bad we didn’t have a division that sold interviews. [sethgodin]

Godin goes on to basically say that the best way to interview some one for a job is to actually make them do the task you are hiring for. It’s the only, true way that you can assure yourself that you are hiring the right person for your company.

I’ve gone to a good number of interviews since coming to Vancouver, but my immigration status has prevented me from getting a handful of jobs. That doesn’t mean I won’t apply for a job. Getting an interview is always worth the time, if not making valuable contact with people you wouldn’t mind hiring you when the time comes.

Continue reading “Godin declares job interviews are dead”