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Friday, November 28, 2008

$1.64


$1.64 is the ad income I'm waiting on from Google's AdSense program that runs on this blog. For the past 30 minutes or so I've been doing the multiple verifications that Google wants for my account before it will forward the money to my checking account.

Click thru on more ads to make this worth my time in the future, please. And if anyone has tips on AdSense and how to get it to work better and be more productive on this blog site, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for the little things

As one of my favorite holidays of the year approaches, (what could be better than gathering with friends and family and eating?) I try to remind myself of what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving and how it relates to my job hunt:


I'm especially thankful for the family and friends who have encouraged me during my job hunt and who try to help in many ways.


I'm also thankful for the many part-time jobs I have and to the state unemployment department for keeping me off the streets by providing me some money in exchange for my hard work or my taxes. It seems like every day I add up how much I'm making, or about to make, from my part-time work, so that I'm sure I'm making progress. I've detailed these before, but here are the many jobs and/or projects I'm working on that are either bringing in a semi-regular paycheck or I hope will soon someday:

1. United Reporting. A great company that has treated me well as I collect police arrest logs for them.
2. AOL's personal finance site, WalletPop.com, where I'm among a host of bloggers who write daily. I've said it before, but if you want to read my stuff that would have made it to this blog, at least some of it, then bookmark this:
http://www.walletpop.com/blog/bloggers/aaron-crowe/
It's a Web site I plan on writing more for, and a job for which I'm very grateful for because this blog led me to it.
3. Spot.us, a community funded reporting Web site where "crowdfunding" is used to raise money for serious journalism in the Bay Area. I have two story pitches there, one of which I plan on writing soon.
4. Writing, editing and designing city newsletters. With only one client so far, the work is sporadic but gives me hope for the future. This is work that I think will start to increase early next year as I push to plant more seeds for my consulting business.
5. Investigative work for a company that does background checks on executive hirings. Early next year I expect this job will start, where I'll go to courthouses and gather public documents on potential hires.
6. RedwoodAge.com, a Web site devoted to people 45 and older. It's an Internet startup in Mill Valley and so far I'm not making money at the blogging and few stories I do for the site, but I hope it will someday pay off well, as many people who work at startups look for.
7. The Public-Press.org, a noncommercial news site for the Bay Area that is expected to go live with news in January. The site is already running, and for now mostly deals with the need for alternate media. I'm volunteering at this Internet startup as an editor, although I don't expect it to be a paying job anytime soon. For now I'm helping coordinate stories and I'm also blogging about the media.

Lots of work, although I'm trying to concentrate on the actions that pay and less on the ones that don't, because bills still have to be paid. I'm writing in four blogs, only one of which pays, so some of that writing may have to be cut back. All of that doesn't leave me much time to look for full-time work, which is my ultimate goal, so it may soon be time to rethink my strategies. My hope is that some of these part-time jobs and volunteer work will lead to full-time work somewhere down the road. This blog, a non-paid effort, led to a part-time gig for AOL, so at least that worked.

For all that, and all of you faithful readers, I'm thankful. Have a nice Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why we work

video

Beyond paying the bills and keeping the electricity on, I'm always in search of a larger "why" in my job hunt. Why apply for this or that job? Why do I want to work full-time again? One answer is this video, which really doesn't have a purpose to it other than Emma dancing and repeating her preschool friend's name in it. Bear with it, it's a long 45 seconds, but the final shot of her sweet face is enough to keep me searching for full-time employment. It's why I can't think of taking a job outside of the country and leaving my family for awhile. It's why I wake up in the morning and try, try, try again to find a meaningful job that will be fulfilling and something I can enjoy and be proud of.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Success Team success

Finally, the Success Team I started a few months ago in Concord (since moved to Pleasant Hill) has succeeded by having one of its members leave the group and get a job. The Success Team is part of the CPC Job Connections networking group I've mentioned before.

I won't mention her name, but I hope she returns for a Monday morning meeting sometime soon to tell the group what worked best in landing the job. When she first joined the group, she wasn't sure which direction she wanted her career to go. She had a few paths to check into, and I'd like to think that our group helped her a little in figuring out which path to take.

That's one of the great things about this kind of group: You work hard together to help everyone in it find a new job. The upside is they leave the group because they've found a job. The downside is they leave. The goal is to get a member to leave the group.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beer results

Look at the beer drinking poll on the right for the final results, but here's what actually happened at the end of the meeting: I went home without a drink. The meeting started late, lasted late, and I didn't reach BART until 10 p.m., which isn't incredibly late, but I still didn't make it home until 11 p.m. Again, not incredibly late, but late enough when you have a babysitter to relieve, a kid sleeping upstairs, and a wife on her way home from work. And I was fighting off a cold, which I'm still coughing from.

The Public-Press.org meeting? Long discussions about stories in SF that I don't know if they'll get done. I plan on talking to the founder more on Thursday morning when I volunteer to see where I fit in.

At WalletPop.com today, I wrote three entries: Spam (the meat), what Citigroup and other newly laid off workers should do when competing against their former colleagues for new jobs, and what most people will use their gift cards for this Christmas: Check them out, and many others by yours truly.
Bookmark this:
http://www.walletpop.com/blog/bloggers/aaron-crowe/

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Podcast resume

My job search now includes a podcast! I was at the CPC Job Connections weekly meeting on Saturday morning, where Ian Griffin of Executive Communications was giving a speech about how to do a podcast to aid in a job search. At the end he picked a name out of a hat to interview someone about their job skills, and my name was chosen.

Listen to the podcast here at his Web site. Or go to:
http://www.exec-comms.com/blog/2008/11/15/interview-arron-crowe-job-seeker-blogger/

It was a lot of fun and why I someday see this as a way to promote myself, it seems like it would be a lot more useful as a way to get out the word about a hobby or something you want to tell the world about. Maybe I'll do some news or feature stories, AKA Studs Terkel, and put those on a podcast. While the learning curve doesn't look to steep, it does look like it will take some time and a small investment for software, equipment and a server.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Drink or go home

Tonight I'm going to an editorial planning meeting of The Public Press, an online source of noncommercial news for the Bay Area that I'm volunteering at. It's a nonprofit.

After all of the heavy discussion about content and the direction of the news site, the talk will eventually turn to going out for a drink. The offices are in San Francisco, and I've heard that some people are talking about going to North Beach afterward for some drinks. My dilemma: I have to take BART all the way back to Concord after the meeting ends around 9 p.m. or so, so my parents can be relieved of babysitting duties and go before midnight. My wife is working tonight, as she does most nights. Journalists, as you may have seen in a few movies, can drink. There are plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to them.

It's not the worst possible problem, I admit, but I am torn: Beer or home to family life. Vote now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2 days at WalletPop.com

Some of my blog entries at www.WalletPop.com/blog a site owned by AOL that pays:

http://www.walletpop.com/blog/bloggers/aaron-crowe/

Items so far are: Price of chocolate, work for bald men, a $95 doll, and layoffs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blogging for pay

Exactly two months after I started this blog, it has led to a paid job blogging for an AOL web site about personal finance.

It's called Walletpop.com and it's devoted to personal finance. I'll continue writing about my job hunt and how it affects my daughter, but I'll be expanding to layoffs, budgets and other areas of personal finance. My blog entries can be found here:
http://www.walletpop.com/blog/bloggers/aaron-crowe/

This blog, http://www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com/ will continue, but the other will take precedence since it pays. It all adds up to another part-time job for me (five total now), but I continue looking for full-time work with benefits. And to think, just two months ago I was a blogger hoping this would lead to a job.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sick and still tired

It's tough enough taking care of a 4-year-old who has a constant stream of energy coming out of her, but having a cold makes it much, much worse. I got sick Sunday night and this afternoon and evening was difficult as I sneezed, downed vitamin C by the glassful, and tried to take a nap while the kid watched TV and ran around screaming. I couldn't find the pills fast enough.

But now she's asleep, and the job hunt continues. I learned tonight that a government agency wants to interview me for a communications job I applied for at least a month or two ago, so I'm preparing for that. (I'm getting superstitious and don't want to reveal the company name until hired.) I enjoy preparing for interviews, partly because I get to use a reporter's skills in researching, but also because it's a fun chance to learn something new about an organization I didn't know too much about before I applied for the job.

Today was also spent doing an interview for a story I'm pitching for Spot.us, so all wasn't lost in the tea-filled haze I've been in. I will also have some good news to report on the blog, which I expect to have available for publication by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oil spill story pitch

video

Spot.us is going live Monday, Nov. 10 in an official launch, and I have a second pitch for a story about the Cosco Busan oil spill a year ago in the San Francisco Bay. If you've donated, thanks. If not, check it out and see what you think. And for people who have pledged to make a donation, please remember the final step of actually funding that donation with your credit card.

I have another story pitch about solar power if you're interested in that one. Both are stories I think are important and I plan to do many more for Spot.us if these are successful.

The site, you may remember from previous blog entries, uses "crowdfunding" to raise money so journalists like me can report and write these stories. That type of funding was popular in President-elect Barack Obama's campaign, where he raised millions of dollars through small donations on the Internet. So far, Spot.us is focusing on the Bay Area but the ultimate goal is to someday get it everywhere in the country.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Volunteering again

Only a few days after the election, and I'm already renewing my vow to volunteer as a way to help some groups out and to lead to a job. After successfully doing some writing for Congressman's Jerry McNerney's re-election campaing (which he won), I've committed to helping two groups out, both of which I've written about in the past week or so here.

One is RedwoodAge.com, a Web site focusing on an often overlooked group on the Internet: 40 and older. I wrote a short story for it Thursday about testing for Alzheimer's Disease, and won't get paid for it. I plan to continue writing for it every once in awhile, partly to show that I can write for the Web, but also to hopefully lead to a paying, full-time or part-time job for the site someday. It's a for-profit Internet start-up, so the payoff may not be for a long while. I also hope to start blogging there and become an expert on aging issues.

Another place I'm volunteering is at Public-Press.org, a site I've written about before. It's a nonprofit San Francisco Web site that aims to be a news source in the City and Bay Area, and I think is a strong option for the future of journalism. It won't run ads but will survive off grants and donations, much like public television. I'm already blogging there about journalism, as are other members of the group, but the main work I'll do is as an editor. It will likely be similar to the work I did as an assistant metro editor at the Contra Costa Times, and maybe more, so I won't be over my head. But one purpose of volunteering, at least for me, is to grow my skills, so I plan on learning, or trying to learn, how to manage a Web site there and see where that takes me.

That's one great thing about these two sites: Since they're online, I'm forced to learn some online skills that I didn't have in my print days of employment. Also, the Public-Press could end up being a paying, editorial job for me somewhere down the road if the project is successful. I met with the editor on Thursday, and I plan on volunteering at the San Francisco office for a half-day each week. The place is full of Spartans (San Jose State University), so it can't be too bad.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ski bum, Part II

In response to a reader comment on today's Ski Bum entry, here is contact info for Job Fair. First 100 people get free movie tickets. I also included links to Bear Valley and Kirkwood in original post when those spots were listed at top of entry.

Good luck:
To find out more about open positions visit http://www.bearvalley.com/ or http://www.kirkwood.com/.
When:
Job Fair -- Saturday Nov. 8, Empire Theater, starts at 11 a.m. and runs to 3 p.m.
Movie -- Friday Dec. 5, two shows: 7:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Where:
The Stockton Empire Theater is conveniently located in the heart of Stockton at 1825 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA. (209) 943-7469

Ski bum

Here's a job fair that sounds fun, but I don't think will pay the mortgage: Bear Valley Mountain is hiring Saturday, Nov. 8 in Stockton for jobs at Kirkwood Mountain Resort for the upcoming ski season.

I can't ski too well, but it would be a fun job. One of my most memorable jobs, which paid minimum wage, was at Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara when I was in college. I worked at two rides: the Sky Tower and the Merry-Go-Round, and had a blast while getting a tan. I didn't have a car so I had to catch a bus in Fremont, transfer to another bus, then walk a ways before getting to work early in the morning.

For young people without a house to pay for and no family, these are the types of jobs they'll never forget.

From the ski resort's job announcement: "Job seekers should attend with resumes and be ready to fill out applications and participate in interviews, as hiring managers will be making job offers on the spot! Both Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Bear Valley Mountain are looking to fill positions ranging from: administration and management, ski instructors, lift operators, food service, rental center technicians, childcare, parking lot attendants, lodging and much, much more."

And the perks? "Seasonal employees receive excellent perks, including housing assistance and free lift passes!" the company says.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The problem with freelancing

One problem I'm running into as a freelance journalist is identifying myself as such and being taken seriously by sources. Or getting callbacks.
As you may already know, I have a story pitch on Spot.us, a Web site where people donate money to have a story done. One story I'm working on is a follow-up to the oil spill in the San Francisco Bay a year ago. When asked what news organization I represent, I respond that I'm a freelancer working for Spot.us and that my story may be picked up by newspapers but will most certainly be on the Spot.us Web site and other Web sites. So this morning I make a few calls and after the source checked out the Web site, I could almost hear her laughing in her head about who I represent and how the official I'm trying to reach may not want to talk to me because of his limited time and because I'm from a startup Internet site. But, she said, I could talk to her (the public information officer), which is OK but not like going straight to the source. Frustrating.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go vote


A few notes on my last day of volunteering in a Congressional campaign:
* Calling undecided voters to remind them to vote on Election Day doesn't result in much feedback, other than getting answering machines to leave messages on.
* A senior center in Pleasanton didn't adequately mark that it was a polling place, so a few people from that neighborhood called our candidate's campaign headquarters to see if we could help. Myself and another volunteer drove out there with a new sign "Vote Here" that I taped to a bench outside. The only other visible sign was s 2-foot high American flag on the sidewalk that was blocked by a car, and a flag no bigger than your hand taped to a post outside the main door. Get signage, folks!
* A rumor (?) that text messages were being sent to some cell phones telling Obama supporters to vote Wednesday.
* It was fun listening to a campaign lawyer chew out election officials over the phone for not having provisional ballots available at some polling places.
* I asked the two communications people from Jerry McNerney's campaign to call me when they get time after today so we can talk about me getting a job for some member of Congress as a writer, spokesman, etc. We'll see what develops. I think I proved I can do what they needed, such as communicate.
Oh, and if you haven't done so already today, get out and vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Letter to the next president


An open letter to the next President of the United States:

Dear Mr. President:

The election will soon be over, and whoever wins, I congratulate for winning a difficult race. Now your real work begins. And as someone who was laid off, I'd like to offer my advice on what you can do as president to help me and the many others who are out of work in this poor economy that is quickly becoming a Recession.

Create jobs. Fast. Put all of your other campaign promises aside for now until you explore every possibility for getting more Americans to work again. Once more people get back to work, the economy will improve and most of your other issues will start to take care of themselves. Consumer spending is down becasue, surprise, people either don't have jobs or are worried about losing their jobs. That leads to more companies cutting jobs because people aren't buying their products. It's a vicious circle. Create jobs and the spiral will stop.

Before being laid off in June, I worked as a journalist at newspapers my entire professional career. I should have seen the end coming and started looking for a job earlier, so now I'm depending on unemployment insurance payments, and five (yes, five) part-time jobs that I currently have to stay afloat. My wife went from part- to full-time at her job, and we worry that her job may also be eliminated. We have a 4-year-old daughter, a mortgage that we're not in default on, and other expenses that make the constant job hunt an urgent goal.

As for where to create jobs, you can help solve a multitude of issues -- reliance on foreign oil, creating renewable energy, creating jobs that pay well -- by going green and having the federal government help finance renewable energy businesses such as solar and wind power. Those kinds of jobs would lead to a long-term solution to America's economy and energy needs, and should help lessen our military need to protect oil fields across the globe. Maybe like the New Deal era, it's time to federally fund energy programs and national infrastructure to bring the energy to where it's needed.

The jobs should be full-time with benefits such as health care. Improving the nation's health care system should be your next priority. It's one of the main reasons, besides a steady paycheck and retirement plan, that I want a full-time job again. I'm slowly making enough money to equal a part-time job with my five part-time jobs that range from a few hours per week to maybe 20 hours of work every few months. But none of them offer benefits because it's easier and cheaper for employers to hire part-timers, or contract for a few months, than to hire them for 40 hours per week.

It has been a long campaign and I'm sure you're tired. But now is the time to get to work and get the country back to work. And if your name isn't Barack, then good luck getting these deals done with Congress. I'll let you know how you're doing when I find a job. Or e-mail me at this blog if you find any jobs I'm qualified for.

Sincerely,

Aaron "The Journalist" Crowe

Sunday, November 2, 2008

McNerney for Congress

As the campaigns end, so does my volunteer work for Congressman Jerry McNerney, above, who is running for re-election to the House on Tuesday. I'll be at his Dublin headquarters on Tuesday morning, answering phones and doing whatever is needed on Election Day. McNerney supports green power, which I support, so I hope he wins.

The volunteering was interesting, and I spent most of the time doing what I wanted to do -- write. I was glad to help and I learned a lot about how campaigns run. I'm still waiting for lunch/meetings with McNerney's communications director so I can either learn how to get into such a job, or work in his office or somewhere else as a staff member and help the public with their problems.

After Tuesday, I plan to continue volunteering while looking for fulltime work, and plan to volunteer at The Public Press and other media Internet startups. It should keep me off the streets.

Coming Monday: My endorsement for president and what the next president should do to fix the economy and create new jobs.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Howdy partner

video

Another video that has nothing to do with my job search, other than Emma possibly wanting to move to Texas if I get a job there and thus visit Grandpa Don a lot more.

I'm still awaiting word from the newspaper in Texas where I interviewed, and also waiting for metro openings at the paper in Austin. Newspapers are laying off almost weekly, but the Texas economy, I'm told, is doing much better than the rest of the nation and its newspapers are often hiring. And the wait continues.