The job thing

TL/DR: exactly one year and six days after getting RIFd by Pure Storage, I started a new Senior SRE position at Proofpoint.

At the beginning of April, half of my team, half of the people in related teams, and a bunch of other folks in the business unit (~95 total) were informed that our positions had been eliminated, and that we had a month to find other jobs inside the company; if that didn’t pan out, we’d receive a severance package. There were maybe three US-based openings for us all to apply for; none of them were remote, and probably a third of us had been.

I’ve made vague mention about this over the past N months, but what I didn’t say was that it happened last April, and I’ve spent most of a year banging my head against automated applicant screening systems that kept me from speaking to an actual human being.

Here’s the 90% experience:

  1. found brand-new posting on LinkedIn that I’m easily qualified for.
  2. applied (which often involved creating accounts on their job sites).
  3. received automated rejection email.

If I applied on a Friday night, it wasn’t unusual to be rejected by Saturday morning.

Here’s 90% of the remaining 10%:

  1. found & applied.
  2. spoke to recruiter and seemed to hit it off.
  3. never heard from them again.

Of the ones that reached an actual technical interview, one involved a sufficiently obscure skillset that they were unlikely to have more than a handful of qualified applicants, but they ghosted me and still haven’t hired anyone five months later.

Another sounded very interested and promised a fast hiring process, but dumped me a week later in a bland form email.

Special honorable mention to ServiceNow, to which I was twice referred by senior directors, and twice ghosted.

Special dishonorable mention to the Indian contract recruiters who got my cellphone number and called me multiple times per day for on-site contract positions in Cincinnati (1-hour drive) and Akron (3-hour drive). One recruiter even had his manager call back and explain that it was definitely contract-to-perm, which is almost always bullshit.

The Proofpoint recruiter was friendly, engaged, and excellent at communication and scheduling, so by the time we got to the offer, I had a positive impression of their professionalism. It didn’t hurt that my first technical interview was with my evil twin. Or perhaps I was the evil twin; at least, I’m the one with the beard. 😁

Lessons learned:

  • LinkedIn is an utter shitshow of a social media network, but still better than other job sites. You think Twitter’s “For you” algorithm is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
  • LinkedIn Premium promises far more than it delivers, but fortunately I got it at Microsoft-alumni pricing.
  • Seriously, it’s so fucking trendy that it offers AI assistance in pitching yourself to recruiters, which is an incredibly bad idea.
  • So now a lot of job listings explicitly specify “no AI in resumes or cover letters”.
  • All the massive tech layoffs have resulted in companies defensively deploying highly-automated screening, because many people will apply for everything.
  • Screening software cares about certifications; hiring managers don’t.
  • Get basic AWS/Kubernetes certifications, even if you have no interest in that kind of job; they’re like crack for screening software.
  • Positions advertised as “remote” are often still limited to specific cities/states/regions. This may be disclosed in the posting, but usually not.
  • The Dayton area has plenty of tech jobs, 90% of which are tied to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and require security clearances.
  • You need to already have those clearances to apply.

So, what was it like being out of work for a year? Boring, mostly, but at least I was able to spend time with family. And unpack some of my stuff in sensible ways.

Between the accidentally-generous severance package (paid out at my full California salary, not the 75% regional adjustment for Ohio), a decent stock price for my RSUs, the lower cost of living, and the large amount of equity I’d built up in the California house (that sold for nearly twice what I bought the new one for), I had no financial worries, and could have gone another two+ years without a problem. Which I did not want to do.

I’m glad to be back in the saddle, and I’m glad to be part of a team of cool and quirky technical people again. As I said to my interim manager when he was announcing the RIF (interim, because my actual manager, his manager, and his manager were also being RIFd that day), I’d love to work with that team again, but probably not under Pure’s management.

Specifically, the VP-I-won’t-name who sent out a group email meant to reassure the remaining staff in his division, before our accounts were disabled. He said, “I was able to preserve the majority of the positions by moving them to different locations”.

Not the people, the headcount, and the locations were Prague and Hyderabad. And we’d just spent most of a year participating in the interview panels for the Prague folks we were told would increase the size of our team. To really rub it in, I was often the deciding vote in the panels, so I didn’t just train my replacements, I picked them!

UPS: the waiting game

Signature required…

10 AM: “Your package is almost there!” (scheduled delivery 9:15 AM - 12:15 AM)

1:15 PM: “In Your Area” (scheduled delivery by 7 PM; not-so-live-map shows the truck four blocks away)

2:15 PM: “Almost There” (not-so-live-map has been showing the truck circling the area for the past hour, making right turns only, while staying at least four blocks away)

3:15 PM: “Almost There” (NSLM shows it 14 blocks away in the opposite direction, just leaving an under-renovation public pool)

4:15 PM: “Almost There” (“stay on target”, 10 blocks away, other direction again)

5:15 PM: “Almost There” (ditto)

6:15 PM: “Almost There” (ditto)

6:35 PM: “Delivered!”

(the “live” map refreshes only when Safari force-reloads it due to excessive memory use; basically, the truck has been in a 1-mile orbit around my house all day long, and the depot it came from is less than 2.5 miles away)

Once the background check was complete, my start date was set for this coming Monday. Today, they shipped out my new work laptop. This is sufficiently solid news to justify a small celebration; the real one doesn’t happen until I have direct deposit and the healthcare plan set up. Anyway, I’m firing up the deep-fryer to make wings tonight.

(…after a brief kerfluffle where Workday failed to email me that there were pending pre-employment tasks to complete, and I had to look up the SSO-bypass URL in order to get in and discover them for myself)

Little Monster Report

  • 7:00 PM - 3 boys (oldest in full riot gear)
  • 7:10 PM - 5 boys (dressed as teenage boys)
  • 7:35 PM - 2 girls (matching one-piece hooded reindeer pajamas)
  • 7:45 PM - 1 very little princess, escorted by mom

I’m actually impressed I got that many, on a cul-de-sac without streetlights. With a sidewalk that ends just past my house. Which has a steep 75-foot driveway. And it was 38°F and quite windy.

I’m glad I bought some candy. Even gladder that I didn’t buy the 60+ pounds I used to buy for my house in California. I’d have been giving away multiple pounds per kid, which would have set unrealistic expectations for next year. 😁

(the first group explained that they always go to my street, since it’s full of well-off people of grandparent age. fair)

Bring on the junk truck!

Things I’ve found while going through boxes in the garage:

  • first-edition AD&D books and modules.
  • first-edition GURPS books.
  • a lot of computer games I don’t remember ever owning.
  • an entire box of autographed Playboy magazines, which was only surprising because I thought that one was upstairs in my office…
  • at least one box from each of my previous full-time jobs (OSU-CIS, Synopsys, WebTV, Digeo, and Ooma), containing nothing worthwhile.
  • Basic Foil Fencing, second edition (I took a class from the author… in 1985).
  • multiple copies of Windows XP, 7, and 8, several copies of Office, and one copy of Windows Me.
  • the last known copy of Dave’s Comic, in which I was cast as a wing-obsessed drummer in a Spinal Tap cover band who helped save the world from an evil department chairman.
  • wow, I bought a lot of pr0n mags back in the day. Or inherited, anyway; I’m pretty sure some of it was my dad’s, which is not the legacy I expected. (amusingly, Wikipedia redirects “girlie mag” to a page listing things as diverse as GQ, Maxim, Black Enterprise, and Gay Times; that’s some fine editing there, Lou)
  • three Southern Knights graphic novels, which for some reason were mixed in with the British pr0n mags.
  • 3 boxes of random magazines and catalogs unopened since 1993, which must have been packed up by one of my friends, because why? And why did I keep moving them? (seriously baffled here; some of the catalogs were addressed to people I’ve never met living on streets I didn’t recognize)
  • boxes of old bills, sitting next to the cross-cut shredder that was never able to keep up.
  • several boxes of CP/M-formatted 5.25-inch floppy disks, which aren’t even mine. I think they’re my brother’s.
  • two sets of jumper cables.
  • about a dozen sliding rails for 1U rack-mount servers.
  • a 1U rack-mount server (okay, this was on top of the boxes, not in them).
  • CD jewel boxes, with inserts but no CDs (those are in the 100-disc changers on one of the shelves…).
  • CD jewel-box inserts, with no cases or CDs.
  • CDs, with no jewel boxes or inserts.
  • a coffee mug from a defunct book store in Dayton, Ohio, which means it’s been following me around for more than 30 years.
  • remember when Adobe products came with nice big manuals? yeah, I found a lot of those.
  • Creative Sound Blaster installation floppies.
  • CD/DVD install sets for every Mac OS X release up through Snow Leopard, including several betas.
  • at least four different types of obsolete computer memory.
  • my mostly-complete set of U&LC, which I’d thought was upstairs in a closet.
  • a Nirvis DXS.
  • 10 copies of a single issue of Celebrity Sleuth magazine, because it contains nude photos of my friend Carmen Berg, shot by me.
  • a user’s manual for OS/2 Warp.
  • issues of Journal of Irreproducible Results from 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1992.
  • two large boxes full of laserdiscs.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Friday will be the first junk-trunk visit; that’ll free up enough space for me to finish staging everything that goes into the POD.

(picture is unrelated)

Happa ichimai areba ii!

House status: mine.

Now deploying… Yatta!

(fun fact: there’s a reason this song feels a lot like classic Morning Musume (and, no, that’s not a flattering look for any of them, especially with the aggressive ring-lighting), right down to the woo-woo-woo bit; same guy)

Shifting the closing date to the beginning of March set my first mortgage payment for the end of April, which means I’ll only have one month of paying for both houses if the old one sells quickly. Fingers crossed the current rabid housing bubble continues until at least June!

Anime status: crunchy

Sony is consolidating Funimation into Crunchyroll, not, as many feared, the other way around. There’s a list up for things that have already moved over, although most of them are dubs.

Dictionary status: undead

Slashdot has a headline about “animal-free dairy milk”. I expect woke dictionaries have received their marching orders, and soon the definition of “dairy” will always have been at war with Eastasia.

(free-animal dairy is unrelated)

Pokemon status: Japanese

I decided to step back from the do-it-again-stupid final boss fight in Arceus for a while and start a second run-through on my Switch Lite, in Japanese. It’s refreshingly difficult compared to Sword/Shield, where the game was so linear and the menus so fixed that you only had to recognize maybe 10 words, and then you could play through to the end in any language.

Arceus, on the other hand, has a variety of RPG-ish side quests, many of which gate access to features of the game. For a simple example, the inventory at the general stores is expanded by turning in specific items. As a result, in any language you’re not fluent in, you’ll need to lean on a site like Serebii to figure out the helpfully-numbered requests.

The most interesting thing about the Japanese version is that they didn’t have room to include the damage/accuracy details for your attack moves on the combat screen, so you have to actually remember what they do, making the game a bit harder even if you do read Japanese.

🎶Loan, loan of my own...🎶

“If you see something this big with eight legs coming your way, let me know. I have to kill it before it develops language skills.”
– Londo Mollari, home inspector

Note: I would be lying if I said I never shouted and swore during the events that follow, but I managed not to swear during the phone calls, and merely “increased the intensity of my voice” when relating certain key pieces of information to the lender’s representatives. Feel free to imagine the rage-fueled ranting in my hotel room that frequently occurred before and after each contact.

Banality, as some might say, after the cut…

(demi-chans are unrelated)


New house update

Status: successfully appraised at a value that matches the (brief) mortgage. All I’ve got left to do in the next few days is submit a copy of my latest bank statement and the home-insurance policy info, and they can finish underwriting the loan.

Time to get serious about packing and pitching!

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘B’.”


“Right. I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘M’.”

“More boxes.”

“Two in a row.”

“And that’s when I shot him, your honor.”

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘E’.”

“I–I give up.”

“Oh come on.”

“This better not be what I–”

“Even more boxes!”

I can’t show you pictures of the new place, because all the ones I have at the moment are now on all of the real-estate sites, so it would be trivial for someone to figure out where I live. And then cross-reference with move-related blog posts that reveal when it’s full of stuff and unoccupied. Except by the seven half-starved rabid wolfhounds, of course.

(sadly, it’s unlikely that any wolfgirls will be streaming games from my new place, although there is a deadbolt on the basement door (“Daddy’s got a place for you, and the door locks from the outside”))

(okay, the deadbolt was actually to keep people out of the basement, because the former owner stored a quite extensive and valuable coin collection down there)

(and did I mention that the basement has a bit more square footage than my current house?)

Okay, now I really want to move...

I heard a tuba.

At 12:30 AM this morning.

I thought I could just yell out the window at whatever neighbor’s kid was doing something really stupid and annoying, but no.

It was several blocks away.

After a few minutes, the rest of the live band joined in, for an extremely loud hour of mexican polka music.

I eventually got to sleep, then came downstairs this morning, and as I started to make coffee, was greeted by the continuous sound of power tools being used in someone’s back yard.

At 8:30 AM on a Saturday.

At least a block away.

I may have to triple my previous “no part of the house within 20 feet of the property line” rule. Fortunately, three of my top five still-not-sold-yet houses easily clear that bar, and the other two are well-buffered with trees and hedges. A lot of the problem here is that all the two-story houses placed with minimum set-backs from the property line create a canyon that channels sound; the neighborhoods I’m looking at around Dayton aren’t as packed, and most are broken up occasionally by densely-packed trees.

I did add a new house to the #3 slot this week, but it’s already gotten an offer, so I’m down to:

  • 4 great choices,

  • 1 “would be great if I could change the street name”,

  • 1 “kind of far and needs a lot of privacy landscaping”,

  • 1 “great location, gas range but cramped kitchen with useless island, old-house layout issues, need for privacy landscaping, and several rooms that need repainting, but also $100K cheaper than the others”.

Hopefully my new manager’s manager will be sufficiently recovered from reorg hell in the upcoming short week to give me a thumb’s-up on the move idea. I said “4 great choices”, but #1 has been far out in front since I started looking, and I’m simultaneously cheered and concerned that it’s still on the market after 50+ days while others are being snapped up within 3. The price has dropped slightly twice since I found it, but I’d have paid the original price and considered it a great deal.

Something is scaring people off. Maybe it smells like cat piss or cigarette smoke, or there’s something about the neighborhood, or some maintenance issue that would cost a bundle, but there’s only one thing I can see in the pictures that might turn people off, and I hope that it’s the reason, because it’s something I want.

It’s also possible the Zillow listing is simply wrong about some things; I’ve seen significant discrepancies before, and not just in the claimed square-footage. After all, I remember when my neighbor’s place went on the market at the peak of a previous boom and was advertised as having “off-street RV parking”, with a picture that carefully disguised the fact that it would have required tearing down his fence and paving my front yard.


...and Saturday night begins with a really loud party in the house behind me. Which, thanks to minimum set-backs, is about twenty feet away from my kitchen table.

Although I'd be able to hear the music from five times that distance.

“Ah-ha!” moment

I think I've figured out why the house I like so much hasn't sold yet, and if true, might stay on the market long enough for me to get my full-time remote approval and buy it: two of the bedrooms have sucky windows.

Until today, there were no pictures that showed all five bedrooms. The three that were shown are large and well laid out, and they just kind of skipped over the two that are smaller, located directly above the garage, and look like this:

But I don't need five good bedrooms, while I do need a nice private office and a crafting room. And a private dojo with enough room to swing a sword, which this place also has room for.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”