So after about two months between jobs I got a very sudden offer for temp work at a SCIENCE nonprofit a very short commute from my house. I can walk to work, which is very nice. The offer happened in the course of an afternoon and I reported to work the next day. This was fine with me because I was getting bored out of my skull and was ready to get to work. Now sure I was in Provincetown and Wisconsin for much of July, but as August ticked by I was starting to sweat. Yes there’ve been lots of jobs to apply to, but few responses – it’s a very tough market these days, even in job-laden DC. Although my name is on a project proposal to support a major Federal agency’s website, that proposal must win the bid first, and doesn’t start until October. So I’m going with the bird in hand for now.

Hello I'm G.G. from Redmond, WashingtonThis temp gig was a blessing from the skies. So far I’m only doing stakeholder relations and PDF pushing but will soon have access to their CMS (content management system). I’ve already impressed the boss with my super-fast learning curve, for my last job involved two other, more complex CMS’. Blogging with this here blog also involves CMS. While I’d prefer my career progress onward in the public affairs field I’ll take a web content producer job as it seems to be the way to pay the bills these days. At least I have a diverse skillset to support myself.

These webmaster skills also involve tracking site visitors so that we may understand who is visiting our site, to better design future websites suited for target audiences. I can use these skills and tools to track emails too. So lets say some nut has been sending me weekly harassing emails debasing me for being unemployed, and/or decrying my opinions on things. Let’s say they continue to send me such emails. I could for example locate the city (or even building!) where they live, track down where they work, identify the insane metaphysical blogs where they contribute, and make that information public. Or bring to light where said crazy harassing person works at his family grocery store. These are the useful tools a webmaster has at his disposal to respond to really mean, attention-whoring, or otherwise bored people who keep sending crazy and mean emails.

And no I’m not talking about BrettCajun. His brand of crazy can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart. Plus when Brett tries to sound mean he just ends up sounding like a little puppy who got his paw stuck in a mousetrap. So I’m not talking about Miss Suzanne Sugarbakker of the Swamplands.

I went back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. It was a lot of socializing and remembering faces I hadn’t seen in a while but a lot of fun. A few of us went up the Brady’s Bluff trail at Trempealeau State Park. It was hot that day (for Wisconsin) but a great view of the upper Mississippi River. That’s Minnesota across the river:

I helped my brother a little building his new garage. I mostly held things in place and let him do the hammering and nail placement.

Then off to my family reunion. Even more faces and names I couldn’t place right away, since the last family reunion I’d been to was 20 years ago or so. Someone brought a photo album where I could see pictures of ancestors Homer had traced for me a while back. I took some hasty photos to put names to faces. Most of the males on that side had excellent mustaches, like my great-grandfather Michael:

I finally learned why my father’s dad’s nickname was “Pumpy.” We would always say “We’re going to Grampa Pumpy’s house” when he was alive. It turned out he got that name because he worked for his father’s drilling and pumping business and often ran the pump, thus the name “Pumpy.”

The week before I arrived there was another giant swarm of mayflies, which is a fairly unique occurrence in that area once a year. By the time I got to Wisconsin there were only a few swarming here and there, but you can see more of the amazing peak swarming in this article.

Then it was back to the job hunt in DC. My roommate moved out so I had to cover August rent myself, which was tough considering my last contract job ended in June. I have a few possibilities in the works, and also had a phone interview which I think went well. Although it’s a slow time in DC as many are on vacation and hiring is slow.

I was on my way to check out the crowd at Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw and ogled a new coffee joint in the works a mere block away. Compass Coffee will be opening soon at 1535 7th Street NW, and promise a hefty buzz for the local residents. Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) gave me a quick tour and it looks like it’s gonna be a spacious joint with fresh roasted beans.
Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) of Compass Coffee
They’re excited about it and it will surely be a fueling spot for all the residents of the nearby developments. Even better, they promise a mean cold brew. It turns out Haft and Suarez are DC natives and served as Marines together. The Washington Post has an ongoing series about their business development. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Hey there – it’s been a while. I’ve been hangin’ out with my beardy bros from the Washington Nationals baseball team.
bearditude
That’s Jayson Werth on the left and Bryce Harper on the right.

In June I went on a hike with a bud to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It was where lots of ironwork machinery was made during the Civil War. Today lots of people like to go tubing in the summer:
Harper's Ferry
My latest contract ended, the work on a website migration complete. I had no jobs set up so I said “fuck it” and went to Provincetown for 9 days. Normally I’m ready to go home after about 5 days, but the plane ticket price was cheapest for that range of days and my housing was free, so I was there for quite a while. I hit the tail end of the “circuit week” theme days, and my roomates tended to not eat much during that time. But then we segued into “Bear Week” and the fridge was suddenly packed with food.

There were lots of beards. I was partial to the one on the left, for he made good quiche and wore only briefs for much of the time around the house:
Bear Week attendees
I did a lot of sunning on the beach, a nice bike ride, and lots of cocktails at the Boatslip. Bear Week was kind of crazy, and in the future should I go again I will choose a less popular week, despite the amount of fur.

My next trip at the end of July will be to head back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. My brother will have a new garage built and it will be interesting to see what’s been done.

1990 was a scary time to come out. I gotta hand it to my younger self: Jimmy you had balls at 20 years of age. It was in the midst of time when people were still dying in droves, and you came out in a somewhat rural campus environment where people had hunting rifles in their dorm rooms. Now I understand a bit better why my mom and friends were freaking out so much after I came out.

I took a student study trip to Germany and Poland then, and went to the gay Pride festival in Cologne, Germany while I was there. I didn’t understand then why the gay Germans didn’t want to have anything to do with me, for it was predominantly an American plague at the time.

I’ve been catching parts of HBO’s “The Normal Heart” here and there and it’s been a good reminder of how scary things were back then. Today we know a lot more, with surviving gays of my age and older somewhat befuddled by the attitudes about HIV with younger gays. To them it seems like a manageable disease where you can just take some pills to deal with it. To us it was a death sentence at the time, and we have a hard time comprehending how some can be so relaxed about the disease.

That’s why it’s been so hard to get my head around the idea of PrEP and changing attitudes about prevention. This whole idea of discussing HIV status and whether or not one is on PrEP before you get down to business is a big change from the times when condom use was pounded into our heads from every angle for so long. I was a die-hard proponent of condom use no matter what, and even in my foggiest states I still stuck with that regimen.

Now they are recommending changed approaches to sexual encounters. It’s a new set of ideas and approaches, but I have reservations about the whole idea of being completely dependent on the pharmaceutical industry and my personal health. Open up any gay publication and you’ll see a four-page full-color advertisement for this or that drug, which essentially pays for that publication. Our lives are dependent on a set of drugs to maintain our lifestyles. Sponsorship from the pharmaceutical industry hovers around us like a pleasant specter. I don’t see a whole lot written on that angle so far.

I’m getting the feeling this huge push for PrEP is mainly targeted at 20somethings. The people pushing this program don’t seem to see that this is a big change for older gays and may require a little bit more than “you should take this drug now and change all your habits.”

Things change and our understanding of the disease is a lot better than it was then. But having experienced a string of un- and underemployment since 2012 I also have some perspective as a person without health insurance. Pharmaceuticals are available for low income patients, but I don’t and often can’t depend on regular doctor and pharmacy visits for a steady stream of drugs. And they are expensive. Condoms are still the cheaper and easier option for me for those I don’t know. I’ve hedged my bets with those I know and trust but that still seems like a big investment for me at this time. There seems to be a lot of hype and enthusiasm for PrEP but I suspect our discussions about it and the gay community’s growing dependence on prescription drug treatments isn’t and shouldn’t be over.

Hello again. Been workin’ hard but have adjusted to the new job, just in time for it to end by the close of June. It is a contract position, and while it’s been good revisiting web content management and managing people (I think I’m good at it!) I am told we will likely be done with the web migration by the end of June.

While I have been looking for and applying to jobs this whole time, the push begins again in earnest. Still looking for long-term/permanent public affairs/communications employment, preferably for the government, preferably for a science- natural resources- or ag-based organization. So your help is appreciated dear readers – leads are always received graciously. It has been a rocky and fruitless job situation since September 2012 and I could really use some good news and developments.

Last month I actually had a phone interview for a job I was genetically engineered for: performing public affairs work for a sage grouse conservation program in Oregon. But despite two follow-up emails I have not heard anything back from them. As I recall Portlanders avoid conflict, so bad news is probably not going to be received at all.

We have had some heavy rains in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Potomac has been swollen:flotsam and jetsam
A few weeks ago “ten million ‘real’ Americans” gathered on the National Mall to protest Obama/Benghazi/buttsex or something. I only counted about ten teabagger loons. And for the record I’m tired of hearing these people dictate who “real” Americans are. Teabaggers STFU and go home.
TenMillionMurcans
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, we went for a bike ride along the Potomac River. The shad were running, and we observed herons eating them from this platform (which I think is a flow measurement station):
Flow Station
Under a nearby bridge, me and Bubbles contemplated the meaning of ‘BE’ and the flag of the District of Columbia:
DC Flag, and BE
I celebrated Memoral Day by sleeping in, going to the gym, and another bike ride. I took a picture of John S. Logan in Logan Circle. The dude founded Memorial Day:

I’m going to a Nationals baseball game tomorrow. Sadly woofy Bryce Harper is not playing these days, but super-beardy Jayson Werth will be playing.

Suddenly spring arrived. I went for a hike with friends on the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Virginia. There was a gun show:

I spotted a bald eagle and a baby snapping turtle.

Later that month, we went to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas in bloom:

Bubbles and me. Photo by GURL.


This weekend, a friend with a vineyard asked us to help plant vines:
I dig alone. Photo by GURL.
I carried the vines on my head:

I did not plant the vines as the Overseer preferred, so I soon changed to watering the plants rather than planting them:

As the sun set and we completed the project, we squinted in unison:

There were cute Jack Russel terriers present:

Been busy! Managing is mentally draining, and most of the time when I get home I just stare at the wall as I drool. Plus I may have been avoiding blogging because my current work involves massaging and moving web pages. So the last thing I want to do when I get home is work on more web stuff.

But anyway I’ve been managing people, and I think I kind of like it. This is good because I have a Master’s degree in management, so I’d better like it. But like I said it is mentally draining and keeps me fairly worn out. When most Fridays come around I do not feel like going out. I previously thought I had no previous experience actually managing people, but I’ve found this to be untrue. My experience on the board of the Renegades rugby team had me making decisions, managing a budget, and occasionally approaching difficult club members. This is management.

And don’t laugh, but dungeon mastering (game facilitation) for years has me practiced in quick decision making under pressure, facilitating our “meetings” and understanding different types of people and how they can fit and work better. So I’m not as inexperienced as I thought.

The new stuff that’s challenging me is finding tasks and assigning them out. This is a big part of managing a website redesign and page migration, and takes a lot of time and thought. Especially to do it in an organized fashion.

Other than that I haven’t been doing much else, but am looking forward to a trip to West Virginia in early may.

I don’t know what it is about spring that makes me remember things, particular things so clearly. Maybe it’s because the fog from the winter blahs lifts, or maybe it’s some chemical change in my head. But I always remember things in spring and often catch myself staring off while I reminisce.

Even though Portland is already having its spring and we aren’t (we just had 48 hours of rain/sleet snow – I do not exaggerate this) I remember riding my bike to my volunteer job in Portland last spring, and looking at that one house with all the beautiful tulips and grape hyacinths near Vancouver Avenue. I think an exceptionally shitty winter here in DC has not helped my state of mind thinking the grass was greener over there. It literally was greener over there, but I’m still not sure from the figurative sense. It was exciting to meet new people there and explore new places, but the job instability I was experiencing there made me crave familiarity. From it all I know I gained an appreciation for DC and my friends here.

Anyway enough navel-gazing. My job is going well and it’s good to have income. I get along with my coworkers. I’m a manager of four associates there. This is funny because despite having an M.S. in management, I’ve never actually managed people before. I think I’m doing all right at it, but it feels very awkward having me as the one assigning tasks to others. The idea of me as a manger seems odd. But so far it’s not been a bad experience. Other thoughts on managing:

- It takes time to consider and assign tasks to people. This may cut in on time you need to finish your work.
- People will ask you for guidance. Make a confident decision or otherwise have the balls to say “I don’t know but I will look it up and get back to you.” Then follow up with that promise.
- Every worker has different needs. Some need more work, others may need reassurance.
- Every worker has their strengths. So far I have identified my four associates as The Workhorse, Eagle Eye, Troubleshooter and Meticulous.
- A manager needs a level of self-awareness to watch what he says and how he says it. I have to remind myself that people can be sensitive and may be in a state of anxiety.

Blogosphere hivemind: any suggestions for shade- and excessive-heat tolerant flowers?
Our back deck doesn’t get much direct sun, but at least I have space to plant stuff.