May 11, 2006

Naturally Networking

    There is a lot of information out there about how to go about getting a cool job. There are tons of books, thousands of websites, and billions of people with jobs that could clue me in as to how to go about it. Now that I'm in this game, I've been sampling enough of those resources to discover that 99% of them share one piece of advice that I didn't want to hear. They almost universally say the most important thing is "networking." I hate that term. It sounds so cold and calculating, like you're treating people as opportunities rather than humans. I want my dream job, of course, but I worry that I don't have it in me to be like that term sounds.

    After the trip I went to Massachusetts to visit with my former boss and friend, who started asking about what I wanted to do now. After I talked a bit, he mentioned that he had a few friends that were doing cool related stuff in Colorado and asked if I'd like to speak with them. Hell yeah! This can't be networking though, it is just taking up a good friend on the offer of a favor, right?

    Speaking of friends, last weekend, I had a chance to connect with a couple old pals. Shawn came out from California to visit Tim and I, and we had a long merry weekend. It started with a visit to the Coors brewery in Golden Colorado, proceeded through a couple wild nights, and finally ended up on a pleasant Sunday afternoon in the park; Shawn teaching me a little Cappoeria while Tim sprinted continuously for an hour and half in his amateur soccer league.

    I've known Tim for longer than almost any non-family member. He has been living in Denver for most of this millennium. The two of us have some remarkable similarities. We were both: born in Colorado, moved to Guilderland, NY in time for middle school (where we met), love cycling, love the outdoors, are handy with math/science stuff and care about environmental issues. We even kind of look alike, a description of one of us given to the police would get us both in the lineup. It's no wonder we ended up friends. The similarities, however, don't end there. Tim is graduating this weekend with a degree in building systems engineering, his focus on sustainable design and energy efficiency. This, oddly enough, is almost exactly what I did in school. So now we are both looking for the same sort of job in the same region at the same time.

    If I really was a cold hearted networking machine I suppose it'd be a good time to end the friendship and engage in a ruthless competition. But, we're just too good of friends, so instead we've decided to use eachother as respective resources towards our common goals. It is, thus far, the coolest thing that's happened to me in this whole job search. I studied what I did in school because I earnestly believe that it'll be up to my generation of engineers to use appropriate technology to save us from ecological woes. The fact that someone whose intelligence and passion I've respected since middle school came to the identical conclusion is profoundly validating. And, honestly, I'm sure there will be jobs for us both. The earth needs all the help she can get right now.

    So, job hunting is no longer as lonely as it was a couple weeks ago. Now I've got someone to swap leads with, read over resumes, and empathize with the ups and downs of the search. And one day, hopefully soon, we'll both be hired somewhere spiffy and each have the other as an ally doing something related nearby.

Wait a gosh darn second.
Is "Networking" just a fancy word for friends?
Micah and Shawn

May 6, 2006

Charming Chicks

    The MacAllen Brothers have been in Colorado for over a month now and so far the trips good luck has been holding. I have however, fallen behind in telling our traveling tale, so let me catch you up on this past month.

We're blessed with kindhearted relatives scattered all over the state who we've been leaning on as we struggle to get to our feet. Most helpfully, we've spent the bulk of our time at our aunt and uncle's house in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver. They've been wonderful, generous, thoughtful and didn't hesitate to invite two furry travelers and all their possessions into their home.

    As further evidence of how fortunate we are when we're together is the amazing fortune we've had with housemates thus far. I mentioned before our delighted surprise when we returned to Albany to find that Madre MacAllen had rented out spare rooms in her house to, as it turned out, two lovely ladies. Well, within a week at Buz and Nancy's home in Colorado we found ourselves sharing the house with a dozen cute chicks. Sweeeeeeet!

    We've spent much of the last month running around visiting people and have checked in with many of our family and friends, save a few stragglers we're still trying to hunt down. A lot of folks insist on seeing us, personally, before they'll trust that we're actually here. You see, I'd been promising to move to Colorado "very soon" ever since I was getting ready to come back from Denmark in 2002. One thing kept leading to another and I didn't get out west for longer than few brief visits. Tyler joined me in issuing earnest, but untrue, promises when two years ago we jointly declared we'd be here for good in 6 months. It's not really our fault as the MacAllen brothers aren't known for our sense of direction; we moved to Colorado via Central and South America.

A cute chick    We're here now and are working hard to commit ourselves to this state. Although we're both proud bicycle commuters, neither of whom have owned a car for years, it didn't take long to come to terms with the fact that the wide open spaces of the west make for a hell of a lot of pedaling. Despite a very respectable mass transit system here in Denver, so much is out of reach to one without a car. So, last week, the MacAllen brothers both went in on a shiny '95 Honda Accord. I almost pity the nice guy we bought it from. He had no idea he was dealing with a team that had spent most of the last year bargaining with Latin Americans for everything from food & accommodation to package tours. We smiled, chatted, and ended up talking ourselves into a 30% discount from the asking price.
Tyler looking dapper
    Even more has changed than the spontaneous existence of the motorized MacAllens. The earth very nearly shifted on its axis when it suddenly saw Tyler shed his beads, and looking rather dapper in a suit, on his way to an interview...

...And one morning I woke up and decided that the key to finding true love, a meaningful career and the solution to world peace was to drag a very sharp blade over my shaggy face.

DSCN1195-->Beardless Micah!
I feel Naked!