November 27, 2012

Back From "Mini-Staycation"

Back from "mini-vacation"
If you've been anxiously waiting for my next blog post you might have been a bit stymied over my mini-vacation of the last few days.

Thanksgiving for us was Friday this year instead of Thursday.  My Brother-In-Law and his wife wanted to spend time with her family on Thanksgiving so we had to acquiesce to their desires and have Thanksgiving together Friday instead.

Well....that isn't really true.  They did spend the holiday with her family and the rest of us didn't have any problems with that.  They got to introduce their daughter to some of the extended family.  Carolyn had to work Black Friday in the morning, so getting together for a nice meal was a good way to finish off what is often a less-than-fun day.

As an aside.....even though people can be generally dumber and meaner on Black Friday, the folks that shop Fred Meyer tend to be quite a bit nicer.  I didn't go out and shop Black Friday, but I didn't have a lot of shopping to do.

This weekend I was busy with three things: game prep, figuring out Christmas gifts, and mentally preparing for an interview on Monday.

HackMaster Game Prep
Game Prep: While I have some "hooks" for the party, I don't necessarily expect my players to do what I want them to do, which is good because that never seems to work anyway.  I just try to set up a framework and let them decide on their own what to do.  If they go in another direction I have my framework to help move things along.

For example, I don't have my NPCs pre-populated.  I know the basic break-down of the citizenry and have listed what shops and services are available, along with a list of randomly generated names.  As the PCs get to a new shop I make a quick roll to determine heritage and pick a name from the appropriate list.  Anything that comes up gets written down for future use.  I just try to make sense as I go along.

It seems to work.  The party had met with a furrier in town and later a village elder offered a bounty on a particular monster.  Usually bounties are paid off upon presenting the appropriate body part (in this case a left ear).  On the fly I decided the bounties would be handled by the furrier and they'd be best able to determine if a bounty-hunter was trying to pull a fast one by turning in a fake ear or one that was not fresh.

Christmas Gifts: Truth be told, money for gifts is a little hard to come by.  While I could simply forgo the holiday this year, I think that is a little excessive.  In the past I've been able to make some gifts that were well received.....or at least politely received, and to be honest I really enjoy that creative process.  To paraphrase Brent Sienna, "I'm a grown man with no children.  To me everyday is Christmas."

Making gifts this year
This isn't a dig on children, it's just that I generally have been able to get what I want when I want it.  I have plenty of toys and "stuff" & the thought of getting more due to some obligation for gift-giving seems a little extravagant.  Several years ago I asked my friends and family to make a donation, not necessarily in my name, to a charity of their choosing instead of giving me a gift.  I still get a little something from my parents and Carolyn and I exchange gifts, and I'm quite happy with that.  If someone wants to make me something or give me something personal, Christmas or not I'll enjoy it.

On the flip side I get so much more out of creating gifts than I do from buying gifts.  When I make something I generally can do more than if I bought something.  When I'm buying something I feel better knowing it is what someone really wanted or needed.  With most of my friends and family scattered across the country, being able to purchase something appropriate isn't really an option.

Yesterday I managed to get most of my supply shopping done for this Christmas.  I'll get to start the construction phase this week and hopefully be done by the end of the first week in December.

Job Interview: I had a job interview with a private firm yesterday.  For some reason I was much more nervous than I should have been.  I think it is the two-year anniversary of me quitting my old job that is getting my nerves up.  I thought the interview went well....not great, but pretty well.  I was lucky enough to interview with some of the folks I'd be working with in HR.  I'd say the majority of the interviews I've been to over the last two years have been with management and the questions seem to have come right from a book.

Job Interview
I understand behavioral interviews, but simply asking a small series of odd questions in a short interview really isn't going to cut it.  Let me tell you, there have been some doozies.  I still think my favorite is a manager asking why I am the best person for the position above all other potential candidates.  The question was refined such that "all other" meant basically anyone who wasn't already hired by the company.

I really didn't know what they wanted for an answer.  I'm simply not conceited enough to think that out of the other 6.9 Billion people on the planet not working for this company, that I'd be the best person.  Statistically speaking it just isn't possible for me to be the best person.  If you wanted to narrow it down to just the people being interviewed then I still couldn't say because I don't know those other people.

Of course it could easily just have been my low tolerance for BS questions when it was clear to me that they weren't going to hire me and the position had been already filled.  It happens with some state and federal positions.

Fingers Crossed
Getting back to the topic of this interview, it was good to meet with the right people who where more concerned with getting to know you and (I'd assume) try to determine if you'd be a good fit for the office and the company.  They seemed to know what they were looking for and I could tell that their interview experiences were much more like mine had been when sitting on their side of the table.  The only thing worse than having to deal with the stress of an interview is to be the interviewer having to sit through a slew of interviews.

The position is basically exactly what I'm looking for.  It pays what it should pay and it seems to me that the HR staff is much more professional than some places that I shall not name.  The fact that they value certifications and membership in the Society for Human Resources Management speaks volumes to me.

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