A bit of advice on the side: If you need a shortcut to intelligent conversation, and have a lot of long car rides in your life, listen to CBC Radio. Appropriate, as it was on one of those long car rides that I was recently reminded of the Tesla Model-S, the most successful attempt yet to commercialize the electric car.
Rather than waste the word space describing it, I’ll link to this Oatmeal Comic explaining what it is, how it works, and why it’s so great.
Impressed? I was. Too bad I’ll never be able to afford it this millennium. The CBC report mentioned it, and a quick Google search confirmed it, but the starting Canadian price is $65,500. I avoid sharing financials, but rest assured, I do not possess that amount of money, and never have in my life, period. The language being used it that it’s the first electric “luxury” sedan, emphasis on the luxury, and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt: It’s entirely possible the car just isn’t able to be produced on the cheap yet, and the “luxury” tag is an attempt to make the price more palatable. Regardless, the price is the real problem, and represents the most difficult aspect of marketing this, and indirectly saving the environment.
To demonstrate, let me show you my car, an older Toyota Camry I inherited from my parents when they upgraded. My friend Agnes is the one leaning on it.
There’s now a significant dent on the back, the result of slippery winter conditions, and an impact with a guard rail. And even if I had inherited it with the dent, I’d have taken it anyway. Why? Because fundamentally, I just need to get from point A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible. I’ll ride this thing until it breaks down and is too costly to repair, then after that, get something else as cheaply as I can, because my fundamental mantra is to keep it as financially stable as possible. Far as I’m concerned, getting a nice car is rock bottom in the list of “things I’d do if I had the funds.”
There’s a more cynical side to this, as well, and one that I’ll be up front about: When given something abstract like the environment, and comparing it to day-to-day concerns, the unfortunate reality is people care more about their everyday life and convenience. It takes a certain type of person to shell out a small fortune for an environmentally safe vehicle when there’s a far cheaper, easier option staring them in the face, and that person is a small minority. Certainly not enough to save the world.
I think it’s not an unverified statement to say that the inheritors of this first world, i.e. those in my age bracket, mostly think the same way. And that’s the key. If Elton Musk wants to save the world, designing an elaborate, luxury vehicle isn’t the answer. He needs to release an electric car that is super cheap, and easy to acquire. Certainly, the only reason I’d buy one. I look at things like the auto-detection pop-out handles, the smartphone compatibility, and the onboard computer, and I wonder if shaving those things off the model would reduce the price.
Readers and thinkers, I pose this question to you: At what point would you purchase one of these? How cheap does it have to be? How convenient, too? Would you need charging stations every block? A part-replacement system in place? Basically, what’s the threshold for conversion?
Here, have an “Interview Selfie” of myself being as professional as possible:
I had a pair of interviews today for school placements. They’re the first time I’ve gone job hunting in about a year, thanks to my second burst of schooling, and it had me thinking of a few things. Like it or not, I’m an old hat at this process, having spent something like two years with “looking for jobs/shooting resumes out/going to interviews” as a part-time job, a common artifact of the modern quarter-life crisis (aside: check the recent title change up top). Sometimes, I really feel like we’re missing an essential element in these interviews: Honesty goals, ambitions, and rejection.
I need to tack those quantifiers regarding honesty onto it lest I lead you to believe I mean exaggerating or fabricating qualifications. My principle reason not to do that is that it will only come back to bite me later when it turns out I can’t do something I’ve advertised. I’m speaking of honesty and transparency about the process, both from the applicant and the company.
Admittedly, I’m far better off now than I once was when it comes to resumes and interview. I know now that I was doing certain things horribly wrong, thanks to my “professional practise” classes, or “how to do all those little things regarding employment that everyone should really know.” Nonetheless, even during my initial hunt, there were certain idiosyncrasies that made me wax philosophical.
For instance, you’re not supposed to say “please hire me. The job market is terrible, and I need the work.” Somehow, that translates into desperation, which is a negative thing.
But why is that negative, exactly? Should the impression not be that it instead means “I’m willing to work hard and do what needs to be done because I am extremely aware of my tenuous grip on employment?” Surely an employee who shows such signs would be more dedicated, and more devout. But, that level of honesty is, for some reason, not permitted by the social contract.
This flows both ways, and I feel sometimes like I’d appreciate honesty from an employer regarding their process, as well as turning a prospective employee down. I don’t particularly mind being refused for something on general principle. Desperation or not, that’s how life goes. However, it would all be so much easier if I was just straight up informed that I’d been turned down. In my early Professional Job Hunter days, I’d let things sit for weeks at a time, thinking I’d get a call or an email back. Nowadays, I know that I should have followed up myself, but even then, a lot of places went out of their way to erect barriers prevention that, and I was forced to guess.
It was a hard lesson learning that, by default, you must assume you didn’t get the interview, or the job, simply because they’re probably not going to contact you to tell you that. There were a few exceptions, and I appreciated them dearly, inasmuch as one can appreciate a rejection.
That’s my challenge to employers, then. Or rather, as much of a challenge as a tiny blog in a dark corner of the internet can send. Let your applicants know that it’s not happening, so that they can be released to search for the next job. And if you receive 5,000 applications, surely you can at least put together a form response. Perhaps some people would take umbrage to that, but I would not. Rather, I’d feel free to move onto the next thing.
Really, I think that’s the problem with modern job hunting (speaking, again, as some sort of semi-professional). There isn’t a dedicated set of forms and rules. I think in the middle of a recession, where untold masses of people my age are scrambling and hunting, some obvious set of conventions could save both employers and job hunters time and worry. Well, mostly job hunters. With employers, it’s a buyers market.
Of course, it’s worth noting that previously, I was attempting (poorly) to break into a profession that was shrinking at an alarming rate, stopping only to scoop the absolute top percentile of applicants. Perhaps this time around, things will go better.
The above photo is of my typical breakfast on a school day: A peanut butter and jam toasted sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a big bottle of water. The sandwich is bagged, because I make it the night before, and if I can’t get ready fast enough in the morning, I eat it one-handed in my car on the hour-long commute to school. Even if I have time to scarf it down at home, the water bottle at least needs to be shotgunned while my car is in-motion. Only the coffee (I need it to live) is a guaranteed sitter-downer. All so I can get the maximum amount of sleep before my lengthy days, while still having time to roll into my car in time.
This lengthy introduction is meant to demonstrate the temporal gymnastics a busy twenty-something such as myself must go through to wrangle in the necessary meals to not starve. Lunch and dinner go a similar way. While I like my delicious gourmet food as much as the next Italian, I’ve frequently said, that my preferred superpower would be to never have to eat or sleep unless I wanted to. Well, I’ve become fascinated by the idea that there may be a solution to one of those. This isn’t a promotion, and I’ve got no stake in this. Rather, I’m fascinated by what this invention could represent.
It’s called Soylent, and rather than being a diet shake, it’s supposed to replace all your food, ever. It’s a powder and oil that you mix into a thick, chalky shake, and it contains all the nutrition a person needs to survive and thrive, by breaking it down into chemicals and minerals. I first heard of it when a writer on Ars Technica spent a week on the stuff, chronicling his ups and downs in sometimes excruciating detail.
I later read an article by the New Yorker, explaining it in more complex terms. In particular, the New Yorker article highlights that Rob Rinehart, one of the creators, was involved in it specifically because he was resenting being chained to food, and how he was having time, money, and nutrition problems while working to get his tech startup moving.
At the moment, it’s only sold online, $65 for a week’s supply, and I’ve got no idea how or when a Canadian release will happen. However, the creators are open about the ingredients, intending it to be open-source, so there’s nothing stopping you from simply making your own, though it loses the convenience factor for me. It’s essentially still in beta, with Rinehart throwing out ideas for it becoming far more widespread.
Frankly, I’m thrilled, but I’m far from the norm. I’m a very time-conscious person, and I’ve found myself resenting the sheer time-suck of having to put (at least) three meals together. If I come home late from school, which tends to happen, I can’t start my homework without a two hour long meal-suck, or the financial strain of getting something made to order. And I’ve never been a picky eater, so if I can stay at my desk and take sips from a giant shake bottle all day, I don’t really care *how* it tastes, so long as it’s at least inoffensive (the taste has been compared to “liquid cake”). Lee Hutchinson, the writer who went on the stuff for a week, did a followup piece basically outlining this idea, about how to a certain subset of people, reducing food to something simple and quantifiable is a giant relief.
The price is a factor, but I genuinely hope this becomes a thing, as I’d completely buy in, purely for the sake of efficiency.
P.S. Full disclosure, there was a study suggesting the mixture might have long-term problems, but as the linked article reveals, it hasn’t really bee proven yet.
Well, it’s time to get this rolling again, and I figured I’d start with something light, and save the heavy stuff for a later post. I don’t watch much television, but one of the few shows I’ve followed religiously is NBC’s Community. In case you didn’t hear, it recently got the axe shortly after its fifth season wrapped. It’s tragic, but hardly surprising. It had always been a cult show, and the last three seasons had each ended with the show’s fate up in the air. But this is hardly a post simply complaining that a T.V. show I liked got cancelled. Rather, I’ve been struck with how its now-incomplete story starkly parallels the uncertain future of my particular demographic’s career and education.
First, let me get the exposition out of the way. For the (hopefully few) people that don’t know, here’s the breakdown super quickly: The show was set at a fictitious hole-in-the-wall community college named Greendale. It initially followed an amoral ex-lawyer named Jeff Winger (seen above), disbarred for faking his degree, as he attends the school in an attempt to earn a real degree as quickly and easily as he can. It quickly became an ensemble piece, though, focusing on the offbeat antics of the members of his study group, each season representing a year of school in-universe. The show relied heavily on meta humour, obscure references, and plot lines that could verge on the surreal, making it a hit with a certain segment of internet culture, but less so with a general audience. Probably its greatest success was actually managing to not let the serious human factor, and a proper ongoing storyline get lost amongst the strangeness.
As mentioned above, the show frequently found its fate uncertain. Fearing cancellation, the third season worked hard to wrap as many character arcs and plot lines up as it could (including Jeff finally developing a conscience), and give the series a possible finale. This was repeated with the fourth season, with an extra layer of finality: Having done his four years, Jeff graduates, and prepares to move out into the world. While the show was no longer entirely about him, the initial protagonist completing the thing he set out to do also worked as a stopping point. But they got picked up again, and here’s where it gets interesting.
Season 5 was starkly real for myself. To put it bluntly, none of the central cast had been able to make it in the real world. Jeff left the school intending to work as a legitimately moral lawyer for the needy, and found himself ruined, curb stomped by life. Similarly, the rest of the central cast also failed to achieve their dreams in one way or another, either entering jobs they didn’t want, or going nowhere in life. In the end, they’ve all failed to launch, haven’t made it in the outside world, and all decide to reenrol in Greendale. It’s very much portrayed as them leaving harsh reality for the comfortable womb of college.
That’s the eerie parallel, that made the season itself both compelling and hard to watch. That’s where I am, and that’s where most people my age are: Leaving the place of schooling full of potential, and finding the real world inhospitable. I’m not the only person my age re-enrolling because they feel they have no choice. Their education didn’t serve their purpose, and their careers failed to take off, or went horribly sideways. It was a starkly realistic turn, and as someone who’s gotten more than a little tired of the idealized image of post-secondary education most media seems to present it in, it was refreshing, if grim. If you were my age, or in my demographic, the show was now very much About You.
The thing is, I don’t know how this is going to turn out, and I suspect the people around me now also do not. And that’s why ending where they did was particularly harsh. This season didn’t have a faux-ending, but was just another year. As a result, we don’t get to see them offer a solution to the problem, save that they’re still there, taking (or teaching) classes, unable to escape the orbit of school and transition into independence and adulthood. While I don’t expect a show to give me answers, it’s symbolically disheartening when the work simply leaves the fate of its characters up in the air, without offering concrete answers to how they’ll continue to proceed through life. Essentially, they’re frozen in the same spot as myself, and the work ending there is unusually poignant to a person anxious about the conclusion of his own story. Indeed, if we follow the tethercat principle, who’s to say they’re not now trapped in college for the rest of their lives?
Unless you take Abed’s closing remarks seriously.
Anywho, when we next return, onto something a bit more serious.