Bad vibes

Well, this morning came and went without any news from France. When we spoke last, this past Friday, I was informed that I would know by the 'middle of the week,' referring to this week. I mentioned Wednesday, and the gentleman agreed that Wednesday was a good day to let me know. As I said in the last post, he's been extremely punctual with me on all other calling appointments and very quick to settle the matter.

His silence indicates to me that the response was not good. My attempts at securing a job in France have taught me that if no one replies to you, then they don't want you. Quite the opposite of the "no news is good news" sentiment we have here in America.

While the book isn't closed, it sure feels that way. I can't help but think that Mrs. Sixline and I need to begin looking for work locally. It's not what we were hoping for, but we can always save up and visit in the future.

I'm very saddened by this, a lot more than I thought I'd be. I keep half hoping that I'm just feeling this way to try and trick myself into 'expecting' a bad response so it won't hurt so bad, while secretly thinking everything will be fine. I admit I have no other reason to think it's over with other than the lack of news. However, I can't deny the feeling.

Thanks again to everyone who's pulled for us. I'll keep posting on the job hunt until Mrs. Sixline and I know what we're doing and where we're going. In the meantime, if you know of anyone who wants a reasonably talented engineer in the areas of controls and embedded system design/development, please let me know.




I do love October. I mentioned this last year, I believe. It's so pretty here in the Fall, and baseball is at its apex.

And no one's reached me yet from France. This latest guy is awesome and very punctual, so even though he said he'd contact me today, I don't think my chances are down the tubes.

However, if this final response is negative, then Mrs. Sixline and I close the door on going to France for a job for now. It's a bummer, but I think we'll be all right.

Thanks to everyone who's been pulling for us. This will all be over with soon, we hope.



I just got getting grilled by my adviser over my journal paper (thesis is embryo.) It was grueling, and I came back to my desk, and picked up my headphones plugged into my computer. I hadn't stopped the playback, so the music was just going. I picked up the headphones feeling a little down thinking "How am I gonna get all this crud finished?!" And wanna know what song began playing?

Kansas' classic, "Carry on my Wayward Son."

Cosmic moment.

i lied.

I'm not staying positive. I'm worried. I can't seem to find any real concrete leads when it comes to jobs, all I find are recruiting agencies. I was also not thinking I had to re-start the interviewing process anew with a second company; I thought that was the point of the recruiting agency.

I'm worried.

On to round 2.

The recruiting agency finished up their pre-screening interviews with the conclusion of the personality test. I'm happy to say that I don't come across as a nut, to the contrary and chagrin of many of my acquaintances I'm sure.

After a discussion concerning the results of the test, and what they implied, the engineer at the recruiting agency will be presenting my file as well as several others to the company that's looking for FPGA engineers. If they like me, they will decide to interview me. So I'm really not anywhere closer to getting the job, I thought there was no more 'decision' based on candidacy; I thought the recruiting agency would present our profiles (the candidates) and there would be interviews for all who were presented as a good match by the recruiting agency. The impression that I got was that they (the company actually doing the hiring) could decide that you're not a good fit based on profile and reject you as a candidate.

But I'm staying optimistic for these reasons:

1.) The headquarters of this company are in Santa Clara, California. This means that I would go there for my in-depth technical interview and it would be in English rather than in French.

2.) While it's still a French company, the Americans working at the California location will understand and perceive my degree in a better light than the French.

3.) I'll stand out in the Americans' eyes because I'll be bilingual.

4.) The other two job opportunities that fizzed out on me were consulting agencies, which translates into lower salaries. This will be a job directly with the company itself, which translates into a higher salary. We're not talking about tons of cash, here, but whatever I can garner is good.

So I'm staying positive. Next Wednesday is when the engineer in France will get back from his trip to Paris (he actually works in Grenoble) and contact me with the new company's decision, and then let's hope the next step after that is a flight to Santa Clara.


oh please oh please oh please

Yesterday morning's interview went well. It was a full on tech interview, and 100% in French. There were some shaky spots where I wasn't really sure I was being clear, but the interviewer really helped me along by asking questions and I think we had ourselves a decent interview. There's a couple of things I wanted to talk about.

On my French resumé, I wrote on there that I lived in France for two years. I feel this is a subtle way of saying that I don't just speak French from a book I learned, but rather I have a working knowledge of the way French people speak French. I feel that while it's not flawless, my French is more authentic than someone who just learned it from a book; I've picked up mannerisms, the way to stress syllables, and the way to put your tone into what you say that communicates feeling just as much as words. My interviewer asked me why I spent two years in France. I'm acutely aware of how the French treat 'new' religion, and very often the Church is viewed in a bad light. However, I'm not going to back down and so I told him straightforward it was for a religious mission. He responded favorably, even asking further questions about what I did all day, what Church I belong to, and it came out that he actually lived down the street from a Chapel in his hometown. I hope that he can see my mission for the good that it was and not a crusade to brainwash his compatriots to believe in an American cult. I think he's level headed enough to do it.

So now, at the end of the interview, he says it's time for me to take a test. I was braced for a technical set of questions, but I guess he garnered what he needed from the Q&A session about my projects and work experience. This test is the dreaded personality test. 100 questions of 3 and 4 statements such as:

1.) I make friends easily
2.) I'm relatively unstable emotionally
3.) I work hard regardless of the obstacles
4.) I prefer to stay away from large groups

I had to select the statement that represented me the most and the statement that represented me the least. After about 40 of these things, all in French mind you, and being up for 14 hours yesterday, my head began to swim. Normally I'm not prone to do well on these sorts of tests; I've failed 3 of them before that I know of. "Fail." I put answers that led the company I wanted to work for to believe that I was not a good fit, despite the preamble declaring there are no correct or incorrect answers. So I'm nervous. I sent it off last night at 11:00 PM so that he'd have it in his inbox first thing in the morning. I haven't heard back, but he did say he was going out of town.

Say a prayer for me. I really want this job.


they called back


Amidst the flurry of snooty French 'We don't want you to work for us' e-mails, this company is really making me get excited. They're another recruiting company that sends you out to work as hired help. So I'll basically be telling people I'm a mercenary. It sounds cooler.

Rewind for a moment: Wednesday morning around 9:15 a lady from this headhunting company called me, asked some of the pre-screening questions, and basically said she's got a post that matches my profile. Sign me up, I say. Sure enough, Friday I got the two phone calls that I slept through from the same company, this time with a bit more information on what kind of a job it would be. I know that this was the reason for the missed calls because they contacted me this morning at 8:30. This is very exciting, they want engineers with a background in C++ (which I have) for the development of place and route actions on FPGA development toolkits and suites. That, dear friends, is right up my alley. I am way excited for this. They've been punctual, the job matches my profile almost 100%, it's in Paris, and I think I'll be able to get a decent salary out of them because when they asked I kept it open ended. I've got another interview of sorts tomorrow morning, so I need to get cracking on my work now.




I decided to use my cell phone to set my alarm rather than mess around with my alarm clock. Like a genius I left the phone on vibrate so naturally I slept right through the alarm-- AND two phone calls from France!!! Crap! I have no idea who called me and no idea what they wanted. They called twice in 20 minutes and didn't leave a dang message even though I have my voice mail message in both French and English.

Oh well... Sleeping in sure felt nice.


Growing pains

When I was 11, I had my first run in with deodorant. I was living in Texas at the time, and people in Texas (outside the hick population of course) are pretty big on personal hygiene. I think it stems from the proper Southern upbringing that was so prevalent 100 years ago. Think about it; it used to be a class based society almost.

Anyway. I didn't want to be a stinky guy, so I stole my older brother's stick of crusty white off-brand scented deodorant. He had mentioned he was going to throw it away, so I took it. It was an afternoon, I had just gone swimming and showered, and I was just about to go outside to play with friends. Now in my 11 year old head, I reasoned that people stink because they sweat and deodorant stops the stink where you sweat therefore it must be applied in the places you sweat.

I popped the cap off and twisted what was left of the pasty white crud. It broke off into two large pieces. Carefully pinching the larger of the two between my thumb and forefinger, I began to apply it to my sweaty areas... First my armpits... then my forehead... then the temples of my head... then my chest... then a little bit on my back, and finally... *ahem* down south. I carefully put the broken piece-- now noticeably smaller-- back into the receptacle where it had broken out of, replaced the cap, and stowed away the new treasure in my sock drawer. I proceeded to get dressed, go outside, and play.

Naturally a few hours later after playing outside in a hot Texan summer afternoon, the sweat began to dry and I had white streaks of crusty deodorant everywhere. At first people thought my face was peeling from sunburn. Luckily I realized what it was and washed it all off before anyone really noticed. I then asked my dad where you put deodorant, and quite nonchalantly asked if it went anywhere other than your armpits. Puzzled, I'm sure, but absent-minded at the impact of the question my dad responded that no-- it goes nowhere else.

And that was a lesson learned.


toxic waste dump

I can't begin to express my frustration right now. I only hope that by pounding the virtual pillow I'll be able to move past it and focus on what I need to get done today.

I'm extremely frustrated because an HR director from a company in Paris who told me last I can recall that he wanted to give me a job. Trying to thin out my mail archives, I accidentally deleted a whole slew of emails that I had responded to which in turn eliminated the email thread they were a part of. So in one magnificent coup, I got rid of what the HR director actually said. For all I know, I'm remembering incorrectly.

Secondly, when I reminded this HR director that we haven't discussed anything via teleconferencing, a wish he had expressed before continuing with the hiring process, he said he was going to be in Holland until Monday (today.) And that on Monday (today) he'd email me. Today is here and there's no email. This is what I've come to expect from him, as he was the guy who told me after his interview with me that he liked me and wanted to move forward with me, then went on a three week vacation without telling me and then dropping me a line upon his return saying that we were going to do the next steps of the interviewing process. To his credit, we have indeed moved past that point, but to his detriment the man's a lousy communicator. For three weeks I thought that he changed his mind or filled the position somehow and neglected to inform me.

So I'm feeling frustrated because I don't know what's going on. He's not telling me. I have no idea what to expect from him when they do in fact offer me a position - if they do.

I dislike not knowing, I'm annoyed at how the French don't consider you as an engineer unless you come from a top school, I definitely don't like being left in the dark, and I don't want anyone to tell me "I know how you feel." I want everyone to say "That's the worst position a guy could be in. It must be so difficult."

And I forgot to charge my phone last night so I can't call Mrs. Sixline and cry on her shoulder.

This day is rotten from the get go.


No more waiting.

Last I spoke with company A, they wanted to have me do a teleconferencing call. When I reminded them that we have not had that yet, they said that they'd contact me Monday. In the meantime, company B has contacted me and while they've been punctual, scheduling the next interview while on the phone with me, they require 5 total interviews before one is hired. 5 interviews could take a few weeks... Visa requirements say that a waiting period of approximately 3 months is common. If Mrs. Sixline and I want to time this right, and be gone when I graduate (Dec 17) then September 17 is the deadline. So while we still maintain hope for these two companies, if they don't come through then working in France will have to be put on the backburners for a bit (a few years bit).

So where does this put us? I'm not exactly sure. I'm somewhat partial to working for Michelin in America, in the hopes that they'll move me over to France after a few years. The Michelin plant I applied for in the states is in South Carolina. They haven't said a word to me as to whether or not they want me so this is just one big waiting game... At least for two more weeks. Then we know whether or not I throw in the towel and just take a local job.


report cards

What is it about hearing flaws and faults that makes one so insecure? I don't accept for a moment that I'm the only one who has a hard time hearing someone parrot back to me the things I know I need to work on. I'm not talking about working on sewing skills, or some kind of external talent or hobby that you're attempting to develop, I'm talking about the things that make you you.

Begrudgingly, I admit that I am not always aware of how my words will be interpreted by a listening party. It's a murky subject and not very clear cut. There are some people who are so sensitive they can't listen to anything without finding fault, there are some people who don't let anything get to them, and then there's the by and large majority of folks out there who might take offense or feel sleight at what is said, but are usually good enough to chalk it up to the offending party's bad day, lack of awareness, or some other good natured excuse.

This happens, to me at least, quite often when I first meet people. I've been told by several people several times over that I don't make good first impressions. Even writing this to a pseudo audience of virtual readers I get a prickly feeling on the back of my neck. No one wants to feel like a lumbering fool with no savoir-faire. I, like most ego-inflated young men, want to feel suave and sophisticated. I've worked on my first impressions quite a bit since this was first brought to my attention.

And that's where I want to end this post-- with the statement that I'm very well aware of my shortcomings and that I work on them. It makes hearing my shortcomings all the harder to endure because I know I have them, I'm painfully aware of them, and I'm working on them. I need to not be so sensitive; I tend to run away with the criticism and apply it in places and in magnitudes that was never meant or conceived by those that point them out to me.

I suppose I ought to be thankful, though. If no one mentions them aloud, I can easily content myself to think I'm further ahead on the character perfection curve (which obviously isn't attainable) than I really am. Being thankful, though, is difficult in these circumstances because by and large the people who can point out your flaws are the people who know you best, and those who know you best tend to have a soft spot in your heart. I, like most ego-inflated young men, seek the approval of those I love and trust.

In the end, though, it's better to hear them from the people who love you than the people who don't.


American Export

It seems our cultural contribution to the world largely consists of pre-packaged processed foods.

I'd like to think we export idealism, entrepreneurship, optimism, and hard work, but from what it looks like it's mainly McDonald's, Coke, obesity, and arrogance.

That sucks.

Attention world: There are good and bad things to American lifestyle and culture, just as there are with what you bring to our table. Also, be reminded that our cradle was built by the hands of many different nationalities. We have so much more to offer than 32 oz. of dissolved sugar in a red aluminum can.

Attention America: Let's try to export more of our good stuff than our bad, eh? Read a book. Learn the world map. (Is it true that a strong percentage of us don't even know where Iraq is?) Learn some history. Pick up a few words in another language. Yes, by assimilating the good that the world exports to us it'll help reciprocate goodwill and hopefully, the world will see as as more than a billboard for fast food.

It seems so pink and flowery, but I don't think we change the world, I think we help people change themselves.