Wednesday, 5 August 2009

My Bridge

Between my house and the base....there is the autobahn bridge which spans one side of a valley to the other.

The bridge was rebuilt after the war....around the late 40's. Well yeah....we did bomb it in WW II.

To be kinda honest, for the past ten years....it's been on the top ten "tear-down-and-replace" bridges in the entire region of Germany.

So today....the local paper announces that a plan has started....over $100 million involved....and it will be taken down and rebuilt. Needless to say.....we are talking about two years of work and a jammed up travel situation the entire time.

It'll likely start by spring of 2010....and life will be fairly miserable as we end up spending an hour to travel what took 15 minutes before.

Why You Don't Want to Be a Contractor

I don't typically tell amusing business stories....but today...why not?

My company....which shall remain anonymous.....finally woke up and realized what was going on with the contractor to GS conversion situation. They had someone give them a strong a hint. So they went to Air Force contracting....and contracting said "what, what are you talking about?"

By the end of the day.....contracting had discovered that 100-plus billets are switching to GS. Huge shock to the company. And contracting (or at least they act that way, but who the hell knows).

The Air Force personnel guys called their plan here....a "cascading effect". Around ten task orders....some had 15 people affected....some 25.....some 4....etc. Some start in October, some in November, some in December, some in January, and finally the leftovers in February.

First group runs through this mess in Oct. Mind you....NONE of the billets have been advertised yet. Typically, it takes six months to advertise and get everything done....with NO mistakes accomplished.

The company is plain upset...put hours and hours into competition...and they lose around 20 percent of the local hires. By end of next year....who knows how many more.

The amusing thing is that contracting thinks that they will have another two or three dozen new contracting billets in spring of next year (new growth).

So here comes the fascinating part. Last year, we had three episodes where guys were applying for GS jobs and got to the end part....accepted....and then housing came up. For three different reasons.....the AF denied all three housing ($40-odd involved in this part of the package per year). They all turned down the jobs. If you don't have housing....staying in Germany isn't worth the deal.

We started thinking this morning.....this "cascading" effect....the first 15 to run through....if they deny ten of them housing.....the whole bunch of a 90 folks left will stampede. No one will bother applying and they will all quit as quick as they can find another contractor job....whether here or in the states. Our company won't be able to find people to step in.

Naturally, our big boss asked AF contracting if any backup or plan b situations were in effect.....and the contracting guys just said no....at least for now....you can see them sitting there and calculating how screwed up this could become.

So things are about to unfold. It could be a fairly big mess....lots of people suddenly leaving.

Naturally, I don't really care.....I'm still putting out resumes and this whole thing is a joke to me now....but to watch how each group planned something and they didn't anticipate another group screwing them over.....is the cherry on this cake.

The Jobs Game

So today, I’ve edged over the 100 resumes submitted.

As most of you know....my contractor position is coming to an end by early next year....I’ve known this since early January. It’s becoming a government slot, but because of the stupid German work-visa, I can’t apply for it. And there are numerous other slots going the same way....so staying here isn’t the wisest of decisions.

So I started putting resumes in January. I figured....maybe twenty or thirty of these....and I’d do four or five interviews....and one would click. I wanted only GS....figuring this was the safe approach.

With the economy like it is....the government job openings are getting three times the normal number of resumes. I chatted with a HR person back in May, and they had well over 120 resumes to consider....so the odds of getting into the favorite top five....are exceptionally difficult.

So a total of three interviews have taken place, and at least twenty of the applications have been declared “not-qualified” or “not-in-local-area”....so that took out a bunch of the 100 that I submitted to. Presently, I’m in the “potential-interview” bucket for about 44 jobs....which is a plus-up.

I’ve started to limit my applications to strictly jobs with security clearances and a few odd-ball jobs that I know will have few applicants (like the Fairbanks, Alaska job with the Park Service). I figure these will have few applicants and make this easier.

I look back....into 2004, which I could have left and gone to the east coast with SAIC....and I probably screwed up by not taking advantage of that situation. I should have looked for GS jobs back in 2005 and 2006....when the application level was half of what it was today.

It’ll be curious how this comes out in the end. I have no issue with going anywhere....even west Texas or the Arctic Circle. I wouldn’t mind doing something totally different. I wouldn’t mind working with crazy people (as if I wasn’t already doing that now). Heck, I wouldn’t even mind working with Democrats or Republicans.

So in a few months, if all goes well...the Ripley Porch may be undergoing a slight perception change. I may be under the influence of Alaska or upstate NY or Detroit.

Why You Have to Grin at NPR

It was a NPR interview….of sorts. It was comical to some degree, except both the NPR dimwit and the State Department dimwit went into serious topic and made themselves both appear like fools.

For those that care, elections are coming up in Afghanistan….for President there. The general feeling is….it’ll be an election loaded with fraud, votes counted twice, votes never counted, and polling stations full of corrupt managers.

A significant number of Afghans now believe that this is a bogus election and almost not worth voting. The Taliban dudes threaten to make as much trouble as possible…..to trigger fear amongst voters.

So this conversation on NPR goes through the problems and naturally….the NPR journalist then asks why bother to vote. And the state department then comments on the US election in 2004 where things went wrong in Ohio and thousands of people were denied their right to vote and thus triggered the feeling amongst many Americans of an illegal election.

I sat there for a moment….on national radio….for some guy to make some comparison of Afghanistan and Ohio? For about 30 seconds, I sat there in the car….thinking…”did I hear that guy say that?”

The NPR journalist didn’t miss a beat and continued right on with all the terrible problems in Afghanistan.

The trouble with NPR is that they have around thirty percent of their interviews which are 4-star in detail and information. The rest of the interviews are loaded questions with answers you can only laugh at, but the NPR journalist isn't even able to grasp the answer or stop and force the guy to clean up his answer.