Sep 302008
 

Here’s info on tomorrow’s Downtown Alive! concert series.  It’ll be a Folk Alliance Mini Festival – the Folk Alliance has an office around the corner on South Main.

Food and booze will be available.  Unlike the previous two Downtown Alive! concerts, I plan on being there for a good portion of the evening.  If it’s like the past couple of concerts that have been held on the Civil Rights Museum plaza, we can expect a certain “protester” to show up with megaphones, feedback-generators, and other means to make a nuisance of herself.  Ignore her and have a good time.

5:42 PM as I type this… a little over three hours from now, I’ll know who the October BFF(s?) will be.  I’m secretly kinda rooting for Jenny and Michelle to beat us at trivia because I know how bad they want to be BFFs… however, I’m not rooting for them hard enough to deny my own team an extra $50 in beer winnings.  They’ll have to do it fair and square.

Sep 302008
 

I need to find a good sports betting site.  I realized this Sunday at Calhoun’s, when there were 5 NFL games on 5 TVs and I just couldn’t get into any of them.  I don’t have “my teams” in the NFL like I do for college football.  Even the Titans – the fact that they represent Tennessee isn’t enough.  So I need to find a way to have a personal stake in the games.

People have suggested I look into fantasy football, but, no.  Fantasy football is statistics-based rather than team-based, and the most important element of football is teamwork.  Besides, my idea of a good fantasy involves waitresses in miniskirts carrying trays of beer, not sweaty men running up and down a field.

So if anyone knows of a good sports betting site, where I can place relatively small bets on games (I’m thinking $25 range, just enough to keep me interested) let me know.

Speaking of Calhoun’s and their 5 TVs…. you remember those novelty rear-view mirror sunglasses that joke shops used to sell?  Those’d come in handy at Calhoun’s.  No matter where you sit, one of the TVs is bound to be out of view.  Come to think of it, those glasses would come in handy at the Saucer, too, although for different reasons.

For those of you who know who Sharp Dressed Bum is, keep an eye out for him… he has an outstanding warrant.  The Handling-Panhandling group has been keeping close tabs on which long-time panhandlers have warrants, so we can help provide them with transportation to jail to get those matters cleared up.  SDB has been down here at least 6 years.  He usually dresses nicely, will walk up to tourists, ask “where you from?” and do the tour guide act, but when they turn down his request for money, he’ll follow them down the street cussing them and threatening them.  He’s probably in a two-way tie with St. Jude Bum for the title of most hated panhandler in Downtown Memphis.  We have his full name and mug shots of him on the Handling-Panhandling forum.

Sunday I had an idea for a new form of bum deterrent… those metal lampposts on the sidewalks.  What if the city embedded voice recordings in the posts.  “Welcome to Downtown Memphis… (maybe 30 seconds of info for tourists)… please do not give money to panhandlers.  Thank you.”  Inside metal lampposts, the bums wouldn’t be able to get to the equipment playing the recordings, and if they tried, they could go to jail for vandalizing government property.

Looks like Second Street Shoppers, the convenience store/deli on Second between Big Foot and the Flying Fish, is serving pizza now, for $1 a slice.  Not sure if they’ll have it every day, but it was on the sign board last night.

It appears that none of my BFF candidates are happy with my decision, whereby Jenny and Michelle will become BFFs for October if they beat us at trivia tonight, and otherwise Lauren will win.  Jenny’s response was the “I give up” type, something like, “(sigh) So I guess we’ll never be BFFs.  We’ll try tomorrow at trivia, but you know we won’t win.”

Michelle was angry, with a response like, “How dare you!  You know we can’t beat you at trivia!  We’ve worked all month to prove we deserve to be your BFFs, and this is the thanks we get!”  Um, can someone say, “loser mentality” here?  Both Jenny and Michelle have already accepted failure as the outcome here, although they’ve expressed it in different ways.  I hope they don’t approach their research jobs the same way.

And yet, I feel a little sad that I made the trivia challenge, which realistically, Michelle and Jenny probably will fail.  They really, really wanted to be BFFs.  And they did deserve it.

It’s just that they had equal competition.  Lauren isn’t totally happy with the trivia thing either.  I ran into her last night at Bardog Tavern, and she said, “I wanted to win on my own, not because someone else lost.”  Sigh.  It looks like I haven’t made anyone happy.  The best I can do is say that whoever does not get named October BFF is far and away in the lead for November.

So anyway, a little over 12 hours and we’ll find out whether the October BFF will be a double, as I had with Darbi and Kristin in August, if Jenny and Michelle win; or if it will be the more traditional single BFF, with Lauren winning.  Or, we could get an inch or more of snow and Meghan would win (would that be considered a single or double?)

I don’t think I’m totally over being sick yet, but I was well enough last night to get back into my usual routine of sitting at the window of the Saucer and drinking Pint Nite beers for a good part of the evening.  Then I stopped in Bardog on the way home and had a few PBRs.  By the way, I got there at 10:00 and the place was pretty busy… when I left at 11:30 Bardog was full.  On a Monday night.  That place is going to make it.

Oh!  I came up with an interesting idea for a fundraiser last night.  Details to come.

Off to work.  Glad I have an interesting project to work on, because there’s nothing worse than sick + bored + cubicle.  Hopefully the day will fly by, and then it will be trivia time.

Sep 292008
 

It’s two days until the beginning of October, but I’m going to go ahead and announce my BFF of the Month decision.  This is the most even contest in the history of BFF of the Month – we have the St. Jude scientists, Jenny and Michelle (wanting to do a double BFF), versus Calhoun’s bartender and Best Pool Partner Ever Lauren.  Both are highly qualified.  So, after a lot of thought on the matter, I’m going to give one of the candidates the opportunity to decide their own fate.

Jenny and Michelle (pictured at left, and note that Jenny has a tube top on) will be the October BFFs… IF they can do one thing.

Their trivia team must beat my team, the legendary Rapscallions, Tuesday night, September 30, at trivia at the Flying Saucer.

Keep in mind that Jenny and Michelle and the other St. Jude scientists have played trivia against us many times before, and have NEVER beaten us.

I have no doubt that they accomplish brilliant things in their research, but it’s time for them to prove that they still have some smarts once they step out of that lab.

If Jenny and Michelle’s St. Jude team beats the Rapscallions fair and square tomorrow night at trivia, they will be the new BFFs.

If they lose to the Rapscallions, Lauren (pictured at left) will be the new BFF.

In case of a tie, and both teams finish out of the prize money (so there is no tiebreaker question), Lauren is the new BFF.

If the St. Jude team no-shows trivia tomorrow, Lauren is the new BFF.

If I have even the slightest suspicion that Jenny and Michelle’s team is cheating at trivia, Lauren is the new BFF (note: I’ve never suspected them of cheating in the past, but desperate times call for desperate measures).

All things considered, it would appear that Lauren has an advantage here.  I’m giving her a big advantage because of the out-of-line “barmaid” comment her competition made.  However, her competition has the advantage of being able to determine their own fate.  So all in all, I think it’s fair.

I’ll post the results Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

(Edit:  One more thing.  If Memphis receives more than 1 inch of snow tomorrow, September 30, former BFF Meghan from Big Foot will regain her status as BFF for the month of October.)

Sep 292008
 

About a week ago, I had a guy approach me at a bar and ask for some job-hunting advice.  He told me he reads my blog, and he’s noticed I always manage to find much-better-than-average jobs in IT.  He is just breaking into the field, having graduated from college recently, and he wanted some tips.  I asked if I could think about it for a little while and get back to him.  I realized later that other people in IT might want to hear this too, so I’m using a blog post to respond.

1) Put a copy of your resume online. I don’t mean on Monster or CareerBuilder or any of those. I mean, create an HTML version of your resume, find a place to put it online (search for “free web hosting” if you don’t know where to go), upload it, and request that Google “spider” (index) it. This seems like really basic advice, but I’d bet 90% of your competition hasn’t done it. I get e-mails almost weekly from managers or recruiters that have seen my resume on the web. I used to program for the City Schools, and this is how that job found me.

A few notes on your online resume: Remove all your contact info except your e-mail address. You don’t want stalkers finding out your address or phone number. If a company wants to talk to you, they’ll e-mail. Also, don’t use your current work e-mail address as your contact address on your resume – this is a good way to get fired. If you don’t already have a personal e-mail address, go sign up for Gmail. Pick an account name that sounds professional (e.g. not something like skat3rd00d69).

2) Network. IT people tend to spend too much time studying for certifications, and not enough time out meeting people. I’d estimate that one hour connecting with people is worth 25 studying for certs, as far as long-term effect on how much money you’ll eventually make.

2a) Network within your field. If your field is IT, search for IT-related events around town. Go to them, mingle, and meet your peers. Be genuinely interested in other people and the projects they are working on, but don’t be shy about telling people who you are and what you’re looking for. You never know when you may be talking to someone who knows someone who can help you.

2b) Network within activities you enjoy. If you enjoy running, join a runners’ club and mingle with the other members; a certain percentage of them will be in IT, and even those that are not may have friends or relatives who are. If you enjoy reading, join a book club and a certain percentage of the people you meet will be in IT. Me personally, my hobby is going to bars and drinking. A certain percentage of people I meet in bars are in IT. Hanging out in bars has never led me directly to a job, but I’ve been able to hook up some of my drinking buddies with interviews for positions I knew about. (Note: If your hobby is the same as mine, be prepared to come up with a creative answer to “how did you learn about this position?”)

3) Get LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the professional version of MySpace or Facebook. You still sign up and fill out a profile, but the profile is more about past work and education, and the people you befriend tend to be professional contacts. Managers and recruiters browse their contacts’ contacts when looking to hire. This is how I found my current position.

For that matter, don’t totally dismiss MySpace and Facebook as job-hunting tools either. One of my best recruiter contacts found me on MySpace.

4) Make contacts with recruiters on your own. Even if you’re not actively looking, it’s good to have established relationships with them – maybe you can send someone their way and get a referral fee. Don’t be afraid to contact more than one recruiter – nothing wrong with that, although if one recruiter presents you for a particular position, you should not let other recruiters present you again for that same position. Locally, I like JD Resources (who found me my current job), Vaco Technologies, and TEKsystems.

5) Offer to do small consulting projects at bargain-basement prices to gain experience. Want to program in PHP but have never done it? Put the word out that you’ll do it for a ridiculously low rate (say, 10 bucks an hour) just to get experience and get your name out there. Don’t offer to do it for free, because you want to be able to claim it as professional experience – therefore, you need to get paid. You could also search for contract work on sites like eLance.com to get experience.

6) Identify companies in the area for which you seem like a good fit, and start making contacts with people within those companies. Doesn’t even matter if they’re in IT.  They are people who can help you get your foot in the door, and they can also provide you with more information about the internal culture of the company.

7) Be picky. Part of finding a good job is recognizing that there are a lot of jobs out there that suck. I have no problem saying “thanks, but I don’t think this is going to work out” if I interview for a position, and come to find out that some of its requirements are utterly ridiculous. You have to come up with a definition of “utterly ridiculous” that works for you, but for me, “wearing a tie every day” would be right up there at the top of the list.

… And there you have it.  I hope this helps.

Finally feeling better after being sick all weekend.  And now it’s Monday.  Yay.

Coming soon (probably the lunchtime post):  My BFF of the Month decision.

Tonight: Pint Nite, of course.

Blog sick leave

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Sep 282008
 

My blogging the past 5 days has not been up to par.  For those of you who just tuned in due to the Memphis Flyer award thing, I hope you’ll come back a few days more and give me a chance.  Wed-Fri nights after work I had too many events to attend and was dead tired throughout.   Then Friday day at work I could feel myself coming down sick.  I already had stuff lined up for Friday night, so I attempted to make it, but it was not pretty.  Spent almost all day in bed Saturday, got out today for a little while but still feel far from normal.  Give me a few more days to get this blog back up to my usual low standards.

I did make it out for a little while today.  Notes:

- I missed brunch at Calhoun’s yesterday because I was sick.  The main reason why was, I was afraid Lauren would put on her Tennessee Vols shirt and I’d puke brunch back up.

- By the way, a decision on the BFF of the Month for October matter will come TOMORROW.  Monday, September 29.  Yes I realize that’s two days early but I’m tired of debating this.

- Went to the Saucer tonight, where bartenders Brittney and Jennifer were behind the bar.  Meaning, Jennifer was unloading freshly-washed glasses, putting used glasses in the container for the next dishwasher load, getting the servers drinks, and getting her bar patrons drinks; meanwhile Brittney was at the far end of the bar standing there and talking to people.  Anyway, Jennifer had a BRILLIANT idea for my Halloween costume this year.  Not 100% sure it’ll happen, because it’s a costume that would have to be done with another person.  But it’s brilliant.

- I also had an idea how to run the bums out of Downtown, or at least make life harder on them.  It involves lamp posts.  Details to come.

- I have a post typed up giving advice to people applying for jobs in IT.  This one’s been done for a couple days, just wanted to wait for a weekday to post it.

- Oh and I found out where the Nuh-Uh Girl eats lunch.

Again, if you’re new, please bear with me and one of these days I’ll post useful stuff.  I’ve just got to get to feeling like myself again.

Sep 282008
 

According to an article in the CA this morning, the nation financial crisis has changed the One Beale project, to be built at the foot of Beale at Riverside.  The project was slated to be a high-rise hotel, condos, and office space, with condo owners enjoying the same concierge service hotel residents would receive.  However, the recent financial downtown, that project now appears to be much riskier, without much promise of additional return.  Therefore, the developers had no choice to scale the project back.

The project will be instead built in phases, with a low-rise, limited-service hotel as the first phase – developers are confident there’s demand for it now.  Phases two and three will be the fully-realized Hyatt Regency Memphis, with amenities such as a 10th floor pool and sundeck; and almost 30,000 sf of office space.  Although 25 of the 66 condo units pre-sold, the residential units won’t be built until Phase 4, and it is unknown at this time whether they will be condo or rental units.

Sick again

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Sep 272008
 

Apologies to everyone I barely spoke to last night at Trolley Tour and at the South Main Dirty Dozen party.  I didn’t realize it until I got home, but apparently I had food poisoning or some kind of stomach virus… had 102 fever when I got home.  Feeling better today – still a fever though.  If I go out it won’t be until 9:30 when Funk DeVille plays the Saucer.  If anyone knows the Fire Sale, e-mail or text it to me and I’ll update.

I did recover for a little while last night, for the Mpact Memphis debate watch party at the Red Rooster.  I got a great seat right in front of one of the TVs, and more importantly, at the bar.  Special thanks to Sam (my vote for Memphian of the Year in the Flyer’s poll) for keeping me well supplied with water as well as booze.  I re-joined Mpact last night.  I don’t expect to get actively involved in their event planning as I was in the ’02-’05 period, but I do plan to attend more of their events.  You can check out their calendar on their website.

The debate:  I don’t think either candidate got a decisive win.  I think Obama did slightly better, but that could be my bias because I plan to vote for him.  Going into the debate he was at +4.2% in the RealClearPolitics national average, and I think he’ll improve to +5.0% by the end of the weekend as a result of the debate.

Afterward I watched Aquanet play for a little while.  Then I headed to South Main for the Dirty Dozen party at E&H… unfortunately I was starting to feel ill again and only stayed for one drink.  Wandered home, took my temperature, realized I was sick, went to bed.

Probably not going out tonight.  Need to stay home and rest.

Sep 262008
 

Looks like the debate is back on for tonight… that means I’ll be at the Mpact Memphis watch party at the Red Rooster.  I need to renew my membership while there… I let it lapse this year.  The debate itself does not start until 8, so I’ll probably hit Trolley Tour from 6:00 to 7:20ish, then head to the Rooster in plenty of time to get a good seat.

Bardog Tavern is doing happy hour from 5 to 7 with $1 off all bottles and drafts.  That means PBR costs only $1.50 during happy hour.

Calhoun’s is doing their brunch again tomorrow.  Price is $8 a plate this week – at $5 last week, it was clear that they underpriced it.  Last week’s brunch was OUT-FREAKIN-STANDING, so come on down if you’re hungry tomorrow morning.  Not sure if the menu will be the same or if they’ll change it up, but I’m sure it will be good.

September 26

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Sep 262008
 

September 26, 2008… my grandmother who helped raise me as I grew up would’ve turned 100 today.

It’s Friday morning and I don’t know what my plans are for the evening. If there’s a debate, I’ll be at the Red Rooster to watch it. If it’s called off, I’ll be at the South Main Trolley Tour. Weather looks to be perfect this month. In either case, I’ll be in the South Main area later in the evening for a private party.

Hmmm… the Red Rooster… the Blue Monkey… the Flying Fish… Bardog Tavern… the soon-to-be-open Silly Goose… the Pig on Beale… Spindini, the best Cougar Bar as voted by Memphis Flyer readers… quite a nice little Downtown zoo we’ve got going on.

The election is barely more than a month away… I’m addicted to RealClearPolitics. I check it throughout the day to see if any states have flipped from red to blue or vice versa. The last day to register to vote in time to vote in the November elections is October 6. Early voting is October 15-30.

I’ve been asked to let everyone know to check out the empty lot next to Earnestine & Hazel’s tonight for Trolley Tour. There’s an art park initiative going on for the new Downtown promenade, and they’ll have an exhibit in the lot tonight. Come see Architecture Inc.’s plans for the park, watch 7 artists perform live to the tunes of a funky jazz band, and most importantly, drink some Ghost River beer!

I’ve also been told that personal trainer Shannon Lazek has opened a space in the old Durden art gallery at 408 S. Front #107, and she will have an open house tonight during Trolley Tour. I’ve never met Shannon but she comes highly recommended from a client to tell me how awesome she is. Check her out if you’re into fitness, or want to be.

The South Main Association will have free food and beer for members tonight from 6 to 8. Non-members can get a beer for a $2 donation (although, note two paragraphs above that the art park people will be serving beer too).

Since I hung out with Michelle and Jenny this week, in the interest of equal time, I guess I’ll have to stop by Calhoun’s either Saturday or Sunday day and see Lauren. The October BFF race is dead even. Michelle and Jenny had pulled out to a slight lead, then undid it with that “barmaid” comment. That comment was as bad a foul as Lauren’s horrible Tennessee shirt. So I’d say the race is as even as Obama-McCain, except I don’t want to insult any of my potential BFFs by likening them to John McCain.

All right, outta here for now.  I had an IT guy ask me for job-hunting tips last weekend, and it occurred to me that the tips might be useful to others, so I’m working on a post about them.  Don’t know if it’ll be done today, but soon.  See you at either the debate or Trolley Tour tonight, if you’re out.

Sep 252008
 

If you’ve heard about all the fun that happens at Hollywood Disco (formerly Raiford’s) at 2 or 3 AM, but you just can’t stay up that late, tonight is your chance to experience it at a much earlier hour.  The Travel Channel will be there to film tonight, and they need a packed house at 6 PM.  There’s no cover until 9, so put on your boogie shoes and come on down.

I’m pleading with everyone who loves the Disco to come out and support the new owners and make the place look like a million dollars.  A little over a year ago, we thought the Disco was gone forever when Raiford retired and closed the club.  The new owners gave it back to us.  This is our chance to say “thank you” by making the place look great on TV.

I’ll be there in my “Disco Paul” persona by 6 PM.  Come on down and join me!

Kudos to the Memphis Flyer on an outstanding Best of Memphis party, held last night on the grounds of the Metal Museum.  Great food from the BOM restaurant winners, talented band, fun party space.  Since it’s not really accessible from the rest of Downtown I drove the car, and the engine got an extra workout when I took the wrong exit on the way back and had to go 4 miles into Arkansas and turn around.  Last time I bought gas was the last week of August.  Total miles on the car since then, counting last night: 14.

After the party I hit the Saucer for a beer, then remembered that the St. Jude scientists/October BFF candidates Jenny and Michelle had said they’d be at Blues City watching the Dempseys.  So I headed down there.  Many pictures were taken – although none with my camera, so I don’t have any to post.  “Come on Paul, pose with your new BFFs,” they said, and I reminded them they are BFF candidates for October and have not won.  English Jenny denigrated the competition.  “Really, Paul,” she said.  “Don’t you think you should stop choosing barmaids as your BFFs?”  “Barmaids.”  You gotta love the British.  Not really a strong argument, though, considering I spend more time in bars than I do sleeping or at work.  Seems like a “barmaid” would be a natural pick.  What they should have done was to try to draw comparisons between BFF candidate Lauren and former BFF Meghan, who was a total disaster.

So, Rick Springfield was in the audience, and trying to keep a low profile, but the Dempseys coaxed him up on stage to play a song on Brad’s guitar, and he totally rocked the place.  After that the Dempseys said, “We’re taking a break, there’s no way we can follow that,” and the Blues City people put “Jesse’s Girl” on the PA.

After that I stopped by Bardog Tavern to join John Bragg and his employees for a drink to celebrate their “Best Restaurant” win.  The place is coming together.  They’ll be open for lunch next week, and since it’s a block from work I’ll probably be in there quite a bit.

Back to work.  Today’s meeting day.  Yay meetings.  Actually I’m looking forward to this one because I have something cool to demo.  After work I’ll stop by the Saucer for a happy hour Dos Equis Lager, then head to the Disco.

Oh – one more thing – probably not gonna get by the Saucer until after work, so if anyone knows the Fire Sale e-mail or text it to me and I’ll post it.