Dina: I bought the world’s worst thesaurus yesterday.
Derek: Is that so?
Dina: Not only is it terrible, it’s terrible.
PolyWogg’s (Completely Informal and Totally Unofficial) Guide to Competing for Jobs in the Canadian Federal Government
At the beginning of the chapter, I mentioned there were five types of interviews, and the one that is left is what is called the “best fit” interview. This is the interview where they are seeing, amongst a small pool of fully qualified candidates, who is the best fit for the team.
Let’s go back for a second to an earlier example. Let’s say someone has a bunch of tech support workers working for them, and also say that they have three areas to cover – mainframes, PCs, and Macs. So they have an opening and run a selection process looking at experience in providing tech support, knowledge of various elements of different systems, abilities to be a front-line service worker and the personal suitability factors for dealing with a lot of different types of people all coming to you for help. Now suppose they have an opening, and have found three really good candidates who have been tested, evaluated, all good – any one of them could do the job. But there is only one position available. And you have to choose one that will fit well with your needs.
Suppose for example that you have existing workers who are really good with mainframes and PCs, but you’re a bit weak on Macs. And one of the three candidates is REALLY strong with Macs. Then you might choose them as the best fit for completely legitimate operational – yes, all of them are qualified, but this one brings a little extra experience with Macs to the table, and you’re short in that area. Tomorrow, someone might leave from the mainframe team and suddenly you’ll pull a mainframe person off the pool.
That’s partly what best fit is about – seeing which candidate fits your basic and extra needs the best.
But I need to warn you of something else. That previous example could have probably been decided just on paper. So why an interview? Often the processes are large and complex undertakings with lots of managers doing the interviews. So it is quite common for a hiring manager not to have seen EVERYONE that was interviewed earlier. They may not have met YOU for example. So if they are good managers, they’ll narrow the pool down to a potential sub-list that looks good and then call 3-4 of them in for a quick conversation.
What are they looking for? They’re making sure you’re not a whack job, for one. I’m not joking. Just because someone passed an interview or wrote a test doesn’t mean necessarily that you want to work with them on a day to day basis. Anyone can clean up nice for a formal process, answer the right questions in the right way, and maybe no alarms go off. But they’re a whack job. Look around your own work unit…chances are there are a couple of people you would rather not work with, but hey, somebody hired them.
The “nicer” way of thinking about this best fit interview is partly just getting to know you and partly to see how you interact on interpersonal skills in an informal setting. Are you shy? Are you aggressive? Are you constantly joking, are you deadly serious? They just want a feel for who you are, what you’re like.
Another area they want to gauge is how interested you are in the job. I know what some of you are probably thinking…what do you mean? We applied for the job, of course we want it, doesn’t every one of us want it the same? The short answer is no.
Some people applied just to be in a competition and hopefully make a pool so their own manager could pull them and appoint them where they are working now. They don’t want the job AT ALL. They’re just playing the game to get promoted.
Some other people are victims of time…they applied nine months ago but since then, their lives have changed. Maybe they have a divorce in the works, or a new baby, or a new boss, and they don’t want to move right now after all. They want to stay put. Or their boss has offered them another opportunity. Or they made another pool somewhere else, or are about to make one. Lots of things could cause them to change their minds since they first applied.
Are managers going to outright ask you if you still want the job? Probably not. They’re instead going to ask you to tell them a bit about why you want the job. Maybe ask you what elements in your past experience make you think you’d be a good fit. Ruh roh. Yeah, that’s right, it is still an INTERVIEW. And you need to be ready.
Your main focus is different though. Instead of knowledge or abilities or personal suitability factors, they’re mainly judging two factors – indirectly your experience (it will be what you use to populate your stories and flesh them out) and more directly your interpersonal skills.
But you have to make a choice at this point in how you choose to respond.
Some people will say, “If you want the job, you have to be the duck.” Just like in the rest of the competition. Don’t deviate from that message. What do you like about the job as a duck? Being able to quack. What did you like in your past jobs? Whenever you got to quack. Quack, quack, quack. You’re still going to answer the questions, but every third sentence should be about quacking. It’s safe, it’s conservative, it’s traditional.
However, what if you’re actually a swan? Then you have three options.
First, if you REALLY want the job no matter what, just quack. Less risk.
Second, if you want the job but you also want to be yourself, quack and also show off your swan features. Let your wings unfurl. Strut a bit. It’s a compromise of being true to yourself while still pursuing the job strongly.
Third, if you are interested in the job, but you aren’t going to be happy if you can’t be a swan, then fully unfurl and strut. You have to. Because you don’t want them thinking you’re a conforming duck and hire you into a job that is a bad fit for you.
But this also leads to some good news.
You get to interview them too. You can ask what it’s like to work in the unit. Chances are they will tell you anyway before you ask. They’ll often describe the job in detail, or the division, or the branch. They’ll give you a bunch of info you didn’t get reliably earlier…and you may or may not like it.
Some people have thought the job was like X and then found out in the best fit interview that it was mostly about Y. Which they had no interest in, and now they’ve wasted a huge amount of time to get that far and they’re not interested in the job anymore. It happens. Mostly to people who applied for anything and everything without finding out what the job was about at least in general terms.
You also get to see the manager and / or director in an informal setting and see if you want to work for THEM. You can see how they describe files, people, the work, etc, and decide whether there is a whack job in the room, and it’s not you.
Those are the basics, and the challenge for giving advice on this section is so many of the questions you might have are “what if…” scenarios. Too many to address in their entirety, but I’ll attempt to address some common general themes.
Option 1: What if I’m invited but I actually don’t want the job?
Remember all those other factors I mentioned above? Life happens. You can politely decline the best fit interview and say you’re not interested in the job at this time, with or without an explanation, no harm, no foul. They might be a little annoyed, but they’ll get over it. If you have something else, just say so and move on.
However, I advise against declining. First of all, they ran a competition, invested a lot of time and resources in it, and you DID apply. The least you can do is here their pitch at the end.
Second, you actually don’t know what they’re considering. Tons of pools get used to fill OTHER jobs than the first one posted. You might think it is about training programs, and you’ve decided it doesn’t interest you in general, but in reality, they have a new initiative looking at training geared towards gender equality that is one of your passions. You don’t know, and you won’t know unless you go and have that little interview. And after you hear from them, if you don’t want it, email them the next day and thank them politely for their consideration but tell them it doesn’t seem like the best fit for you at this time. Even if they offer you the job, you CAN say no.
Option 2: I had the interview, seemed to go well, and I want the job. Now what?
Ideally, they offered you it on the spot and you said, “Quack yeah!”. More likely, they said, “Thanks for coming in, we’ll let you know.”
But you should also give them an extra bit of info – you WANT the job, now that you’ve heard more about it and met your potential bosses. So email them the next day and say thank you for considering me, and that you remain very interested in the position if they think you would be a good fit in the team. Lots of people think this is redundant, but the reality is that it is new info for them. They may THINK you will say yes if offered, but they don’t know for sure – they know you’re interviewing them for best fit too. So telling them you’re interested (or very interested) lets them know that for sure if they offer you the job, you’re going to say yes. You’re a sure thing. All uncertainty is gone. And there is a small psychological element in there too – just like in dating or friendships, it’s nice to be wanted, and you’re telling them you want to work with them.
On both the upside and downside, their response will likely tell you which way they’re leaning. Now they may have to interview lots of others too, you can often tell by their response if it is GREAT, thanks for letting us know, or just okay thanks.
Option 3: I had the interview and I don’t want to even KNOW them, let alone work there
So email them the next day and politely tell them it doesn’t seme like the right fit for you at this time. No harm, no foul.
Option 4: I want the job, but one detail is a dealbreaker for me, when do I tell them?
The short answer is whenever you feel comfortable raising it. Not very helpful, I know. So let’s tease that out a bit more. It depends a bit on what the detail is about.
If it is about the job, you need to at least raise it as a concern in the best fit interview because that is pretty clearly linked to your best fit. For example, if you hate public-speaking and you find out that there is a component of that in the job and you didn’t realize that previously, try and probe a bit to find out how extensive it is. They’ll be able to tell that you don’t like or have a problem with that component and the conversation will address that to some extent.
Or perhaps there is a need to do a lot of outreach during the week, but every Tuesday at lunch, you are doing Toastmasters. You could mention that as something you do, and ask if that would likely be an issue. You aren’t trying to say “no”, because they’re not offering you anything yet to say yes or no to anyway, you’re just working out the ramifications of the job and another commitment you have. You can do all of this in the best fit interview.
However, if the detail is something about YOU, not the job, then you can wait for an actual offer before raising it. They’ll call you to let you know they want to choose you, at which time you can ask to meet to discuss a couple of issues you just want to clarify before you say yes fully. You’re still telling them it’s a likely yes, you just want to mention a couple of things.
Some of these things might be highly personal. For example, suppose you have to pick up your son every Tuesday at 4:00 without fail. It’s not an everyday thing, as that could have been discussed at any time in terms of the workhours for the team, etc. Instead, this is a dealbreaker for you. Will that be a problem? Usually it isn’t. But you want to know before you say yes.
Or perhaps you have a one-week trip planned in six months where you’re taking your great grandmother back to the home country. It’s planned, booked, and you’re going no matter what. If it is that important to you, you may say, “Is this oging to be a problem?”. Usually not, particularly with advanced notice, but this category is about something YOU decided was a dealbreaker for you, so you need to know if it is a problem or not.
After that, there are a huge number of potential really personal issues you might want to raise. Maybe you have a religious ritual that you do at certain times each day, and while they’ll accommodate you, maybe you want to know it isn’t simply accommodations but they are actually supportive and would never ask you to do it after you finish some urgent task. Many of these areas could even get into questions of human rights, but you want them to know before you start.
Which takes me back to the original response. Tell them what you want to tell them when you feel comfortable doing so.
Now, lots of activists out there will tell you that you don’t need to share, and I agree. You don’t HAVE to tell them. But you also don’t want to necessarily be faced with having to fight for something with neanderthal bosses…you want to know their views before you accept.
For me, it is the blog I write. I tell them in my best fit interviews, if not earlier, that I have a blog. And give them the URL if they want to check it out to see the types of things I write. Am I allowed to have a blog? Yep. Does that mean a boss might not give me a hard time about it? No, they could, and if that’s their attitude, I want to know that before I agree to work for them…mostly because I won’t accept the offer. I’m also going to feel them out about HR, training supports for employees, ways to approach certain types of situations. And all of that will be informally during the best fit because that is where I feel comfortable sharing it. Others might wait for an actual offer, but to me, that’s a waste of time. But I’m also not looking for just “any job” or trying to get a promotion. I will only accept jobs that are the right fit for me.
I had one of those handheld telescopes when I was a kid, and I tried to look at the stars, but well, that went about as well as you think it might have gone. I couldn’t see diddly except for the moon. And even then, I never saw ridges. Then five years ago, I bought a real telescope (Celestron NexStar 8SE below) and attempted to embrace my new hobby without a lot of success.
I’m not a star-hopper kind of learner
Now, I’m going to deal with a giant issue right up front to get it out of the way. I tried a variety of scopes both before and after I bought my scope, and it was very clear when I was done that I had bought the right scope and mount for me. Easy setup, good value for money, a few steps above entry level, and a computerized scope to help me get going. I mention this because as I describe some of the problems to come, there is a rabid group of starhoppers out there who think the goto motorized scopes are either a waste of money or the devil’s spawn for learning or just more trouble than they’re worth. It’s a lot like someone who likes baking telling someone who has trouble working a bread machine that they should just skip it altogether and make bread by hand. It’s an option, but has nothing to do with solving the bread machine problem that the person actually has.
In my case, I fully understand and respect their advice. I just don’t agree with it for me, because that’s not how my brain works. If I have to star hop, and struggle with the first few outings, I’ll be done. My frustration levels with some of the other types of scope, many of which I borrowed over the course of a summer from the local astronomy group, were considerable. With my scope, the Celestron NexStar 8SE (one of the big orange tubes), I could get setup and be ready to start alignment in about 5 or 10 minutes depending on how far my site was from the car. I often spend more time walking back and forth than actually physically setting up the scope but that would be true of any of the scopes in terms of getting stuff from car to viewing spot.
And I had some early success. Saturn was popular with not only me but some of the family, as Saturn always is. The moon was a bigger surprise, I didn’t think I would get that much fun out of viewing it, but I do. I’ve seen Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Neptune, and Uranus. I haven’t seen Mercury or Pluto yet.
Some success, some struggles
But after that, I struggled. Well, sort of. It was hard to be sure. I would do my alignment, the scope would say “success”, I would look at planets and the moon and a few things, and then I would try for a few harder options. Like the Andromeda galaxy. Easily seeable as a faint smudgy. Except I couldn’t sometimes. Nada. Nothing. Yet I trusted my scope, so what was the problem?
I had it broken down into several possibilities…perhaps my eyesight wasn’t good enough. Perhaps my scope wasn’t powerful enough, or the optics (tube or lenses) were not high enough quality. Or it was the fact that I was mostly using the scope in light polluted skies. Or alignment. Or my expectations were way too high. Or I was just an idiot. It was hard to figure out which one was the actual cause. All I knew was that it didn’t seem to be performing as well as I thought it should. But which one(s) was an actual problem?
In an earlier post (Finally learning with the Celestron NexStar 8SE), I outlined how I went to a star party after three years of sub-par usage on my own and was “mirroring” another guy’s viewing session. He would go to object A, and I would go to object A. Then I would look through both scopes and compare. Pretty similar quality. His seemed a bit better, but not in a worrisome way. Then he went to the Ring Nebula, I went to the Ring Nebula, and wtf? No Ring Nebula for me. It just wasn’t there. Now, I had never seen it before so I didn’t know if perhaps it was so faint and his “better” setup would see it, but I wouldn’t. Maybe it was beyond my scope. So he came over, assured me we should be able to see it, moved my scope manually with the hand controller, and bob’s your uncle, the Ring Nebula. My alignment was off. There was nothing wrong with anything except alignment and my own knowledge.
And while I felt a bit stupid, I now had an answer. And I realized later that I probably would NEVER have figured that on my own. I needed to know what my expectations should be, and the only way to know that was to compare it to someone else’s scope and have him confirm I wasn’t over-estimating what I should expect. I just hadn’t had the right combination of a good comparator and star buddy for an evening.
So, great, it was an alignment issue. I could fix that, couldn’t I?
Well, perhaps. Although in the end, it fell into basic, moderate and advanced diagnostics.
For the basic diagnostics, I read the manuals, I searched the online forums, I read tips and tricks, I watched videos, I talked to the telescope people. And I realized there were certain things that could improve my alignment process. Like leveling the scope more accurately. Like using a lighted 12mm reticule to make sure the alignment stars were as close to dead centre as possible. I also expanded my three star choices to cover more of the sky. I started using precise GPS coordinates instead of cities.
For the moderate diagnostics, I was a bit worried about the mount itself (a previous gear problem) but it seemed to check out; I had it collimated with the laser option at the store, was still good; my diagonal was fine; and my firmware on the mount could have been out of date (seems fine still). Between the changes in basic and moderate, I started having more consistent results, and I honestly thought it was “solved”. I even managed to do an actual sky tour two years ago, not too long after the star party (A sky tour with my new setup). I was on my way.
And then I wasn’t.
Over the last two years, that initial success with the improved alignment process (basic and medium) produced only one consistent thing — inconsistent alignment results. Sometimes I could see Andromeda, sometimes I couldn’t. Sometimes I could see the Ring Nebula, sometimes I couldn’t. It’s been driving me crazy. In 2015, I used it a couple of times, got frustrated, and quit for the most part. In 2016, with the summer coming, I got excited again, motivated to make it work. Then I had inconsistent alignment, got frustrated and stopped again. I just didn’t know what I was doing wrong. The local astronomy club had some telescope clinics, but I didn’t have trouble with initial setup that could be taught during the day, I needed tips for actual night time setup. I had hopes for a mentoring program that was being looked at, but it didn’t pan out for me. I had one member who was convinced we could find someone in the club who could solve this and he did a lot of outreach to people to try and find someone. Even the guy at the telescope store was offering to do a viewing night at his house one night, but the challenge in my view (rightly as it turned out) was not a general telescope issue, I needed someone with experience with this type of mount and controller.
So I went online again. I haunted Cloudy Nights out the wazoo. And I noticed something. Two thirds of the really good posts summarized other posts by the same person. A guy, T, was quite active and had pretty good expertise. I saw a lot of things that were possible causes that could be out there still for fixing my alignment problem, but knowing which ones I should try first were hard to prioritize. And I needed to know if my expectations were too high…maybe this scope’s operation was as good as it got. So I emailed him to describe my problem and to ask, “Am I over-estimating what my scope and mount can do?”. While he didn’t directly answer that question, over a series of emails, he made it clear that I wasn’t over-estimating, and instead, he started helping come up with ideas of things to try in order to narrow down the likely problems. I outlined some of them in a series of posts on this blog ( Hazy astronomy viewing last weekend, Good location, lousy setup by me…, Attempt #0 of 5 to save my hobby, Continuing to diagnose alignment issues, and One step forward, three steps back…). What do they all have in common?
Increasing frustration by me to solve the problem. Here’s my list of “possible issues” to consider, my advanced diagnostics list:
- Hand controller errors;
- Degree of play in alt-azimuth directions;
- Slew motion and backlash settings; and/or
- Two-star alignment rather than three-star alignment.
So I thought I had a shot at some of those. I reset the hand controller to factory default settings…if anything was wonky in the setup, it was gone. I tried new batteries to eliminate a variable, but had same result with and without the external Lithium Ion power pack, so it wasn’t power. I wasn’t sure about the degree of play, I couldn’t get the slew motion to work, and the two-star alignment was “okay”, not stellar (okay, small pun, I promise I’ll avoid them for the rest of the post).
A total shit-show night. And my confidence and approach hit rock bottom. I was no longer confident it was the scope and not just me being the stupidest wannabe astronomer on the planet. And I tried one last desperate plea. I sent a message to the two local astronomy groups offering to pay someone to tell me I was an idiot. Seriously, this is the email I sent:
Soooo, I’m officially getting desperate now with my scope. Basically, I’ve been using my Celestron 8SE for almost 5 years, with the same basic pattern. I use it for about six months, never get a good alignment, get frustrated, give up, and ignore it over the winter. Sometime the next spring or summer, I drag it out, I see a few things, get excited, try to improve some basic alignments, see a few more things but miss a lot, get frustrated, put it away for six months.
An expert has been helping me recently on Cloudy Nights with some diagnostics, and (M) has a line on someone who might be able to help when they get back into town in a few weeks. But I need a guaranteed solution, and I asked earlier if anyone wanted to make money. So here’s what I am going to do.
First, I’m taking the gear into (store) to have them check slew rates, backlash, etc. A number of years ago, I had a gear meshing problem and it had to go to Celestron for repair for two months. Maybe it was fixed right, maybe it’s still messed up, I have no idea. I have no way to know myself.
Second, I need someone who knows Celestron 8SEs or equivalent to come out for an hour or two and tell me if either the mount is a piece of crap or I’m the stupidest person on the planet. I have no idea how much to pay you, name your price. Yes, I know, people will say “Oh, don’t have to pay, people can help”, but the short version is I’ve wasted five years to this point and I don’t think I’ve ever had one single night of good viewing with proper alignment.
So, yes, I’m willing to pay you to use my scope and then tell me if I’m just too stupid to own a scope. And then I can sell it all off or something. Take up knitting. I can probably learn that from Youtube videos or something, I hear.
So who wants to make some money telling me if it’s my scope or me? After five years, I don’t have too much optimism left, to be honest. If I can’t even get a stupid GoTo scope to work…sigh. Let me know if you’re interested…my goal is a final decision to continue or dump the hobby by November 15th.
I signed it the Idiot Astronomer. Why am I repeating the text of the email here? Because it drips with frustration. I was deadly serious that if I couldn’t have a working option by November 15th, I was pulling the plug. I just couldn’t take the stress and frustration and inconsistent results anymore.
I got about 8 responses across the two groups. Two encouraged me to hang in there, they were frustrated too in the beginning. Two suggested I switch to starhopping. One gave me some suggestions of things to try. And three offered to work with me on it directly. None of them wanted paid, they just wanted to help.
One of the first to respond, A, had worked with the scope, and I took him up on his offer early. We agreed to meet at his place, and I went out one night last week. A much darker area than I have in Centrepointe, but also taller trees, but that wasn’t going to be a problem. I told him some of the history from above, trying not to turn it into a giant pity party or sob story.
When I was done my recap, he told me a bit about his experience. Including that he had programmed some of the software that the mount and handset were using. Holy crap. What a resource. I think my optimism started to bounce right away.
Working with the expert
The first thing he said he wanted to check was the alt-azimuth movements. The guy at CloudyNights had mentioned trying to figure out if when I went left / right or up / down, did the scope stop when I took my finger off the direction button? It did, but rather than a quick dead stop, it was more like a slightly gentle slow down for half a second. Was that a problem? This guy, A, checked it and it seemed okay. Not a lot of play, good tight resistance. A good sign.
We ignored fine-tuning the leveling — it was good enough for our test, but I do have a bubble level and a clinometer app on my phone that work well enough.
Then he wanted to check the encoder card. That wasn’t on my list and I didn’t even know what it was! He moved the scope to a set position, identified on the handset what the “position” it thought it was facing, and then slewed the scope in a full 360 degree turn right back to the exact physical spot where it had been previously. And then he checked to see if the angles were the same. They were. If they weren’t, i.e. if the scope had gone 360 degrees physically but the scope registered less than or more than 360, then all the alignment attempts in the world wouldn’t help — it would mean that the scope wasn’t tracking properly so it wouldn’t have known where it was even looking at any given time. But it worked fine, so that wasn’t the problem. That also eliminated backlash and confirmed the alt-azimuth movements.
Now it was time to try an actual alignment. I mentioned in passing that the CloudyNights site said an automated two-star alignment was better than a three-star alignment, and I confessed that made no sense to me. How could two stars be better than a full triangulation? He knew the answer — mainly that 3-star wasn’t really a 3-star triangulation. It took the 3 stars, and then used the best two of the three. It was still a two-star alignment. However, the automated 2-star or the manual 2-star used KNOWN stars. Pre-programmed stars. Precise stars.
So he did a 2-star alignment, and it failed. I actually felt a little bit of sick confirmation at that — even with his experience and knowledge, it failed the first time. We moved the scope physically to give a better view of some western/northern stars, and did it again. Success. I also learned that the programming assumed people were using a 25mm lens, as that was the default one shipped with the scope. Meaning that the margin of error for 1 Field of View (FOV) was basically the 25mm size. So we used that one for the test.
Now, with the alignment set, it was time to test a few stars. But before doing so, he told it to go BACK to the first star we had chosen. If alignment was solid, it should be dead centre. It wasn’t. It was considerably down and a little to the left of centre (noting I have a 90 degree star diagonal on the scope). WTF? That shouldn’t happen.
So he told it to go back to Star 2. Again, it wasn’t dead centre. It was off. But, interestingly, it was off by the SAME amount as the first star had been off. Relatively fine for left-right, but off on the altitude setting (up/down).
Which, when I think about it, I had always suspected. When I did my alignments, I was frequently off more by height than left/right.
But the fact that it was off by the same amount, and mostly altitude, he had an inkling where the problem might be. The final tracking just before alignment was imprecise/loose.
That takes a bit more explanation, and I’m likely to completely mis-describe the problem. The scope can go left or right, up or down. But when aligning, you are supposed to always go right and up as your last movements. I link to think of it as like a drive train — if you go right and/or up, the train is tight. If you go the other way, there’s a bit of slippage before it goes tight. So it always requires you to go up and right. Up and right. If you go past centre when you’re aligning, you go back left and down and then up and right again. Always those two directions at the end.
Now, the right / left part seemed fine. But the up wasn’t “tight” for the actual alignment. I mentioned to him that because I had a star diagonal, the various fora said that technically I was going down and right in the eyepiece. Which is true, but he said that regardless, it didn’t matter what was in the eyepiece, it only mattered what was done on the hand controller. That had to be up and right.
Which made me think of something I had seen in the settings. When I reset to the default settings, I had checked a bunch of settings looking for anything that might be set wrong. But it all seemed fine. Yet, when he mentioned that it was only the handset controls that mattered, I realized that while the setting for azimuth (left / right) was set to normal, the default setting for altitude was REVERSE. Which meant that the default was WRONG for telling it to go up and right — it was not going up and right when it was reversed, it was going DOWN and right. In other words, it was deliberately choosing the loose setting for height.
We reversed the setting i.e. made it normal, and then he realigned. When he was done, he went back to STAR 1 and checked in the eyepiece.
Star 2? Dead centre.
Near perfect alignment. But let’s not get cocky. Those were the alignment stars, they SHOULD be aligned.
So I started doing a star tour. While not everything else was dead centre, it was well within the eyepiece FoV. I played for over an hour, and all the tests seemed fine. Better than fine. More like “Voted the best alignment in five years”-fine. Freaking awesome.
He even showed me some advanced options for a precise GOTO and for a SYNCH goto option. Basically both add some temporary precision to a go to by first going to a star in the area and then when you confirm alignment for it, it then knows where your nearby target is with more precision. Which means if I am having trouble finding something, I can give it a temporary “boost”. A huge tool to have. He even explained how to do a two-star alignment during the day! Mind blown.
Which if I left off here would seem like he solved all the problems, all great. But in the end, the real issue was a setting in the hand controller setup. I would never have known all the other issues were fine on my own. I needed him to weed that out as a possibility. And with the basic and medium all taken care of earlier, and some of the advanced eliminated, I at least had it down to a narrower field of suspects.
And yet, I still feel like an idiot. Five years of struggling with alignment to find out there really isn’t anything likely wrong with the scope or anything. I just was doing it completely wrong because the default wasn’t set to what the instructions told me to do. I went up and right, and the computer program went down and right. So I was never “tight” with my drive train equivalent, and my altitude settings have always been off. Which isn’t to say all the other things didn’t play a factor, I’m sure they did.
But the big issue of the handset controller settings being wrong would have never been found if I didn’t have someone like him to walk through the other options and eliminate all of them one by one.
So where does this leave me?
Well, I did the outing with him early last week (about 10 days ago). And then had no nights to test it myself here in Ottawa. I took the scope with me to the Kawarthas last weekend, and had no chance to use it. This week has not been too kind. Until tonight.
Tonight I tested it all myself. My setup. My alignment. My test. All me.
In one of my posts that I mentioned earlier (Attempt #0 of 5 to save my hobby), I created a full formal test for myself. Evaluation criteria that if and when I had a new approach, I would try and find a set list of options, award points for various areas, and total up my score. If I got a decent score on five test nights, I would stick with the hobby. If I didn’t, I’d quit.
After the test tonight, I’ve decided to quit.
The testing, not the hobby. Because there is no need for further testing.
Because…drum roll please…
It freaking worked!!!
Once physically set up, I marked how long it would take me to do an actual alignment. My goal was five minutes, and definitely less than 10. How about less than 2? I then made an adjustment, tweaked a setting, redid it, and was all aligned again. All in less than 5 minutes in TOTAL for two alignments. With testing against star 1 and star 2 to see how it went. Not as perfect as the other night, but pretty good. I also had it work on the FIRST attempt. Full marks, not even close to a problem. The way I had always hoped it would work.
I then tested it on a series of targets. My only available planets from this site at that time were Uranus and Neptune. Uranus was easy, Neptune was playing hide and seek. But I had a small tree problem that I was peering around for Neptune, and seeing was terrible anyway. I feel like I was in the right area, just couldn’t zero in to confirm it. I’m giving it full marks anyway.
Then I moved on to stars — Almach, Rasalgethi, Albireo, Mizar, Polaris, Gamma Ari, Kappo Bo, and Epsilon Bo. Eight stars, eight successes. Again, full marks.
For clusters and galaxies, I found Andromeda, Hercules, M92, Ring Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, Double Cluster, M29, M34, Horseshoe Cluster, M05 and M13. Eleven more, eleven successes.
Twenty-one targets, twenty successes. The only one that was off was Neptune, and I’m not counting that one either way. 20 for 20.
I don’t need further testing, it WORKED exactly the way it is supposed to work.
My hobby is alive. Thanks to R at the star party who narrowed my problem down to alignment and to A for an evening that confirmed it was mainly the handset settings messing up my altitude movements. And to T who went above and beyond the call of duty on CloudyNights to even get me into the ballpark.
I still have a little way to go in order to be a little more consistent each time in my setup, but wow, I can’t believe it worked. Five years to get here. Now I can start really learning.
Well. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this show. From the description, my prediction was:
ABC: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (formerly The Gospel of Kevin) – It has a Touched By An Angel feel, and there’s a demographic out there that might like it, but not enough to save it, and not at 10:00 at night – CANCELLED;
And that is probably still my prediction. I fully expected though that I would watch it, hate it, like Jason Ritter as the star, and move on.
So I watched it, wanted to fast forward a LOT, and liked Jason Ritter most of the episode. Except I’m not quite ready to move on. Because I’ve seen this show before.
It was called Joan of Arcadia and Amber Tamblyn starred, ran for two seasons back in 2003-2005. Cute, eminently watchable. A little like Oh God, without the actual God in this version.
So the basic premise is that Kevin tried to kill himself, didn’t take, came home to stay for a few days with his twin sister and his niece about 18 months after her husband died. They’re not that close but he has nowhere else to go. Then, the night he arrives, 36 meteors hit the earth all in the same day. He touches one, gets chosen to be one of the 36 Righteous that brings hope to the planet. And he also gets a guardian angel, err, warrior of God, who will guide and train him.
Most of the episode is about him stumbling around, trying to avoid his destiny, and generally mucking up the relationships with his sister, niece and an old love interest. In the end, he makes some progress, it’s all good. Despite the fact that he’s the only one who can see his trainer warrior, so he looks like a kook talking to himself.
Jason’s great, and always watchable. JoAnna Garcia Swisher plays the twin sister, although you could be forgiven if at first you think she looks like Amy Adams. Pretty good, but a bit one-dimensional so far. Relative newcomer Chloe East plays the daughter, and she’s quite good. And Kimberly Hebert Gregory plays the trainer, Yvette, but she is all over the map with her character.
I’ll likely give it a try for a few more episodes, although I don’t expect it to make it to season 2.
Ghosted is a pseudo comedy from Fox that is basically Men in Black, without the straight man. My prediction, sight unseen, was:
FOX: Ghosted – Men in Black, weekly? With extra comedy? Yeah, that’s going to need a lot of work to keep it fresh – CANCELLED;
The basic premise is that there is an organization called The Bureau Underground who does the X-files / MIB thing. One of their agents has gone missing, and his last transmission was to find two guys — one is an disgraced astrophysicist working in a bookstore and the other is a disgraced LAPD missing persons detective working as a mall cop. TBU needs them to help locate the missing agent, and in return, they’ll try and help them get their jobs back. Deal.
Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) plays the nerdy believer; Craig Robinson (The Office) plays the cop. Who doesn’t want to be partners or involved initially. They are okay together, not too over the top, and their partnership isn’t completely unbelievable. Way more understated then K though.
Ally Walker (Profiler) is familiar to me, but more for Taxi Brooklyn oddly enough. I like her, but have no idea what she’s going for in this portrayal — serious, comic, surprised, skeptical, vacuous? Adeel Akhtar looks to be comic relief in the office (ooh, forensics are weird and funny) and Amber Stevens West will be their weapons designer.
The pilot is full-on MIB, with aliens with no heads, space ships, and multiverses in the first episode. Nerds should love it but not sure it was funny enough for mainstream audiences. I liked it, didn’t love it, but it was cute. I’ll try a few more episodes but I think it will either need to up the humour or find ways to stay fresh.
When I was looking at the upcoming TV series, my prediction for The Gifted was:
FOX: The Gifted – Fox wants to expand into the superhero world too, after their relative success with Gotham, RENEWED;
For me, it was practically a given that if it was XMen, it would make it to Season 2. What I missed in the short announcements was that it is set in the XMen universe, the government doesn’t like XMen, and two parents discover their children have powers so they go on the run to hide. It isn’t XMen, it is the Xmen-ish underground.
Or, for those keeping score at home, The Tomorrow People with different characters and actors. You know, the show that lasted a single season.
In this incarnation, two teens exhibit mutant abilities when they try to protect themselves during a bullying incident at school. Percy Hynes White plays Andy, with the ability to move heavy objects — like buildings, atoms, etc. — and shake them. Or fling people. It’s not a very well developed ability yet, more generic. His sister apparently has had abilities for three years and hidden them. Natalie Alyn Lind plays the sister, and I didn’t recognize her from her turn as Silver on Gotham. Much softer look to her character here, and it works. Somebody has looked at the Heroes original, and made her look a lot like Hayden Panettierre (Save the Cheerleader, Save the World, remember?). They’re okay, not awesome.
The interesting part is their parents. Amy Acker (Person of Interest, Angel, Dollhouse) is always fun to watch, and she does okay here as the Mom, but dramatic emotion is not her forté, she’s much better with wry humour and light sarcasm. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) plays the dad, who is actually a prosecutor of mutants in his day job, until he finds out he has two kids who are mutants. I loved his initial scene with a guidance counsellor, very aggressive, very glaring, but the rest of the Ep, he was blah.
For the Tomorrow People, err, the mutant underground, we have Emma Dumont (Aquarius), who for a moment looked like Rachel Nichols (Continuum) to me and I was all excited. She has presence, but not a lot of airtime in the episode. Jeff Daniel Phillips, Hayley Lovitt, Jermaine Rivers rounds out some of the other cast.
Is it great? Not really. And if they were trying to be different from a show that got cancelled, they probably shouldn’t use almost the identical set for the underground headquarters. I’m not even sure it isn’t the EXACT set.
I’ll stick by my original prediction, as I think Fox really wants into the superhero world. And I liked the Tomorrow People, even if the ratings didn’t, so I’ll be watching. At least for this season, which is now a toss-up in my view.
I am brutal on sitcoms, very few in my mind are worth watching. And is there anything attractive about 9JKL?
Let’s see…parents live in 9J. Newly divorced actor son is “temporarily” living in 9K. And a married surgeon son with Asian pediatrician wife and new baby are living in 9L while a duplex is being renovated. All of which you learn in the first 3 minutes of the show’s exposition dump. You meet THE ENTIRE MAIN CAST in his one bedroom apartment while he is still in bed.
Actor Josh is played by actor Mark Feuerstein, aka show creator, and he is apparently drawing from his own life experience. I loved Mark back in 2002-2004 in a show called Good Morning Miami about a guy who becomes producer for a show called GMM. Lovable, boy next door, very clean cut, the show had little to offer but I still hung around for 40 episodes before it was cancelled. He then moved on to – dun dun dun – Royal Pains playing another relatively clean cut doctor living in Miami Beach (I think), and treating wealthy elite tourists in the area. You know as soon as you see him, there’s going to be sunshine in the episode. And he’s okay here.
Linda Lavin plays his mom, and like most sitcom parents, the character is one-dimensional and over the top needy. She has comic pedigree, but I haven’t seen in her almost anything I liked except the original Alice (1976-85), but at least she has some really good lines in this one. Throw in Elliott Gould as his dad. Gould was fine in Friends, Ocean’s Thirteen, Eleven, etc, but not a draw for me.
For supporting cast, there’s Matt Murray (Rookie Blue) as a doorman, not bad. The sister is played by Liza Lapira (NCIS, Dollhouse), but seems way too stereotyped here to tell if she has anything to offer. David Walton (New Girl) plays the brother and is beyond annoying. Sally Pressman (Army Wives) plays a potential love interest, but hard to tell if she’ll show up again. At least she has presence.
Which leaves only one other character. Albert Tsai (Dr. Ken, Fresh off the Boat) plays a wise-cracking pre-teen, and he has some GREAT lines. Unfortunately, they are poorly delivered, and off-key. It’s like they only had time for a single take. Hard to believe they didn’t recast him or reshoot the scenes. He even stumbles over one of his lines. But he has pedigree, so he will likely find his footing, but likely to be limited to single line exchanges and zingers.
I gave it a shot, but I’m sticking with my original prediction:
CBS: 9JKL – I love the main star, and everyone wants their family sitcom to work, but not this one about moving to New York and living between parents and siblings – CANCELLED;
I have almost no idea what this show is about. I mean, I watched it, I understood the scenes, but I have no idea who half the people are, what their motivation is, or more importantly, why I would care about any of them.
Kyra Sedgewick is the main character…a mother in the middle of a divorce, with a young daughter. She has constant flashbacks to herself as a kid? or herself as a young out of control mom? It’s not even clear which it is, but since she only has one kid and there are two in the flashbacks, let’s assume it was a crappy childhood surrounded by pills, booze and sex amongst adults, along with all the dysfunction that often goes with it. She’s a TV producer who is overworked and frazzled, with a history of documentary success but is supposedly in the fiction business. I don’t really understand the show she’s working on and how much if it is fiction and how much is from sources. Or the role of her writers room.
Anyway, all of that is irrelevant. The only thing you need to know is she is a mother, apparently. Her young daughter goes missing while Mom is working in a studio in her backyard. Mom thinks Dad took her; seems at first like he didn’t. But the cops eventually widen to think maybe she did something to her daughter, or something happened and she isn’t saying. She said she was in the shed for a short time, but it was closer to six hours. Either way, the cute snuggly daughter has been kidnapped by someone.
I don’t want to be a SPOIL sport, but if the show doesn’t turn on her assistant producer being involved, I’ll eat my shorts. He is the one who made her work at the last minute, setting up the opening for the daughter to be kidnapped. Unless someone tricked him, he is the only one who could guarantee the abduction window. And there’s no way it was simply a crime of opportunity, it would just be stupid. But the only way the plan works is if Mom is working, drugged, stoned, high, and doesn’t notice her daughter is missing until four in the morning.
A duplicitous assistant. A lying ex-husband. A suspicious cop. Weird co-workers. Drug dealers. And an aunt who doesn’t like Mom very much. Are any of them compelling? Not really.
And I didn’t see much of the daughter before she was gone.
Which leaves me only caring about poor broken Mom. Who is a zombie for almost the whole episode. I know, it’s Kyra’s schtick. She’s done it before in other shows, didn’t care then, don’t care now.
And colour me not surprised it has had the lowest ratings of any show debuting yet this year. Lots of pundits calling for cancellation, but there is a small component in there that some networks want to work with Kyra, and her shows do often have slow starts. But in the end, I’m sticking by my original prediction:
ABC: Ten Days in the Valley – Oooh, a missing child with a mystery. How many movie cliches can you pack into a new show that isn’t owned by ABC? Bye bye, don’t let the ratings guillotine hit you on the way down – CANCELLED;
I’ve been working on my HR Guide in varying forms for a long time. While I have wanted to share it as posts and eventually as a book, I haven’t made the time to finish it. There’s some simple and some complex reasons behind that, but regardless, I don’t have it in the full prose version that I want.
But last April, I was having a conversation with someone who basically said, “Oh, I don’t care if I get the prose yet, I’ll settle for the deck version you shared previously.”
Huh. I do HAVE a deck version, and it IS the basis for most of my prose. Just shorter. Way less complete. But done.
What if I shared that a bit more? So I did. And I went a step further. I uploaded it to my site, put it in a prominent place in the sidebar, and made it available to anyone who wanted to download it.
So how did that work out for me?
Well, just under 18 months later, I just surpassed 1000 downloads of it (1001 as of tonight).
I’m still working on the prose version, but I think 1000 downloads is worth including in my 50by50 achievements. Yay me!