I've decided to give that Robert Benchley Society essay contest a try. As has been pointed out, it doesn't cost more than ten of my dollars and some of my time. That does mean I have to select something and edit it to fit in five hundred words before the start of April, but that's not so bad. I have a generally good attitude towards editing my own work, because I love my own prose dearly and will, given the chance, polish things in extreme. A blessing of my Livejournal compulsion is it cuts the time I can spend editing.
Coming from other semi-professional semi-related matters: one of my mother's college friends has a ... not a nephew ... someone she knows, somehow. A semi-relative of someone who's already a semi-relative. This hemidemisemicontact works for a numerical software company, which has entered the stage of life in which they're hiring mathematicians. To be exact they're hiring statisticians. What I do is statistical mechanics, which people assume must mean that I know something substantial about statistics. There's no way to get this straightened out. I've e-mailed him some and he's confident that while they say they want statisticians, they really mean any mathematicians, particularly PhD's. This would be for mathematics programming, which would not be an academic job, but would at least relate to academic work.
Unsurprisingly, he doesn't think my extruded office product of puttering around on a web product thingy would be helpful, except for showing I have actually written programs meant to be used by human beings recently. Well, even my numerical codes written for use as a grad student were legible, I think, thanks to my knowledge I would forget how my code worked weeks after I finished writing it and thus including nice examples of input and output and what I thought the code was doing. We shall see, won't we?
Trivia: By 1900, bituminous coal was mined in twenty of the United States, while the noticeably cleaner-burning anthracite was only mined in eastern Pennsylvania. Source: Coal: A Human History, Barbara Freese.
Currently Reading: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Daniel Okrent.