My new camcorder has arrived, the battery has been charged, and I’ve shot a few test clips to play with…HOORAY! However, getting the clips from the camera to my PC hard drive to Windows Movie Maker to YouTube is turning out to be more of a challenge than anticipated….AWWW!

I would hate for you all to despair of me not putting up a post at all until I have my technical difficulties sorted out (which could be a few more days and involve much hair-pulling on my part), so I’m going to take a cue from my other blog and just post an awesome music video….and since the word “working” is in the title, I feel that this is the place to post it.

“Mature” readers please cast your minds back to 1981 when no one had ever heard anything like Devo before and relive the original mind-blowing that you got when you first heard it. “Youthful” readers will be amazed to learn that Mark Mothersbaugh, the lead singer of this very silly (and very ground-breaking!) band went on to write the theme song and show music for “Rugrats”, “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, and even “The Sims 2” game!

But enough random facts already…close the door, turn up the speakers, and dance your butt off to Devo’s amazing version of the 1966 classic “Working in the Coal Mine“:

I promise to keep you posted on my progress with the new camcorder, and as always, if you get here and don’t see a new post, check out my other, much more silly blog for the latest!

Meet my new baby, arriving next week via UPS!

Meet my new baby, arriving next week via UPS!

Hello readers!

I know it’s been a few days since I last posted a Cool Job, but I’ve got a project in the works that I hope will be worth the wait. I’m going to combine my new cinematic “skillz” with my love of cool jobs and if all goes according to plan, in a few days you should be able to WATCH the next Cool Jobster answer the interview questions right here!

Please be patient, and while you wait for this new chapter in MCJ history to begin, you can check out The Complete Cool Job List above, or just click on over to Carrie (Like the Movie) where you can watch a few videos and have a little fun! I’ll keep you posted on my progress with the movie: Step One is waiting for my fancy schmancy new video camera to arrive, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sit by the mailbox!

celine-in-france“Hey, Jimsmuse!” you’re saying to yourself after reading the job title above, “Didn’t you already feature this cool job when you interviewed Douglas Dunn who works with English and American Sign Language?”   Interestingly, and lucky for me as your guide to the world of work, the answer is no.   Although many people use the words “interpreter” and “translator” interchangeably, to those who work in the field they are very different occupations.

An Interpeter is someone who provides live, spoken communication between people who speak different languages, and a Translator provides that communication through the written word.   Today’s Cool Jobster, French to English Translator Céline Graciet, has even written a blog post on this very subject, which makes clear not only the difference between the two jobs, but her preference for translation!

I love the English language and have always been a “word freak”, but didn’t become interested in the subject of translation until I read Douglas Hofstadter’s incredible book Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language.   While the main text of the book deals philosophically with what constitutes a “good” translation between two languages (or if a “good” translation is even possible), he also explores some of the most challenging translations ever attempted and the thinking and creativity that went into them.

For example, Hofstadter spends quite some time considering the translation of “La Disparition” by Georges Perec, a novel written in French that does not contain a single use of the letter  “e”.   What is the “right” way, Hofstader wonders, to translate this novel into English?   Would a literal, word for word translation into English (which would surely contain many instances of the letter “e”) be the best way to convey the original Continue Reading »

obamaThat government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.

-Thomas Jefferson

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.

-Abraham Lincoln

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

– Barack Obama

I whooped it up with the rest of the people who voted for Obama last night, because I believe that his spirit of optimism, his call to service for all Americans, and his ability to inspire people are all going to make a difference in how the rest of the world views America and we as Americans view ourselves as a people.    But until I watched Obama’s acceptance speech, the full impact of what it means that a man of African-American descent has been elected to the highest office in our country didn’t really sink in.

It hit me when I saw Jesse Jackson weeping:


Barack Obama’s win is proof that devoting one’s life to the cause of equal rights has made a difference in our country.   Jesse Jackson hasn’t always been popular, and sure he’s made some mistakes, and maybe he wasn’t the right guy for the job when he ran for the Democratic nomination a few decades ago…but even if I can’t understand personally what it’s like to be African-American, or have first-hand knowledge of how the civil rights movement changed our country back in the 60s, I could see from the tears of joy on his face that it was literally his dream come true to see enough change in his lifetime that Barack Obama could be elected President.

Not because he’s African-American…but simply because he’s the right guy for the job.

Please remember to vote!


I was very saddened to hear this weekend that Pulitzer Prize winning author, radio broadcaster and activist Studs Terkel had died at 96. I’m not going to go into huge amounts of detail about his career and his life, because his hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune, has created a fantastic tribute to his life and works here, where you can spend a few minutes learning about Mr. Terkel’s fascinating life and his many professional accomplishments.

I would, however, like to pay a very small personal tribute to Studs Terkel today because although he wrote about subjects as diverse as the great musicians of the early years of jazz, the subject of race relations in America, and his own personal search for faith — there is one book that stands out for me among his many works, because if it weren’t for that book, then “My Cool Job” probably wouldn’t exist, and I wouldn’t have made the acquaintance of so many Cool Jobsters, and so many awesome readers who’ve now become my blogging “family”!

The book is entitled Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, and was published in 1972. I first read it in the late 80s, as I was starting my own working life and things I read in “Working” back then still affect me today. Studs Terkel spent many years interviewing people from every walk of life and every level of the economic scale about their jobs and how their working life changed their outlook on the world. Although some of the people in the book had fascinating, glamorous careers, the majority of interviewees had the sort of blue collar, industrial and service jobs that keep the real world operating smoothly — the sort of jobs that most of us never even stop to think about.

After the first few pages, I couldn’t put “Working” down. It wasn’t filled with clever, witty descriptions of colorful characters doing menial tasks, and it wasn’t filled with detailed analyses of how each profession fit into the grand scheme of American Society. After each short chapter introduction, “Working” was filled with the words of the workers themselves, as told to someone who they felt comfortable enough with to share in depth not only the tasks that comprised their jobs, but the feelings they had about their work and their lives.

For years after that, and still today here on my blog, I’ve been inspired to ask everyone I meet the same sorts of questions that Studs Terkel asked about work, and have never been bored with any of the answers.

I regret that it took his passing for me to let you readers know that if there’s a “patron saint” here at My Cool Job, it’s certainly Studs Terkel. I hope I can do justice to his memory by continuing to share the world of work with all of you.

I originally had more monumental plans for this movie, but now that it’s Halloween it’s time to post what I’ve got, and I think it came out just fine.  Happy Halloween, Cool Jobsters!

oh, and long live the S.L.O.B.S.!

Awesome costumes courtesy of CurlyWurlyGurly!

Awesome costumes courtesy of CurlyWurlyGurly!