Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 42: Random Thoughts

Most of the day was spent writing an all-out pitch for a job prospect that pretty much came completely out of left field.

It would involve a major move, and the people would have to take a bit of a leap of faith. That's why I crafted the most compelling argument I could.

It would pull together a lot of threads from my past lives.

More on this tomorrow. Just didn't want the three or four of you repeat customers feeling deprived.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 41: Fight On

Had a lot of reasons to put a fork in this day. Didn't. That's gotta count for something, right?

Last night was a splurge. You can only take so much of the straight and narrow. So, first caught a movie, Bad Teacher. It was a lot better than I expected and after many years of resistance, I now give in and grudgingly give Cameron Diaz some credit. Never dug her, but she won me over with this. Anyway. After, we hit Farrell's. They were closing the kitchen early so the intake would be strictly liquid.

I asked the bartender for "something vicious." Her definition of that was the dreaded Long Island Iced Tea. I nursed that as long as I could in the interests of self-preservation.

Alcohol and me, we no frenz.

I didn't sleep well last night. Too hot. And also had read some distressing studies yesterday afternoon attesting to long-term unemployment. It rattled me pretty hard. So sometime around 4 a.m. I relocated to cooler confines downstairs. About the time I started to feel like I might fall asleep, the sky began to lighten. Lovely.

I finally got to sleep about 6:30 a.m. but it was fitful. Then when I woke up about 10:30, I felt sick to my stomach. It was not a pleasant start to the day.

Nevertheless, I got a job lead that might be promising. I've been transparent on these but right now I'm going to change that tack a bit. Sometimes if something doesn't work, you need to change the approach. Mentally it makes you feel like you're not stagnating even if it really has little to do with the success or non-success of the endeavor.

Example: I decided to grow a "playoff beard" when I got laid off. Like hockey players during the playoffs, the idea was not shaving until the mission was complete. I was going to go hairy until I got a job.

I gave that about 4 weeks. By then I felt like a roadie for BTO so something had to give.

Job related: Got an e-mail last night about the situation at WWU. It was a classy, personal note from the J Dept. Made me want it even more, but they don't have the funding. No one is unhurt by this crappy economy.

This is a rambler of a note. Most of my focus today has been on chasing these two particular gigs.

I'm counting on an earlier start Wednesday. Wish me luck. And thanks for stopping by.

Today's timesheet: 6.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 5.5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 2 -- Couple of WashCo gigs.
Other productive activities: Not yet, but tonight's agenda includes such thrilling items as vacuuming dog hair, doing laundry and taking out the trash. Exclamation Points!!!
Nonproductive activities: Web time suckage, 1 hour. Although pre-dawn I somehow got very interested in reading about the Columbia Shuttle disaster.
Song for today: "Everlasting Light" by The Black Keys.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 40: Bravery or fear?

So I just read a story by one of my favorite journalists, Human rights reporter Mac McClelland of Mother Jones. McClelland didn't think she would be a writer. She took a trip to SE Asia and found the story so compelling she had to write about it. And now, whenever and wherever a hot story emerges, she's there. Haiti, Katrina, BP, Burma, she's filed from there.

Today she wrote about PTSD and how it had pretty much short-circuited her wiring so that "normal" relationships just weren't working. Read the story.

What struck me was the raw honesty of it, and it shamed me. Because I hold back. I'm not brave enough to write completely unfettered. I try and manipulate and polish my thoughts so that they sound prettier and cast me in a good light.

It's phony. It makes me phony. I hate it but I guess I don't hate it enough to change.

It's weird. Part of us loves the "look behind the curtain" at people... our celebrity-fixated trash culture is aching to know "what's ___ really like?" Stupid. Who cares? Why is ___ any better than anyone you really know?

I think we disguise our true nature, for the most part, because it's expedient. People are learning that by being too open, it can be costly. You can be discriminated against if you don't say the accepted things, toe the company line, really speak your mind. I've heard that the Japanese have a saying "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" and I know exactly what that means.

So I (we) stifle ourselves. Is this a good thing? "The best way to get along is to go along." I don't like that.

In the past few years I've done a pretty good job with the truth. I was a world-class liar when it suited me. Then I realized that a) it was a lot of work! and b) it was not the way I wanted to live. It was liberating to be able to deal with more things completely honestly and truthfully. But not everyone is there. So I lost some people along the way. Some I really miss.

So I must wrestle with this. I feel as if I am approaching a crossroads. Do I play the game and try and fit in? Or do I say screw it and put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 37: The week in review


I hope I've been missed. I've had numerous other things going on, although sadly, few that have actually enhanced my job prospects. Having said that (for all you "Curb" fans out there), I took a couple of classes that gave me a basic introduction to using a DV camera and Final Cut Pro. I'm now ready to attempt to make video. Stay tuned for that in the near future.

Thus far this week I've applied for three jobs... two in Texas and one at Local MegaCompany. I had a lot of family excursions this week and that's good. Some people always have your back.

Motivation has been a challenge. On one hand, I don't have the luxury of slacking. On the other, being afraid of failure to the point of doing nothing is a dangerous pit to fall into. So I've only had the three applications, but I've really poured a lot into them.

Yesterday and this morning I did spend some time going back over my CV. What's missing? What would jazz it up? I'm thinking about sending to Guru Alvin and getting his review. That man has no filter.

A near-injury, and yesterday's dwelling in the Inner Circle of Fault has seemingly passed. I'm tanned, rested and ready. Let's do this.

But first, better feed the dog.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 34: Arise

The stats tell me that a few people have found their way here. Thanks. It's affirming to me that anyone is interested.

After last Thursday's major letdown I have been away a few days. My mom visited, which was nice. I simply didn't have the inspiration to write anything or much to report. I fell down.

Literally, it turned out. A little after 5 a.m. Monday, I was coming downstairs to let the dogs out. I missed the last step and took a tumble. It was scary, because any sort of injury is not in the budget nor is it conducive to job search. For a lot of seniors -- like my parents, for example -- and millions more who have little or no insurance, the issue of health care coverage is ever-present. It could literally ruin a family.

There's a lot of things wrong in this country, and this is one of them. We shouldn't have people afraid to have an accident, or unable to get treatment if that accident happens.

Anyway, thanks for asking, I'm fine. My knee hurts and so does the shoulder I landed on. Much better today and I expect to resume my preparation for "Dancing With The Stars" soon.

OK, back to the search. BTW, Gannett eliminated 700 jobs today, including the one my new friend Chris had. Hang in there, buddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 29: Discouragement, Pt. II

At 2:42 p.m., I got an automated notice. Looks like the latest attempt to join the HQ of Giant MegaRetailer has not been successful.

It’s now 2:45 p.m. How long do I get to feel (pick all that apply) crestfallen / devastated / discouraged / disappointed / angry?

It hurts. I’ve never taken any sort of rejection well. I have “abandonment issues” and to me, every time something like this happens, it goes there. Like I’m not good enough. Unwanted.

This one stings a bit. Because not only do/did I fit the profile of the job requirements pretty much to a “T” but I also have/had a bit of an in… I know/knew someone who is high up in that particular food chain. I contacted this person and subtly let them know I was pursuing the job. Nothing pushy or egregious at all. Just a “hey, any tips?” inquiry that was responded to favorably and then let it play out.

And I didn’t get any sort of strong consideration at all. The company didn’t even phone interview. Just a “Thanks, but no thanks” e-mail.

So it hurts, but what’s worse, it scares me. Like, to-the-bone terror. If I can’t get anything other than lip-service consideration for a job I’m strongly suited to and have (theoretically) an inside contact who could vouch for me – what chance do I have for other jobs that are within my realm of possibility but that I am less ideal for?

Listen, a jobsearch under the best of circumstances is always a crapshoot. To me, it’s become more and more like buying a lotto ticket. As the situation above indicates, you can have a strong case and not get it, or a weak case and get it.

This really, really, really sucks.


Minutes after I got this wonderful news, I got a call from DD. He got poleaxed the same day as me. It was good to hear from him. He’s also struggling to find something. He’s a straight-shooter, and there just aren’t enough of those people in the world.


Reflecting earlier in the day…

Rain hit O Little Town of Fayetteville this morning and cooled things down substantially – in late morning it was still only 66. It was good “sleeping in” weather. The day got off to a slow start. M made a nice brekkie, we watched some of the Mavs championship parade. On a side note, a few observations re: that.

1) I love Canada, but after what happened in Vancouver last night after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals… what the hell? I’ve never understood the post-sporting event riot. If you’re happy about your team’s victory, how is that expressed through burning cars, destroying property and looting? Somebody please explain that connection because I just don’t get it.
2) Conversely, if your team lost, is it such a big deal that you’ve got to rampage through the city to show your displeasure? That’s pretty stupid, and even moreso if you trash your OWN city. As of noon PT today, news reports say 150 people have been injured.
3) I think better of Canada. They are acting like European soccer fans. Dislike.
4) The last two sports championship celebrations in Dallas were a mixed bag. When the Stars won in 1999 the parade went off without incident. However, after the Cowboys parade in 1996, there was some hooliganism. But, nothing remotely approaching Vancouver last night.
5) The Mavs parade looked polite and orderly, although I could just be not yet hearing of any post-event tomfoolery.

Fayetteville has sold out for the past 10 years to an annual fall event that draws motorcyclists, T-shirt sellers and other carnies to the city for about a week. Event organizers have perpetuated the fiction that this abomination draws up to 400,000 people each year. To a city with a population of around 70,000. The Dallas area has millions of residents, and estimates today were of a crowd of 250,000. The streets were packed for miles.

Fayetteville, and Dickson Street, have never remotely looked like that during the bikerthon. But the lazy mainstream news media around here will assuredly parrot that number again in a few months – even though one of its own reporters, Bill Bowden, debunked the figures a couple of years ago.

[End Soapbox position]

I spent some time on LinkedIn looking into jobs, but not a lot of time. I have a backlog from yesterday that I couldn’t get to and so I need to get moving on that. On one hand it’s encouraging that there are some prospects out there. I’m looking into things that ordinarily wouldn’t be at the top of the list. Location is taking a back seat to finding really good fits. If that just so happens to be in Outer Weefix Flats, so be it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CD Review: "The Bends" by Radiohead

“The Bends”
4 of 5 stars

Initially, I missed the boat on Radiohead. It wasn’t until there was so much buzz and critical acclaim for “OK Computer” that I decided to give them a listen.

My life has been infinitely better since. Years ago some friends and I had a lively discussion about the best bands of all time. It’s a topic that is always fun to get responses to, and I’ll revisit soon because it is so interesting to get people’s takes on this. But suffice to say, for me, after The Beatles, Radiohead might be the next biggest thing ever.

I was totally blown away by OK Computer, so it wasn’t long after that I got their second album, “The Bends.” At the time, some people I knew thought that this CD might actually be the band’s best release.

I dabbled with that thought at times, also. Like OK Computer, The Bends holds up. When the album was released in March 1995, although the swagger, skill and confidence the band had oozes from every note, few could have predicted that this band would become one of the most important acts going. Radiohead would not only follow up The Bends with an epic, but it would take huge, brave chances, stay grounded while becoming an international sensation, and even pioneer CD distribution methods (with the online release in 2007 of “In Rainbows”). Like other truly great artists, the band followed its muse down improbable paths, trusting that its fans would either get it, or being comfortable enough in their own skins to let them piss off if they didn’t want to go along for the ride.

The greatest acts aren’t afraid of changing and growing. They listen to the voices inside and trust their instincts. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always more interesting. Think of the musical artists who have deviated from their early successes: The Beatles. Bob Dylan. Neil Young. My Morning Jacket, PJ Harvey, for example. Lots of people hated when they went in new directions. Yet they knew they had to stretch.

I love U2, but they haven’t strayed far from being “U2” in 15 years. “Pop” was the last fresh idea they had. It’s sad, and doesn’t diminish their great catalogue. But they’ve stagnated. Same for the Rolling Stones. They haven’t released an essential work in almost 30 years.

People like familiarity. It’s comfortable. And part of what has kept “The Bends” among fan favorites is that it harkens back to the signature sound of the band while also being one of their few albums to adhere to more-or-less predictable tunesmithing. That sounds like a veiled shot but isn’t meant to be. On OK Computer and certainly “Kid A” and “Amnesiac,” Radiohead went on a trip to the edge of their collective minds. Most of it worked, some of it didn’t, and almost all of it sounded so different to “Bends”-centric fans that a line was drawn in the sand. A lot of people love “The Bends” because it represents the talent of the band without the weirdness of some of what followed. Just like a lot of people prefer the Beatles’ “She Loves You” kind of music over the things they did from Sgt Pepper forward.

These are clean stylistic breaks, but so sharp and distinct that it could seem as if they aren’t from the same parents. “Run For Your Life” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” sound very, very different, but were separated by less than three years.

The Bends drifts to an open with “Planet Telex” and immediately states the case: “Everything is broken. Everyone is broken. Why can’t you forget?” The music on the CD lifts your spirits. The words bring you back to earth. Just about every lyric speaks to heartbreak and alienation. These are themes that the band didn’t just hint at with its first hit, “Creep,” from “Pablo Honey,” remember? “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here.”

A sample of lyrics from the rest of the tracks on The Bends:
* The Bends: “Where do we go from here? The words are coming out all weird, where are you now when I need you?”
* High and Dry: “They’re the ones who’ll hate you when you think you’ve got it all sussed out.”
* Fake Plastic Trees: “She lives with a broken man, a cracked polystyrene man who just crumbles and burns.”
You get the idea. More of the same can be found throughout the album. Even the places that seem might match lyrical and musical happiness reveal pain, like in “(nice dream)” where the simple title refutes every potential positive. Thom Yorke throws this little disclaimer in so coolly that you have to stop and think about how brilliant the put-down is. Remember “Getting Better” from Sgt. Pepper: “I have to admit it’s getting better” gors the line, immediately followed subtly by “Can’t get no worse.”

The album is a bitter pill. It’s so beautiful to listen to, but so sad to hear.

I always thought the third song, “High and Dry,” was about Evel Knievel. Maybe it is. Which would be weird for a non-American to write about a quintessentially odd American daredevil from the 70s.

Track four, “Fake Plastic Trees” is another heartbreaker. I love this band because to me they see beyond the shine and polish of American life and see the sorrow and phoniness that we’ve come to embrace so lovingly. This song seems to be a lament about a plastic surgeon and how no amount of “augmentation” or cosmetic cutting can cover up the emptiness so many of us carry around. That this was probably the biggest hit on the album probably makes the band laugh, and then wonder if the U.S. audience really gets what’s going on. For mixed messages, it’s like Nirvana’s “In Bloom.”

“Bones” to me is one of the CD’s weaker tracks. If you had to pare the CD, this would probably be the first to go.

Up next is “(nice dream).” It’s got a lot sunnier sound than Radiohead normally makes. It’s so cool that it sounds as if the singer might be sedated. He’s hoping things calm down, life settles… if it takes a heavier dosage, that’s cool. Just make it nice. Nice dream.

“Just” is legendary for the amazing video that the band recorded for the song. Check it out, and tell me what you think the guy says. The song rocks. A simplistic summation, but this is also one of the band’s most direct rockers. Sometimes it’s the message, and sometimes it’s the intensity of the message. The latter half of the song, the band really airs it out. My recommendation: Turn this one up to 11. I had to play this song twice in a row, and was tempted to go for a third round.

But “My Iron Lung” wouldn’t let me. This is a song that has grown over time. I think the band is speaking to the normal disillusionment of youth but there’s something darker here… people use whatever they can to get through the daily shit. If you’re sick, you might need an iron lung. You might think you need a ciggy, or a blunt, or a drink, or even music. At the end of the day, though, these things might artificially keep you going, but really, you’re on your own. Good luck.

So after eight songs of misery and hopelessness, it’s time for… pure agony. “bullet proof.. I wish I was” sounds to me like a last will and testament from a rejected lover. The song doesn’t take much analysis, really. Listen to it, and if you don’t feel the loss, chances are good you’re already dead.

“Black Star” almost sounds like a conventional love song. However, a closer look shows that it’s a love song about a lost love. The couple is no more, but the singer still thinks about the lost love. And, apparently, the breakup was recent. As in, days ago.

At one time, I looked at “Sulk” as maybe one of the album’s lesser efforts. I have grown wiser. It’s a simple song, but powerful. Plus most people probably don’t even consider the meaning of the following lyric: “You look so pretty when you’re on your knees, disinfected, eager to please.”

Can we be at the last track already? Under duress, if I had to, “Street Spirit (fade out)” might be the other song I’d slice from my iTunes library. It’s a pretty song, but a little slight. Maybe it’s just that after having been beaten and bitten for 11 songs, we’ve tired of the fight. So we can let this one slip from our grasp.

“The Bends” is a stunning piece of work, all the more remarkable to me in the leap made in quality from Radiohead’s first release to this. Looking back on it now, some 16 years later and against an impressive body of CDs, it seems obvious this band would become legendary. At the time, no one knew what they had. The album peaked at 88 in the Billboard charts. Crazy.

One last note: In 2009 the band reissued The Bends in a collector’s edition with a second disc that includes the phenomenal song “Talk Show Host.” Fans know of this one, but if you’re looking to get a little deeper into the band’s back catalogue, don’t miss it.

Day 28: Workin' it

I grinded it today. What's a little frustrating is that I feel like I should have more to show for it.

Applied for two jobs.

Obama For America is looking for a variety of campaign workers. Time flies: the 2012 election is a little more than 16 months away.

People want meaning in their lives, although some don’t recognize that until late in the game, and some recognize it and choose to take the easy path. Sometimes the easy path is actually more profitable, and that is what makes it attractive.

Money, like winning, can cover up a lot of flaws. I’ve never had a lot of money, although I’ve had opportunities and situations where I was financially better-off than a lot of people. Not sure I was always happier then, however.

That’s the good news. I understand that being happy is about feeling right about your place in life. Money’s never been a huge motivating force for me. I’ve always wanted to spend my time in pursuits that were intellectually stimulating – fun, even. If I had to choose between rich and miserable or live paycheck-to-paycheck and have fun, I’d choose the latter every time. Life is too short. Would I love to tour the world, always set my own schedule, never worry about paying my bills? Of course. But those things aren’t going to be what you remember in your last days.

You’ve probably heard it before: No one ever looks back on their life and says “I wish I had worked more.”

I also applied for a Night City Editor job at the SF Examiner. I still think my future could be out west. I had hoped to apply for five or six jobs today but this is really work! M and I talked about it… to set yourself apart now, you really have to get in there and pitch. So you’ve got to tailor your effort to the needs of each customer. One cover letter template won’t work. You’ve got to personalize it. So me being me, I tend to get in there and try and find the exact right combination.

We’ll see how that works out. So far, not so much.

Today's timesheet: 6.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 3 hours.
Jobs applied for: 2 -- campaign worker for Obama For America, Chicago; Night City Editor, SF Examiner.
Other productive activities: Another CD review, "The Bends." It's good to dust off my writing skills.
Nonproductive activities: Web time suckage, 1 hour. Shockingly small.
Song for today: "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CD review: "311" by 311

1/8th of 1 out of 5 stars

For a long time, I’ve wanted to go through my CD collection and review everything I’ve got, and determine what has aged well, and what’s crap. The idea ultimately would play to my growing minimalist thinking by letting me know what could be kept/condensed by burning songs of several artists onto single disks.

Or, I could just burn the best of certain CDs onto iTunes then sell them. Works on a lot of levels.

And that leads us to 311’s CD, 311.

This has not aged well at all.

This is their third release and, allegedly, their “hit.” It went triple-platinum, meaning more than 3 million copies sold.

Fortunately, I bought this at a used record store. I don’t really know what I was thinking. The Omaha band’s sound is heavy on guitars and droning riffs with a whiteboy-rap lyrical style.

Basically, it sounds like the kind of shit that would be played as background music on video games about skateboarding and extreme sports.

If I found MMA fighting even remotely interesting (it’s crude and stupid), I would bet I would find that there are “bands” who have their music appropriated for bouts. They probably all grew up listening to 311.

I bought this CD because of the disc’s fourth song, “All Mixed Up.” Hey, I ain’t hatin.’ “All Mixed Up” is a catchy, breezy tune and I like it to this day. As they say, even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and then.

I’m listening to this CD, and forcing it down like a child who doesn’t want to drink yucky medicine but knows that he can’t refuse it. If you have to eat a shit sandwich, maybe you can at least throw some mustard and onions on it.

So, 3:02 has not been time wasted. The CD’s first song, “Down,” is supposedly another “hit.” I listened to it twice. Still didn’t connect. The next two songs (“Random” and “Jackolantern’s Weather”) are awful, but infinitely better than the fifth track, “Hive.”

When my daughter was small, we would go check out events out of our norm. I always wanted to expose her to different things. Once we went to a motorcycle event at the AAC in Dallas. They trucked in dirt and made ramps for huge jumps and tricks. It was the only time we went to see this, and we had fun. Before the show began was a crap band called “Pit Bull Day Care.” Loved the name, but the music was so gawdawful that I wanted to stick pencils in my ears. We still laugh about this band.

As I write this I am listening to 311, I have to open the iTunes window to see which track I am hearing. That’s because this shit all sounds the same.

This classic is called “Misdirected Hostility” which followed “Guns (are for pussies).” I respect the latter’s message. It’s just not backed by compelling music. Track 8, “Purpose” doesn’t completely suck. When a strength of this group surfaces, it seems to be that vocalist Nicholas Hexum has a decent voice. But the riffs are just simple and stupid. When a track ends, you’re relieved for three seconds. Then the next track begins and you’re plunged back into a few minutes of dread.

Song titles don’t really even mean anything any more. It’s just two or three minutes of crap followed by two or three minutes of slightly different crap. I got to track 10 before I gave up and moved to the next song midway through it.

iTunes classifies this music as “alternative.” That’s fair: 311 is an alternative to music.

Track 11, “Don’t Stay Home” did not completely suck. Man, that’s a low standard. Track 13, “Sweet” had a little reggae-like lilt and was almost listenable. But the bottom line is that neither of these two songs were so compelling as to need to be in any rotation you’d actually want to listen to. The disc closes, mercifully, with something called “T&P Combo.” I think after listening to 311’s 311, I will need some TP for sure to wipe the shit out of my ears.

I’m burning “All Mixed Up” fo sho. Other than that… if anyone wants to buy a copy of 311 in good shape (rarely played!), it’s yours for $2 plus shipping and handling.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 25: Review of "Sandinista" by The Clash

The Clash
5 of 5 stars

Released on 12 December 1980, The Clash’s fourth studio album was actually three albums, with six songs on each side. The album had a six-paned black and white foldout labeled “The Armagideon Times no 3” with lyrics, credits, photos and cartoons.

Clash fans seemingly had had a long wait for the follow-up to London Calling. For me, Sandinista is the band’s masterpiece on many levels, but the ambitious effort didn’t get much momentum coming just four days after the assassination of John Lennon. As Christmas 1980 approached, people didn’t want to think about how shitty the world seemed to be. The U.S. economy was a disaster; nobody was in a particularly upbeat mood. Lennon had just been murdered. A month before, a con man named Ronald Reagan had been elected president – the product of Democratic disarray after Jimmy Carter’s ineffectiveness in his ability to address the terrible economy, infighting in his party, and the Iranian hostage crisis.

So then The Clash comes along with this triple album – unheard of. The album’s title, Sandinista, tells everyone what was up as a nod to the name of the Socialist party leading an uprising in war-torn Nicaragua. Ironic, eventually, in that Reagan’s warhawks would arm the opposition.

The album was a challenge. Dense. Not only was it crammed with ideas – The Clash was always the thinking person’s punk band, like Public Enemy would become to rap – but it was messy and all over the place. The band’s “White Album,” it veered from idea to idea, thematically and musically. The album spoke of war, urban and societal decay, crime and murder, religion, hate and discrimination, drugs… it’s all here. A snapshot of a dirty world. If only they had known they were just exposing the tip of the iceberg.

Track by track, and what you should have on your iPod:
1. The Magnificent Seven: The album starts with a catchy tune, one of few. The Clash made you earn it. But beneath the tune is a dirty truth… we’re all in this stupid rat race, distracted from real life, playing a bullshit game:

Ring! Ring! It's 7:00 A.M.!

Move y'self to go again
Cold water in the face

Brings you back to this awful place

Knuckle merchants and you bankers, too

Must get up an' learn those rules

Weather man and the crazy chief

One says sun and one says sleet

A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too

Churning out that boogaloo

Gets you up and gets you out

But how long can you keep it up?
A keeper? Duh. YES.
2. Hitsville U.K.: A reference to Motown records, which some of you youngsters might not know was known as “Hitsville USA.” Clash fans will love everything they did, but this is one you could live without. NO.
3. Junco Partner: Not sure totally what this song is about. It could be about Amy Winehouse. Or it could be about some poor wasted Angolan looking for any way to make a living. Fun, but definitely odd. YES.
4. Ivan Meets G.I. Joe: Another jokey song by the band about the height of the Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union; a battle for supremacy posited as best determined by a dance-off at Studio 54. Topper Headon gets a rare turn at the mic for this one. Love it. YES.
5. The Leader: A swinging little ditty about powerful mean doing powerful things. YES.
6. Something About England: A song about war, which became even more interesting in 1982 when the British got all in a snit about some forgettable South American set of rocks known as The Falkland Islands. This is a beautiful, sad song about the decay of England that took place in the 20th century and the lasting toll the country paid in the aftermath of World War II. Keep in mind that the war was fresh in the minds of these 20-something sons of England, whose parents had fought it and had to rebuild from it. YES.
7. Rebel Waltz: A trippy, off-kilter song that sounds like a fever dream. Preamble over as side 2, The Clash start to get their crazy on. YES.
8. Look Here: Wild, raucous trip to nowhere. I like it, but don’t love it. I guess I shouldn’t inclulde everything. NO.
9. The Crooked Beat: Half of the songs on this album sound like they’re being crooned by a wasted wino as he tries to stumble home, and this fits that bill. I don’t think it’s Joe Strummer or Mick Jones singing this one. Maybe bassist Paul Simonon. Who, by the way, was one scary looking motherfucker. Wiki says it is Simonon. So YES.
10. Somebody Got Murdered: The band was spending a lot of time in New York and cut almost all of the album there. This song is a rush. A lot of the catchier songs seem to have been written by Mick, who IMO had a stronger pop touch than Strummer. I think this song is about the grime of NY, a city that had a pretty harsh image problem in the 70s. YES.
11. One More Time: A lot of fans didn’t love the aural oddities the band tinkered with on this album. These next two songs were variations on the same theme. Stoned headphone wearers (I’m told) could really groove on these songs. This one’s the better of the two. YES here, no to…
12. One More Dub.
13. Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice): Some of those stoned listeners didn’t necessarily know which album was the first one, or which side was the A side. And some of those listeners for years thought this was the song that opened the album. Either way, it’s great. Song is about NY also. As HST said, buy the ticket, take the ride. YES.
14. Up in Heaven (Not Only Here): Just listening to this gives me chills. Once again, a Mick Jones beauty. The music is majestic, and once again the lyrics betray them with the ugly pictures they paint.
Fear is just another commodity here
They sell us peeping holes to peek when we hear
A bang on the door resoundingly clear
Who would really want to move in here?
The comment about “Allianza dollars are spent” is lifted from protest singer Phil Ochs’ song “United Fruit.” What’s it mean? To me, it sounds like Mick is saying England has become a third-world country like the ones Britain used to colonize, dependent on government programs and funding to get by. YES.
15. Corner Soul: Is the music calling for a river of blood? Well, another song on the album is called “Washington Bullets.” Draw your own conclusion. YES.
16. Let’s Go Crazy: Really kind of a throwaway, island-influenced song, but hella fun. Not everything has to be so serious, right? YES.
17. If Music Could Talk: Another experimental venture (and more is coming). But hypnotic and irresistible. Love the sax here. YES.
18. The Sound of the Sinners: Gimme that old-tyme religion. The band has taken the piss out of world powers many times by this point on the album. Let’s not forget to jab that other bastion of baloney, religion. YES.

Thus endeth the first half of Sandinista.

19. Police on My Back: For some people the sheer volume of Sandinista works against an appreciation of the album. There’s just so much, and they can’t all be winners. This one’s kind of a throwaway. A nice burst of guitars and amusing locomotion sounds in the mix. In some ways sounds like perhaps a leftover from London Calling, or the ugly sister of The Magnificent Seven. NO.
20. Midnight Log: Joe gets funky. YES.
21. The Equaliser: Besides the global political issues The Clash raised awareness of, they also were deservedly credited with using a number of global musical styles that had not been widely heard by most of their American audience. This song ventures into that territory, it’s a dark, bass-y song. When punk hit, The Clash had been lumped in with the Sex Pistols and other hardcore bands. A lot of acts were more sophisticated than that but still were slotted there. The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Police were initially considered “punk.” People realized that didn’t fit and “New Wave” was coined but these groups still didn’t fit easy labels. Sandinista has punk songs on it (“The Leader” comes to mind) but other songs, like this one, were anything but punk. YES.
22. The Call Up: A droning mantra that urges listeners to resist the draft, resist joining the military, resist killing others and resist getting killed. I can get behind that. YES.
23. Washington Bullets: Chris Rock has a hilarious routine about racist team names like the Washington Redskins. He asks why some racist names are OK, while we’d never consider naming a team the “New York Niggas.” Shockingly enough, from 1963 until 1994, the Baltimore-the-Washington NBA team was called the Bullets. Coincidentally that time period saw a lot of assassination and murder in Washington and politics. How stupid a name. Naturally The Clash saw an easy opportunity to ridicule such a ridiculous situation and talk about Washington’s business of exporting bullets and death. Never has a diatribe against murder used a xylophone and an organ so effectively. YES.
24. Broadway: Joe takes it down a notch with this song about a late-night encounter in New York. Is the guy homeless? He’s clearly down on his luck. An interesting song but not the strongest. NO.
25. Lose This Skin: This trippy violin-laced song was written and sung by Joe’s friend Tymon Dogg. Catchy. YES.
26. Charlie Don’t Surf: Taken from a single comedic line in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic “Heart of Darkness in Vietnam” film “Apocalypse Now,” this song expands upon the callousness of warriors. A classic. YES.
27. Mensforth Hill: The bulk of the rest of the album gets experimental. This song is mainly “Something About England” in reverse and with a bunch of tacked-on bits. I kind of like it. The Clash’s answer to “Revolution 9”. NO to normal people, YES to Clash heads.
28. Junkie Slip: No idea what the hell this is about. Don’t care, it’s fun. YES.
29. Kingston Advice: Another anti-violence rant, extremely tasty, and relevant more than 30 years later. YES.
30. The Street Parade: The Clash is hardly known for love songs, but this one seems like a plea from an abandoned suitor. A great use of steel drums and a reggae beat. For me this kind of ended the album because the final side is a lot of sonic dicking around. A big YES.
31. Version City: I kind of like this one, although it doesn’t get much love. I’m going to give it a YES because it’s just too fun to skip.
32. Living in Fame: A dub version of “If Music Could Talk” vocalized by Mikey Dread. What the hell… YES. Can you imagine how much weed was going around on this one?
33. Silicone on Sapphire: A bizarro electronic treatment of “Washington Bullets” dubbed with weird comments. Kind of a “Fitter, Happier” moment. YES. Yes, I know I am saying YES to the whole freaking album.
34. Version Pardner: A dub version of “Junco Pardner”. Pass. NO.
35. Career Opportunities: An amusing children’s choir version of the Clash classic. YES.
36. Shepherd’s Delight: NO. Just off the rails.

So there you have it. 36 songs, 28 of which are definitely worth having in your rotation, and a few others could have easily made the cut. We call this a masterpiece, folks.

Day 25: Win it for...

I wasn't always a sports fan. People who know me now would be surprised to know how much I was *not* into sports as a child.

In fact, on Sundays in Texas, kids who weren't engrossed in Cowboys football were eyed suspiciously. Football was and is king in the Lone Star.

My parents were into it. On Sundays, I wouldn't say I was banished from the living room TV, but it was a holy place and proper decorum was required at the services.

Curiously I think this might have contributed to my being a sportswriter for a while. The code of conduct in the press box is no cheering allowed, and keep quiet. I like that. I kind of like that even now, when I watch games at home. It's pretty rare for me to go to a sports bar. Several reasons for that:

* Smoke. It's revolting to come home smelling like an ashtray.
* Chatter. If I'm expressly watching one of "my" teams, I've got little interest in talk unrelated to the game.
* "Them." One of my good friends is an Iggles fan. Otherwise he's a nice guy. We get along pretty well, even when our teams are facing off. But in a bar setting where there could be a group of Cowboys haters or worse, it's just intolerable. There's already so much ignorance in the world, I can't stand to see it en masse.
* Cost. The cold beverages at my house are cheaper. The seats are better.
* Perks. No waiting to use the bathroom. Rarely anyone barfing.

It's going to be hard to keep this one short. I'll try and steer it back into the fast lane...

My first Cowboys game was Don Meredith's last game. Cowboys fans will know what that means. I cried when Texas Stadium was destroyed. I saw games in Arlington Stadium before the Rangers arrived. I interviewed Nolan Ryan. I played hoops with Spud Webb. I asked an impertinent question of Tom Landry. Was in the locker room with sports legends such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Bo Jackson, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Mike Modano. Baseball allowed me to meet George W. Bush. Sports has been good to me.

I've seen future superstars when they played high school ball. Saw the Stars' first Stanley Cup win in Texas. Saw Clemens vs. Ryan. First game at The Ballpark.

And I saw the first Mavericks game. Tonight, they can win a championship for the first time. I'm really hoping for it.

In 2004, when the Boston Red Sox were one win away from overcoming a 3-0 hole against the New York Yankees, a fan Web site called Sons of Sam Horn began a thread that wound up in Cooperstown. The OP knew that 86 years of failure were on the verge of being erased. Long-suffering BoSox fans (I consider myself one in absentia... Dewey Evans was one of my favorite players and I once posed for a made-up baseball card wearing a Sox jersey) swarmed to the post, citing who they wanted the Sox to win the series for. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.

The Mavericks don't have 86 years of failure, yet. They have never been this close, though. They blew a 2-0 lead to Miami in 2006 under some difficult circumstances.

I was at the first Mavericks game. They beat San Antonio for one of their 15 wins that first season. George "Iceman" Gervin scored 33 points.

Mavs, win this thing tonight. Win it for...

* My brother, who went to that first game with me and who sat by me for years when we had season tickets at Reunion Arena. He was a really good high school basketball player and got me interested in the game for the first time.
* My mom, who loves sports and got me interested in participating rather than just reading about things. She is also the person who bought stadium bonds for my brother and I so that we could become Mavs fans.
* Dirk, who is everything a professional athlete should be. He's humble, honest, respectful and hard-working. Other than talent-wise, he's the polar opposite of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He's earned this.
* Jason Kidd, an all-time great and (like Dirk) a certain Hall-of-Famer. This is his last shot.
* Mark Cuban. Despite his money, it's clear that he's a fan. Here's what fans want from owners: commit to winning. Cuban's always wanted to win and truly put his money where his mouth is.

C'mon Mavs. End this.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 23: Go West

"Some days you eat the b'ar, and some days, the b'ar eats you." - The Stranger, from The Big Lebowski

In Quebec a couple of days ago, the b'ar won. Today, I won.

Not a huge amount of details, other than that after 'rasslin and wrangling with my psyche, I managed to craft a fairly kickass and compelling pitch to join a great organization back in California.

In very few cases are people lucky enough to work someplace that is perfect. I'm talking a perfect blend of what you do, who you do it with, how you do it. I've worked at places that were great businesses but had lousy management. Or places with great management but a flawed business. Or places with many perks, incentives, opportunities but perhaps for the wrong reason.

Even the places that I worked that got most of it right had some issues. The search continues.

Just a quickie, cause I'm tired. Weird dreams last night. First, I got way too overheated. Sweat-head. Ugh. Then a weird dream of being pursued, and a related dream about a friend who was being conspired against and I had to help him. Why can't I dream about pizza?

Anyone ever had a dream about pizza?

Anyway, also got the housecleaning project completed. It required a lot of insect elimination. Lovely. Now I'm feeling kinda skeeved. Think I'm gonna take the night off.


Today's timesheet: 7.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 4 -- Copywriter, Business Editor, Local Editor, Features Editor, GOOD, LA.
Other productive activities: Finishing window project (buggy!), making experimental grilled cheese sandwiches (didn't completely work), coupla blog posts, checking in with DD, 3 hours.
Nonproductive activities: Web time suckage, 1.5 hours.
Song for today: "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys.

Day 25: Diversity

Months ago, M bought me a domain name: I've dithered and whatnot on it and even written some things but never got to a point where I felt I could take the next step. Then, this.

I would like to get some readers and comments (feel free!) because I want the interaction and honestly, the validation. Does that sound needy? I have been writing since 5th grade. I've been able to get paid for writing but to this day don't know if I'm that good at it. I don't think I'm even the best writer in my house. And Koster's a way better writer than me.

Hmmm... maybe a good idea for the next life is don't surround myself with people better than me at my so-called "skill."

Oh well. Hopefully to keep this fresh, I'm going to mix in some stuff that isn't jobsearch-related. Conversations are always better when they are shared!

Day 23: Paring

First off, thanks to everyone who's stopped by. You've no idea how much it means to me, but = a lot.

A lesson learned through unemployment is to cut down to the essential. I learned this through the Great Unemployment of 2001-02 and have refined it to a science by now. I don't know if this had a name then, but today I think it falls into the category of what's called minimalism.

I'm defining minimalism in this sense as pertains to personal economic behavior.

Little did I realize as life unfolded that a career spent mostly in journalism pretty much requires a minimalist economic lifestyle. The few people who get rich in journalism are generally those who don't actually practice reporting any more!

These few well-paid types consist generally of:
* Columnists, who will steal a few facts and then pontificate. They're connected, for sure, but the actual digging for information and pounding the beat reporting is long past in the vast majority of cases. These people are clever writers, good writers, but they're paid for their way with words and influential or controversial abilities more than for their reporting chops.
* Editors. Editors often are failed reporters who hung around long enough to outlive their competition and move to a higher tax bracket. That may sound like a rip, but as a former editor, I think I can speak to it. You can make decent money as an editor, but only at the top levels are you truly going to cash in. Line-level reporters and staff almost universally feel like whatever money that editor makes, it's too much.
* TV types. But TV isn't usually real journalism. And grunt-level, behind-the-camera jobs are often as poor-paying as print jobs.

Journalists learn to live on a tight budget. It's minimalist. Through trial-and-error, practice and time, I learned how to stretch that money.

I'm fascinated by the minimalist community. I have a lot of thoughts on this but I don't want these posts to be too long. We'll come back to this. Suffice to say, I recommend looking into it. Some of the minimalist thought leaders include Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity (; Leo Babauta of Zen Habits/; and Everett Bogue, who meteorically shot into widespread consciousness with his embrace of the concept (and now, apparently, a sort of rejection of it). There are others I check out as well.

Fundamentalists of this school do things like try and reduce all possessions to 100 things or less. The thinking is, get rid of the things that anchor you. Quoting Tyler Durden: "The things you own end up owning you." Bogue calls it "untethering."

As I said, I could go on and on with this and I will. But not now. Just know that even if you have a job loss, you can live with less money. America is a consumer society. We're indoctrinated to have more, get more, buy more. Cars, electronics, buy, buy, buy.

It's a trap.

The short take is, you don't have to live a totally monastic lifestyle, but chop costs where you can. Do you need those trinkets? Do you need those products? How much freedom would you have if you had more money and no debt? Pay off your credit cards and cut them up. Save as much money as you can. Make a life where you could conceivably pull up stakes and go wherever you want to go. It is possible. But only if you break the bonds of economic slavery that Western society expects you to toil under.

Cutting back the things you don't truly need applies to non-monetary items, too. You may need to trim your Facebook friends list, your bookshelves, that musty box of crap in your closet that you haven't opened in three years. Why are you keeping this crap? Let it go.

OK, off the soapbox and back to the job hunt. I have to do a cold call that I'm kind of dreading but I gotta just jump. Details TK.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 20: The turtle

Yesterday was Day 20.

Not counting what goes down on Dickson Street every night and at the bikerfests, the trash collection here in Hooterville runs once a week. The good news is that the city has an effective recycling program. The bad news is that sometimes they pick things up at 5:45 a.m. (clank, Clank, CLANK) and if you miss it, you're screwed.

Last week I missed it, so this week I put the full bins out yesterday morning, a full 22+ hours before they would run through the 'hood.

Along the drive was a small, brown lost turtle. Yes, next comes the obvious and trite metaphor. I was a slow starter yesterday.

The turtle does not move fast. But the turtle is determined and has an innate sense of direction. The turtle is deliberate. I, too, have those qualities. In the end, the turtle gets where he wants to be.

Of course, some turtles become roadkill. Better not to think about that.

Anyway. I found two interesting prospects, one in Dallas, and one in SF. Naturally I did some research into each, and the process was time-consuming. I've got two ways of looking at this: either I am moving too slow, or, I am being extremely deliberate.

It took a good chunk of time to focus on the first application. If the turtle did not know where it wanted to go, because it moves so slowly, it could theoretically be in a lot of trouble. It could get too far away from safety and resources it needs to survive. The journey really counts. I see things that interest me all the time. But I have to be a realist and plan my trip. If I expend time and energy chasing something that's not a strong candidate for success, then I might be like that turtle. It could be a fatal error.

So while I might want to apply for the job of Starship Commander, and even think I could be great at it, the reality is that I would be an extreme longshot to get that. Especially in this market. So I look at it, think how fun it would be, and move on to something more sensible.

In some circles, this view could be seen as mature. I'm not known for hanging out with that crowd.

Anyway, some news this morning: The Waste Management folks said no thanks. They had the decency to let me know. I respect that a lot.

Some followup stats from Day 20:

Timesheet: 5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 1 -- Managing Editor, Dallas Child magazine.
Other productive activities: Blog updates, 1 hour.
Nonproductive activities: Web time suckage, 1 hour. Surprised how good I'm being here.
Song for today: "99.9 Fahrenheit Degrees" by Suzanne Vega.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 20: Keep your poison to yourself, please

Gebus. The neighbors are having a smokeout. It smells like someone is standing directly behind me with a cigarette.


Not to get into a rant, but people do a poor job honoring the social contract. Smoking near others. Throwing ciggy butts in the yard or out windows or anywhere but their own trash. Texting/yakking at movies.

I guess the good news for me is I'm not going to the movies in the near term during job search time, and I'm too smart to smoke.

Frickin' die already. Man.

Day 19: Ick as in Tick

Day 19, a Monday, was not otherwise exceptional. I had a meeting on funding prospects with the nonprofit I participate in. Meanwhile, M took the dogs on a long walk at the lake.

It was a pretty hot day and Moose got tuckered. But the worst was yet to come. The dogs brought home guests. Seven or eight, at last count. They're now quarantined somewhat.

Ticks are the grossest.

To make up for a lack of progress on the search front, I'm doubling efforts today. More on that later.

Be careful out there.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 18: Discouragement

This is gonna be a quick check-in. I'm bummed.

This is a natural byproduct of a job search. The longer it goes, the more feelings of self-doubt gain a foothold. It's mean.

But I don't have the luxury of staying down too long. But it's weird late on a Sunday night to know that you aren't going to work tomorrow. Or probably this week. Or maybe this month. The process rarely moves that quickly. So now, instead of worrying that you don't have income this week, you begin to think, "Hey... I probably don't have income this MONTH."


Now, I have some things to do tomorrow, and I have a plan to look into a few avenues for leads that I have not delved deeply into. Chances are good that I'll find a few promising prospects. After that, it's put your best foot forward and hope.

But tonight, this kinda sucks.

No update. I'm punting this one away and playing for field position.

Song of the day: "Revolution Blues" by Neil Young.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 17: Homework

Yesterday was Day 17, a Saturday.

Recommended for job hunters is diversifying the methods used. At one time, many years ago, whenever I would look for a job I used or newspaper classified ads. Neither of these methods are great options today, IMO.

monster's a shadow of what it used to be. Not sure when that happened, although the eruption of competitive job-search sites surely hurt. Use as many as you can find. It can be tiring. People don't get how hard it is to wade through these sites. For me, you start with the search, but then you need to research the company a bit, find out if it is a good fit. I briefly worked for a company that had as its corporate persona a strongly religious stance. It was challenging for me because I believe that a person's religious views are a private matter. The job itself was OK, the people were nice enough, but this overwhelming presence seemed to me to be a potential problem.

Unless you're selling God, if you're a religious-heavy business, aren't you automatically threatening your business success? Are you able to reach customers who don't share those views? That, to me, is the capitalist's strongest argument for keeping religion out of the workplace. It's not good business.

But I digress.

The job search *is* work. You can carpet-bomb possible employers with resumes, but if the fit isn't a good one, you're wasting their time. Worse, you're wasting *yours.* So I always try and look a little deeper into a company and see whether or not the marriage has potential.

And I look at a lot of different sites. I still look at monster. I rarely look at classifieds any more, because unless you do so online, that's an expense (albeit a small one) for a newspaper. I spent most of my life in Failed DinoMedia and it hurts that they're failing so hugely.

I also use Career Builder, Indeed, Yahoo HotJobs, LinkedIn. I've used TheLadders. It's also a good idea to look at the career opportunities online of local businesses that are good fits. Here in Gawd's country, that means Walmart and the UofArkansas. There are others here, but those two are the top employers.

Saturday, however, I spent doing household chores. Menial things, like washing windows, vacuuming, dusting, Furminating the dogs, and several loads of laundry. Sometimes you need to do things to stop the ennui. It was productive.

And actually, the day turned out revenue-positive: the state's tax refund check arrived. $245.

To celebrate, I had a snow cone. Got the discounted special for $2.50. Livin' large!

Saturday's timesheet: 6 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 1.5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 0. Did see Indeed posts for dogsitter and babysitter. Think I'd prefer the dogs.
Other productive activities: Serious housecleaning. 4.5 hours.
Nonproductive activities: Watched half of "Hoffa" on DVR, Web time suckage, 2.5 hours.
Song for today: "Clean Up Woman" by Betty Wright.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 16: Wipeout

Maybe it's the early summer heat. Maybe it's just general mental exhaustion manifesting itself.

Regardless, this turned into a somewhat lost day.

I am volunteering for a local nonprofit and joblessness at least makes that more doable. Today two of the major players and I met with a government official about some initiatives and just basically to open some doors. The early-morning activity was useful, and the government official truly struck me as someone brilliant. This person goes 90-miles-a-minute but had the innate ability to pull many disparate thoughts together to sum up issues perfectly. Impressive.

Other than applying for jobs, this is the most my brain had been stretched in a while.

But after spending the morning doing this, I came home and spent a little time looking at job sites. Nothing was a great fit. Then I felt tired. I laid down for a few minutes, and four hours disappeared.

Downstairs, the Mrs. is also asleep.

It's prematurely roasty here in Gawd's country, so that could be a factor as well. This week has taken a toll.

The national employment numbers came out this morning and the facts were not encouraging. The rate is back up to 9.1 percent. Job growth is again slow. The genius Bill McBride at Calculated Risk ( -- for some reason I cannot link. CR is a must read if you have any interest in important things) had an as-usual relevant summation of what these figures mean. The bottom line is that the so-called recovery continues to struggle to gain real footing.

For me and my other jobless friends, the news isn't great. The fear is that the future will hold more frustration. CR estimates it will be another four or five years of sustained growth before we get back to 2007 levels.

Thanks, W, you idiot.

Anyway, I've hardly eaten today. Some fresh pineapple, a few handfuls of popcorn and trailmix, and that's it. Time to snap out of it.

Today's timesheet: 4.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 1.5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 0. Hopefully maybe later.
Other productive activities: Volunteer work, restorative sleep, dieting through sleep. 3 hours (not counting the last two).
Nonproductive activities: Restorative sleep, dieting through sleep, Web time suckage, 5 hours.
Song for today: "I Go to Sleep" by The Pretenders.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 15: Stressplosion

D tapped on my door as he opened it, and said "It's been nice knowing ya, I just got my walking papers."

Some day I must look up where that term came from.

Anyway, my closest friend at Failing NonProfit was steamed and had just been let go.

Less than half an hour later, Lumberg gave me the same news. Position eliminated. Sorry. It was May 16, 2011.

I'll probably go into the details of how this happened at some point down the line. They're less important today in the aftermath of the stressplosion.

A stressplosion is when the elephant in the room takes a massive dump. In this case, it was a confrontation wherein I was confronted with questions about my effort to find a new job.

I estimated that I'd expended about a 65 percent effort. While this is probably a fair assessment, the honesty yielded a followup: Why wasn't this percentage greater?

The encounter's less pleasant aspects can be presumed. The enduring question is why haven't I pushed harder?

I have many theories, all of which may be valid and none of which may be adequate:
* Shellshock. My work at Failing NonProfit was a "rebound" gig after being laid off from Failing DinoMedia. At Failing NonProfit I was making about $12,000 a year less to begin with. After a year I got a $900 a year raise. I had joined Failing DinoMedia months after another Failing DinoMedia had closed up shop. Three layoffs in about seven years. Having the rug pulled out from you once, that sucks. Twice, you think... "How could this happen again?" After the third time... shellshock.
* Fear. Progressive salary levels since 2000: $70,000. $62,500. $55,000. $60,000. $45,000. $33,900. If I was Benjamin Button that might be OK. The belt is tightening. But it's starting to feel uncomfortably like a noose. The trend is downward. It's worrying me. Prime earning years are becoming fewer. I'm worried about how to reverse this.
* Paranoia. I've read for years about age discrimination. I'm now an "older worker" and ripe for this category. What I think it really means is "wage discrimination." I'm extremely cynical about the corporate world. I think that the principles of capitalism can be broken down into simple concepts, and chief among them would be "pay people as little as you can," "work people as hard as you can," "squeeze their benefits and perks as much as possible," and "instill a climate of fear." Not every business operates this way, but many do. This could explain why so many are Failing. Anyway, as workers grow older, some become less willing to suffer this bullshit. As the Japanese say, "It is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered down." So older workers, while they may have superior knowledge and skills, also are less compliant, less willing to take on crappy wages and benefits, and more likely to be more trouble than we are worth when held up against the chief capitalism concepts referenced above. Thus, we're marginalized. Is this paranoia, or a heightened sense of awareness?
* The market. Things were getting really bad in the latter half of the W era. And they weren't exactly preceded by unicorns and rainbows, unless you were a Wall Street scammer, Halliburton exec, defense contractor or reality TV producer. Regardless of what's being said in 2011 about the uptick in the economy, the job market still sucks. If McDonald's hires on a few new fry cooks, that's job "growth" but it's not career or wage growth. The middle class is drying up at lightning speed. Most of us are screwed and we don't even know it yet. But I know it. After the earlier layoffs, I learned the lesson: Always look for greener pastures. I've been looking for jobs for years, not just the last 17 days. They aren't out there. Amended: Some are out there, but now, instead of a job yielding 100 applicants, it yields 500. The discouragement factor is exponentially greater.

And that's where I am. Exponentially discouraged. My first unemployment check should arrive in a few days. It will be worth $276.

So the house has had a stressplosion. My sometime lethargy created an unfavorable climate and the conditions were ripe. Now there's an unhappy, uncomfortable silence in the house. Mea Culpa. I've got to get moving.

I need a job.

Today's timesheet: 5.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 2 -- Communications Mgr, Waste Management, Inc., El Cajon CA; EHR Communications Specialist, UCLA Health System, LA.
Other productive activities: Launching "Jobless Journal," grocery shopping, cleaning home office. 2.5 hours.
Nonproductive activities: Stressplosion, Web time suckage, 2 hours.
Song for today: "Chain Gang" by Sam Cooke.