Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bug Me!

My bicycle has a recurring brake problem that is pretty annoying. I should learn how to fix it myself but the seller has free lifetime service so I have always gone back to them. The brake pads slip and provide continuous resistance, so riding is difficult.

I've been talking for at least two months about taking the bike over there to have them fix this so I can ride. But I haven't done it. And it's stupid. I need to do this. The weather has been perfect for biking and now it's only going to get hotter.

You have permission to rag me about this until I get it done.

Day 346: An Inspiration

When I first became interested in minimalism, I sought out as many sources as I could. One of the more interesting is Julien Smith. He wrote this a couple of days ago, and it's delivered in his typical wiseacre style. I recommend spending a minute or two checking it out, and thinking it over.

Americans are generally too indoctrinated to be consumers. At what cost? Not just the monetary cost, but what is the cost to our soul? Is this worth it? Do we really need this stuff?

This makes me feel a lot better about selling my albums a few weeks ago...

Julien's entry:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 345: It's On

When it rains, it pours, huh?

A much-desired prospect out west has opened up. I'm past the first stage of culling and invited out for a face-to-face in a few weeks. Of course, I'm going.

Of course after a while, every opportunity seems great... the hungry man will eat sand. But I've not been window-shopping for sand, or other things that aren't nutritious.

This one is gourmet.

The best part would be it would be doing something that really gives back to the community, that enriches lives, that matters. Hey, I'd love to have another fun PR gig, but at the end of the day, a lot of PR gigs are just encouraging people to buy something. There are many worthy, wonderful products out there, but whether or not you have a great product to purchase can be sort of unimportant.

Especially compared to something that helps people... people who need help the most.

So that's happening in the near future.

And, something else closer to home looks to be opening up soon. Just hours ago I learned of it and spoke to an insider who was encouraging.

Would be nice to have some options!

Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 343: Milestones

Somehow, I'm nearing 6,000 pageviews on this little endeavor. And only 4,000 of them are mine!

Kidding. It's 5,000.

But seriously, folks. It is deeply gratifying to y'all who have spent a little time here. On days when I have been pretty blue, it's reassuring to know that someone cares enough to spend a minute or two peeking inside my head. It has helped me. So thanks.

Some good news might be on the horizon. Well, one thing already is... a local nonprofit group I have volunteered with for more than a year has re-upped my board chairmanship for another year. That's an honor and I hope to reaffirm that confidence going forward.

That is, provided I don't get a job that requires me to move. What's that you say? A job interview is in the offing? Well, then...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 342: Food

Food is not just what you eat.

Sustenance comes in various forms and fuels various things. I'm working on improving my food intake in several ways.

Two of my favorite people... actually, probably others in my circle as well... are vegans. Like many carnivores, I've historically dismissed that point of view, even scoffed at it or made fun of it. (MMMmmmm, tofu burger!)

But I think they may actually be right. Meat protein has done a lot to power the evolutionary advance of humans. It's had positive benefits.

As with many things, however, the modern world has screwed up a good thing. Factory farms and corporatists who value profit more than safety have created risk in the food chain. Read "Fast Food Nation" to be truly horrified about your daily consumption. Meat products are the worst of it, but by no means the extent of the problems.

A breakfast without bacon is not really breakfast. I love a nice, medium-well filet. I love a good burger. I love some well-prepared dry-rub ribs.

But these things don't love me. Is the protein value enough to offset what this stuff is doing to me, which is, likely, sending me to an early grave?

I don't know if I can stop. I'm indoctrinated into the meat-eating culture. It's hard to think of a life without it. But I have to do some things differently. I don't think it's healthy to eat a lot of meat.

A life with less meat would probably be a good choice. Maybe the key is to work toward it. I don't gorge on just red meat... I eat a good deal of chicken, and fish too. Perhaps switching emphasis to these would be a good start.

Today is also Day One for my attempt at totally eliminating soda from my consumption. I used to drink a whole lot of it; the last two years I have switched to diet versions. But even those are making me question the value. I have the advantage of living somewhere where the tap water is as good as probably anyplace in the world. It's actually tasty.

Our bodies are mostly water. Probably wise to drink a lot of water.

If any of you have pointers on how to adjust your diet to less meat, I'd love to hear your feedback.

The other food I crave is brain food, and this is the positivity, love and light from being around reinforcing people. This is another area of my diet that needs change.

I've been cynical and snarky a lot of my life. It's good for making jokes and such, but like everything you feast upon, too much can be a bad thing.

Yes, in a lot of ways it's a shitty world. We're not as good to each other as we should be. We allow awful things to happen, especially if they happen to "someone else" (i.e., not in America)... we tolerate wars, famine, hate, bloodshed, disease, crime... as humans, we're so vain in our thinking that we're such sophisticated animals, we have such technological advances! We have iPads! We have 52-inch high-def TVs! We have 400-horsepower sports cars!

B.F.D. Really? This is what's important to us?

That doesn't strike me as overly civilized. We could do better. I love my technology, I love my modern conveniences. But man, are they really worthless compared to the wonder of existence that's available.

So that's on me. I need to lead by example and do a better job of treasuring the things that really matter. I want to eat that life up, savor every bite.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 341: Resolve

Sometimes it's hard to clear out the clutter in your mind. But I'm trying.

It's way too easy to get caught up in a bunch of mental torture that amounts to nothing positive. It goes by a lot of names... regrets... hindsight... second-guessing...

It's pointless, but knowing this and accepting this are not always the same thing. Ex: On one hand, if I had had the time and patience to sell my old records one by one online, I might have been able to raise a decent amount of money. When I saw albums the other day that I basically sold for 50 cents apiece going for $12, $20, $30, $40 (!!!), then it makes me feel a little stupid.

But, it's done. I have to stop thinking about it.

I need to find positive outlets. One of them should be writing. That's why this is here, and again my many thanks to you who have nurtured me with your positivity. I know also that there are at least two haters out there who lurk. I guess that's just a byproduct of life. They've actively sought to bring me down, but they are in fact an opportunity to grow and become stronger. So, bring it. It used to wear on me, because like most people I would prefer to be liked. But some folks just don't jibe. You can't give them that power over you. Closed minds are closed. I still think ultimately that people will see the light and understand the real truth. Despite everything, I remain hopeful.

That's a win!

I've been working on actually completing a writing project that I conceived a way back and have been piecing together painful bit by painful bit for a while. It's frustratingly slow. But it means something to me, it's an idea I believe in, so I am trying very hard to let it gestate naturally. I fight self-doubt there, too. Why is it so slow? Why doesn't it flow naturally? Why aren't you done?

I've managed to drop all those questions and just work on it at the pace that happens. I think that is a good thing to be at peace with, to not force things.

This is also a useful approach while I let my job search unfold naturally. Just a bit ago I got notification of a job I did not get that I applied for IN DECEMBER. Talk about deliberate. But at least now I know and can close the books on it. Agonizing over something for four months is detrimental. You have to do your best and then play the hand you get.

HST used to say, "Buy the ticket, take the ride." That works for me.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 338: Go West. Or East. Or Stay.

Three strong job prospects this week, literally from sea to shining sea. Left, Right, and right here in Gawd's Country.

I'd love any one of these; they're all good situations. Naturally, however, if I had to choose I would choose Left. In that spirit, I bought my first pair of Birkenstock sandals today.

I've been called many things, but one that I like is "pessimistic hippie." (Funny that one, Piker.) I don't think I'm really pessimistic, in fact I tend to think I am optimistic. I am, however, realistic, and that can be seen as pessimistic at times.

So be it.

Honestly, I'm at the stage where all these different job situations over my life have been interesting, but I'd really like the stability of riding a good job for a number of years. Job searches are exciting in a way, but they're also stressful. Change is growth, one way or another, and the term "growing pains" is apt because you have to get out of your comfort zone even in the best of circumstances.

Door Number 1 or 2 is going to entail a move across country. That's no picnic. Door Number 3 will be working in a challenging environment that grinds a lot of the people I know who work or have worked there.

I've lived in Left before and loved it. I've spent a little time in Right and it's... different. The Northeast is cold, compressed and congested... drives I used to take in Texas of several hours meant you were still in Texas. NE drives of several hours mean you can cross through five states. But I like the appeal of being able to have major metropolitan areas within relatively close reach. That's a big plus.

Regardless, it feels closer now. This thing is chasing down a year of fUnemployment. I'm way beyond tired of it. I need to land someplace real, someplace I can build on. That's why the choices are the way they are... I need to be somewhere that I want to be a long time. And this explains why some places just aren't under consideration.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 335: Fighting Doubts

I'm no Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but I'd like to think that my professional career is fairly accomplished.

I worked my way up to a pretty good gig at a large metropolitan daily newspaper over 13+ years, and leveraged that job into a VP job in Los Angeles. If I turned around to look out my office window, I saw the Hollywood sign about two miles away. My team had responsibility for a large global client's US work, with a budget of more than $1 million.

A few years later I was the first communications manager for one of the nation's largest healthcare service providers.

Former work colleagues thought enough of me to hire me away from that job for a bold startup venture.

In my job after that, I was responsible for media coverage overseeing the world's largest retailer.

I think those are all quality gigs.

So when you are looking for a job and not having success, you might get discouraged. I certainly have been. This is a good time to take stock of what you've done before, and maybe appreciate it a little bit. Dig deeper and think about what you learned at each of those stops, and, if they were pretty good jobs, cut yourself a little slack and recognize that at some point, that experience is going to work in your favor.

My last three jobs ended because of a shortage of funding, and two layoffs. Talk about snakebit! But in each scenario, there was absolutely nothing I could do to avoid an unpleasant ending. I did great work at each. And I wasn't singled out in any case. The business that folded took 26 people down with it. The first layoff was the fourth in a wave; 16 got the axe that day. And, that layoff preceded by only a few months a merger that took about 160 more jobs away.

The last layoff was the end of a 50-percent reduction in force.

It's not great today to rationalize these problems, but at least it provides a little comfort in knowing that every time it was because of economic problems well beyond my control.

Looking for jobs every day, and using many different avenues, I'm seeing growth out there. There are more opportunities. It's just a matter of time before one of them is MY opportunity.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 334: Refreshing thinking

The past 24-36 hours have been very positive for my mental energy for a few reasons...

* A story that I wrote and posted last summer just got some traction with one of the subjects I wrote about, and I want to thank these site visitors for stopping by. When you're facing tough times, encouragement can appear unexpectedly. My guests have boosted my morale and confidence. Some folks would call that a blessing. I'm feeling it. The Lord works in mysterious ways...
* Last night had a sort of family reunion for a few hours. My mom's three surviving sisters got together for the first time since Aunt Becky died in November. Family is always a tricky issue because it's inevitable that there will be lingering tensions from some perceived slight. But it was sweet, nice, and good to touch base with your heritage.
* My cousin's youngest son is 10. At one point he came out and walked past us, said "hi" and told us he was going to run. Then went out into the street and just ran a handful of sprints as fast as he could. It was adorable. Kids have such a purity about them. He was running because to him, that was a fun thing to do.

When do we lose that point of view? Wouldn't life be better if we didn't?

Anyway, some amazing things happening today. Basically got a long-distance phone call this morning for a job that would not just be amazing and not just be where I want to be, but better than all that it would be doing something extremely meaningful and important for children. It would be the sort of thing that at the end of every day, you could feel as if you had done something for someone who really needed a helping hand.

So my attitude is pretty good. Thanks y'all!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 328: A New Hope

Well I'll be... just yesterday a promising prospect appeared on the Eastern horizon. On a fit scale it's 90th percentile... additional encouragement is that I have a great contact inside (always helpful) and I wrote a killer cover letter.

I believe the cover letter is make-or-break in almost every case. Resumes are going to look mostly the same, and theoretically everyone who applies for something is going to be reasonably qualified. So you've got to give yourself a puncher's chance with that cover letter. It needs to be clever, interesting, and original.

Some people think being flip and obnoxious qualifies as clever, interesting and original, however.

We'll see. Could this one be it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 326: You Never Know

A local prospect, and a Western prospect (Irvine, CA, home of the Anteaters) on the hitlist today. Only two, which is disappointing, because I wanted to send more. My research into a couple of prospects that seemed initially promising turned out to be not so much...

One, where unfortunately I have a decent "in," is not a great fit. In fact it's a bad fit. Job's a little technical and while I could probably finesse it, I don't see a major relocation for a mid-level job.

Another would be tons of fun, if I didn't need to make a living wage, or have a life/see sunshine ever again.


Anyway it's 5:46 pm CDT, and I am bleary. B.L.E.A.R.Y. I just want to veg out a while now.

So that's on tap.

On the Cali prospect I kind of shot from the hip. There's a bit of risk with that if you end up dealing with a dullard, but if you hit the right connection, I think it gives you a big advantage. The problem is you never know.

I do know this: I've been generally unpleasant lately, and to the world I say, "Sorry about that." I need to laugh more. I need to lighten the hell up. I'm working on it.

My good friend BEGT is in SoCal this week and sent me some pics she's taken today. It's cool. That's really my home, and I think that I'll find a way.

You never know.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 322: Finding Inspiration

Admittedly it's somewhat low today. That said... 22 years ago today, my mother quit a lifelong smoking habit cold turkey. At the time she had smoked about two packs a day. Now approaching 80, she's going strong. I'm not so sure we would still have her around had she not been strong enough to give that up then.

Gonna hunker down and let fly some job apps now. Today will be an interesting approach.

April has been an eventful month for me, career-wise. The most fun job I ever had folded in April 2004. The second-most fun job I ever had began in April 2000. Two of the worst jobs I ever had I got laid off from in the month of April.

Time to start balancing that karma a bit.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 319: Clueless

Got a comment for moderation from a random, and it sounded like maybe someone who shares my POV and situation. But I was left puzzled at the end by a comment that I interpreted as a snark. So I didn't publish while I think it over.

I'm at a very tenuous spot in this situation as a year without work approaches.

I'm obviously sad, worried, frequently grouchy. Right now I don't feel that hopeful. I keep thinking that my opportunity is right around the corner, but what if it isn't? What happens then?

This is really scary for me. I suspect it would be for you as well. Sometimes I feel like I am standing on a ledge. And sometimes it feels like I hear people saying "jump."