Boom Boom Pow

I’m a big fan of gimmick rock. I loved bands like Kiss, who would use any excuse to set off a flash pot on stage – not to mention the awesome makeup that was imitated faithfully by the boys in my neighborhood every Halloween during my early teen years. I also loved the ‘glam bands’ of the eighties – the bigger the hair the better. Poison comes to mind, as perhaps the greatest hair band of all time, in my opinion.

I had a couple of ideas for gimmicks of my own. One was based on the ever-increasing trend to overuse bass in music production. Always one to jump to the logical conclusion of a trend (no matter how ridiculous), my plan was to invent a 5-story bass drum with a hydraulic hammer. In a live concert, the effect would be incredible, the sound from the drum literally causing everything within a square mile or two to vibrate. I’d call the new musical style (sure to copied by everyone) “Boom,” and a new musical genre (or fad) would be born.

My second idea would take a bit more work. Imagine a Youtube hand-held video of a deserted corn field somewhere in Kansas. Lights appear in the sky, a UFO descends, and an alien band beams down and plays a couple of alien-sounding songs, that somehow conform to the conventions of “Earth” music (I-IV-V chord progressions, instruments that sound vaguely like electric guitars, etc.). The only audience would be a small group of fifty people that happened to be driving by the corn field that night, and also happened to spread the word via Youtube or their own blogs. The goal would be to perform in an open-air stadium, complete with the UFO effect. I guess I should contact David Copperfield…

Hey, I’ve been gone for a while. I was hoping to blog about how I’ve found a job, and everything is A-OK, but this is not the case. My most recent interview was with Amazon.com, and while I thought I was a good fit, Amazon.com thought otherwise. I checked their whole site, but was unable to even buy a job. Seriously. But my job search presses on, and we are no immediate danger of losing everything we own and love. I guess I felt a little embarrassed about still not having a job, but it feels good to blog the truth – show my face again, warts and all. I can’t promise I’m back for good, or even that I will have interesting blog posts, but I’m here today. To my faithful friends who have tried to keep in contact with me over the last year, I’m sorry I haven’t returned more love until now. Thank you all. I have no idea of where I’m going from here, or what our little lives have in store.

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The wide green lawn of forever

It was a perfect February day, unseasonably warm and sunny. I decided to take Bo for a walk around the block, just to get out of the house. HB was totally up for it, so I dressed her in her winter coat (it was warm for February, not balmy), and got Bo’s leash out. He responded immediately, tearing up and down the stairs to the front door, excited to be going outdoors. It took me some amount of time to get his leash on.

HB wanted to hold his leash as we were walking. I didn’t want her to, for fear that she wasn’t big enough at all of five years old. ‘I can do it, Daddy!’ she insisted. I finally relented, after listening hard for any other dogs out. Bo was never socially adapted — his idea of a good time was full combat with any dog big or small, instead of the more formal butt-sniffing-how-d’ya-do. I gave her the leash, making sure she was holding it so she could let go if Bo took off, and down the street we went.

Bo behaved himself, placidly walking down the sidewalk, his black nose leading him from bush to bush, HB proudly holding his leash. We rounded the corner at the halfway mark of our block, and… disaster. Two dogs in a fenced yard I had forgotten about started barking. In slow motion, I saw Bo’s muscles bunch under his shaggy coat, and then he sprang forward. HB took three steps, arm outstretched holding the leash, and then took flight, sailing five feet through the air before landing belly-first on the driveway of the dog owner’s driveway. She clung to the leash and was dragged fully fifteen feet before she let go, the shiiiiiikkkk of her jacket sliding on the cement the only sound I heard.

Putting the ‘good’ in Goodfather, one day at a time.

Bo was Socko’s dog.* It’s hard watching a member of the family get older, but it became clear over the last few weeks that he was suffering. My ex-wife met Socko, Bo and me at the Animal Hospital, and we had a sad reunion in which Bo was put to sleep. I cried with HB in the parking lot, holding her close, and she was five again with her face downcast as I treated her knees, saying, ‘I thought I could hold him, Daddy.’

It was hard coming home without Bo, and explaining to Panda that he would never be coming home again. This is her first experience with death, and we talked about how Bo is in doggie-Heaven now, a wide green lawn of forever.

*If you ever read this Socko, let me say again that I am truly sorry for your loss.

The Elusive Flaming Geyser

Last weekend, Julia and I decided to take the girls on a little roadtrip. We live in Western Washington, which is an incredible area of beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, and ocean shores, but we haven’t explored much of it at all. We’d like to get out more, so last weekend we decided to do just that. We set the bar low: no 10-mile hikes, rock climbing, hang-gliding, or survival hikes. Just a nice stroll in a park we’d never been to.

Julia found the Flaming Geyser State Park out on highway 169 which looked perfect. Not far from our house, and real flaming geyers! Sounds cool enough. From the state website, “The park’s most unique feature is its “geysers” (methane seeps)” fed from underground coal seams. There are over four miles of hiking trails, and you can explore the edge of the Green River, which runs through the park. It sounded absolutely perfect for us. We embarked on our journey.

We never made it.

Apparently, highway 169 was washed out right at the park. The road was closed, with a detour routing us around the park and back onto the highway three miles beyond it. I never got to see huge vents of orange flames shooting three hundred feet into the air, with occasional methane fireballs scorching nearby mountain-tops, or feel the blast-furnace heat blister the paint on my car in the parking lot. I was Disappointed. But my beautiful wife saved the outing by finding a smaller park with access to the river, where we spent some time exploring.

Beautiful Wife Saves Me Again

Julia graciously offered to host my blog post today by disclosing tons of really personal information about me. Naturally, I thought it was a great idea. My job search is still grinding on (I received a call from a recruiter today looking for someone with experience in something I hadn’t even heard of). I’m meeting with our clothing wholesaler on Thursday as we prepare for Flea Market Madness. I finished my first University of Phoenix class last night, and today I start my second on Technical Writing. I believe it will teach me how many electrons make up the dot of an ‘i’. I hope.

My husband

1. He’s sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
Scifi Channel

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
Blue Cheese

4. You go out to eat and have a drink, what does he order?
Diet coke

5. Where did he go to high school?
Spokane, WA

6. What size shoe does he wear?
11

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be?
Star Trek Stuff

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
Cheese Bagel, cooked ham and Gouda

9. What would this person eat every day if he could?
M&M’s

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Lucky charms, but I don’t think he has had that in a looong time

11. What would he never wear?
long hair

12. What is his favorite sports team?
He doesn’t watch sports

13. Who did he vote for?
Obama

14. Who is his best friend?
I am

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn’t do?
Nothing, at least that what he keeps saying, I am sure there is something though

16. What is his heritage?
French

17. You bake him a cake for his birthday:
German Cheesecake

18. Did he play sports in high school?
nope, he was a band geek

19. What could he spend hours doing?
sitting in front of the computer, blogging, playing WoW, any other RPGs

20. What is one unique talent he has?
Being funny, he can make a joke out of almost anything!

Possible new direction

‘I have an idea, forming in my head.’

– Og, Time Bandits (1981)

Time Bandits is one of my all-time favorite movies. Directed by Terry Gilliam, it also stars fellow Pythoners John Cleese and Michael Palin (who also co-wrote the movie). And it’s really the writing that makes this movie, in my opinion. The special effects are great for 1981, and the story is interesting and unique — a true dark comedy — but the writing is spot on:

Wally: Lads! Here’s to stinking rich!
All: Yeah!
Fidgit: And to Kevin.
All: Yeah, Kevin!
Og: Stinking Kevin.

In the midst of my job hunting, I’ve started to shift gears a little. My beautiful wife already runs a website selling ‘alternative’ clothing (think urban hippie). A friend of mine supplies the clothes and accessories, and it’s really her website, where she can refer her store customers and potential wholesale customers. Our business arrangement is pretty cool for us: she gives us what she wants to have online, and if it sells, we pay her the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price. This last weekend, we went to an indoor/outdoor flea market in Tacoma (about twenty minutes from our house). It got me thinking: what if we bought more clothes at wholesale prices from my friend, and then sold them at the flea market every weekend? Could we make enough money to survive and make our own business profitable?

Julia loves going to the flea market, and I kind of like the idea of having a booth. The fee is $20 a day for a space (almost nothing), and I think we have enough cash in our business account to get started. I wouldn’t give up looking for a job, but if we can make decent money at the market, maybe that could become my new career. ‘Flea Market Guy’. ‘Marketing Flea Professional’. ‘Retail Flea Sales Consultant’. Hmm, I might have to work on the verbiage for my resume…

What do you think? Has anyone tried selling at the flea market/swap meet? Any tips for newbies?

Hide and Seek

Quick run-down of the rules of hide and seek:

  1. A ’seeker’ is chosen through an agreed-upon method (e.g., ‘not it!’)
  2. The seeker goes to a designated spot, hides his or her eyes, and counts to some number. This must be a set number for an adult seeker, but can be totally random for a small child. No peeking is allowed from the seeker during the count!
  3. The ‘hiders’ hide during the counting process, picking places the seeker is not likely to find them.
  4. Finishing the count, the seeker tries to find the hiders.

There’s some other stuff about a ‘home base’, where a hider can make it back to without getting caught and not be ‘it’ for the next round, and probably hiding strategies for moving between places to avoid capture, but that’s all pretty advanced. Our version played here is much more focused on the hiding and finding process.

And peeking. Lots of peeking.

We played hide and seek as a family last night before the kids went to bed. ‘Not it’ wasn’t a well-understood choosing strategy, so Julia and I took turns picking who would be the seeker. Panda’s favorite hiding strategy was to pick a place, hide there, and then start announcing where she was, alternatively laughing and giving clues. Having no pride whatsoever, I hid in IB’s crib once, and I blatantly cheated by peeking at where Julia was hiding, which she found so funny she almost fell down laughing. It was a new low for me, but hey, I’m a cheater. It’s the truth about me.

My Dad called last week. He and my Mom are concerned about us, and he offered to help with our finances if we need it. I was floored. He and my Mom are enjoying their well-earned retirement, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that he would be willing to help us at this point in our lives. I immediately swallowed my pride, and told him we would all be on the next flight with our stuff to move into their condo. He laughed (I think), and told me that it was financial help he had in mind, and something else about no way in Hell we were coming to live with them (my cell phone cut out during the last part, so I can’t quote directly).

  1. My parents don’t read my blog that I know of, so I’m going to copy and paste this next part into an email to them. Here’s our current status:
  2. I’m still sober. Although some parts of my life seem like they’ve been kicked in the head, my sobriety has not been one of them.
  3. I’m receiving unemployment while I actively look for a job. Leads have picked up in the last two weeks or so, but I haven’t found a position that matches my skills yet.
  4. We’re OK financially. We have some money in the bank — combined with unemployment payments and careful budgeting, we’ll be solvent for the next five or six months or so. Mom, I know I’ve joked about it, but this does not involve selling any of my organs on the black market.
  5. I’ve gone back to school at the University of Phoenix. I’m currently at 97.5% for my first class.
  6. Julia and I are making a go of our clothing business, and plan to attend our first flea market in two weeks.

Thanks, Dad, for your incredible offer to help us. I know it’s directly contrary to your philosophy of people standing on their own two feet. In fact, that’s how you raised me, to stand on my own feet and take responsiblity for myself and my family financially. We’re holding out for now, and I’m determined to restore my income, either by finding a job or through our business.

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Recalibration

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Color of Money. Say what you will about Tom Cruise (who I thought was decent in this movie), the film won an Oscar for Paul Newman, who was outstanding as the alcoholic has-been Fast Eddie Felson, who still wants a shot at the big time. This movie was my introduction to the game of 9-Ball, where you’re shooting pool with nine balls, and the object is to sink the nine. The hitch is that the cue ball has to hit the lowest ball on the table first, before striking any other ball.

The movie was also an awesome tutorial on the art of the hustle.

Vincent: Don’t worry. I’m not gonna lose that often.
Eddie: Yes, you will. That’s what I’ll teach you.

I haven’t been posting regularly to my blog. I have to admit, I’ve lost my focus. My beautiful wife has been at a loss, as I’ve sort of lost my me, if that makes any sense. My job was a huge part of my life, but in losing it, I stopped doing the things that are important to me. Things that I care about. Things that made me who I was before I lost my job. It took me a while to realize that. It’s taken me even longer to get back on an even keel. I loved my job, and being an Adobe employee was one of the most excellent experiences of my life.

This is my recalibration post. I’m returning to my blog with renewed gusto because I simply love blogging. It’s one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done over the last year, with or without a job, and it helps define who I am. I’ve also realized that I’m in good company: more and more people are joining the ranks of the unemployed. If I can offer any beacon of light in the grim wasteland of our economy, even if it’s just to say ‘I’m still here,’ then this is it — the summation of my recent job-hunting experiences and mental health exercises as (of course) a Top 10 list.

Vincent: Eddie, what will you do… when I kick your ass?
Eddie: Pick myself up and let you kick me again.

Top 10 ways to look for a job and keep your sanity:

10. Check out Craig’s List for job postings. Seriously. Tons ‘o jobs.

9. Tailor your resume to fit a job posting.

8. Don’t stop doing the things that you enjoy, even if you have to scale back the time or money you have to put into them.

7. Tell absolutely everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Everyone.

6. If a friend needs a place to crash for a month or two, and you have room, take him in. It might be your turn soon enough.

5. Look on the bright side: your plight is probably not as sad as an unemployed clown’s (no offense to any actual unemployed clowns).

4. Think of cashing in your 401K as ‘getting out of the stock market while you still have some money left.’

3. Two words: O BAMA!

2. Play the lottery. Baby needs a new pair of shoes. No, seriously, she does. Even an old pair. Anything.

1. Launch a contest on your blog offering $150 to the person whose job lead lands you a job.

Hey, I like that last one. Hmmmm…..

Eddie: If I don’t whip you now… I’ll whip you next month in Dallas.
Vincent: Houston.
Eddie: Houston, Dallas.
Eddie: If not, a month after that in New Orleans.
Vincent: What makes you so sure?
Eddie: Hey, I’m back.

My beautiful wife

Hi Shweety!

I was going to write an introduction for you on my blog, but I decided to just write you a letter instead. It seems more personal, somehow. How are you? I hope everything is going well for you. On your side of the desk in our office.

I’m going to refer to you as ‘BW’ in my blog, short for ‘Beautiful Wife’. Is that OK? It’s how I feel about you, and truthfully, I’ve already referred to you that way. Blindingly beautiful. Although it might be fun to talk about how your name is Julia and I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’, but really the correct pronunciation is the German ‘y’ sound (’yoo-lee-ya’).

I have to admit I’m a little nervous. Not about writing you a letter, I’m fine with that. Not even about other people reading it, that’s OK too. But about YOU reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever written you a real letter before. That seems wrong. In the category of I Didn’t Really Propose To You Correctly, or We Never Went On a Real Date Until After the Kids Were Born. I don’t know why I missed the really important, personal milestones. I blame the liquor.

First things first: I love you. I know that’s something that we say all the time, and the meaning is a little obscured with all the children, pets, imaginary people, and everyday stress, but it’s so true for me. If I stop and sit still, and really think about what you mean to me, it’s the first thing that pops into my head, the first thing I want to say to you, the first thing I DO say whenever you ask me what I’m thinking and I don’t have a quick answer. I love you. I am still IN LOVE with you. Five and a half years have gone by in a heartbeat.

I’ll always be sorry I made you cry. Ever.

Our connection is real. Sometimes, it’s like a live wire, strident, playful and impossible to ignore. I love it when we finish each others’ sentences from another room. Or when you know what my face looks like even when my back is to you. Sometimes it’s in the background. Muted, but alive. Like now, when you’re in bed reading a book, and I’m still in the office hacking away. Or later, when I come to bed when you’re already asleep, and you let me spoon you even though I’m gonna be freezing cold.

You have changed my perception of life. I used to hate “chick movies”, but now I totally get them. You laugh at me when I cry like a little girl in the theater. And when I want to talk to you about the intricate plot twists of a chick book romance novel I just read. And when I realize that, in some new way, you’ve healed my soul again.

I love how organized you are. How you know where everything is in the house without looking for it.

I love how good a mother you are to our kids. To your step-kids.

Mostly, though, I just love you. Through and through. I always will.