Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dodged the bullet 

I found out this past week that I dodged the bullet... sort of. My former company, Wombatsch, the first place I sought a job after returning from overseas, laid off about 13 people. I haven't worked there for over two years, but it was a like a shot in the gut. It made me thankful that I wasn't hired there. (not like that was at all likely, I see now) I think I'm even more thankful that I didn't stay there, where my former seniority might have saved me from getting the axe. My former position was a nice position with a great salary and excellent union-won benefits. But it seems pretty obvious that, given the development of publishing technology over the past decade, experience in the print trade doesn't carry the value it once did. To try and hang onto the level of compensation I once enjoyed is probably a losing battle. So now I'm working for much less, but at least I'm not sweating it out that my job might be sacrificed to the stockholders. Still, it might be worth my while to figure out if there are other income alternatives available to the family should the next "bullet" have my name on it.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

What the frell? 

I don't make a good monk. For the past two years I was living in a foreign land, doing without a number of luxuries that we enjoy in these United States. So did that allow me to break my addiction to comfort and materialism. Heck no. Now back in the States I struggle with the temptation to make up for lost time. The most notable addiction I'm gratifying this week is TV. Shopping for English videos overseas was kind of like shopping for vids at the grocery stores. Unless you want the latest blockbusters or older films that nobody else has bothered to buy, you're out of luck. So anyway, I spent the last two years missing a lot of vids I liked, including episodes of Farscape.

Since I eschew cable TV, I missed Farscape when it first aired. I did start watching the series a DVD at a time, thanks to Scarecrow Video, but hadn't even finished the second season before we left. When we got back, on my second trip to the video store, I finished out Season 2. Then, on a whim, I decided to see if the Library had any Farscape disks. Lo and behold, they did! I went ahead and got in line to borrow season 3. I am so glad I voted for the Library bond back when! Anyway, my turn to borrow the dis arrived last week and I was left with two weeks to watch all of Season 3. sigh. I still like the show, but watching a Farscape episode every evening is not the same as getting a 4 episode DVD every couple of months or so. I even wonder if by the time I return the discs I will even like the show any more. Ah, well. Sometimes desire is better than fulfillment.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

It's still Billy Joel to me 

I have a bad feeling that work is about to become intolerable. I haven't blogged much about Yoyodyne, but it is a pretty nice job. The work is relatively easy and the people are nice. So far I haven't been impressed into overtime, but folks warn me that the time is coming. On the other hand, it isn't the perfect workplace. I miss having hot water available for tea and they tend to be a bit stricter about extending one's lunchtime. The worst problem, however, is the sound pollution. I work in a room with another coworker who likes to play his radio during the day. What makes that pollution is that he plays KJR-FM. I think KJR must have at least 10,000 CDs in their library, 9990 of which are duplicates of particular Elton John and Billy Joel albums. I have actually been surprised at how much repetition and how little variety that station offers. I can't understand why people would tune in to listen to the same old stuff (some of it good, I admit) day after day after day after....

Anyway, it's bound to get worse. Today the DJ gleefully announced that Billy Joel is going to be playing in Seattle in November! Oh, joy. Now he'll get extra airplay so that the fans can build up the proper frenzy to welcome him to the Emerald City. Hopefully the Elton John fans won't feel slighted and start demanding comparable airtime for their favorite pianist. (See? It could always get worse...)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007


I went to the Webloggers meetup last night. Another interesting evening, though I felt a bit out of place for some reason. I'm not a tech-head, not much of a writer these days, and I was even unaware that yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrr. But I do have a blog, so I can at least go and listen to other people talk.

Anyway, that's not what I was going to write about. One of the folks attending, a gent named Sung, was looking to start a blog. But he wants to start off big. He doesn't want to be one of the Blogspot, or Live Journal, or My Space crowds. To paraphrase him, he doesn't have 2-cent ideas, so he wants his own domain that reflects the quality of his thoughts. Of course, contrary lad that I am, the instant he uttered the phrase "2-cent ideas" I adopted that concept as my own. Kind of like when I claimed to be a thought get-out-of-the-way-er. I have no claim to greatness, nor even an ambition to be great. As I've aged and matured, I've encountered great people--well, at least greater than I--and I find that I no longer envy them. It's too much like work.

So how do I justify littering the 'net with my verbiage? Well, I figure that while I'm not great, there is a bit of greatness within us all. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, as the phrase goes. (Assuming I didn't misquote it.) While I and the other plebeians of the web are churning out our 2-cent ideas, we might, in the process, write something that touches someone else. It may cause them to think, cause them to giggle, brighten their day, honk them off, or just comfort them that they don't write as bad as I.

Ick. I just reread that. That be a load of 2-cent philosophy as sure as I'm a lubber.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goats on the left 

I read an interesting little article in last week's Beacon Hill News. It seems that Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin wants to amend the laws so that goats can be kept within city limits, just like dogs or cats. I like this idea. I've long been a fan of goats, as they seem to have an aura of humorosity that you don't find in most other farm animals. And back in China, the sound of a herd of goats going up or down the mountain, bells clunking as the scrambled along, brought a feeling of peace and contentment that you don't get when listening to a dog or a cat. And then, of course, there's the aspect of yard care. A good, sturdy-footed goat would be an excellent lawn mower amongst the hills of Seattle.

Of course, even if the Council would do something as smart as allowing goats to live in our fair city, my wife wouldn't let me get one. She's a cat person, I'm afraid, and were we ever open our doors to a mammalian pet, she would hold out for a cat. The daughters wouldn't back me up either, for fear that they might happen to trod upon a goat pellet while strolling in our nicely manicured yard. sigh. What can I do? If only the city would pass the pet ordinance and set up a public grazing land, kind of like a P-patch. Then I could keep my goat in the garage and lead it out to graze every day at my neighborhood G-patch. But I'm sure that would never be....

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Well, I was kind of hoping that the wonderful world of business cards would yield some exciting insights into life, but thus far it hasn't. One thing I have noticed is that everybody has their name as their business e-mail address. Sometimes it's the first initial and the last name, sometimes it's the first name and last initial, sometimes it's the whole darn name. I find myself wishing that one of our customers would show up using e-mail addresses that are a bit more imaginative, like "theamazinglitigator" or "captainrealty" or something. But then such daydreams are quickly banished as I realized how impractical that would be in the big, bad world of business. sigh. When did I grow up and become boring?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Okay. Must keep blogging. If I sit down and write I may get blessed with some inspiration. If I don't, well, I'll probably get more reading done. Hmmm. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it's the season for silence and turning pages. "A time to blog, a time to read."..... nah.

Anyway, I suppose I should write about work. If you've read the background information--if that link even works--if you've read the background information, you've read that I work for a big bad corporation* that I dubbed "Wombatsch". Well, that's old news. I inquired about working for Wombatsch when I returned to the U.S., but they weren't hiring. If I wanted to wait, I might have gotten a call sooner or later, but I didn't have that luxury. I applied for a job off the NW Jobs website and--surprise!--got the job. I now work for a small printing company I'll call "Yoyodyne". The job offers less money and less benefits than my old one, but also a lot less of the corporate baggage. That makes me happy.

A good part of my day involves business cards. I'm the designated typesetter, so when a customer wants a new business card, I'm the guy who gets to enter the names and phone numbers. So far it's been interesting, seeing the different card designs and all that, but I'm sure that will wear off in time. Still, at least I can always look forward to typesetting some envelopes sooner or later.

That sounds rather pathetic, doesn't it? Oh, well. It's honest work and it pays the bills. (or at least I hope it does. I haven't pinned down an accurate budget yet. Gas prices have really gone up in the past two years....)

* Actually, Wombatsch isn't really evil, it's just a big corporation. It's kind of like being a hobbit hanging around a giant. From the perspective of us little guys, a giant causes a lot of damage just by going through their daily routine. You've got to be careful that you don't get crushed.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

No. 1 Punjabi 

Awright, awright. I'm blogging. Well, writing anyway. I have been so brain dead when it comes to writing, the best I can manage is book reviews. And even those are lacking in thoughtfulness. (Well, in my defense I should point out that the latest books I've finished have been comic strip collections. Most people couldn't analyze those too deeply.) Is it a sign that it's time to move on from my blogging craze? Gee, I hope not. I really enjoy attending the Weblogger meetups.

So anyway, it's Sunday night and I'm sitting at my reconstituted desk, with Bollywood videos playing in the background. Bollywood is a new craze. (Hey, I'm back in the U.S.A., so I can link to Wikipedia!) I first started hearing the songs on"The Spice Route" on KBCS, but never got around to buying any CDs. In China, oddly enough, I got my chance. The dance group we got involved with danced to a few Bollywood tunes and when we attempted to buy our own copies of the dance music, we managed to snag disc of Bollywood tunes. (Of course, the disc is a VCD rather than a regular CD, and doesn't work on our CD player, but that's a problem for another day) So now that the dust of relocating has settled somewhat, I unpacked another bit of China and am trying to fit it into a new life in America.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see where this particular craze goes. The videos seem a trifle corny, but then I find I tend to like musicals better than I should. I suppose I might even see if I can find some Bollywood films with English subtitles. Like I've got time to do that. Ah, well. Maybe once I finish watching all the Farscape episodes...

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