I e-mailed some old contacts this morning- A friend who runs a firm down in the harbor; a guy who did server planning and admin at Cidera, and a rep for the ad firm Cidera used to use. We’ll see what shakes out of the tree. I can only hope somebody’s got something. I’m going to apply for the MICA job today, after talking with Whitney, and also contact the guy that Brad knows down in the harbor.

I have to work on my Perl skills. There’s just no other way I’ll be marketable. I think I might need to get qualified in UNIX server admin or something like that…. I’m such a liability right now. No real good building skills- just a pile of semi-cool websites and experience with a failed dot-com. I should have been learning more, dammit.

Fortunately it’s a beautiful day outside, and there’s a cool breeze floating through here. Today I’m going to get the illustration stuff dusted off and see if I can’t get something happening there.

Also going to get the old Jewish Times interactive stuff dusted off and install it on the server as an example of my experience. Gotta go find it now…

Date posted: May 24, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Well, my skin is tingling and hot from being out in the sun for most of the morning. Brad P. and I went out on the bay to fish this morning; the early rising was offset by the absolutely beautiful day outside- there was, for most of the afternoon, not a cloud in the sky. We didn’t catch anything out there today, though, after trolling, going for some bottom-feeders, and trolling again. We called it quits at about 3 or so, after watching the Blue Angels fly over Annapolis.

Brad gave me some interesting leads, but it’s looking grim. Everything I hear is pretty bleak, so I might just have to wait this thing out and scam for freelance where I can. I talked with Melissa’s husband Bob, and apparently they’re in deep shit too. He’s considering selling stuff on the side as an addition to the business.

I think my best bet are two different things: To continue learning Perl, and get better at it QUICK, and to revive the illustration side of things and start getting some work on the side. I’m sort of at a loggerheads as to how to start that. One thought is to spend $1,500 for a full-page Illustration Arts ad, or to spend $500 on a direct-mailer. Problem is, I have no more mailing list- the one I have is at least 6 years old. It’s no good to me anymore.

I got word from Andy about the laptop yesterday- I think he may have forgotten, but he asked me to get back to him next week. I will do that on Wednesday. In the interim, Renie has offered me her G3 for now; that is fantastic and may merit a drive north as soon as next week.

OK, yeah, I’m looking at a bunch of local sites, and a lot of the peeps want Flash. I need to spruce up my site and get some simple good Flash up there ASAP.

11:30pm I love Cream of Wheat. My dad used to make it like a volcano; there would be a big pile of it in the bowl, surrounded by milk, sprinkled with sugar, and there would be a big dollop of butter in the center of the volcano. I can’t make it as good as he did yet, but I’m working on it.

Oh, and I also have a good old-fashioned sunburn on my neck and face.

Date posted: May 23, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

I went back to System Source last Friday, and learned a very valuable lesson. That’s the last time my pride gets in the way of me getting a good job. I think I’m going to spend this time reflecting on just what an idiot I can be, and try to make my print and web design better, stronger, and faster. Renie’s going to loan me her G3, which is GREAT news. I have to run up there and pick it up- maybe next week I’ll zoom up there for a few days and chill out. She’s looking at buying a house, which is fantastic news for her. I wish her the best with that.

Jen and I spent the weekend at her parents’ house; that was good for me, to get out of here for awhile, but by Monday night I was dying. I needed to get on with life, and to get cracking on building a career again. Fortunately, Jen understood where I was coming from, and she knew I needed to begin the process. Still, it was hard to separate ourselves after clinging to each other for so long. It rained all day, and that made it harder to deal with- it was a very depressing goodbye.

The stuff I heard about GR8 is true, and all the other firms locally are in big trouble. There are a few small glimmers of hope on the horizon, but overall it’s pretty scary right now. I’m just going to hunker down and try to conserve and save and scrimp as much as I can. I love Betty to death, but she sent me something about going out to Vegas to see Matt and Sophie. What the heck is that? I don’t have a job. I thought it was pretty insensitive.

I’m still dealing with the idea of not having disposable income- I guess those days are over now. I need to broaden my skillset to include some useful capabilities- some programming would be best at this point.

Date posted: May 22, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

The last few days have been a blur. I can’t remember what I’ve done for the last weekdays, only that I have a semi-functional 8500 working a lot better and the NT box is cleaned up and running.

Jen and I have been going around and around; the stress of my losing my job and her bleakening financial situation have really put a strain on our relationship. She has a lot of worries about her money situation, she’s talking about selling her car, and possibly filing for bankruptcy. I want to help but I don’t have any idea what to do to help her.

Yesterday Dave met us in the city and we drove to Bonaparte’s, a french cafe right on the water in Fell’s Point. I thought it would cheer us all up, but Dave seemed distant and Jen and I were still suffering from our malaise. For me, it was great to get out on a weekday and sit by the water in the breeze, watch people walk by, and soak up the sun.

Hmm. No word from Andy about a laptop yet, and I haven’t heard anything from Mr. Globe Poster about anything other than the fact that there was a mixup and it would get taken care of. Given my current situation, I really should put a stop-payment on my check, but I haven’t.

I may have to pick up an iBook if and when I ever get a job somewhere. They look great, although they still have 12.2″ screens (which are supposed to be a higher density pixel count than regular 12.2″ screens) and the video-out is mirror-only, from what i understand. I think we’ll have to make a trip down to Tyson’s to take a look at the merchandise sometime.

On the other hand, all that obsessive saving of money this past year and a half really came in handy. I think I’m going to have to wait out the market a little bit, and really hound Andy about that laptop. Jason had a good point about the machinery they’re sitting on at Cidera- he says the depreciation could actually count for them once the machines have lost their value- then they can sell them for a profit once they (on paper) aren’t worth anything anymore.

Date posted: May 17, 2001 | Filed under friends, general | Leave a Comment »

It’s Sunday, and Jen and I got up after a long night of tossing and turning. I couldn’t sleep too well because of five margaritas, and Jen’s back and leg can’t take my bed. Yesterday was bittersweet; I went in to Supon to collect my stuff. Jake and Wayne were there, but very sad; it was like a funeral procession marching through there to get our stuff.

Tim showed up to help get our archived stuff off Astro, the production server, and he was really great about getting us what we needed. Katherine and Scott were there later on, and we talked a bit about what was going on, but it was a different feeling from the other day when we got laid off- we went out for drinks immediately after leaving the building and then saw the pandas at the zoo.

I was hoping to go get some lunch with everyone afterwards, but I see now how everyone just wanted to clear out and get on with life- we were all pretty disgusted with what happened. Katherine went home, Scott went to play Ultimate, and Tim went back upstairs to get work done. Tim is really sad, and I think he’s scared too. He suddenly has a LOT of work on his plate- he’s now the designer and the manager, and it’s a big shoe to fill.

I’m considering going back to System Source, my alma mater of Internet design and programming. They’re looking for a Creative Director, whatever that means, and it’s a relatively stable company with a pretty decent client list and good revenue. I left there because the management for our department was shit, there was no marketing, and the sales staff was clueless.

Interesting article on stress testing a website.

Date posted: May 13, 2001 | Filed under friends, general | Leave a Comment »

Laid off. Bye-Bye Supon.

Date posted: May 11, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Well, my intentions were good (oh, lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood): I would up deleting my Outlook Express mail archive last night when I zero-erased the removable hard drive; all my mail from January to last night is gone. There are other, smaller issues I’m running up against, but overall it’s not that bad. Really, I should not have been so damn dependent on that removable anyway, and should have done the switchover to my internal drive much earlier.

There is a mandatory staff meeting today at 10:30. I’m nervous and worried. I heard a rumor yesterday that GR8 up in Baltimore hasn’t paid into its’ employees’ 401K in a year, and that they haven’t paid salaries in a month or two. This could just be bad management-hell, it’s not that uncommon-but I’m still very nervous, just like everyone else around here. They’re clamping down on hours, they want to get us up above 80% billable as soon as possible, and they want more strict billing proceedures followed- that’s all fine and good. But there’s not a whole lot of billable work coming in right now, and I’m really nervous.

Good news department: the screw to my Ray-Bans, which took a vacation on Tuesday, showed up in the bottom of my Docs this morning on the train-a different pair of shoes than the ones I was wearing Tuesday. Coincidence?

Date posted: May 10, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

I had a thought this morning. I want to cut off/pay off debts to free up more spending/saving cash these days; I’ve been trying to figure out ways to do this without losing the services I want and love. Right now I have three mortgages on the house (it sounds stupid, but hear me out: One mortgage was for about $5,000 on the down-payment; this was through the neighborhood improvement association in conjunction with Crestar, which guaranteed locking in the mortgages at 6%. The balance is with First Union. The third was an improvement loan to pay for the HVAC and basement wiring last year) and I pay three different banks each month.

What I thought was to see how much the balance on the Crestar (now SunTrust) loan is, and pay that mother off. That would free up $55/mo. Plus, I’m going to be shutting off the DSS service this month, which is an additional $33/mo.

I already shut off the second phone line to the house, which saves roughly $35/mo. and almost pays for the DSL line; my Verizon bill is dramatically smaller now. Unfortunately BGE hiked my payment plan to $99 for the increase in heating bills this winter, so I’m losing some cash there. Thank godI paid off the Scout loan last year and got the Visa bill back down to a reasonable amount. That will be the next plan of attack.

Note to self: Amazing Foods’ Cha-Cha-Chili may be tasty, but it gives me intolerable gas.

PowerMax has a Used Beige Power Mac G3/233 DT 32MB/4GB/CD for $549.
A Used Power Mac G3/350 64MB/6GB/DVD/56K/KB (Blue and White) is $949.
Lower end G4’s go for about $1K; a Used PowerBook G3 250MHz 48MB/5GB/CD/FD/12.1″ is $999.
Then again, hell, a new Power Mac G4/400 64MB/10GB/DVD-ROM/56k is $1199.

If I thought I had it bad the other day at the ER, here’s a funny story from another person about their experience.

Random memory:
Working in the doctor’s office at Cidera, the week after we moved into the new building, on the old side. I was in an old exam room, with linoleum-over-cement floors, white walls, and a big doctor’s door. Overhead flourescents which I turned off and replaced with Christmas lights, one main desk and two banquet tables stacked next to each other. I put my desk in the middle of the room facing the door and worked like that, with the door closed. It was a few weeks before they moved us into the cave, over on the far side of the new building, and the first office after moving in with Tina and Alison. I spent a month there, through Christmas and into the first week of January. The album of the month was Orbital’s In Sides.

Date posted: May 9, 2001 | Filed under geek, general | Leave a Comment »

Reading a good book about Interface design, published, interestingly enough, by Sun and Prentice Hall: Designing Visual Interfaces. Up to about page 65 so far; they go through the mid 90’s incarnations of Windows, NeXTStep and MacOS, and use examples like the old batch process window from DeBabelizer (you know the one I mean) and the original General Controls Panel for System 6.0.3. I find it very funny that almost every example they use of NeXTStep is treated with praise. Here’s a quote they include which caught my eye:

What is simple should be treated simply, what is difficult should be reduced to the simplest terms.
Josef Müller-Brockmann
The Graphic Designer and his Design Problems

I got most of the stuff on the Road Warrior (2nd partition removable drive) backed up onto the NT UAM volume last night; there’s something like 3.5 gigs of MP3’s that need to be burned to CD pretty quickly. (!!!) Tonight I need to get all the residual stuff off of Massachusetts (first partition removable drive) and backed up; Then I have to set up High Mass (internal drive) with all the settings and applications. That should be most of the evening right there. Then, flatten and wait out Andy to see if he wants it back. If Sean is with him, I’m sorta screwed. (Sean bought the drive and installed it for me.)

Cheap SCSI drives are about $70 at Other World Computing, but I’d also like to look into a FireWire enclosure for my USB drive- that thing is slow as dirt, but it works.

  1. Back up Massachusetts –> NT drive
  2. Back up LifeBuoy –> NT drive
  3. Empty Lifebuoy and copy Massachusetts
  4. Copy ALL settings for Massachusetts and document
  5. Set up High Mass and rename
  6. Wipe Mass and Road Warrior.
  7. Replace RAM in Jen’s laptop.

From what the man tells me, my Globe posters should have been shipped by now, but my check hasn’t cleared yet.

Much is being said about the Dot-Com survivor set. All the examples given are the ‘poor, shocked ex-employees’ in San Francisco, who miss their free Frappuccinos and roof parties and foosball tables in the break room. My girlfriend is a dot-com ‘survivor’; I know a few other folks who are too. She is worried because she doesn’t have a job right now, but she’s not bitching about the fact that she misses free sodas in the cafeteria, or First Fridays, or the ‘dot-com’ atmosphere.

Date posted: May 8, 2001 | Filed under geek, general | Leave a Comment »

Ahhhhhhhh. A well-rested, sunny Monday morning, about 70 degrees; work looks bright, although I’m doing text revision and editing for a government site today- search-and-replace for illegal characters like ä and ñ – hardly exciting stuff.

Jen and I got a lot of stuff done this weekend; We took what is probably the best ride in the Scout to date up to Lowe’s and Sears to pick up supplies for the basement; besides grinning so hard our heads almost fell off, we were able to get a $150 Wagner power painter on sale at Sears for $90; we also picked up the supplies listed on the 4th, plus a whisky barrel and dirt, and replanted the spruce from Christmas out in front of the house; Jen was also kind enough to plant my geraniums in the pots front and back. We got the back half of the basement taped off Saturday night, which is a big push forward- I have one more night of sanding the ceiling to go, I think.

Sunday was a lot more sobering; we spent a good deal of the morning distant from each other, but in the afternoon we were able to really connect back up at her house and start making things right between us. She is great enough to sit with me in the ER waiting room of the Columbia hospital for three hours to try to have my eye looked at- I had some crap stuck in it from the basement for two days and it was beginning to drive me nuts. We watched people come and go, and never got called into the queue- there were other people with more pressing problems than me. Most disturbing was a man leading his wife into a chair with a bandage over her eye; from the looks of them and the way they were sitting, I’d guess it was not an uncommon thing, and they were earning some frequent-abuser miles.

I was able to get her 8100 up and running in the blue room, get her AOL connection up and running after fixing the phone jack, and have the machine see the printer successfully. We need to pick her up a few things still; she needs a better table and a decent chair.

This information on the Binder Bulletin site today:

72-73 Grill, 72-80 fenders, quarters, trim moulding, roll bar, lights, end caps
Steering columns, very good shape rallie wheels and more
Please call dwayne at 410-465-XXXX

he’s in Maryland and he’s getting a call tonight…

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: May 7, 2001 | Filed under general, Scout | Leave a Comment »