Sunday, December 31, 2006

Excuse Me While I Have A Life

It has been a while. A long while. Over a month, actually, since I've posted.

In life, we all make choices. Most of the time, most of us make choices without knowing why. More often than not, we avoid conscious analysis of the rationale behind our choices. Consider those Christmas cookies that we have been eating recently. What is the thought process going on there? For me, and I gamble for you also, it goes something like this: "oooh, look! a cookie. yum yum yum" [eat cookie] "yum yum yum". There was no thought into the short, medium, and long term health consequences. No consideration of how friends and family might update their opinions of us upon observing this gluttonous behavior. At best, a moment may be spent to consider the relative tastiness of the red versus the green cookies. But only a moment, because we all know the red wins.

The point here is that none of us go into the holidays with the stated goal eating like crap and suffering the obvious consequences, but most of us do it anyway.

Every once in a while, we make decisions with a purpose behind them. And proportionally more rarely, the cause we set in motion with our choices yields the desired effect. Such was the case with my choice to leave the SLC for the NYC.

Alas, a prime side effect of the bliss that has been my existence in New York has been gross negligence posting to this blog. Know that this is not meant to be a slight to my loyal reader(s). It is just that the opportunity to add to my rather thin mosaic of life experiences has been overwhelmingly compelling. Maybe one day this plethora of experience will allow me to write a half way descent blog post. Until then, this is what I've got.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some Random Thoughts

First random thought: I am really enjoying New York.

Second random thought: I am not enjoying my money evaporating.

Third random thought: I am getting what I wanted from this big giant move.

Fourth random thought: I am ambivalent about the lack of free time I find myself having/not-having.

Fifth random thought: When I don't think about my friends in Salt Lake, I'm not sad about having ditched them. When I do think about it, I feel guilty and sad.

Sixth random thought: I went running this morning. My it-band hurts because I ran on the sidewalk and the sidewalk is concrete and therefore very hard. The good thing about this run was that I seem to have retained some of my cardiovascular ability thus far. I can tell now that exercise opportunities in this city are going to be more difficult to find than in Salt Lake. Which is to say that I will have to actively seek out physical activity instead of it being built into the cultural lifestyle.

Seventh random thought: I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm losing my passion for things that I used to be passionate about. For example, I have not read tech news in a couple months. I am also less motivated to pursue extra curricular technology related activities. My best analysis at this point is that it is because my passion is being spread across more endeavors whereas previously I laid it thick onto just the job. This balance yields some evenness in my outlook, but I do have some serious reservations about my waning passion for all things technical. Frankly, the reason I can afford to live in this city is because I have had a relatively meteoritic rise in my career. I attribute that ascent to geek glory to really, really enjoying hacking software in favor of almost all other activity -- except being a hermit at home where I could read computer books for fun at nights and on the weekend.

That's about it for now. Like going running after a long break, one should not push too hard when getting back into writing after a long break.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Back in Action

I just realized that I need to update my blogger profile. This is because I no longer live in Salt Lake City. Ha. Fuck you, Utah, I escaped!

I am writing this from my new God-only-knows how small studio in Brooklyn that costs approximately double what my mortgage cost in Salt Lake City. Fortunately this is temporary housing before I take possession of my more permanent pad which, of course, will cost yet more per month. I also decided to immediately take part in the important New York right of passage: paying out the nose to a broker. Yay! Despite this, I'm feeling very good about the whole situation.

I suppose a recap is in order. When I filed my last report, there was a mention of a certain nauseating anxiety. I'm a little dense, so it took me overnight to figure out what the problem was: living in the home of a middle aged woman on the Upper West Side who changed the rent by fifty percent at the last minute and where I could not really have any friends over was what was causing the tingling palms and overwhelming sense of doom and fear. That and I did not have a job. Well, the next day both of those problems were solved. I stopped payment on the check I wrote to the middle aged temptress, apologized profusely, and cut her a no-hard-feelings check to assuage my guilt at backing out of the deal. That alone made me feel super duper. Then later that day, I got a job offer phone call. This was the company that I did have a full night's sleep prior to my interview. They made me what I consider to be a really good offer. Income: check. That just left me with the small problem that I had sold my home in Salt Lake and taken a job that was to start in three weeks, but did not have a place to land in New York!

As an aside, I realize that this chronicle-style blog is getting used a bit much. I promise to all my loyal reader(s) that I will write posts in alternate styles real soon now.

One thing I learned about getting housing in New York is that it is not worth bothering to find a place until a maximum of forty-eight hours prior to being ready to make a commitment. In other words, trying to find a place in New York from Salt Lake City just doesn't work. You have to be able to show up for an appointment the next day before people will take you seriously. I am actually fascinated by the sheer size of the housing market in New York. Just using craigslist, there are hundreds of housing listings coming and going everyday. The half-life on a listing, at my best guess, appears to be about 36 hours. If the opportunity is any good at all, more like 12 hours. Based on this newfound NYC savvy, I did not even bother to peruse craigslist until the day after I arrived in Ohio. Although I knew that this was the right move, it still yielded much nervousness. I had a truck full of my worldly possessions and a job starting in a week and a half. House or not, I had to go to New York. Long story short: the day I left Ohio I committed on an apartment that I had only seen a couple of pictures of. The next day (yesterday) I drove into the city, parked in front of the place, and signed a check. Sweet.

So here I am in my new apartment. It was rather filthy when I arrived. I used about a half a bottle of Soft Scrub to clean the bathroom and a heavy dose of Mop 'n Glo on the kitchen floor. It's now livable. Evidence for my residence here includes: milk in the refrigerator and everything else I own sitting in boxes in the studio.

Next on the agenda: get a life.

Back in Action

I just realized that I need to update my blogger profile. This is because I no longer live in Salt Lake City. Ha. Fuck you, Utah, I escaped!

I am writing this from my new God-only-knows how small studio in Brooklyn that costs approximately double what my mortgage cost in Salt Lake City. Fortunately this is temporary housing before I take possession of my more permanent pad which, of course, will cost yet more per month. I also decided to immediately take part in the important New York right of passage: paying out the nose to a broker. Yay! Despite this, I'm feeling very good about the whole situation.

I suppose a recap is in order. When I filed my last report, there was a mention of a certain nauseating anxiety. I'm a little dense, so it took me overnight to figure out what the problem was: living in the home of a middle aged woman on the Upper West Side who changed the rent by fifty percent at the last minute and where I could not really have any friends over was what was causing the tingling palms and overwhelming sense of doom and fear. That and I did not have a job. Well, the next day both of those problems were solved. I stopped payment on the check I wrote to the middle aged temptress, apologized profusely, and cut her a no-hard-feelings check to assuage my guilt at backing out of the deal. That alone made me feel super duper. Then later that day, I got a job offer phone call. This was the company that I did have a full night's sleep prior to my interview. They made me what I consider to be a really good offer. Income: check. That just left me with the small problem that I had sold my home in Salt Lake and taken a job that was to start in three weeks, but did not have a place to land in New York!

As an aside, I realize that this chronicle-style blog is getting used a bit much. I promise to all my loyal reader(s) that I will write posts in alternate styles real soon now.

One thing I learned about getting housing in New York is that it is not worth bothering to find a place until a maximum of forty-eight hours prior to being ready to make a commitment. In other words, trying to find a place in New York from Salt Lake City just doesn't work. You have to be able to show up for an appointment the next day before people will take you seriously. I am actually fascinated by the sheer size of the housing market in New York. Just using craigslist, there are hundreds of housing listings coming and going everyday. The half-life on a listing, at my best guess, appears to be about 36 hours. If the opportunity is any good at all, more like 12 hours. Based on this newfound NYC savvy, I did not even bother to peruse craigslist until the day after I arrived in Ohio. Although I knew that this was the right move, it still yielded much nervousness. I had a truck full of my worldly possessions and a job starting in a week and a half. House or not, I had to go to New York. Long story short: the day I left Ohio I committed on an apartment that I had only seen a couple of pictures of. The next day (yesterday) I drove into the city, parked in front of the place, and signed a check. Sweet.

So here I am in my new apartment. It was rather filthy when I arrived. I used about a half a bottle of Soft Scrub to clean the bathroom and a heavy dose of Mop 'n Glo on the kitchen floor. It's now livable. Evidence for my residence here includes: milk in the refrigerator and everything else I own sitting in boxes in the studio.

Next on the agenda: get a life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Scared (and not 'cause of Halloween)

Here I am in JFK. In a few minutes I'll be getting on a plane destined for Salt Lake City. I just spent the past four days on a whirlwind adventure. I had two goals for this trip: get a job and get a place to live. Well, I've got a place to live. My aching checkbook will vouch for that. As for the job, that's a little more interesting.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up at approximately my normal waking time. At 11:15 MST, I boarded my flight to New York. At 5:15 EST, the flight arrived at JFK. At 7:30, I was in the East Village dropping off my bag at the room I secured for the weekend. At 11:00 I was checking out my first housing opportunity. When 1:00 came around, I had both been awake for thirty straight hours and I was getting started on a marathon four-hour job interview.

Here's a good rule of thumb for all my loyal readers: do not, let me repeat for clarity, DO NOT show up to an interview for a job you care about in a strange city after taking a red-eye and being awake for thirty plus hours straight. As it turns out, there's a reasonable chance you will not give your best performance! Fuck me. So, no job offer from that company. I even sent them a follow up to their denial email commending them for making the right choice. I mean, if I were hiring for my small company and some joker showed up looking half dead, I wouldn't hire that person. On the other hand, these fuckers sent me an email to tell me I wasn't getting the job; I'm not sure I deserved that little respect.

Coupling that with the job denial that I got earlier in the week, I was rearing to go for my second in-person interview on Friday. It's amazing what some sleep can do for you. Interview #2 went just about as well as I might have hoped. I'm still feeling pessimistic for unknown reasons. I do not expect to get this job either. Too bad, because it's the one that I've wanted all along. I got the feeling that my salary requirement might have been too high. Dammit. Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion to this one.

I did sign a check for a room. I will be living on the Upper West Side with an Armenian jazz pianist who takes photos for the trapeze school during the day and a recently empty nested woman who appears to be about the same age as my mom.

I am now officially scared. My wrists are tingling from the sick to the stomach, ill feeling that has pervaded me since I wrote the check for my room. The finality of all these decisions and actions I've been making over the past several weeks is hitting home. My home for the last five years is going to sell. My cat is living in Ohio. I just paid for two months rent of a room what was buying me three months of mortgage. Holy fucking shit, lord almighty, damn damn damn -- I am now past the point of no return. And I am viscerally scared. I have no real friends in New York. I've only got a couple of acquaintances. To boot, I've been guilty of dicking around several people on my quest to find a place to live. That's what is scaring me the most. There is now evidence on the table that me being in New York might make me a worse person. Or maybe it amplifies the bad person I already am.

I think I'm going to go yack and then curl up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Yeah, that seems like the best plan at this point.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My Dad

I booked a flight for my dad to come out to Utah in a couple weeks. He's going to arrive a couple days before I take off for New York. He's going to ride with me in the truck back to Ohio. He has never been to Utah and wants to see it before I leave. He also just wants to see me. It has been a long time. In fact, I actually do not recall the last time I saw my dad. I think it might have been Christmas of 2004. Hmmm, nope, can't think of any time after that.

So now we dig deep into the black trunk. The reason I booked the flight for my dad is twofold. One is that he does not have any money. Secondly he does not have any credit and thus does have a credit card necessary to book a flight. And a third reason is that he does not have a computer. Dad just got out of prison a couple months ago. Let's not get into that at the moment though.

When I was a young lad, my dad was responsible for putting my head into the windshield of his car. He also taught me how to cut my fingernails and wipe my butt. In college, I had an epiphany moment; my dad wasn't really rolling his own cigarettes as he told me, he was rolling joints! There were plenty of other childhood experiences with my dad that I considered normal/okay/reasonable that now make me cringe. With my dad, everything got sprinkled with a healthy dose of crazy.

But what do you expect from a man who is clinically bi-polar and a prototypical narcissist?

I've been talking to my dad a lot lately. It's been nice since he seems to have his head right at the moment. Who knows how long that will last, but right now he seems to be off the bad drugs and hopefully on the good ones.

I don't know what it's going to be like hangin' with pops for a week straight. I think it will be good having company for the drive. He can't help drive, of course, since the state of Ohio is unwilling to issue him a driver's license. But if I can keep the conversation away from crazy deals he's brewing and money in general, it might be okay.

Did I mention that he has stolen money from me in the past. Twice. Ouch. The second time was officially a defaulted loan that was written off when he declared bankruptcy, but the fact that he put the money into a Cadillac and crack, I still consider it stealing. The other time was when I was much younger. He had co-signed on my savings account. This was the little-kid first savings account for depositing Christmas money from Grandma and so forth. Ostensibly he needed to pay the rent, so he cleaned out my account. In retrospect, it seems pretty likely that that money went towards crack also. Fuck crack.

Note to self: keep wallet in pocket at all times.

The reason I am letting him come out here is because for strange, unknown reasons, I still love the man. And he has never expressed anything but love for me. And I'm probably retarded in my judgement of human character. Maybe it's time to invest in one of those wallet chains.

Three Pronged Attack

So Pete, what's the matter? Got writer's block or what? I mean, it's been a hellofa long time since you've posted. Did life get boring, dude? You suck.

Oh contraire. Life for me lately most resembles an avalanche. Inertia builds as I snip away at my ties to Utah.

I spent Monday morning bawling on the phone to my brother because I had actually gone through with putting Mr Orange on an airplane bound for Detroit. I felt better later that day when my bro picked up the O-man safely, but saying goodbye to what at times felt like my only friend was ... incomprehensible. I miss my kitty; he's a good buddy. I got my daily updates from both the brother and the sister-in-law today. Apparently Mr Orange has already found himself a nighttime spot on the bed. It makes it a lot easier on me if I know he's happy, of course.

Tuesday I hunkered down in the war room with my real estate agent and good friend, R. We played a high stakes game of offer-counteroffer with my house on the line. Fortune smiled on me that day. With two offers, both over my asking price, it was more stressful than you might imagine. When two people are jonesing after your apartment with this much fervor, you can't help but feel bad when you put the big REJECTED stamp on one of them. Sorry baby, your sugar just wasn't sweet enough. Bottom line here: I sold my house. Yay!

Selling the house was one of three events that was to force my hand into moving. The other two were finding a place to live in New York and securing a job. Those other two are in progress. The job hunt is in full swing. Actually, it's past the hunt stage and well into courtship. You know, they are infatuated and I'm getting the sweet goodnight kisses. Unlike with the ladies, I can keep my cool with potential employers, so all indicators are that I will get an offer or two in a week or so.

As for the finding a place to live problem, that's a different story. The reason I haven't been writing here lately is because I've been spending seemingly every last minute doing two things: searching craigslist for housing opportunities and crafting careful emails to potential roommates trying to convince them that at the same time I am interesting/cool/etc. and also that I'm not a serial killer despite the fact that I'm moving to NYC out of the blue. I've got a pretty good formula for it now, but it still takes me about an hour to come up with the proper strategy for one of these cold emails. I'm getting nervous about this one. I've got four days on my upcoming pre-move trip to New York to nail down a place. It's not at all clear to me that I'll be able to pull it off. Oh well, what's the worst that could happen? I might drive into New York with a truck full of shit and nowhere to live. I wouldn't be the first homeless person in New York, right?

So my brilliant three pronged attack game plan seems to be holding up as I enter the final stretch. I've got about two weeks left in SLC, minus the four days I'm in New York. On the agenda for tonight: figure out the guest list for the "Don't let the door hit you in the ass" party being thrown in my honor.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

First of Many Lasts

It is getting down to where I am considering whether or not particular activities here in Salt Lake City might be my last. My friend S. came into some tickets to tonight's Real Salt Lake game, so we turned it into a little date and had some sushi before riding the train up to the game. As it turned out, this was S.'s first soccer game ever. She was a fabulous sport and took great interest in learning the game. There were a couple of goals and the weather held up nicely. S. claimed adamantly that she really, really liked the soccer game and I tend to believe her. So, very likely this was my last RSL game for probably ever.
Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
Sorry, Joni, but no, not really. The O-man leaves for the motherland on Monday. I know what that's going to be like and I already have pity for the person who questions the lack of composure I am sure to have on that day. Furthermore, working with my friends on a daily basis, having a ton of space to myself, having a car, and having mature friendships are all things that I got. I hereby state for the record that they are incredibly valuable to me and before I loose these things, I already know that a large amount of pain will stem from my intentional abandonment of these things. So I do know what I've got before it's gone. S. reminded me tonight what a fabulous set of friends I've gotten mixed up with.

I'm likely to have numerous complaints in the upcoming months about the difficulties and disappointments of living in New York City. I just don't want anyone to try to make a claim that I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I do know. It will suck. I'm gambling for deferred rewards and personal growth. To hell with easy and comfortable.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

On Chocolate Cake and the Wrong Kind of Popularity

The blog has officially seen more traffic in the last two days than it has ever. Welcome new visitors!

Now get the fuck out. For real, I'm not digging the attention.

Apparently a certain post containing a link to a certain fall-themed website describing the antics of several of people, including a former principle in fly-by-night, has caught the attention of some other people who are concerned with another Utah company that is clearly evil as to not really compare to the generally laughable behavior of fly-by-night. This has sucked in a bunch of new visitors. I feel embarrassed, but not for myself. No, I am embarrassed for them. For god's sake, I literally bear my laundry on this site. For people to come here seeking actual information, that is absurd to the extreme.

I have now had two solicitations to reveal corporate secrets. To all other parties interested in my vast war chest of insider secrets about fly-by-night (because really, as lowly engineer #17 I am privy to all the dirt), please send your inquiries to /dev/null. And for the record, let me state a couple of things:
  1. Any and all information contained within this blog should be deemed totally and unequivocally unreliable. Otherwise put, I write with much hyperbole and I generally write when I am too tired to do anything actually productive. Plus it's fun to outright lie sometimes. Example: "I care about you and your concerns about fly-by-night." See, that was funny because, ironically, I could actually not care less about your concerns.
  2. I do have a vested interest in fly-by-night's success. Although the ranks have thinned out, those remaining are the best of the best and are also my friends. Fly-by-night is surviving, and will likely rise like the phoenix. So although I do not care one iota about your concerns, I do care about my friends and therefore you should remember: hyperbole is spoken here.
  3. Mike Anderer very often has messy hair. Yup, you heard it here first. I'm sure some deep meaning may be derived from that information. Please speculate ad nauseum about that info, it is really important.
Now that that is out of the way, let's get on to the chocolate cake issue. Because of my pending move, I am trying to thin out the pantry. Of the items I have on hand, the Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix with accompanying Duncan Hines chocolate frosting with chocolate chips was the most tempting. Last night, upon checking my refrigerator, I discovered that I had the requisite three eggs required to compose the cake.

Long story short, last night I ate cake and drank red wine with pals; this morning I picked at cake in lieu of eating breakfast; for lunch I packed cake; in the afternoon an unexpected birthday cake found its way to the office -- and I ate it. The unexpected consequence of making so much cake and eating it too is that I really don't feel well at the moment. It's as if my brain is saying "since you have deprived me of every nutrient I need besides short chain carbohydrates, I am going to be weird until you feed me pickles and/or baked beans." Stupid brain, I fed it those baked beans tonight, but thus far the response has fallen short of promise. It is now telling me that getting more than five hours of sleep might be a good idea too. I'm going to try that ... now.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Bathrooms Are Clean

That's right, the bathrooms are sparkling clean. As is my kitchen. And my dryer. My house went on the market today. This marks a very tangible step in the getting-the-rock-out-of-Utah process. I have unloaded immense amounts of crapola from my little apartment. Note to self: stop accumulating crap; it's crap. It's really amazing how much stuff we allow ourselves to accumulate out of the fear that we won't have that one scrap of paper or nick-knack when we need it most ten years from now. I already miss my boxes of receipts. The IRS will surely audit me this year. Oh, and when I have a burning desire for a delicious but healthy hamburger, I'm going to be kicking myself that I just gave away my Geoge Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Machine.

Other tangible progress in the major life transition is that I have officially informed my current employer of my intentions. I was a bit surprised that the boss-man did not even blink when I presented him with this information. Seeing how he's also a reluctant Utahan, a former Buckeye, and a past resident of New York, I guess it makes some sense that his reaction was "Cool." He asked my where I was going to live in New York. I realized after the fact that I told him the wrong thing. Where I said "I don't know yet", I should have said "it's none of your fucking business". Stupid. Not that I wanted to be rude, I like the boss-man after all, but I really need to get in New York mode. I wonder if Utah has made me too milquetoast to survive in New York?

If you happen to be looking for an affordable, luxury (see photo) apartment in the downtown Salt Lake City area, please call my real estate agent.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bags of Rags

What you see here is five (5) bags of clothes and linens. These bags are full to the brim. I know what you are thinking: "wow, Pete, why did you put your whole wardrobe into garbage bags?" Ah, but you see, that is not my whole wardrobe. These five bags account for the subset of my clothing collection that I donated to Crossroads today.

In addition to this load of stuff, I also donated one full carload of miscellaneous foo to the DI. This included my squeaky Huffy, the basketball that won't deflate, and the old Christmas tree stand that hasn't been used since '01 when I went Grinch due to the ornament theft fiasco. By the way, in case you are ever thinking about donating anything to the DI, expect to have a full-on zombie help unload your donated items. Apparently the LDS church uses the DI as an employment center for people with small enough intellect that they (a) belong to the church and (b) cannot form words. Then again, maybe these people only speak in tongues.

Anyway the purge is pretty much complete now. I like the idea of not owning a lot of things. Unfortunately, I only have less things, not no things. I'm not quite ready to go completely vagabond.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Binge and Purge

Due to my upcoming move, I am forced to dramatically scale back my possessions. I am smack in the middle of this process right now.

Let's talk about craigslist. Who buys other people's junk? For real, who are these people? I say this expecting full well that this will be me once I arrive in NYC. Also, I know the answer: a dude named Mark who works for ClearChannel (a.k.a. the devil), a mormon financial planner who modifies Toyota Supras in his spare time, a dude who has his secretary handle the transaction, a chiropracter (also named Mark), and my friend Cat. With this limited sample, I conclude that the average craigslist buyer is male, professional, and named Mark.

Thanks to craigslist, I am minus three sets of speakers, a stereo, a cordless drill, and a set of golf clubs. Next on the hitlist is the guitar.

I am preparing approximately three hundred pounds of books for their exit from my apartment. If you happen to have any old textbooks lying around, I would recommend blue rectangle. They are going to take half a dozen textbooks off my hands and give me approximately five dollars per. I find that remarkable considering they pay for shipping and each of these books is at least six years old. The remainder of my collection, with very few exceptions, will be dropped off at the public library.

This exercise of purging my worldly possessions is ... pleasant. I think that's the best word to describe it, pleasant with a twinge of je ne sais pas. When you live somewhere for five years, intertia is inevidable. For me, I have even been in the same apartment for five years. Making the mental decision to leave Salt Lake City was the necessary first step. Parting with the possessions seems to be an excellent second step. Intertia being a function of mass, reducing stuff equals reducing mass yielding less intertia. In other words, all I have to do is haul off my three hundred pounds of books and in return I feel a marvelous sense of freedom. First tangible step to New York: done.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

So much to do

Since I've told both of my potential readers this information personally, I am now going to spell it out for the rest of you: I have decided to pick up shop and move to New York City. My friend E. has already posted a foreboding beware of new york piece about my apparently ill-conceived plans.

At the risk of repeating what I have now told about thirty friends, I will delve into the details of this one hundred eighty degree life turn.

I have been in Utah for over five years now. My first year in Utah was quite notable. Let's go straight to the list:
  • Box containing family heirloom Christmas ornaments stolen from my doorstep.
  • Credit card number stolen plus subsequent fraudulent use of said number.
  • The division of the company I moved here to work for was decimated.
  • Two further sets of layoffs at work sent twelve months worth of friends packing.
  • Carjacked at gunpoint.
  • Subsequent insurance squabble caused temporary, but ugly rift in relationship with stepdad.
  • Failed relationship with girl who never considered herself in a relationship with me.
One might say that from the beginning, there were some difficulties that may have affected my attitude towards Utah. But for five plus years I have stuck with it. When I chose to move to Utah, not in my wildest dreams did I imagine being here for over five years. I thought it would be a two years and out kind of situation. And the only reason I thought I would stay that long was to break even on the condo I bought!

So five years later, I have made friends. I have learned to drink socially. I play frisbee; competitively even. I am working for company number two. I have a cat. I have bought furniture. I have traveled around the mountain west. The thing about it is that I have, by many measures, succeeded. BUT, I'm still single. I'm still young. And I still do not consider myself a Utahan. So I have realized that if I do not leave Utah, I will always be here.

The thought process leading to this decision has been greased substantially by the continuing antics at fly-by-night co. I have become open to other possibilities. My recent trip to New York provided me with an excellent alternative to Salt Lake City. It was a place that clicked with me. I have not yet put my finger on the one thing that makes New York click. I believe there is one thing though. According to E., it might be the 3.2 to 1 F/M ratio. That may be it. Don't know. More on that later, I suppose. The point is that I found a reasonable alternative to Salt Lake City.

I turned down two jobs yesterday. I did this without hesitation and without regret. I did not like having to let my friend C. down because I was the guy he needed, but nonetheless, it was clearly the right thing to do. From a personal economic perspective, totally bogus. From a "wow I really do want to get the fuck out of here" perspective though, oh yeah, it was good.

What lies in front of me right now is a list of tasks that just keeps getting longer. I have about seven thousand one-hour tasks to take care of before I get on my way to NYC. My goal is to be out of Salt Lake by the end of October. I should be reading the real estate contract I have to sign or thinning out my wardrobe, but instead I'm writing this. I know what you are thinking: if he's so gung-ho about moving, why is he wasting his time blogging about it? To preserve my sanity, of course. Today I got an inkling such that I now understand what an anxiety attack is. I think I'm going to be able to manage all the excitement, but there was a moment today where I got a taste of crushing, overwhelming stress. At the time, I was looking into options for transporting Mr Orange to Ohio.

Okay, back to the grind for me. No rest for the wicked (or something like that).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Narrow Escape

Holy crap. Today it happened. A full nine weeks into the fiasco, the money is flowing again. The president of fly-by-night, acting nearly single-handedly with unfettered stubbornness and irrefutable savvy, was able to convince some poor saps that this flaming zeppelin could be saved if only doused with dollar bills -- millions and millions of dollar bills. Today I got a paycheck. Not the whole shebang, just one hand-signed note. I'm not sure whether to deposit it or frame it for posterity. Okay, I'm probably going to cash it, but still... I mean, this is unprecedented. It is almost as if the company making that god-awful movie yielded some positive karma that is now enabling this climatic Hollywood-style cliffhanger to have this positive conclusion.

Of course, in the movies, after the emotional release following the life or death moment, there is often a following ill-event that comes swiftly and without notice. I have learned a new bit of business jargon recently: cramdown. This is when the creditors or investors have loose their shirts because the value of the company is arbitrarily reduced, or crammed down. Apparently this technique was used to push early investors out of their previous equity positions to allow new investors to gain the lion-share of the company's equity. So, in this post life or death moment, the hammer may drop in the form of some seriously pissed-off investors filing lawsuits against the company. Either that, or the blow will come when one day in the very near future a certain engineer who was one of the remaining four drops the bombshell that he is moving on to another venue.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The New York Post

I'm back. My first trip to New York City is now over. The withdrawal symptoms have already kicked-in.

I loved New York. As promised, it was dirty, smelly, crowded, hot, and loud. But it was none of those things to the degree I anticipated, nor to a degree that I could not tolerate. In fact, the grungy reality of New York brought a welcome contrast to the vanilla perfection that abounds in Salt Lake City. I found myself feeling more at home in New York than I ever have in Utah.

It was not just the environment of the city though, the people were different. That is really the understatement of the year. In Utah, there are two kinds of people: Mormons and non-Mormons. Everyone fits into one of these groupings. In New York, it seems, there are as many kinds of people as there are people. Maybe it is just because I want it to be this way, but it appeared that everyone in New York had an actual personality of their own. Would it be too much to say that there were real people in New York? Hmmm, that makes a strong implication against a certain demographic of Utah.

Another property of the city that I found fantastic was the smallness of it. The subways really are magic. Swipe card, enter train, get jostled for a few minutes, and shazam, you are in a totally different place. I found the whole process of going underground, shielded from a number of normal sensory cues, and then returning to the surface amongst new surroundings wonderful. It is probably pretty lame for me, as a tourist, to write about the subway at all, but dammit, I just can't get over the magic of it. This is the number one advantage of high population density, in my opinion; the opportunity for effective public transportation.

My friend, E., acted as a fabulous host for the whole weekend. Despite her lingering illness, she showed me places and introduced me to people that other outsiders would never get to see. That generosity was critical to my favorable opinion of New York. Had E. not put me on the inside track, I might have thought New York a place full of Asian tourists wearing Ohio State and Yankee hats and taking enough photos to meet and then exceed any existing stereotypes. Instead I met a Pulitzer winner, a world class chef, a journalists, Ph.D.s, and even a couple other computer geeks. This insider tour made New York a real place for me, not just a big place with a lot of action like Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

I mentioned withdrawal symptoms. New York has been on my mind pretty constantly since I returned two days ago. I am trying to flush my mind by writing so that I can concentrate on the job interview I have later today. Hopefully it works, otherwise I might not be able to dance for them. Other symptoms of New York withdrawal include not sweating prufusely and restlessness.

New York is the first city outside of Ohio where I felt like I could be at home. Let's enumerate places I've been that I've considered living: San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Sacramento, Phoenix, Tuscon, Las Vegas, Ann Arbor, Madison, Tampa, Miami, and Boston. Even Salt Lake City has never fallen into the "places I feel at home" category. That, of course, is part of the reason I chose to live here, but it is also the reason that Salt Lake is wearing thin on me. A city like New York appeals to the aspiring cosmopolitan in me. Where better might I fit than a place where nobody is a perfect fit. Plus E. tells me that single, straight men are in short supply; that appeals to the economist in me. Who am I to deny the demand of my supply?

Did I mention the food? Even the cheap, non-exciting food was fabulous. I'm running out of steam, so let me just mention my favorite delicacy. Tomatoes. Specifically, heirloom tomatoes garnished with, I believe, just some basil and oil. Simple but fantastic. Who knew that would be it? Other top contenders include the cheese and egg sandwich which apparently is a New York staple and a delicious shepherd's pie.

That's all I have to say about New York right now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


This has been a long time coming. I have been suffering from a condition that severely impacts my ability to meet and initiate romantic relationships with women. A recent "date" that was effectively over five seconds into it has acutely reminded me that I have a serious problem. Recently, I realized that there may be a medical answer to this problem. Let us review this open letter to the pharmaceutical companies of the world...

Dear pharmaceutical companies,

Please develop an anti-infatuation drug. There is an ever growing group of men such as myself who share a similar disorder: inability to control the hormonal imbalance that is infatuation. This lack of hormonal control yields a crippling inability to begin a relationship with someone that we actually like. Upon meeting a potential romantic interest, those with my condition feel obliged to smile a lot, gush, want to hold hands, and, worst of all, want to tell this other person our feelings about them. These behaviours, especially the last, are well known to destroy relationships before they start.

Empirical evidence shows that men who consistently have a suave sense of disinterest toward women, or at least are able to put up such a front, are far more likely to actually get women. A drug that mitigated the extreme hormonal imbalance that characterizes my initial interactions with women would enable well-meaning men such as myself to put up that front of not caring which is so obviously attractive.

Men such as myself are desperate for an answer. We are unwilling to actually dislike women. Additionally, our moral dignity does not allow us to employ some apparently necessary tactics of "the game" including not returning phone calls, being aloof, and generally poking at foundations of a woman's self-esteem. We have tried reading books. We have tried practicing the tactics in front of the bathroom mirror. Futile efforts for sure. The only avenue left is chemical. There must be an answer. Men such as myself all over the world beseech you, find the answer and you will be rewarded.

The drug should be called desensitol and should be made available in an over-the-counter form. If one pill twice a day could help men such as myself to not foolishly show our hands, no price would be too high. Whomever makes it to market first will make billions.

Emotions On Sleeve
[Updated 9/19 with wording that is less likely to be interpreted as derisive to women. Ironically, caring enough to make this change is, of course, the problem.]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Clarity

Tomorrow I depart for New York City. I am traveling there to visit my friend E. and generally to experience the city since I've never been before. The game plan for the trip is loose, but there will undoubtedly be some sight seeing and patronizing local eating and drinking establishments.

Here's the jag. My friend L. lives a short train ride away in New Jersey. I have an ex gf M. who at last check lives in Brooklyn. E. also lives in Brooklyn. I found out recently from my college friend R. that she is going to be in New York this weekend. Well that's all fine and good, except that the other day I was speaking to A., who lives in California, and she too is going to be in New York this weekend. For those keeping score, that's two exes and three friends; all female.

Several inferences may be drawn from this information:

1) My exes are equally drawn to New York as they are to Maine.
2) I am an idiot for living in Salt Lake City because in New York I can get a 5/1 female to male ratio without even trying.
3) There is a divine plan to wreck my weekend by having unexpected encounters with exes at inopportune times.
4) I'm a lucky guy because I get to see my friends E., L., and maybe R.

To preserve my sanity, I choose number four. I did have a choice, right?

The circumstances leading up to this trip have been ... strange. And I have been on a personal roller coaster of sorts along the way also. I am realizing just how much growing up I've had to do in the last month and a half. It hurts a little bit. It has stung at times. There is even an uneasiness that is most similar to the way I feel after having been on a boat for several hours. But through the veil of all these ill feelings, I am beginning to see some light. I'm more of a man today than yesterday -- more of a participant in the world. And I have more clarity in my outlook on life. This has been a long time coming and I'm glad it's here. It may be one of those Chopra books kicking in.

Note to self: stretch and grow more often; it feels good.

WTF am I doing?

Well I'm in a bit of a stupor. As of late, my days have been filled with activities which I normally do not participate. The infamous employer has still not delivered any of the increasingly massive amount of back pay owed. Because of this situation, I was led to do my first foreign activity: writing my resume.

When I was courted by Fly-by-night, Inc., no resume was ever requested. "Courting" gives the process too much credit. What really happened was that J. invited me to come along with him to meet some people at this company because the needle of his bullshit-o-meter was buried and he wanted some validation from a trusted third-party (me). So I arrived, I met some people, and before I knew it I found myself in the middle of a token interview followed shortly by a job offer from one of the execs where the exec told me that he didn't negotiate salary and that I should just tell him my price. Did I mention they are out of money?

The point here is that I was not even looking for a job; the last time I composed a resume was in the college era. So last week I found myself piecing together the two page description of my professional value that is my resume. I dreaded beginning this process. However, once I got started, I found it fairly easy to put the resume together. A big part of this is that I have to be much less creative with the resume than when I was in college. Back then I was still including the driveway sealing job and probably the dishwasher job. These days, I have more material than I can fit on a couple sheets of eight and a half by eleven. But the real grease for the process was my sheer apathy. At this point in my life, I am so not excited about working for the man again that, frankly, I just did not give a shit about what was on my resume. Ironically, this resume born of apathy is a succinct, valid, and generally good representation of my professional self. Go figure.

Activity number two that I have been participating in is driving around on the highway in the middle of the day. I have been coming and going from the office when I damn well please for my entire career, but what is different now is that I do not care to stay in the office very long. This has put me on I-15 before four o'clock a number of times. So, yeah, it's still just the highway, but I have this lovely feeling like I'm playing hooky and that's kinda neat.

I have also been working from home. Previously, as a general rule, I did not work from home. I did not like working from home and I did not like mixing at-work time with not-at-work time. Because of my new venture, I cannot avoid working from home. I am finding that I was right all along and that I do not prefer working from home. I am also reminded at how annoyingly loving my cat can be. At nearly all times while in my home office, the O-man is pestering me in one way or another. The cat is cuter than sin, but I find myself tossing him on a regular basis when he walks in front of my monitor. What would PETA say?

I am actively reinforcing the professional network. I have been in touch with just about everyone that I used to work with around the valley. I find myself asking everyone I know if they know about any jobs or preferably contract work. The last two nights I've had dinner with two different buddies and former coworkers. I have had the good word put in for me at a couple of places and I've already netted an interview because of this. One might think this networking activity to be soul-sucking or otherwise distasteful. On the contrary, everyone I talk to is either in the same boat or has been in the same boat. We are all seasoned veterans of the computer industry. Because of this shared experience, there seems to be a strong sense of camaraderie that I did not exactly expect. Maybe if the job market was not so plentiful the attitude would be more cutthroat, but at this moment it's one big happy circle-jerk.

Conclusions from all of this? I have yet to get into a groove with managing all this unaccounted time. I have a dozen different possible activities at all times and I find myself switching between each of them quite rapidly. I am a poor multitasker, so I am feeling horribly unproductive. Today as I was trying to remember who I was supposed to meet for dinner and where, I felt for the first time that I understood why someone would want to carry around a goofy-ass PDA.

Oh, and the stupor comes into play because I find myself constantly having to think about what I should be doing at any given moment. This constant questioning of my direction, both in the immediate-term and the long-term, leaves me in a confused, pensive state. I'm sure if I looked in a mirror I would have a WTF look on my face. WTF am I doing?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Who are those kids?

Today I got an email from the bro with a couple random pictures from our childhood. I am posting them here for posterity. I'm not going to say exactly which one I am, but I will say that I'm the one who doesn't look like a girl.

Pete and Todd
I wish I had more context for these photos. It looks like me and the bro are probably two and three, respectively. That puts the photo being taken circa 1981. We are, of course, in Ohio. Almost certainly in Fremont. And it would not suprise me if they were taken on my mom's family property.

Pete and Todd
Another thing to note about these pictures is that I look happy in both of them. This is interesting because as a general rule, I was not happy as a child. These photos were taken before I was self-aware (which happened at about 3 years old). I must have been blissful in my ignorance of my surroundings; or maybe this was before my parents got divorced. I'm glad I was happy, but I'm more glad that I don't have to go back there.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Not Dead Yet

When last we left our heroes, Fly-by-night Inc. was in a tremendous nosedive. Would they manage to pull out of it, rising to the occasion against all odds to right what was wrong and seize victory from the arms of defeat thereby taking us to the promise land? Or would apathy and gross incompetence prevail, sending the accelerating fireball crashing to its explosive and ultimate doom?

Somewhere in between.

Today was the previously announced drop-dead date for the company. If the magic money from the magic investors did not arrive by today, the doors were supposed to be closed and those of us remaining would be sent packing. Sure enough, the money did not arrive. However, we were not sent packing. The apathy seems to be not quite rampant enough. Don't get me wrong here -- us wily engineers stopped working earlier this week, but our hapless leaders are still trying to work deals that will keep the company alive.

I cleared out my office.

This situation offers an interesting risk-reward proposition. If I continue remain employed and show up at the office semi-regularly, the back pay will continue to accrue. I do not have to do any work, mind you, just show up. One might claim this to be grossly unprofessional and generally a slimy thing to do. I though that for a moment also. However, what the company really needs is not to have the product further developed; no, what is needed are human props for when they bring potential investors through the office and try to say with a straight face "oh yeah, you should give us millions of dollars -- we're a sure thing!" They have to have butts in the seats and something resembling computer code on the screen. So what will I be doing, you ask? I will be doing two things. Number one, I will be trying to find someone to pay me to do something. The big number two is that I will be working for my company -- you know, the one I started with J. Thanks, Fly-by-night, for sponsoring my new business. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So that's the upside. The downside is that it is very likely that all this back pay being accrued will never be paid. I've got a bead on a couple contract opportunities to hedge my bet. If I don't land one of those bye bye house of sausage, hello top ramen.

My mood about all of this has oscillated wildly from shitting-my-pants-scared to giddy-with-excitement. Period of oscillation: ten minutes. At this minute, the needle points to pleased-that-everyday-will-be-like-the-weekend-for-the-foreseeable-future. I'm sure that at about 5 a.m. it will be where it has been for the last week solid: get-out-of-bed-[fucker]-and-work-or-you-will-starve.

No pressure though.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back From Ohio

Today was my first full day back from my Labor Day adventure to Ohio, the buckeye state. Final analysis: good trip. Disclaimer: if you read on, you will find only pedestrian details of my trip; expect nothing profound.

I flew in late Friday night and on Saturday a.m. my brother, myself, Uncle T., and cousin N. trucked it down to Columbus for Ohio State's season opener. Unfortunately, picking up the uncle and cousin caused a relatively large delay in my arrival to Columbus and thus affected my meeting-up-with-friends timetable. That led to wholly unsatisfyingly short encounters with my old-old-old friend M. and my college buddy A. Since 90% of my reason for going to the game was to meet up with these friends, I was annoyed. Every time I go home, I end up feeling trapped and helpless in one way or another. Baff, I guess my judgement on A.'s not-so-new-anymore boyfriend will have to be deferred another year or so.

Upon return to my brother's homestead late Saturday, I was reminded of a key aspect of the Ohio lifestyle I left behind so many years ago: watching Sportscenter. I've come to believe that watching Sportscenter is a gigantic crutch for lack of the stamina or will or ability to engage in prolonged conversation. Television, in general, acts as this crutch, but my brother's particular flavor of choice is tuning into sports. My sister-in-law made the profound assertion that she hates football season. This is because my brother basically ignores her from Thursday through Monday throughout the five month football season. My brother is the kind of guy who will watch Sportscenter over and over; seeing the same highlights each time. Why is this? Clearly he's hiding from life. I like football. I watch football. My brother uses it as a mechanism to hide from life. For five months out of the year, he's got a really solid excuse (in his mind) for not doing a damn thing all weekend and especially not having a meaningful conversation.

On Sunday, I made it over to my parent's house for the first time. They, of course, use Fox News and professional golf as their social shield. My mom was very upset this weekend because the next door neighbor filled in the ravine behind their house with a hundred or so trucks of dirt. This was actually relevant enough to my mom that she spoke to me about it outside the confines of the TV room. It was a good visit.

Monday was fishing day. Because of the hurricane residuals affecting the area, there was much doubt about the go, no-go status of the trip. In the end, we decided to brave the elements and fish. Okay, there were actually no elements to brave; the weather was quite fair, but apparently the fifteen foot waves the lake experienced on the prior three days left doubt about the quality of fishing ahead of us. That question was answered quickly. The six of us caught the legal maximum number of perch over the course of about four hours. I thought I was doing pretty well in Key West when I caught two fish and didn't throw up for the first two hours. Here we caught two-hundred forty between the six of us and I didn't even get queasy. Good times. My younger brothers were even mostly sane and human on this trip; except for when G. dropped his pole in the water where it promptly sank to the bottom of the lake -- that was classic. Fortunately, G. later successfully threw a bass at a seagull thereby redeeming himself.

I'd be remiss if I did not mention the nephew. Holy crap is he cool. At age one, he handles his own food, he can walk, he laughs at silly things, and, most importantly, he does not abuse the crying card. I find it absolutely amazing that a healthy living being sprang from my brother's spooge and my sister-in-law's uterus. Absolutely bonkers. I thought about being preoccupied with my job stress or my new company, but it became pretty obvious to me that hangin' with the nephew was a tremendously precious opportunity not to be wasted by attending to other affairs. If only all of life's decisions were that easy.

Tuesday, I pledged my labor services to my mom. The garden needed attention after being ravaged by post hurricane flooding and the neighbor's landscaping faux pas. It has been several years since I was enlisted in my mom's gardening corps. I've developed a strange idea of what gardening means. In my experience, gardening involves digging up plants, cutting down trees, and building stone walls. This time around I was actually allowed to replant several plants too. That was awesome and a half. I had recently been exposed to the idea of the restorative effect of nature. Mounding the dirt up on a freshly replanted hostas brought about an acute restorative feeling. Note to self: get a plant for the apartment.

And that was that. I had exhausted my four day maximum visit and it was time to return to the desert land I call home.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Before I get to today's update, I would like to first like to recall my company's most egregious use of capital: a promotional video titled Spy Another Day. The film stars Gary Coleman and John Lovitz. Sadly the video no longer seems to be available on the intarweb; I may be able to commit some corporate espionage and get it posted on youtube. Stay tuned. To the point though, we actually retained Gary "what'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis" Coleman and John "SNL Alum" Lovitz for this thing. Okay, these aren't necessarily a-list guys, but this isn't exactly a fortune 500 company either. Oh, and check this out. How much do you think it costs to rent out a Las Vegas nightclub during CES? Answer: a lot [sigh].

So, the update. Today, Fly-by-night Inc. decided that out of all possible moves it could make, reducing the staff by fifty percent would be the best choice. Yup, you heard right; half my company got axed this morning. I can now count everyone in the company on two hands and one foot. I'm actually the right middle finger.

To be honest, the RIF was probably the right move for the company. If the company does get more money, it can't afford to burn as fast as it has been. If only the execs would stop lighting their cubans with hundred dollar bills...

In my short career, I've been through about a dozen layoffs/rifs/black-fridays/corporate-purge-fests. I've never been under the guillotine, but nonetheless every time one happens there are different emotions at play. Fear and anger characterized the first several layoffs I went through. I was young and inexperienced then and I had a lot to loose and nowhere to go. There were a couple where I felt sad -- both for my coworkers and for myself. When the old company laid off a bunch of dudes fresh out of college from all over the country after about two months, that was sad. They were certainly sad, and then I got a way uncomfortable sobby hug from a male coworker -- then I was sad. After that one, I got numb to the whole thing. The last five or six, I just have not cared except to the extent that my job got suckier because of the mess left from all the dropped balls.

Today though, I felt a new and interesting feeling; I felt a little cheated. Everyone who got laid off today had already proven themselves as a cut above the dead wood that got chopped in the last few layoffs. If at the end of next week my company doesn't miraculously get a big pile of money, it will liquidate quite violently. Here's where the "cheated" comes into play: these guys got a head start! Those fuckers are going to scoop up all the good jobs in the valley while I'm still lending unsecured credit to the rapidly descending fireball that is my company. Dammit.

Speaking of my company, that phrase is now ambiguous. As of today, J. and I are now proud co-owners of a new limited liability company in the state of Utah. That's right kids, I'm the boss. We're all super official too. We've got a name, sales tax id, federal employer id, Utah business id, articles of organization, and a spiffy domain name for our company website. Besides having to know you have to get all these things, getting all these things is fairly easy and we got it done for well under a hundred bucks. Not too shabby.

I wish I could afford this to be the full-time gig, but alas, I'm not sufficiently independently wealthy to pull that off. Until my employer can cobble together payroll, the nascent baby of unlimited potential is going to get priority over the plunging fireball.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Life is Good

Here's what it is all about, people ...

That's the nephew at age one. I am choked with joy for my brother and sister-in-law. T-minus three days until I go home. Screw corporate asshattery -- life is good.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Fly-By-Night Inc.

For the first time in my relatively short career, I am shitting bricks. Here's the situation. Over a year and a half ago I began working for a startup company. This was the kind of flashy, venture capital driven company that epitomized the dot-com era. Well, except this company wasn't a web company, it wasn't California, and it wasn't the dot-com era. But they did seem to have more money than sense; after offering me a job on my first visit (notice I did not say interview) and telling me to name my own price, what could I say but "sign me up!" For me there was also the tremendous benefit that I could jump from the sinking ship that I had been clinging to for the previous four years and I got to work with my best buddy J. again. They also had a break room filled with snacks, delicious snacks! What could go wrong?

Megalomaniacal and otherwise sketchy management for one. Excessive marketing spending might have also been a factor. But in the end, this is what I signed up for. The ride has been fun.

Oh, forgot to mention one important bit of info. My company is out of cash! When I get back from Ohio next week, they will be a full three pay periods behind on payroll. For those keeping score, that's well over ten percent of my annual income.

I have not had a lapse in income in my entire career. This is where the brick-shitting comes into play. Don't get me wrong -- I do not live paycheck to paycheck and the bank accounts are relatively healthy (remember, I picked my own salary), but what I'm not used to is the balances going in the other direction. I've always thought "I could live for x number of months on my savings." But now I'm thinking, "if I live for x number of months on my savings, I will have zero dollars to my name." Since when do I see half-empty glasses?

But the money issue is bullshit anyway. The real issue here is that my hand is being forced. I don't want a new job. I don't want to work on my resume. I don't want to push the flesh and make phone calls. I don't want an account on monster-dot-com. I don't want to make less money. I don't want to work for a big company. And I don't want to have to sign up for another tour of duty in Utah. I can make money, but I am apparently now a snob about it.

From the beginning, I had planned to ride this company out. I knew it was sketchy; I knew the management was certifiable; I knew the money could run out. But dammit, I wanted it to go down my way. Oh no, sister, you're not breaking up with ME!

So here I am at a big mother effin' crossroads. There are no more snacks in the break room. Gotta do something. Gotta make it count. Let's lay out the choices...

  1. Ride it out. I can stay put, keep my mouth shut, and hope like hell that I will once again get to suckle the sweet tit of venture capital. Management has promised that the money is coming. When I heard that a few weeks ago, I began holding my breath. I haven't died yet, but holy crap am I getting dizzy.
  2. Quit. This would likely lead to me getting zero dollars of my back pay. "Pennies on the dollar" has been the rallying cry for how to deal with vendors with whom we are delinquent. That sentiment will surely apply to me once I cease rendering services to the company.
  3. Start a company. J. and I have an idea and maybe enough capital between us to make a go of it. Can't elaborate on the idea here, but let it suffice to say that it is TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME!
  4. Contract. I've taken gigs on the side before. I did one last week. I could do more. If only they fell in my lap every week.
  5. Go postal. I don't own any firearms, but I have a clean record and could obtain something pretty sweet. Unfortunately, I don't think my enthusiasm would last through the mandatory waiting period. [sidenote: I was actually at the post office today. There was a clerk there who looked so utterly saddened by his life as a postal worker that I am sure that if we pulled down his pants we would see hundreds of little marks on his legs where he cut himself in an effort to remember what it is like to feel alive.]
  6. Change careers. Hmmm, am I good at anything else? I used to be a pretty good baseball umpire. I have been building experience dealing with homeless, drunk, meth-addicted, transvestite, and otherwise hungry residents of Salt Lake; is that marketable?
  7. Go to school. I have considered this one in the past. I even went as far as taking the GRE subject test. If only academic bullshit didn't make me grind my teeth, experience nausea, and want to kick small children. I could handle maybe two of those, but not all three. Maybe it's time to swallow hard and go get degree number two. I have heard that chicks going for advanced degrees in computer science are h-h-h-hot. I actually did hear that, but it was from my buddy Ji. who is a c.s. professor who spends much of his free time living in a fantasy world.
  8. Get another job. Ooooh goody goody goody, can I can I can I work for you. Your company is so awesome. I want to help you guys make money. Sure, three days of vacation per year is okay! Can I lick your dog's asshole clean on my days off? I can't wait to work for you for seventeen years, then all ten of my stock options will be vested! Oh boy, oh boy, I sure would like to meet all of my new mormon coworkers! Do any of them have jack mormon daughters (preferably h-h-h-hot with an advanced computer science degree)? Yeah, sharing a cube with Larry will be no problem; my sense of smell really isn't very good and he's such a super guy otherwise.
There they are. Seems like a complete list. These are not mutually exclusive, of course. Some likely scenarios include 1+3+8, 1+3+4, 6+7+8, and 2+5. The common thread is that these all add up to me having to get off my ass and do something about my situation. Time to polish that resume. [barf]

Forcing Self To Write

I have this notion that writing is good for me. Since starting black trunk a few weeks ago, I've found that posting yields both a cathartic benefit and a boost in personal pride much similar to when I go a whole day at work without dicking around. So tonight, having finished my chores around the house and with the cat pinning my arms to the keyboard, I shall write with no particular topic in mind.

So, let's talk about the cat. If this post ends up good or bad, it's going to be Mr Orange's fault. He is literally strewn across my arms at this very moment. Blood flow to my left hand is in jeopardy. But back to Mr Orange. I rescued the O-man from the local animal shelter four and a half years ago. By the time I got into the cat market, Mr Orange had been at the shelter for several weeks -- well longer than the shelter guarantees to keep animals alive. Mr Orange was, of course, the most bestest cat at the shelter, but he was listed as being eight years old on his information placard. This made him by far the oldest cat at the shelter. Since adopting Mr Orange, I have learned that the shelter's age estimate was total bullshit. Either that or Mr Orange is now the spriest twelve year old on the planet. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but he is a stud (except for his lack of testicles).

The most often asked question about Mr Orange is "did you name him after Mr Orange from Reservoir Dogs?" Much controversy surrounds this question. The problem was that naming the cat was not a solo endeavor. At the time, I was dating R., then a recent Salt Lake transplant like myself, now a resident of Maine (we'll get to that). In the process of choosing the O-man, several anonymous felines were uncaged and given the once-over in the shelter's pet evaluation room. In order to have meaningful discussion about the candidates, temporary monikers had to be applied.

"Hey, what did you think about Shitfoot?"
"He was kinda crabby. I liked Cheetara better."
"But she bit me. What about Mr Orange?"
"Oh yeah, he's pretty okay."
The trick is that R. applied this particular moniker. In my mind, "Mr Orange" only described his fur color, but for R. it was also a reference to Reservoir Dogs. Thus until very recently, my answer was always "no, he wasn't named after Mr Orange from Reservoir Dogs". It was only because of a strange coincidence that the full story recently came to light. Another ex, L. moved also happened to move to Maine recently. There L. actually encountered R. at which point their lets-trash-pete session inevitably let to them talking about the one-good-thing-about-pete, which of course is Mr Orange. So L. called and clued me in on how I named my cat. So now, the answer is "yes, he's named after that dude from that movie. And stop asking stupid questions."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Am I A Hipster?

Today I became aware of a new [to me] demographic in the world: the hipster. In preparation for my upcoming trip to New York, I was chatting with my friend E. who posited that I may, in fact, be a hipster. She had very little evidence to this end -- mostly it was due to her ignorance of my wardrobe. Nonetheless, the seed was planted; I had to find answers. Do I belong to this class of people? Is there a loving community waiting for me with open arms? ... What is a hipster anyway?

Consulting the urban dictionary, I found the answer to what it is to be a hipster.

people in thier teens to 20s who generally listen to indie rock, hang out in coffee shops, shop at the thrift store and talk about things like books, music, films and art.
Hmmm, I am in my twenties. I do enjoy the occasional indie rock track. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I can't pretend I haven't been to my fair share of coffee shops. I dropped off my old tv and Flightstick Pro at the local thrift store along with two garbage bags full of flannel shirts that my dad had given me for various Christmases over the years. Hell, my last post was about a film (although I tend to call them movies, does that mean something?). For me, this is all quite inconclusive. I needed more information.

The hipster handbook provided the information I needed. I met none of their criteria for being a hipster. None. But since they only grant me access to the first six of the eleven sacred clues, I could not yet be sure. So what about evidence that I am not a hipster ... ah ha! Right there, number six:
6. You work in an office building that has a man-made pond and a fountain in its front lot.
Yup, that's me. Right outside the front doors of my office building is a man-made fountain. A few steps beyond that are several chain restaurants, the most notable of which is Joe's Crabshack. Yummy. To complete the picture, another twenty meters down the path is the grand enterance to the giganto megaplex of power where all the local suburbanites go to see the latest Harry Potter slash Pixar slash Disney slash Lucas crapo movie. I suppose some of them might have went to see Snakes On A Plane there, but I doubt it (and, no, I did not go to the megaplex of power outside my place of employment to see Snakes On A Plane, I go to an equally awful theater closer to home). Back to the point. The point is that I have a job and I make so much money at this job that I can afford gross amounts of cereal which I consume so regularly that I stray several percentage points beyond the two-percent body fat required of a hipster.

Case closed. I'm not a hipster. This is probably good. The last thing I needed was the hipster merit badge hanging from my identity belt. I think I'll go drink a bronson and contemplate whether or not others perceive me as a shitter.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jackson, Samuel L. Retrospective

For two weeks straight, I have started the weekend by visiting Jackson. Last week was Jackson, Wyoming; this week was Jackson, Samuel L. I am, of course, speaking of the most anticipated movie of the summer: Snakes On A Plane. I'd like to say it was a journey of a lifetime; a tour de force; a cinematic marvel. But it really just wasn't that. Let's go through what you do get with Snakes On A Plane.

First, you get Samuel L. Jackson. In this movie Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson, an aspiring actor pretending to be a cop. If there is one word you could use to describe Samuel L. Jackson it would be consistent. Just note the photos. Do you think it's easy to get the tip of the thumb square on the the first knuckle of the middle finger? Well Samuel L. Jackson gets it on there EVERY TIME. Not only that, he brings the profanity you've come to expect with the delivery that only he has perfected. I know, I know, the line has already become overstated to the point of uncoolness, but you wanted it and you got it.

Secondly, you get time distortion. Snakes On A Plane brings that total disregard for internal plot consistency that characterizes totally awesome B movies. The plane in Snakes On A Plane is traveling from Hawaii to Los Angeles. Dialog in the movie states that this is a five hour flight. The snakes are locked in the plane's cargo hold using a sophisticated auto-release lock. When the plane reached thirty-thousand feet, a six minute timer (fully equipped with ultra-cliche red seven segment LED readout) was triggered. When this six minute timer expired, the snakes were released and the carnage promptly ensued. The problem is that it takes a plane maybe fifteen minutes to reach cruising altitude. That fifteen plus another six is twenty; hell, let's round up, thirty minutes into the five hour flight. The snakes, infuriated by pheromones, are shown to wreak havoc almost immediately. When the plane's pilot becomes aware of the ensuing snake fiasco he, of course, is forced to press on to L.A. because it would take longer to turn back. I must conclude that a 747 flies much faster during its first hour than the remaining. This kind of classic WTF moment really separates the B's from the A's.

Lastly, you get snakes; not just snakes, but real live computer generated snakes. And I dare you to come up with a violent situation that these snakes did not participate in. Snake biting penis: check. Snake biting boob: check. Snake biting eyeball: check. Snake biting tongue: check. Snake coming out of dead man's mouth: check. Snake biting black man's ass: check. Snake biting snake: check. Snake being burned by makeshift flamethrower: check. Snake being impaled by harpoon gun: check. Snake being cooked in microwave: check. Snake being ejected from plane: check. Snake being enchanted by infant human shaking rattle: check. Snake constricting man to death and subsequently eating man from head down: check.

So there you go. You can thank me now or you can thank me later: I just saved you eight bucks. The beauty is that if you actually want to see snakes on a plane, you can still go see Snakes On A Plane and despite the spoilers just given, you will still reap maximum joy from the film. Happy penis biting.

[Updated 8/19/2006 14:01 - uploaded photos of SLJ b/c the links didn't work. May the MPAA not lay their vengance upon me.]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

When In Doubt, ASK AMERICA

This aught to be fun. Recently I got some snail-mail from none other than J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, United States of effing America. You see, Denny (all his close friends call him that) needs me to contribute my valuable opinions so that we can shape the future of America together. The critical nature of this correspondence is spelled out in the introductory letter:

Never before in the history of the Republican Party has such an enormous and critical project been launched. The ultimate results will shape the future of our Party and our Nation.

Wow, this is a lot of pressure. Only me and nine-hundred ninety-nine other hand-chosen right-thinking 'mericans (in my area (size of 'area' left unspecified)) have the opportunity, no, responsibility to participate in the ASK AMERICA survey. With blue pen in hand and a bead of sweat on brow, I begin the survey, future of the country in my hands.

Question 1:
Do you support President Bush in his efforts to wipe out terrorism worldwide even if this war goes on for many years?
NO. Okay, so far so good. Was it just me or was that question a little loaded? Probably just me, lets move on.
Do you think American troops should pursue terrorists and their leaders even if it means going into countries where we are not invited?
Again, NO. I'm feeling really good about this. Let's jump down a few.
Some critics say that in tracking down potential foreign terrorists, the FBI and other investigative agencies are infringing on individuals' Constitutional rights. Do you think this is reasonable if it leads to exposing more terrorists in our country?
Well, since "FUCK NO" isn't one of the options, I'll have to go with "NO" here. It is interesting how they choose to use the words "critics" and "individuals" juxtaposed with "terrorists". All three could have been substituted with "American citizens" and yielded approximately the same statement with a slightly different connotation.
What is of greatest concern to you and your family right now?
Ooooh, "Threat of terrorism", "Natural disaster readiness and response", "Health of nation's economy", or "Other". Yeah, other, how about "erosion of this 'freedom' thing that you keep espousing that you are fighting for"? Let's move onto another topic ... Foreign Affairs.
In the last election, President Bush made it clear that "the United Nation's [sic] will never dictate U.S [sic] foreign policy." Do you agree with that statement?
I'm getting in the spirit of it now, YES, I agree that President Bush made that statement. What dumbass intern wrote that one? Eh? Probably the same one who wrote this gem:
Do you agree with President Bush's policy that the establishment of a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution?
Well that's a little fishy. If I answer 'YES', am I agreeing that we should be freeing Iraq? Or that the policy we are implementing in Iraq is freeing somebody? Or that there is, in fact, a "global democratic revolution" going on? Watershed event kinda has a positive connotation; what if I think it's watershed, but in a bad way? You know, like maybe it has a high likelihood of sparking WWW III. Best be safe, NO.
How much of an impact is the skyrocketing cost of fuel having on you and your family?
Naw, using hyperbole in your questions doesn't unduly influence the results of the survey. You just go ahead using that colorful language, Mr. Surveywriter. It's neat!
Do you support the President's plan to unify our nation around a comprehensive energy plan that protects consumers while producing more reliable, affordable and environmentally clean energy?
Oh yeah! You go ahead and wave that magic wand Mr. President. Who am I to stop you? You fished it out of that box of Cap'n Crunch fair and square. I know Cheney had dibbs on the box, but he was watching Power Rangers when he should have been eating breakfast. Your personal discipline and attention to detail have allowed you to be equipped with the power to solve our nation's energy problems. So wave that wand, make the energy situation perfect for everyone, and then get cracking on that box of Apple Jacks -- there's an AIDS problem in Africa, or so the liberal media would have me believe.
Do you agree that the obstructionist Democrats should not be allowed to gain control of the U.S. Congress in the 2006 election?
Ummmm, yes. I mean, no. Wait, what? Come on now! Don't be pulling punches now. Think a little harder, there have got to be some other pejoratives you can attach to Democrat. How about "comically anemic"? Or "inept to the point of treason"?

Anyway, so now we just put the survey in the envelope and enclose our CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION, seal the envelope and it's off to the post office for you, Mr. Future-of-the-country Survey. Oh wait, that's right, I'm not giving the GOP any money. Fortunately there is a discount option where for a mere eleven dollars my opinions will be counted. All the sudden I'm flushed with emotion and have a Lee Greenwood song playing on my internal jukebox. Fellow Americans, if only you knew how good it feels to do this much right.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jackson Retrospective

This past weekend I travelled with my favorite ultimate frisbee friends on my favorite ultimate frisbee team, Tyro, to Jackson, Wyoming for Jackson's annual tournament. It takes about four and a half hours to drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson which makes this the closest tournament venue outside of Park City (which of course doesn't count since approximately 99% of the residents of Park City make the twenty minute commute down to Salt Lake in their SUVs everyday). Once in Jackson, the first thing you notice is that it is overrun with tourists. Apparently the possibility of sighting Harrison Ford and the opportunity to pay too much for a hotel room really draws a crowd. Having been through Jackson just a couple of months ago on my Grand Teton slash Yellowstone adventure, I was somewhat prepared for this. However, that was the beginning of June and this was the middle of August -- also known as peak tourist season.

I made the drive up to Jackson with F., M., and G. in F.'s Honda Element. For those not familiar with the Element, it is a big box with four wheels, a relatively fuel-efficient engine, and plastic everything else. It seats four comfortably and holds everyone's stuff no problem. Put together, this makes it pretty much the ideal frisbee road-trip vehicle. Fred is such a playa.

Since ultimate players are cheap bastards, the team decided that it did not want to get hotel rooms for this tournament, instead opting for camping. Upon arriving in Jackson, the second thing you might notice is that there are no available campsites in the month of August. Undaunted, we kicked up dust in a camp area until we found a flat spot big enough to park the vehicle and throw down some sleeping bags. Since the weather was fantastic (as it was for the whole weekend), I slept under the stars and not one insect or arachnid messed with me. And for all the Thermarest biggots out there, I got to use my new Big Agnes REM sleeping pad for the first time and I assure you that your Thermarest is a pile of dog crap compared to my new pad. But at least it was more expensive!

Saturday's pool play was pretty okay for Tyro. We held seed by going two and two, beating the two inferior teams and losing to the two [far] superior teams. You might not expect Missoula and Bozeman, Montana to field powerhouse frisbee teams, but, in fact, they do. And they each gave us a nice little spanking on Saturday afternoon.

I've found that my enjoyment of playing ultimate frisbee is highly correlated to my fitness level. If I can run, I can compete. If I can compete, the game is fun. I have been relatively injury free this summer and so my fitness level has gotten pretty sweet. I was able to compete well in Jackson, so playing was as fun as ever.

Sunday in tournament play, we got handled easily by the local Jackson team, pushing us immediately into the beer pool. They had a guy nicknamed "concussion" who at one point took me deep, skyed up with me shoulder to shoulder, knocked both of us down and he came up with the disc. To you, Mr Concussion, I yield. The beer pool is certainly Tyro's comfort zone and it showed. We took Steamboat Springs and then intimidated Missoula-B into a forfeit thus securing the beer-pool championship. By the way, speaking of beer pool, for the record Mike's Hard Limeade is almost as good a sports drink as bourbon. In Sunday's game two, half a bottle definitely helped bring on my second wind. It is only the darn carbonation that puts it a notch below bourbon on the alcoholic sports drink chart.

Other highlights of the weekend included: using the shower and pool facilities at the county recreation center; watching the Jackson police pull over a man who was slightly darker than the legal limit in Wyoming and detaining him for over an hour (we watched this from the deck of the restaurant where the party was held); extending my dominance at the "Wah" game by defeating a former WNBA player named Skyla in the butt-wrestling round; and listening to G. and M. introduce F. to 9/11 government conspiracy theories at breakfast on Sunday morning thus ruining an otherwise fine breakfast at Bubba's. For those unindoctrinated in 9/11 government conspiracy theories, this video is a good place to start. In the photo you can see, from left to right, G., F., M., and C. You can't see F.'s face in this picture because he has turned around to tell M. to stop terrorizing him with her 9/11 theories. Good times.

[update 8/30/2006: removed names to protect the innocent.]

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sometimes Utah Ain't Half Bad

It's pretty easy to be down on Utah; crime runs rampant, the beer is watery, overcrowded schools, stinky lakes, etc. Easy targets. Tonight I was reminded that there are some solid gold nuggets of awesomeness buried in these thar' hills. Witness the Gallivan Center. On Thursday nights throughout the summer, the Gallivan Center hosts free concerts featuring artists that I generally have never heard of. But that's not the point. The point is that any yahoo off the street can walk in, lay down his favorite sheet/blanket/hemp-pancho, and drink himself silly as long as he's willing to shell out a reasonable 4$ per beer or has the foresight to bring a darkly-tinted nalgene bottle full of booze. Deals like this are going the way of the dodo, my friends. For me, the extra gravy is that this venue is in easy walking distance from casa Pete. For everyone else, public transportation will get you within fifty feet of the venue.

I was, of course, entirely clueless about tonight's performers. I'm not feeling particularly eloquent at the moment, so let it suffice to say that Soulive was spectacular. It is a wonderful thing to go into a show with zero expectations and to come out overwhelmed. Overwhelmed and full of the most delicious chocolate cake I can recall consuming. Another joy of concerts at Gallivan is that you can bring your own food. Kristi and Scott, my two newest readers (everyone say 'hi') brought the aforementioned cake to celebrate Kristi's friend Kim's birthday. But back to Soulive. These guys were so cool, that for their second encore, they busted out, you guessed it, "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin. Totally unexpected, cool as hell.

As an added bonus, since Salt Lake is a puny little peanut of a town with about two hundred people that are actually interested in going out on a Thursday night to see black men get funky, if you arrive solo, you will undoubtedly run into at least ten people you know. Of these ten, it is very likely that you will care to have a conversation with at least one of them. I got lucky because I only saw one person that I knew that I avoided conversing with. The person I saw was the college recruiter for the company that brought me to Utah and thus one of the small number of people responsible for conning me into moving to this state. My excuse is that the only thing I could think of to talk to her about was her apparent switch in sexual preference. This is pretty bad because I have not seen this person in about three years and my only evidence in reaching this conclusion were certain asthetic cues from her and the girl she was hanging out with. Nonetheless, I played it cautious.

Leaving the concert, I was rudely brought back to reality when I encountered this guy. This photo was both candid and an action shot, thus the suspect quality. What you see is my finger partially obscuring the lens and the bottom half of a dude who is racing down State Street with a stolen shopping cart. It is hard to tell from this picture, but I assure you that he was wearing genuinely atrocious, yellow crocs. I did not mention this in my last post, but the dermatologist had the gaul to recommend these "shoes" for my month of leatherlessness. I have seen these things before, but had not thought twice about them. I was recently given a strong opinion from a sensible friend lambasting this type of footwear. Seeing this douchebag (did I mention that he was wearing antennae?) giving shopping cart rides and nearly killing half a dozen people in the process fully corroborated this opinion. I now have much contempt for wearers of crocs similar to my contempt for people who drive yellow cars (note to self: blog about yellow car theory). Try as he may, yellow croc guy could not spoil a lovely evening in not-half-bad (I think that makes it half-good) Salt Lake City.