You are now officially part of the economic downturn

My employer sent out a communication essentially declaring that we are f*cked much like everyone else, and it’s my impression (and has always been my impression) that building new shit still takes precedence over paying people.

While it’s still arguably a “stable” place to be employment-wise, I aspire to something more in a career than stability. (This being said, I won’t actually be surprised if, at any time, I am told that my job is going away. I do not trust any evidence that might point to the security of my job).

It’s probably easy to generate an “at least you have a job” reaction from my whining. I actually think be canned from my job could be a blessing right about now, although I will not going into why. I do know, and I feel quite emphatically, that when I am told at work that we have to “start doing more with less” as a way to potentially preserve our jobs, this is really a no-win situation, as whoever decides to ultimately cut a job doesn’t have the foggiest clue what is needed to do more or do less about anything.

I think that just made me sound like an asshole; I don’t care.

Sleep problems…and a blunt assessment of stuff

20090119 Aremid Quasi-Curl

I snapped this photo of Aremid with the mobile around 6AM. I’ve been up all night. This is partially a result of having slept throughout much of the day over the last few days as I deal with post-surgery fatigue, pain, and nausea.

This is also the result of having Monday off and being mired in a state of endless contemplation. The way this past year seems to have worked, I have stammered from one health crisis to another. In between each crisis, there is a window of time within which I could theoretically plan…for something…make some plan for my life, which, for the most part other than the inevitable health crises, lacks any plan.

For the past couple of hours, I was specifically thinking about my career, and mostly how I have no career plan. I have a job that promises to continue to be woefully unsatisfying and no plan to move on to something else. For the purpose of this brain-dump, I will pretend that there is not a global economic crisis that could seemingly make it foolish for anyone with a stable job to think about leaving it. Scratch that…this isn’t about judging whether or not I am fortunate or not to have steady employment. The fact of the matter is that my morale has been shot for sometime and isn’t going to improve in 2009. My employer has either no need fr or no understanding of the specific skills that I bring to my job. I don’t mind being blunt about it right here and right now, as I think I have exhausted all reasonable means of dialogue over the past couple of years to improve this situation. If it weren’t the global economic crisis giving me significant pause, though, it would certainly be my health. My health is by far the main reason I tolerate a situation that drives me insane.

For a moment, I shall pretend that I will have a window of a year or so of good health. This is highly unlikely, but I will just presume it. Given that I have no remote idea of a reasonable career change, do I even consider browsing at other jobs similar to my current one, given that there likely to be different frustrations but perhaps better, more satisfying opportunities?

The answer might be easy, if the other factor were not that these other similar jobs are not here in North Carolina. They are in Washington, D.C. and New Jersey and California and Chicago and Milwaukee and all across the country, but most definitely not here and unlikely to materialize here.

Do I need a clean slate? I just told someone I was “happy” with the Triangle, that I can’t think of a better place to live, realistically. But what if there’s some significantly better place to spend nine hours a day? Is it perhaps worth considering starting anew, given that I don’t really have my non-work time filled up here with anything particularly noteworthy?

I AM NOT SUCCEEDING HERE IN DURHAM. I may have friends here. There may seem to be potential here. There is good healthcare here. But I am failure here. While true that a change of scenery does not solve one’s core problems, a change of scenery is a change of scenery, period, and that it could be of some benefit is not a notion I should so easily dismiss.

I really didn’t intend to launch into this post. I just like snapping photos of my sleeping pets…which, by the way, brings up another job problem. Most jobs in my specific field present themselves as contract positions or contract-to-perm. The chance to travel somewhere five days at a time or take up temporary residence for a few months comes with many of these positions. But I don’t consider these options, but I won’t leave my pets for five days at a time. Believe it or not, I’m actually tied to Durham more because of my pets than because of people. I once did contract work for four or fives days out of town at a time. I hated leaving the animals, I won’t do it with them in their senior years.

Oh, and alternatively, I can drop this whole don’t-like-my-job talk if I suddenly find myself in a fulfilling relationship…that’s a helluva lot more important to me to have in my life…but that, of course, is really impossible right now and a topic for another time.

I just want to be able to look at some part of my life and say, “That’s going pretty well”. And if you think I’m whining a bit too much, you do not understand just how long and painful that drought has been. And here I go again with the implication that I care what others think…and someone will say I shouldn’t care…and I’ll say how of course I care…and how I don’t quite get how anyone could write their thoughts publicly without thought of how others regarded them…and now I’m just rambling.

Holiday Music

I have been irritated to the point of insanity by what sounds like the constant playing of low-frequency tuning forks here at work. Doors slamming, endless chatter, all of the usual suspects are noises I have gotten used to. What’s getting to me at work is actually the music playing outside–it doesn’t matter what is playing (holiday music or smooth jazz, typically), it all produces the same underlying tones–and there’s no chance building management will do anything about it. I seem to be the only person willing to complain about this noise, which others say they barely notice. I seem especially hypersensitive to it. Knowing little about physics and acoustics, I suspect messing with one level of an equalizer would probably alleviate my problem without anyone else noticing a decline in outdoor sound quality.

Other than getting good noise-canceling headphones, is there any way to cope with this? I’ve tried water fountain noise and fan noise. The best solution thus far has been to go to a website that generates white noise. Ideally, I probably need my own personal white noise generator. But it’s maddening that I should need one.

LJ WayBackMachine: Laid Off

It’s always a barrel of lemurs to look back at old protected journal entries…

August 31, 2004

All of the anxiety over whether I’d ever get a raise, all of the rants about the noise, all of the frustration over a job I couldn’t stand 80% of the time…it’s all over. It’s all over, because I’ve been laid off. Investment money has not come in. The cash flow situation is dire. I was expendable.

The good news…yes, there is good news, although everything is just a numb, surreal mess in my mind at the moment, is that I will get two weeks of severance pay, so I have two weeks to look for a job while still getting paid (although I’m pretty much broke until next pay check already). And T is going to use his contacts to help me find a Remedy contract gig, as much I can’t conjure much enthusiasm for a Remedy contract gig. Within DAYS or a week or two, I could find myself off in another city for three months or six months or indefinitely, cats in tow, any notions of stability here in NC shattered. And that’s almost a BEST case scenario. Worst case, I find nothing and start working at low-paying jobs to scrape by.

Good times, huh? I’ve got a few thousand more stories to share. I’ll spare the world them for now, although it is closing on the timeframe to restart up the toastie97 site (15th anniversary celebration, after all…)


This is crazy. I am surfing around LinkedIn and the websites of companies that LinkedIn connections work for, and there’s all these possibilities, and yet I am STUCK.

I’ve been caught in the gears of a monster of a career dilemma for 11 years, and there is no satisfactory resolution in sight.

Anyone care to offer to counsel off-line? I am probably setting myself up for disappointment, but I have ONE, TWO, THREE…like SEVENTY-EIGHT problems for which I could use some advice, and I ought to be begging for it on here each and everyday, because life is too short to be not seeking aid with solving these problems. I am plagued by insomnia, insomnia I suffer from, primarily because I can’t stand to go to sleep without having made a lick of progress towards these seventy-eight things.

And, for the record, three years of sitting idly by while ridiculousness ensues entitles me to break the rules in terms of meeting etiquette at the old Place of Work. I’m already pretty damn sure I’m not going to get what I want, so I’m long past looking for strategies towards that end, thank you very much.

Project Toastr

I am good at coming up with ideas. I am not so good at executing them. Sometimes, I am simply unrealistic. Other times, I lack the know-how to go anywhere with an idea. Other times, I come up with a plan to acquire the know-how, which might, for instance, involve purchasing some books, and then I don’t follow through on acquiring the know-how (which would involve reading the books).

For example, four years, I aspired to make Toastie Radio totally interactive, allowing users to create accounts, rate songs, create lists of songs…oh, I don’t remember what the grand plan is. But I had bought a nice big book on PHP and MySQL web development, and it was going to help me create something very cool. I got stuck somewhere in the user authentication part. And then the project stalled, probably around the time I decided I hated living in Knoxville, Tennessee enough to plan a move back to Durham. (Ok, so I had an idea that I’d move back to Durham, and I executed that. I’m talking about grand ideas…)

I’m talking mostly about computer-related ideas, like ideas for websites or applications. When I was 9, I was writing programs like a Mad Libs game with my Apple ][ Plus in Basic. I had a certain gift. The gift was squandered somewhere. (This is turning into a semi-autobiographical post; that wasn’t my intention, but the free-flowing writing about whatever is the kind of writing I used to do much more of before I had this “blog” with “readers”, and kinda miss the days where I’d journal without regard to sentence construction and coherence…) I didn’t commit to studying computer science in college; I picked up a minor. I didn’t get a programming job out of college. I got a job with a consulting company, where I learned something called R—–.

I’m not sure if I have that awful six-letter word anywhere within this blog, but I don’t feel like spelling it out right now. If you know me, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, with the exception of a couple of brief stints trying to be an Access database administrator, I’ve been working with R—– for almost a decade. You’d think I must be some sort of expert. Hardly. There are some very cool things that an organization can do with R—–. I did some of those things years ago. But I don’t do those cool things in my current position, and it’s quite unlikely I will have the opportunity to so where I’m at. But it’s also quite unlikely I will be doing those cool things anywhere else. No one uses R—- to do these cool things anymore. Instead, they buy unwieldy, bloated, expensive applications based on R—-, and….well, I don’t want to start getting into details of my current job.

What I was planning to get at before that impromptu interlude was that I’ve wanted to come up with some grand idea for years that would employ the one significant skill I have. While I’ve had a few ideas come and go, mainly the idea has been to simply come up with an idea. Earlier tonight, I came up with an idea and started working on it. It’s not a brilliant idea. It’s probably something that has been done before. There’s no intelligent reason why one would use R—– to implement this, but, like I said, that’s my tool.

Rather then spend time on developing this idea much tonight, however, I spent way too much time trying to find a clever domain to buy. While it may seem silly to most, I actually am quite pleased with the name of this domain. I owned between 1998 and 2004. I regret having sold it. I got a great price for it, but now it languishes as a parked ad page. (predecessor of this site) was stupid. I like So I wanted something else I’d like. The name that came to mind was Unfortuantely,, in all of its (I think) cleverness, is being wasted by, well, it’s not a parked ad site, but it isn’t worthy of the toastr name. So I’ve spent several hours looking through all the international domain suffixes looking for something clever. I’ve had a couple of ideas, but nothing I went with.

I’m not going to divulge what the big idea is, since it may all evaporate tomorrow, or I may work on it for six months before it’s anything worth sharing. The last time I tried to chronicle a big project from its inception (my home purchase) it was a big bust.

As 2007 comes to a close, I have thought about whether or not to write any kind of year-end retrospectives. I may post some more silly lists. But the posts about why I bother with this site, what the relevance of any of this is, seem to come a couple times a month so there’s no need for a special one now.

Having just read through the above, I know this is the type of post I’ll contemplate scrubbing when I awaken later today. If it’s still here, it means I’m sticking with my blogging philosophy of the moment, which is that…<stares blankly at screen for a few minutes>I don’t know…If I start to share more personal stuff in 2008, if I become more of an open-book, it will not be my intention to come across egotistically, as if I think my thoughts are of any importance…People vent in all sorts of ways…I was about to list them, but ultimately I don’t think I need to explain…this blog/journal/website is what it is…

Hypothetically, if I were looking for a new job…

subject: [ARSLIST] OT- Increase in compensation:::::Remedy Engineer – OCONUS-IRAQ

The annualized compensation package for this position has been increased to $275,000 (inclusive-base plus foreign service and hazardous/dangerous duty pay).

Remedy Engineer for deployment to IRAQ to work on a major contract which requires excellent skill sets, US Citizenship and a current or recently current DoD Secret or higher clearance(as specified below).

The job description is included below These are direct hire, with full benefits jobs.

Year Two

It’s been six years since I’ve been able to say I’m starting my second year on the job. While this may not be something to acknowledge in a public entry, lest a future employer spot this, I imagine the future employer has already seen my resume, so I don’t see any harm done.