Tuesday, May 22, 2007


So, nothing big and new here since the last big announcements. I've got some fairly promising leads for new jobs that I'm working on, but I don't really want to pounce on them aggressively until next week. Christine, the kids, and I are heading to New York City this Friday for a week, and I'd rather not aggressively pump the job search machine until I know that I'll be available for interviews, phone calls, etc. Kinda hate losing the better part of one week out of my 6-week grace period, but it's not like I planned it this way. Not about to skip my vacation in New York with my family, so it is what it is.

Christine and I were having coffee this morning, talking about the whole she-bang and she noted that it's really nice how many of our friends are rallying around us, tying to help get things settled down and assist me in finding a new position as soon as possible. It was funny -- I hadn't really stopped to think about it so specifically. I mean, I know that Michelle and David and Mike had all already said "kick me a resume and we'll see what we can get going for you" but I hadn't really stopped to think about how ... fortunate I am.

Yeah, my job ending is a pain in the ass, but I also know, deep down, that I should have gotten the heck out of my company 2 years ago, found a new position that promised more challenges, more growth, or at the very least more cash. Instead, I stuck around because I liked the people I worked with and because I tend to avoid making big changes in my career when I can. I prefer to be pulled to a new place rather than throwing myself out the door, you know?

But once again, in the oddest of ways, I'm finding that Tang Soo Do has affected my life in wholly positive, unexpected ways. We spent 3 years trying to get ourselves integrated with a larger community via our church, only to figure out after 2.5 years that the majority of the folks at our church were money-hungry phonies. We spent 2 years trying to get to know neighbors only to have the ones we really got along with move away and then realizing that, o fthe ones that remained, we are the square pegs in our community, the odd ducks, the ones that don't quite fit in.

Then, after we pretty much resigned ourselves to just having to make due with the couple of relationships and friendships we'd managed to build after over 4 years of trying, we started training at Tang Soo Do Academy, and everything seems to have changed. We have, over the past year and a half or so, built a solid network of friends who truly want us to be OK, who truly will do whatever they can to help out if things get tough. We talked about it, about how every single person I've spoken with regarding my job "situation" (and that's not a lot of people, really: I keep this stuff fairly close to my chest) have immediately taken steps to try to help out. Resumes are circulating to the right people in a number of places, well respected people are speaking well of me and recommending me for positions, and so on. And though it might says more about my own poor self image, I'm find myself continually surprised when people speak well of me. I always assume people are just being polite. It's really moving to see and hear people going to bat for me now, when it matters.

So anyway, I'm fairly certain everything is going to be absolutely OK. With any luck I'll land in a good position within a few weeks, all of this nonsense can just be chalked up to experience, and I can bank a really nice little severance check that will take care of the remainder of our vacation budgeting for the latter half of the year (heading to Rome and Florence -- more on that as the date approaches!).

Mood: Not so bad, really!
Now Playing: Dead Can Dance, "Spiritchaser"

Friday, May 18, 2007

And it's a wrap.

Well, my suspicions we're confirmed. Our development team is being relocated to West Kingston, RI as of 6/30. I, along with all of my co-workers, have been offered a pathetic relocation package or fairly meager severance. My new job search begins Monday. I look at it as a 6-week furlough during which I interview and search for the next good thing.

I'm not really in a good place. Not because of my job going away -- it's just a job, and I know I can find another one. I'm very good at what I do, and I'm fairly well networked. But it's the end of the last hopes I had that my decision to move to Austin and join a startup, six and a half years ago, would result in something other than a decent paying job. The brass ring on this ride has tunred out to be about 2 months of salary and a pat on the back. Best of all, I've gone full circle from being on the fast-track to a promotion and management training to being severed from the company in a total of about 9 weeks.

I'm reeling, to be honest. Maybe it's the margaritas from lunch. I'm at home -- kids will be back in a little while. Time for a nice hot bath, and some downtime.

So it goes.

Mood: Resolute, tired
Now Playing: Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, "Element of Light"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Well, THAT'S Ominous...

So. not long after I finished my last blog entry I received a meeting notice for tomorrow morning. Required attendance. My entire product line team. 10:30 tomorrow morning. Not so odd, really, except that the invitation came from... the HR director for our site. And the managers on site didn't know anything about it.


So, then we checked around with the other guys on site, a parallel development team that develops firmware and software and hardware for another of our product lines. They also have a required attendance, all hands meeting tomorrow morning. Called by HR. Same time. Different room.

Both meetings are called "status meetings," but again, none of our local management were informed of the meetings.

Hrrrm, again.

Well, I suppose this could conceivably be the answer to my "should I stay or should I go?" quandary. We shall see.

Mood: A little bit anxious, obviously
Now Playing: Nothin'

One Long Sigh

Having trouble getting myself excited, or even worked up, about anything these days. The last month or so has been a bit of a rough one, ego-wise, and I'd say it's having an effect on my overall mood these days. I'm kind of ... simmering. Not angry or anything like that, just sort of moving in slo-mo. When things are good, I have a generally fuzzy level of moderately pleasant if blase happiness. When things aren't going well (like at work, or pain-wise), I'm sort of cranky but resigned to the problems just sort of continuing as I apparently have no actual ability to control anything there. Being angry is too exhausting.

My job continues to be a study in casually clueless mismanagement. Still not really sure what my next step will be. I've begun shopping my resume around, but until I have a more solid understanding of what, exactly, the future holds here at the office I am hesitant to wholeheartedly commit to jumping ship. For all my cynicism, what I'd really prefer to is have a good reason to stay, a good sense that I'm valued by my current employers. It would be good for me to have some sort of concrete reassurance that my skills matter. This may be quite a bit to hope for, though -- lately I get the idea that these guys couldn't find their collective asses with both hands.

Coworkers continue to move on, most heading over to the startup that my brother and many of the folks I've worked with for the past 6 years headed to a couple of months back. One more resigned last Friday, and I am certain that at least 2-3 more will resign and head there within 6 weeks or so. For my part, now that the promotion I was promised and had chosen to pursue has evaporated and has been replaced with nothing substantial whatsoever, I can't shake the feeling that I've kinda ... screwed myself there.

I really thought I was making the right decision, there. Rather than continuing to be Mr. Writing and Design Resource for the startup team, which just feels more and more like a dead-end the older I get, I tried to get back on some sort of career track that would allow me to develop new skills, move forward. I figured I'd get some new experience and training, and maybe jump in on their next startup once this current one succeeds or fails or whatever. I'd love to work with my brother again, and I really enjoyed working with nearly every one of those guys, but after 14 years of basically doing the Same Damn Thing week in and week out I really wanted to move my career in a new direction. This felt like the right thing to do, the best thing to do for myself and my family. In the time it took for these idiots to change their whole plan for Austin (well, not change -- abandon, really. "Change" would imply they had a new plan in place...) the job opening at the new place went to some temp-to-hire person they are hoping can keep up. So, unless that person really fails to meet expectations that opportunity isn't so much there anymore. Which really sucks.

I can't say I'm not more than a little bit angry that I was never directly asked to consider taking the position. Aside from a heads up from my brother that there was a job listing, I didn't hear boo about the job. I know that there are probably concerns about directly recruiting, but after working with the majority of these folks for nearly 14 years I'd have thought that a phone call over the weekend asking me whether I'd be interested wouldn't have been too much to ask. Honestly not sure I would have accepted it two months ago, when it looked like I might finally be able to get back on a management track, but these days I could really use the boost.

So yeah, ego bruised.

The back pain I thought had finally cleared up staged a magnificent comeback about 1 day after it seemed to have cleared up, and I finally had to give in and return to the doctor yesterday. Now I'm on prednisone for the next week (which seems to be helping, at least) after which I'll be doing a fresh new round of physical therapy to figure out what's wrong and try to correct it once and for all. At least this time I'll be working with a really fantastic PT guy, my friend Pieter, who is extraordinarily gifted therapist and is also a martial artist (amazing Judo instructor) of approximately my age give or take a few years, who will therefore have an intimate understanding of what my body is doing and what it takes to get it straightened out.

And I need to get it straightened, and soon. It's so damn annoying. And frustrating. Aside from my family, my training is the main positive thing in my life right now. While my career stumbles forward zombie-like I've been channeling the resulting frustration into my dojang time. The nonsense I dealt with at my last tournament didn't exactly help to assuage my general frustration, unfortunately, but at least I got the reassurance from my instructor that I had nothing to be ashamed of and had performed very well, despite what the judges saw/chose to see.

So instead I'm trying to focus on acquiring technique and soldifying my skills. Which is kind of difficult, when half the time you feel good and the other half the time you feel like you have a hatchet in your back. And these half-times tend to occur throughout training, not just at the beginning, the middle or the end .Specific points in my range of upper body motion trigger the pain, so as I move through techniques I get zinged with hot pain. And when I kick or hold movements during forms it can feel like smoldering ball of thorns has lodged in my shoulder blade. Which obviously lessens the enjoyment of training. I feel better having done it, and afterward the pain is always lessened for several hours (until the muscles in my back start to tighten up again), but it's definitely siphoning off some of the fun and reward I feel practicing these arts.

But I'm glad to say that I'm not walking around angry all the time. I'm just sort of ... not thrilled. A general level of directionless malaise seems to be the norm these days, with both the crappiness of my job and the pleasures of my training feeling like moments that should be met with resigination. With an expectation of their ending, and soon.

Everything, just one long sigh. The overall sense that good or bad this too shall pass, only to be replaced with ... more of the same.

Mood: Meh
Now Playing: Evil Dead: The Musical

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A World of Meh / Bigfoot ... in My Backyard

I keep thinking "Hey, I should really blog something. that last entry was kind of a downer." Unfortunately, though, there's just not a lot to talk about this week. The weekend was pleasant if fairly uneventful: drinks with my faaaabulous friend Joan at Eddie V's early Friday evening, followed by late night cocktails over at Aaron and Vickie's (missed the Pampered Chef portion of the evening but bought a cool cutting board and drank several Jade Martinis, which were quite tasty). Saturday was mostly meandering about, then the kids went to mom's place for the night and we hit a movie (Hot Fuzz -- hysterically funny), ice cream, the bookstore, and late night drinks with Hoke and Pennie. And Sunday was grocery shopping, followed by matinee of a local junior-high production of High School Musical (the kids did a good job, although the sound production was horrible. Feedback City throughout) and capped off with a few hours of cooking (chicken and spinach cannelloni with a tomato cream sauce -- delicious). Really nothing else to report, there.

One happy note: after weeks of discomfort, the mysterious pain deep in my upper back and shoulder seemed to reach a crescendo last night, but has greatly improved today. I was just about to re-visit the doctor, or go see a chiropractor, or but morphine off the street, or something. But instead, it seems to have more or less righted itself, spontaneously. guess it was a Very pinched nerve after all. Still a bit sore and tight, and I get some twinges when I move Just. So. But still, much better today, so happy happy there.

On the Tang Soo Do front, training is pretty much on the normal track these days. Now that Master Riley's tournament has passed we're back to doing more curriculum-based classes, which is cool -- I really enjoy the more structured class time when things (like my job, ack) are less than structured and/or satisfying. Plus, my kicks have gotten rusty since wee haven't been practicing them, so it's good to be getting in more line drills again. I'm hoping for some targeted kicking practice soon -- really want to sharpen up my kicks now that my back and leg are both feeling better.

So yeah, not a lot to report. I did, however, get around to posting the short movie Miranda and I made for her advanced study project at school:

Lots of fun to make. Hopefully we'll be making more over the summer. I actually have some ideas for a few short films I'd like to put together -- just need to find the time to make them and coerce a few friends to assist. We shall see...

Mood: Enjoying the general lack of pain
Now Playing: Bjork, "Volta"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And the Hits Keep on Coming

Man, why are all my bad karma chickens coming home to roost this week?

Just found out the new position that I was practically assured would be mine for the taking two months ago has now gone away. There may be other positions of interest that will be available to me, but I won't know for at least 2-3 more weeks when they claim they will finally have figured out the organization structure. After nearly 3 months of waiting. By then, I expect that even more of our folks will have resigned, simply because we've all been sitting around with out thumbs up our butts for months with no leadership, guidance, or assurances that our site has a future. So even if an interesting team leadership or management position becomes available I'd have to think long and hard about whether I want to take it: It might be sort of like interviewing to be first mate on the Titanic.

You know, what kills me is that I really wanted to make this place work, really wanted to be part of an effort to fix a broken team and get a bunch of at-risk projects back on the rails. I tried to rally people, to talk about their concerns, ease their worries, and help them just wait this out, on the assumption that decisions that made sense were right around the corner. But every time it looks like we're turning a corner, we just find another corner. Enough. If anyone stops me and says, in that hushed can-you-keep-a-secret tone, that they're thinking about leaving I'll just say "yup, me too!" and move along.


Mood: Pissed off
Now Playing: Nothing

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


OK, a few days have passed since my less-than-thrilling experience at Saturday's tournament, and I've had some time to process things and put some stuff to bed. So that's good, especially since I was once again losing sleep over it, and that sucks.

I'm still kinda sore about the scoring on my form and think it was crap, but forms are so subjective that it's not so easy to just pick one thing and say "that's the problem!" While some of the judges were being inconsistent and sloppy I also have to admit that I chose a form that was going to be a tough sell for me in the first place. So I really have to accept part of the responsibility for not being recognized that day. It's hard, because I really busted my ass to get Chil Sung Il Rho ready for the tournament, and not having an award to show for my efforts kinda stings. But I knew I was taking a tougher road by not going with an easier form, and I chose it anyhow and it cost me.

That said, the judging still sucked, and I think that very little attention was paid to the relative difficulty of the forms being presented, resulting in easier forms being performed adequately getting higher marks than harder forms performed adequately. Note that I say "adequately": I have no illusions of having performed a gorgeous, perfectly realized form. It was, however, on a par with any of the "Winners" in terms of execution, technical accuracy, and demonstration of preparation and ability, and the significantly higher difficulty should, I think, have resulted in some more points coming my way. Alas, not so much.

The fact, though, is that I should have stuck with my first instincts, as well as those of my instructor, who had noted a few weeks ago that a Pyang Ahn form might be a better choice for me, regardless of the supposed preference for Chil Sung forms by the judges. Had I played to my strengths, I would have done better. I still think I should have medaled, and the quality of the judging was poor, but at least I see what I could have done to come out better, there. I set the bar high for myself, managed to hit it, but failed to make an impact on the judges in the process. End of story. Lesson learned.

As for sparring, I finally have some answers that I can live with regarding why, exactly, my experience on Saturday was so poor. Note that I said,"experience" and not "performance." Because despite the fact that I'd almost prefer to think I'd blown things royally and just been unable to admit it, I've been told in no uncertain terms (at least in regard to sparring) that the judging on my match was a joke and that the ring coordinator -- a friend, but a friend that is young and fairly inexperienced with running a ring -- is largely to blame. More importantly, I've been told that there was no reason for me to change my techniques on Saturday, as my sparring was technically solid and well executed. I was far more upset at the possibility that I was deluding myself regarding how I handled myself that day, and having that worry dispelled makes things way easier to accept.

My perception of my sparring techniques in my first match have been confirmed by my instructor, who watched me land 4 solid, cleanly executed and accurate reverse punches that should by all means have scored points but which went unnoticed by the judges before he finally threw his hands up in the air and walked away in frustration. I should, by all means, have won my first match handily. Instead I wound up with a tie, which led to a second round of more-of-the-same. Second verse, same as the first....

To top things off, my instructor and two other masters at the tournament warned our ring coordinator that there was far too much contact and force being used in his ring and he needed to get it under control, to no avail. It was a slug-fest out there, and frankly we were more-or-less encouraged to do so. Several other green belts said as much to me following our pre-match "pep talk" by our ring coordinator. The general impression that we were given was "watch the fact contact -- shots to the face will get you contact warnings and DQs. Otherwise, just try not to hurt each other too much." I really wish I could remember the exact words that were used, but frankly I was so angry regarding the forms portion of the competition when the pep talk was given that I can't clearly remember things.

Now, contact isn't really such an issue for me, although honestly I'd prefer to be able to move without so many aches and pains this week. Still, I can take a lot of pounding without it getting the better of me. But the level of contact that was being permitted (even encouraged) helps me understand why my points weren't registering. These guys were only seeing Big Hits. Big Punches. Big Kicks. My technique was a little more subtle, if actually quite simple -- be patient, bait him in with a couple of little kicks, then defend and wait for an opening, shoot a reverse punch in and then get out, fast. That's where a lot of my skill and my "comfort zone" in sparring currently lies -- I have fast hands, and can defend well. But I also am careful not to use too much power on my punches, particularly since I'm typically aiming for a person's floating rib.

See, if there's one thing I know it's that I'm strong. I can easily break 2 or 3 boards with a reverse punch, if properly prepared, and I can kick like a mule. If I delivered that much power in a reverse punch to a person's floating rib there is little doubt that the recipient would wind up in the hospital with a punctured lung or worse. So, seeing as I am a) a nice guy (maybe too nice in some ways, since it kind of gets in the way when you spar guys who aren't so polite) and b) this is only a competition and is supposed to be fun, I am very careful to pull my punches. Kick's too, but I don't kick nearly as often as I punch when sparring , so it's less of an issue. Sadly, I also expect others to do the same, or at least that judges will be able to see when points are scored with a bit more finesse and a bit less bludgeoning force. This was simply not the case last weekend, so when my punches didn't cause my opponent to double over or fall back from the impact, the hit wasn't noted.

It's ridiculous, because the power I would have needed to use on a 270+ lb. dude to cause that reaction would have been seriously dangerous. But whatever: that's the long and short of it, and that's why I lost. And while not coming home with a little jewelry to remember my day with stings a bit, I at least know now that in the far-more important opinion of my instructor and friend, and my peers who were watching my match, I did well. Quite well, in fact. My perception of things wasn't wrong, and I'm not deluding myself about how I did that day.

I was robbed. And while it's unfair, I can live with it.

Perhaps more important, though, is something I learned about myself in the process. I can see that choices I made in how I approached sparring that day -- holding back on power despite a lack of control by my opponent and a lack of concern by the judges -- may have cost me a medal. But I never lost control. I took a beating defending against someone using way more power than should have been permitted, and got frustrated and angry at how things were going, but I kept at it, and maintained focus and control throughout. And difficult as it was to not just spit on the ground and call "Bullshit!" when the matches were finished I maintained a fairly decent level of decorum (aside from a bit of under-the breath bitching to friends when things were all said and done) and adhered to protocol, thereby not insulting my instructor or embarrassing myself.

And I'm really proud of that.

Mood: At ease
Now Playing: Nothing