MC Spoo
21Jan/080

Update on Adjustments

I feel kind of guilty complaining. I mean, my adjustments are mostly monetary.

First, I've scheduled my cable (BrightHouse) to be replaced with AT&T U-Verse. AT&T's service (U300) provides 260 channels + 3MB/1.5MB DSL service. That would save me $35/mo.

Then, I dropped my gym membership (Goodbye again, Lifetime Fitness). I'll miss that even if I wasn't going that much because it is SO nice to go into a gym at 11pm, take a swim, and not fight through people. That's $60/mo.

So, I've saved myself $95/mo, right? Even at the bottom end, TLN was paying me $140/mo. So.. I need to find another $45/mo or so to even things out. My plan to gain this and a bit more is to trade in my beloved Jeep. I'm hoping I can save about $100/mo by doing this. That would mean I'll have knocked $200/mo off my expenses, which is about 3/4's of the way to covering the loss of TLN income for me.

Now, I've complained about the gas mileage of my Jeep... BUT NOT THE WAY IT DRIVES. My Jeep Liberty Renegade is a SNOWMOBILE. It will go through deep mud, deep snow, and whatever the heck I've thrown at it without too much complaint (even though it DID require service after Charlie and I went mudding in it... which wasn't a problem because throwing mud 50 feet in the air is a freakin' riot!). It drives like a tank, if a bit rough. It's a truck, and it fits me very well. I will miss my Jeep greatly, but it costs too much and gets terrible gas mileage.

Anyhow, I was at the Auto Show with Chris and my Dad on Sunday. We were basically car shopping. At this point, I'm looking at setting up test drives on the following vehicles:
Jeep Patriot
Ford Mustang or Edge (Lease only)
Volkswagen Rabbit

If none of those pan out with pricing, my alternates are:
Chevy HHR
Scion xB

Chris and I sat in a VW GT and Rabbit... and they're both just sweet cars. I like the GTI interior better, and the front styling better, but the turbo charged engine adds way too much to the price.

The Patriot is larger than I thought, and the gas mileage is acceptable. The price is also good. I cracked up at sitting in one with CRANK WINDOWS.

I wanted to sit in a Mustang, but they only had 3 Mustangs on the floor. This pissed me off. However, I assume this is the last chance I'll have to own a car like a Mustang before it becomes a mid-life crisis. I just love the way the new Mustangs look. If I can fit in one, and get a lease for $270 or so... it just may well happen. I'm pessimistic on this happening, however.

The HHR looks awesome, but it had poor shoulder room. I looked at an HHR SS at the show, and the interior is absolutely lovely. I'll look at one in the dealership to see if it was just the big leather jacket I had on at the Auto Show.

The Scion xB is just weird and very very nice inside. Roomy for it's size. I wouldn't have a problem driving this.

So I guess this is part of "looking on the bright side of things". My TLN chapter is being closed, so I have to start a new book.

I'm going to email all the director's I've worked with and let them know I'm now available to do work for them. Angie pretty much told me to do this, so I won't disappoint and NOT do this. I'm sure they'd rather I do this for them because Derek hates HTML, and I think in HTML sometimes. I'm thinking in HTML right now!

I do not have to avoid advertising my services to TLN member libraries anymore. This was a requirement while I worked with them. Only "personal approach" was acceptable. I could not advertise in any fashion to the Libraries. Well... now I can.

I'm working on learning how to use Joomla better, and I'm hoping to translate that skill set into another one of the skills I can market to libraries and businesses. It's time to show some confidence in my own capabilities, and step outside of the safe little box that TLN provided me and do real business. I have a whole bunch of gee whiz in my trunk I haven't been able to use yet, so keep an eye out for that...

At least I think that's the bright side, but it doesn't make it any scarier... truth is, as long as I got some kind of regular cost of living adjustment, I'm pretty sure I could have worked the NDL/TLN arrangement the rest of my life. It's not that I'm not looking for more in life: I've just grown very comfortable with what my life was professionally.

I resolve not to sit here and think "If Only". I think I wrote a long time ago, well before I was even remotely wise, that "Nothing breaks a heart like if only". So I resolve to think it positive terms. The glass is not half empty. The glass isn't even half full. The glass is on it's way to being full of exactly what I want.

18Jan/080

Random Airing of Complaints… just to get it off my chest

After the fact, I'm still not dealing with this well. I didn't really sleep Tuesday night. I went into Tech Comm pretty much bleary eyed and barely aware. There was some sort of public "Thank You Michael for your work over the years"... but still ignorance over the fact it's 12 years, not 9 years. The "thank you" thing trailed off and was not completed. The people at the meeting were not told point blank "hey! We fired Mike! What do you think about that? Huh?"

Is it so bad that I cared a lot about a part time job that always underpaid me? Is it so bad that I got great job satisfaction from TLN (before Angie started stripping my duties away)? I feel like I've been kicked in the nuts repeatedly for a year and now I'm only now coming out of the nut kicking coma I've been in.

There was some kind of communication break down there. For the last year, I've felt that they barely understood me. Treated like a contractor, paid like an employee. Barely spoken to, and then in tone that always seemed to say "I'm annoyed I have to talk to you." But why? Even if I didn't agree with some of the things they were doing, I always did my best. And yeah, Sure, I vented. I ranted. I shared my rants with John and Derek (for awhile) but I never gave anything but my best. Heck, I CARRIED the whole department last year between February and August. But from September onward, my duties started getting stripped without reasons. I was ignored. I was simply becoming so frustrated NOT knowing what was going on... The people in the department hadn't talked to me on any regular basis since late summer. How sad is that? Never gave anything but my best, but in the end, I was ignored... as if I were a diseased member waiting to rot off. Fortunately, I'm anything but a diseased member.

I just feel I deserved better than that, you know? I'm a human being, deserving of respect, and I don't feel like I got treated with respect. I was loyal. I remained loyal.... even when I had no reason to be loyal. I'm just really unhappy about this. All these words just can't summarize or lend meaning to the burning ache I feel in the pit of my soul.

And yes, I've always been like this. When I quit at Noble Library in 1996, after having worked as a Library Page for 7 years at a top wage of $5.25/hr, I couldn't do it. I knew for a month and a half I had to quit. That I was burned out and bored to death of the job. But I felt this loyalty to the people I worked with. Every day I intended to go into Carol's office and talk with her about quitting. And I couldn't do it. When I finally did do it, I practically felt like I was committing some kind of crime by quitting.

I'm a bad quitter because I have loyalty. I should have quit TLN long ago. But I didn't... because I'm a bad quitter. Didn't matter if I did not feel like the boss was treating me poorly or unfairly. Bosses come and go, but loyalty remains for a long time.

So I guess no one understood that about me. Now it is written. Who knows who will read it. Who knows who will understand it. Who knows who will care about it.

Fiscally, this whole thing sucks. I'm finding myself now having to drop a ton of things I've relied on over the years. I'm going to have to quit the gym, which isn't great for my health, but I have no choice. I'm going to have to trade in my Jeep for something smaller and cheaper. I'm going to have to change my TV and Internet providers. I'm probably going to have to find more side jobs, work more hours... just to pay off all the damn bills. I'm going to have to pray to God this is the year the Condo association doesn't cost me tens of thousands of dollars with their screw ups. I'm going to have to hope that they don't raise the gas prices to $4/gal and bankrupt my ass.

TLN wasn't paying me much the last few months, but it was groceries. It was the gym. It was some gas money. And those things are now gone.

Is it really so awful that I want to just sit here and scream obscenities at them? Is it really so awful that I need closure? meaning I need to know: what did I do wrong? Why was I fired?

Filed under: Work No Comments
14Jan/080

Alas…

The time has come. I will no longer be employed by The Library Network after February 11th.

I have mixed feelings about this. My duties with TLN have been gradually whittled down to almost nothing. My hours with them have been scarce, and I was tiring of having to argue about time sheets and feeling ignored by them. I was planning to discuss my employment with Angie. My plan would have been to suggest they pay me as a 1099 employee, which might have tax advantages for me. I realized I couldn't have that discussion until I was ready to go. Guess I don't have to make that decision now: it's been made for me.

I worked for TLN from November 1995 until November 1998. I then quit to work full time with Northville. TLN called me up in April 1999 asking me to take the website job over on the side for awhile. Well, that "awhile" turned into almost 9 years. I've been doing the Newsletter for so long, It's going to be like I have to quit smoking... I'm addicted to working on the Newsletter. What will I do with my Monday evenings now? I have no idea!

I've worked for TLN for almost 12 years total, which when you think of it... is just as long as I went to school... from First Grade to High School Senior. I learned a lot about the power of team work. I remember Kerry telling me "just get it done, fast and effectively". I remember working on countless jobs with Mark, Johnie, John and Scott. Mark and I battled spammers, crackers, virii, old hardware, crusty bosses, apathy and more through the years. Johnie taught me to respect the power of a real hacker. Kerry taught me how to work hard and focus. Scott taught me how to be a great guy and work harder.

I admit to being a wee bit bitter about it right now. I really wanted to work with Derek. I wanted to see if we could be the next "dynamic duo" at TLN. Alas... it is not to be. This saddens me the most right now.

I enjoyed working with Mark, John, Irene, Anne, Damon, Scott, Kerry, Johnie, Don, Brigette, Jim, Corliss and all the others through the years. I just kind of feel I deserved a better send off, you know? I wouldn't expect a gold watch, but a nice "bye now, thanks for the memories" would have been lovely. It doesn't appear in the offing with the cold email "your services are no longer required" treatment I got.

So I guess I'll just include that in here for the record:
To John, Irene, Anne, Damon, Brigette, Jim, Mike, Corliss, Susan, Derek and anyone else I've forgotten
- I've enjoyed working with you all, and hope you all have success and happiness at whatever you do in life.

11Jan/080

Vague Expression of Barely Coherent Political Views

In this posting I will attempt to summarize my basic political views revolving around the current fiasco known as an election... I'll start with a basic statement:

Anyone who would actually do a good job as President of the United States (POTUS) isn't dumb enough to run for office. I blame the press for this. reality is, no one is perfect. Everyone has skeletons to dig up with enough nosy gits running around, and no one has opinions that everyone agrees with. All elections have devolved to being little more than extremely expensive PR contests...

Regardless of which, these "beauty contests" are how we decide whom makes the hard decisions, like who to blow up next, for our country.

That being said... the current crop of pathetic pretenders is summarized as follows:

Richardson (D) - I was actually into this guys rhetoric early on in the contest, until he decided he wanted to steal all the water from Michigan. Some things are sacred. Water belongs in lakes. You cannot logically complain you don't have enough water when you're living in a desert. If there's not enough water for you... move out of the desert, kid.

Huckabee (R) - In this day and age... anyone foolish enough to vote for a religious minister hasn't been paying attention. Church and State require separation. They realized this over 200 years ago, ya know? They haven't figured this out in the middle east, where repressive regimes are backed by religion, leaving millions of people unable to express themselves. Government manages people. Religion manages souls. Why is this hard for so many people to grasp? A priest, minister, Grand Poobah or whatever can threaten your soul. A politician can threaten to kick your dog. Which one is worse? The "hidden" religious agenda turns me off (like the crosses in all his commercials). We need to elect a president: NOT an Baptist Ayatollah.

Romney (D) - Sorry. I watched "Big Love". No. Frackin. Way. Whether you're from Michigan or not, I can't see myself voting for this man. I see nothing to trust or believe in.

Edwards (D) - I like some of what I hear from him. He talks about some things that I find interesting. I also think he's trying to sell me a used Gremlin at Mercedes prices. He does not inspire any amount of trust in me.

Thompson (R) - No more actors in the White House. Please.

McCain (R) - I'm sorry, but he missed the bus in 2000. Now, I have NOTHING against old people... but McCain makes old people feel like spring chickens. I want my president to have at least a fighting chance of NOT dying of natural causes during his/her term in office. I just don't believe McCain fits that bill.

Giuliani (R) - The martial woes are just the beginning. He apparently goes through women so fast... why would I elect a man who marries a woman, claims to be a Catholic, divorces them, and then remarries... what, 3 or 4 times? As silly as it sounds in light of my rant against Huckabee... if a man can't be truthful to his religion, why the heck would he be truthful to a nation? No way.

Paul (R) - Probably the most common sense candidate of the bunch... except for the anti-Semitism and racism. Some of the best people I've known in my life are Jewish or black or both... and if you aren't down with that, you aren't getting my vote.

Clinton (D) - Admitting this now: My opinion is that Bill Clinton was the best president in the time I've been alive (meaning from Nixon to Dubbya). It's not even close. Reagan's probably a mid-pack second. So... I'm intrigued to know if some of Bill's magic rubs off on Hillary. She's still in play. I haven't counted her out. But I can't say she gets my vote because...

Obama (D) - Appears to be the best and most solid candidate of the bunch. Good ideas, and great charisma. An Anti-Dubbya. An escape from a Bush/Clinton sandwich. However, he's dragging a boat anchor named Oprah, and I consider it to be a probable sign of weakness if he feels he has to use Oprah to attract white yuppie women to vote for him. Never the less, I actually believe he'll help reverse some of the damage to liberty and justice that Dubbya has inflicted during his reign of terror.

That being said... What I really want is for ONE candidate to tell ME why I should vote for THEM. One candidate to convince me that they want to help PEOPLE and not enjoy the POWER. I do NOT care what their opinions are of their opponents. I do not care if they have pictures of their opponents enjoying a hamster with Richard Gere. Just tell me what YOU do best and WHY you think you're the RIGHT person for the job. Is that really so much to ask for? And PLEASE stop playing to the cameras, and start playing to the voters... because cameras don't vote, and do little but make you look fat and dumb (Cameras add 10 lbs, and decrease IQ 25 points on average).

9Jan/080

Annoyances and More

I am so annoyed right now. I was sitting here trying to work, and people kept ringing my door bell. Some guy from Clean Water Act wanting money from me (Sorry, I'm broke) and then 2 guys with AT&T jackets and badges showed up on the porch almost right after wanting me to switch IMMEDIATELY to AT&T for all my services.

Twice I told the guy: I don't HAVE A PHONE and don't NEED A PHONE. Didn't get through. Duh huh.

Regardless of which, the idiots would not get off my porch in timely manner, and attempted to pressure sale me... including flat out lying to me. "Oh, you have to switch soon because all analog is switching to digital!"

Umm... okay... umm... No. Wireless signals are switching to analog. Maybe phones are too. Either way, I don't use a stupid phone, nor care about phones... in a perfect world (for me), all phones would be thrown out in favor of text messaging.

I was considering the AT&T U-Verse service, but the pressure sales just piss me off. They took my address... just pissed me off. They literally forced me to sign something which supposedly said I wasn't ordering their service now, and that better damn well be what it is. Sure, the prices are better, but their salesmen suck donkey balls. If they show up trying to install in my place... I won't be responsible because right now, I wish I weren't so damn nice. Because right now, I wish I punched those 2 idiots in the face and broke their already crooked noses. Seriously. I feel taken advantage of. I can't believe I signed something... WTF? I'm smarter than that... or at least I thought I was.

I wanted to write a complaint letter out to AT&T in regards to these tacties, but apparently they have no means of doing this on their website. Isn't it against the law to make it impossible for deaf people to contact a company? What the hell? So I scatter emailed them at postmaster and support. Doubt it will amount to anything.

Just a piss poor way to make sales, man.