1 Year Without A Job

A year ago my company, Exuvian, imploded because the CEO, Steve, stopped doing his job, billing the customer and signing our paychecks. Why’d he stop? I have no idea.
After three months of working without pay I decided that there were better options so I considered myself laid off. But the Steve problem didn’t stop there. Because he hadn’t payed payroll taxes since March of 2008 it looked to EDD that I hadn’t been working at all. And when they think you haven’t been working you’re not entitled to unemployment.
At this point the typical Republican says, “Get a job” and that’s what I tried to do. But working on Beoing’s older IT for the previous four years doesn’t look too good on a resume. I tried to reinvent myself as an Android programmer just as the industry standards for Android Programmers shot through the unrealistic roof.
My savings are gone but I have a few things to hope for: I appealed the unemployment with EDD and that looks like it might come though. I reported Steve to the California Labor Board for my back pay and I applied to the electricians union’s apprentice program.
I have my fingers crossed that one or all of these will come though and put be back to where I was when this crap started but one thing this year has taught me is that optimism is just another name for wishful thinking.

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10 Years Without God

I attended Clairmont Christian School for grades two through seven, I guess my parents thought that Catholic Mass wasn’t enough. The doctrine at CCS was some form of protestantism I don’t remember which. I do remember some of the wacky lectures we received from guest speakers- “Scientists have found Heaven in the Andromeda Galaxy”, “Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone, here’s what happens if you try”, and the standard “Heavy Metal-Satan’s Music”

Of course there was also an “Idolatry in the Catholic Church” lecture at some point. Meanwhile at Mass they were giving a more subdued counter attack. The Protestants said the Catholics had it wrong and the Catholics said the Protestants had it wrong. I decided that they were both right and I remained an unaffiliated Christian for the next ten years. A believer in the Bible if not the church.

That ended when I heard that some Biblical scholars had developed a new version of the Gospels. It was the King James version but the words attributed to Jesus were colored black if the scholars thought Jesus definitely said, gray if it was something he probably said, pink if it was something he probably didn’t say and red if it was something he definitely didn’t say. My head was spinning for days as the idea that the Bible, even just some part of the Bible, was wrong worked it’s way into my head. Bouncing back and forth from Catholic to protestant I knew that interpretations of the Bible could be wrong but it had never occurred to me that the book itself was flawed. From Christian I shifted uncomfortably to deist.

But I wanted so badly to believe; in an external purpose, in a cosmic justice, in an objective right and wrong, in rules, that the good were rewarded and the bad were punished. Being a Christian was so easy, all I just had to parrot back what I was taught as a child, occasionally reinforcing it with a rationalization.

I stood on this shaky ground until I took Comparative World Religions for an English credit. After I looked at the world’s seven major religions side by side one stood out for it’s simplicity, modesty and relative lack of atrocities, Buddhism.

While I haven’t been a very good Buddhist I have finally found a belief system that isn’t threatened when contemplated. The Four Noble Truths are philosophically sound and unthreatened by scientific understanding or other people’s beliefs.

But most importantly, Buddhism allowed me to be happy.

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6 Years Without Cable

Of course I cheat by watching it over at ‘s place. Because for me watching cable isn’t as big a time waster as not watching cable. When I have the set to myself and the DVR is cleared I’ll compulsively surf because I feel that with hundreds of channels that there has to be something worth watching.
Even now I’ll waste ten minutes cycling through the five channels we get on PV (PeasantVision). Fortunately that’s a small enough set. Flipping through all the possibilities on cable, past all the worthless pay-per-view and home-shopping and ESPNs then I have to start all over because it’s been 30 minutes and maybe “Bald Guy Eats Yeti Testicles” is over and something worthwhile has taken it’s place.
Another 30 minutes of flipping: Repeat.

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-and 19 years since I first went in.
My first unit was 7th Comm Battalion, a garrison unit. Garrison units rarely get deployed as a whole rather they exist to draw detachments from. Since the unit itself serves no purpose there is nothing to do in a garrison unit except busy work.
I don’t know if this is coincidence or what but when I got there about half of the WMs (Women Marines) in 7th Comm were pregnant. That means those kids are as old now as I was then. For their sake I hope they’re not in 7th Comm or anywhere else in the military.

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8 Years Without School

I have a BA in Mathematics, Applied Science (Cognitive Science). I graduated with a GPA of 3.46 in my upper division coursework at UCSD and a 3.75 GPA for the lower division classes that I took at Mesa. When I graduated from high school I had barely passed beginning algebra, and after four years in the Marine Corps I’d forgotten all of that. So I spent an extra two years at Mesa working my way up the prerequisite chain towards Calculus.

Six years of education, all of it worthless. Because my degree never did anything to get me a job, but Steve Padilla did. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And all the time I spent studying was a waste, time I should have spent schmoozing.

My most marketable skills are all self taught. And I suspect that I would of done a lot better as an autodidact with no student loans than I did with a degree and five figures of debt.

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At Cafe 976 there was always one annoying tag along, a bore that nobody really liked. And as soon as one bore disappeared another one popped right up.

From 2002-04 things were bad for computer people. There were five of us at 976 (give or take) and almost all of us had job trouble during that period. I even met two of them because we were sitting around, drink coffee and reading the want ads all day. One by one the careers picked back up, except mine.

Days spent fruitlessly looking for work, evenings at 976 was the only thing I had to look forward to. But I began to suspect that I wasn’t welcome anymore, I stopped talking and see if anyone noticed. Day after day I got an earful of three of the computer people talk about what they’re buying next. I had $200 and no income and I had to listen to these guys trying to out spend each other. If favors had point values helping them move is pretty high up there, and I’d helped two of these guys move. One of them was staffing a company, knew I was unemployed and never asked if I could use a job.

Well since I’d become the annoying tag along, the bore that nobody really liked then I’d be the first to realize without being told. I left.

I used to think that friendship was a binary state; two people are friends or they’re not. But I learned that friendship is really two values: What you’re willing to do for your friend. And what your friend is willing to do for you. And if the ratio of those two values isn’t close to one then it’s better to just walk away.

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I have everything I have today because I was reading JLA: Year One #1 which attracted the attention of Ashley who introduced me to her friends at Cafe 976 back in 1998. That moment is the Wold Newton of my life. When I started writing this post I was just thinking about how I met my best friend there who introduced me to my girlfriend. And the first boss to provide me with stable employment since the Marine Corps. But it goes way beyond that:

People I met at 976- danifesto, Tina, flareinpink, hober, infopractical, jemvla, redgeekdotnet, kirinqueen, laureltree, maddox3, mpschuster, radium, sunshine__girl and his LJ is gone now, my boss for the last three years- Steve Padilla.

By way of Dan I met the Elsevier crowd- avantard, demonslayer (not an employee but close enough), , radcapdotcom and best of all mollymillions.

Then there are the others that 976er’s introduced me to- bottlroktt, dizfactor, hezaakun (two steps removed), thebarefootrose, tinkerbell_mk, tracyakafrog, leaningshrpfeed (who I met because of a job that Tracy got me. I met Steeler-Carly at one of her shows.), kafkadreams and sewyrn who I was reconnected with because of Erin.

I joined LJ because so many 976er’s had and eventually I met- aliteraryaffair (who introduced me to caramida, teawiththecheat and tinellaq) and animaetrix00 (who introduced me to lattenjoe, namey and vapid_waste)

And if Ted (I think) hadn’t told me about the free wireless at Lestat’s I would have never of met- jessicasix, Nick and thunderwhelmed,

The only people I can’t trace back to 976 are- _ouroboros_, e_c_d_u_b (who introduced me to Kristen who introduced me to: jessimuhka, jonthegm, melampous), modemx and the_bone (who introduced me to nani_blog_feed). And iron_spike> and dirktiede who I met at Comic Con.

Furthermore. Because of that one comic book one on that one night: Carly and Christi are roommates, Steve’s had his last two girlfriends, Dan and Steve are roommates and Dan And Jessica are in their relationship of mysterious nomenclature.

Wow. That’s a lot of my life that goes back to Ashley and Cafe 976, you think I’d appreciate her for it. You think I’d be nostalgic for that place. But I don’t and I’m not.

Ashley I figured out right away. She’s not interested in people, she’s just wants people to be interested in her. I’d never be more that someone who knows her. She is as she is and I don’t dislike her for it, but I can’t like her despite of it.

And Cafe 976, the coffee shop that was my social anchor for six years. Why did I walk away without a word? I’ll get to that next post, this one has gotten far too long.

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1 Year Without Debt

[In the wake of my recent birthday I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve gone without.]

No student loans, no car payments, no fucking credit cards. I paid off the last of my bills twelve months ago and it still feels great. Actually, it’s not a good feeling- it’s the absence of a bad feeling, that feeling of looming dread. Stepping out from under that Sword of Damocles was pure liberation. Bills are chains.

And now the government wants to give me $600. Cool. But I figure if I want to be rich someday I should act rich now and keep that money in the bank. Back in 2001 when they passed out the last Economic Stimulus Bill (remember how well that worked?) I got my check right after 9/11 and I promptly forwarded the money to the Red Cross. Then I lost my job. Over the next four years of spotty employment I thought about how nice it’d be to have that $300. I’d become the real charity case.

Though I have no reason to fear for my job during this the Third Bush Recession I’m still going to keep that $600 unspent. Just in case. Because my economy is more important than the country’s.

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