Showing posts from February, 2009

Why you should care about the loss of the Rocky

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Since I found out the news yesterday - that the Rocky Mountain News in Denver was suddenly closing - I wondered why it mattered to me. Why did it stick in my head all day and all night? Why could I not get the images of these people, none of whom I know, getting the terrible news out of my mind?

On Saturday, February 7th, I too got a call that I had expected for several months but was still surprised at how sudden the end came. My company was "ceasing operations immediately". We were in limbo. On Wednesday, I was called back to work, but barely made it home before receiving another phone call. It was over. I was released - along with around 2500 co-workers. If cameras had been in the bathroom, where I closed the door to take the call without my kids hearing my shock, I probably would have had the same pained look as the people in the video above. You know it is happening, but you tell yourself over and over that it cannot happen.

Of …

Thank you!!

There is a new ritual at work now. Each day I get new goodbye emails. Some are from people I just bumped into once or twice and some, like one I got today, are from people who helped me grow as a person and not just as an employee. Sharon Tyler (pictured above in 2004, flanked by "the candidates") was one of those people. When I hit the road and started visiting sites across the country as a trainer, I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing. The majority of the people we went out to train had been around for a lot longer than I had and many were skeptical about each new thing you brought to them. "Don't shoot the messenger" would have described how I felt over and over. Sharon had the knack for training that I did not get with my education degree. She taught me to find the humor in it all and never take it personally when some people just couldn't be "reached". She always wanted the best for everyone around her (many times lobbying behind the sc…

Thanks, Charter!!

We have our internet, phone, and cable TV through Charter Communications. Needless to say, we are paying them big bucks each month (and still saving over what we used to pay AT&T). Today we got a flier advertising a new rewards promo where you accumulate points that you can redeem for gifts. For 20,000 points, you can get a $50 AVIS gift card or a $50 Black Angus Steakhouse gift card. Don't want either of those? Well, you're out of luck then - unless --- you visit the Charter Store. The Charter Store is where they go through trucks in the installation department and steal stuff to give away. Check out this fine selection of "rewards". Thanks, Charter! I've got my eye on White RG6 Screw Clip for Christmas!

Monday Music Extra

A short entry the $3 bargain DVD bin at the Big Lots was a copy of "True Stories". This is David Byrne's (of Talking Heads) ultra weird movie about the ultra weird inhabitants of a small Texas town. It is strange and you get a slight feeling that he is a bit anti-commercial / anti-media excess. What's scary is that this was released in 1986. I can only imagine what he thinks now since it is much much worse today.

So, I guess I've drank too many Cokes or watched too much mindless television (he warned me!), but I had forgotted that the video for "Wild Wild Life" is actually part of the film. The song is great - the video is excellent - and the movie has the strangest mall fashion show you will ever see. For that alone, it is worth the $3.

Click here to see the video at I never could make the embedded video play here.

Survivor Guilt

Once upon a time, almost a lifetime ago (it seems), I kept a lot of journals. Several years ago, in some self-aware weird phase when I made the decision to "let go of the past", I shredded almost all of them. One of the survivals from my shred fest was a binder I kept filled with articles I had copied and newspaper / magazine clippings. Above is one of those clippings. I guess "Phone Call From a Stranger" freaked me out so much in 1989 that I cut the description right out of TV Guide. (Watching movies late at night can cause weird after effects.) The movie (I saw it again recently on TCM) is about a man who is the only survivor of a plane crash. He decides to personally contact the families of three victims he spoke with at length during a long layover in order to finish their unfinished business and give closure to the departed and their families.It's quite a stretch to compare going back to work tomorrow to being the sole survivor of a plane crash, but the fe…


A short update to announce that I got the call this afternoon that I had been hoping for since last Wednesday when I was suddenly laid off: I am back at work in my old job with the new owners (from Canada!) starting Monday. Thanks to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, and encouraging emails during all of this. It has been quite a mess and I am sure there are additional challenges ahead. For now, I am just happy to know we will be able to eat and pay the bills. Whew!

Friday Music Flashback

In my free time (which is abundant lately), I hit the Goodwill looking for a book. Like always, I had to walk through electronics and a vintage 1980's Soundesign stereo caught my eye. It was marked at 14.99 but had a red tag (which is 50% off). I looked and wondered where I would put it. I finally talked myself out of it and left.

Two days later, I was back and I decided to see if it was still there. Yep. The two cassette decks and 8 track probably freaked people out. I plugged it in and it worked. Call it 1980's nostalgia, but I bought it.

I had a Soundesign stereo that I got for my birthday in 1986. It's still in storage with its super-huge speakers. This model is lights up more than mine did (Soundesign envy) and is probably a couple of years older than mine was. Gone is the turntable and the wooden shelf. And, the speakers are not original. These are Emersons.

It sounds suprisingly good. It will be great to have this summer plugged in out on the deck. And, it has aux in s…

"Reality Bites" revisited (aka My apology to Ben Stiller)

Thanks to the $3 movie section at Big Lots (you have to check it out - it's an amazing collection of stuff I like - YMMV) and to my ongoing unexpected sabbatical, I bought and watched this (pictured) 10th Anniversary Edition of "Reality Bites". Since this movie was released 15 years ago, I am guessing there is a 15th anniversary edition now and these "old ones" are getting cleaned out.
OK - enough explanation. Here is why I owe Ben Stiller an apology. On March 25, 1994, I turned in an movie review of "Reality Bites" for an essay in English 300. (And, yes, I saved most of the stuff I wrote since I was under the false assumption that I would actually end up being a real writer and not a technical writer, like Ambrose Monk, when I grew up.)
Today, after watching the movie, I read the essay again. I had not seen the movie since before I wrote the review. With 15 years of experience behind me, I realize now that I didn't "get it".
I get it now…

Eyeglasses Update

Sara got lucky. 20/20 vision! She did not share the same fate I shared at her age (1980) - glasses. Also, glasses are so much more fashionable now. I was browsing through the kids section at the eye doctor and I was impressed by the selection. Back in the day, we had one style in kid glasses- serial killer. I believe I saw some grown ups in the mid 1990's on TV who ended up being serial killers and were still wearing that horrible style of glasses.

I found this example of "Glasses of 1980". This is some sixth grade class, but I had the exact same ones. Notice how they paired him with the one girl also wearing glasses. I guess they wanted the glare to be all in one place.

The entry where I plug "Perfect Fifths"

I rarely, rarely endorse products on the blog. Aside from an HDTV USB adapter and my Asus EEE 900A (my netbook which is quite literally the best friend I think a writer / professional web surfer could ever own), I normally share links to good blogs and tell a little bit about what I am reading.

Tonight, I am killing two birds with one stone. Megan McCafferty is not only a fellow member of the Class of 1991 (not at the same school. But, did I mention that Taylor Swift attended my high school? That is the only thing that impresses my kids about where I attended high school), a great blogger (click here), and an all around nice person, but she is also a quite accomplished author with a new book coming out.

Perfect Fifths is the fifth (obviously) book in her series and it will hit stores (and Amazon) on April 14th. You can pre-order now (click here or here) and you can catch up on the first four books (click here or here).

In the last couple of months, I shamelessly proclaimed my love for Wh…

Retail gets exciting!

It's like a carnival - it's fun to spend money!! Just check out our Ferris Wheel of Gift Cards!

Actually, it's quite calming once you stare at it enough.

The next emotion is...

...sadness. I think all of the momentum finally slowed down today and that gave me time to think about what I will really miss about my job. Hint - it will not be climbing around in the ceiling running cable or crawling under machinery or 20 hour shifts in the returns department!

Curtain Call

And, we're done.

I got "the call" tonight. It was a shame, since I was quite optimistic all day. But, they decided to let us all go and I'm not sure what the implications are for the rest of the company. I can only hope that the people I care about are taken care of and find a better situation soon.

I got to send out some "thank you" emails and made calls to the other members of my team. That was the toughest part, but I am hopeful we will stay in touch.

I do have the faith to know that all of this will turn out for the best. Good things will come of this. And, I will keep repeating that until it happens!

Riding the roller coaster

When I have nothing positive to write, I normally do not write. This has been how I have felt since I got the phone call Saturday afternoon which notified me that my job was immediately on hold.

Of course, I wrote a few entries ago that I felt that trouble loomed on the horizon but I never thought it could happen so quickly. I've been here nearly eight years and I am in a position I enjoy (even though it is stressful beyond belief at times) and I am fortunate enough to work with good people. To have all of that ripped away in a matter of hours was quite a shock. I'd say it easily made the top 5 list of "crappy life experiences".

Tomorrow, we return to work. I don't think any of us will be the same moving forward. It sounds like things will be OK and we won't be repeating this again in the coming weeks.

No matter what, I know I can't find myself again ending up in the terrible position that I have been in for the last four days of little sleep, lots of compul…

Friday Night Music Rewind

From deep within the vault...Bob Welch singing "Ebony Eyes" in 1978. This is one strange, strange video. The sound is a bit out of sync, but that's a You Tube deal. What makes no sense in this is, well - nothing makes sense in this. You'll see an 18 year old Valerie Bertinelli. You'll see her handcuffed to a man that looks like the rival cafe owner in Casablanca. You'll see strange dancers that made me keep thinking about Reefer Madness.

I am a Bob Welch fan and this is one of my favorite songs. He also had "Sentimental Lady" in '77 (his biggest hit) and "Precious Love" in '79 (another personal favorite). He was also a member of Fleetwood Mac from '71 to '74.

And, in this video he reminds me of someone. I just can't place it. Oh, wait....

Turn up your sound and enjoy...

Random Thoughts for a Thursday Night

My new favorite "The Office" quote:
"If I can't find a new way to relate more positively to my surroundings, I'm going to die."
"I'm going to die." - Stanley Hudson

Also, do you ever walk past a magazine rack and get cold chills? I do.

I don't say much about work on here, but working in this industry is real fun these days. Never a dull moment. If you go into your grocery store or Wal-Mart this weekend and don't see your favorite magazine, don't call me. It's not my fault.

Riding the Waves

It's been a fairly quiet couple of weeks here on the blog. That's mainly due to being distracted by my current work situation. In a matter of two weeks, I've changed departments (again - second time in a year), taken on a new project involving hundreds of users and tried to create the planning for that new project with only 10 days to do the work - all while the company is going through a major upheaval.

Needless to say, in the past two weeks, I've set new personal records in several areas:

- Coffee Consumption
- Minimum Hours of Sleep
- Amount of overnight web surfing completed
- Nervous cleaning (I've never been quite so organized and dust-free)
- Repetitive calls to co-workers looking for encouraging thoughts while really just satisfied that their phones haven't been disconnected unexpectedly

I may look back on this period in a few months and wonder why I was so paranoid or I may look back on this period in a few months with a different job - going down a new road.…