April 25, 2020

On Monday it will be a month since I was told I was being laid off. One month. Today, it seems like it was like three months ago, to the point where I’m having difficulty remembering what I was doing for a living less than a month ago. It almost seems like a dream. Every day that goes by I’m feeling less and less inclined to hop back on board the full-time employment train. Oh, I’m still planting seeds out there (I’m actually going to apply for a full-time project manager job on Monday), but it’s primarily so I can get my formal, “professional IT” cover letter in a good state for future opportunities if I were to ever truly decide to go back to the meat grinder.

There’s actually been a lot to do this past week – I’ve been helping my sister-in-law Tammy find a new apartment, and the Tiki Bar deck looks really nice now that it has been re-stained and resealed. We’ve officially entered the door into summer where we’ll be in the triple digits pretty much every day now until October, so there will be a halt on further outdoor projects, but there’s enough to keep me busy with indoor chores.

And, of course, there will be job-hunting, although I’m being pretty picky right now as far as part-time work goes. There are elderly care-giver services I’m still looking into as well as the UPS Store, Lowe’s and Total Wine and More (imagine working around alcohol for 2-3 days a week!). These are all good excuses for working on cover letters and seeing what’s out there, but right now I think I’ll be using May as a transitional month and a month for getting back into shape. I have several 3-mile walking courses mapped out, and I’ll be planning on doing my Eades diet sometime during the month. I’ve thought about working on my golf game, but I have to admit that from the way things are currently looking back in Massachusetts – most especially my plans to stay in the guesthouse at my dad’s retirement community during Goodboys week (the third week in July) go – I’m leaning heavily towards backing out of this year’s festivities. It’s just not worth the hassle.

The one thing I have been doing is watching the President’s daily Coronavirus task force press conferences, and I’m absolutely horrified at the ignorance and the reprehensible performance of the White House press corp. For the life of me, I don’t know why the President even bothers with these folks. You see his Task Force members putting their best efforts forward, and all these so-called “journalists” want to do is ask “gotcha” questions of the President and act as if we’re all going to die. Any reasonable person (and by that I mean anyone who doesn’t get their information from the major news networks or the clowns at CNN and MSNBC) can see the Task Force has a good handle on what’s going on out there, but the media clowns are fully invested in trying to drag the hysteria as long as they can as a way to damage the President’s re-election chances in November. They truly are the enemy of the people.

As various states begin to open up expect to see more stories like this. This whole Coronavirus has been hyped from the very beginning. Look, people have died, and most of them because of pre-existent, reckless actions on the part of Democratic-run states whose public health organizations were completely unprepared. But as more testing is done and it is found that not only has the Coronavirus been around in the USA longer than we previously thought, but it is also far less deadly than originally thought. The models were not just wrong, but hideously wrong – to the point where we have closed down our entire economy for something no more deadly than a bad flu season. And who among the so-called “experts” is going to take responsibility for that? Time to stop the bullshit and allow this country to do what it does best.

Me? I’m just waiting for the final show to drop on “Slo’ Joe” Biden. Up to now, it’s just been the dude’s obvious lack of mental acuity, but the Tara Reade accusation is now starting to gain momentum to the point where you’re starting to see more Twitter posts like this. The Democrats know they’re in deep shit with Biden – they have to know Trump will absolutely have him for lunch were they ever to debate – so expect more and more calls for Biden to step aside for someone younger and mentally more with it.

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April 21, 2020

OK, I’ll admit it – I’m going nuts. I’m less than three weeks into my imposed “early retirement” and I’m ready to climb the walls. I mean, how much can one actually do in their spare time when spare time is all you have?

I wanted to clear out my old work office and move Peach the rabbit to his new digs in our “home office”. Done.

I wanted to rearrange the laundry room cabinet. That took all of 1 1/2 hours.

I wanted to clean out my bathroom vanity and create a real First Aid kit for the house. Another 1 1/2 hours.

I’ve been wanting to re-stain the Tiki Bar deck – that will be completed by Thursday noon.

I need to get started on the taxes and will do so starting next week. But that’s hardly what I would call a chore.

In between all that, I’ve been putting out feelers for jobs without really knowing what – if anything – I want to do at this point. I’ve still got another four months of severance checks coming in that I’ve already figured are the equivalent of me being paid normally through early November. Which is great – I’m one of the lucky ones. But I can’t just sit around the house. I don’t watch TV (although, I’ll admit, the idea of binge-watching “Magnum P.I.” or “Monk” has begun to cross my mind!)

You see the problem here is, I’m a doer. I’m not really one to sit on the sidelines and watch the world go round. But there’s also something inside me that says I need to have a hard, honest look at my situation and decompress before honestly assessing what I want to do from here. Sure, I created my LinkedIn profile and created a consulting LLC in case I want to get back into Healthcare IT, but just the thought of it creates an internal recoil that advises me against it.

…actually, everything I think about doing right now in terms of work and finding a job creates a recoil. It’s almost as if my internal psyche is advising that I need to decompress. But what if decompressing is something I don’t know how to do or am not very good at?

Normally around this time of year I think about listening to surf music and working on my golf game in anticipation of Goodboys weekend in July. But there’s no desire on either count this year – I don’t feel like listening to surf music, and there’s little interest in gearing up for this year’s installment (it would be my last one, anyways).

I don’t want this to make it sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself – I certainly am not, and I know there are a lot of folks out there in far worse shape than I am. There are folks losing their lives and their livelihoods (and living in fear of doing so) because of the economic downturn resulting from all these Coronavirus lockdowns. All I’m admitting, I guess, is that, even though my life was being run through the meat-grinder for the last three years, there was an adrenaline rush to it, a feeling of being engaged and being a part of the game. That has suddenly been taken away from me and I’m having a hard time adjusting to it. One can only do so many walks and find chores to do to occupy one’s day!

I’ll get over it, I have no doubt. It’s just that I need to use this interim period between “what was” and “what is” in a more “island time” fashion.

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April 14, 2020

“Out here on the perimeter there are no stars. Out here we is stoned – immaculate.” — The Doors, “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)

I haven’t been on a job interview for 16 1/2 years. Or, for that matter, on a job interview for something I didn’t really need at the time.

I am amazed at the time that has passed. I wonder if I have used it wisely. I realize the stupidity of the question because the fact is, few – if any – people use the time allotted to them wisely. All any of us can do is live in the moment and try not to make the kind of really bad decisions you can go a lifetime and never get over.

I’m interviewing for a part-time gig at Visiting Angels, something I’ve thought for a long time I might want to explore once I retired and had nothing better to do – the idea being, after so many years of taking as a result of the corporate grind, find a way to give something back.

It’s hard to believe I’m actually at that point. I never thought I would get here – there were always calls to do, deadlines to meet, assignments to assign out and make sure they got done right and on time. The forest was always too thick to even consider the idea there might be a clearing at the end of it.

But here it is. On the perimeter where there are no stars.

I’m trying to remember the last job interview I did. I was trying to get a job at (then) Eclipsys, and I was selling health insurance for a company called Western Pacific Benefits. Tracey and I had come out here to pursue the last gasp of my dreams at being ordained an Episcopal (or Anglican) priest. The circumstances are a little hazy now after all these years, but there was a seminary where I could pursue a Masters of Divinity degree with the hope of being ordained by one of the denominations that sat outside the Anglican Communion that the Episcopal Church was a part of. The seminary folded shop a couple of months after we arrived, leaving me completely out of sorts, needing something in the healthcare IT world since I certainly wasn’t cut out to sell insurance.

I had interviewed by phone with a couple of guys while Tracey and I were still living in Massachusetts, and the final in-person interview was with a gal I only remember having the name of Kim. I’d never interviewed for a job before that I felt I absolutely had to have – there was nothing else going on at the time. We had bought the house we currently live in, and there was no going back to Massachusetts. I don’t remember a whole lot about the interview itself; I tried not to show the extent to how much I needed this job – I tried my best to play it cool. I don’t think Kim was that impressed by me, although I do remember her saying at the end of the interview that I had passion, and that passion was something that was sorely needed around the office. (I never knew what that meant.) It took a few very stressful weeks before the decision came to hire me, and I remember thinking I would never allow myself to be put in that position again.

Fortunately it has never come to that.

So today I had that first job interview in 16 1/2 years, at Visiting Angels. Nice company, very together in terms of the services they sell and how they do it. I felt very comfortable there. It was all very cool, very laid back. I wore khakis and a Hawaiian shirt. Decided then and there I would never again interview for anyone in anything else but. Had my coffee travel mug in hand. Completed a questionnaire followed by a nice, laid-back conversation with the HR lady. Unlike the folks at the company I recently worked at, she seemed both a human and a resource. Talked about what I was looking for and what they offered. No pressure. They added me to their list of potential employees as requests come in. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. But I think we both liked each other and I do expect to hear from them.

Today I also applied for a Poolwerx sales associate position. I think I’m beginning to like this idea of no pressure kind of employment. Sure, the money will never be that great, but I’m starting to come around to the idea that the life I was living was actually no life at all. And I can do without the HR and senior management dickheads that are nothing but cancer in today’s professional industries.

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April 13, 2020

A nod to John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival for the title of this post. Thinking about it, I’ve never included their classic LP “Cosmo’s Factory” as a top 10 album of all time but you take a look at the quality of the songs on it and, while perhaps not top 10 material, I could easily put it in my all-time top 20 – it’s that good.

Anyways, a picture taken from the back patio on a warm and tranquil Easter evening. I’m really proud of what I’ve done with the back yard (a nod to Tracey on the colors of the pool deck). Even the A/C and plumbing/electric guys who replaced our hot water heater and electrical box (in that order) last week remarked how our back yard looks like a resort. And you know what? It does – by design! It was always designed for a place Jimmy would have felt comfortable in.

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April 12, 2020
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April 11, 2020

Hope y’all are enjoying another “Coronavirus Crackdown” weekend. Normally folks would be out and attending church services and going out for dinner, but there won’t be any of that this year. Here (as where y’all are) things have been pretty quiet. I’ve been working on getting my resume up to speed and I’ll be uploading that to my LinkedIn profile on Monday. I have an interview with the Visiting Angels folks on Monday to see if that is something I might be interested in doing part-time, and my resume will be going to my local Poolwerx shop and a couple of UPS stores as well. I’ve also started looking at the Craig’s list classified to see what kind of interesting work from home opportunities there might be out there. So all is good.

The one thing I’ve noticed is that, the further away I get from my previous healthcare IT life, the less attractive it is as far as the idea of returning to it. As my wife told me last night, I’ve paid my dues. Sure, the money was good, but it really wasn’t what anyone would call a quality of life. At this point in time I’m not closing my mind to anything – it would be foolish to do so. But increasingly – and things can always change (most especially the way things are now) – the thinking is that it would have to be a damned attractive and near-perfect opportunity to lure me back into the professional IT world again.

One of the questions about this whole COVID-19 pandemic thing that no one seems either interested in or curious about is why Las Vegas hasn’t been one of the hot spots out there. I mean, think about it: Vegas ought to be a virtual petri dish for a Coronavirus outbreak – the casinos didn’t start closing until late February, you have a very high Asian population that frequents the town, you have large numbers of folks working, gambling, eating, drinking, and going to theaters, nightclubs, and, yes, even strip clubs (so I’ve heard, I’ve never been in one ;-)) in close proximity to each other. One would think the town should have been a natural hot spot but it doesn’t appear to be so.

Any time you have a crisis situation like this you’re going to good folks trying to make the best of a bad situation – this story is one of them.

…and, on the other hand you’ve got folks who allow the power of their elected positions go to their heads and start acting like tin-pot dictators. And all these folks attempting to close down Easter church services – even if they are held out in the open and with folks social distancing themselves via their cars is incredible wrong and ill-advised.

…I went to a Lowe’s today to refill one of my propane tanks and they have markers on the floor to keep people apart and see-through plastic barriers to reduce direct contact with the check-out folks, so how is that OK and church services not? BINGO.

…of course these are, to a great extent, Democratic officials, so you have to think there’s some anti-religion bias going on out there. And given their liberal bent these days I highly doubt these churches can expect the ACLU to come to their rescue. It’s pretty pathetic.

…which is why I highly expect folks to begin acts of civil disobedience against state officials who begin resisting the opening up of cities and towns economically when the President’s task force starts publishing steps and guidelines along those lines. After all, freedom is baked into the DNA of this country and it’s citizens. (As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”) I have faith in our citizenry to know the risks and the rewards and will ultimately choose wisely.

And I further expect to start seeing some real push-back against Dr Fauci and his flip-flopping on the University of Washington’s IHME numbers, which continue to reflect zero reality to the actual number of deaths the Coronavirus is actually causing.. In the end, this is going to end up being nothing more than a normally-bad flu season. And no matter how they try to say the number of deaths have been reduced though social distancing, no one is pushing them to admit that social distancing was already baked into the model.

Because I know the Democrats and their operatives in the mainstream media as I do, it’s pretty easy to see how all this is going to play out in terms of messaging ahead of the 2020 presidential election:

1. Orange Man bad, a racist and xenophobe for shutting down air travel between the US and China.

2. Orange Man bad because he didn’t take the Coronavirus seriously at the beginning.

3. Orange Man bad because he’s going to kill people by opening up the economy too soon. (Watch after this happens the glee in which the media starts reporting every death that occurs starting on or around May 1.)

4. Then finally, Orange Man bad because he didn’t open up the economy sooner even when the models were always revising downward the number of expected deaths. (Watch after this the glee in which the media starts reporting how slow the economy takes to come back.) Remember that it will be up to the governors of each state to decide when to open up their own states. Considering the way locally-elected Democratic officials are using the virus as an excuse to close churches and other kinds of social gatherings they don’t like, expect state officials in Democratic states to drag their heels in an act of defiance and resistance against the President.

…after all, if you want to work against the President’s re-election in November, why be in a rush to get the economy growing and risk proving him right again?

Have a happy and blessed Easter, everyone!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:41 | Comments (0)
April 6, 2020

“The days drift by, they don’t have names…” — Jimmy Buffett, “I Have Found Me A Home”

It’s amazing how being suddenly unemployed – no schedule, no deadlines, no crises – slows down the passage of time and one’s perception of time. Without the daily regimen of scheduled calls, I’ll admit that last Friday I couldn’t remember if it were Thursday or Friday. Last week for me was, at least professionally, my transition week (my last actual day of employment being Wednesday); today I begin my first full week of “the next life”. With the severance package I’ve received there’s certainly no rush for me to jump in and start beating the bricks. Still, I’m a disciplined kind of a guy who needs to have some kind of schedule to keep himself sane, so I’ve kind of laid out a strategy for the month of April that will not just allow me the chance to decompress from the meat-grinder of the last few years, but still have some kind of a schedule or regimen to follow.

So at 7:30 AM every day I’ll be getting up to feed Peach the rabbit and get the coffee turned on, thus enabling Tracey to maintain her own workday schedule. If I feel like it, I’ll go back to bed for a couple of hours before getting up and having breakfast. If I don’t, I won’t.

Breakfast. A luxury I was never allowed to have during my previous life. After all, with calls starting at 7 AM most days and pretty much running through at the very least mid-morning, I never thought about breakfast. Not that I was ever much of a breakfast guy, but one of my goals during this new phase of my life is to try and eat healthier, so I’m going to start my day with a leisurely breakfast (probably on the back patio) to kind of let the day unwind before me. After breakfast I’ll take a brisk walk around the neighborhood – not only to allow me to clear my head and plan my day out, but also it’s a habit I can retain even when the heat arrives (the mornings still be tolerable, even on the hottest days).

After my walk, I figure I’ll pour myself another cup of Joe and work the unemployed angle. Starting this week I’ll be beefing up my LinkIn account profile, bringing all my prior employment history up to date, poking around at the job opportunities that come my way, and checking non-IT related opportunities for either part-time or full time work that I might wish to test out. I’ve already got a company called Poolwerx (for learning the pool maintenance business) and the UPS Store (I’ve always loved the UPS Store) on my list, along with Visiting Angels or something similar along the senior assistance line. As for the latter, I’ve been thinking of something like VA for a long time, the idea being that when my time of “taking” was over I should start doing a little of giving back. I’ve always enjoyed being around elderly folk, so that’s something I plan on looking into.

Once this stay-at-home business is over I plan on volunteering at Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary (a.k.a. The Bunny Basics) once a week. I’m thinking about hanging a shingle out for doing in-home rabbit care for folks who don’t want to board their rabbits while they go away. Obviously, no one’s going anywhere nowadays, but again, all these things that I’m doing now are all designed for planting seeds. I’ve also set up my own LLC consulting firm, TGWS Consulting, that I plan to hang out a shingle for in case I want to go the IT consulting route. I look at this time in my life as a time to explore new opportunities and not say yes or no to anything – after 17 1/2 years in my prior situation I think I deserve at least that.

This week I plan on returning my former work office back to a spare bedroom. Now that I won’t be spending much – if any – time in that room, it’s not fair to Peach to spend his days all alone, so we’ve moved him to his new digs in our home office. Not only will he benefit from a larger space, but he’ll have company both during the day and at night. As an added benefit, because the office is at the end of the hallway that connects the east and west sides of the house, he’ll now be able to witness the natural ebb and flow of people in the house, as opposed to only having company whenever I was working. So that will be a good change for him.

It’s hard to believe that it was only eleven days ago when I was let go. It seems like it has been a month already, the time has passed by so slowly. Like I say, if I didn’t have that severance package to keep me afloat through the end of August I’d be feeling about things a whole lot differently. While the meat-grinder was rough, it was my meat-grinder, and I miss the people who were part of of my professional family for so many years. It sucks, but I chosen to embrace the suck and create a new life for myself. I won’t deny there aren’t momentary pangs of unease, but there’s also a sense of excitement as well.

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April 2, 2020

So I’m officially free of the meat-grinder and I’m feeling pretty good about things. I was a little worried that converting my LinkedIn account from my employer address to my home address would be difficult, but was able to accomplish it with a minimum of back-and forth between the home office and my business office. Today I’ll be officially filing for unemployment and will start up TGWS Consulting, my own business I plan to use for who knows what – if I want to stay in the IT industry it will be a perfect vehicle for doing so; if I want to go in other directions it might be helpful as well. My current plans for April are to use the month for strengthening my LinkedIn network and planting as many seeds as possible.

I must be pretty damned tired without knowing it: after opening the door for the electrician to begin work swapping out our main box (there was something overheating behind the circuit box), I laid back down and slept to noon – something I would (or could) never have imagined doing in my former employment situation! I’m just going to let my body tell me what it wants to do over the next month.

A pet peeve: all these celebrities and folks using John Lennon’s “Imagine” as some kind of anthem of hope. Anthem of hope? You’ve got to be shitting me! Granted, the melody is lovely, and I always found the video of Lennon’s performance particularly poignant with its movement from darkness to light. Yeah, I get it. But the words themselves are, to be brutally frank, the equivalent of dishwater – socialist, idealistic drivel that not even the most ardent socialist would ever be willing to ascribe to. Don’t believe me?

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

No heaven or hell? No religion? No possessions? Basically, what Lennon’s words are saying is there is nothing worth believing in. PERIOD. What kind of an existence would that be? I still remember hearing Lennon’s words when I first got the album back in 1971. And even then, at hearing Lennon’s plea to “imagine no possessions”, I remember myself saying, “you first, John”, knowing he had for himself quite the nice existence as a result of his Beatles existence.

…And that’s the same thing I say to all you liberals and progressives out there – most especially when it comes to climate change and all this “Green New Deal” bullshit. Me? I’ll believe climate change is real when I hear about all those Hollywood celebrities foregoing their carbon-burning private jets and limos. And I’ll believe your cries for open borders when you stop locking your doors at night and all those Hollywood celebrities forego their gated communities and walled-in mansions. It’s all so much bullshit.

…look, I’m no paragon of virtue by any means, but I’m no hypocrite. With The Great White Shank you see what you get.

Happened upon a video of Linda Ronstadt singing “It’s So Easy” back in her heyday and am reminded of just how great and versatile a singer she was. She literally could sing (and has) sung everything from country to pop to pop standards, to mariachi, to classical Cuban. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say she’s one of the greatest singers of our time. I don’t think she’s under-appreciated – lots of folks know how good she was – but I wonder if you’re sitting around a hotel room bed and, say, debating whether Steely Dan was a great band or not (they weren’t), if you were to ask those assembled to name the greatest pop singer of all time I wonder if anyone would mention Ronstadt’s name. I would say she would certainly consider merit.

…I still remember seeing her on the Boston Common back in the late 70s. She came out looking drop-dead cute (if there ever was a definition of cute in the Webster’s they would have had a picture of Ronstadt by it!) in a Girl Scout outfit and blowing away the crowd with that mother-f’in’ tight band of hers: Russ Kunkel on drums, Kenny Edwards on bass, Waddy Wachtel, Danny Kortchmar, and/or Andrew Gold on on guitar, Billy Payne on keyboards, and Peter Asher on vocals. These guys were not only the cream of L.A. musicians during the mid-to-late ’70s, but with Ronstadt hanging around the Troubador bar were ultimately for bringing the Eagles together.

…Ronstadt’s voice was a true instrument: she could sing it straight, falsetto, sweetly, and growl and purr almost effortlessly. What a treasure!

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March 31, 2020

I just looked at the clock and, as far as Eastern Daylight Time is concerned (all that matters as far as my now-previous employer is concerned), for the first time in almost 17 1/2 years I find myself unemployed. A truly free agent in every sense of the word. The world being my oyster and all that happy horse shit. It feels truly weird.

I went to bed last night trying to think about who I was and what it was like back in December of 2003, walking into the Gateway Center building (at that time where my company’s Phoenix office was then located). I was forty-eight at the time, only feeling relieved that my brief and pitiful period of selling health insurance was finally over. I was back in Healthcare IT, where, the idea of becoming an Episcopal or Anglican priest recently and finally squashed like a bug, I knew I belonged.

Laying on the pillow, hands behind my head, I couldn’t recall who or what I was at that time. Isn’t that strange? All I knew then was that I had found a new gig: something I was truly qualified for. This was four years before working from home. Five years before the India team. Fourteen years before “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” and when the madness set in.

I never dreamed it would be 17 1/2 years later, and I’d be sixty-four – 64! – and that, mentally and physically fried to a crisp, the journey would come to an end.

Strange thing is, I found all the final activities associated with my final day of employment strangely dull and unemotional. Got up in the morning, found that the incompetent Human Resources representative (who has never been either human nor a resource in all my dealings with her) finally got my “outboarding” (where do folks come up with these terms, anyways?) e-mail with all my severance package info (which, if it is to be believed, something very respectable) as well as all the other crap you have to follow when leaving a primarily remote company (turn in you badge, your company credit card, your laptop, etc.). I found it interesting they were allowing me keep a very nice 22″ Lenovo monitor: the equipment guy told me they had run out of room for returned monitors. Go figure.

I backed up all the files I could onto an archaic external drive my company had provided me years ago.

I checked my Inbox, now down to seven e-mails (all from well-wishers in the company), got it down to zero.

I had a final call with my team, where I learned that, not only are a bunch of folks being placed on furlough (supposedly because of the Coronavirus), but that there are rumors of a sales force layoff in the next couple of weeks followed by another 10% reduction in force after that, and then after that yet another reduction in force planned for the beginning of May.

If all the above is true, it would appear that I’m getting out just in time.

(I really don’t want this post to be negative; all I’m going to say is that it infuriates me to no end that a once-prominent (and in my view, superior) healthcare IT company has been run into the fucking ground by a bunch of totally fucking incompetent and over-their-fucking-heads management team by a totally fucking incompetent, social justice warrior impersonating a CEO. I hate to offer the premise of a conspiracy theory here, but I find it hard to believe that someone could take over a company in 2012 – a company with clients from one end of the country to the other – a real player in the healthcare IT industry – with a stock price somewhere in the $15 range and gradually run it into the ground where, just seven years later, it has lost a large portion of its US client base, its stock is in the $7 range, and has been laying off people by the dozens over the past two years. Sure, you can call it capitalism – and it is – but you know damned well the CEO is going to leave with a damned fine compensation package when the company is sold, and to hell with everyone else. It just sucks, and my heart bleeds for everyone being forced to watch that string quartet play “Nearer My God To Three” as the stern rises ever so slowly as the bow begins to disappear under the waves. It just sickens me.)

It was shortly after 1 PM (4 PM EDT) that I sent my final e-mails out, set my Skype status to “Away”, put my Outlook out of office message on, and then quietly, without emotion or fanfare, powered off my laptop and unplugged the equipment on my office desk. My office mate Peach the rabbit must have sensed something was going on – he came over and started biting the wire fence that separates his part of the room from mine, insisting on some attention. I gave him a few pets, got up from my chair, and went out to make lunch. And that was that.

Ever since getting the news of my layoff on Thursday I’d been wondering what it would feel like to shut down the laptop, knowing it was all over. Would I feel sadness? Joy? Relief? As it was, I felt nothing. Not happy. Not sad. Not even sentimental. It was over – fourteen pretty enjoyable years, the last three years absolute, meat-grinder hell. I actually thought I’d already made it through the five stages of grief since the work dreams of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night had stopped, but there was no emotion at all. To quote a great Meg Myers song, all I could feel was numb.

Eight hours later, I’m starting to feel the first tingles of what might be the first tiny tastes of true freedom. Freedom to explore new paths. Freedom from the 6:20 AM alarm and another day of bullshit and crisis management (Manage up! Manage down!) without any let-up from the git-go. I can already feel all the stress and anxiety starting to pour out of me: I used to welcome my 2 PM naps where I would immediately fall asleep; now I just look at the ceiling and think about what I want to do with the rest of the day.

There’s no question my age and the severance package I’m getting helps with the anxiety of having to find a new gig almost immediately – I doubt I’d be feeling the same were I ten, or even five, years younger – all I know right now is that I’m standing outside the arena and looking in and able to see just how emotionally damaged and spent I am. I know I need to take some time to heal, and it’s going to take time.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:03 | Comments (0)
March 28, 2020

One of the benefits of suddenly being unemployed is that you get more time to doing things that you have been paying scant attention to because of a lack of free time. This blog has really taken a hit over the past 2 1/2 years. I enjoy writing for my own pleasure – it keeps the left side (or is it the right side) of the brain functioning. I know this blog is just a minor outpost in the world of social media, but I’m going to see what I can do to open it up a little more now that I will have the time to do so.

One of the things the Trump presidency has revealed is the ugly current of hatred and misinformation / disinformation being used as a weapon on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. That’s not going to change, but the amount of people whom I follow on Twitter are simply amazed at the outpouring of hate they receive on a daily basis. Being that these Twitter accounts are conservative in nature, the outpouring of hate, of course, comes from the left. I have little doubt that the same thing is happening to those who tweet from the other side of the political equation, although I sincerely doubt there’s as much hate as there is facts and debate.

I’m thinking of using my Twitter account a little bit more now that my schedule has opened up, but I think primarily I’ll keep the blog because blogs are more prone to thinking as opposed to reacting. Everything happens so fast in social media these days that’s it’s really not interesting to me to be the first to respond to news or pile on the reactions to news when and as it happens. Anyways, I’m looking at the recent events in my life as an opportunity to explore new things while not closing the door to old ones. Tracey and I are fortunate that we’ve had good-paying jobs for a long time and have had good financial advice to help put our affairs in order. We’re not rich by any stretch of the matter, but we’re in a lot better shape than many folks. I’ve also got a bit of a severance package coming that will help ease the transition into whatever comes next.

Anyways, y’all will probably be seeing more frequent posting in the future as a way to entertain myself and fill the holes in what is now a pretty empty schedule as far a demands go.

Because I’m the kind of guy that needs goals and timelines, and because we’re reaching the end of Q1 2020, I figure I’m going to use the next three months (Q2) to decompress and start planting seeds and exploring what might be out there as far as future opportunities go. The easiest thing would be to start pounding the bricks (at least theoretically) looking to continue doing the very same thing I’ve been doing for so long. Perhaps were we entirely dependent on my income (or, more importantly, were I ten years younger) I don’t think I’d have a choice. But now that the shock of being sacked is over, I realize that: (1) I was only going to try and squeeze another 2 1/2 years out of my present situation to begin with, (2) have a nice little pension from a previous employer that, while not much, will still supplement any income I’ll be bringing in starting this October, and (3) that, no matter what I end up finding or doing I know I’ll never again make anything near the same amount of money I have been making, that kind of helps frame the parameters around my present situation.

It’s funny how this sudden change in my work situation creates little ripples of cause and effect. For example, there will no longer be a need for the room that has served as my office ever since I started working from home thirteen years ago. Which means Peach the rabbit would now be spending his days all by himself, isolated from the ebb and flow of the rest of the house – something clearly not acceptable. So this weekend we’ll be looking at reconfiguring our home office so that Peach can have company while I’m working on taxes (something I now have plenty of time to work on!) or just doing normal computer stuff. I have a feeling he’ll like that a whole lot better!

At any rate – most especially with the COVID-19 thing going on, nothing much is really going to change, at least in the short-term. When everything opens back up and folks start hiring and traveling again I’ll have a better idea as to what range of opportunities might actually be out there. For now I’ll just file for unemployment (joining the many thousands of others who have done the same), start working on taxes, do regular housecleaning (another area that has suffered for a long time!) and start working on next steps. The saying goes that when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. I’m not sure what I was doing the last 2 1/2 years, but it certainly wasn’t what I would call a quality kind of life. Now that I’ll have some time to decompress hopefully there will be room for living as opposed to simply existing.

Oh, and that “Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” that has been the bane of my existence for the last 2 1/2 years? O-M-G, are they mortified to learn that their lifeline to someone that actually cared about them and got results for them will no longer be around for their every want, need, and demands All I can say, welcome to the post-Great White Shank apocalypse, CWSRN – you have no clue how hard life is about to become for you!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:48 | Comments (0)

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