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Cory Doctorow

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm sure it's just a coincidence . .

I was enjoying a lovely evening of Canasta and word games with a buddy when I turned the topic of conversation to recent events in Nigeria and Mumbai.  I'm fairly comfortable being a Christian but really struggle with the organization of faith when acts of violence occur in the name of a religion.  I have looked far enough into most of the world's major religions to realize that there is a great deal of overlap in the basic philosophies.  I asked what would be the best way to help others focus on the similarities and not let the divisions fester into the need to become violent.

My buddy, who has a vast amount of experience with and has done a good deal of research in all things biblical, was explaining why the question I posed would be far more disastrous.  In a "why don't we all just get along" scenario, some Christians believe that this would signal the "end of times" and would be cause for the second coming of Christ.

Later on in the evening, I had made a reference to Homer Simpson and my buddy confessed to never having seen an episode of The Simpsons.

Well, I'm in church this morning and the Gospel reading today is Matthew 24: 23-36.
During the offering, the woman talking about the importance of tithing mentioned an episode of the Simpsons where Homer is doing the mathematics to figure out when the world is going to end.  Unfortunately, I could not find this episode listed anywhere and, I suspect, she was reaching all in the name of doing something good for the church and tying the offering into the sermon.

But, what were the chances last night's conversation topics would be revisited again this morning by a different group of people?  I'm sure my buddy, well familiarized with the ecumenical seasons, probably just had "end of times" Scripture filed somewhere in the back of his mind and my referencing The Simpsons was just an effort on my part to change the tone of conversation.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Time to unwind

Nothing new on the job front and I don't expect to know anything further until Monday.  I cannot bring myself to watch much more of the news.  Sadly, I lack the context in which to place everything that is being reported, so I'll look for some context.

The weekly President-Elect address was done on Thursday and I do not expect more news until, you guessed it, Monday.

I treated myself to a Jason Statham double feature: Transporter 3 at a moviehouse yesterday and The Bank Job through my cable provider.  Both were a great diversion!

Friday, November 28, 2008

"To Do" List

Feeling overwhelmed?  Here are  three sites to visit today - choose one or check out all three.  You may notice a theme:

Thursday, November 27, 2008


OK, so it's corny! That said, I have so much to be thankful for this year:
  • My life partner of 20 years, Joseph
  • My dogs Ricky and Barney
  • My biological family and in-laws
  • My church family
  • My buddy Randy
  • My friend David
  • Joseph's Section 8 rent subsidy, unemployment insurance and the In Home Support Service paycheck
  • Joseph's skills at budgeting
There will be time to ponder on crises great and small in the coming days.  The turkey is baking, the cranberries are boiled and chilling and I have a smile on my face that should last through the day.  Be well, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Events in Mumbai, India

I am transfixed to the TV this afternoon watching live newsfeed from Mumbai.   As of now, there is a Mujhaideen ("MOO-zha-ha-DEEN") group claiming responsibility and it appears that hostages are still being held.

After having watched MSNBC airing the footage and talking about how this will affect politics and policy in the US, I've got that old cynical, jaded taste in my mouth.

My first thought, as is the thought of any decent person watching is "What may I do to help?"

As is the case with every tragedy, there will be those who will take advantage of people's generosity.  I'm sure the Indian press and the BBC will be the best resource for finding to whom to donate in the coming hours and days.

I am offering prayers and positive thoughts to those who are affected by this despicable series of acts.  I went to Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi's home page.  She is known better as Amma and is a world-renowned spiritual leader of the Hindu faith.  Her home page, which was last updated prior to the events in Mumbai, had this quote of hers placed at the top right corner:

"Our efforts to remove hatred and indifference from the world begin by trying to remove them from our own mind"

I will let that be my prayer tonight.  May it also be yours.

Obama, Obama and Obama

As I type, I am watching the third of three press conferences in a row given by President-Elect Obama in the last three days.  All of them regarded the state of the economy and, essentially, introduced his economic team and a more aggressive approach to finding solutions to our country's economic problems.

It's just so lovely having our country's future president talking to everyone on a regular basis.  It's clear to me he is trying to fill the void in leadership left by the current President.

One of the members of the press just asked a three-part question challenging Obama's choices of Cabinet members, trying to find out why more of his selections are not "outside of Washington".  I can try to summarize the answer Obama thought out and cobbled together, but I'll answer by putting myself in Obama's shoes.  If I had a background in constitutional law and community organizing, I would not hesitate in bringing in people to my administration that had both new economic ideas and a vast wealth of prior "Washington insider" economic experience.  
Then, I would stand back a little and see what the two groups come up with on the way of suggestions.  Ultimately, the decision on how best to proceed would be mine and would be open to suggestions from communications experts on how best to reach out to the rest of the company/department (in Obama's case, the rest of the country).  OK, I probably would just write up some notes and talk to my department or company, but I've never been in management of a company with 300,000,000 "employees".  That would be enough of a challenge for me to first run ideas by communications experts.

So, what's next? Well, more Cabinet announcements on Monday.  Until then, plenty of things going on with me to fill in several more posts. More to come!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bangkok vs. Avatars

Balance in all things.

This simple sentence evokes an Eastern religious/philosophical frame of mind.  Balance, though, can be seen throughout most every religion, around our planet and beyond.  My commitment to staying balanced, at least as far as topics go, is in the description of this blog.

With this in mind, I am drawn to two stories this morning.  The first regarded protests for and against Thailand's government which shut down the airport (click this sentence to read the full article).  Having recently strolled through downtown Los Angeles recently to retain attention to the No vote on Proposition 8, the notion of a considerably smaller group of people effectively sealing off the city of Bangkok is shocking. I cannot even imagine the level of frustration their citizens must feel with their government to organize something so dramatic.

I was also absorbed by an article posted on MSNBC about avatars.  I'm not sure what that says about me that I was as equally drawn to both stories this morning. I do spend a good amount of time these days playing on Pogo.com, where players are encouraged to create and decorate"minis" (aka avatars), but I cannot bring myself to say that I "dress" or "accessorize" my mini.

For now, I file both of these stories away for future reference.  When we organize an avatar protest which ties up the nation's internet cafes, I'll be calmed by the balance we have found in the world and will fight the urge to giggle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's favorite diversion

The only song I have ever spent money to purchase as a ringtone on my cellphone: "Angels on the Moon" by Thriving Ivory. Click here to visit this site for lyrics and a playback.  This is the band's first hit song (and hopefully there will be more). Please take a few minutes to buy a copy at iTunes or your favorite MP3 download site or, well, purchase the ringtone!


I made it through a second job interview this morning.  The interview was short -- 30 minutes -- and the business had fewer than 15 people working.  

I found this job opening by first going through a temp agency.  I have yet to meet the temp agency that has impressed me with their professionalism, follow through and support of the individuals it represents. While the woman who called me about the permanent hire position for which I interviewed was quite professional, the rest of the staff at the temp agency left something to be desired.

I find myself willing to accept up to a 25% cut in my pay.  This unemployment thing has ceased to be delightful.  As long as I have enough coming in, I guess we'll be OK.

On a sort of related topic, President-Elect Obama named four individuals to his economic team.  Even with this annoucement and the confident, positive tone of Obama's speech along with the thoughtful way he answered the press' questions.  Click here then scroll down for the transcript of his comments from earlier today: 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A journey of a thousand miles

So much has happened in the last couple of months.  Well, a whole heckuva lot has happened in the last four decades, some of which might be worth posting at some point. 

So why start this blog now?

Like so many others these days, I was laid off for the second time in my life less than a month ago and this is the first time I have had to try living on Unemployment while I look for a new source of steady paychecks.

I could go in ten different directions from here.

Someone like me in the middle of their life, in this set of circumstances, should find themselves looking any number of directions.  Do I go back to school and get involved in the promised new category of "green collar jobs"? Do I choose a new career "working from home making just ## grand a month in my pajamas"?

Do I "pursue my bliss"?  If so, the job titles "Rock Superstar", "Church Leader", "Secret Agent" and "Dog Walker" don't sound like such secure and safe means of earning a living.  I have tried holding on to the tenet that if one does what one loves, the money will follow.  When I explain this to potential employers, I typically get a look that says "You really believe that nonsense?"

Up until two months ago, I could have wholeheartedly defended this philosophy.

My hope is, through this process, I can once again use that mantra and mean it . . wholeheartedly.

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