Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
1) Charming town, with plenty of old-style New England character.
2) Strong social network.
3) I own my condo here (something I'm still kicking myself for, considering this market).
4) Summers are very mild.
1) Job market sucks relative to anywhere.
2) Taxes and cost of living are still way high. Anyone who doesn't think so is either not paying taxes or not buying their own stuff, or has never lived anywhere else.
3) Winters are horrible. There is nothing "charming" or "beautiful" about snow and ice on the sidewalk that requires you to wear rubbers and dig out your car. There is nothing remotely cute about your nose freezing off if you're in -10 degree weather for a minute. And it lasts way too long.
One of the downsides of homeownership is it reduces your mobility. Being on a job hunt sucks anywhere, but especially so when you have to worry about making your mortgage payments. True, I can still sell, perhaps for not much less than I paid, or perhaps by keeping it on the market for a bit, and for the right job it would be worth that hassle. But it's not as easy as if I was just renting now.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The next morning, Erin had a bit of a cardiac event, so we headed up to her folks' place to check out the heart monitor and contact her doctor. (The heart rate was well above normal and fluttery, so the doctor said to check again at 5PM and if it was still like that we'd have to go to the emergency room.). It was looking dicey at one point, but then all of a sudden her rate dropped back to normal, and the situation was under control (although she was quite exhausted). Meantime, we watched the Patriots play the Dolphins and then saw some of the original "Rocky" and had some pizza. That was our Sunday.
Friday, November 21, 2008
As they say, the Chinese use the same word for "crisis" as they do for "opportunity"--and that word is "crisi-tunity".
Four and a half years ago, when I first came to the firm (and Portland, for that matter) we had a growing, big client and a practice group that was expanding. (It would double in size during the time I was here). Of course, those years were gravy--I was consistently meeting billable hour targets and getting the bonuses. But alas, the collapse of the securitization market meant an implosion in the credit industry, and this caused a precipitous dropoff in work earlier this year, requiring us to let go of two employees almost immediately. The hope was that we could hold on until more work picked up, but this sadly has not happened as more and more banks cut back. Finally, the axe had to fall on me and another of our attorneys, bringing the practice group down in size to handle a smaller workload. Unfortunate that this has to happen, but understandable. It's just not a good time for this economy.
Where to now? That's the tough question. My experience is in a niche area of law, but that niche is hurting right now. I'm going to have to find something somewhere though.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Nichole at least had an excuse for the carb-loading, she has two soccer games tonight. Way to make me feel guilty, Chole! Though tonight I have a more important task, namely to come back with the car to take my paintings and framed diplomas out of my office. A day from now and the idle period begins....
Portland could really use a series of underground tunnels (perhaps lit by glass skylights and some electric lighting) for this time of year. Maybe I need to drop by city hall, and propose it, sort of like I'd be doing the city a big favor.
Brando: Hey, city commissioner, my crew and I just got done putting in an amazing tunnel system for Del Mar, Minnesota. Don't bother looking that town up on your atlas because it's unlisted.
City Commish: Really? Why are you telling me this? And who let you in my office?
Brando: Yeah, the tunnel paid for itself in a few years, since they set up stores and vendors in the tunnels, and they saved on having to plow sidewalks and get sued by people falling on ice.
City Commish: Hmm, I always dreamed of not getting sued so much....
Brando: And that's not all! If you act now, we can do it with a minimum of overcharges!
City Commish: Sold!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
But I guess my main reaction to all this is "well, this is the economy, it sucks, and I need to hit the ground running pronto" rather than "EEEEEEKKK!!!" There just isn't time for being unprofessional. I'll have plenty of time to be unprofessional during my time off!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
1) If you got laid off due to budget cutbacks, it implies that your employer wasn't doing their job. After all, you had been hired to benefit the company, and the company should have been able to pay you, right? If you're a good employee and they have to let you go, then they must have screwed something up in the way they ran their business.
2) If you got laid off because you're no longer worth more to them than you're costing them (in salary, benefits, office space, extra coffee, frustration) then it implies you're not that good a bargain for the next employer, unless they pay you less, or give you less office space, cut back on your coffee, or somehow get you to work harder. Even though the previous employer hadn't been able to do these things.
3) If you got let go because you were running a cockfighting ring in the breakroom, then your new employer has to wonder about animal rights laws, laws against gambling, and the large number of Guatemalans who keep wandering past reception.
It's sort of a pointless question, since it really doesn't matter if you got laid off for a "positive" reason (such as budgetary cutbacks), and if you got laid off for a "negative" reason (like washing your socks in the coffee maker) you're certainly not going to say so in the interview (this could be found out by examining a police record, or asking the former employer when checking references. Anyone who doesn't provide a former employer as a reference, well that you have to watch out for.).
The time off will be partly used in creating a web comic, one in which photos will take the place of drawn panels, and dialogue will be filled in (either in bubbles, or in text below the panels, depending on what works). The whole project will require a webmaster (to get the whole thing up), a photographer, and "actors" to pose in the panels. A new medium shall be exploited!
Monday, November 17, 2008
What tips do I have for trying to live on less during these tough financial times?
1) Return all returnables to the grocery store. This is rather piecemeal--you could return a hundred bottles and still not have enough to afford a six pack. Makes more sense to buy less bottled beverages in the first place.
2) Eat out less. Gonna have to do that. Still, grocery costs are surprisingly not that much less than costs of eating out. In any event, portion control is the key.
3) Use library instead of buying books. Well, I can't remember the last time I bought a book--normally I reread what I have, or read books borrowed from friends, or read online.
4) Postpone any big purchases that can be put off. I guess no new car for a while, and no new suits (I do have a couple good suits for interviews. I just wont' have to buy new suits for work, which is just as well, as most places are going casual these days).
5) Use cheapest gasoline option. Makes sense, though I drive so little anyway it won't make a huge difference.
6) Rent out spare room. This is a tricky option--after all, if I end up moving away I may need to rent the entire apartment, and it may be easier to rent it as a whole rather than room by room.
Looks like lean times ahead.
Seriously though? Wouldn't it make more sense to just give the cash directly to the employees of these defunct car companies, paying them to not work? At least then they wouldn't be wasting steel and glass on making cars that won't sell.
Friday, November 14, 2008
So while that was all going on, I couldn't help but think, "Brando" I said to myself (that's what I call myself during my darkest moments. And my lightest moments.), I said "what sort of small business should I be running for my own benefit?" After all, I always say that the real fulfillment and security is in having your own business.
But of course now, the government is preparing to nationalize the auto industry (since it worked so well with Amtrak) and the financial industry is basically saying to the government "thanks for the several billion dollars, now we can pay out bonuses to our rich executives who caused the problem. Hey, can we get a pony?" In other words, other words which I should have used instead of that rant, the economy is in Suckville, which is the seat for Suck County in the state of New Suckvania. So this would be a terrible time to start a business, right?
Not necessarily, my hasty-to-conclude-things friend(s)! There's something that economists call "counter cyclical businesses" and I don't know what that means exactly, but let's just say that some businesses will thrive when the economy's bad. Like, the guy whose business it is to fix clogged toilets. Who on earth ever says "well, money's tight, I'll just leave that clog for a few more weeks"? No one! And if I'm wrong, make sure I never rent a room to that guy.
But also, when the economy's bad, people drink. A lot! So maybe at some point my business partner Mark and I will find a way to produce or sell booze. That's one industry that's not about to go to China. When's the last time you drank Chinese whiskey?
- Good friend, saved Jeffy from drowning that one time
- Efficient parallel parker--saved friends plenty on meters
- Bought flowers on seven occasions in sixteen-month period
Now that I'm looking for work, it opens up a lot of possibilities--stay in Maine? Move to bigger city? Move somewhere I've never lived? Move to warm climate (but with the tradeoff being that giant spiders live in warm climates)?--but the biggest problem is that I bought a condo earlier this year. Ack, the one flaw!
There's not enough tequila in the world . . .
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Erin: My fambly and I are going to go see a modern dance performance.
Me: Neat! I'll be home watching TV and maybe having a beer! Though I'm not sure what kind of beer.
Erin: Do you want to come with us to see the performance?
Me: Sure, so long as you're not just inviting me because you feel sorry for me sitting home and watching TV, since I do enjoy the Thursday Night Lineup and need to make more space in my fridge...
Erin: No, I understand your way of life....
Me: What makes it "modern" dance? Isn't "bump and grind" techinically "modern"?
Erin: (grumble grumble)
Cultural evening, here I come!
So we're setting up a "happy hour club" except unlike most such clubs, this one:
1) Holds the regular happy hours at people's house/apartment;
2) Requires that rather than random strangers just respond to flyers, any invitee has to be known to someone who is already a member of the group; and
3) Will not be completely lame.
Is this all about weekly happy hours, rotating from home to home? Yes. But in a more accurate way, no. Because we plan to do so much more! Remember how "Fight Club" started with, well, a fighting club, and then it turned into a soap business and then somehow they blew up a bunch of buildings and SPOILER ALERT the Ed Norton guy ended up with that goth chick? Well, we're not going to quite do that, but I thought it was a cool movie and you should see it if you haven't.
But we do plan other events, charitable events, professional networking, road trips--but we need some nucleus to start the whole thing. Stay tuned!