Appropriate, I think, given Wednesday’s blog entry. And, of course, I love the seventies milieu.
I’m on the Internet as much as anyone. Probably more than I should be, although much of that time these days is spent on activities related to my job search.
I am also a veteran of the alternative news weekly. In the early 1980’s I was the first classified advertising manager at the Oklahoma Gazette, and when I moved to the Bay Area in 1985, I became the first classified advertising manager at San Jose Metro.
The rise of the Internet, has, it can be argued, meant changes, and not for the better, to the alternative news weekly landscape. That is the case in San Francisco. As columnist C.W. Nevius writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, the storied Bay Guardian closed in October, and SF Weekly is rumored to be headed to a more entertainment and features focus, as the new editor was previously the editor at Acoustic Guitar magazine. (I don’t include a link because the column is behind a pay wall.)
Nevius opens the article by writing: “A few years ago, the San Francisco Bay Guardian called me a ‘conservative suburban twit.’ I miss that.”
He tells us what I know to be true of the alternative news weekly:
Although the Guardian and the Weekly spent much of their time sniping at mainstream media like The Chronicle, it was still valuable to have contrarian voices in the city. They didn’t always convince us of their point of view, but they fostered the debate.
Nevius says: “Opinionated, news-driven independent newspapers are slipping away, partly because it’s so hard to make the finances work in the Internet age.” He quotes former the owner of the Guardian, Bruce Brugmann: “You look at the alternative papers, it’s awful,” he said. “Before the Internet, we had a lot of power. We had classified ads, personal ads. In the late 1990s, we were up to almost $12 million in revenue.”
Nevius goes on to state: “Of course, slipping revenue is a familiar story for newspapers everywhere. But there’s also a concern that the blogs and Internet sites are content to sit back and snipe at mainstream coverage, rather than getting actively involved in boots-on-the-ground reporting.”
The Internet is a great tool for all kinds of purposes, including information, education, entertainment, and community. But there is a downside to every technology.
The collateral effect in this case is unfortunate indeed.
Terry and I have crossed our Rubicon.
On Monday I called a realtor. Yesterday he came over and we signed the papers for him to represent us. Today he and his wife, the design expert, came over along with the stagers. If you’ve never dealt with stagers in a real estate content, let me tell you that it can be a scary experience. Think of the scene in Sex and the City where the plastic surgeon dispassionately marks up Samantha’s torso.
In the end it wasn’t all that bad. It just felt that way at first. They are very nice people and their whole purpose is to help us get the highest dollar value for the house by implementing a neutral look and feel, creating an environment where potential buyers can visualize themselves living here. That’s a Good Thing.
The sale of this house should allow us to buy a house in Southern California, closer to my family and to Terry’s sister, where we can 1) experience considerably lower monthly expenses, and 2) with luck, find work.
This is not optimal. It is not our first choice. But it is the most practical and prudent approach.
I wrote last November that the ownership of our local Channel 2, KTVU, had transferred from Cox Broadcasting to Fox Stations. I was not happy.
The other shoe has dropped. The newscasts on Channel 2 are now labeled “Fox 2.” Now in reality we had stopped watching the morning news on Channel 2 a few weeks back. We had a rainless January here in the Bay Area and the morning weatherman felt it necessary to beat us over the head with that fact every single morning. Yes, I know we’re in a drought. We have cut our water consumption as much as anyone and more than most.
A local independent station, KRON Channel 4, has a morning newscast, and we began watching that. There the weatherman there just gives us the forecast. Much nicer. This past weekend gave us some nice rain, so we could, conceivably, switch back to Channel 2. But no, not as long as they are calling themselves Fox 2 on their newscasts.
The phrase “Plan B” makes sense to anyone familiar with idiomatic American English. Anne Lamott used it in a book title and it has become the common name for a contraceptive pharmaceutical.
Terry and I are thinking about implementing our own Plan B.
On Friday the Department of Labor announced that the economy added 257,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7% from 5.6%, but they claim that was due to people who had given up looking for work returning to the job market. A headline segment on Morning Edition on NPR included a sound bite from an economist who noted that data point and said that those people would all find jobs soon.
Oh, yeah? I’ve been busily, actively looking since July. So has my colleague and friend Maribeth in New England. We both have solid experience and marketable skills. We both have come up empty so far, in spite of our concerted, daily, focused efforts. It is frustrating (to say the very least) to have promising opportunities for positions that are a near perfect match for my skills and experience evaporate. My final unemployment payment is due next Thursday. Meanwhile, despite all of her efforts, Terry has been unable to generate a decent commission check for many months.
It may well be time for Plan B. Time for a significant change in strategy and lifestyle.
I’m not yet prepared to share what that might look like, but I will before long. Terry and I have been discussing this actively and doing some investigation.
We’ll need to make a decision soon.
Vierne, Agnus Dei, at Notre-Dame de Paris
I had one of those “duh” moments at the end of last week.
I wrote last June about the demise of our refrigerator and the purchase of a new one. The new one has been all right, but I certainly preferred the old one. One thing that has happened with the new one is that it will run out of ice sometimes. We do keep a set of ice-cube trays filed in the freezer for such an occurrence, but last week I was, for some reason, particularly annoyed when it ran out on a day on which I didn’t think we had used that much ice. I went out and bought two more trays. We probably didn’t really need them, but that is the kind of mood I was in.
It is amazing that taking such an action can trigger a crucial memory. After I had bought the trays (only $2.99 each, and I like size and shape of the cubes), I remembered the reality. When we did our kitchen remodel, the refrigerator we got didn’t have an ice dispenser in the door, so we bought a counter-top ice crusher. But that ice maker couldn’t keep up either, which is when we started keeping ice-cube trays in the freezer. We used those cubes, not the ones from the ice maker, in the ice crusher for my scotch in the evening. I liked that because with our filtered water you can see the crystalline structure of the ice, whereas the cubes from the ice maker are cloudy due to the air being injected when the ice maker fills.
The new fridge, however, does have an ice dispenser in the door, and we therefore gave the ice crusher to our Goodwill equivalent and started using ice from the ice maker for my scotch. So we’ll go back to the old system, but without the ice crusher.
But, really, the completely obvious things we forget so quickly. Duh.
This was me in high school. Just sayin’.
When I was working (and working from home) I would get up at 7:00 a.m., turn on the computer, feed Tasha, and then get started on my work day before having breakfast and taking a shower. The timer on the downstairs light is set to go on at 7:00, so Tasha equates that with getting her breakfast. More recently, being in the mode of looking for work, I had been feeding Tasha at 7:00 and then going back to bed until the heater came on at 7:45, when I would take a shower.
I decided, though, that such behavior was sending the wrong message to the universe. I have started staying up when I feed Tasha, turning on the computer, and checking the job listings that are waiting for me in my email.
I don’t know that I actually accomplish any more by the time I reach the end of the day, but I feel better about myself, and that is worth a lot.
I received an email on Thursday 15 January in response to a resume I submitted. It asked to schedule a phone interview for Friday 23 January. I thought eight days in advance for a phone interview was strange, but of course I was agreeable. The interview was conducted by the HR person and lasted all of five minutes, perhaps seven. That was fine, though, because I received an email that very same afternoon scheduling an in-person interview for the following Thursday.
The company is housed in the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley. It is a busy, bustling place with lots of people coming and going. In the parking lot you can see both new Mercedes and Hyundais that are a few years old. There’s businessmen in suits and programmers in T-shirts.
The interview was held in a quiet conference room, a stark contrast to the Plug and Play lobby. Present were the founder and CEO along with another company executive. If they had reached thirty years of age they had gotten there only recently. The interview was cordial, positive, friendly, and upbeat. And lasted all of twenty minutes.
A strange experience all around.
I should hear something by the end of this week.