Friday, March 30, 2007

It's Layoff Day

Well, it's over. Today was my very last day at a company where I spent 8 years, 6 months, and 22 days. I am now officially laid off. In case you didn't read my previous entry from Sunday, many of us at my company found out about nine months ago that our jobs are going to India.

Nine months is a long enough wait that you almost think it's never going to come even when it's two weeks away. The fact that the wait is over, as of today, may still not feel real for a few more days.

There wasn't much time to let it sink in either as I still had work to finish up this morning--after working a 10 hour day yesterday. I scrambled the rest of the day to tie up loose ends (that I hoped to get to earlier in the week) including cleaning out my hard drive, cleaning out my e-mail, finishing cleaning out my desk, forwarding any personal files or e-mails to my home account, turning in one piece of paperwork, saying last minute goodbyes, etc., that it wasn't a totally relaxed last day, and I didn't get out of there until 5:45 (some people started trickling out by 3:00).

On the off chance that someone from my previous job or a prospective future job may be reading this, I'm neither naming my company nor going into detail on the good and/or bad things about my former job.

All I'll say is that I'm hoping/expecting/assuming/praying that my next job will be better, and I'm eager to find out if things will end up like that.

My plans... Obviously, continue looking for a new job. Since you can't look for a job 24 hours a day, I also hope to catch up on some personal projects around the house, perhaps some spring cleaning inside and almost certainly some yard maintenance outside. I also want to read more often, blog more often, and exercise more often. I still have a free one-month pass to the YMCA that I won in a raffle at work and still need to use before the expiration runs out.

In a way, April 1 is like a different kind of New Years Day for me, so hopefully I'll start some good resolutions that I'll actually stick to (even after I get a new job, which hopefully won't take forever).


Ironic how in my last blog entry I also mentioned Hanes as being a steady presence in Winston-Salem, NC. Just today, I heard the news that they are also having layoffs. According to the website of local new station WXII, 600 people will lose their jobs in the "restructuring" in which their textile production will move to the Caribbean area and Central America.

So, if all our country's jobs keep going to other countries because it saves money, then that means someday all Americans can quit their jobs and pay hardly anything for their products and services since they'll be done so cheap elsewhere--right??? Yeah, I didn't think so. We're on a sad path. :(

Sunday, March 25, 2007

America Is No Longer Made in the U.S.A.

I'm here at my workplace on Sunday to catch up on cleaning out my cubicle, retrieving personal items, and collecting anything like past performance reviews that might have helpful information for my resume, cover letters, and interviews. You see, last June, I found out that I was getting laid off on 31 March 2007 which--after a long wait--is now only five business days away.

I'm not exactly broken up about it. I had plenty of warning, the severance is decent enough, and I'm confident my next job will likely be much better. The part that bothers me the worst is why I'm getting laid off...

My job is getting outsourced, uh, I mean, off-shored to a company in India.

The even deeper irony is that the department I work in specializes in clients outsourcing a part of their business to us. Now we're outsourcing part of our business to someone else. Since it sounds funny to admit that we're "outsourcing our outsourcing," and since the destination of the work is another country, the new vocabulary is "off-shoring."

It just bothers me that so much of this country's jobs and services are moving overseas. We keep producing less and less in our own country, then we wonder why unemployment is rising and the value of the dollar is dropping. I don't think we should be so dependent on the rest of the world, especially when much of the world isn't too thrilled with us right now (or ever, for some parts).

The other reason this is fresh on mind is I was at Kohl's earlier today because I needed a couple new short-sleeve polo/golf-type shirts. I was just about to pay for the two nice looking, reasonably priced shirts that I found when I noticed some writing below the fabric content: "Made in India".

Those were the two best shirts I had found in the store, but just in case there were other nice shirts with a "Made in the U.S.A." label, I thought I'd be willing to compromise even if it cost a few dollars extra. Instead, I found:

  • Made in Cambodia

  • Made in China

  • Made in Egypt

  • Made in Guatemala

  • Made in India

  • Made in Indonesia

  • Made in Jordan

  • Made in Lesotho

  • Made in Pakistan

  • Made in Philippines

  • Made in Vietnam

And, did I find a single "Made in the U.S.A." label? No.

I confess, I went ahead and bought the shirts anyway--this time. But, this is something I want to get better about noticing and planning around in the future.

I did feel a little bit better when I bought a six-pack of white crew socks that I also needed. Not only did they say, "Made in the U.S.A." but they were Hanes brand, and Hanes is headquartered right here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Thank goodness we have at least one thing we're known for other than cigarettes (and don't get me started on that topic).

If anyone knows of any stores that carry--or even specialize in--products made in the United States, leave me a comment or send me a message on my MySpace page (

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Don't Overlook Rep. Non-Frontrunners: Ron Paul & Mike Huckabee

It seems like the race for President is starting earlier and with more energy and contention than usual. We're still 20 months out from the election, and already there more than a dozen candidates total.

The obvious frontrunners for the Democrats are Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, and John Edwards. And the frontrunning trio scraped up for the Republican side are Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

However, those aren't the only six people running (thank goodness), and I want to start keeping my eye on the "2nd tier" candidates, or even "3rd tier" if there is one.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't researched these candidates enough to pledge my support to either one yet, but the two I've started looking into and like what I see in them so far are: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas).

I happened to catch Mike Huckabee on C-SPAN being interviewed on a radio call-in show in a New England state (I think it was Vermont), and after that, I looked him up online. He's a former Baptist minister who lost over 100 pounds and plays bass in a rock band. From what I can tell so far, he has good values, he has a strong focus on health care, he advocates art & music in schools, and he's way way way more articulate than our current president. When he was still a governor of Arkansas, he led a campaign to apply 100% of the state's tobacco settlement revenues into the state's health care system instead of a general fund; he used tax money to improve roads, highways, and the state park system; and he handled very well the influx of Hurricane Katrina survivors into Arkansas from Louisana.

I'm just starting to look into Ron Paul, but a friend at work has really been signing praises for Ron Paul for some time. Ron Paul was a former Libertarian but is now a part of the Republican party. Despite being a Republican from a conservative district of Texas, he does not go along with everything the president does or says and seems to be much more open and honest about that fact in interviews. Paul is against the war in Iraq. He feels the American economy is on borrowed money and borrowed time and that we must change things before China owns any more of our debt. There is a website that summarizes his voting record, and I agree with most (not all but most) of his decisions.

For all I know, the next thing I read about either of these guys may change my mind about them. Plus, I admit I haven't researched the frontrunners yet. However, I just thought I'd mention Paul and Huckabee here so that people know they're around and they may be worth a 2nd look.

Ron Paul Links
Mike Huckabee Links

Clips from The Daily Show's Best Night This Past Week

I go in and out of phases in which I watch late night TV. In the last week or two, I've been back on a Daily Show kick.

It has been especially good lately, but they were really on their game one night last week, Wednesday, I believe.

In the first part of the show, Jon and one of the "expert" correspondants talked about the scandal in Washington. Then after the commercial break, Jon "summoned" a previous guest, who's an expert on Lincoln, to counter one of John Bolton's accusations that Jon Stewart was wrong about how Lincoln chose his cabinet members.

Below are the videos from that night. My favorite ones are the last two.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

48 Hour Film Project in Greensboro Needs New Producers

The Greensboro edition of the 48 Hour Film Project is in need of new producers. For Greensboro's first three years in the 48HFP, the local producers of the event were Nisha Coffey and Ed Moye. They did a great job but have decided to step down.

Greensboro typically participates in the 48HFP in July. It's an awesome event. I've really enjoyed participating in the event for the past two years, and the director from my 2005 & 2006 team was a judge for the event in 2004.

I'd hate for Greensboro to go without the event this year, so if you or someone you know would be interested in the producer job, please step up. If not, at least spreading the word would be appreciated.

Click here for the ad for new producers on Craig's List.

Monday, March 05, 2007

TV 1.5 Weeks in Review

Well, I've gotten a little behind on my blogging again, ever since the Oscars finally concluded. With all the movie talk lately, I thought I'd comment on the last 1.5 weeks of TV. Of course, part of the last 1.5 weeks includes... The Oscars.

*** Spoiler Warning *** (in case you've TiVo'ed or downloaded some of these but *still* haven't watched them yet)

The O.C. Series Finale (Thursday 22 February)
As the four-year series came to a close, six months after the events of the previous episode, the Cohens have been living with the Coopers in Summer Roberts' house, Kirsten is close to giving birth and still frustrated with lifeless cookie-cutter mansions in Newport, Julie Cooper is pregnant with Frank's (Ryan's dad's) baby but is somehow engaged to The Bullet, Ryan is *still* conflicted over his feelings for Taylor who has been in France for several months, and Seth and Summer have been living a lazy life as couch potatos (twin recliner potatoes, to be more accurate).

Ryan and Seth go on a mission to get Sandy & Kirsten their old house back in Berkeley, which is now owned by a gay couple. One of the gay guys is a midwife and the other is a wedding planner, which is monumentally convenient since Kirsten goes into labor in their bedroom and Julie quickly moves her wedding to the Berkeley house (thanks to The Bullet owning a private jet). Convinced that this house is somehow a part of the Cohen family destiny, the gay couple agree to sell them the house.

Also, Ryan & Taylor get back together, Seth convinces Summer to travel with the G.E.O.R.G.E. environment organization for a year, Frank attempts to stop Julie from marrying The Bullet not knowing that the wedding was moved, and Julie ultimately decides to remain single and enroll in college.

Just when you think the show is going to leave you hanging on where everyone ends up, they end the show by doing a series of flash-forwards set to music. In the montage we see Sandy teaching law at Berkeley, Kaitlin on the math team at college, Julie graduating college (and being cheered on by Kaitlin, Frank, The Bullet, and her new son), and Seth & Summer marry in the Cohen's new back yard (with Ryan as best man, Taylor as maid of honor, and Seth's young sister as flower girl). In the final scene we see that Ryan has completed his studies in architecture and is leaving a job site where he works. He sees a kid that may be in trouble, and just as Sandy did for him years earlier, Ryan asks the kid if he needs any help.

This was a great way to end the series. Unfortunately, the middle two season sagged in quality and in ratings, but season four was a nice last-minute resurrection back to its original glory. With the renewed quality of season four as a whole, and with the excellent finale, this show went out with class and pride. In a way, I'm glad it's over, but I'll also miss it too.

The Oscars (Sunday 25 February)
I live-blogged as it was going on, so not much more to say about it. In summary... The ceremony is too long, the clip montages are boring and not very necessary, extra stuff should be cut out to give winners a few more seconds to talk, the lifetime achievement award winners--on the other hand--should be limited from talking too long (even if they're old and not English-speaking), Ellen was a good host when she was interacting with the audience but not when she opened the show.

Out of 20 of the main awards, I got 5.5 personal picks correct (counted Supporting Actress as a half-point because I couldn't make up my mind between Jennifer Hudson and Cate Blanchett). And, I got 10 predictions correct and two more half-right (on one award, I had two equal predictions; and for Best Picture, it was too close for me to call). So, my personal preferences were 27.5% right and my prediction skills were 55% right.

Battlestar Galactica (Sundays, 25 February & 04 March)
The last two episodes have really been great. In last week's episode, Chief Tyrol accidentally becomes entwined in a labor dispute on the fuel refinery ship and ends up leading a strike. Almost getting his wife executed for mutiny in the process, Tyrol stands down and also earns time to negotiate with the president. The episode helps demonstrate just how desperate and rag-tag the fleet is and how much President Roslin and Admiral Adama are willing and able to make tough, morally-questionable decisions about individuals if it means protecting the human race as a whole. Chief Tyrol continues to become a more formidable and empathetic, yet impressively restrained, "every-man" type character.

Last night's episode was even more intense with the possible death of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. Spoilers on the internet and foreshadowing within the show itself have hinted at the death of a character and the increasing fan suspicion that Starbuck is a Cylon. In an interview, creator Ron Moore claims that the Starbuck situation is more complex than it looks. So, maybe she's not dead, maybe she's not a Cylon, maybe she's something else. Either way, I've read that we probably won't see Starbuck again until season four, so the mystery around her "death-like event' probably won't be answered in the remaining three or four episodes of this season.

Heroes (Monday 26 February)
Last week's episode was the best this show has done so far. Continuing where the previous episode left off, Matt Parkman and his thermonuclear sidekick Ted broke into the Bennett home to gain information from HRG regarding their powers. In the process, Parkman and Claire learn of each others' abilities, Parkman shoots Claire, HRG learns that the Haitian did not erase Claire's memories, Ted almost blows up the Bennett house, and Claire's mother & brother--as well as HRG's boss--learn of Claire's healing ability after she tranquilizes Ted and walks away from the house covered in burns one second and totally okay a few seconds later.

Also, in flashbacks, we learn that Claude (the invisible guy who's been "teaching" Peter) used to work alongside HRG and that a young Hiro was present when his father (played by George Takei, a.k.a. Star Trek's Sulu) gave baby Claire to HRG on the same rooftop where we later see Claude taking care of pigeons.

This was an excellent episode for its writing, intensity, pacing, fun, and general coolness. Several places on the internet, people are saying that this episode is a model for what Lost should be more like. Lost keeps giving us mystery after mystery but rarely any answers. Heroes knows how to give us enough mystery to keep us guessing but also enough answers to keep us feeling like the story is going somewhere.

Other Shows This Past Week
Prison Break was simultaneously exciting and preposterous, as usual. Gilmore Girls was fun and quirky and feeling more like its old self as Lorelai & Rory throw a baby shower for Lane who's confined to bed rest. On Jericho, Jake and a few others get into trouble at a trading post when they attempt to get supplies for wind-powered generators, also learning in the process that the U.S. now has four or five capitals with people competing for roles as regional presidents. Scrubs dared to have a clip show but did the best they could with it and poked fun at themselves for looking back with nostalgia. The Dresden Files is getting more intriguing as Harry Dresden shows more of his magical abilities, but the show could still use better writing if they're going to keep sci-fi fans and have any chance of bringing in a mainstream audience.