Archive for the 'history' Category

I love LifeHacker

November 10, 2006

(and now they love me!)


(even if they did think my link to made my name Philip Greenspun)

Coping with loss (of many thousands of dollars)

October 18, 2006

I’m not a rich man. I’m not poor either. I’m also not unique in my predicament. I’ve been stuck in a job for the past few years (has it been five years already?) — for a couple of reasons, but with real consequences.

I like the people I work with. I even like the work on occasion. The problem comes in the form of compensation. Let me preface further discussion with the following; I know there are a number of things I can do to change this. There are also a number of reasons that I haven’t.

Here are a couple of them:

  1. As I stated before, I like the people I work with (No, I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass here).
  2. The health benefits are excellent — This is important when you have three children.
  3. I seem to lack some “testicular fortitude” with the boss.
  4. I like having an office (with a window and a door). It’s a nice space.
  5. In many ways I prefer a small company (although this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be).
  6. I’m not interested in another “job” — my next move is working for myself, making my own decisions.

It’s also been years since my last pay increase. I’ve supplemented things in a number of ways over the years. I’ve overspent on credit cards. I’ve refinanced the house to pay off the overspending. I’ve eBayed things on a number of occasions. Ang has gone back to work — which has the additional benefit of giving her a bit of sanity (in, quite literally, one of the most insane places). I’ve done some hit-and-miss side-work after hours — and even been paid for it a couple of times. I’ve planned and continue to plan on bigger and better things moving forward, but the reality is that I’ve shortchanged my family of between $20,000 and $30,000 in salary over this past five year period — figuring in only Cost of Living Increases, and this lower wage position.

My salary bubbled up along with other technology folks in the late nineties — to a point that wasn’t maintainable — so I took my 26% pay cut in stride after the Plural layoff. It sucked, but it was a reality I understood. I also figured it would get better. It hasn’t. In real dollars, I’m making 9% less now than I was in 2001 — at the already reduced salary. Figure in more dramatic 26% initial cut and I’m now making 68% a year of where I would have been.

Let me reiterate, that I know I am not alone, but that only takes the edges off of the pain.

Want a real big number? I’ve missed out on over $160,000 if the bubble hadn’t burst and I had just done a good enough job to get the bare minimum salary increase. It’s not as big a number as those seen by the truly rich, but it’s much, much bigger in ways that really matter.

Like most Americans, I’d have probably just spent it all on hookers and blow. Right?

So I’ve become a real bargain shopper. I dig thrift stores — I found an amazing number of like and brand new shirts the other night for about $5 each. I like to find ways to simplify. It’s amazing how this “slip down the ladder” has changed my perspective on what is important. I still have pride. I’m much more comfortable with who I am. I couldn’t care less about how big my television is — I don’t watch TV. I don’t care that my car is 11 years old — in fact it’s a fact I revel in. It’s economical, paid-for, and a blast to drive. I smile every time I climb in. I don’t go out like I used to. I’d rather grab the camera and find something interesting to shoot or hop on the bike than head to the bar. I spend countless hours coming up with ideas for new products. I fill Moleskine after Moleskine with jottings and story ideas. I continue to work towards a better life.

Oh, but that’s all so boring!

My wallet’s not as fat — by a long shot, but I’m not bored.

Not a big fan of editing hostory (or history), but…

September 22, 2006

I wrote an entry last week when I was at my angriest with Amazon’s inability to ship my lens (which if you’ve been under a box the past couple of days — I love). The title was such that it had a pretty harsh curse word beginning with the letter “F” and then in parentheses an apology to one of my parents in case she happened to stumble across it.

I like to check my stats every day or so to see where the traffic is coming from. The last couple of days have had some of the most disturbing search queries I’ve seen. I’m going to change the title to hopefully curb this sort of thing. I’m not a big fan of attracting these people to my site.

(P.S. I know it will not do much to deter them, especially the Digg and folks, but at least as far as Google is concerned the search results should update in a day or so.)

9/11 Recollections

September 11, 2006

It’s been five years and it still affects me when I think about it. Field was just a year-and-a-half at the time and I was out of work. He got up at about 8AM and I took him down the hall to watch Teletubbies while I took a shower. What I saw next was unfathomable. It was bad enough to hear the newscasters talking about reports of a “small plane” hitting the tower when even I, from 1200 miles away, could see that this was a B-I-G hole, but to see the debris and the “stuff” falling from the tower was hard to deal with. Tears came.

I called my wife (already at work) with the news and as I relayed the information, that dark airplane from behind streaked in. It was the strangest sensation when it slammed into the building. I screamed “another one hit the other tower!” Ang was yelling “Shut up!” For the briefest moment I doubted what I had seen and considered it might be video of the first plane again — but both towers were now in trouble.

One of the doctor’s that Ang worked for called in that his son (Gordon Aamoth) was in the second tower (if memory serves). He was told to stay put and was clearly above the fire of the second plane. He didn’t make it out.

I couldn’t turn away and still have issues being away from the news for too long (thanks — I think — to MSN Direct, this is rarely the case).
I recall the relative quiet of the skies and the unusual fleet of grounded airliners sitting on the tarmac at MSP.

I recall the zig-zagging fighter jets those first couple days.

I recall a deep all-encompassing dread.

I recall very little sleep and an inability to get much of anything done.

It changed me. I suffered an infinitesimal amount compared to many, but its affects have lingered. I still wake each morning wondering what might have happened while I slept or what may happen during the day. I’m not crippled by it, but it does take up cycles that would be better directed toward positive pursuits. I’ve almost entirely forgotten how to relax.

This morning as I listened to the radio, the cut-ins and cut-aways were recordings from 5 years ago of people on the streets of New York being interviewed in the midst of it all. It was extremely powerful and brought back those tears. Tears I can only assume will always be in reserve when I think about that morning.

googled myself and found my great-great-great-great grandfather

September 20, 2005

This page has a blurb about the first Ira Canfield Mitchell — my Great-Great-Great Grandfather (and his parents). I’m the fifth, but I think not technically, as I found out a while back that a generation was skipped early on (I’m such a fraud!). Anyway, it’s a trip to think about this guy who has been dead for 125 years who I share a name with and his father the Reverend Nathan J. Mitchell (who apparently married well). Ira Canfield Mitchell was born at Howard, Centre Co., Pa. He is a son of Rev. Nathan J. Mitchell and Mrs. Sarah B. Mitchell, who was a sister of ex-Governor William F. Packer; educated at the public schools of his native township, and at Dickinson Seminary; admitted to the bar on motion of ex-Governor Andrew G. Curtin, at Bellefonte, Centre Co., April 28, 1854; practiced successfully until 1862; went to the West and had a successful career until 1877, when he returned to Lock Haven, where he has since remained.

Among the many highly respected citizens of the borough may be mentioned the Rev. Nathan J. Mitchell, the head of the Disciples’ Church in Central Pennsylvania. He was born March 2, 1808, in Washington County, this State, and came to Howard in 1832 from Stark County, Ohio, where he had just married a sister of Governor Packer. Mr. Mitchell is a man of great intelligence, being well informed on general topics as well as the doctrines of his church, and has many warm personal friends in Centre County.