Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Pussy Blog

I really need to get the boy a new box soon, although he thinks there's nothing wrong with the old one!

Today is my last day at my current company and on Monday I start with a new one, also working from home!

I've had some supplies and equipment to get boxed up and with several new empty boxes sitting around, the Tot has been enjoying himself!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Living in the Digital Age

I've been scanning a lot of 35mm slides from my early years which predate digital photography and it has got me really appreciating the current era.

I'm in the process of creating Facebook photo albums of my early travels and I'm putting myself back in those shoes and it's incredibly frustrating.

Today the photo album was my Middle East trip when I was 17 and I was so disappointed that the only photo of me in Petra, Jordan was blurry. Had digital cameras been around, I could have had several shots taken until I had a good one.

There's also the upcoming European photo album in which I have a great photo of an older gentleman on a train in Switzerland smoking a pipe. He agreed to let me take his photo if I'd send him a print. So I had to get his mailing address, have a print made when I got home, and send it to him.

Good Lord, don't we have it easy these days? Now, he'd probably have an email address or a Facebook page, I could take the photo, upload to my page, and send him a digital print in a matter of seconds.

Film was also weird because I'd come home from a trip and have an unfinished roll in my camera. It might be 3 months before I'd shoot up the last 8 or 10 photos on the roll, send it off to be developed, and then get the slides back in the mail.

We have it so easy these days.

Photography has been a beneficiary. Not so sure about music.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hello Limbo! I Really Haven't Missed You!

Despite holding jobs at 7 different advertising agencies since 1999, I still forget how stressful it can be when you voluntarily leave one for another. I'm not saying that getting fired and/or laid off and subsequently being unemployed for a spell isn't stressful, but it's a different kind of stress. Being laid off or fired is rather immediate. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Resigning from a position and giving two weeks' notice is a different animal. In many instances, particularly when leaving one to take a job with a competitor, it is very common to be dismissed on the day you give your notice. And that's great. Especially if they pay you for your 2 weeks. I just happen to be one of the lucky few who always seems to be kept on for the full 2 weeks.

I had been toying with the idea of leaving agency A for agency B for a couple of months. Leaving agency A just never made much sense though. If you are enjoying your work, and love the people with whom you work, and you make an adequate income and have excellent benefits, including a month of paid vacation each year, why leave?

That is the question I kept asking myself and the answer was always easy: I don't leave. There's no point.

Sometimes it's just not that simple. Sometimes you may feel you are not being adequately challenged. Perhaps there is no perceived growth opportunity, or one is lacking all the tools needed to excel in work. And then there is the mother of all excuses: job insecurity.

On Friday, the 11th of March, I found myself on the receiving end of a verbal employment offer. And this started a frenzied whirlwind of emotions as I analyzed and compared the status quo to the new adventure. I believe I had immediately made the decision to accept, but wanted to give it a night to sink in. Ironically, while I was on the phone discussing the new employment offer, my boss was trying to call me with a proposition involving a change in my work responsibilities which I interpreted as not ideal.

Saturday morning I spoke to my future boss and accepted. Earlier that morning I had already composed my resignation letter. But it really wasn't a relaxing weekend, and those two events kicked off an anxiety storm I haven't experienced in a long while.

I did not resign right away on Monday. I had a hunch there was drama brewing based on the Friday call with my boss. Sure enough, here came the "organizational announcement" email announcing some layoffs. Soon to follow would be some restructuring announcement.

At the end of the day I somehow harnessed the strength within me to call my boss and announce my resignation. She took the news rather hard and tried to convince me to reconsider. In the end I told her to keep the resignation email she was hoping to delete, treat it as real, and I'd call her Tuesday morning and let her know the final decision. I already knew the decision but that did not stop me from waffling again and wrestling with various factors for the 53rd time.

On Tuesday I had the call. That, of course, set off a chain reaction. First, there was the call from HR asking questions about my motivations and whether or not I'd reconsider. Then came the call from the VP with a similar set of questions.

By early afternoon I was mentally exhausted and decided to take a lunch break at 1:45 to go rest on the bed for an hour. Unfortunately, at around the same time, another "organizational announcement" email appeared which informed the staff that I was leaving the company on March 25. And then my phone began to ring. Needless to say, there was no lunch break that day! Nor would there be the typical immediate dismissal which would have provided me a sense of relief!

Wednesday and Thursday were brutally busy as I spent time on the phone with co-workers who would be taking on my responsibilities. Thankfully, by Friday, things began to calm down and I was able to leave the house for a nice relaxing lunch at a restaurant. I got some of my non-essential equipment and office supplies boxed up ready to ship back to the office.

Next week I'll be available for support as needed and I'm hoping it will be a quiet week. However, this limbo is a strange sensation and I now remember why I dislike changing jobs. It is a form of agonizing torture and emotionally disruptive.

March 25 seems so very far away.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Pussy Blog: Passed Out Edition

I've had quite the week and I'm tired as a Tot!

Normally, he'll wake up for the camera. At least one eye.

Not a chance. That boy is GONE.

This afternoon he was able to assemble a loaf.

Although Sissy is not known for being a Cat Loaf, she managed to get about as close as she ever has.

I'll post more about the events of my past week, which severely inhibited any other posting this week, on Saturday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Shopping

I'm so very happy that my Kohl's card still functions normally after filing bankruptcy in December because I was able to save 30% on a new business suit!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Pussy Blog: Pussy Galore Edition

Just some random pussy stuff today. Pulled a couple from an email chain making the rounds....

This is how hairballs get started.

This is the funniest cat photo I've seen in eons! Cat Loaf from below! Always wondered what it looks like under there. Now we know.

Witchay Woman's Gidget.

And Witchay Woman's daughter's Gadget.

And of course, the grooming Tot.

And a boxed Tot.

I really am tempted to get a clear plastic box so I can get a photo of a square Tot! That would be a screamer!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Where Do Gurus Hide?

I've heard him described as a "living saint," and something more than a mere mortal. And now he's a fugitive from justice with an arrest warrant. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
With the subject of their deliberations still missing and presumed on the lam, a Hays County jury on Tuesday sentenced a religious guru to 14 years in prison for each of 20 counts of molesting two girls who grew up on the Hindu ashram he founded and led in Central Texas.

This should not be so shocking. We read about church leaders all the time who have been caught in a sex scandal of some kind of another. But I have a keen interest in following this story due to my personal involvement and experiences, and the friendships I've had with a number of devotees, as well as having business dealings with some of them early in my career.

I can't help but be dismayed by the blind allegiance to this man, and attempting to justify improprieties against a 12-year-old.
When he began fondling her when she was 12, Rose said: "It just felt so wrong. He was my first kiss by a man ever. The first time anyone touched my breasts, it was Prakashanand."

In the few instances in which they told an adult of the incidents, the women said, they were instructed that the touching had a higher purpose. "I was told it was a test and if I failed it I would go to hell," Rose said. The other women said they were told the guru was gracing them.


The dramatically differing testimony left jurors with the task of establishing whether the women were lying to hurt the guru or whether his devotees were lying to protect him. Each side struggled with proving or disproving a case based on incidents alleged to have occurred 15 years earlier.

Well, let's see here. A devotee tells a young girl who has not yet entered her teens that she will go to hell if she does not allow a saint to fondle her breasts and kiss her lips. It is not hard to see who is trying to protect whom.

One also has to wonder just how brainwashed you'd have to be to fork over enough bail money to sustain a struggling town during an economic downturn, or feed 100,000 poor and homeless people quite well for a month or longer.
Hays County authorities also began the process of collecting $11 million in bond money and other financial commitments they said Prakashanand forfeited when he did not show up in court Monday morning.


...[Peter] Spiegel, a direct-marketing executive who lives primarily in California, has the most to lose from Prakashanand's disappearance. Not only did he put up a $1 million cash bond, he also signed a $10 million indemnity agreement in October 2008. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to return the guru's passport so he could travel to his other temples.

Prakashanand's passport was revoked five months ago, but prosecutors said the agreement still called for Spiegel to pay $10 million if the guru did not show up for trial. On Tuesday, Spiegel said he did not fully understand what he was signing at the time.

Bullshit! I've known this savvy businessman for 20 years. He did not amass his wealth by not fully understanding what he was signing at any time! I'm sorry he placed a bet and lost, but you don't get to demand your $11 million back from a casino because you didn't fully understand how the craps table works!


From my early exposure to Swamiji and his devotees, I distinctly remember an emphasis being put on total devotion to God, rather than being focused on maya, the illusion of our present reality which interferes with our understanding of God.

It's always refreshing to see the preacher of such a beautiful philosophy driving around in a Lexus with vanity plates!

Meanwhile, the guru is missing and law enforcement can't seem to locate an 82-year-old bearded man in saffron robes. I can't help but wonder if they are searching in the wrong country, despite the revocation of his U.S. passport. Perhaps the notion of justice is also part of maya.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Falling From Religion

I'm not sure why I spent so much time earlier in my life searching for a religion that was right for me. In my 20s I basically explored every aspect of Christianity before abandoning that altogether.

As I entered my 30s and got my first real job in the advertising industry 20 years ago in Los Angeles, I worked for a company whose founder and several employees were involved in the Hindu religion. They were great people and were passionate about their religion.

I attended a few events and ceremonies in an effort to give that a whirl. It seemed like the last best chance. The spiritual leader would swing through town two or three times a year and I looked forward to attending a service in his presence.

The first time I saw him I was rather surprised at his child-like qualities. At one point during the service he unexpectedly began throwing candy at the devotees. And I don't use the word "throwing" lightly. I mean he was hurling candy at us like there was a large cash prize for any injuries sustained!

After a few more weeks of careful consideration, I decided to opt out. There were too many rules, too much obsession, or devotion, if you want to call it that. Clearly, it was not right for me.

I like to attribute my departure to Ella Fitzgerald. One evening as I was driving to a satsang, I had the radio set to my favorite jazz station and heard Ella. It wasn't the first time I'd heard her sing, but the particular song resonated with me in a way that few songs do.

At that point I decided I'd rather do a U-turn, skip the satsang, swing into Tower Records, and buy that CD! And then I went home. I have never had a calling for any particular religion again since that night.

There is an Austin connection to all this. The owner of the ad agency was a major figure in this group, and was a key financial contributor as they acquired land outside of Austin and began construction of the temple. She also established a 2nd advertising agency in a building on the temple grounds. Devotees at the Los Angeles agency began their exodus to Austin in the mid-1990s.

As I was getting tired of the LA rat race, txrad and I made the decision in 1997 to take positions at the agency on the temple grounds and we moved here. We bought the house we live in today primarily because of the proximity to the temple. It was a short 9.5 mile commute to work.

That agency is no longer around and I've had 5 other jobs in advertising since I left there. I've also seen a number of my friends who were hardcore devotees drift away during that time which I thought was rather surprising considering their earlier intense feelings about it.

Maybe they had a hunch that something was amiss with the guru. I don't know for sure, because I've never discussed it with any of them. Let's just call it a "touchy" subject.

God Bless Ella!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I Can Do This Here

No Facebook needed.

Politics 2011

I just don't think I can deal with it.

Between the various birthers and other nutbags on Facebook, I've about had it with the right wing rigidity.

Facts and logic no longer are of any consequence.

Nothing this dude says reflects presidential material.

But can someone explain this to me?
The south is gaining seats in the Electoral College as a result of the 2010 census, giving the region a little more clout in the presidential race.

The people moving into the south are coming from other areas of the country, obviously. Is it just conservatives who are migrating and no one else? So why doesn't this make the other areas more liberal as their conservative residents vacate for nirvana?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I've Lost My TweetDeck

But can someone on the planet reassure me that Radiohead didn't ALSO steal from Heligoland's "pitcher, flask and foxy moxie?"

Thank God I'm Still Here

I'm just not ready for it, I guess!

Please, God, don't turn me into Atrios.

At least nothing was Tweeted here.