Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Rum-inations

I have a definite lack of rum in my eggnog. It's a problem.

In less than 2 hours I leave for the airport to fly down to Burbank to meet my lovely bride for Christmas Eve. We'll be attending midnight church service tonight, and then figuring out our driving plans for tomorrow. Traffic SHOULD be light on Christmas day, one would think. I think we'll make the best of it.

Well, we did it. We've up and moved from California. Cindy's retaining her job and working remotely, and I am unemployed looking for work. Currently I have three prospects. One is a local VW dealership, that also sells Audi and Porsche. Very nice place, great reputation. If I'm going to sell cars, that's where I want to do it. I'm also pursuing heavily an opportunity with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. I'm setting up an interview with the other financial consultant here in Bellingham for next week. Finally, I also have an opportunity where Dupp works. A sales position just opened up that I definitely fit the bill for. I am continuing to look for opportunities, and I have faith that Cindy and I will be okay, despite the amount of credit card debt we've had to rack up for this move. The credit card debt stresses me out a little. We've been credit card debt free for a while now. But I still feel this was the right move. And I love our new place.

Dead Gentlemen Productions is turning a few new leaves with new projects in the works. We are finally getting to a point where several people are contributing content. We're not totally there yet, but we're definitely stepping in the right direction to spread out the workload. For years we've struggled to answer the question "What is a Dead Gentlemen Productions?" Does it have to be a comedy? Is it feature films? Is it only gaming related? Originally we had set out to be the next Monty Python, or at least our own incarnation of a similar group. Recently I had an epiphany about this question and I'm acting on it. A Dead Gentlemen Production is something that the Dead Gentlemen do together. Whatever it is. It's the group of people who work together that make it special, and it's special and it works because it's those people who are making it together. So rather than genre or whatnot, I've made that the center in determining what project to do, and why it should be done. I feel responsible for a lot of the rifts and disagreements with Ben and Matt because I didn't have this understanding before. I felt obligated to a certain genre, or catering to a particular audience. Both of those foci are incorrect if DGP is ever going to grow beyond their current successes, and I feel like I've alienated some people because of that. I just hope it's not too late. If it is, I think DGP will be looking for a new president. I don't want to run a company that doesn't include the people I want to work with. Kind of leads into my next Rum-ination: purpose.

I still struggle every day trying to find a sense of purpose. I just dug up some old journals of mine and reread them. I had such a strong sense of purpose a decade ago. Even 6 or 7 years ago. This time alone these past few weeks, up here by myself, settling in, sorting things out... it's been a good time for reflection. I've identified that I lack a cause nowadays. Cindy and I had strong causes back in college, just those few years just outside of college. But I think it's faded. Taken for granted unintentionally. We both chose to turn away from becoming ordained pastors because we wanted to be married to each other and not a congregation. I've sought out in some prayer if I or we should be thinking about seminary again, and I still don't feel pulled in that direction. I'm thankful that the church might have lost me as a pastor, but the gained Chris Ode. It's almost like we swapped lives or paths there at one point. Maybe I should ask him what he was going to do before he was called to ministry. :)

I know a few basic things I want out of life. I want to buy a house and plant some effing roots and stop moving every year. I have averaged a move once a year for the past 13 years. I'm sick of it. I also want to start having children in the next couple years. There, I said it.

Think I'll use my plane ride down to Burbank to do some goal setting and some objectives to reach those goals, with timelines. If you don't set goals, you'll never reach them.

Happy Holidays everyone. Merry Christmas. Think of us tomorrow as we make our drive back up to the PNW.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WinterAwesome Stew

1 package beef stew meat
1 package ground Italian Sausage (spicy to your own taste, I chose Hot)
1 large chopped yellow onion
16 - 18 garlic cloves (about 12 chopped, the rest whole)
8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 package button mushrooms, halved or quartered
1/3 cup bourbon... okay maybe 1/2 cup :)
32oz Beef Broth
1 package fresh basil
1 package fresh oregano
28oz can whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons cooking oil or olive oil


In a large stew pot, heat oil on high. Add chopped onions and chopped garlic and stir for 30-45 seconds or until slightly softened. Add potatoes and stir for about a minute. Salt and pepper the beef and add to the pot. Add ground pepper and salt to taste. Stir until beef is browned on all sides. Add ground Italian sausage. Stir until slightly browned (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in beef broth and tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes as you add them, and bring to a boil. Add bourbon and mushrooms, turn down heat, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Chop half of the basil and add to the pot. Add the rest whole. Chop and add oregano to taste. (I used about half the package). Let simmer uncovered. Serve when you can't stand waiting anymore.

Monday, November 9, 2009

And so begins Chapter 5...

If you've been following Cindy and my Facebook pages, you probably already know the news. We're moving back to Bellingham! The decision came very quickly and unexpectedly, but it mainly boiled down to answering the question: What do we want out of life?

We can't seem to find the answer in LA. We came down here for a huge opportunity through my work. It was going to open a lot of doors, and I would be able to be regularly involved with the Industry. (Entertainment Industry, duh.) We already had Matt and Camille down here. At the time, it was the right decision. I was getting a significant pay raise. Cindy eventually found a really great job.

But we all know that the economy wasn't doing well. The writer's strike happened. Then the actor's negotiations, then really, nothing was happening in Hollywood. It spiraled out into every other industry in the area. It was like an earthquake with an epicenter in Hollywood. Everything was shaken up. Some businesses folded. Some shook off several of their employees in order to survive. Then, I got the shake.

Standing on ground zero, unemployed, none of my movie connections were hiring, and like so many other people like me, I asked: Now what? What am I now going to do with my life? For a career?

With a short stint of unemployment, I got hired with a VW dealership. Learned quickly about the cars, and started selling them. But it sucked up my life. The commute is terrible, and it seems no matter how successful I am in the car business, I still come home feeling empty.

More and more businesses leaving the State. Productions being shot in Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico. Anyone in the biz is clamoring over the same positions. And movie distributors are struggling with their identity and business structure, asking how will we be profitable as technologies advance? How do we monetize these new things. Of course, that's if, and I mean IF, they even recognize the threat at all. A large number of distributors seem to be in a huge state of denial.

Production-wise, it seemed we Dead Gentlemen were doing it right the first time... we're just way better at it now, and know how to do more.

On top of all this, Cindy and I want to start on children soon. We asked the question, if we had the opportunity, where would we want to live to do that? Bellingham.

Suddenly, it's like the opportunity machine just turned on. With a leap of faith, we just decided to bite the bullet and make the commitment to moving there. And it is a leap of faith. Not everything is settled. But spiritually we feel pulled back there, we just know it's right. Somehow it will all work out. It's going to be tight. I don't even have employment yet. And there doesn't seem to be much in the way of it up there. But somehow God will provide.

And if confirmation was needed... Jeremy and Katy are having a baby and are making plans to move to the PNW. Matt's Journeyquest is getting off the ground. See his blog post here: The Quest Begins. Ben is up to his eyeballs in projects and opportunities. And I have finally received inspiration for my own project to develop.

Chapter 1: Growing up in Idaho
Chapter 2: The College Years at PLU in Tacoma
Chapter 3: Living and working in the PNW, from Bellingham to Tacoma
Chapter 4: The Big City - Los Angeles
Chapter 5: ??? buying a house and starting a family in Bellingham?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


More pictures from Germany on its way. Haven't had time to compile them.

We're also going to be doing "Best of" pics, and maybe a slideshow with music and either narration or captions to go along with it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In a fog bank...

Until I found my faith in God, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I remember in junior high I was looking at being a helicopter pilot. Sounded interesting. Seemed like everyone in my family wanted me to do "something with computers", whatever that meant, and so of course that's exactly what I didn't want to do. Once Faith became a part of my life, it wasn't long when I found a direction, the Calling.

At the time I interpreted that to be a Lutheran minister, and to be more specific, a missionary to Mormons. Ah, young and infantile faith... so judgmental. Well when Wisdom finally made clear that I was being a judgmental douchebag with that line of "mission", I pursued what it meant to be a "person of faith". That quest turned out to be much nobler, and guess what? I made a lot more friends that way too. And all through college, I had it easy. I was going to just go to seminary after I get my BA... and so I might as well study something that will put me leagues ahead of other seminarians when it comes to Biblical translation and Classical contexts: I would major in Classical Languages.

While I was studying Ancient Greek and Latin, that "ham" part of me came out again. What? Did I forget to mention that apparently I love to be the center of attention? Let me digress a bit: Goes back to when I was a little tyke, always smiling for the camera, hogging the limelight. I even would simulate playing in a rock band with cardboard instruments. I even filmed it. In high school, I discovered what I could do with a camcorder, shooting stuff and editing with 2 VCRs connected with RCA cables. In college I got a job with the TV services department, shooting plays and editing school events. I found myself in a group of friends who were actors, writers, creative thinkers, and mostly Lutheran. It was GREAT! I even decided to take a course called "Acting for the non-actor", which is pretty much me. The professor said I had a natural talent and I should try out for the next play. I got in! And it was so much fun.

I found myself totally enamored with acting, directing, putting stuff together... my friends and I even made a little video together when we had the time. I even got to be in front of the camera.

But this wasn't always the creative outlet I had. I used to draw. I wasn't too shabby with charcoal pencils. I used to play the clarinet, and a little bit of the sax...

But I've digressed long enough...

I started out talking about at one point I didn't know what to do with my life. Then I found something. I think I've ended that journey and I'm back feeling like I did in junior high. Why not ministry? What happened with that?
- When I was graduating college, the Church basically told me I couldn't go to seminary until I had less debt. THAT was NOT in the plans. Once that came to a screeching halt, and I had to figure out what to do next, Dead Gentlemen Productions gave me a purpose. I would strive to be a filmmaker. We proceeded to do some great stuff together. I accomplished some things I am very personally proud of. I did good. Also during that time, my home church pastor essentially got booted out of his congregation because the congregation just didn't get along or didn't agree with him... whatever it was, it was lame. Then, the pastor Cindy and I got attached to when we were living in Bellingham also basically got the boot, and I don't care what anyone says, her being a strong woman had a lot to do with it. She really inspired me, and to see the congregation turn on her like that really soured me. When Cindy left seminary to come and start our lives together, she brought with her another thing I hadn't really given much thought to: She left her path of becoming a Lutheran Pastor because she didn't want to be married to me and the church at the same time. That REALLY resonated with me, and still does.

Why not be a filmmaker? Afterall, I am living in Los Angeles now...
-Right now I have no personal inspiration. It's a bit like after I had directed Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake, and then had to move back to Idaho, and the guys went on to make The Gamers without me... It's a bit like that now. Not that I take it personally, I just don't have anything I'm inspired to do. Matt's all inspired now with his next awesome project.. which again feels like it did with The Gamers... meaning it's the next hit, the next project that's really going to propel him and anyone along with him, and there's really not a place for me. Not right now. It's not a "poor me" statement. I'm a car salesman. I work 6 days a week. I sleep on my day off...

Back up in the Pacific NorthWest, Ben is getting his big project off the ground too. Which is awesome and will be successful because there's so much positive energy behind it. I again don't really have the capacity to participate. So here I am supporting in the sidelines.

Again, this is all fine, but to turn myself around, I would need a project of my own to be inspired to do. When I moved back from Idaho to Tacoma, I had Revamping Doyle. Right now, I got nothing. And besides, having been down here, and seeing what it takes to be a filmmaker professionally, I don't really think it's what I want as a career. But I do love being in the director's chair, I do love coordinating and collaborating with a great crew and actors, hell I even like at times being the producer/"bossman" type on a project I really believe in, like The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. But I had time to do all that then.

The difference between then and now is that now I don't really have a project I'm personally inspired to do... Starting to feel pretty out of touch with the entertainment industry.

So I've built up my strengths through a variety of roles, jobs, and even career paths. They all culminate to this point. And as I look out into the landscape ahead of me, all I see is fog. All my friends seem far away. My family IS far away. I don't know which direction I'm going. And I don't yet have a reason to take a step forward... and by reason I mean a sense of purpose. A goal. An inspiration. I can always do a job to pay the bills. But I want to work to live, not live to work.

I used to write stanzas, I used to draw. I used to play an instrument. I used to act. I used to create videos. I used to have a radio show (forgot to mention that part). I used to game regularly. Ultimately I know I'm lacking a creative outlet.

Recently I had a conversation with one of my classics professors from college. He suggested I consider the foreign service or the CIA... seriously. It is an interesting time right now, and the idea of eventually becoming a diplomat sounds kind of inspiring. But I'm not quite in touch with what all this means yet, so I'm still doing my homework on this.

Either way, I feel a little isolated by my circumstances, and therefore I also feel like whatever direction I'm drifting towards, it might mean away from the people I've been so close to. That's more than terrifying, and a lot depressing.

I just try and remain open, and trust God to lead me. Send some positive energy my way, and maybe pray for me for some clarity and some inspiration. Thanks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Truth About "Cash for Clunkers"

More like "Cash for A-holes"...

I heard this story on NPR explaining how the new CARS program is going to work, and for the most part, David Shephard from the Detroit News was fairly spot on... except that part at the end.

Click on the link and listen to the story.

As many of you know, I work for a dealer who is participating in the CARS program. Here's how the program works from my understanding:

1. If you have a car you think would qualify to turn over, go to and plug in your car and see if it qualifies. You can also go to

2. If your car qualifies, according to David Shephard and "other consumer reports", you should then go to a dealer of your choice and select the car you want to buy, but don't mention you have a "clunker" until you have done the deal. This is where I get pissed off.

There IS a reason why car sales people have such a bad reputation. You the consumer go into a car dealership with the expectation that the salesperson is going to try and screw you over. So it's screw them over or get screwed over. The problem is, most customers don't have a CLUE what the car they are trying to buy is worth. Even if they do the research online... a "good deal" is totally subjective. My manager once told me that he's been in the car business for several years. He knows the industry well, he makes deals, he negotiates with the banks, etc. If he were to walk into a Ford dealership or a GMC dealership, he STILL wouldn't know whether or not the deal they offered him was a "good deal".

When it comes right down to it, you, the buyer, have a budget in mind. You walk into a dealership trying to buy a more expensive car than you can afford, and try and get the dealership to cram it into the budget restraits YOU set out for yourself. It has NOTHING to do with the actual value of the car. And it's up to the dealership to decide if they are going to DEVALUE the car for you so that you can take it home. Sometimes that gap is reasonable, most of the time it's not.

There's a famous book out there that teaches you how to buy a car, and in it they tell you if you have a trade-in vehicle, to bring that up after you have settled on the deal. This is smart for the consumer, and both annoying for the dealership as well as USUALLY disappointing to the customer. But the reason why the book recommends it is correct. Many dealership inflate their trade-in value by taking what it's actually worth and adding on some of their profit from the vehicle you want to buy, thereby showing you a "discount" on the vehicle and showing you more for the trade-in. But if you go in, negotiate your "rock bottom price" and then bring up the trade-in, don't be surprised when your POS car is not worth what you think it is.

In fact, we tell a lot of our customers to take their trade-in to CarMax. It's less hassel for us, and CarMax almost always pays more on trade-ins/wholesale transactions than the dealerships will. The reason is, they have access to the markets where YOUR call will likely sell for the highest amount of money, so they're able to pay you a higher dollar amount.

Where most people's disappointment is when they negotiate this "rock bottom deal" with the salesperson, and everyone's happy because the payment is perfect and we're ready to sell/buy the car, and THEN you bring up the trade-in, it's then, we the salespeople get to discover how upside down you are in your current vehicle, and when we roll the substantial negative equity that YOU owe on YOUR car, your payment doubles or raises significantly, and now you want to negotiate the price down back to where it was. Guess what? THERE'S NO ROOM LEFT! YOU JUST NEGOTIATED THE ROCK F*CK!NG BOTTOM PRICE!!!

Okay, but that's trade-ins. You're saying: Don, David Shephard was talking about the CARS program, not trade-ins.

You're right. He was. But he DIDN'T tell you what you need to bring in addition to your POS car you're going to turn in for a rebate, which I was hoping he would have, which would have made this tyraid unnecessary...

If you go into the dealership, after having qualified your car as a legitimate "Clunker" that will get you a rebate, and you wait until AFTER the deal has been negotiated to bring up that you have a qualified clunker to get your CARS rebate, the dealer then is going to ask you for the following:
- Proof that you have owned the car for more than a year (which means two consecutive years of registrations in your name)
- Proof that this clunker has been insured and drivable for more than one year (which means two consecutive years of insurance cards for your clunker car)
- The ORIGINAL title
- A printout of the side-by-side fuel economy comparison between your clunker and the car you want to buy

See, YOU are expecting the dealer to just give you $4,500.00 or $3,500.00 rebate, whichever one you qualify for. And when they ask you for it, you're not going to have it, because who the crap carries that stuff... then you're going to go home disappointed and upset, and thinking that dealership is trying to screw you over, and now you have to hunt for all this BS paperwork so you can get your freaking rebate... when it's actually the effing government not having their crap together in educating people about what it's going to take, and oh by the way, the "quick reference guide" for the dealers is like 80 pages long and you need to be a lawyer to read it. But that's not your concern...

So if you're going to be a douchebag, I mean, a smart, informed consumer, and bring up this CARS rebate program after you've negotiated your "rock bottom deal"... do your homework and bring all the required paperwork and make it easy for the dealership. You've already done all the hard work of negotiating the salesperson's paycheck away (does anyone find it weird that no one negotiates with a waiter their tip? Or with the cook how much they think the food was worth paying for?) at least do US the courtesy of bringing everything you're going to need to make the deal happen.

Oh, and about that "rock bottom price", I say it like that because that's what we always hear in the car industry "What's your rock bottom price"... You're not actually asking for the rock bottom price, you're asking for a starting point to begin your negotiation. You say you want to cut out the back and forth negotiating BS, but in the end you end up doing it anyway because no matter what number the dealer gives you, even if they've awarded you significant savings even in this economy, it's still not good enough because it doesn't fit in your budget. It's not because the dealer is trying to screw you, although at this point you may deserve it... it's because you're on the WRONG CAR.

Don't expect me to devalue my product just because you got a lower price at a different dealer. My car is a 4-door with premium audio, a sunroof, 18" wheels, an ipod adapter and leather seats. You have seen and touched my car, and my manager has given you an aggressive deal because we have taken our best guess as to what we could get away with on the car and what we think you would say yes to. It happens to be the maximum amount we're allowed to sell the car under invoice. Except you call around to other dealers and one gives you a price $1800 lower than the one we gave you. They say it's the same car, but until they give you a VIN number, the managers name, and what the deal is associated with that VIN, WE have NO reason to believe that deal. You're telling me Peter Pan will sell you the same car for $1800 less than what we quoted you, and we worked hard for your business. IT'S NOT THE SAME CAR. And how DARE you ask me to devalue my product because someone else said it costs less and aren't willing to prove it.

You don't negotiate how much you'll pay for groceries, or your cell phone bill, or your new refrigerator you buy at Best Buy...

It's a stupid cycle and both the customer AND the dealers/salespeople are equally to blame.

Find a sales person you like, someone you want to do business with. Do your homework, and by the way, Kelly Blue Book and does not count as homework. That's a start, but until you get an offer from Kelly Blue Book to buy your trade-in, it doesn't count. They don't buy or sell cars. Your dealer knows the auctions and the market for what they can make a profit from your car, and if you don't like it, take it to CarMax and be done with it. But find a dealership, a salesperson and a manager you like that you want to support, negotiate a fair price for everyone involved, and be prepared.

Being prepared means bring all the necessary documentation you'll need. If you think you're credit's sketchy, bring some pay stubs, 3 months of your most recent bank statements showing income, a recent phone bill or something proving your address. Bring proof of insurance. Bring your driver's license.

Don't be an A-hole. If you're going to screw someone out of their paycheck, make sure you have everything you need to bring to transaction in order to make it happen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Standing in a sink hole

There is a lot out of whack in my life. I just read some ramblings from my good friend Kevin on his blog about living a balanced life. Kevin and I have shared similar life philosophies about work and play, relationships, etc. My grandfather has said a couple things that I think sum it up pretty well:

1. Most people work 5 days a week. If you have to, you work 6. If you can't do it in 6, you're not going to do it in 7, so you might as well take a day off.

I've mentioned this next one before:

2. Friends are the currency of life, and I always considered myself a rich man.

And in general, no specific saying here, but something about you might not have a tomorrow, so don't forget to live a little right now.

Well right now I have a serious imbalance in my life. I'm working too much, doing something I don't feel too much reward for doing. I've mentioned before that whatever I do for a career, I just want to make a difference in people's lives, as well as my own. For the better of course.

It's no wonder I was drawn to being a pastor when I was in high school and college. Sure I've thought about trying that path again, but after watching two of my mentors being ousted from their congregations, I think it's caused some serious trust issues with me. Now when I go to a congregation, I always feel like "now what responsibilities are they going to rope me in for?"

Used to be that I would get something out of serving. Being in sales now, however, it's all I do. So it all just feels like more work. Taking out of me, not giving back. And I don't seem to really get much out of church services any more. I don't sing and I don't enjoy singing as a form of worship, which is a draw for most people who go to church. If it were me, it'd go Confession and Absolution, Prayer of the Day, First & Second Lesson and Gospel, Homily, Communion, Offering, Benediction. Boom. Done.

Ramblings of my own I guess.

I wish I had more time to game. I wish my days off weren't all needing to be spent sleeping and catching up on laundry. I hate reading about the great things my wife and friends are doing on the weekend without me, and not being there with them.

My friend Chris Duppenthaler once asked me, "Don, if there was one thing you could make a living at doing, what would it be?"

I still don't have an answer.

He asked another one once, "If you could something of your choice, what would you sell?"

Still I got nothing.

And that's about where I am. Spiritual life is pretty dry. Personal life is pretty dry. Professional life is pretty dry. I feel like I'm missing out on something. I also feel like my career is right in front of me and I can't seem to see it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I am an Autobot

I don't know what the whole bad press thing is about. I frankly thought it was better than the first movie.

That said...

What's with the swearing? This is based on a kid's show. Obviously I'm not against swearing in movies, but it just doesn't seem to fit this one. Was odd.

Other than that, I was pretty happy with it. I've already surrendered to the fact that Michael Bay is ruining my childhood memories. So having accepted it, I'm rolling with it and trying to make the best of it. I still hate the design of the robots. But, nothing I can do about that. They got Peter Cullen. They brought in Soundwave, which was my favorite Transformer anyway.

Overall, I was pretty happy with it. Still miss Jazz though. Spoiler alert, they don't bring him back. :(

Typical Michael Bay film. Lots of stuff blowing up. Megan Fox is... well a fox, and he does not sacrifice camera angles in order to show her off. Wow. She is tasty.

I do wish the franchise wasn't just all about General Motors vehicles though. Totally lame. Suppose it covers the spectrum okay though, just... I miss Bumblee being... A BUG! I miss Optimus being that other kind of Semi, the boxie kind...

But whatever. At least I didn't really watch G.I. Joe as a kid, so the movie looks pretty cool to me. It's way lame and far fetched, which is just fine by me. I never got the draw growing up. I mean, I understood it was all about being The Real American Hero... but basically it was playing Army. Plenty of Army movies out there, so the concept seems a bit boring. The new take looks more interesting to me, and that is my own brand of hypocrisy with all my complaints about Transformers and He-Man movies.

Back to Transformers 2. I wouldn't own either movies, but I definitely think they are worth seeing in the theaters. It was a good time, and I never get tired of hearing Optimus Prime. I want an "Optimus Prime for President" bumper sticker.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Face + Brick Wall = Car Sales

That about sums up my day. I'm not sure I've ever been more agitated in general.

Car sales seems to be perfect for single people, workaholics, or alcoholics, or any combination of those three. It's no wonder so many people have some kind of substance abuse in the car industry. A lot of the managers don't drink, but they smoke like crazy. In fact, most of the people at the dealership smoke.

Oh, and they're mostly conservatives too. Why is it I always find work, working for conservatives? I'll give them one thing, at least they have a job somehow.

I really miss the consultative outside sales life, working from home, and then going out and helping solve people's problems. There are a so many things I could be doing that fit that... why can't I think of one that pays anything?

Plus, it seems like when I'm the busiest at work, that's when everyone outside of my job needs something from me.

I'm spent. I'm frustrated. I'm aggravated. I'm not sleeping well. I don't get much of a day off.

I got no problem working hard for my money. I do have a problem missing out on life as a trade off for it.

Bleh, I need a purge.

UPDATE: Case in point... it's 3:30am. I can't fall back asleep because I'm thinking about that one of my customers that I have been working with through the internet, and then finally came in to get her car appraised (again I might add), MIGHT have bought a car from another salesman at the dealership, behind my back... That part is not bugging me. What bugs me is that 2 out of 3 of my managers knew I was working on it, and no one told me she came in. If I don't get half the deal, I'm going to be very upset. But I'm already disappointed that the managers didn't tell me. This is not how I want to live my life...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Update on E71

This phone is awesome. I haven't even BEGUN to do all the cool stuff it can do, but what I have used it for works really well. It's incredibly thin too. But I wanted to give an update on how my VOIP is going.

I decided on VoipVoip. It's $6.99 per month to have a phone number people can call you on. All incoming calls are free, and all outgoing calls are 1.9 cents a minute. The bummer thing is that you have to reformat your phone numbers in your address book to: 12225557777, and then if you want to get really spiffy and allow Skype to call out for you (using a different application), you have to put a + in front of the number. Doesn't seem to work if the phone number is formatted (222)555-7777. But that's a minor inconvenience.

It is VERY dependent on a 3G or WiFi connection. Edge will not work. And 3G is not everywhere, despite what the coverage tells you. Often, there is also about a 2 second connection delay when the phone call initializes.

So far, if switching between WiFi and 3G and vice versa, I have to go in and manually change some settings to make it work. But, overall, VoipVoip is very clear, works most of the time, and is a great deal.

It also picks up your ring tones just fine, and makes and receives calls through the normal phone function. Even call waiting works just fine. When you have the voicemail turned on, it actually emails you your voicemail, which is pretty cool.

I dumped Fring in favor of Nimbuzz. I just like the interface better. It seems to be a little slicker with Skype, and it's a great chat program. I can make and receive Skype calls just fine. Most of the time though there is a slight lag when using Skype. A small inconvenience that I'm willing to go through for reducing my phone bill. You can also make Yahoo! calls and GTalk calls.

So far there seems to be NO software solution to make video calls. The phone has the functionality, but you can't freaking use it. It'd be awesome to interface with GTalk Video, Skype, Yahoo, MSN, etc, using a WiFi or 3G connection, but nothing seems to be out there.

Also, I seem to fill up the RAM pretty quickly and end up having to reboot the phone. Not sure what that's all about yet.

Overall, I'm definitely saving some dough. People who use both a data connection and minutes can cut their bill in half doing what I'm doing.

There's my update!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friggin Fring

So my brilliant plan to beat the Comm system has kinda' worked.

I have a new cell phone. It's the Nokia E71. Not the new E71x that AT&T is offering. This is the one that's not stripped down.

It's a great phone. Very thin, very powerful. So my plan was, buy an unlocked phone, get a data plan only, and get both unlimited data and unlimited voice for about $40/mo. How? Voice Over IP, or Voip for short. Using programs like Skype, you can make calls out for cheap or free. Basically, if I can minimize my per month cost, and maximize my ability to make and receive calls, and not pay more than $50/month, that's the goal. This means we'll be getting rid of our landline too, once I get this figured out. So then Cindy will have her prepaid phone, and I'll have my phone, and that will be it.

Here's what I have to report. Skype Lite, which is the only version available for this phone, doesn't work. It's really stupid too. It requires you to have a voiceplan to make internet calls. What it does is it dials a local number and then forwards you to whatever number you're trying to call. What's the point?

So now I'm using a program called Fring. It's not terrible, but has some really annoying characteristics. But first, the pluses:
-It works. It hooks up to my Skype account, and on that account I pay $3/month for unlimited calls. So I'm able to use Skype out to make calls using Fring. The calls are crystal clear as well.
-Fring works great as an IM too. Pulls in GTalk, MSN, AOL, Skype, etc. And it pulls all your contacts from your phone too. So that's cool.

Here's where it starts to suck:
- There's a bit of a delay, about 2 seconds or so, in the calls. It's annoying. And it's the same if you're using 3G, Broadband, or WiFi.
- You can't use push button numbers while you're in a call. Meaning, if you are calling something and it says, "for such and such, please press 1". You can't do that using Fring.
- Haven't figured out how to access my Skype voicemail from Fring either.
- You can't just dial a number either. They have to be a contact in your buddy list or in your phone contacts.


Next, there's a program called Gizmo. It's pretty cool and uses the phone part of your phone to make internet calls. Also pulls from your contacts. You can dial any number. Basically it works like prepaid minutes. You put money on your account, you buy a phone number (one time fee), and then it's basically 3.9 cents per minute. The really crappy part is, it appears you can only use Gizmo if you're hooked up to WiFi. It won't work with 3G or whatever the phone's normal data plan is.


Some of you might be wondering about SIP. I haven't tried it yet. The whole point for me is to minimize my costs, and SIP just seems to be a way to connect everything... Except that I'll be dumping my landline. Still need to read up on this, but I'm open to suggestions.

If anyone else has any thoughts on how to accomplish my goal, please let me know. It's an interesting quest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

VW it is

Started the VW gig yesterday. Spent my first day driving cars. That was cool. Kind of got introduced to each car and what makes each one cool. Discovered I REALLY love convertibles. Didn't really know that about myself.

Today, came into my office to discover the small cabinet had been taken, I still don't have a mouse for my computer, and someone took the picture of the his and hers VW bugs side by side leaning towards each other while the guy and the girl kissed. It was cute. Decided I'm going to tell the sales manager if they don't put a cool VW picture up in my office, I'm bringing a Mini Cooper picture to put up.

Also, turns out you need a specific driver license to sell cars. Who knew? So today I had to spend most of a full day at the DMV and the Social Security office, because oh yeah, they need a copy of my social security card, and apparently mine is gone. Had to get a Live Scan too, which is basically digital fingerprinting with a background check. Spendy day, except that Social Security didn't charge me for a replacement card. Hey, ONE perk from the SS office isn't bad.

So, if anyone is considering buying a Prius or any other Hybrid car, please contact me first so I can talk you out of it. Buy a TDI. Turbo Diesel. Way better gas mileage, and several years down the line you won't have to fork out half the value of the vehicle to replace the batteries. Plus, it burns fuel SUPER clean. Seriously, eff the Prius. Buy a Jetta TDI. And buy it from me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

From Mini to VW to... I dunno, I give. You tell me.

Mini passed on me, but they said I was outstanding and would like to consider me for their new store. They decided to go with someone with more auto experience, and I can't really argue with that... having no auto sales experience myself.

Then another ad caught my eye, Volkswagen. So I submitted my resume and they called me back. The next day (Friday) I went in for the interview, and that evening when I got home they again, called me back. They really liked me, like my energy, and thought I might be a good fit. Would I come in on Monday morning to their in-house training program and spend a day learning their sales process? Sure. I'd love to. And that's what I did today.

It was very similar to the Dale Carnegie sales process I already know, just more specific to selling cars. So that was nice and familiar and built confidence. However, the main factor that was mentioned was that our biggest selling advantage in selling is our superior knowledge of our products and inventory, and in-depth study of the competition. *beat*

Well crap. I don't really have either of those things. Yet, and I realize knowledge will come. But it was discouraging to hear, particularly since I'm entering this industry with no auto experience. On the other hand, when I started selling at Revchem, I didn't have an in-depth knowledge of silicones or UV-initiated resins either, so I suppose in that way it's no different.

Overall the day was very enlightening, and I definitely think I could work that process well. So I sat down with the manager again and discussed the position in more detail today. We talked about the commission structure and bonuses, medical/dental all that. Sure working on 100% commission is risky, but it's always a good motivator. That part doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I have to essentially create my own customer base. The foot traffic at the dealership is very light. So not only am I doing the sales process once they land on the doorstep, but I have to get them IN the door in the first place.

Today I was told to treat this as if I were running my own business. The flipside of course is that I'm working for them as an employee, so I'm not totally on my own.

There is also no formal product knowledge training. There are certifications you have to eventually obtain from VW, but the internet is my friend I guess. I think my main hesitations at this point are concerns over the short term. How to get people in the door. Getting up to speed enough to speak confidently about the vehicles I will be selling. Becoming intimately familiar with the inventory so as to know what cars to select.

I get paid more on unemployment than I do sitting at the dealership learning about the products. So it almost makes more sense to research at home for a week or two, then go work for them. But then I don't want them to hire someone else while I'm learnin' up.

I think more importantly I am stressing about the process of getting the customers in the door in the first place. The main reason I'm attracted to selling cars in the first place is that the customer generally comes to YOU! I don't mind doing the work of generating prospects and leads for myself; that's a vital part of the sales process that any seller worth anything should be able to do for themselves. Just in my experience it's the part that takes the longest.

So, I'm stressing a bit about it. Mainly because I have no other employment prospects on the table. And, I'm starting to stress again about what direction to be looking for employment. Should I concentrate on sales, or should I concentrate on management? Do I even want a management position? What about teaching? Some people think I should pursue teaching Latin... What about that?

I just don't know. My top 5 talents are: Connectedness, Empathy, Individualization, Achiever, Arranger.

Definitely seems to tell the story of someone who's a sales professional, doesn't it? Or clergy, or team leader, or producer, or director, or....

Anyone got any insights?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mini Me

Last Friday, I landed myself an interview to Nick Alexander Mini, for a sales position. I kid you not. I was looking on Craigslist and saw an ad "What Recession? Mini Coopers Are HOT HOT HOT!!!" Yep, they are hiring 1 sales person. This happens to be the same dealership I bought my Mini at. So not only do I know at least two of the other salesmen then, plus the service manager, but I know the company and can testify first hand.

The interview went really well. I felt very comfortable, and seemed to keep the sales manager interested and talking with me for over an hour and half! It went well enough that he had me do a second interview with the general manager. This gentleman is a big guy, kind of like the owner of the company at my last job. And by big, I mean large stature. I admit, I was a little intimidated. But I think it went okay. We talked about boats a little bit, and leasing climates. I think I held my own okay, but he is clearly a numbers oriented guy. Makes for a great GM.

Anyway they're supposed to get back to me hopefully by the end of this week. Here's hoping!

This would be a pretty ideal place for me. I mean, I love doing sales, and what better product to sell than something I am already so passionate about?! And it's a car that really does create a community.

This week I also started reading, Now Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton. When you buy the book, you get an access code to their online test called "Strengths Finder". I bought the upgraded version, and so this is what the results came out to be:

How well do you think these themes describe me?

People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.

People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Feeling the pinch

So I'm flossing my teeth, like every dentist I've ever had has told me to do, and I get to the spot just between my top two front teeth... and my floss gets stuck. I pull it out, and suddenly I realize that I had a filling there. On the backside, right between my two front teeth (now you have that song in your head).

We don't have dental insurance. And it started to hit me how much this is going to run. I haven't been to a dentist since I moved to LA. That means they're going to want to run X-rays, do a cleaning, fix my filling, and of course discover every horrible thing that's wrong with my teeth. This is where I DO believe in insurance. Too bad, huh?

Recently Cindy's car needed new front brakes. Rotors and pads. $350.
I needed new clothes. Still not quite done yet. So far... $230.
IRS and CA Franchise Office took income tax from us this week... $5600.
Cordy almost had to go to the animal hospital. whew. avoided that.

Our savings is depleting fast, and I have only my second real prospect interview tomorrow. It's a cellular company. They need an inside sales rep. Doesn't look too great though. The website isn't very good, and I have a feeling I'm WAY over qualified. But we'll see tomorrow.

The chocolate thing would be fun, and would be rewarding to help the company grow and to directly affect that... and feeling the dire straits is no better motivator. But the practical side of me craves some kind of stability, and that means someone else giving me a paycheck, paying my income taxes, and preferably paying for my insurances.

I have a fancy resume ready to go, if anyone in the LA area is interested.

gah... why couldn't I have been born with great teeth?

Should I be The Chocolate Guy?

So I had my second interview with The Chocolate Traveler (click the image above to go to their website). Very interesting company and they definitely could use my help. The drawbacks are steep though.
  • I'm not an employee. I'm an independent contractor, much like a Mary Kay rep or Tupperware. The upside to this company though is that I don't have to buy my inventory; it's all on consignment.
  • Being an independent contractor, I'm responsible for all of my own expenses, including insurance, cell phone, fuel, income taxes, etc. So that's a lot of chocolate to sell before you start turning a profit.
  • So this is all to say that they pretty much won't/can't pay for anything for liability reasons. Just commission. Which is also interesting, because the inventory you're keeping for them, they technically still own.
These types of sales jobs, if you're ambitious and really driven, can be fun and profitable if you stick to it. But, I don't know many people who do it as a full time job. It seems like a good part time job. This could be good for me since I'm trying to also pursue producing/directing professionally.

The company itself is pretty great. I really like the people, the product is high quality, and I definitely see how I could have a direct impact on the company. That itself is pretty exciting. I also like that I'm basically my own boss.

The products are reasonably priced, and the margins are certainly doable.

So now... I guess the question is, how much chocolate makes it worth it?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

From Blog to Sermon

Erik Samuelson is a friend of mine from PLU and I've managed to keep in touch with him since graduation. Recently he informed me that he's been reading my blogs, and asked if he could use my latest one in his next sermon. You see, Erik went on to become a Lutheran Pastor when I could not, and that's a fair trade in my opinion. Not that THAT was part of the equation... "Erik... *cough* *cough*, you go on! I'm... not... gonna make it... *cough*"

Anyway I wanted to share with you what Erik preached today in his congregation in Spokane, WA.


And you can find others of Erik's sermons from Bethlehem Lutheran Church by click on his picture above, or going to the following link:

Erik's Sermon Blog

Thank you my friend. This means a lot, and I'm glad you found what I'm going through as fitting material for what was speaking to you for your homily.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Crisis on Infinite Dons" or "Why I love BIG LOVE"

I'm going to start this blog with a big damn apology to all the Mormons I've pissed off, hurt, or otherwise during high school. Well, unless they were just jerks plain and simple, but that has nothing to do with them belonging to the Latter-Day Saints. If there's one thing I've learned over the years about differences in faith, is that I have enough differences in my own religion, let alone someone else's. And why am I bringing this up? Well I've fallen in love with the show Big Love.

For those of you who are ignorant, Big Love is not a representation of what life is like in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The show centers on an offshoot of what is commonly understood to be the Mormon faith. And this offshoot still endorses polygamy. The show's main characters are polygamists, struggling to live a normal life in faith, but neither fitting in with the Latter-Day Saints faith, nor their on polygamist compound. The family is under attack on both sides.

What I love about the show is how universal it is, how relatable (apparently "relatable" is not a word) it is. That despite being polygamists, the issues and values of family, and the strengthened spiritual concept of the family unit as a spiritual unit united for eternity. It's powerful. And you don't even have to belive in the Book of Mormon to identify with that. And what the show has done is made me realize even more how judgmental I was to my LDS peers. I was a dick. A pompous, prudish cock. Don't get me wrong, I'm not racing to the nearest LDS Church to join up. I still got my differences. But my faith has come to a point to a place of enormous inclusion and acceptance, despite differences and concerns. Sometimes I feel like I have more problems and issues with Evangelical Christians than I do with the Latter-Day Saints.

The show also is reminds me of elements of home and growing up in a town, an elementary school, a junior high, and a high school that was majority members of the LDS Church. So it's a sense of familiarity.

Oddly enough, I find that I really don't have a problem with polygamy, so long as it doesn't allow marriage to minors. Frankly I think most people who marry at 18 are seriously making a mistake. But whatever. The only thing I don't like about the idea of polygamy is dirty old men preying on young girls. If that was eradicated, and if people want to marry more than one spouse, then I think I'm okay with that. Morally I mean. Aside from the predatory and misogynist nature of polygamy, one guy marrying several women, or rather as portrayed in the show, a married couple deciding to add another wife to the family... the other problem I have is the financial burden of polygamy.

I mean, if you're going to be a polygamist, you'd better be wealthy, right? I mean, it's one thing being a married couple, and often times in LDS or even Catholic families, the family unit also comes furnished with 4 or more children. Imagine multiplying that by two or three times! or more!

You know what would ensure that to happen, if it was one woman marrying several guys. Right? But when the hell would that ever happen? That's a show I'd like to see. Call it "Three Men and a Lady". One guy's an unemployed artist. The other is a successful businessman. The other is a construction worker downtown. What does SHE do? Can you imagine trying to schedule who's night it is? (I'm laughing my ass off here. This is funny shit. I'm glad I'm writing it down. You're NOT allowed to copy my idea. I get 50% of revenues if you do).

Anyway. If you can financially swing it, everyone's agreeable, and you have the power of faith and family supporting you, and no one is preying on minors or sucking up welfare, then who the hell cares? I think I have more issues with the concept of some woman on welfare who already has 6 children, shelling out 8 babies at once... ON PURPOSE!

But that's a bit of a tangeant from what I was talking about in the first place. To my friends and peers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please forgive me.

Now, onto other matters that are on my brain. Like, my professional identity crisis.
I'm struggling with staying strong and collected, and being motivated to kick ass at what I do. I'm struggling with my professional identity. That struggle is mostly centered around me as a film professional, or whether I'm at a turning point to leave all that behind.

So I think about what I love. I love directing. I LOVE the work I did on the Demon Hunters RPG and the Orientation video. I LOVE the work I did on Y Tu Nana Tambien. I felt totally rewarded producing Dorkness Rising. Not at all that I did it alone, or that with DH I did it alone. It's the process, the collaboration, how we (DG) all work together. But if I'm not going to be a film professional, I don't know what to do with my life. I'm back at that place I was at after college graduation when I found out I wouldn't be going to seminary and fully understood that the path I'd been on since my junior year in high school is no longer what I'm going to do with my life. I've been working to eventually be a film professional for nearly 10 years now. I do feel like I'm at a crossroads again. My experience in sales was very rewarding. But I didn't get that feeling that I got when I was behind the camera. Or when I was in front of it trusting Ben or Matt or Nathan behind it.

Cindy says she doesn't relate to the feeling of doing what you love as your profession. She doesn't understand why anyone would want to do their passion as their career, for fear that it would take divide a marriage/family. Or that the passion of the work would fizzle and become just a job. She posed me the question, "Why would it be inferior if you were to get a full time career like you had with Revchem, where you were rewarded and paid well, and then on the side you bought a camera and a mic and some lights and directed your own shorts and posted them up on your website?" It's a good question. For me, i think it's like saying why don't I marry someone I'm not in love with because it will bring stability and you could be happy with it, and maybe on the weekends you could go out with the the person you're really in love with, except you can't touch her.

We men really do define ourselves by our profession, and our self esteem is directly tied to it.

Another way of thinking about the scenario/question Cindy posed is... I think that's not what I want because it takes away the collaboration and working with the people I love to work with. That's part of the joy of it. It's not just the creative expression, it's not just the recognition and appreciate that comes from it, or even if I was getting paid to do it as a career.

I've always struggled with what I wanted to do with my life as a career. Although my childhood is filled with memories with me and my grandmother's camcorder, I never really thought about being a filmmaker as what I wanted to do when I grew up. In grade school, I thought about being a helicopter pilot. In Jr High, I didn't have a clue. Everyone kept telling me "do something with computers. You're good at that." Tells you something about the generation, doesn't it? Then when I came to faith in high school, a path became clear and I latched onto it. Finally something I could do with my life. People saw in me my way with people, and my potential to inspire others, and said I could do that professionally. I got to college on that "I will not be defeated in this" determination, acquiring over $60,000 in student loans to do it. I met you guys. We made a couple movies together. We gamed. My faith grew even stronger as I tore off the garbage of my evangelical faith and got to the meat of Lutheran teaching. I chose a major that I liked, because why would I need to study something that would prepare me for career/professional life? I was going to be a pastor, or maybe even eventually a theologian. I applied for seminary, and got that letter stating, "sorry we can't let you come in. Come back when you have less debt."

As I write this I'm still stunned by it. What had I spent all that money for? The hell am I supposed to do with my life now? So I went back to what I knew. Heating and Cooling. And from there the rest is history. My professional resume is strengthened by my background in the full sales process, which strengthened my human relations skills, and suddenly prepared me for a wide open field of careers. My skill set applies to so damn much it makes my head spin. I'm no longer with Revchem. The hell am I going to do with myself now?

Cindy and I had a talk last night about her feeling threatened by a filmmaking career. That it would take me away from her. That our finances would never be stable again. So a hard serious look at the past 10 years, of enduring bullshit work, bad jobs, a rewarding and strengthening career in sales, company loyalty for 5 years in a industry I could never have predicted I'd be working in: fiberglass and chemicals. But on the side I'm running DG. I came in and saved GDR. (again, not single handedly, but I did what I do, I build a team of amazing people to get it done), I got Paizo to distribute our products. I got GDR on Netflix. I simplified DG's structure and operations so that 1 person could run it fairly easily. I networked with all the major SFX houses in LA. I've begun building relationships with filmmakers that I admire and appreciate. All this so that it would lead to filmmaking being my primary career. And if THAT'S not what I'm going to do...

The hell am I going to do with my life? The sky is the limit, and I am inclined in no other direction. If not this, what then?

I'm not saying I must be a film professional, but right now it seems to be where the feelings are settling. I'm still going to attempt to find employment, and while I'm doing that, I might as well see if I can find a sales career or something that will directly influence my career as a film professional, and vice versa. If I was selling something that the entertainment people needed, which then networks me with professionals that could help me get my entertainment career goals and overall form lasting friendships/relationships. That's ideal. That's going to be tough. But there must be something. Be it selling cameras, editing equipment, entertainment insurance, (although the thought of selling insurance makes my skin crawl).

Or maybe I sell Mini's for a living. How awful would that be? Oh darn, I'm selling something that I'm in love with.

I just thought I'd share these with you who read this. I'd love your feedback. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One-Man Douchebag

Here's a video I made today when I was supposed to be doing something responsible, like writing my awesome resume.

My buddy Rian wanted to see me rock out with the mullet wig he sent me as a gag gift. NEVER do that. Here goes:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's all about me

Writing and talking about yourself is one of the hardest things to do. We don't like to do it. This is something we really learn when learning how to do sales. Because you HAVE to sell yourself first. And it is difficult to talk about yourself. To think about your own strengths. To know yourself well enough to answer difficult questions people might ask about you.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are you good at?
  • What's your best accomplishment?
  • What are your top 5 personal qualities? What are examples when you displayed those qualities?
  • What are your top 5 professional qualities? What are examples when you displayed those?
  • What do you want out of life?
  • If you could do anything, what would it be?

First I want to thank Cindi Rice, Paige, Camille, and Christina for helping me and supplying me with tools to start this job hunt seriously.

I think when I'm done with this process, there will be another light bulb moment. I had one of those when I went through the Sales Advantage course. As I put those skills towards finding a new job, and searching myself for what I know about my product (me), I realize how valuable this is to everything I do.

For instance, I also need to write a bio for myself for pitch packages. I'm starting to put together several projects for DG, or just me personally, and I'm finding I have to (or will have to) do a lot of writing about myself, and/or my company.

I NEED to master this process.


Haven't written in a while because I got the crud everyone's been getting. Started with a dry throat, then slight sinus pressure on the ears. Immediately started taking Sudafed which helped a ton. But then for about a day I fevered like crazy. You know, the kind you're all freezing, and then moments later you're roasting. Then everything moved into my lungs and it's been there ever since. Chest congestion and a serious chesty cough. That's been the toughest. Probably have had about 4 days of that so far. Today is much better than yesterday. I'm definitely on the upswing. I can take a full breath now without hacking. Robitussin is my friend.

Having all the down time gave me a few moments to really reflect on what I want to do. Haven't really come to any conclusions, but I have focused down to a few things:
  • I do really want to start directing again.
  • I do love doing sales
  • I am waffling between part time and full time because I'm entertaining the thought of using this opportunity to pursue a career as an independent entertainment professional.
The main question I'm struggling with is: If I don't pursue my entertainment career with any more effort that I'm already doing, what do I want to do?

I was pretty happy working in sales with my last company. I had even resolved that the whole filmmaking thing was perfectly fine being a hobby, and that I was getting enough career satisfaction doing what I was doing. I've recently been in contact with friends I haven't spoken too in a long time, through Facebook. One of the things that keeps coming up is, what happened to me being a pastor? After answering the obvious stuff about the BS of the church not letting me go due to how much debt I had, along with everything else, the truth is I've found other ways of using those gifts people saw in me.

I am great with people. I care and I listen. People say I have a lot of wisdom, particularly for someone my age. Heard that a lot over the years. So it's natural that ministry was the direction to go. Interestingly enough, I think I've been able to affect and influence more people, spirtually or otherwise, by NOT being ordained. Just by living my life. Putting myself in a position to help people become better. Whether it's through a new product or changing their processes so things are more efficient, or putting a scene together, shaping actors' performances, influencing the director's decisions to make a better product, making sure everyone on set is having a great time in the midst of miserable conditions; or even just listening to a guy tell me what a horrible day he's had, asking him questions about it, and just spending the time to form a meaningful connection, and then the next week he places a huge order from me, even if my competition was a lower price.

So unfortunately that doesn't really narrow down what to look for in terms of employment. It seems half of building a resume is doing the work of knowing yourself. The other half is tailoring that to the needs of your prospective employer... which means you need to know who that is. In the sales process, we call that the "Preapproach". Which brings me back to the connundrum of: where to look.

Took a few career surveys, but they weren't much help. I think I need some serious tools that help me evaluate what I want to look for in a job or career.

Wow, I just realized this is only half the work I'll need to do. The other half is the dreaded Cover Letter. But I definitely can't write one of those until I know who or what I am applying for.

You know, it seems like a Cover Letter is awfully similar to a Credibility Statement. I'll be interested to get Christina's take on that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ema's Character Sheets

Dear Wizards of the Coast,

I am a huge D&D fan and avid player and supporter of 4th edition D&D, as well as 3.5. You might recognize my work in the film you sponsored, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. I recently went to a website I frequent which has a BRILLIANT setup for creating characters, which I know you discovered as well. This website is now completely dismantled and reads only the following:

I'm sorry to inform you that this site is no more.
Wizards of the Coast asked me to take it down, and I complied.

I'm sorry for all the fans who will miss it - I will miss it, too - but it was the right thing to do.

Time to move on...

While I can appreciate your requirements for Ema to take down the 4th Edition character sheets, as it clearly provided an alternative to the character builder you have launched, I don't understand why the previous edition materials had to be taken down.

Ema's Character Sheets was a really great independent site that I used avidly, and it upsets me that I no longer have access to adequate tools to run my campaigns and I have to start all over.

Please allow Ema to put back his 3rd edition material.


Don Early

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lady in the Water

It was okay. I can actually say I didn't hate it. I usually hate most of M. Night Shyamalan's movies. Well, except for Sixth Sense, which was awesome. But every movie after that stunk as afar as I'm concerned. Especially The Happening. I love Mark Wahlberg, but what a piece of crap that movie was.

So I'm holding up okay. Went to church this morning. First time we've done that in months. Got to drive the Mini. That's always a good time. Been sleeping okay as well.

Woke up frustrated, thinking about all the work I put in last year just being wasted. It was all going to pay off this year. Their loss I guess. Getting emails from some of my customers who are pretty upset over the ordeal. It's nice to have their support, and who knows, maybe I'll get to work with them in another capacity.

Don't really have an idea where to go from here. This week I'm going to work on my resume, and get set up on the various services. Need to organize the office yet. Keep putting it off. Might be tomorrow, might not. Cindy has the day off, so we may just play.

Discovered we could watch TV Shows on through the Playstation 3. It's not perfect, but works pretty well. Gonna try and see if we can do the same with Netflix. I'm not expecting that to work, but we'll see.

Well, dinner's ready. Time for chow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Disabled by Flexeril


Most of the day yesterday my body just hurt. Felt poised. But literally my left arm hurt all the way into my armpit. My neck was stiff, my was painful, clearly whatever I'm feeling is manifesting itself physically.

So after we got home last night after a test screening of a HI-larious new movie, tentatively called "The Hangover" (they will change the title before it gets released), I took a whole pill of a muscle relaxer I had left over from when I was in physical therapy for my back. The reason I had PT was that my posture was so bad, my neck would go numb, my back and chest muscles were so tightened up. Said it was due to bad posture, lack of exercise, and stress. So they gave me Ambien to sleep, which I'm out of, Flexeril for muslce relaxor, and some kind of super ibuprofin for inflammation.

About 11:30pm last night I felt it start to kick in, which is about right. Takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to kick in. I woke up around 1:15pm, and I am still feeling it.

Next time I'm taking a half a pill. But, I slept amazingly.

I was going to try and accomplish a couple things today, but it's already almost 2pm.

Thanks Cindy and Jackie. It's hard working through the guilt. I decided to take next week for myself too. This week was to emotionally deal with what has happened. I thought I'd bounce back faster, but I'm not.

Next week I plan on sorting out my workspace at home, organizing, putting a sense of order into my life. I think that will help me start to assess what's next. I may even start working on a basic resume just so I have something to do that is working towards the next thing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Part 2

So I'm grieving. I have the luxury of sitting in it for a bit and I'm taking advantage of that. I don't want to think about the next step. I get overwhelmed.

What a stupid excuse.

Truth is, I could nail the job process if I really wanted to. I'm choosing not to because I am definitely taking this as a ME vacation, and I feel that I deserve it. As long as I do domestic duties, accomplish a few things, I think that works.

But I do feel overwhelmed. I can't really deny that. When I do start tackling the next step (which will be soon), I know it's going to be tough.

The mornings are the most difficult. I can't sleep in. With Cindy getting up to go to work, I get a screaming hairdryer in my ear. But I used to get up at that time too. I had a purpose. I had things to do. People to go see. Problems to help solve. Now, I lay there next to the screaming hairdryer and wonder what the crap am I going to do today.

Well today I guess I decided to blog. Maybe I'll try and clean the office a bit. Take the dogs for a walk.

Men really are defined by what they do. What they accomplish. What they can say about themselves. At least that's how we define ourselves. Where we derive a large part of our self esteem. I think more than any other time I realize how connected I am to that. It's like retirement. I think men struggle with it more than women. We don't know what to DO with ourselves. Can't do what we used to. For whatever reason. We feel like we should be doing SOMETHING.

So, I'm going to go do something.

Day 4

On Monday I decided to put off looking for work or even thinking about it until next week. So far, that's working for me. I'm still waking up with a knot in my gut though. The brochure they gave me on "how to survive a lay off" says I'm grieving. I'd say that's pretty accurate. Sure feels like a breakup after a 5 year relationship.

They laid me off. I have it in writing. So at least I can say it wasn't my fault. The brochure says it's natural if I feel anger. Not sure if I feel anger. Think I'm hurt that they didn't even consult with me before they dropped the axe. But that's how it happens, and that's business. I guess relationship doesn't count at the end of the day on Friday.

I almost fought for my job when it happened. I didn't because I had nothing to stand on. If you know my situation, you might disagree with me, or feel that I was betrayed. Unfortunately I cannot say that they did betray me. Here's why:

Yes they uprooted Cindy and me and moved us to Southern California. But it was the Operations Manager at the time that negotiated my pay with me. It was later discovered that the OM didn't consult the Owner about that, and so the Owner got stuck with it. I had successfully negotiated the top pay I could get because it was going to cost so much to move down and Cindy's employment was not set in stone yet. A few months after I moved down, the Owner let the Operations Manager go.

I kicked ass at my job, running the facility in Van Nuys. I was proud of what I did. The 4am mornings really sucked though. But I made it through, I owned all the responsibilities there, and I grew the sales of the house accounts by a lot in those months, even DOUBLING the budget they had set. TWICE. And part of the pay I negotiated with the former Ops Manager was that I would get a similar bonus pay structure as the salesmen because they wanted to grow the business with the house accounts a lot. The Owner was shocked, and I had to prove it to him in writing, which luckily I had.

That made me the highest paid manager in the company apparently. I had no idea. So months after working in SoCal, upper management had decided I needed to move into the field as a salesman in order to justify my pay. Of course it was pitched to me as "We believer there is a lot of business out there that the two salesmen who have been in your territory for ten years aren't calling on. Your mandate is to identify and get that business. Go!"

This time it was the Sales Manager who negotiated my pay. I got to keep my base pay, and then got the standard seller's package. Which is a sweet deal I might add. But before I accepted the position, because I could see the writing on the wall, I asked the Sales Manager, "What happens if I don't find the numbers you think are out there? If I'm busting my butt and doing the work, are you going to let me go?" And he said that they wouldn't let me go if the market didn't support me. That they would give it 2 years and if it didn't work out, they'd find a different place for me in the company.

So I set out to do my new job with practically no guidance and little training. I had some great support from the other salesmen, who knew what kind of position I was in. And none of them thought it was very fair. But I took the challenge.

Then, a few months later, the Sales Manager stabbed the company in the back and decided to leave and compete against us by buying another company. He'd known the Owner for I think over 17 years. They'd been family friends. You want to talk about betrayal. THAT'S betrayal. And again, I think that second part of my arrangement with the Company about what if the market doesn't support me, didn't get communicated with the Owner. And so here I am, a result of what I feared the most when I took the job.

Am I a victim? No. I knew the risks. I'm proud of the work I did. The Owner may have known about my arrangement with the Sales Manager, and even if he did, in light of the strategic decision they made to cut 20% of the workforce at the company, I would not have mattered. The truth is, the company was hemorraging. I know it's not personal. Hell, they let go someone who'd been there way longer than me. But you just want to think that maybe you'd be that special case, where they try and make it work because of your relationship.

Business is business and it doesn't succeed by making acceptions based on relationships if it doesn't directly affect the immediate needs of saving the ship if the ship is sinking.

So what's next?

Monday, February 9, 2009


Well the day of the axe finally came. This morning I was laid off. Quite a few people at our company got the same. Trying to cut back, going into survival mode. Really too bad I had to be a casualty of it.

I'm okay though. We're okay. I'm going to take a few days, sort myself out. Having to pursue a new career is awfully overwhelming. I have no idea where to begin yet. I don't have any clue what to start looking for. So I'm going to try and forget about it for a few days, and just sort it out.

Financially we're stable. So no worries there. We were saving for a house, and after my last paycheck, including vacation and my final bonus, we're up to $10k in savings. So now we have that 3.5% down payment... too bad that solid employment is now flushed.

I think that's what has gotten to me most. I was so looking forward to buying a house this year.
Well, I'm sucking it up and realizing that hope will just have to wait a while.

Here's to seeing what happens on my path next.