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 Hulu.com 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.