Something to say

I am very excited to say… not much, at this point. But in about 4 weeks, I’ll have lots to say, and I’ll be excited about it, and I’ll also say why I don’t have much to say right now. But suffice to say, as of today I am no longer looking for new employment. And that is very good news at the House of Horne. Thanks be to God!

He would have suffered less in a cosmetics lab

I’m going to write a post. It needs a witty title, and I’ve come up empty. So I’m having a contest. Suggest a title in the comments, and the best one (well, the one I like best) gets used. I’m guessing I’ll be biased toward something that sounds like it came from the pen of Dr. Seuss, but we shall see. I’ll change the post slug and everything (that’s wordpress-speak for the permanent URL). Okay, here’s the post.

When I opened the door to the garage, I noticed a smell. An evil smell, but I was thinking about other things and hustled the kids into the car so I could get them to school on time. Next I was off to the outplacement office for several hours of solitude and job searching. Then back to the car to drive home for a very late lunch. And when the AC kicked on, there was that evil smell again. “It’s soaked into my car!” I thought to myself, dismayed.

I chatted with Tricia while driving home, and she thought she had smelled something in the laundry room. I figured the smell had come in from the garage, which meant I had probably caught a stray mouse in one of the many traps hidden around the garage (leftover from the war that took place a couple months ago). When I got home, I checked it all out. Nothing. And the smell wasn’t very strong in the garage. Strange.

I ate lunch and then headed to my car, intending to drive to the library to work for a few more hours before dinner. The moment I opened the door to the garage, I was overcome by THE smell. The garage was thick with it. Hmmm… that meant whatever had died had to be… IN MY CAR! I drove to the library, parked in the parking lot, popped the hood, and started looking.

It took a few minutes, but I found it. I could only see the middle part of the body buried deep within the interworkings of a packed in import engine compartment, but I’m thinking rat. Either that, or squirrel, but my money is on rat.

It’s still out there, stinking up my car. I’m in here, trying to work, and thinking that this is one expense we will just have to bear. See, once I use our grill tongs to remove the critter this evening, those tongs are going straight into the garbage. And since we will be grilling for company this weekend, I’ll have to replace them. Some things are not meant to be washed and then used again for food prep.

A bit of good news

First off, thanks to everybody who has been checking in on Tricia and I, expressing sympathy, and praying for us. Tomorrow will be three weeks since the layoff (really only about 2.5 weeks since I began the job search in earnest) and I had some good news to report. We’ll get to that in a moment.

I have continued to find this whole process of finding a job extremely time-consuming. However, with the kids on spring break last week through this Monday, I did largely take a break from it Friday morning until Monday evening. Instead, I built a picnic table with the kids on Friday (still have to finish the sanding and sealing), and then we all went to the Arboretum on Monday. Our family was treated to free parking and passes courtesy of a wonderful neighbor who loaned us his season pass (good for up to a family of six… just right). Oh yeah. There was also the small matter of the lake.

I’ve actually felt pretty good this past week. I don’t really notice intense, almost dizzy bouts of panic like I did that first week. However, my body is sending different sorts of signals. As I previously mentioned, I had my first real migraine in a couple years a bit over a week ago, and it was huge. Then I had a smaller one a couple days later. And I can’t seem to sleep very much, which is making me feel more and more fatigued. So I figure I’m still not yet “anxious for nothing”, and there’s more to learn from this whole experience.

I’m on my, oh, I don’t know, let’s say eighth version of my resume. I’ve been focusing on patiently working connections rather than simply submitting my resume via job posts. And that brings us to our good news. I had spotted a job at TI that looked interesting, and then ended up making a connection with the husband of a former colleague who was in that very group and knew the hiring manager.

Which led to my first interview yesterday. A phone interview, but an interview all the same. It went well, which was gratifying. I was startled by how nervous I felt. Normally, I’m fairly confident and have a decent track record in interviews. But yesterday I was feeling more like a guy who couldn’t keep a job and a lot less like the up-and-coming leader I’ve felt like in previous interviews. So I spent the final few minutes before the phone rang on my knees praying, which was probably a good thing to do even if I hadn’t gotten a bit wobbly in the legs.

Success in a job search feels very binary. You succeed when you get a job. But large goals are so much easier to manage if broken into a series of smaller steps with attendant celebrations (or recriminations). So I’m celebrating the interview and wanted to publicly acknowledge my thanks to God for his provision.

Our New Picnic Table

Late this winter, before all the layoff business, Jay made a promise to build us a picnic table for eating on the deck. But with the loss of his job we instituted a “no unnecessary spending” policy and try as we might, we could not justify the expense of the materials for the longed-for table, no matter how practical, and inexpensive a solution it was. However, certain folks in the house were still hoarding some Visa bucks they’d received as Christmas money, and after very careful consideration felt the picnic table was the most worthwhile cause they could come up with just now to use their money on. So yesterday morning Jay went on his way to Home Depot to gather all the wood and hardware necessary for his creation.

img_9711.JPG

He (and his trusty assistant, Nicolas) worked many long hours yesterday and today,

img_9712.JPG

and just before dark this evening, the table was finished.

img_9735.JPG

Finished except for a coat of protective stain/sealant to hopefully help it last through many ridiculously hot Texas summers.

img_9744.JPG

We celebrated the table being finished…

img_9762.JPG

by eating our colored Easter Eggs on it this evening

img_9755.JPG

just before putting the children to bed for the night.

img_9753.JPG

What a wonderful table!!

Getting laid off is a lot of work

Or, how I’ve stayed busy thus far, in no particular order.

  • Created a resume and sent it out (building a useful receiver list is actually quite time consuming)
  • Created another resume that is intelligible to smart folks who happen to not have a background in telecom
  • Sent that one out (much easier… just reused the previous receiver list)
  • Answered most every email that came back in response
  • Mailed rebate for new T-Mobile phone (easy)
  • Mailed rebate for new laptop (hard… somehow lost the receipt and had to drive back to the store)
  • Was conquered for the first time in my life by a piece of technology, my new T-Mobile Dash phone. I fought back, and I think I won, but it took quite a bit of time.
  • Got my laptop set up the way a laptop should be set up.
  • Filed for unemployment online
  • Called unemployment office to discuss the set of questions that were impossible for me to answer honestly. Here’s how it went down. Question: did you receive wages this week? Answer: Yes. Question: How many hours did you work for these wages? Answer: Zero. Oops. Zero isn’t a valid answer. But my job related activities were to all cease the day I was laid off. And I’m still on payroll for the time being.
  • Started jumping through hoops in support of unemployment insurance, whenever it does kick in. Pretty easy, really, as I was already doing all sorts of job searches and job applications and was keeping a journal of all of it.
  • Did all sorts of job searches and job applications and kept a detailed journal. Wrote cover letters where possible.
  • First went to the hospital at which all my children were born and then the county clerk’s office. Got a birth certificate for Josiah (already had one for the other kids).
  • Used birth certificates and tax returns to prove my dependents are really my dependents so they stay covered on my insurance (for the short time I have it). I call this the new “No (love) child left behind” except, of course, they are trying to leave (love) children behind.
  • Had the first killer migraine I’ve had in a couple years. Really bad. I’m at a loss as to what the trigger was, given that I generally get migraine’s from emotional stress.
  • Canceled lots of services, including my broadband card with Verizon Wireless.
  • Desperately tried to pay off my Verizon account, but no one would take my money since, you know, my account was canceled. Like this was a new situation they had never encountered. Eventually had to drive to an ATM, get lots of cash, then drive to a Verizon store and hand the cash to them.
  • Sent in various signed pieces of information to various locations to secure my severance package.
  • Went on bike ride with my dad, a round trip from Valley View Park to White Rock Lake. On the way, we were pushing into 70 mile an hour wind. I don’t remember coming back, as the 8 miles went by so quickly it was a blur, what with a typhoon blowing us home.
  • Worked most nights very late into the night / early morning looking over job posts and responding to email.
  • Pretended Friday was Saturday (you can do that when you don’t have a job). In the morning, enjoyed a wonderful grandparent’s day program at the Covenant School. Then spent some time weeding the yard and hanging out. Even flew kites with the kids at the nearby elementary school yard.
  • Will probably end up pretending Saturday is Friday…

Laid off

I was laid off Thursday by Alcatel-Lucent. At one level, I’ve known this was a very real possibility for some time now. It still came as a shock, and the initial information given me regarding the package was quite ugly. By Friday, however, I had a complete picture and was glad to discover the package was actually very equitable. So I’ve got some time to find another job.

Thursday was spent dealing with the initial emotions and panic. I was walked within an hour of being notified, sans my laptop and phone (both owned by my employer). I still have three boxes to unpack. Friday gave me a chance to work through the details of the package, talk a good bit to HR, and begin the slash and burn of our ongoing expenses.

By Friday evening I had also figured out that I did not want to put my job search at risk by performing it from the kitchen (where our home computer resides). I immediately began looking for a good deal on a phone and laptop, both of which I purchased on Saturday, after having a long discussion with my daughter about the concept of “it takes money to make money” to give her the chance to understand why I was spending money on a computer while cutting all sorts of other costs.

I’m now sitting at a table in our local library using their free wifi with my new laptop writing this post, listening to Royal Hunt and other obscure euro-metal bands on Pandora Radio. I’ve got a rough cut resume done, and an ever-growing checklist of stuff to do (sign the termination package, send in laptop rebate, etc.). My goal is to enjoy a day of rest and worship tomorrow, and then spend Monday morning putting together a job search strategy, as well as starting to tackle that checklist.

I leave you with the Psalm that came to mind for myself and Tricia (independently, I might add) on Thursday, and then showed up in an email to me from one of the deacons at our church the next day.

A bar too far

Let me set the scene. You are a few years shy of 40. Up to and including college, you were in fighting shape, and could throw down 30 or 40 dips then drop to the floor and do 50 or so push ups. You decide you want to humiliate yourself. What should you do?

I found that buying the Creative Fitness Door Gym was a great approach. Because, you know, I thought pull-ups would be a nice addition to my in-home workout. Works flawlessly as advertised. The only problem being I don’t work as advertised anymore.

Anniversary of Sinus Surgery

Yes, I had surgery last Valentine’s Day. It has been one year since I had my sinuses and nasal passages sliced and diced as well as my septum moved over a bit. Did it work? Let’s compare my health before and after. Prior to the surgery, I had averaged a round of antibiotics roughly once a month for two years. This past year, I’ve kept a log of all my illnesses. Here’s the list:

  • 2007-02-14 Surgery (okay, not an illness, but the starting point of the log)
  • 2007-03-30 Cold for several days
  • 2007-04-30 Very bad cough for several days
  • 2007-05-27 Bad cough for a 2 days
  • 2007-06-23 Cold for 2 days followed by bad cough for 2 days
  • 2007-08-28 Cold for 2 days
  • 2007-11-19 Mild cold for a week. Turned into sinusitis. Healed quickly with antibiotics.

What does all this mean? Put simply, I just completed my healthiest year in probably the past decade. I still got sick now and again, but there were two huge improvements. First, I didn’t get sick as often, and successfully fought off several illnesses. Second, I actually got better without antibiotics. Previously, I almost never fought off illnesses and almost all illnesses eventually resulted in some sort of bacterial infection (sinus infection, bronchial infection, strep throat, ear infection, had all of them numerous time).

Two other factors were in play, though both of them were present prior to the surgery and didn’t seem to improve my health. First, I finished off a couple years at a maintenance dose of immunotherapy for my allergies. Second, I started doing a sinus rinse a couple times a day (using this wonderful device). My allergies are very obviously doing much, much better, and the sinus rinse shows significant help when I start to come down with a cold. However, prior to the surgery it just wasn’t enough.

So, although the surgery made my top 10 list of worst experiences (please bear in mind that is a crowded list as I have had 10 other surgeries, some of them major, as well as spinal meningitis, malaria, blood poisening, staph infection, and other ailments), it has been well worth it. If you are capable of sleeping while breathing through your mouth (it turns out I cannot in any meaningful sense), it would be a significantly easier experience though still very unpleasant.

Well, I WAS Going to Wish Him a Happy Birthday Today…

…but after his latest post, I’m not so sure.

Still, it is pretty nice to have a big, brave man around the house to take care of such things. I love you, Jay. Even if you did just drive away most of our gentle readers with your disgusting picture. Happy Birthday.

img_9595.JPG