Thursday, November 13, 2014

Net Neutrality

Imagine a world where the local police department is not a publicly funded entity. Instead it's a private company, with no competition within you local area. Under the rules of the federal government, this police company has been given your local city to police and enforce the rules. No other policing companies are allowed in your city. Other policing agencies cannot even bid to patrol your city, because there is no contract in place. That's how cable and telephone companies work.

The city still owns the roads, but the police has been allowed to charge for the use of those roads in order to pay for it's services. If you do not pay, you cannot use the roads, even though the people own the roads.

To make sure that the police don't over charge the people, a commission has been set up. They help the police set the prices. Since the police don't have any competition to keep themselves in check, they can pretty much charge anything they want to if they are not regulated. Since they have no competition, they can also give you poor service with no fear of loosing you as a customer. It's safe to say that these police companies are sitting pretty. The money is rolling in. However, like all companies, they need to find a new revenue stream.

So now the police companies from around the country have an idea, They want to divide the roads up between safe and not so safe. If you pay more than everyone else, you'll be allowed on the safe roads. This creates a new tax on the people and business entities alike who are already paying for safe roads. We will now have to pay more, for something we have already had. We are not getting any added benefits. We already pay the police to be safe. It's as if we need to bribe them on top of already paying them to do their job.

Also, they would like the power to regulate bumper stickers. They would like to be able to remove bumper stickers from your car that they may be a little critical of them and their business practices. You can argue free speech, but since they have the power to regulate the roads, free speech won't apply on the there.

If Comcast, Time Warner AT&T & Verizon want to end Net Neutrality, then we should open up the marketplace so that they would be forced to really compete against one another. No longer would 1 zip code belong to 1 company. They would be forced to freely compete against one another for the dollars of all zip codes, and not be protected by the government anymore.

John Oliver on Net Neutrality

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Job

Five years ago I got a call that saved me, or at least put my on the right path. It was from a recruiter and due to being unemployed for over a half a year, I was feeling pretty low. That recruiter, who I met the day before, wanted to know how proficient I was with Quickbooks. If you have ever worked with Quickbook you know that it was kind of a funny question, because it's a real simple accounting software that anyone can master in an hour. I'm not being cocky either. It's real simple. So of course I told him I was an expert, even though I hadn't work with it in like 5 years prior to that call.

The recruiter told me about this little company in the Sorrento Valley that needed somebody with Quickbooks experience. The pay was way lower than the compensation that I was used to, but being out of work for so long I thought, fuck it. I have nothing else going on. If I don't like it, I can leave. So I asked for the address and off I went.

When I first arrived, I thought I may be lost. The company's sign was barely visible and all these Asian people were running around in the parking lot. The chaos of it all made me wonder if I was in another country. Even though this was in San Diego, it felt more like Shanghai.

I walked through what I thought was entry way. There was a reception desk, but no receptionist. After few minutes a short Asian man greeted me and asked if I needed anything. I told him I had an appointment with a Tom Hawkins. With his smile and a request to follow him, I knew I was in the right place.

He led me through this maze of doors until I came to Tom's office. He told Tom that he had a visitor. Tom thanked him and invited me in. Tom interviewed me for a bit and then decided that I was worth a shot. So he then gave me a tour of the place and quickly explained their manufacturing process. I retained none of it, because this place was a chaotic maze.

On the tour he introduced me to this sweet little Asian woman named Jin. He explained that she and her husband Dr. Wu, the man who first greeted me, founded this company and sold it to a large international conglomerate.

After the tour, Tom gave me some work. It was simple book keeping stuff, but again, what else was I going to do with my day? He explained my roll would be more on the cost accountant side. The last time I ever did any cost accounting was in school. I did well in that class.

With my lack of experience and willingness to take a chance in hand, I went at it. I dug for all of the product details and started putting it all together on paper and then into the system. I costed all the raw materials into the sub-assemblies and then into the final product. It was like playing with an old erector set and Tom gave me a ton of autonomy, which made it even easier. I found this process therapeutic.

Putting this together, I had to do a lot of measurement conversions. My dad was an engineer who could do measurement conversions in his head, and doing this reminded me about him. There were so many moments I wished that I would have taken a job like this when he was still alive. I so wanted to pick some sort of cosmic phone to talk with him. I felt closer to his memory than I had ever felt before. It felt wonderful.

After a lot of work, I had all the sub-assemblies and finished goods broken down and entered in the system. I created a costing schedule that was able to give us a very accurate costing of all of our products, which impressed Tom and Steve, the CFO of the toxicology branch of our parent company.

I still remember Steve, telling me that he was impressed, especially since I didn't have any costing experience before. I wore that as a badge of honor, and I knew this low paying position would lead to better things.

After a year of working as a temp, I had to do something I didn't want to do. I had to start looking for another job. Even though Tom would always tell me he has no reason to let me go. I couldn't keep working at a low wage. He was always honest with me though. He told me it took a year to convert him from temp to permanent. He kept telling me to hang on.

Even though I did trust Tom at his word, fundamentally speaking, you should always look for another job if have been a temp for a year. So I started interviewing. I would come to work in my suit and go off on interviews during my lunch hour.

On one particular day, I went into the lunch area with my suit on to get some water. I saw Jin sitting there having lunch. She glanced up at me and saw me in my suit. Her head then dropped down as if she was sad.

The next day we had a big meeting at the parent company's campus up the street. Tom asked me to stay after the meeting. He needed to go over some items with me. So obliged.

Tom sat me down and with a huge smile told me that they will be giving me a substantial raise and bring me to permanent when the new year comes. I had a number in my head that I would negotiate for. I based it on what they were paying the temp agency for my services. I knew that percentage because working in the accounting department has it perks. However, I didn't have to negotiate because they hit my number.

It was the greatest feeling. I was so damn happy, considering my prior employer, Upper Deck ,“Let me go” a month or so after my dad died. Upper Deck said I was performing poorly. Go figure I performed poorly. I watched my dad die a slow death for half a year. That was a hard situation to work through. It's hard not to perform poorly through that situation, especially when they never really gave me much support. However, with this raise and promise, I felt redeemed. I was worth something again.

After our meeting, I drove back to my office. I saw Jin and she had a huge smile on her face when she looked at me. I went up to her, thanked her and gave her a hug.

She and Dr. Wu were like the parents of this company. They treated all of their employees with a respect and love that I have never seen in an employer. Part of the purchase agreement of their company included a large annual R&D bonus for a certain amount of years. They would take a large portion of that bonus, and bonus out the employees with it. They actually bonused the employees with their own money. I have never seen anything like that before in my life. Being treated like that made it hard for me not to work hard for them.

The Wu's are no longer there, but those who are in charge now are great. I couldn't ask for a better group of people. They are big on developing talent. I am no longer the Cost Accountant. I am now the Senior Buyer in charge of establishing supply and quality agreements with our vendors. It sounds boring, but it's actually really fun. So it's safe to say that this place bleeds with opportunity, which I am hoping to take more advantage of.

A lot has changed since that first day and due to our growth, we're currently moving into a newer much larger facility. Now that we are moving into this new facility, I am feeling a bit reminiscent. I miss the Wu's and I will miss this chaotic maze of a facility from another dimension. If you sit between both buildings, it's like watching some Scooby Doo door chase scene with all the doors opening and closing.

We have had our ups and downs, but unlike with my past companies, I have never started the morning sitting in my car cringing about going to work. They have given me a lot. I cannot think of a company I would rather work for, because this place gave me a new lease on life. 5 years ago I was in a dark place, and today I am not.

I know one day this will end. All good things do, but I'm going to enjoy it while I am here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comfort zone.

I decided to go to some singles gathering at a bar in La Jolla. I needed to get out and do something different. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Prior to this, I met up with this singles group once before. It was a hike and I had a blast. They were really nice people. So I figured I should give this a whirl.

So I went and man did I feel awkward. The people were very nice, but the dance music was so damn loud and I'm not a dancer type guy. So when I am actually dancing, I feel 10 times more awkward, because that is not who I am.

Then I spot the Night at the Roxbury dudes, and all I want to do is punch them in the face. They are probably the nicest guys, but at that moment they are annoying the fuck out of me.

All I know is, I don't feel right on the dance floor. I feel stupid. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I feel stupid, because it's me trying to be something that I am truly not.

I just wanted to get the hell out of there. So I told the women who I was dancing and talking with that my hearing isn't the best and my ears were starting to really hurt. This was a half truth, my hearing isn't the best, but my ears weren't hurting. I just would rather waste the hearing I have left watching a live band rather than listening to dance music.

Needless to say, I did not have fun and I really hate dance clubs.

So now I am going to get some sleep, because I really want to go hiking tomorrow morning.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pool Shower

My breakfast yesterday morning was interrupted by my neighbor harassing a homeless man who was in the process of taking a shower in our pool area shower. My neighbor was informing the homeless man that he wasn't allowed to take showers there. The homeless man responded that he uses this shower all the time.

As you probably have figured out, I live right next to the pool, and this is the first time I ever noticed the homeless man doing this. I assume the homeless man cleans up after himself quite well too, because I never see any remnants.

I felt compelled to engage this little skirmish. So I stepped out onto my patio to chime in. (Yes, it's that close.) I informed my neighbor that this gentleman isn't hurting any one, and nobody else seems to have any use for that shower, especially at 7am. So what is the problem with letting this dude clean up?

My neighbor responded, “What if my kids come out here and see this? What am I supposed to tell them?”

To which I replied, “Don't ask me. I really wouldn't know how to tell your kids you denied a homeless man a shower.”

My neighbor then shut up and walked away.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Today was a sad day. Sad, because somebody who made me laugh thousands of times lost his battle with his self-perception. That inner voice that kept telling him he was a no good talent-less impostor finally convinced him of just that. He was unable to outwit his thoughts.

Depression is an everyday battle. Some days are easier than others. In fact you’re very high on yourself. Other days however, you’re barely clinging on. You can barely function let alone think rationally. Your mind bombards you with all of your failures in life. Every fucking mistake you made is tattooed into your brain. The most recent is the most painful.

When somebody calls this great man a wimp for this, it burns me up, because this guy has been fighting a battle of life and death with his demons for 63 years. That is a long battle. It’s a hard battle to fight because just when you think you've defeated it. It comes back with vengeance and reminds you that it will never go away and that you’re nothing.

Last year I lost one of my best friends to suicide. He was fighting this same battle. I was mad at him for doing that, but ultimately I am happy that he is finally out of that mental pain that was ailing him so badly. The same goes for Robin Williams. I’m sad that he is now gone, but happy that he is no longer being tortured by his thoughts.

When my friend did take his life, I was conflicted in my thoughts. Part of me was happy that he was out the pain the cursed his existence. The other part would ask why he had to be so selfish. But then maybe I was the one who was being selfish for wanting him to be here just to appease me. After all, didn't he decide to control his own fate instead of letting fate control him? Why let fate control your destiny?

RIP Robin Williams. Your thoughts were wrong, because you were awesome.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hair

Now that I am a part of the 40 year club I have to admit that I have actually been getting pretty comfortable with growing older. I’m enjoying it. Wisdom from experience is cool a thing when it slowly starts to reveal itself. That being said I discovered something frightening, shocking and a bit hard to believe, and I feel the need to disclose it.

I noticed it about a month ago. This magnificent mane of mine is starting to lose its brilliance. It’s thinning. I know this may be a bit unfathomable to you all. Even I was in denial at first. But I noticed more and more hair around my bathroom sink and shower. I was even told my cat’s hair was all over my sweater, but I don’t even own a cat! The evidence has been overwhelming and undeniable.

I cannot close my eyes forever and nor should you. Don’t get discouraged, because discouragement is the devils tool for claiming your soul. We must accept this new reality and learn how to adjust our lives accordingly. I don’t see the thinning of my hair as a sign of my decay. I see it more as entering a new stage in life, a second puberty if you will. I may be losing some hair up top, but I am gaining it in other places.

We’ll get through this, because my lustrous plume has not seen its last day. It will be a long while before it does. So let’s take this an opportunity to bask in its scintillating glory while it’s still with us. I know I will.

Have a beautiful day!

Erik

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Darkness and Light

During my dark periods I remember all of my failures, each compounding over one another. Layers of disappointment and short comings weaken my resilience. My future is a boat wayward and lost. My mental appendages stretch out for some type of leverage against the bleakness. My mind is always in either treacherous or calm waters. There is no happy medium, just pure bliss or dark pain.

I've never really felt that I belonged to anything. To any type of group or organization. I've mostly felt at little bit outcasted. I'm not saying I never felt like I belonged, but when I did, those times were few and far between. It's just a microcosm of everything, because I really don't feel that I belong in this world. I feel like a fish out of water.

It is what it is. Accept it. Don't dwell or think about what could have been, and accept what is. Deal with the present. Every moment can create a new reality and expire a prior reality. Be now. Don't be yesterday or tomorrow. Not what could have been or what can be, but what is. Embrace the new reality. Place the mistakes and accomplishments out of the mind until a similar situation arises.

My life is a possession of mine. Like all possessions I must be willing to let go of it and not be a pack rat. Holding on to possessions can weigh you down like the sediment on the ocean floor. I must be willing to risk it or wager it. I must be willing to be out of my element or my comfort zone. Accept being a fish out of water, because I can't change that. It is what it is. I am that I am, and I am out of water. It's the everyday struggle that I've accepted.

“As my anger shouts - at my own self doubt, - So a sadness creeps - into my dreams -When you're scared of living - but afraid to die - I get scared of giving - and I must find the faith to beat it” - Paul Weller Above the Clouds