Friday, November 18, 2005

Striking out on my own

Joanie wasn't feeling very festive today, and Little Dude wasn't feeling very good. He'd first complained last night, before he had to go to Scouts. But it was the annual Turkey Day skit, and Joanie thought he was just feeling a little nervous.

By this morning, he wasn't feeling any better, and Joanie decided he should stay home. So I was on my own for the day. Fortunately, I'd decided to keep the Envoy for the week instead of turning it in, so I hopped into the car and headed downtown.

First, of course, came the run. I decided to go running for a second day in a row, something I haven't done in years. I soon found out why. I tried to take a different, more flat route, but I learned that there isn't one within two thousand miles. So I was reduced to more of a run/walk than yesterday, and felt it much more. My feet were sore, my calves were sore, my thighs were sore, and odly, so was my butt. "Keep this up," I thought, "and you'll have one tight butt."

After a shower, I headed out to breakfast, and a conference call. Back home, we were still trying to line up a real estate agent to represent a property of ours, and I didn't want to lose the opportunity. So while I waited for my French Toast, I sat on a long-distance conversation that involved me listening to other people talking. Fun.

After breakfast (at noon), I hopped on the 15 and headed south. I headed west on the 8, then got off at SDSU. Turning right at El Cajon, I headed toward downtown. Eventually, I wound up at Seaport Village, where I spent as much time walking around (ninety minutes) as I did sitting in traffic on the way back to Joanie's. By the time I walked in the door, I was hungry and grouchy. Thank heaven that Joanie had beer in the fridge that she offered; I needed one.

Running on empty

With Joanie sleeping in (according to her, she sleeps fitfully at night, and never all the way through) I decided to put the running shoes and clothes to good use and go for a jog first thing Thursday morning.

Bad idea.

You have no idea how out of shape you are until you try to run the hills around San Diego. I started on a downhill, so it seemed easy. But then came the uphill. And the burn. And the heavy breathing. And the realization that I was nowhere near in shape. I soon settled on the 15-3-15 method I'd used a few years back. That's 15 minutes of running, followed by a three-minute walk to catch my breath, and then another 15 minutes of running. It worked pretty well, and I almost - almost - made it back to Joanie's. No, I didn't collapse, but I was pretty tired. And sore.

It's a good thing today's plans don't include doing much of anything other than dinner with Joanie and Little Dude, and hanging around. It's much cheaper that way, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


After a greuling two-hour interview, I needed to decompress. I walked out of the building, only to find the car gone. Funny since I'd left Joanie inside napping. One quick phone call later, and she was driving back from the little ride she'd taken.

She announced that she'd talked to her friend Clark, and he would be glad to join us for lunch. She called Clark, and let him and I work out the directions to his home in the Hollywood Hils. And a very nice home it was. As soon as we arrived (after navigating one very twisty Laurel Canyon road), I saw the yellow Goldwing in the garage. I hopped on and checked it out, very much wanting to take it for a ride. Instead, we wint inside where Clark gave us the grand tour.

Although we'd planned to go out for lunch (Clark said it would be his breakfast), the plans changed when his wife came home. Pretty soon, we were agreeing to a homemade lunch of pasta, and watching a back episode of Judge Judy, all the while talking about law. To her credit, Joanie didn't fall asleep while Clark and I talked shop.

After a very enjoyable lunch, Joanie and I raced down to CBS, where she'd snagged tickets for The Late Late Show. I saw a rather attractive blond sitting behind us, and amazingly enough, managed to strike up a conversation with her and her friends. They were there to see Maya Angelou, only to learn that she'd be cancelled at the last minute in favor of Anne Heche. (Guess insipid holiday Hallmark Hall-of-Fame movies carry more weight than intellectual writing.) We had a very nice discussion, and I found out her name (Marie), that she was originally from Detroit, but now lived in Pasedena, and that she had, until recently, worked for GM. So we chatted until we were called by Craig's warm-up guy, Chunky B, and told to head off to the studio.

Since Joanie's back was still not 100 percent, we had to decide whether to chance the stairs, or take the elevator. The PA, upon hearing about Joanie's surgery, told us not to take the stairs. She promised to hold seats for us, but when the page showed us to the end of the line, I feared that our seats would be in back. True to her word, though, the PA had kept seats in mind for us. She moved a couple to the third row and seated u right up front. We had a bird's-eye view of the show (and the studio is very small, so we were about 20 feet from Craigs desk, and right next to the executive producer's seat. It was choice. Even better, during the monologue, we somehow managed to get Craig's attention, and at the first break he asked us what we thought of Jackson Pollock's work.

After the show, my phone rang, as if on cue. It was Marty Stark, seeing if we were still on for dinner. We agreed to meet at Lolas, just down the street from CBS. Although nondescript on the outside, inside we found a very nice place. Since Marty wasn't as close as we were, we had to hold off one very cute waitress, and order only drinks. Of course, by the time he arrived, we were feeling very good. Dinnner was enjoyable, and it was nice to see Marty again. Too quickly it was over, and Joanie and I were faced with the long 90-minute drive back to San Diego. She slept, and I wanted to. By the time we got back, I was thoroughly exhausted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Walking in LA

The purpose of y trip to San Diego wasn't so much as a vacation (which my dad seems to think it's more of) than a way to keep things from being prohibitively expensive. I can't even begin to imagine trying to do a one-day trip to LA, including transportation, hotel, and a meal or two and not having it cost me the same as a trip out here for a week, including car rental. So I took the opportunity to drop in on Joanie.

And Joanie took the opportunity to hook us up with tickets to The Late Late Show starring Craig Ferguson. More on that later. First, the interview details.

This interview had come about a bit unusually. In the midst of all the emails from headhunters/recruiters, hucksters, insurance salespeople and firms who didn't bother to read my resume, I got one that intrigued me. Yet when I went to the website, all that I found in the 'careers' section were openings for insurance sales and real estate brokers. My first instinct was to blow it off; just another insurance company spamming me with ads promising big commissions.

After a bit of thought, I decided to call the person who emailed me and see what was up. Turns out that while they were looking for those positions, that wasn't why they'd contacted me. Seems my accounting and legal background were just what they wanted. Their business was growing, and they wanted someone in-house to handle the day-to-day affairs. Enter yours truly.

Still, I was cautious. I couldn't find much on the web about the firm, so I had no idea what they were like as a business, which was a concern. I knew that they were a privately-held, one-owner company, and I'd worked for one of those before, long ago. What I've found (and what I've since learned is not unusual) is that owners of small businesses which begin to grow at a good pace find themselves overwhelmed. The problem isn't finding people to help; the problem is letting go. These owners can often hold on too tightly, undermining managers as they nitpick, micromanage and change orders at whims. Employees soon learn that the manager has no real authority and begin to circumvent him or her and go directly to the owner/entrepreneur. This defeats the intended purpose of lightening the load, and things tend to get worse as the manager struggles to assert his supposed authority, only to be cut off at every turn.

The interview lasted two hours, during which I asked questions galore. At one point, the owner commented that this was less like an interview and more like a discussion on business - and then he said it made him feel very confident. We'll see how things turn out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Heading out west

With the unseasonably warm November weather in Chicago starting to turn toward the more seasonable frigid, I climbed aboard a plane bound for San Diego.

No sooner did I land than I immediately realized that Robert Burns' poem ("The best laid plans of mice and men...") still holds true nearly 400 years later. I'd watched the weather reports, and the unseasonably warm weather in Chicago had roughly been like the weather in San Diego - in the 60s and 70s. So I'd packed long-sleeved shirts. Except that a Santa Ana had blown in, bringing with it hot, dry weather and 'red flag' (high fire risk) days. So as I sat at Lindberg Airport waiting for Joanie to pick me up, I began to wonder just what possessed me to pass up the opportunity to pack cooler shirts (they were buried back in the closet) and if this was a one-day deal, or if I'd be sweating all week.

Joanie finally arrived, and we headed back toward Casa Goddess. But first we had to pick up a vehicle for the trip up to LA tomorrow. I had reserved a smaller car, but because we were delayed by events, I got stuck with an Envoy. They agreed to give it to me at a cut rate (and since Joanie isn't pain-free, even after back surgery, I figured she might be a little more comfortable) and we drove off.

We really didn't do a whole lot after that, just kind of hung out, which was a good thing since I'm fighting to stay awake. Leave it to my friend Joe to remind me that I was trying to slog through a 26-hour day (adding in the 2 hour time difference). Besides, I have to be rested for the interview, which got moved up from 1:00p.m. to 11:00a.m.