Holy Moly! My company’s “Driving Traffic 2007” contest concluded and I finished in third place for the month of December ($100), second place for the fourth quarter ($150), and second place for the year to date ($500).

I’d like to claim it’s because of the strength of my online knowledge sauce but the simple truth is the little blog I produced for my first trade show back in October is what gave my magazine’s site the boost in visitors and page views and subsequently my bank account to the tune of 750 surprise dollars! WOOOOOOT!

You might remember back during the heatwave that baked L.A. at the end of August/beginning of September on a half-assed whim I risked my aged laptop and digital camera putting them up on the roof of the house under the full day’s unrelenting sun and triple digit temps and came away with a pretty cool  timelapse video of the clouds building up out beyond the Verdugos that I posted up on YouTube.

Low and behold, three weeks later I get an email from a senior editor at an international educational publishing company in the UK who tells me that the author of a book and companion interactive CD called “Longman Physics For Caribbean Secondary Schools ” saw the clip and wants to include it on the disc, and if I was interested to include copyright line and fee information at my earliest convenience.

I replied indeed that I would be interests, provided a copyright line and pegged my fee at a negotiable $600 all the while my shields were up and I didn’t really expect a reply or if I did get one that it would devolve into some sort of scam.

I’m skeptical like that.

Well I got a reply pretty quick. And though the editor regretted not being able to cover my admittedly lofty asking price she said the company would be willing to pay me half and I was fine with that figuring half of something is better than all of nothing.

Last I heard from her she’s told me to hang tight and will tell me what she needs from me in order to process payment. I’m still not entirely convinced the other shoe ain’t gonna drop, but when I googled variations of the company’s name and the word  “scam” the only thing that came up was a book slated to be published by the company next year on avoiding scams.

At this point I’m thinking it’s a legit situation, but I could wrong. If so, oh well. And if not, then cool: Aalittle rooftop experiment that I did on a lark and just for fun is bringing me in some entirely unexpected green  and the end result will be used as an international educational tool.

I was almost going to take the “one less car” button off my backpack before I left the house this morning, but I realized it still applied: me and my carpooling partner who I was on my way to pick up conspired to keep one less car on the road today.

And the process was surprisingly painless. In checking with the officer manager last week at my new gig in regards to any rideshare/mass transit/alt-commute programs and such, I was directed to the building’s management, which coordinates and oversees such things. In short order I was online at the ridelinks page of their website and completing a short form that asked me where I was commuting from and at what times and what options I was interested in.

After submitting that info I did a search for any people who lived in my area of the city and wouldn’t you know 1.6 miles away from me there was one by the name of Pam. So I emailed her to see if she was game and she emailed back and said heck yeah and the next day I called her office and said howsabout Monday and she said sounds great and I picked her up near Beverly and Normandie at 8 a.m. on the dot and we carpooled across town in about 50 minutes worth of nice get-acquainted conversation.

Sure I’ve carpooled in the sense that friends and/or family are sitting in the passenger seat enabling me to take advantage of a diamond lane on the freeway, but I’ve never done so to work and back with a complete and total stranger.

Definitely nice to have that added option to go to in my alternate commute arsenal.

I shipped my first issue today. Just after lunch and after triple checking the final against some last-minute corrections — a missing comma here, the wrong headline for my editor’s column in the table of contents there — I signed off on it and away to the printer it went to become Vol. 7, Issue No. 7, aka October 2007.

It ain’t National Geopraphic I’m editing but still I have to admit I’m pleased and proud.

And all next week. And maybe the week after. And when you’re not biking you’ll be busing. But never the car. Or at least only rarely.

Sure I’m double dang happy to have this new 9-to-5 gig , but let me not kid around: getting there and back these first two days has prvien itself to be un dolor gigante en las nalgas. Given the state of gridlock that exists in the westside basin there’s just no stressless way to go from Silver Lake to south of Culver City by car at 8 a.m. If I’m not willing to A) Leave at 7:30 a.m. and B) still be at the mercy of the freeway crawl along the 101 to the 110 to the 10 to the 405 south — and I am not! — then I have to negotiate the trek via surface streets and the plain and simple truth is that I’m soooo not alone in doing that.

I may have thought that little Crenshaw-to-Rodeo-to-Jefferson was a great idea — and in theory or at 11 a.m. it is — but today the westbound lanes of Rodeo were backed-up all the way back to La Brea from where Rodeo and Jefferson conjunct.

It’s a sad state of affairs when it’s quicker for me to whip a U-turn go back to La Brea, up to Stocker and over to La Cienega and down to Centinela and then back up toward Culver City then it is to go several blocks on Rodeo. But then again, I’m one of those drivers who’d rather be moving than standing still. I go crazy idling for any obstruction (especially one of which there seemed no relief in sight) and would gladly go the looooong way around it just as long as I’m moving and air is flowing over the gills. Like a shark.

An even better way to keep the gills oxygen-enriched is to chuck the four wheels for two — something I’d obviously been planning to do, but not until next week or the week after. To give me a little time to settle in. It’s going to be an unrepentant joy to zip passed all those backed up cars on Rodeo tomorrow morning.

Watch though: the street will be devoid of delays.

Even better!

Apologies for chiming in so late in the aftermath of my first day at the new job. Contrary to what Elle jokingly posted in the comments of my post from this morning, the drastic change in scenery and schedule has not made me forget about this blog nor the kind readers who come by it.

And speaking of scenery, my office has a window and that window has a south-facing view (click to quadruplify):


OK so to some the cities of Westchester and El Segundo and the occasional 747 inbound to LAX in the distance with the Palos Verdes heights waaaaay out there in the smog might not be a vista to end all vistas , but I’m loving it.

And on the inside things are very nice as well. I did the obligatory first-day office-wide introductions to a group of very nice people most of whose names I promptly forgot, filled out all sorts of benefits forms and figured out how to use the phone system. Plus the computer system of choice is Macs, which is a surprise bonus. All in all, a great start.

On top of that I just learned that the MTA’s No. 439 bus goes from Union Station to a stop practically in front of the office building. Sweet!

About a month and a half ago Susan put on her team captain hat and straightened my depressed and frightened unenemployed self out by shooting straight and telling me that by combining my present and continuing state of joblessness with her current rate of income we just didn’t have very much longer — a couple/three months — to continue at our present lifestyle before having to reign it in hard.

Though not an extravagent lifestyle in the slightest, I knew drastic if somewhat small make-every-dollar-count changes were looming if I didn’t get my ass in gear. Our Netflix subscription would be cancelled. So would they YMCA gym membership along with newspaper and magazines. I’d have to go to a prepaid cellphone plan. And our traditional Sunday steaks-on-the-grill would stop.

I won’t get too turgid in the background melodrama, other than to say that not long after coming back from our marvelous dream European vacation in May I turned 43 and there was something about that milestone and being 18 months out of full-time work (give or take the occasional freelance assignment or temp agency gig) that sent me on a downhill spiral where what I did best was a lot of wallowing in the deep end of the pity pond fueled by the frustration that despite some solid and continuing efforts sending out resumes and seeking jobs I wasn’t getting hardly a nibble of interest in return.

That can be hard on a fella. And his wife.

So after that last intervention I did two things. I fought the heavyweight sadness and feelings of failure off and got down to the business of finding a job, and through Flexcar I reserved a Honda Element for a quick Veterans Day weekend trip to Death Valley’s Eureka Dunes, a glorious place I affectionally call “Yoo Dee.”

When I told Susan this the surprised look in her wide open eyes said “I told you we had to save money, not spend more of it!” And I assured her that I did it as an incentive and that should I still be jobless come the beginning of November I could cancel the reservation without penalty. She was warily OK with that and I got busy.

It’s not like with my renewed and redoubled job searching the rejections quit hurting. Hell, worse then ever. When all I could get was summarily ignored by the executive editor at Los Angeles Downtown News when I applied for a bottom-rung staff writer position I came *this* fucking close to calling Yellow Cab and seeing if they had any openings. Hell, if I’d had the $150 that Los Angeles Fire Department applicants are required to pay up front out of their own pocket for the mandatory physical fitness testing I’m pretty sure I’d be somewhere along in that limbo/process right now. And there was always the threat of me submitting to become a bus driver for the MTA.

But instead I just kept catapulting my resume toward editorial opportunities keeping the perspective that it’s a numbers game and sooner or later someone had to see that my skills, experience and enthusiasm could be put to good use. Thankfully that happened sooner and I start my new trade magazine editor job September 4.

As to Yoo Dee, there is significance to that place beyond how much its vast isolation and beauty speaks to my soul. The first and only time Susan and I went there was for a few hours on our last day in Death Valley in November 2005, where she took this pictureof me taking a picture a couple hundred feet up from the valley floor on the huge dunes (click to quadruplify):


After such a wonderous exploratory weekend at one of my favorite places on earth, my first day back at work at the zoo proved also to be my last, and that has since shadowed such a marvelous experience. It’s tough to feel on top of the world one day when you’re thrown to the bottom of it the next. And it was too easy to let the dark color the light.

As someone who prides himself on landing on his feet it took way too long to find them after being knocked over. Not only is it nice that I don’t have to cancel the Flexcar reservation, but it will be equally sweet to return to a physical place where mentally my head is the highest its been held in the two years since.

A small photoset from our Death Valley 2005 trip can be viewed here.

« Previous PageNext Page »