Cashew Lou's Yukon Annex

I've got Pop-Pop in the attic.

Job get; or, it pays to self-advocate
Yup; I got a job. I start next Tuesday as a copywriter and web page maintenance person here in Austin. It is temp-to-perm; I will become a full-fledged employee after a three-month trial period. It offers good pay, good benefits, and is right in line with what I would like to be doing professionally. This is, of course, wonderful news...but the journey getting there is the amazing story here. Pull up a chair and set a spell; this will take a bit.

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What Anthrocon means to me
(Cross-posted to several places)

As Anthrocon 2011 approaches, I wanted to spend a little time and share with you what AC means to me. This point has been driven home especially hard this year, as personal hardships are forcing me to miss the convention--the first time I have done so since 1999.

I realize times are tough and sacrifices need to be made; I have long been an advocate of financial responsibility and prioritization. I know I would be a hypocrite if I made AC a higher priority than other, more pressing matters. I also know there is always next year. Nonetheless, I am a little heartbroken that I cannot attend this time around.

Anthrocon 1999 was my very first all-furry convention; I had attended a couple of Duckons, but those were sci-fi conventions with furry tracks. So AC was my first full-immersion experience with a large number of furries--and I fell in love with it from the very first. Since then, I have attended AC twelve times, and up until this year I have had an unbroken consecutive record of attendance there.

I know AC will go on without me; I don't think of myself like the rooster who believed the sun wouldn't rise without his crowing. But in many ways I consider AC "my" con; I always look forward to it, and it is a convention I am proud to attend and support. It is the bright spot of my year, and not being able to go this year...well, it just feels like an important and essential part of me is missing.

Anthrocon allows me to connect with good friends--and it is often the only time I get to see many of them during the year. Great and hopeful anticipation always precedes it, and I feel so completely in my element when I am there. The experience leaves me with good memories and dreams that help sustain me the remainder of the year. Simply put, I love Anthrocon and everything about it.

To everyone attending AC this year: know I am with you there in spirit, even though I can't be there in person. Have a wonderful time, and with any luck I will see you all at Anthrocon 2012.

Assessing my life once again
At what point do I give up?

I haven't had any reliable or stable employment for 22 months exactly, as of next week. I haven't had any income at all for over five months now, despite spending the better part of my waking hours doing nothing but searching for work, applying for jobs, networking, you name it.

All along, the assumption has been that I've been doing something wrong. After all, I'm not employed, so it's my fault, right? My cup runneth over with professional advice; I've revised my resume and cover letters countless times. It isn't as though I've been overly selective in my search; I've applied for positions that a few years ago I wouldn't even have remotely considered. Despite a good professional history and a strong resume, all I get are rejections--and the cumulative effect after receiving hundreds of them starts to get to me. I'm too old. I'm overqualified. I'm underqualified. I'm not a "good fit." Or worse yet, I hear no reason whatsoever. It all adds up to: I fucking suck. I am 45 years old, and I continually receive signals that the productive part of my life is over. I wish only to be of use, but no one will let me.

My personal debt is now enormous, mostly as a result of having to rely on credit cards for rent and essential bills. Additionally, said credit cards are now nearly tapped out; I will be unable to use them as a resource starting next month. I never thought there would be a point in my life where I would be forced to sell my furniture to keep the lights on--but here I am. I have to now realistically assume that stable employment is not in my near future. Then what? I'm sick and tired of having to continually ask that question and scramble like a goddamn loser for an temporary fix. Then what?

I have a handful of physical conditions that have needed attention for almost two years now. None of them are debilitating, thank goodness, but they are frustrating and will almost certainly get worse without any treatment. The mental weight of all this has been extreme; panic attacks, depression and sleeplessness hit me on an almost daily basis now.

I have friends who have been helping me out, but I've started to become something I despise: an absolute mooch, a sponge, someone who contributes nothing of use to the social equation. I've become an embarrassment to myself and those who care about me. They're kind enough not to say it, but I know the truth: I'm a burden, a drag. The loser.

I now face a choice: remain in Austin, mooching pretty much everything while living in a tiny room, with virtually no prospects or hope for employment, or do the exact same thing back home in Iowa. Either way, I'll have to give away or throw out most of my possessions (I have little left that can be sold; trust me, I've been trying). I'm not by nature a materialistic person, but I've already given up so much that is me, and will likely have to continue doing so.

I'm ashamed of myself, and I'm increasingly embarrassed to show my face.

In which Lou goes on and on and on about "Ghost Hunters"
Anyone who has talked to me for, oh, about fifteen seconds knows that I am a huge fan of paranormal study, and of the show Ghost Hunters. I recently decided to to a very detailed rundown of my thoughts on the show and its cast, so...um, here it is.

LJ-cut employed, because this sucker is long.
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No AC this year
Unfortunately, financial and personal setbacks have forced me to not attend Anthrocon this year. I say this with great sadness, since it has been a well-needed vacation and escape for me since I started attending it back in 1999.

Hopefully next year.

Adventues in Self-Loathing: The Gay Tea Bagger?!
A recent conversation with some friends turned briefly to a politics, and part of the discussion was so mind-blowing and foreign to me that I am still, many days later, trying to wrap my head around its absurdity and lack of logic.

Up until this point, I hadn't really given a thought to the possibility of there being gay members of the Tea Party. More self-loathing than the Log Cabin Republicans, more self-deluded than women who willfully deny their own reproductive rights, I always equated the concept of a gay Tea Party member with being a Jewish Nazi or an African-American member of the KKK. Being a gay member of the Tea Party involves mental calisthenics I am not capable of; I cannot embrace a group whose ideology wants me marginalized at best--and wants me dead at worst. But yes, indeed, this friend told me; he knew someone well who was gay, and who embraced the Tea party wholeheartedly.

How? I asked. How can any self-respecting gay person even consider such a thing?

"He doesn't want anyone touching his money," was the response.

I'll let that sink in for a moment. While you ponder, let's revisit some of what the American Tea Party has had to say about homosexuals.

The Tea Party Platform itself opposes gay marriage, as if that comes as any surprise:

We regard the traditional definition of marriage, the union of a man and a woman, as the core unit within the American culture. We oppose any aberration to the definition of marriage.

The queen of the Tea Party in the US Congress, Michele Bachmann, gleefully works hand-in-hand with anti-gay groups. Oh, and fellow potential 2012 presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee embrace the hatred, too.

Oklahoma state representative and Tea Party member Sally Kern equates homosexuality with terrorism. Oops, my mistake; she considers homosexuality to be worse than terrorism.

Tea Party ally and speaker Roy Moore advocates state-sanctioned execution of gays:

The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle. (Emphasis is mine.)

The leader of the Montana Tea Party cracks jokes about murdering gays. True, he was fired, and offered a limp apology, but his true colors have flown.

These are just a few examples; the internet is peppered with articles, blogs and videos that represent the homophobic nature of the Tea Party and its members. They dislike the gay community so vehemently that many Tea Party members will only rest once all the homosexuals in the United States are dead. Their intense and often violent rhetoric is horrifying.

So, to the gay Tea Party member in question here, all that is well and good; go ahead and push me and my kind to the margins. Feel free to openly and legally discriminate against me. By all means wish bodily harm and even death upon me. But for heaven's sake, don't touch my bank book!

This reflects a shallowness of character that makes a mud puddle look as deep as the Pacific Ocean in contrast. To be so money-focused as to ignore and even defy your own well-being...words fail me. How can a decent and respectable person react to travesties such as Matthew Shepard's murder with a shrug while carefully tracking their account balances? To their gay friends, and to themselves, for that matter, they are in effect saying, "I don't give a damn about you; I will happily sell those I know down the river in order to keep my money." To quote Daffy Duck, it is akin to saying, "Consequences, schmonsequences; as long as I'm rich." It's funny when it's a cartoon; it's repulsive when it's reality.

I just feel confusion and sadness when I encounter such a concept. Money does not buy dignity, nor does it define character. Those who obsess on it seem more than eager to give up both.

The Importance of Being Crazy
The following is my take on the, shall we say, interesting GOP lineup thus far for the 2012 presidential election. It is quite lengthy and detailed, so I will save the eyes of the uninterested with an LJ cut.

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End of the road
I got some extremely bad news from my bank yesterday. Suffice it to say I have several hundred dollars less in my account that I thought I had, due to an old tax bill that seemingly will not die.

I now have barely enough resources to keep me alive through the end of April...maybe. After that, I have nowhere to go and no way to get there. After applying for over 4,100 jobs since August of 2009, I don't feel it is unrealistic of me to say that I will not find work in this one month remaining; the chances of that happening are microscopic, if not nonexistent.

I have fought and scrambled the best I can. But I have utterly lost hope.

EDIT: Two hours after posting this, I get an email inviting me to an interview. Fingers crossed.

Unfettered HR Assholery
Okay, the job search continues; no real news there.

But I got an email response from an HR director, to an application I had sent in about three weeks ago for a Project Manager/Administrator position for which I was easily fully qualified. This guy's response made my jaw drop:

...after reviewing your resume and experience, we have reached the conclusion that you will likely never be employed by our company in any capacity.

So, not Project Manager, not Receptionist, not Janitor; just plain nothing. In a nutshell, don't bother, asshole.

Anyone who has done a job search has received rejection email. They usually read something like this:

Thank you very much for your interest in [Position]. We received resumes from many highly qualified candidates, and your resume and qualifications were quite impressive. Unfortunately, we have decided to move forward with another candidate for this position.

Thank you for your interest in [Company], and we encourage you to visit [Company Website] for future job openings. We will keep your resume on file for six months, and will consider you for any future professional opportunities.

Best of luck on your professional search! Sincerely, etc.

That's the way you do it, right? Has anyone else out there received a point-blank "fuck you, we don't want you, ever" rejection email or letter before?

Oh, and the company in question here was a place called Bazaarvoice. Fuck you, Bazaarvoice.

No, Tea Baggers. No, Right-Wingers. You do NOT get a fucking pass on this one.
When Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) commented on then-Rep. Steve Dreihaus' (D-OH) vote for the health care overhaul last year, Boehner said Dreihaus "may be a dead man...He can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati." He said this in an interview to the National Review.

Dreihaus responded with the following, in March 2010:
These comments that have been made by Republican leaders can serve as--I don't know if I want to say an excuse or perhaps permission for people who may be unbalanced, who may be calling with these threats...It doesn't really matter the way you meant it, nor the way I accept it. It's how the least sane person in my district accepts it.

One of the least sane people in Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) district seems to have accepted the violent and insane rhetoric of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as gospel, and has taken action on it.

Palin's "crosshairs" ad from the campaign of 2010 famously placed crosshairs much like those of a rifle scope over the districts of several political opponents, Giffords among them. The image was hastily scrubbed from her site after the shooting yesterday, and her spokespeople are backpedaling away from any responsibility by saying the crosshairs represented those on "surveying equipment." Because, as we all know, so many run-of-the-mill voters are so familiar with surveying equipment that they immediately associate crosshairs with them.

Sarah, honey: we aren't as stupid as you or your followers. Not to mention your Tweet, made on March 23, 2010:

@SarahPalinUSA Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - Reload!"

Reload what, Caribou Barbie? My fucking Pez dispenser?!

The chief suspect from yesterday, Jared Lee Loughner, posted to several places his concerns about American currency being devalued or worthless, and that we will be forced to return to precious metal standards. This is one of the cornerstones of hate radio "personality" Glenn Beck's insane agenda; he barely takes a breath without whoring Goldline, one of his precious-metal-hawking corporate masters.

These are just two examples among hundreds of the Tea Party and the Republican Party dog-whistling and recommending violent solutions to political opponents. Their "Second Amendment Solutions" and "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants" bullshit is not geared toward action at the ballot box, not when their candidates and elected officials use "if not ballots, then bullets" as a mantra. In the final analysis, are they so goddamned cowardly and insecure that they feel the only valid plan of action is to recommend the death of all who disagree with them?

The violent right wing must no longer be allowed a pass when tragedies occur. Barely minutes had passed before the right spun into action, denying any culpability for their bloodlust. This is confusing to me; weren't their goals met? Is there not now one less liberal for them to contend with? Where are the high-fives, Sarah? Clearly Mr. Loughner reloaded! Job well done, right?

My point here is this: the Tea Party and the Radical Right own these people, like it or not. Watch your words and know they have consequences. When Bill O'Reilly chants, "Tiller, Tiller the Baby Killer" for several years running and Tiller gets assassinated, don't act all surprised; it was exactly the result you were aiming for.

Six people in Arizona lie dead. Their blood stains the hands of all those advocating violence over reasoned and civilized debate. I, for one, will no longer stand the spin or excuses of those whose words caused this to happen.

Watch your fucking mouths.

De-cluttering my life
As some of you may already know, 2010 was a really rocky year for me. This post is not in any way meant to expound on that point, but to discuss something that has indirectly resulted from it.

In a recent session with my therapist, he asked me an interesting question: How cluttered is your apartment? I consider myself a very organized and tidy person, so his question took me by surprise; I essentially asked him what the hell that had to do with the price of tea in China. His response was two-pronged:

1. Physical and visual clutter can actually intensify depression; most human minds desire and demand order.

2. Job searching can only take up so much time in a day, and tidying up and removing unnecessary clutter from my life helps imbue me with a sense of accomplishment--something badly needed to offset any desperation and depression I may feel.

So, over the past couple of months, I have taken a really, really hard look at my surroundings and possessions. I set some criteria for myself; I eliminated anything that did not have any current use or strong sentimental value. I have never been the "pack rat" type, but I was astonished at how much junk I have permanently removed from my life:

* Five very large boxes of books, DVDs and CDs I haven't even looked at in years
* Six large Hefty bags of clothing and bed dressing
* A mountain of no-longer-relevant documents and receipts
* Two large boxes of dishes and glassware
* Two large boxes of outdated electronics and software
* Two more large boxes of just random and unneeded stuff

I gave every item I got rid of very serious consideration--and I know I will not miss or need any of it. I got to thinking, and one big question came out of all of this: why did I keep and move so much junk so many times over the years? I think a good part of it is fear or guilt of getting rid of something I may need or miss in the future. Part of it is just laziness, too; it takes effort to bag and box stuff up for Goodwill or Half Price Books--or to have paper shredding recycled. And all of this was a lot of hard work! But, very much worth it.

I look around myself now, and I really like how my apartment looks; as a matter of fact, I would easily be able to live quite comfortably in an apartment with fifty square feet less space than I have now. It is as if a psychic weight has been lifted; that nagging feeling that I need to take care of all that clutter is completely gone. Best of all, I know now that when I do eventually get myself back on my feet, I can come home to a nice, comfortable, tidy and uncluttered home. It will take some discipline to keep it this way; clutter can pile up so quickly--but with a little luck and work, it will never again be the chore it was over the last couple of months. And I also can rest easy knowing my next move, whenever that may be, will be much easier than the last.

I can look forward to an uncluttered and useful life to follow; I have the living space for it now.

Yukon Connection, disconnected.
Yes, it's down. No, it's not drama.


I am thankful.
I am thankful for all the people who have been kind enough to be my friends, and I am grateful to all of you who have stuck with me. I can't count the times when even a simple kind word made all the difference and kept me from spiraling down into an isolated cocoon of depression. I am also thankful that my friends respect me enough to let me know when I am being, or am about to be, a dumbass. To all of you, I pledge to do my best to be more deserving of your friendship.

I am thankful for my family. Tied to me only by biology, they have stuck with me, even though I am so far away--and have on occasion spun wildly out of control. It would have been so easy for any of them to just say, "That's it; you're on your own." But they didn't, and I am thankful.

I am thankful I have my physical, mental and emotional health more or less intact. The last several months have been very trying, and my health has been tested in ways I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.

I am thankful that, either by inheritance or education, or a combination of both, I turned out to be a relatively intelligent human being. I see all around me the profound damage that ignorance and apathy can cause, and I am grateful that I am at least smart enough to avoid most of it.

I am thankful to finally be gainfully employed, in a position that allows me creative expression and freedom. With a job market and economy that has kept so many able-bodied and -minded people out of work--often for very long periods of time--I consider myself exceptionally lucky.

I am thankful for my coin collection. This may sound weird, but I can lose myself and regain my focus when I study coins. I have always been fascinated by the rich history that is reflected in those tiny little works of art stamped onto metal. Studying them is almost a zen experience for me.

I am thankful that I am able to freely express my thoughts and opinions. Though I may disagree with yours--sometimes very forcefully, even--I am thankful you have the same freedom.

I am thankful that I have not become so cynical that I can still spot and appreciate special little things, like an iridium flare high in the night sky or a big, beautiful luna moth perched on my porch. To borrow a phrase from John Steinbeck's East of Eden, I feel singled out and special all day long when something like that happens.

Finally, chances are very high that if you are reading this, I am thankful for you.

15 1/2 months of hell, finally over
There are those among the agnostics and atheists out there who argue that there is no Heaven or Hell, for we create these states of being here on earth--or have them foisted upon us. Using that as an example, then, I am about to exit what has been for me almost 16 months of hell on earth.

I got the call today, the call that said, "We have decided to pull the trigger and ask you to come aboard." Starting November 29, I will start my career as a corporate copywriter, working on blog entries, business correspondence, advertising and technical writing for a group of three small companies that all work in tandem here in central Texas. After two lengthy interviews and three writing samples, they are ready to have me join their team. The position is contracted for 60 days, and then becomes permanent--and I have been assured that unless I screw this up colossally, this will happen; they want me for the long run. And I have no intention of screwing it up!

Now that this horrendous period of my life is over--hopefully for good--I would like to make a few comments to those who have ridden through it with me.

First, thank you. I am sure my mood swings, stress and anxiety have been as hellish for you as they have been for me. I was unable to keep on the antidepressants I sorely need in times like this, strictly for economic reasons, and I often hated the person I became. I was jealous almost to distraction of those who were able to get and keep good jobs while I repeatedly struggled and failed. I know for a fact there were times when I was damned near impossible to be around. Again, to those of you who stuck with me, thank you.

Second, for those of you who are still struggling to find work: Keep at it. Relentlessly. Continuously. Network, research, apply apply apply. In the period since I was first laid off in July 2009, I had applied for over 3,200 different positions, the overwhelming majority of which I never heard anything back, ever. Don't let the apathy and rejections get you down; I know this is easier said than done. But you are your own best advocate, and you should never give up. The hard work will eventually pay off; if a schmuck like me can land something decent, anyone can.

Finally, please indulge me as I present a brief timeline of my life over the last 15 months or so.

July 2009: I had a pretty good job, even though it was pockmarked by repeated layoffs at the company. Finally, after yet another devastating economic setback, the company is forced to lay off seven people late in July--including me. I immediately start collecting unemployment insurance.

November 2009: I land a so-so job as an office manager for a startup senior care franchise. The owner of the franchise is so clueless about what he is doing, the company folds under, and I find myself jobless again in late February 2010. Back onto unemployment I go.

May 2010: I am called by a recruiter for a contract position that is supposed to last three years, and I start there in early June. Abruptly and without warning, all contractors are dismissed in late September, just a little over three months into the contract. Despite what our recruiters have told us, we find we are ineligible for unemployment.

November 2010: See above.

So, in the last 16 months, roughly, I have only worked about six of them. Looking back, I can see the only things that kept me alive were my being extremely frugal, and the help of some very good people. I hold the hope that I am never in such a horrendous situation again.

Life in da hood
Some pretty heavy shit went down right next door to me last night.

Probably TL:DR, so I will insert a cut.
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Yeah, still here.
...but in all honesty, I don't check LJ as often as I used to; I find myself following Twitter more often than not.


You know you are from Iowa when...
I thought this was kind of a fun meme. I am very proud of having been born and raised in Iowa, and I pulled this information off teh interwebs--and threw in several of my own, as well.

LJ-cut for length.
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There. Fixed it!

I write like
Stephen King. The *good* Stephen King, like "Salem's Lot" and "Pet Sematary" and "The Green Mile," not any of that "Tommyknockers" and "Firestarter" shit.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

(editing silliness inspired by xydexx)

What, no Steinbeck?
I used a sample of my very latest writing I have been working on over the last few months, and I got...

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I guess I can see that; I do sometimes emulate King's conversational and (hopefully) non-pretentious style. But I would have preferred it if Steinbeck or John Irving had come up.

Now posting artwork to FA
Heya, folks,

Just a quick heads-up to let you all know I will now be posting the artwork I receive to my Fur Affinity account at http://www.furaffinity.net/user/cashewlou/

I will still be doing occasional bulk updates to my page on macrophile.com, but FA is the easiest and quickest way to get the artwork out to the maximum number of people. I have already posted the artwork I got at AC this year on my FA account, and will work forward from here.


...and another AC in the books
Considering how close it came to my not going to Anthrocon this year, I am especially grateful I was able to make it at the last minute. I am equally grateful to all the friends old and new who helped make it a rewarding and wonderful experience. It was just the recharge this old wolf needed after about nine months of hell.

It would be folly for me to try to list everyone I saw; any list of the people who helped make this con-going experience a great one would inevitably leave someone out. Rather than run that risk, allow me to say that everyone I spent time with helped to make Anthrocon 2010 a wonderful experience. Throughout the rest of the year, when things get tough, I draw on the memories and energy of my AC experience to help me pull through.

I was discussing with a friend of mine at the con that even though the creativity in the furry fandom is evident all over the internet, there is something almost magical to witness the creative process in person at a gathering like Anthrocon. Artists and writers creating worlds from blank screens and sheets of paper, dancers and comics expressing their worlds on stage, DJs creating the aural fuel for such expression, fursuiters bringing their characters to life. The whirlwind of creativity is everywhere; that and the social aspect of AC are two of the chief reasons that keep me coming back year after year. And I have no intention of ever stopping.

Finally, I would like to extend my thanks and kudos to unclekage and his staff and volunteers for running what is in my humble opinion the world's greatest anthropomorphics convention in the world. Likewise, I would like to thank the Dorsai Irregulars and the staff of the Westin for indulging our odd little group again this year. I know I couldn't do what they do, and they do it very well.

Now, after a little rest, it will be time to start planning for next year. o(:o)

Plans for AC
(Cross-posted here and there)

Even though it was touch-and-go for a while, it looks as though I will be going to Anthrocon this year. I am happy this has come to be; it will be my twelfth consecutive trip to AC.

Like many people, I will be on a very tight and limited budget this year, and will not be collecting artwork as much as I normally do. However, for me AC is also a very social experience, and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of friends I only get to meet up with once a year.

My online access will be sporadic at best, so if you would like to touch base with me during the convention, my cell phone (which is only a phone; no data connection) is the best way to do so. If you would like my number, please contact me at cashew at macrophile dot com on or before Tuesday, June 22. Leave me your cell number, and I will respond in kind with mine.

As always, I look forward to seeing folks there!

Advice Needed--Job Search Dilemma
It never rains, but it pours; I have had some developments take place very quickly over the past couple of days. So quickly, in fact, that I have a little bit of a quandary, and am seeking any advice and/or suggestions I can get. Here's how things stack up:

Option A: A recruiter contacted me on behalf of Company A, and after interviewing I have been given a job offer. I could be starting at Company A as soon as sometime next week, and they want my response to their offer by the end of the business day on Thursday (tomorrow). The work at Company A would be a one- to three-year contract, with no health benefits or paid time off--but decent enough pay.

Option B: I went to a two-and-a-half hour interview today at Company B. The gentleman who interviewed me, after I told him about my situation with Company A, told me he thought I did very well at the interview, and would like to pass me along to a second interview; unfortunately, that could not possibly take place until sometime next week. He told me he was only interviewing three candidates, and that only two would be moved forward to the next round of interviews. That makes my chances of landing this position at 50%. This would be a full-time, permanent direct-hire position, with excellent benefits and somewhat better pay.

Option C: I accept the position at Company A, yet clandestinely continue the interview process at Company B. Should Company B hire me, I give my notice at Company A and move on, having only worked there a very short period of time. This seems like an ethically sleazy option to me.

Option D: I do not accept the position at Company A, and take my chances with Company B. This seems the riskiest option, since there is also a 50% chance I will not get the position there.

I really would like the job at Company B, but Company A is a sure thing. Please, anyone out there, any suggestions or advice?

One of those "Why do I even bother?" days
American politics, as fucked up as they are, sometimes can't hold a candle to furry drama and politics; this past 24 hours has been a prime example of this.

Ultimately, I guess it's my own damned fault for daring to have an opinion. And further my fault for expressing it publicly.

Even though I am way out on the periphery of a certain issue, I have never in over twelve years in the fandom faced such a shitstorm as I did today, after I spoke my mind. Between IMs, messages on mucks, journal posts and emails, I have heard from all the metro and outlying counties of the furry community. And none of them are happy with me, it seems.

The worst of it all has been the sheer inconsistency of the comments I have received; if I had said something clearly wrong and had been called out on it, I could have said, "Hey, my bad," and just moved on from there. I am wise enough to learn from my mistakes, and to not make them again if at all possible. But today, the perfect storm hit, and I got intense and often scathing personal comments from both sides--the majority of which came from people I have never even heard of. If things were this bad for me, I can't even imagine how they were for those at the heart of this issue.

Where am I going with this? I don't know; it isn't like I haven't been around the block a few times when it comes to things furry. All the same, the last day has left a sickening sensation in my stomach.

Posted without comment

I think I just created the most insane movie meme ever. o.O
Okay, I just may be a little crazy, but just for a lark I undertook a somewhat creative endeavor overnight that turned out kinda cool, if I must say so myself.

It had been a while since I cataloged my DVD collection, and I like to keep it up-to-date, if for nothing more than insurance purposes. Well, while doing so last night, a weird spark of inspiration hit me--and I actually carried it out to full fruition.

Wouldn't it be cool, I thought to myself, if I did a screen capture of the title credits of every single feature film I have on DVD? Sure, I responded, going along for the ride of my own insanity. And by golly, I did it! I started plopping each movie, one by one, into the DVD tray of my computer, and 86 films later, I created a nice poster out of it all.

The humongous poster, and my process and some stats, after a cut.
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On Networking
When I was first told about Linked In, it was described to me as "Facebook for Dilberts." I have since found out that is not necessarily true; Linked In is far more to the point and far less annoying than Facebook.

Throughout my professional career, I have been lucky enough to not really need to network all that much; generally, I have been pretty lucky at landing something decent in a relatively short amount of time. Nowadays, though, as I am sure a lot of you out there have noticed, the rules of job hunting have changed a bit. Okay; a lot. So, first with baby steps and now with a more aggressive approach, I have been networking my little heart out.

It just feels weird to me to approach recruiters from out of the blue (I know, I know; it's their job to gather a database of professionals from out of the blue) and ask them for assistance. Some of this is my stupid Irish pride; the whole, "I can do this myself, dammit!" mindset that I need to let go of. Be that as it may, though, I have been getting a few encouraging responses, ranging from, "I think I may have an opening for Position X, would you be interested?" to, "I don't have anything right now, but send me your resume; I have some colleagues who are looking for talent."

(As an aside, the weirdest response I have gotten thus far was from a professional recruiter who told me he "didn't have time for this" right now. Seems he is too busy doing his job as a recruiter to actually be bothered to, um, recruit. Ah, well; plenty other nice folks out there offering help.)

From this point forward, until I finally nail down some gainful employment, I am going to make this a part of my daily job search regimen. Sure, I will continue to apply for job postings I find, but I am also going to seek out professional connections who may have an inside track to the positions that don't necessarily get posted publicly.

Fingers crossed.

Thank you, Arizona
mckavett tree
...for briefly making Texas only the second-most backward, bigoted and stupid state in the union.

Lord Love a Duck
Those of you who have never heard of the film title that is also the title of this post are no doubt scratching your heads right now. Well, if you ever have the chance to see Lord Love a Duck, you will be scratching all the more.

I had the opportunity to see this film with baktre last night; his review of the film is on his LJ at http://baktre.livejournal.com/419031.html. I am doing my best not to copy from his homework, I promise. o(:o)

I have put together somewhat of a tl;dr review of the film, basically because I can't stop thinking about it. Since there be spoilers lurking about, I will put it after a cut.

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Woo Hoo Lefty!
Yay! My favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson, just won his third Masters Tournament.

I am going to take this as a good omen for my job interviews coming up.

Kinda maybe hopeful post, with fingers crossed
They say it never rains but it pours; maybe, just maybe, I am living proof of that. I don't want to jinx anything, but there are hopeful signs on the horizon.

Just today, I have been contacted for two job interviews. For this humble wolf, that is as rare as hen's teeth, as my grandmother used to say. One interview was just a call out of the blue, for a position I applied for on Craig's List; the other was a referral from a former coworker of mine. So, fingers crossed and knock wood, and all that. Send some positive vibes my way, if you feel so inclined; I can use all the luck I can get.

Now, this may be a coincidence, but when it comes to job searches, the dates April 8 and 9 keep popping up:

April 9, 2005: My first email from UT regarding an interview. I got the job.
April 8, 2008: My first call for an interview at ADR. I got the job.
April 9, 2010: Called & emailed for two interviews. Result: ?

Could this be a good omen?

Please help a stupid old wolf, if you can.
I am writing today to humbly plead for help from anyone who can.

Times have been tough for everyone, and I do not mean to trivialize that. But the fact is I have taken several financial hits lately, and am left in a vulnerable position. In the past month alone:

I have been laid off from my job, the second time in seven months;

I have had to pay two large tax bills, both due to filing errors made by former employers;

I have had a major car repair, which is necessary if I am to seek and keep employment.

Normally, I can absorb a reasonable amount of financial hardship and still bounce back. I am aggressively seeking work, and will do so until I am employed again. I am also exploring other methods of generating cash; however, I still find myself coming up short. Since late last July, I have only been employed two months, despite a job search in which I have applied for over 500 positions. Unemployment payments are no longer an option, and I am almost at absolute zero financially.

I am determined this will be the first and last time I am ever forced to do anything like this; I am only writing this now that I am 100% sure I cannot move forward without assistance. I want it to be perfectly clear my need is legitimate and I have exhausted all other resources available to me.

If any of you out there can find it in your heart—and within your financial ability—to help me, it would make a vital difference.

Some of you have been burned by con artists. Their outrageous and false claims have been despicable, preying on the good natures of others. Whatever your personal opinion of me may be, I do not have a history of doing such horrible things—nor shall I ever. I also want to assure everyone that not one cent of your donations will be going to frivolous expenditures; I am asking for help with basic survival needs, such as rent and essential bills.

If you are currently in tight financial straits, please do not worsen your own situation by donating; I am only asking help from those who are currently comfortable enough to do so. I realize how it is when you want to help but cannot; to those folks, your well-wishes and kind thoughts are just as greatly appreciated.

For those who can contribute, my PayPal email address is cashew at macrophile dot com. If you do not have PayPal available, but would still like to help, please contact me at the same email address, and we can work something out.

My heartfelt thanks in advance to everyone who can help, even if all you can spare right now is a kind word.


"An Open Letter to Conservatives"
the_gneech just posted a link to this wonderful article in his LJ, and I felt compelled to do the same.


This is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most exhaustively researched and documented listing of the mind-numbing hypocrisy and ignorance of fact and logic that has permeated the Conservative American Right for at least the last decade. It is an astounding read, and deserves to be posted everywhere.

HCR & resultant insanity
I have been keeping quiet on the health care reform bill (which at the moment I am writing this looks to be on the verge of passing) because folks on both sides of the debate seem to have completely lost their minds. It's been a long time since I have seen a debate so devoid of fact and logical thought and so full of visceral, knee-jerk hatred of the "other side." The fact that this is an attempt to help all Americans is lost in all the reactionary shouting. Not only is the health care system in this country profoundly broken, but so, it seems, is the process of factual debate.

Personally, I think this bill, although seriously flawed in many ways, is a net positive, a baby step in the right direction. I only hope those in Congress supporting the bill make good on their promise to tweak it quickly and make it better. My actual hopes of that taking place are shaky at best.

Underlying this mess is a deeper problem so prevalent in the United States, and that is the grotesque xenophobia--again, on both sides of the political spectrum--that threatens to permanently divide the social fabric of this country. I have low tolerance for people, no matter their political affiliation, who do not document their arguments or base them on facts from reliable sources. It is far too easy to wrap yourself in a bubble in this technological age, and only rely upon sources that support your own world view.

I have no qualms in admitting I am, politically, a liberal. I was long before the attempt was made to make it an obscene word, and to link it, hypocritically enough, with fascism, socialism, communism, irresponsible spending and big government all in one wide stroke of the brush. The fact that several of these things contradict one another, and that both political parties are guilty of these things, only confuse me; I do my level best to research multiple sources before making a statement, unless said statement is purely opinion.

Therein lies another part of the problem: Opinion is not automatically fact; an opinion can be backed by facts--which I strive to do--or it can be supported by misinformation. The blurring of these two concepts in this country is poisonous; far too many people are too intellectually lazy to think, and are comfortable to have their opinions fed to them--often by very questionable sources.

Sorry for the babbling, folks. My ultimate point is this: I have all the respect in the world for someone who does their own research and seeks multiple sources before developing and expressing an opinion. "Rush said so" and "I read it on Daily Kos" (as just two examples) do not count, especially if they are held up as your sole sources; both are biased and agenda-driven. Facts are so easily manipulated to reach a predetermined conclusion; I believe it is irresponsible to take just one source upon its word. It's just sloppy and irresponsible research.

Putin on the Ritz

Well, it is.

Let's see how this goes. I am on Twitter now as cashew_lou (for some weird reason, cashewlou was already taken).

Blazing a path to idiocy
The Texas Board of "Education" has decided to trump facts with their own political agenda:


(I am quoting from this article below, all quotes will be italicized.)

The most frightening phrase in this entire article, to me, anyway, was, "There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics."

Sure, why not? The only thing at stake is the educational future of Texas students, not to mention a large chunk of the rest of the country. Pshaw; who needs real experts?

The bad news:

* Senator Joe McCarthy is on his way to being vindicated by the far right, which flies blindly in the face of the actual truth.

* An amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others” was voted down. Translation: Texas schools will be teaching the utter falsehood that the United States was founded as a Christian, and only a Christian, nation.

* Thomas Jefferson--Thomas fucking Jefferson--is being removed from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, chiefly because he coined the phrase, "separation of church and state," which to the far-right lizard brain does not exist. Gonna be awkward when right-wing families travel to Mount Rushmore, isn't it?

* No Tejanos (it will now be taught) fought on the Texas side at the Alamo. Nope. Bowie and Crockett apparently stood their ground alone. After all, to the right all brown people are bad, so they can't be depicted doing good things. Wouldn't fit the overall agenda, don'tcha know.

There's more, and it's just as revolting.

The good news (yes, there is some):

* Thanks to advances in technology, including the internet, individual states can order their own, more balanced texts to teach in their classrooms. Had this horrendous decision by the Texas Board of "Education" come, say twenty years earlier, it would have impacted the textbook market much more negatively; Texas schools hold a huge sway over the textbook market in the country, simply because Texas is so large. That isn't to say this isn't a terrible development; but luckily less brain-damaged school districts elsewhere in the country have options available to them to teach more truthful history, and don't necessarily have to follow Texas' awful example.

* This is kind of both good and bad news. Ultimately, a poorly-crafted curriculum will be reflected in the graduates it generates. The poorly-educated will have an uphill battle when they try to attend an accredited university later on. Bluntly put, decent schools don't teach this backward crap for a reason: it isn't true. So this is very bad news for students who will be going through the Texas education system in years to come; the poor kids won't know any better as they are taught a skewed and politically-motivated version of the truth. I suspect that homeschooling may actually rise because of this, with more progressive parents teaching their own children. The good side of this is that I believe the cream will always rise to the top; good and smart kids will get access to the right information and will excel. It might be more of a battle for them, but when there's a will, there's a way.

Texas: Last in Education, First in Executions.

Go get yer F%#kin' Shine Box
My brain did an interesting thing during last night's Dreamland gymnastics. I don't remember the first part of the dream, but about halfway through it I found myself in a very familiar setting: a bar in Queens on June 11, 1970.

Apparently my subconscious mind decided to make me a Goodfella.

My dream became an almost exact shot-by-shot reenactment of the scene where Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro) murder "made man" Billy Batts (Frank Vincent) while Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) looks on. This scene here (I am going to consider this a non-spoiler, since Goodfellas is now twenty years old, and everyone who is going to see it at this point already has):

(NSFW, with potty-mouth language...oh, and a gangland murder)

Now, part of me thinks my brain was just being a little lazy by lifting five minutes from one of my all-time favorite movies. Another part of me, though, thinks my subconscious mind may have been flattering me a little bit, as it cast me not in the Henry Hill "observer" role, but in the role of Jimmy Conway. Heaven knows I <3 me some Bobby D, so it was kinda cool being him vicariously for a few minutes.

Interestingly enough, I am surprised my dreaming brain didn't superimpose the face of someone more personal onto Billy Batts; you know, someone I really don't care for much in my waking life. But no, I was kicking the shit out of Frank Vincent, complete with his cheesy little 1970s-style mustache.

So, yeah. A little weird, but a little cool, too.

Baby otter bliss
I saw this on charon2's journal today, and I just had to re-post it here:


Watching something this cute and adorable helps all my doubts, worry and cynicism melt away, if only for a few moments.

Eye bleach. NOW.
While doing some freestyle web surfing today, I accidentally learned what a "juggalo" is.

Sadly, this is one of those things, try as I might, I will never be able to un-see or un-learn.

Snow in Austin
Not too much on the ground, a little less than an inch, but since it almost never snows down here, I thought I would post a couple pictures:

Whoa. o.O
I just got word that a plane crashed into a building about half a mile from where I used to work; I drove by this place every day:


Looks like he was extremely pissed off at the IRS, whose offices were in the building.


Happy BB Birthday!
I couldn't let this day slip by without noting that it is the birthday of a gentleman who is kind of iconic in the furry fandom.

Brian Bedford, the voice of the title character in Disney's Robin Hood, turned 75 today. I only hope I look half as good as he does at that age:

An eye-bleach-worthy pic of the esteemed Mr. Bedford below the cut. o(:o)
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Furry Fiesta Update
Turns out my previous post was a false alarm. First, I had guaranteed room space and no ride. Then I was lucky enough to arrange a ride from good folks here in Austin. Now, I am sitting here with the possibility of a ride, but no room space, and extremely tight funds.

As things stand now, going to Furry Fiesta this year would set me back more fiscally than I can comfortably afford, so I am going to be staying home this time around.

Maybe next year.

Furry Fiesta Two Thousand and Ten
Thanks to some last-minute scrambling, it looks as though I will be able to make it to Furry Fiesta this year. I should be rolling in sometime Friday, and will be there until Sunday afternoon.

*sneak sneak sneak*
Posting from work! This is rare for me.

That is all.

AC Booked
Got my room! All I need to do now is get plane tickets.

Watching Paranormal Activity on DVD
No spoilers, I promise.

Those of you who have Paranormal Activity on DVD have one distinct advantage over those who saw it in the theater: you have a choice of which ending to watch.

Supposedly, the theatrical ending was suggested to director Oren Peli by Steven Spielberg himself.

Dear Mr. Spielberg:

Make your own movies and don't meddle with those of others. Your ending sucks.


Seriously. I have watched both versions on the DVD, and the original ending is worlds better than the theatrical one. So do yourself a favor: if and when you rent or buy the DVD of Paranormal Activity, select "View with Alternate Ending." Trust me.

Took forever, I know.
(cross-posted to my FA account)

...but at long last, I have updated my web page! The last several months have been kind of a punch to the crotch for me, so I have let my updates slide a little bit. But all the new artwork I have gotten over that period of time is finally updated; I hope you agree it has been worth the wait.

Check it out at http://cashew.macrophile.com

Thanks for your patience, and enjoy!

It's the little things
The last several months have been kind of rocky for me, so I gladly take good news wherever I can find it.

I was grocery shopping today when I saw this:

Cherry Crush is my favorite soda of all time, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw cases of it in the grocery store. I loved this stuff when I was a kid, and have only very rarely seen it around in the past 20 years or so. Needless to say, I bought two cases of it. o(:o)


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