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Looks like I might have to hang out my own shingle and be a contract consultant, unless I find full time work in-house at another firm, or at a litigation support vendor in town...

The law firm I am currently at is splitting up into 4 different entities, and none of them are large enough to hire me full time. As of July 15, I'm out of work.

recovering from a bad accident

For those of you not following my FB, I was involved in a 4-car pile-up on 9/25, except that my vehicle was my Motorcycle.

This was taken about 24hrs after the accident:

This is me in rehab, just under 2 weeks after.

There is still some internal healing, and I no longer have a spleen, but the broken bones should heal. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
It's been a long, LONG time since I've posted on LJ, (spending most of my time on FB instead), so I just thought I'd hop on here and give you all a recap of my life-changes this past couple of years.

In July 2012, I lost my job at Fish & Richardson... a job I loved. They outsourced the entire litigation support department, firm-wide. I have been in Lit Support since 1994, and it's really the only experience I have that is marketable, since my IT and computer hardware background is outdated now, and I never completed my Bachelor's Degree.

Unfortunately, the job market in San Diego for litigation support professionals became swamped around the same time, as one support vendor merged with a national firm, and they, too, laid off about a dozen people, all competing with a similar skillset (although most with much less experience) who were accustomed to lower income in this position.

I did find 7 months of Lit Support work in 2013 in a work-from-home job through a support vendor based in Rochester, NY... for about 30% less than I was making before. After 7 months, though, they decided that work-from-home was not productive enough and they let me go. I also had a couple of consulting jobs, which paid very well but were only for a couple weeks of work. One trial that I supported in June was 43 hours of work over a 2 weeks, and paid about $4K. That kept the debt-collectors at bay for about 1 month...

I have gone to plenty of interviews with companies in Dallas, Los Angeles, and even one near Chicago... plus job leads from New York, DC, and Boston... but none of them panned out. San Diego just wasn't hiring, and the ones in other areas just don't seem willing to relocate me or let me work from home.

Before the unemployment benefits ran out, I started doing part time, minimum wage stuff (cash under the table) for my brother who runs a fruit stand at several local Farmers' Markets. That helped me keep the lights on, gas in my vehicles, and the internet working so I could continue my job-hunt. A forebearance program on my mortgage has also kept my home from going into foreclosure, but I'm not sure how long I can keep that at bay. My credit cards are all in collections now.

So... do I give up on LitSupport as a career? The last 20 years of my life have been dedicated to this specific vertical market, but unless I move out of San Diego on my own accord, the prospects just don't look good.

Last month, a friend of mine mentioned her new job at American Solar Direct, and that they were still hiring Sales Consultants, no experience required... so I passed her my resume, and 3 days later I was in the on-boarding class with 14 others.

So now I sell Solar Power to homeowners. I've been on the job as a "Consultant in Training" (CIT) for 3 weeks now, and I am really getting the hang of it, but it's only Minimum Wage at this point. At least it's full time work, though, and after Day 30, I can start earning commissions on the leads I generate. After I get my State of Calfornia Home Improvement Consultant license (around day 45-60, after passing the State exam), I will also be able to earn commissions on sales that I close myself.

(All of you homeowners in California: Call me if you don't already have Solar!)

This job is a COMPLETE paradigm shift for me. I've never been an outside sales rep before, but my technical background gives me an edge because unlike many of my coworkers, I actually understand the product I'm selling. I'm also working alongside much younger people, and my age alone gives me an air of experience that I can use to my advantage.

Thsi company, American Solar Direct, does not advertise. All of their new customers are referrals from existing customers, or are leads generated from the CITs (that's me for another 10 days) knocking on doors. ASD saves the money that would be spent on advertising, and uses it to pay their employees generously. They also compensate existing customers for their referrals at a pretty generous rate. The commission structure can easily add up to 6-figures annually if I continue to generate leads and diligently follow-up on my own customers' referrals... so hopefully by this time next year, I will be well on the way to landing on my feet, financially.

There is a LOT of dropout among my fellow CIT's; not everyone can handle going door-to-door. Of the 14 people in my CIT class, we are already down to 6 remaining. Another 8 started last week, and 2 of them are already gone.

If I can stick this job out, I will gain seniority by attrition alone.

On the hobby side of things: I'm still very active in my GoldWing motorcycle chapter, and perform on the Gold Angels Motorcycle Drill Team (see goldangels.com). However, my motorcycle is under the weather... clutch is slipping... and I can't yet afford to have it repaired. I'm going to miss a few performances until that is taken care of, and I'm really jonesing for some wind-therapy. The cage (my Jeep Liberty) is a gas-guzzling hog, and just doesn't handle mountain twisties quite the same way.

I also got back into the woodshop briefly, right before I started this new job, and made a few Can Cozies that are up for sale on ebay ( http://tinyurl.com/darrelx-ebay ) and are perfect for SCA events. There are a few other items up for sale as well, as I need every penny I can find right now.

That's about it for me. I'm probably going to disappear again to Facebook now, but for those of you not over there, this is what I have been up to.

One thing about knocking doors in Southern California... I am getting quite a dark tan on my face, and I think I'm losing weight. Not a bad thing.

Help out an actor-friend of mine!

(The following is from my good friend, Edward Green, on his Facebook page)

Friends, I'm really humbled by all the responses I've gotten from my post yesterday about the contest. I'm just over 300, which puts me in the top five (as near as I can figure) of videos posted so far. There will be a lot more folks posting, and the 'call backs' won't happen until late March. And no way of knowing if I made that cut until later.

But thank you all so much. I can't find the words to tell you how awesome you all are. But you are!

And, since there's still some room for my likes on the YouTube page, here's the original posting.

If you have time, please go to this YouTube video and like and comment on it. Then, I would like to ask you to repost this for me. Need to get the word out as much as possible. FYI, although its listed as an 'audition video' its actually more of a personality / audition vid.

This is for a TV contest show that I've been invited to audition for. Part of the process for getting on the show is how well we use social media.


Rode to Utah for Memorial Day Weekend

The drill team that I ride with, the Gold Angels Motorcycle Drill Team had a performance at the GWRRA Region F Convention in St. George, Utah this past weekend. I rode up alone on Friday, really early, and arrived around 1:30pm local time to help my teammates set up the field, and supervise the "Amazing Team Challenge" (ATC) open practice. The ATC is an obstacle course set up with cones with prizes for fastest time through it on your motorcycle.

xianjaguar drove down from Cedar City and hung out with me all weekend. It was nice to have some company, and a co-rider who knew her way around town.

Saturday was our performance, and we teamed up with the Arizona Precision Motorcycle Drill Team to put on a great show for everyone. The local St. George news wrote about it and even linked to some video here:

Right after the performance, Teams started showing up for the ATC. Around 4:30, everyone had finished competing, so we picked up all the cones and called it a day. XJ and I went for a brief ride around town, and then had dinner.

Sunday morning, XJ went to the services at the convention being hosted by the Christian Motorcycle Association while I loitered around the lobby and vendor hall, browsing and chatting with members of my GoldWing family.

As a member of the drill team, I get a little bit of celebrity status - people I don't know come up to chat, always wanting to know how we can control those 1/2-ton motorcycles as if we were in a ballet performance.

After the services were over, XJ and I headed out to Zion, where except for the 15 minutes or so to get through the gate, and a couple of 3-minute stops at one-way traffic choke points, it was a really pleasant ride. The highlight of the day was when XJ saw a horned sheep, so I turned around to get a better look at him.
2013-05-26 Sheep_in_Zion

After the ride through Zion, we went to the convention's closing ceremonies, had dinner, and passed out fairly early. In the morning, I packed pre-dawn, had breakfast with XJ and some of my San Diego GoldWing chapter members, said my goodbyes and thanks to XJ for keeping me company, and headed home.

With a couple of my chapter members riding with me, we took the 15 down to Vegas, then turned to back roads to avoid the predictably horrid memorial day traffic. We went through Henderson, Nipton, Cima, Kelso, Twenty-nine Palms, Palm Springs, Anza, Warner Springs, and Ramona before getting back into the San Diego area where everyone peeled off toward their respective homes. The 530-mile trip was 13.5 hours with Lunch in Twenty-nine Palms, and a Dairy Queen break in Anza.

It was a wonderful weekend. ;)

Another auction online...

I thought I had the entire run of the FUSION series, but I discovered that I am missing Issue #12.

Here is the rest of the books: 16 issues from January, 1987 through October, 1989, sans issue #12.

FUSION, issues 1-11 and 13-17

Happy Bidding!

Happy Bidding!

I've just posted the original 3-issue set of Steve Gallacci's "Birthright" story from Fantagraphics Books on eBay for sale. This story is the prequel to the Erma Felna story that appeared in "Albedo Anthropomorphics" and was originally published across multiple issues of "Critters".

Birthright 3-issue set


Happy Bidding!

Blast from the past...

Cleaning up my office at home, since I have to work here now... and I come across this:


Gainfully employed

I started working for D4 on April 1 as a Litigation Support Analyst. Telecommuting until they find office space for me.

Home Brewing...

So, on an impulse, I decided a couple weeks ago to take up home brewing. I had been thinking about doing this for a few years, but have never taken the plunge.

I spent a few days online researching what I would need, and ordering various supplies and recipe books. Packages have been arriving at the door almost daily this past week.

I now have a few dozen glass bottles with wire-cage stoppers, a couple of 3-gallon carboys with bubble-filter air vents, a large stainless steel stock pot, and a 6-gallon plastic bucket with a pour spigot for filling bottles.

I decided that I need to start with simple things, making homemade soda pop first, because it only takes a few days.

I have been having trouble finding Sassafras and licorice root locally, so my first brew wasn't Root Beer as I had originally planned. That will have to wait until the ingredients I ordered online gets here.

Wednesday was my first brew: Molasses Ginger Ale. The ingredients were really simple: Water, Molasses, freshly grated Ginger Root, 1 whole lemon cut into small pieces, and yeast. I brewed a little over 2 gallons on the stove, strained it into the plastic bucket, added the yeast when it had cooled enough, and then bottled it up. I will check it Friday afternoon to see if the yeast did its job and turned it into soda.

I only used about half the bottles for that batch, so on Thursday I started another. This time, I made a Cream Soda. I didn't have enough Brown Sugar, so I mixed the recipe with Molasses and granulated sugar. It was a bit heavy on the molasses side, so the mixture turned a bit dark, but it has a wonderful molasses aroma. This recipe has Water, Sugar, Molasses, Cinnamon Bark, Vanilla Bean, Vanilla Extract (I didn't have enough vanilla bean), Cream of Tartar, and Yeast. I'll check it Saturday afternoon for fizziness.

The sodas, once fizzy enough, need to be kept chilled, or they will over-carbonate (not to mention fermenting into alcohol and/or vinegar), and there is a risk of exploding bottles. Most of the bottles will fit in my refrigerator, but I also have an igloo cooler than I can place the rest in and swap out cold-packs daily to keep them chilled until consumed.

The only difference when I start making beers is that after brewing, the mixture will go into a carboy (large glass bottle, like you'd use in a water cooler) with the bubble filter on top to let gases escape, and let it ferment for a couple weeks until all the sugar is converted to alcohol. Then you add just a bit more sugar before bottling it, and that is enough to create the carbonation.


Darrel L. Exline
The Polar Den

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