Monday, July 29, 2013

2014: A Time For A Job Change For Me

A lot of life is about change – rolling with it, making it happen or both. And for me, it’s time for a change. Well, more like…it’s time for a change at the end of 2013.

Why? What am I talking about?

I’m specifically talking about my job. Work. Vocation. Employment.
Indeed, after seven great years as director, then senior director, of communications at LexisNexis, I’m ready for a change. I've had a great time  and worked with great people as I lead the internal and external communications group for one of the world's largest providers of information and technology solutions for the legal, corporate, academic and government sectors. But, I also feel like that pathway has now been traveled thoroughly and I'd like to strike out in a new direction. 

Through discussions with my company, I will be able to leave my post at the end of 2013. So, in 2014 I’ll move on to something new, something exciting and something based in the Seattle area. And of course, I’ll start looking for that new something in advance. Maybe I’ll be in a new position in January, maybe not. But it’ll be an engaging exercise and worth finding the right thing for me.
And what is that?
Well, I’ve thought about this quite a bit. I pondered just leaving corporate life and going back to school to be re-trained as something else - an architect, a paralegal, a medical professional of some sort, etc. I fantasized about dropping out and just seeing what I could do with my photography skills and collection.
But then I thought about what I like most, what I’m good at now and what my work experience is. Do those things – individually or in combinations – still have value in the market? Is there a way to make those things still work for me as a job? Does Seattle offer opportunities for any of that?
The answer I came up with was, yes…yes to all the questions. So, my way forward next is indeed to try and find a position that is still in communications/PR territory.
At a high level, I’d like to take the collective experience I’ve gathered over the last 21 years of PR and communications work in the technology, travel, digital media and licensing, healthcare, consumer and non-profit areas and apply it at a company or organization headquartered in the Seattle area and dealing with subjects or issues I am personally passionate about.
I want a place to feel at home, to do great work, to be part of my community and region, to make a difference, to achieve and to help others achieve. Whether that’s in a non-profit, at a corporation big or small, as part of the local government or academic worlds or something else is not a major barrier to me. I’m 43 right now. By the time I’m 50, I want to look back over the past 6-7 years of work and think, “Dang, that really was great. What superb work we did, what a difference we made…and wasn’t that fun?”
Sure, there’ll be stresses, moments of doubt and vulnerability along the way – probably from the very get-go in just even looking for a new job. But, I am convinced that it’s time for a change and I welcome it.
As I go along, I’ll periodically post info that might be of interest. And of course when I end up somewhere new, I’ll let everyone know. And in the meantime, if you have any ideas, advice or – yes – leads on positions in the greater Seattle area, please let me know. I’m on Facebook, you can leave comments here or let me know and I’ll send you my e-mail address.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Glasvegas Back With New Single and EP

Cover of the "If" EP by Glasvegas
One of my favorite bands from recent years, Glasvegas, is back in the music-release business with a new single and EP called "If " to proceed the anticipated release of their third album in September titled "Later...When the TV Turns to Static."

You can sample the four songs on the "If" EP on the band's Web site and clicking on the "Legacy" link at the top. And you can see the video version of the song featuring a cameo by William Shatner - yes, Captain Kirk - by clicking on the "GVTV" link at the top of the band's page.

Here are my thoughts on the songs just released:

1. If. "If our love was ever to part ways, the world as I know it would never ever spin again." Musically and lyrically, this is full on Glasvegas. The binary premise of the song is that without one extreme, how would we even know the opposite extreme existed. If not for this, we wouldn't have that. It takes one side of things to truly know the other - making both real. For example, in one line James Allan sings, "If not for dark, how could I recognize the spark. If not for evil, the kind man would walk by invisible."

Much of the rest of the song uses the same juxtaposition of things (sun/rain, Mary/the devil, etc.) to make the point, culminating several times with the crescendo chorus that if "our love would ever part ways" the world would essentially end - simultaneously implying that the love shared and active keeps the world turning. For anyone who is or ever has been in love - either short term lust and longing or lifelong love - this is the ultimate and personal payoff on the "if" theme of the song and for that it packs a powerful emotion punch.

Mid-way through, the song re-trenches with what I'd call a tip o' the hat to the Talking Heads using a wordplay on that group's song Road to Nowhere - flipping it on its head to be on the more positive "road to somewhere." It then seamlessly picks back up into the main riff and finishes.

Musically, I'd call this a mid-paced rock song featuring Rab Allan's shimmery guitar and "oooh, ahhh" backing vocals, a galloping drum beat from Joanna Lofgren to move things along and solid bass work from Paul Donoghue. I'd compare it to earlier Glasvegas songs such as "Geraldine" or "The World Is Yours" - both excellent tunes.

To summarize, this song delivers what Glasvegas is great at - heartfelt lyrics cleverly delivered along with compelling, moving music. Check it out.

2013 Promo Shot of Glasvegas
2. Press Play. "If we'd met in another story, things could have worked out differently." This song is, as far as I can tell, a lament over what the singer would have done differently in a relationship if another chance was available. Starting quiet and slow with voice and piano only, the pace slowly builds over the course of the tune. This is a similar technique used by Glasvegas in their song "Lots Sometimes" from their last album. However, in this case it's a slower build with not quite as frantic an ending as that earlier song, but with some clever use of xylophone tones. After singing about  how things could have worked out and what he would have done, Allan then summarizes toward the end (now faster and now more musically dense background that adds synths and a touch of bass) that if he could go back in time, he'd "press play" - implying he would be more active, engaged and present.

3. The Words That Maketh Murder. "I have seen and done things I want to forget." This one is a cover of the PJ Harvey song by the same name. I read somewhere recently that Glasvegas main man James Allan said while they had done covers in the past, they were usually of older songs and they wanted to do one that was more recent. He didn't say why they chose this - what I think is a - anti-war song, however. With a more aggressive sound and lyrical delivery that the previous two songs on the EP, this urgent song talks about someone who has seen the horrors of war and equates the words that start or fuel wars with words that "maketh" murder.

4. Finished Sympathy (Demo). "Sick to death of the means to an end." I think this one is about the final, crushing realization that something - a relationship or perhaps innocence - is over. Done and dusted. There is no longer even sympathy from those involved, just...the finished finality of things. Over. And it hurts at least one party as expressed by the singing voice of James Allan with backing voice provided by Rab Allan. Being a demo, this one might sound different on the upcoming album, but if it does not, this version very capably delivers the emotion.

OK, so what do we have here? We have an "up" tune expressing the wonder and reality of how it takes opposites to confirm each other's existence...up to and including love and the end of love, a couple lament songs beautifully delivered and a more aggressive and dark cover version of an anti-war song. Good stuff to me and a nice taster of what is coming in the album. I am looking forward to seeing what the team from Glasgow has cooked up in full.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bizaar Incident Undermines Faith in Humanity

Well people, another weird thing happened to me the other day that once again undermines my faith in humanity. Below is what happened and a few observations...

After returning by air from a long family reunion weekend in California, my wife and I picked up our car from the park-and-ride we used and make the short drive home.

Just as we turned into our neighborhood off a main drag and onto a residential street - something we've done at this corner every day for eight years since moving there - we were immediately confronted with something we never had seen before.

What was it?

A guy laying on his side right in the middle of the road. By all accounts he looked dead. Seriously. No movement at all. Right in the middle of the street. Given the cars parked on each side of the road, his body blocked our way forward with no way to go around him.

Next to him parked on the curb to the right with its front end facing us was a truck with its passenger door wide open - giving reason to think that the guy had tumbled out of the passenger door and out onto the pavement where he lay.

My first reaction was that he was hurt. Shot. Heart attack. Seizure. Something.

I got out of our car and approached him. As I did I said "Are you OK?" "Do you need help?" No reaction. None.

I repeated my questions and clapped my hands. Nothing.

Just as I thought I'd have to go call 9-1-1 to get an ambulance out there, he mumbles that he's OK and starts to get up.

I repeated, "Are you OK?" This time, he said in a very obviously inebriated state that he was "fine."

So I said, "OK, then please get out of the road" and started walking back to our car.

Boom! Things changed quickly. All of a sudden, this guy who was passed out IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET animated into a highly agitated crazed lunatic. He jumps up and starts cursing me out using a lot of F-Bombs.

I get in our car and lock the doors and attempt to back up and get out of there, but I could only go so far in reverse because of the very busy street immediately to our backs. Cut off by traffic whizzing by behind us, I was only able to get turned 90 degrees before the guy jumped directly in front of our car. This effectively trapped us. I cannot suddenly enter traffic on our left, I can't go backwards because of the parked cars now behind us and I can't go forward or to the right because this A-Hole is jumping in front of the car whichever way we try to go - swearing at us and giving us the finger the whole time.

So, there we were trapped with this maniac accosting us. To try and draw attention to the situation and perhaps some help, I start honking the car horn. Nobody showed up. And, the guy just got more agitated...upping his rage, his use of the F-word and starting to unzip his pants as if he was going to pee on our car.

OK. Take a time out on the story for a moment. At this point, there has been a guy passed out in the middle of the street with houses and homes all around. The guy has loudly accosted me right there on the street. I've honked our horn as the guy continues to scream at us. And of course, nobody on this warm evening in a well-populated neighborhood showed up to see what was happening or  help. Nor did any of the many cars going by just feet away. Thanks everyone. Thanks for the help.

Essentially trapped there with my wife in the car and not wanting to get out and go one-on-one with this clearly unstable guy (did he have a gun? a knife? something else?) and realizing that nobody was going to call the cops, show up to distract him or help in any way...and thinking that this guy's next move was probably going to be to start damaging our car or actually trying to physically assault us, I decide to call the cops - a much different 9-1-1 call that I thought I would have to make just a minute or two earlier.

As I got 9-1-1 on the line, the crazed guy realized what I was doing. He moved away from the front of the car over to my side like maybe he would start hammering on my window. This cleared the way for me to go forward for a few feet before moving the car to the left to get onto the main road. I decided to risk it and punched the engine. No cars were coming and we sped away.

At this point, there was no way I was going right back there or to our house directly. We made a round-about route back and spoke to the 9-1-1 officer as we did so - describing the guy and the incident. By the time we got back around to our street, approaching from a different direction, we could see that the guy's truck was gone. However, inebriated he was, he realized the cops would be showing up and he left. I told the 9-1-1 officer that he appeared to have left and concluded the call with her saying they would send a car to the neighborhood to check things out.

We pulled into our driveway and unpacked the car. I was still a bit leery that the crazy guy might be in the area on foot or in his truck. So, we put our car in the garage. As I put the garbage out on the curb for its next-morning pickup, I looked around, but did not see the guy or his truck...or any police car by the way. Nerves starting to calm, we settled back into a normal routine for the rest of the evening.

A drunk? Drug addict? Mentally ill? All of the above? Probably. But, I've been around those type of people before. And guess what? How many of them were PASSSED OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET? None. This guy has issues to say the least. I'll be keeping my eye out for him and his truck, but I hope that's the last we see of him. But you know what, as F-ed up as this guy was...I get it. He's crazy, addicted, whatever. What I don't get is...

As mentioned, thanks everyone. Thanks for nothing. Thanks for just ignoring a guy laying in your neighborhood street looking to all the world that he's dead. Thanks for not lifting a finger when he started verbally assaulting us. Thanks to all you drivers going by just feet away who decided to just keep going. Thanks.

A big heavy, cynical sigh as comment on people's unwillingness to help out.

What would I have done differently? Well, let me put it this way...if today I encountered a similar situation, I would simply leave the guy laying there. I would put the car in reverse and drive away without bothering. And why not? What do I get for trying to help...a guy assaulting me and my wife.

If for whatever reason I couldn't just avoid, I would probably have taken pictures or video of the guy in the act. In the moment this didn't occur to me, but in hindsight it could have been done very easily. That visual evidence or the mere fact I was doing it could have got the guy to leave immediately. But then again, it might have enraged him further. Who knows.

Anyway, the big picture is that this incident, combined with some others over the last few years (such as having items literally stolen off our front porch and out our mail box, an a-hole driver almost killing me with his horrible driving and then road raging me to make himself feel better, neighbors calling the police to our house because we didn't want to answer our front door when they knocked announced at 9 p.m. and more) have made me harden up on my view of humanity. Many, many people in this world - and apparently our own neighborhood - are not trustworthy. I will be less likely to help out and less trusting of people I do not know. I'm sorry to say that, but my experience is clear.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day - Pictures of "America"

Well, once again it's 4th of July time. Yep, Independence Day is tomorrow - the day we in the USA celebrate our independence from England.

Most people shorthand "the United States of America" as just "America."

And "America" means a lot of different things to different people.

Instead of going in depth and boring prose on what it means to me, I'll let pictures do the talking. More specifically, pictures I've taken over the last several years.

With that as set up, below are three "teaser" pictures for a full set of images that I think in one way or the other - and as a whole - capture some of the best things about the United States of America. That full set can be seen by clicking HERE.

Grand Canyon in Arizona
Copyright - Marc Osborn

Independence Hall in Philadelphia
Copyright - Marc Osborn

Sun Studios in Memphis
Copyright - Marc Osborn