Tag Archives: Economy

Surviving the Asteroid Strike.

An enormous asteroid struck my firm today, in the form of a mass layoff.  A little over 5% of lawyers in the U.S. offices, and the same proportion in Chicago.  There were staff layoffs, too; not sure how many staff — call it 20 in Chicago who were given their walking papers.  All departments were affected.  The announcement emphasized that it was purely an economic decision; in better times, we’d have kept these people.

I survived, and still have a job to go back to in the morning, but I admit to being pretty shaken up.  I found out about the impending layoffs last night, and was reasonably confident that I wouldn’t be included, but not totally confident.  I kept waiting for the knock on the door, or the phone call from our department head, or an email, telling me to pack my stuff and go.

I exported my contacts to a file and emailed them to my personal email account, but there wasn’t all that much else for me to do.  I spent most of the day in my office with the door closed, because every time I went out in the hall the people I saw had the same weird expression on their faces that I was sure was on mine.

My secretary was fired.  I think I know why she was on the list, and it pisses me off since the only person affected by this issue was me, and I didn’t care, but nobody asked my opinion.  She was good at her job, and I hope she finds another one soon.

The survivors are shell-shocked.  This happens less often in large law firms than other businesses — I’ve been in practice for 14 years, and have never experienced a mass layoff; even during the 2000-2002 tech wreck, my old firm fired people one by one over time, and only in particular practice areas.  But there has been a steady drumbeat of layoff stories on the biglaw blogs for a couple of months now; The Firm held out as long as it could, but you can’t fight this economy.

After an asteroid strike, the dust and debris kicked up by the impact obscures the sky, sometimes for months, blocking the sun and creating an artificial winter.  Maybe that’s why this winter has been so brutal, from all of the asteroids falling to earth.

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Fall (?) Sunday Stats #2: Training Matters, and Did I Mention I Finished the First Draft of My Novel?

It’s 80 degrees at 4pm.  How is it fall?  In a few minutes, I’m going to go out and mow our front lawn, which is still green and growing in October for the first time in the six years we’ve lived in this house.  Thank the rain we had in August and September, I guess, because it sure wasn’t anything I did to keep the grass growing.

The lawn appears to be the only damn thing that is growing, of course.  I managed to stay fairly calm about the economy until Monday, when the excrement really started to hit the artificial wind machine, and when I listened to This American Life’s Another Frightening Show About the Economy.  This podcast provides a really good explanation of credit default swaps and the freezing of the debt markets.  The explanation is a little too clear, if you ask me; it left me in a state of near-paralytic dread.  I’ve managed to remain rational, at least so far.  I haven’t been able to convince myself to rebalance our retirement accounts to buy into the declining markets, however, even though I think that’s what we ought to be doing.

Miles run today:  13.1, for the third annual World Wide Half Marathon, part of the World Wide Festival of Races.  It was a beautiful day, sunny but too hot for a long run (and if I thought it was bad, pity the poor folks running the Chicago Marathon).  Still, I’m not going to complain about the weather on what could be the last really nice weekend until spring.

The World Wide Festival of Races is a virtual race series — the third running of the World Wide Half Marathon, the second running of the Kick the Couch 5K, and the first Zen Run 10K.  It’s led by Steve Runner of the Phedippidations podcast, and his co-race directors (whose names are impossible to find on the website).  It’s the easiest race you’ll ever run, logistically.  You sign up in advance.  You commit to run one of the distances on or about the assigned weekend.  Maybe you join a virtual race team.  You decide on your own route — maybe as part of an organized race, maybe not — and then you run it, and upload your results.

My race route itself was nothing special — my ordinary out-and-back to the lake front path, plus a couple of miles on the path itself.  There was a little extra poignancy to the run because yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my first marathon, and the marathon itself was in progress just a few blocks south of my own route.

As a race, my World Wide Half was, to put it mildly, a disaster.  I haven’t been for a run since my close encounter with a car wheel more than two weeks ago, and I’ve been even more sedentary than that would ordinarily mean because of the 1630-mile road trip to the Catskills we took last weekend to go to a wedding, and the push to finish Meet the Larssons.

Oh, by the way, in case you missed it, I finished the first draft of MTL.  More on that in a bit.

Back to the race.  Two weeks off, eating more junk than usual, sitting on my tucus for hours on end, left my legs and back muscles flabby and my tendons and ligaments tight.  I ached all the way through the run, and developed a massive blister on my right foot.  My finishing time was 2:09:48, which is 24 minutes slower than my time for the tempest-tossed Chicago Half Marathon.  I still hurt, six hours (and two Aleve) after I finished.  By comparison, I was well-trained for the Chicago Half and in pretty good shape, so the downpour barely affected my time.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I didn’t skip the race today.  I run alone all year, and one of the things I like best about the World Wide Festival of Races is knowing that there are hundreds of other people running alone, and we’re all running together.

What I listened to during the run:  Phedippidations #156 (“Cheers from a Little Blue Bubble,” the annual episode of cheers and shouts of encouragement to World Wide Half participants); I Should Be Writing #102, and Adventures in SciFi Publishing #53.

Writing this week since my last Sunday Stats:  6,531 words (net) of Meet the Larssons, including “THE END” on Wednesday night.  I actually wrote 8,737 words, but I cut a 2,206 word scene as I went.   To finish the draft, I did my usual writing on the train to and from work, plus several binges at home and even in the car on the drive back from the wedding.  Despite my intent to leave the draft alone for at least a month, I’ve been reading Hooked, by Les Edgerton, which has given me a good idea for a new opening scene for the second draft, and a couple of other ideas as well.  I have made notes, but so far have refrained from going back to it.  A commenter here recommended this book to me several months ago; I’m too lazy to search out that post so I can give you proper credit, but thanks.

I took Unfocused Girl to a birthday party out in the ‘burbs yesterday afternoon, and spent the time up the street at Starbucks working on “Secretary-General,” the short story I started a little over a month ago then put aside to finish MTL.  I cut 500 words out of it as I re-read what I’d done, then wrote around 350 words.  I want to finish this story, polish it up, and submit it before I get back to MTL.

I’d also like to hash out one or two-page treatments of three different ideas I have for my next novel.  They’re very different, and I’m not sure what I want to work on next.  I figure that writing them out in a more extended form than the one-sentence summaries I have now will help me decide.

Right before we left for the wedding, TTB was rejected by the most recent outlet I’d submitted it to.  The night I finished MTL, I submitted TTB to another e-zine, one I had only recently come across and which seems to be looking for this kind of fiction.  We’ll see.

In other writing news, Unfocused Girl would like to announce that she has also just finished her book, The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny.  It’s contemporary urban fantasy about four friends who go on a quest, find a magical object, meet a guiding spirit, discover special powers within themselves, rescue a friend, and fight their evil nemesis, all with the goal of bringing peace to their elementary school.  Yay, Unfocused us!

My first trackback

I had a frenetically busy day at work today, largely because opposing counsel in a case I’m working on filed a bunch of motions on Friday, to be heard tomorrow morning, then mailed them. From out of state. We found about it purely by luck and got copies by email, but still.

Here’s a tip to the attorneys out there who think that’s acceptable: You should know there’s something wrong with you when other lawyers think you’re an asshole.

Logging onto my blog account this evening, though, I got a nice surprise: my first trackback! I didn’t actually know what trackbacks are, so I did a search on The Google and found this very helpful article by Dave Taylor, suggesting that many trackbacks are from spammers, as, unfortunately, was mine. But still! A spammer — a professional marketer — thinks my blog is worth hitching a ride on! The three of you out there who occasionally read this blog (hi, Mrs. Unfocused!) must be very important consumers. Try to step up the consuming, though. The economy’s going in the tank.