28 February 2011


I've been on a bit of an eyeglass kick the past few years. I got a new pair of glasses in early 2008, then another pair a little over a year ago. That was when I changed from metal to plastic frames for the first time in something like 20 years. I'm not one of those people who wears a different pair of glasses each day of the week; I was at least partly influenced in that decision by prevailing style trends, and a little by Mad Men as well.

And now I've gone and done it again. I found a site called Optometrist Attic that carries vintage, old stock, and newly made frames in traditional styles, and they had the exact style I had in mind, rounded frames in a tortoise color. As it happened, the same frames showed up on eBay a couple of weeks ago, in the size I needed, so I bought them there instead.

These frames are made in England by a company called Anglo American Optical. This style is available in about a dozen different colors and in several different frame sizes. It's truly a classic style, and it's very similar to what I wore 25 years ago, during my time in college and shortly after. It's funny that I would find my way back to it, but not so surprising.

I'm not wearing these frames yet because I need to get lenses made. I'm going to talk to the optical shop at Costco to see what they charge for my prescription, but from what I've heard their pricing is pretty competitive. Further reports will be forthcoming.

26 February 2011

This Week in Awesome (2/26/11)

We're a bit light this week; things were a bit busier at work this week than I expected, plus we're off to RI for my mother's birthday so these will just have to do...

Justin Bieber (I know, you never expected to see those words on this blog, but keep reading and it will all become clear) made his second and (presumably) final appearance on CSI last week as a (spoiler alert) troubled teen. Here's how it ended, in slightly extended form. (GorillaMask via Videogum)

I love this, but I hate that it has to exist: How To Go Through A Door. Maybe they'll do an advanced one for revolving doors. (IsA's Wonderful World via Consumerist)

Many of us, myself included, have worked in retail at some point, and anyone who has worked in any kind of job with public contact will enjoy this site. (Consumerist)

25 February 2011

Won't You Be My (T) Neighbor?

At North Station this morning, I got off the Orange Line and was crossing the platform to wait for an E train when I heard the PA from the train behind me: "Please move all the way into the cars. Don't be afraid to get close to your neighbors."

24 February 2011

Spurned by Spooks

Well, this isn't good: You may recall me mentioning the BBC spy show Spooks (aka MI-5) that's been running on the Boston PBS station. The last episode of season 8 airs tomorrow night, so I went to the WGBH web site to read whatever one-sentence blurb they might have about the first episode of season 9.

I was quite surprised to see that next week's scheduled episode is... the first episode of season 1. So they're going back to the beginning? Season 9 aired in the UK this past fall, but I guess WGBH's agreement to air the show didn't include season 9, or maybe the BBC doesn't want it airing here just yet; I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of international licensing rights for TV shows.

Okay, not to worry, I've watched a good chunk of this show via Netflix, so I just slid over there and... no season 9. According to the show's Wikipedia page, DVDs for each season are released in the US each January, so the season 9 DVD will come out... next January? That can't be right. It also says that season 8 just came out on DVD last month, and I'm quite sure Netflix had it available to rent before that.

However you look at it, this is bad news for fans of the show. If I got any of you interested, I apologize. Hopefully season 9 will become available some time before next January; maybe Netflix will make it available for streaming as they've done with most of the other seasons. Let's just hope season 8 doesn't end with a cliffhanger—some seasons have, others haven't.

23 February 2011

Watch Wednesday (2/23/11)

What's this? Watch Wednesday? Well yeah, I bought a watch, so... WW has been on hold for several months, because I was trying to exercise some restraint, but I knew I'd end up buying another watch eventually.

Seiko makes good-quality, moderately priced watches, many of which are not "officially" sold in the US. But the internet makes many things easier to find and obtain. I bought this one from an eBay seller; it came with the boxes and warranty coverage, which is not always the case, so do your homework if you're looking into such a purchase. Sites like Creation Watches and BlueDial carry a lot of these watches too, as does Amazon. (I have never personally purchased a watch from any of these sellers, but I'd certainly consider doing so.)

As I mentioned the other day, I posted some watches on Style Forum, one because I'd decided it wasn't quite big enough for my wrist. That one sold right away, and I see this one as its replacement—it's quite a bit larger, about 43 mm across. Automatic movement, display back, nice beefy case, cool orange accents on the dial and hands. You can't really tell in this crappy pic, but the second hand is black and the tip is orange (the white circle is on the other end), and that little orange triangle between 4 and 5 is pointing at the date window.

As usual, this watch came with a lousy strap (if you look at this picture you can see it) that I had to replace. It's leather with a plastic top surface stitched to it that's supposed to look like those "kevlar" straps, but it looked cheesy and made squeaky noises every time I moved my wrist. Gone. In its place is this thick leather strap by Hadley-Roma, from Global Watch Band in Florida. This thing is about 1/4" thick at the ends that meet the watch (check out the step-up from the stitching to the padded center section).

The leather was so stiff I was worried I wouldn't be able to get it to shape to my wrist properly, which is important when you're breaking in a new strap so it sits on your wrist the right way. I figured out which hole I needed to wear it in (the last one) and put it on the little plastic stand in the pic for a few hours to help with the shaping, and then I was able to strap it onto my wrist with no trouble.

The last watch featured on WW back in October also got a new strap, and it's also a huge improvement. This one is made by an Italian company called Morellato, and I bought it from The Watch Prince. It's a very interesting leather that's been treated to be water-resistant and feels like some sort of synthetic, but the best thing about the Morellato straps is that they're made in Italy, but priced like straps made in China.

22 February 2011

Tool Time

Regardless of your level of handiness, you reach a point where you need some certain basic tools for everyday household tasks. And given my somewhat compulsive nature, I like to have the correct tool for the job when possible. The Mrs. made fun of me when I bought a rubber mallet to use to assemble a piece of furniture (she probably would have just used her shoe), but it was only $5 and I have had numerous occasions to use it since.

Likewise, I purchased a small hand saw many years ago (I can't even remember why I needed it then) and the first year we were living here, one of the upstairs neighbors knocked on the door one December afternoon and asked, with some skepticism, "Do you by any chance happen to have a saw?" because they had just brought home a Christmas tree and it was a bit too tall. I was only too happy to be able to say that I did in fact have a saw.

Power tools cost more, so the purchase of them has to be justified more. I've had a Black & Decker cordless screwdriver for almost a decade, and it's one of those things that makes sense for almost anyone to have. But I'd noticed that mine was losing its ability to hold a charge, until it no longer worked at all. So now you have another screwdriver that's just like all your other screwdrivers, except it's much bigger, heavier, and more awkward to use.

I was thinking about what to get for a replacement when one of those one-day sale sites, Yugster I think, offered a palm-size model from Skil. I went back a couple of hours later to take a closer look and it was already sold out, and this was before noon, so I figured it must be a decent gadget. I looked around online and found it on the Skil web site. There are actually a few different models, but they're all basically the same. They have lithium-ion batteries that hold their charge for a very long time, and some models come with an LED light below the bit to help you see what you're doing.

Some models come with accessory kits and charging stands, but I think the biggest benefit of this is the small size: not only is it easy to hold, but you can add a bit extender and get into tight spaces with it. I finally made it to a Lowe's over the weekend and picked one up; it was $30 there.

21 February 2011

Wanna Buy A Watch?

I've posted three of my watches for sale over at Style Forum. I already have offers on the Seiko 5, but the other two are still wide open. (SF requires membership to send private messages, but if you are interested and are not a member, contact me through the blog and we can discuss it.)

20 February 2011

This Week in Awesome (2/19/11)

So winter's reminding us that it isn't quite over, but at least the drifts have receded enough during those couple of warm days that the Mrs. can see oncoming traffic while she backs the car out of the driveway. Meanwhile the web is full of seasonless gifts...

One of those folks with an insane admirable amount of free time has been using it to recreate the famous car chase from the movie Bullitt (which you may recall I mentioned recently) using 1/32 scale cars and stop-motion filming. Check out the preview. (Jalopnik)

Misery Bear is a web series from BBC Comedy about a little tan stuffed fellow whose life is full of travail. (BBC via The Awl)

Tired of the usual, boring drawer pulls? Here's a suggested alternative. (Apartment Therapy via The Hairpin)

Interesting piece about the outsize impact certain books can have on us when we're young and impressionable. I've only read one of them, ever, so not sure what that says about me. (Flavorwire via Hairpin)

And finally this week, the latest Darwin Awards hopeful submits his application. (Videogum)

17 February 2011

Bargain Alert: Red Wings

I imagine at least a few of you share my interest in clothes and shoes, so I want to alert you to a particularly good deal available at Orvis online. Orvis has a group of products they call the "Made-in-America Collection" which is pretty self-explanatory. What makes this somewhat interesting is that, like J. Crew, Orvis carries products from other American companies.

In the shoe section they carry items from Alden, Allen Edmonds, the Wolverine boots I bought in New York last fall, and Red Wing Iron Ranger boots. Strangely, they're calling them the "Cannon Valley" boots, but if you look at the picture it's clearly the Iron Ranger in the color Red Wing calls "amber."

These typically sell for close to $300 a pair, but Orvis currently has them on sale for $180, plus they're offering an extra 20% off all sale merchandise through Monday, bringing the price for these down to $144 (plus tax and shipping, if applicable), which qualifies as a steal. That's probably less than you'd pay for a lightly used pair on Style Forum, assuming you could find someone selling a pair in your size.

The only real caveat is that anything smaller than a 10.5 is gone, and these run big by a half size or so. But if you like the Red Wing aesthetic, want a solid, sturdy, American-made pair of boots that will last you decades, and are a larger-footed guy, this deal is calling you.

16 February 2011

Deadline Week Alert

This is turning out to be a particularly busy week for me at work; the monthly deadline approacheth, as it always doeth, but I find myself juggling that with several other small projects at the same time, so at this moment there's no predicting what posting may be like for the rest of the week.

I was hoping to find some good reading online to point you at, but it's late and I'm more tired than usual (I almost nodded off while watching TV an hour or so ago), so I think you should just go watch this a few times.

15 February 2011

Overheard: Not By Me Edition

So I know this person from back when I worked at the Huntington Theatre in the mid-90s. She still works there, and I've run into her a few times at the Mass. Ave. Orange Line station. She recently started twittering things she overhears on the bus, and it's about as strange and amusing as you would expect, so check it out, okay? The best part is you don't even need to "follow" her, you can just hit that link and they're all there.

14 February 2011

And The Winner Is...

I watched the entire Grammy awards show last night, something I haven't done in well over a decade. I wasn't planning to, but then I heard about some of the artists scheduled to perform. I also knew that Arcade Fire was nominated for Album of the Year, and although I figured they had no chance of winning, it kind of gave me an excuse to check out the show.

I'm still taken aback that Arcade Fire won, but more because of the competition in the category than for any question about whether or not they deserved to win. The Suburbs is a rich, bittersweet, evocative, nostalgic look back at the joys and heartaches of growing up in this country, and I can only assume that it struck a chord among the academy's voters, not to mention that it's truly an album, one that bears listening to in its entirety—I would not go so far as to call it a concept album, because it isn't, but the same themes and ideas definitely recur from song to song. And even though they were the last act to perform on the show, they pretty much set the Staples Center on fire with raging versions of "Month of May" and "Ready to Start."

The show itself has changed somewhat over the years; not that many awards are given out during the broadcast itself, to allow the focus to shift to live performances, which I think is a good idea, and is probably more of what fans want to see anyway. A few highlights:

Lady Gaga's arrival at the show inside her egg-womb thingy, and her emergence from it to perform her new song "Born This Way," was typical Gaga and a brilliant piece of theatrical self-promotion. The song itself was a little too much of a clone of "Express Yourself," and this surprised me. Lady Gaga goes to a great deal of effort to present and promote herself as a true original, so even if she is this generation's Madonna, I would not expect her to mimic Madonna so closely. Bonus points for presentation, though.

Likewise I won't soon forget the sight of Cee-Lo Green done up as a giant rainbow chicken. (Just imagine the bad trips that caused among those watching the show while high.) The puppet band was cute too. Gwyneth Paltrow, not so much, and I'm not referring to her appearance but to the mere fact of her presence—it was just pandering to the Glee crowd. I felt like she was a distraction and took the emphasis away from Cee-Lo, where it belonged.

I'm totally digging Janelle Monae. I saw a clip of her performing on Late Show a while back, and I was really impressed. She isn't just talented, she has presence. She's fantastic, and I really need to get her music.

I had to mute the Justin Bieber performance. I really can't bear the sight or sound of him. By coincidence, some sort of domestic argument was happening next door (not the first time this has happened) just as he was starting to perform, so the muted TV allowed us to hear some muffled yelling and the arrival of several police cars and an ambulance outside our house.

13 February 2011

This Week in Awesome (2/12/11)

I didn't want you to think I'd forgotten TWiA again: the Mrs. is finishing an application to a graduate program, so she was using the computer a lot this weekend, while I tried to stay out of the way and keep quiet.

This compilation video is six minutes or so of people doing questionable things that result in them being injured. I felt bad about watching this, but at the same time I couldn't stop watching it. Discuss... (BuzzFeed via Awl)

The Brooklyn-based blog Lost City (which went away for a while last year but then came back), recently made a visit to Providence, which got my attention. Some excellent photos of Federal Hill signage.

Did someone say "more time-lapse video"? Only too happy to oblige: here's footage of a new bridge that connects surface streets in the Bronx and Manhattan being installed last year. (Jalopnik)

The New York Times went behind the scenes at Pixar, not an everyday occurrence.

And finally, my favorite clip of this past week: a music video of the Joy Division song "Transmission" created using Playmobil figures. (The Awl via Entertainment Weekly)

11 February 2011

Keyboard Shortcut

I don't have much to say about tech gear; this may be because I use Macs at home and at work, and they tend to just work without fuss. But recently I noticed that the keyboard I use at home was seeming a little tired. It came with the desktop G4 Mac that I bought in 1998, so it was not exactly a surprise.

I don't care for the keyboards that Apple currently sells; they are too flat, so the keys don't have as much travel and thus have a very poor tactile feel, and I also don't like how the keys are spaced. So I looked around a few online spots and read some reviews, and decided to try a Logitech keyboard.

I don't need to move the keyboard around while I'm using it, so I decided to stick with a USB-corded model. They make a "compact" keyboard that has approximately the same footprint as the Apple keyboard I wanted to replace, which is convenient because the slide-out keyboard shelf on my desk at home has just about enough room for that keyboard and the Apple trackpad I got for my birthday from the Mrs. The compact model is inexpensive, solidly built, and has good key feel—there's a certain springiness to the keys that makes it pleasant to type on.

After I bought it, I happened to see a different model in a store, also a Logitech, with a much sleeker design and illuminated keys. It looked about as flat as one of the Apple keyboards, but the key feel was nothing like the Apple. It felt even better than the one I'd bought, and the keys were also very quiet. It was pretty sharp-looking, and I wanted one, but this one retails for $80 and I could not justify spending that much to replace a keyboard I'd just bought.

But I could justify getting it to use at work. I set up an eBay search for that model and checked it every couple of days. It took several weeks, mainly because the fixed-price auctions were asking too much, but I won an auction for an open-box unit for $30. I've been using it at work for a couple of weeks now, and I highly recommend it.

10 February 2011

Office Shoes

Recently I was having an email conversation with the Proper Bostonian about, among other things, winter boots. She asked me if I kept shoes at work to change into so I didn't have to wear my insulated, waterproof boots (which are somewhat heavy and clunky) all day. I told her I don't, because men, as a rule, can rarely be bothered with such things.

But then I started thinking about it, and I realized it would make so much sense to have shoes at work and be able to change out of my boots. Of course, I could just take off my boots and walk around the office in my socks, but there's something a bit presumptuous about that. In fact, I worked with a guy some years back who would remove his shoes as soon as he arrived at the office every day, and spend the day walking around in his socks. He was a nice enough guy, but still...

So I went down to the basement closet annex and retrieved the blucher mocs I bought from L.L. Bean a couple of months ago. They are decidedly not winter shoes (which is why they were in storage), but they're quite suitable for wearing around the office. So thanks, PB, for the suggestion. It's nice not to feel quite so weighted down all day.

09 February 2011

What Are You Watching This Winter?

In the realm of television, February is a ratings "sweeps" month (although it's difficult to imagine how that archaic metric is going to remain relevant much longer), so the broadcast and cable networks roll out lots of new programming. Here are a few shows that are worth your time (if you aren't watching them already).

If you watched any of the Super Bowl, you saw plenty of promotion for Fox's new police drama The Chicago Code, which premiered Monday night. The show comes from creator Shawn Ryan, who was responsible for The Shield, one of the most viscerally compelling shows of the past decade. So right there, you've got me interested enough to give it my attention. It's being shot on location in Chicago, so it looks authentic. The plot is going to weave weekly cases with an overarching story about fighting corruption in the city's government. (Watch the first episode here, on Hulu.)

Over on Fox's cable cousin FX (where The Shield ran for seven seasons), the second season of Justified arrives tonight. Based on short stories by Elmore Leonard, Justified follows US Marshal Raylan Givens, who has been assigned to the county in Kentucky where he grew up. This is a sly, thoroughly engaging show that at times feels like a modern Western, with humor, action, and indelible characters, and Timothy Olyphant is utterly magnetic in his portrayal of Raylan. (Episodes of Justified are not streamed online, but each episode is repeated several times over the course of the week; check the schedule on the FX web site for information.)

Also on FX, the hilariously raunchy animated spy spoof Archer returned for its second season a couple of weeks back. Sterling Archer is a superspy and a huge asshole to everyone around him, including his boss (who also happens to be his mother) and fellow spy Lana Kane (who also happens to be his ex). The show derives much of its humor from showing us that even spies have to put up with difficult coworkers and workplace shenanigans. (Episodes of Archer don't post for online viewing until 30 days after they have aired on FX; three of last season's episodes are currently available here, and the multiple airings each week are in effect here as well.)

Does your cable or satellite system carry the IFC channel? If so, you may want to flip over there on Fridays at 10 pm (speaking of archaic... don't flip, just set your DVR) for the TV version of web favorite Onion News Network. ONN makes The Daily Show seem like Meet The Press; instead of merely spoofing news and events, the ONN folks just flat-out make shit up, and really funny shit at that.

Paired with ONN on Fridays is Portlandia, a spoof of life in the laid-back Pacific Northwest city, created by and starring Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen and musician Carrie Brownstein. My favorite bits so far have been the woman who freaks out when she finds an unattended dog tied to a post outside a restaurant, and Fred and Carrie playing a couple who employ Aimee Mann as their housekeeper (the conceit is that the music business is so bad these days that even talented people like Ms. Mann have to take menial jobs to survive). (Watch clips from Portlandia here.)

Elsewhere: Parks And Recreation is finally back (Thursdays at 9:30 on NBC), and absolutely crushing it. For me, it's tied with 30 Rock for the funniest show on TV right now. New episodes of Top Gear are airing Mondays at 9 on BBC America, and this is the current season that is still airing in the UK, with a delay of only a week or two—quicker than they've ever made it across the pond. (The Middle East Christmas special that was posted on YouTube for a few days will air this coming Monday, the 14th, at 10:20 pm,) And White Collar is cleverly and stylishly playing out the second half of its second season (Tuesdays at 10 on USA).


When I wrote last week about my job at the e-commerce company, I neglected to mention one curious aspect of our office environment after we were reunited with the rest of the company in the new office space: our cubicles were equipped with sliding doors.

Let that sink in for a moment: sliding doors on cubicles.

The doors had a sort of translucent corrugated plastic insert. I guess the door was supposed to be used as a sort of "do not disturb" indicator, but come on. This was ten years ago, so my memory is not precise, but I seem to remember that the walls of the cubes were between four and a half and five feet high; regardless, they were low enough that most of the people working there could easily look over the top of the wall. Pretty silly.

The one thing I did like about the cubicles, that I have not come across in any other place I've worked, was that the work surfaces had a light, IKEA-ish fake-wood finish, as opposed to the bland beige or gray desktops you see in most places.

08 February 2011


When I got to the bus stop this morning I saw, lying on the sidewalk, a single white flip-flop. Is it possible there's a wormhole in the vicinity, and it accidentally slipped off the foot of a time-traveler?

07 February 2011

Crossed Tracks

Apologies for the absence of TWiA over the weekend. What happened? I'm not really sure. It was going to be a light installment anyway, and I think that made my subconscious make me "forget" to post it.

Yesterday I was actually fairly busy almost from the time I got up; there was a lot to be done around the house, and outside of it as well—I spent about two and a half hours breaking ice and removing it from the front steps, the sidewalk, the driveway, and the walkway around the back of the house. Good exercise, actually, and it was a pretty nice day, but now my wrist hurts, of course.

There was weirdness on the way to work this morning too, though not the usual kind. The commute actually started well; the bus came more or less when it's supposed to, and traffic was normal so we were not delayed. When I got to the platform at Wellington, I started a conversation with a neighbor, and a train came in that was pretty well packed so we both decided to wait for the next one.

A few minutes later, as a train was coming in on the outbound side, the PA announced that it would be heading back into Boston. We looked at each other and said, "Seats!"

When I got to North Station I crossed the platform and waited a couple of minutes for an E train. But somewhere along the way, the E turned into a C, except I was pretty engrossed in my newspaper and so didn't notice this until the train was between Hynes and Kenmore. Rather than take the time to double back to Copley and cross the street to catch an E train, I decided to head upstairs at Kenmore and catch one of the buses that passes through the medical area. I had to wait about five minutes for a bus, but otherwise it worked out well, and I suppose I could consider this an alternate route to get to work if necessary.

04 February 2011

Early Morning Surprises

The dog's been going through one of her phases where she needs to go out during the wee hours. We think she wakes up because she's cold, or hears a truck pass by outside (she's always been particularly sensitive to the sound of diesel engines, which goes back to her days being transported to and from the race track in a truck), and once she's awake she realizes she needs to go. Lucky us.

As I was pulling on some clothes at 5 am, making sure I dressed warmly enough, I could hear a low noise coming from outside, nearby, that sounded like some sort of engine. I figured this is what had awakened her.

When we got outside, I discovered that the source of the noise was a Bobcat shovel, being operated by the negligent neighbor I mentioned last week, to clear his sidewalk. (At 5 am; thanks for that, dude.) It only made me more angry, because HE HAS A FRIGGIN' BOBCAT (or at least has access to one), making it super easy (relative to the rest of us snow-schlepping schlubs) for him to clear the walks.

So what's the excuse for not doing it for the past three weeks? I know the guy hasn't been on vacation or anything, because I've seen him plowing after each storm, as the snow got higher and higher on the sidewalks in front of his house. People are such assholes.

Also, I never got back to sleep after I finished walking the dog. Not a great way to start the day.

03 February 2011

Caffeine Deprived

I ran out of coffee yesterday. We weren't being good New Englanders and didn't make a pre-storm run to the grocery store. So this morning I had a bowl of instant oatmeal, and no coffee, before I left the house.

When I headed outside to the bus stop, I couldn't find my paper. Things have been a little iffy lately regarding the paper delivery, with the weather and all, so I wasn't completely surprised. But it meant that I had nothing to read on the way to work, and no time to go back in the house to get something.

A couple of stops before I needed to get off the train, I realized that I had nodded off for a few seconds. And then I remembered that I hadn't had any coffee yet. What a strange feeling. I have certainly gone into that groggy zone on the way home from work on a few occasions, but never before even arriving at work.

We are now restocked with coffee and other essentials, just in case.

02 February 2011

Frozen Slush

We were told on Tuesday not to go into work today. I think that's the third time this winter. It turned out not to be such a big deal, at least compared to some of the other storms we've had this year. But the forecasts indicated that this one was going to be somewhat unpredictable, due to fluctuating temperatures. The Mrs. got up at 6:30, took the dog out, came back and said it wasn't doing anything outside, and that she was going to work.

I shoveled Tuesday night from the snow that fell that day, because I didn't want it to get trapped under a layer of ice. Today I went outside at around 3:30 pm to assess the situation. The temperature was in the mid-30s for much of the day, but by the time I went out it had dropped back to about 25, so there was an inch or so of frozen slush covering all the areas I'd shoveled clear the night before.

Not only was the slush heavy, but it stuck to the shovel, even the metal one, making for slow going. I was able to clear everything except the sidewalk in front of the house, which had already frozen solid, but was not slippery because the surface was rough from foot traffic. But I bet it will be slick by tomorrow.

I finished clearing the plow-spill from the bottom of the driveway just before the Mrs. arrived home. If we get a decent day soon where it warms up a bit, I can hopefully clear the front walk.

Update: I just took the dog out for last call, and there's a thin frosting of snow on everything; it must have fallen after I came inside. (The forecasts I saw actually predicted the storm would end this way, so give them credit for getting one right.) This may be for the best, as this top layer of snow may provide a little traction tomorrow morning.

01 February 2011

Ten Years After

Today marks the day ten years ago when I was laid off from my job at an e-commerce company. Why would I even bother to remember this? I guess the fact that it happened on the first day of the month makes it somewhat easier to remember without really meaning or trying to. At that point I had been employed there for about two and a half years.

What I mainly remember was that the layoffs (four or five others besides me) came as quite a surprise. We were all under the impression that the company was doing well, and it was, but it was not yet at the point where it was self-sustainable, and after the dot-com bubble burst in the second half of 2000, it was much more difficult for fledgling companies to secure that crucial next round of funding.

Working there was a big deal for me because it was the job that got me out of the hell of retail work where I'd been for the previous decade. There are people who enjoy working in retail and are really good at it, and then there are the rest of us, who ended up there because we couldn't land any other sort of job. In my case it had dragged on way too long, and I was stuck. But my retail employer was one of the first clients of the e-commerce company, and I was chosen to be their point of contact.

I didn't wait long before letting them know, very unambiguously, that I wanted to work for them, and then it happened—they asked me to work for them. I'd never pursued a job that way, and gotten it. At first I worked as a freelancer while I still had the other job, but after a couple of months the other job was eliminated, and a couple of months after that the e-commerce folks offered me a full-time contract position.

I came into things relatively early: the office was still in the basement of the founder's home. When I started I was creating new products in the database and assisting with customer service. But within a few months things were moving along well enough that they needed to hire more people, and in order to do that they had to find a real office. I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do.

Things happened very quickly after that. A year after starting as a contractor, I was hired as a full employee. Later that year we ran out of office space, and my department was sent "offshore" to a temporary space while the company waited for new office space to be completed in a building around the corner. When we finally moved back to the mother ship, we were only there for about three months before the first layoffs happened. The company hung on for one more year before ceasing operations.

I was convinced that I would never again find a comparable job. I now had some relevant experience; I just had to find a situation where it would be useful, and there weren't many of those. After exhausting unemployment, I ended up having to return to retail work, but only for nine months. A placement agency found me a position that seemed like it was made for me. The commute was terrible, but it was a good job, and it paid even better than the other one.

I was at that company for two years. During that time we were sold, and our new owners then merged with another company that ended up being in control and moved our operation to North Carolina. Laid off again, I was forced to return to retail yet again, but this time I was also able to get temporary part-time work through the agency that had placed me at the previous job.

These temp gigs led directly to the job I have today: I was placed here on an indefinite assignment five years ago, which allowed me to quit that final retail job, and seventeen months after that I was hired permanently.

When I look at the ups and downs of my last decade of working life, it almost seems like there was planning and design involved. The truth is that it was far more random, but things do happen for a reason, and I'm certain that had I not been laid off ten years ago, I would not be in this job today. Also, I probably would not have met the Proper Bostonian, who became a good friend.