A New Path

Things are lookin’ up. The fortune cookies said so.

Dinner on a recent evening was takeout Chinese food enjoyed on the foredeck of Further beneath a sterling twilight. That Annapolis had to endure an honest-to-god tornado a day or two earlier—seriously, the damage the twister left behind was really impressive to these genteel East Coast eyes—was a small price to pay…THAT’S how gorgeous an evening it was.

And I hadn’t had American-Chinese food in ages. So as I always do, I ordered WAY too much: a little egg-drop soup to warm up, a few spare ribs, some kung pao chicken and a bucket of pork fried rice. I washed it down with a couple of pilsners and savored Venus low in the west with Jupiter and Saturn rising opposite her in the east, while grooving to the tunes of my favorite washed-up band from the Bay Area. All in all, a sublimely transcendent evening.

Of course, the coup de grace of any takeout-Chinese meal comes at the end with the prophecy of the fortune cookie. And the one perk of having ordered so much damned food (other than leftovers the next day) was the three, count ‘em: three, fortune cookies they gave me. And prophecy they did. You can see in the attached photo what my future holds, according to these sage snacks.

In keeping with what the cookies predicted, I’m here to tell you that yours truly is on a new path. He is, for the first time in, well, quite a while, a full-time W-2 employee.

I’ve joined the Brand Safety Institute and will be helping to build out the organization’s content. Check out the site and you’ll see the BSI has a broad-reaching mission and will be creating content to reflect and inform that mission. We’ll be presenting more and more content on a variety of platforms that informs and helps entities prevent and address the myriad ways bad actors and just plain oversights can have a negative impact those entities’ brands. Stories and information, yes, but also curricula and community will all be vital weapons as the online world seeks to make digital interaction better, safer and more productive.

Post-tornado signs in the Maryland sky point to a bright future.

I’m excited to be back using what I believe are my skills and experience in an effort to help people lead better lives. I did that at Citysearch and I did that at Active. And with so much of today’s life taking place online, if I can contribute to people and organizations making that aspect of each day’s activity better, then I’ll be pleased and proud.

One factor of the position is both exhilarating and daunting: it’s a remote position. Two leaders of the BSI aren’t very far away and live in northern Virginia, over on the other side of D.C. from where I am here in Annapolis. Another team member, and the former colleague and dear friend who connected me with the BSI, is in San Diego. The fourth BSI employee is in Utah. And along with me, the BSI hired a former multimedia journalist and TV news professional who’s in Austin; Victor and I will be doing the content work going forward.

The remote aspect of the position, I must confess, had me very excited when I first started talking to the BSI. My initial thought was: “Great, I can move home to Newburyport and take Further with me.” And that may yet happen. But Annapolis, of course, has plenty of very attractive aspects to it, and I’m enjoying living aboard again (now that the heat and humidity have relented somewhat). I even considered some outliers as potential landing spots, including Florida (I know, I know; but there’s no income tax there), Rhode Island (good surfing, good sailing and I know there’s hockey there) and Norfolk, Virginia (the bay doesn’t freeze there, I’d be 25 minutes from surf in Virginia Beach and two hours from the Outer Banks, and there’s hockey there too).

In the end, though, I realized that I need to focus on the job. I need to kick ass and take names, as the saying goes, and get back into the groove of being the aforementioned full-time W-2 employee. And once I’ve kicked ass and taken names, then I can think about how best to take advantage of the remote aspect of the job.

So with that in mind, I’m weighing the decision between Annapolis and Newburyport.

Naptown is where I am right now and I have a good group of friends here and I’m loving skating with the guys twice a week. I’ll be able to sail all winter if I want and there are plentiful resources for working on Further. And if I exert some effort I can get to the Maryland/Delaware coast for surf periodically, with occasional trips to the Outer Banks which are only six hours away.

Newburyport is home. Newburyport has the ocean on a daily basis. And believe it or not, taxes in Massachusetts are lower than in Maryland (not by much but definitely lower). Sailing season is much shorter there and the resources are much scarcer for getting work done. And one of great joys of my Newburyport life, the Vets Skate in Exeter, N.H., is no more. But again, it’s home and Plum Island and the Atlantic and, well, all of my stuff is in a storage unit in nearby Seabrook, N.H.

So that’s the quandary I’m wrestling with right now after having taken the next step in my life’s journey. I’m stoked about this path’s opportunities and excited to apply myself to perform above and beyond in pursuit of the BSI’s mission. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.