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Thanks to that mentality, I didn’t think very hard about prospective projects. I wanted the sale. Full stop.

I wanted the sale. Full stop.

I ignored red flags and explained away my get-the-fuck-out-of-here gut feelings. I saw another rung on my ladder to success, and I wasn’t going to pass it up.

As a result, I ended up with more than a few projects where I was miserable, doing boring work for companies I wasn’t particularly fond of. 2 I was going for the sale with no consideration of what came afterward.

I went after power in the same way: I angled for management roles, trying to amass as much authority as possible. Because — again — I saw a chase. A challenge.

Except I hate working in management. I like to do stuff; telling a team of people to do stuff and keeping them on task does not make me happy. The politics and scheduling and meetings and reporting makes me crazy, and — most importantly — I’m not actually very good at it. 3

Let me state that again, because I still can’t believe the cognitive dissonance that was happening:

I fucking hate working in management.

My personal life is just as littered with the wreckage of my shitty decision-making as my professional and romantic lives.

In Portland, I spent way too much money on a Dordoni Worktop Table, because I needed the right desk; Demeyere stainless steel pots and pans, because “I’d have them forever”; a Herman-Miller Embody office chair; a custom-made platform bed.

I thought having all this stuff made me a successful grown-up.

In retrospect, I sounded an awful lot like the narrator in Fight Club :

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Narrator, Fight Club

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I was caught up in the chase: I wanted nice stuff to prove I was a successful guy. But I didn’t actually want the stuff I was accumulating.

Both of my parents went to college. My mom dropped out with just a few credits to go before graduation so she could go with my dad to California for his new job. She never ended up finishing; partly because she wasn’t ever really sure what she wanted to be — she changed majors several times — and partly because of me. 5

Between that and my dad’s degree landing him a great job right out of college, it was just a foregone conclusion that I’d go to college, too.

Such a medium was William Haxby, and I feel, in these days of suspected mediumship, I cannot pay a more appropriate tribute to his memory, than by the above letter.

The power of materializations, in private seances, to bridge the movement through the scandal-ridden decades of the 1870s and 1880s, cannot be underestimated. We will not ever know how many "beautiful manifestations" were witnessed in those small gatherings free of "suspicion and its accompaniments," but we can be sure there were many, and not a few of them produced in the presence of William Haxby.
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In May of 1874, the London Spiritualist community was still dealing with the aftermath of the 1872 Hudson spirit-photograph scandal , and Hudson's resulting penury .
Samuel Guppy, Mrs. Guppy's first husband, a Dickensian figure, and the author of (1863) has much invested in Hudson's spirit photographs, and is the most visible cheerleader for Hudson. He's also a wonderful writer, as this bit of correspondence (from the Medium and Daybreak for May 29, 1874) indicates:

All the remittances were enclosed in letters of sympathy, but there was one letter, not a remittance; but a very curious, anonymous letter, in red ink, and as the writer is quite evidently as to all the imputations on Mr. Hudson, and expresses himself in terms of genuine detestation of all frauds, and imputes to me that in assisting Mr. Hudson I am aiding and assisting in what might be a continuation of deceiving the public, I desire to inform that gentleman, and any others who may share his opinions, what I did, and hope that you will spare me room.

Some time ago, calling on Mr. Hudson, I found a lady there for her carte de visite; she knew friends of mine, and she told me that she had been entranced at seances. I sat with her at the small table at Hudson's studio, and she became nearly entranced; I asked her to sit with me for a spirit-photograph, and she did, and a very clearly-defined spirit was on the plate; but when I showed it to friends, I was met by the remark, "Hudson took it, and it is unreliable." So one day I said to Mr. Hudson, "Will you let me use your studio as my own, with any sitter I may bring, not interfering at all[?]" He consented instantly; indeed there was not much to hinder consent, for I never found a sitter there. One day I met Mr. [MD: Charles E.] Williams and Mr. Hudson [MD: see below] coming toward my house, and I said, "Come to Hudson's." There I took a new plate, cleaned it myself with spirits and red powder, and working it all through entirely, Mr. Hudson not doing anything nor entering the dark room, and in that plate is a very clear and beatiful photograph of a spirit-form, and the witnesses are Mr. Williams, Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Hudson, who was in the outer room.

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Ivan Pepelnjak (CCIE#1354 Emeritus), Independent Network Architect at ipSpace.net, has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced internetworking technologies since 1990.

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