A winery, Murphy-Goode, came up with a brilliant public relations coup, offering a six month job as a “lifestyle correspondent” with a grossly inflated salary and luxury home to stay in during the job’s tenure.

Job applicants were to create and submit a 60 second video application. 1,993 video applications were submitted. Applicants could receive “most popular” video votes. The voting undoubtedly artificially boosted the contest website traffic.

Murphy-Goode generated over 300,000,000 hits online and from the media, and the contest is not finished.

I submitted a video, and my friends voted it “most popular” about 1,100 times, making it the 8th most popular video out of the 1,993 videos that were submitted.

I would have been very good for the job. I have a degree in marketing, marketed Sonoma County wines, was born and raised in Sonoma County, have worked in Sonoma County vineyards and Sonoma County wineries, am a really good cook, and enjoy pairing wines with food and friends, know the history of Murphy-Goode, sold wine made from Murphy ranch grapes, have blogged from before the opportunity was announced, am active on all the usual social networking sites and a few online forums. I thought the job was created for me.

With 1,993 candidates, I did not make the first cut to the Top 50. Neither did the person with the most votes.

I am not bitter. Many of my supporters were angry, which I found touching but is unnecessary. My skills are clearly not what the human resource team helping Murphy-Goode valued when the made their cut. My strengths are old school. The people who made it through to the Top 50 had superior video skills. Depth is not as eye catching as flash, and I am not flashy.

I took my shot; I am grateful for the opportunity and more touched by the support I received than I can ever express.

Toward the end of my vote begging, I managed to have my plea included in a blast email from our 30th high school class reunion administrator to hundreds of my fellow classmates. The Piner high school, in Sonoma County, class of 1979 will be holding our reunion early in October, but are engaging in ever larger monthly meet-ups in advance. Thanks to facebook and the blast email, I got to tell the Murphy-Goode job story 20 times at last month’s meet-up.

Even sweeter, a classmate who I have not seen in 30 years, upon reading the blast email, decided to help me get a job. Unaware that I have a job, and not fully appreciating the contest nature of the job I had applied for; my former classmate, who I first met 38 years ago, sent introductory letters on my behalf to a winery owner recommending me for a job in marketing. I am humbled by the kindness that moved my old friend to try to help me achieve what he thought I wanted to achieve.

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I flew with my son Charlie to St. Louis, MO last Wednesday for the Pokemon U.S. National Championship. My son competed in the Senior Division and ended up with an equal number of wins and losses. He would not have minded doing better, but was busy playing almost constantly, and had a great time.

I was also pretty busy, but didn’t manage to play a single game all week. I worked as a judge.

The Pokemon Company, International (TPCI) offered me a paid staff invite for the event; flying me in, paying for my room, picking up most of my food needs, and giving me a small stipend to offset some of my incidental costs. I gratefully accepted, and I was brought out to help judge the Junior division players.

We arrived Wednesday to find we had flown into a heat wave, temperatures near 100 degrees and humidity adding 10 more degrees to the heat index. Instead of spending $40 to travel by cab from the airport to the hotel, we took the Metrolink, a train. My ticket was just $3.75 and Charlie’s ticket as a 12 year old was just $1.85. We both worried that Charlie’s child rate ticket might draw a challenge as Charlie is already high school student sized, but our concerns were unnecessary. The train was a great way to ride into the city.

We rolled our luggage 4 blocks from the downtown train stop, past the America Center where the Pokemon National tournament would be contested to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Select.

Each of the 4 floors with rooms had 8 extra large rooms near the corners. We got one of these larger rooms and were able to host other northern California players on Wednesday night for playtesting as our players made decisions about which decks to play and which card tech changes they wanted in their final 60 card decks for the tournament. I played the only game I played all weekend, not Pokemon, with Susan, the person most responsible for Charlie and me playing Pokemon competitively. I won the game, it involved bug tiles. I don’t remember the game’s name but I am pleased with my undefeated game play record for the weekend.

Thursday was given over to meetings, held at the hotel instead of the convention center because of the heat wave. I had only one meeting from 5:00-6:30 PM for judges to receive our judge’s shirts and all access passes on lanyards. Charlie and the other players took over the lobby, restaurant tables, hallway floors, and every other flat area for Pokemon game play. Everywhere you looked on the first 2 floors you saw game play.

Charlie was playing a new deck, the list was provided by one of the best Master division players in our region (thank you Chris!). Through game play that continued until midnight, Charlie came to know his deck inside and out, played it with confidence, and developed a better knowledge of the other decks he would see over the weekend.

On Friday, we were up early and shared breakfast in a nearby deli we found. We used a computer and printer in the deli to create and print Charlie’s final deck list for pre-registration later that evening.

I went into the hall and Charlie lined up outside in the hallway. Friday was being given over to the Professor’s cup, a fun tournament for people like myself who give back to the game more than they play. To play, you needed to earn 75 points judging in tournaments or running league play. I live a couple of hours from league, and only accumulated 50 points judging tournaments, sometimes traveling 6 hours round trip to judge; so I had volunteered to work side events on Friday for all of the non professors who were in town the day before the actual National championship.

On Friday, I head judged the largest tournament I have ever worked. Our Master division alone had 140 players. Junior and Senior division boosted the tourney to well over 200 players. I had a staff of judges and runners to work with who were great. All my calls were easy, and my judging was much more lenient than it would be the next day. I used the tourney as an opportunity to educate players on some new procedures, and a good time was had by all.

We did have to take a break during Friday’s side event modified tourney to allow players to take part in the pre-registration efforts.

In order to make things run more smoothly on Saturday morning, it was decided to pre-register players on Friday from 4-8 PM. I joined the rest of the staff and worked for about 90 minutes before resuming the modified tournament play. We finished the tournament and pre-registration at about the same time. The hall erupted into huge cheers as the announcement that this year’s U.S. National championship would be the biggest Pokemon tournament anywhere ever.

On Saturday, I was back in the hall at 6:15 AM to help with finishing touches before the doors opened at 8 AM to the sea of players.

The tournament had 1,200 people compete in three age divisions for fun, prizes, scholarships, and invites to the World championship.

We ran 7 forty minute rounds of swiss pairing in the Junior division, made a top 64 cut and played one best 2 out of 3 forty five match to find our top 32 players who would move on to Sunday’s play.

The Junior division is my favorite age division, the younger players are often playing for fun and their joy is infectious. The downside of working with the Juniors is that they are prone to tears when a mistake they make requires a penalty be assessed or when they lose a game. Over half of the players in the Top 64 who did not continue on to Sunday’s Top 32 left the floor in tears.

The Junior division judges checked all 32 top cut decks after Saturday’s play, then moved on to help do deck checks on the Senior player’s decks, then started moving tables and chairs for Sunday’s play.

I left the America Center past midnight after over 18 hours worked.

On Sunday, I was back before 8 AM to finish preparations for the Junior Top 32. Our Head Judge told me that he was going to have to send some judges to side events after the Top 32 round. I am a big volunteer-er; I told him that I came from side events on Friday, I know people would want to stay in the “premier” tourney, and told him to feel free to send me over to sides.

Juniors are the best division and were set up and ready for play before either of the other two age divisions. The two matches I watched were both well played. One match was decided in large part by the two decks played, one was “weak” to the other and the disadvantage was insurmountable. The other match was determined more by fortune; which card was at the top of the deck to be drawn, a roll of heads vs. tails, two more evenly matched decks led to a very even round.

Pokemon, even with the biggest tournament ever, can always grow larger, and a professional photographer was present to capture images that may be used in future marketing efforts. The biggest “oops” for me over the weekend is that the photographer was rudely intrusive and put himself into one of my Top 32 matches moving one player, breaking concentration, interrupting flow, putting a game’s fairness in jeopardy. I sent a note to the Gods of Pokemon asking that they train up their photographers not to be quite so pushy in a match.

I was asked to go back to side events, where I was again tapped to head judge a $25 sealed event tournament for over 50 players. Everyone ended up with $32 in swag for their entry fee, while winners ending up with $104 in swag. All Juniors got between $50-$110 for playing. I had another great staff of judges and runners, Pokemon was incredibly generous with their prize support. Everyone had a great time.

Shortly after my side tourney ended, everything ended. The staff cleared the hall, and broke down all of the tables and chairs, the carpet was rolled up and the hall was cavernous and sad in its’ emptiness.

The Pokemon Gods had arranged our names in a lottery picked order, and staff was allowed in order to choose banners and signs used in past promotional efforts (I got a pretty cool Torterra banner, no idea what to do with it), then we were marched through the product room to get a generous swag bag and extra Staff shirt.

On Sunday night, Charlie went to dinner with the other northern California players, and I went to a staff dinner hosted by the Pokemon Gods.

While not falling down drunk, I did consume 7 drinks in 5 hours, and smoked my first cigarettes of the year. I smoked three.

I got back to my room shortly after midnight, my son was asleep and nothing was packed. I packed everything for both of us, leaving out one comfortable flight worthy set of clothes for each, and laid down to sleep at 1 AM.

My clock alarms went off simultaneously at 3:45 AM, Charlie and I both showered, dressed, and left our room to catch our 4:30 AM cab to the airport. We found Chris in the lobby, he was kicked out of his room before 3 AM for the noise 30 players in his room made. Chris rode with us to the airport and we paid his part of the ride as some small measure of thanks for all the help he had given Charlie and me over the years.

Charlie complained that his sleep had been interrupted by my snoring (a cause and effect result of me getting drunk) and my alcohol fume breath expulsions. My moderate hangover, and feeling of unease on the first flight as our altitude increased the remaining alcohol in my bloodstream’s effects, were punishment enough.

Overall, we had a great vacation together. We didn’t spend as much time together as I would like; but Charlie reveled in his freedom to play with his friends, old and new, in an environment where it was safe to do so. Charlie was a good boy who earned the trust he was shown.

I had a great time. I loved working during the tournament. I am not part of the invited staff for the World championship in August; but Charlie and I will both be going, and I have already let the Pokemon Gods know that they can ask me for any help anytime, I don’t need a shirt or lab coat, a title or compensation. I am always happy to give back a little to the game that has given so much enjoyment to Charlie and me.