Saturday, December 26, 2009
I'm going away for a few days and debated whether I should take my laptop with me. I decided it was ridiculous and vaguely insulting to my holiday hosts (although, one of them is always logged in so he probably wouldn't care).
And yet, I'm having a hard time leaving it home. I can check a lot of things on my iPhone, as long as I have wireless access. But, I've become so used to having the laptop there...to write things on the blog, to watch movies or TV shows that I missed. It's become better than having a stuffed animal :-)
Now, a netbook...one of those small, lowcost little computers has suddenly become interesting. They're much smaller and lighter than a regular laptop. And, sufficient to do what I might want while traveling...just a way to access the Internet, email, and other similar stuff.
I think there's a business there...renting out netbooks for travelers. I would have rented one, I think.
Goodbye blog...I'll stop in again on the 31st when I'm back home again.
For anyone who might be reading...Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
And yet, doing some things online are a partial solution for my chronic procrastination. The other night, I did all of my annual charitable contributions online. Writing checks is so tedious that I just put it off...for months. I pay most of my bills online, which means I pay them on time. For all my accounts that have a set, monthly payment, I've set them up to be paid automatically. Now that I have the option of being able to deposit checks from my home PC (yes! deposit from home!), I might actually get my checks deposited in a more timely fashion.
I just set up an appointment for my car to get an oil change -- online. Took way less time than calling, getting transferred to the Service department, and then setting a time. I've never tried this before, so, I'm curious to see how well it will work. Will I get my preferred time? I hope so.
I often buy gifts online, although rarely do I buy physical books online (I do love going to a bookstore and buying the books!). I expect I'll purchase another ebook reader in the future (I had one years ago and loved it), so I'll eventually be buying my ebooks online.
All of this, of course, just enhances my underlying fear of losing power. :-) I want a solar power system so I never have to worry about such a horror :-) :-)
Monday, December 21, 2009
I like this idea and I've been trying to come up with a word to use as my guide for the upcoming year. Some words that I'm mulling over:
Explore - perhaps this is the year when I step out of my comfort zone to explore new things, new places, new people.
Expand - Broaden my horizons? Take bigger risks?
Release/Let Go - Get rid of old baggage, maybe. Or old habits that aren't useful anymore.
Action - enough with my chronic procrastination. Take action when it's needed instead of putting things off, over and over again.
I think it would be an interesting experiment -- can one word be enough to influence one's point of view in the future?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
And then, there are a few others. All struggling with life issues. In those situations, though, they are making use of counselors and therapists. So, while they're struggling, they seem to be on an upward path. I don't worry so much about them.
As for me, I'm feeling less anxious and a bit more at peace with myself than I have in a while. I've spent a lot of time working through some personal issues and while I have a long way to go, at the very least, I'm a bit more clear regarding what is acceptable in my life and what is not. I'm setting better rules for myself and learning to live by them. Knowing that I'm making personal progress leaves me feeling just a tad less anxious today.
Monday, December 14, 2009
For example, at the company I work at now, the marketing manager remembers me from the early 90s. I have ABSOLUTELY no memory of him, but he not only remembered me, but he talks about a whole bunch of people I used to work with -- ok, so he still keeps in touch with some of them, so it's easier for him. I recall the names he throws out, but I really don't recall what they look like or what project we worked on together.
Today, someone (again from early work days) "friended" me on Facebook. I recalled the name immediately, but I have ABSOLUTELY no recall of any interactions with him. Apparently, he recalls me fondly, addressing me by a nickname that only people who know me use. It was nice to get such a friendly message. At the same time, I feel a bit foolish. I looked at this person's picture and I didn't recognize him. At least the name is familiar. But only the name, nothing else.
I must walk through this world in a fog. I've sort of accepted the embarrassing moments . You know, when someone who obviously remembers me starts talking to me and I have to look sheepish and ask them to tell me how I know them. But, some days, I wish I had eidetic memory.
Or do I? Now that I think about it, there are definitely things (and people!) that I don't need to recall. So, I suppose what I really want is selective, eidetic memory.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Even at such a simple event, there were hidden agendas and politics. The folks from the garden club went on and on about their own personal achievements -- nothing whatsoever to do with why they want a community garden. And, of course, they advertised the garden club. The retired teachers talked about the need for education and solving world hunger (people must learn to feed themselves, insisted one well-meaning altruist).
Then there was the long discussion about PR and Marketing the gardens to serve as some sort of example to the town.
Finally, wiser heads prevailed and we ended up back to the discussion of having a garden so people could grow their own stuff and do it as part of a small community of people with a similar interest. Whew! Because, that's all I'm looking for -- a place to enjoy growing stuff because I don't have my own land.
After the meeting, the very nice gentleman from the Landscape Trust chatted with me a bit and I was pleased to hear that he totally got where I was coming from and he agreed that the community garden really should be something geared towards those who don't have space.
I think it will be quite interesting to see how this progresses. It's very admirable that people are willing to volunteer to get this project going. At the same time, it's quite fascinating to try to figure out what's motivating these people to work on this project. I have a sneaking suspicion it's not because they want a garden.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I was driving home from a friend's house last night. The snow was coming down gently, not so much to make the road slippery, but enough to cling to the grass, the trees, and the bushes like vanilla icing. The Christmas lights glowed through a translucent coating of new, white snow.
It was a magical moment. The sounds of the night were muffled, the falling snow contrasted with the darkness of sky. When I reached home and got out of the car, the air felt clean, clear, and sharp as I breathed it in. I love moments like that.
Today, the temperature is up, the sun is out, and the snow is changing back into water.
More snow on tap for this week after today's melt down. I'm looking forward to it.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It happens in real life.
My bead making instructor has had her own studio for 8 years. Last year, she expanded her studio to accommodate those of us who needed a place to do our work when New Street Glass studio shut down. Which meant adding additional propane tanks and oxygen concentrators for the torches. Being the safety-minded and law-abiding citizen that she is, she made sure she contacted the fire department to get the permits and such that she's supposed to have, to be in compliance with the city laws.
And doing the right thing has led to multiple headaches for her. After several attempts over the last year to get the fire department to have them do an inspection (which they ignored over and over again), an inspector finally gets in touch with her. And proceeds to lambaste her for having equipment that they claim she's not supposed to have. (despite the fact that an fire department officer told her at an earlier time that it was OK to do what she was doing). Finally, this week, the inspection is supposed to happen and my instructor is a bit concerned that they will shut her down, based on the inspector's harsh treatment of her (he clearly doesn't understand what a glass studio is all about and that she has all of the correct safety measures in place).
If she hadn't gone ahead and tried so hard to get the fire department to come out and do the inspection, she wouldn't be at risk of being shut down. Of course, she's an honest person and there was no question that she would do her best to get the correct permits and approvals. But, I think a part of her wonders if it was worth the effort.
Honest people should get better treatment. It's so easy to NOT do the right thing and benefit from it. People brag about how they get around our tax laws or buy things from NH to avoid sales tax. Or how they got away with something that wasn't totally on the up-and-up. I'm not immune from this behavior, myself. (what is it about humans...we all try to find a way to cheat "the system" at some point).
I'm hoping the inspection goes well and I can continue to do my glass work at her studio. If she does have to shut down, I think I can return to my original studio and rent time there, as it's back in operation. But it wouldn't be the same without my instructor being there.
Let's all keep honest people in our thoughts today and wish them better rewards.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Almost like haiku ...short and to the point... I like it.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS
by Portia Nelson
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wish I was more extroverted and felt comfortable with that. I have no problem with taking day trips on my own. Or business trips, for that matter (although, I'm no longer in a job that presents such an opportunity). But, I get stuck on the idea of what do you do for dinner and evening entertainment? And how do you not feel lonely, with no one to share your experiences or thoughts?
It's limiting. I had great plans to travel to Prague on my December vacation. But, first one person bailed and the next person ended up injured during a recent hike. So, no traveling partner. I'm tempted to book a flight, find a hotel, and just go. But, I'm quite intimidated at the idea of traveling alone to a foreign country where they are unlikely to speak a lot of English. Actually, I'm quite intimidated about traveling alone to any foreign country where I don't know any one.
And yet, I want to be SOMEWHERE else during that last week in December. It's late to start making plans with other people...that last week in December gets filled with all sorts of plans for most people. But, now that I think the Prague adventure is finally decided as a "no go" for this year, I can start contacting people on the off chance that one them has a free enough schedule to entertain an unexpected guest.
And, I'd like to come up with some ways of getting myself acclimated to solo travel. So many places that I want to go. It would be a shame if I end up not going simply because I don't have a traveling partner.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I was hoping to go to Prague this year but it looks like the plans have fallen through. I need a new plan. It's been a couple of years since I've taken an overseas trip and I really feel the need to get away. I want to go someplace interesting, someplace completely different. I only have a few weeks to get some type of last-minute trip planned. Some options include: trip to California to visit cousins, or a trip to Sante Fe to visit an old friend. Or maybe, a trip to the UK where I know a couple of people. The possible glitch with both of these ideas is that the people involved are very likely, by now, to have plans (hey, it's a popular week for parties and such -- people make plans).
So, I need to make the vacation planning a priority. I'll be quite disappointed with myself if I end up spending the entire week at home.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It's all too easy to focus on what we don't have and easy to forget what we do have. Thanksgiving is a good moment to think about the good stuff. Here's my Giving Thanks list for this year:
- I'm thankful for my current job. It's taken a few months, but I'm now starting to feel like I have a clue. I'm getting over the feeling of being new and stupid and moving into a place of knowledge. From a technical learning standpoint -- this week was a very good one. Now that I'm feeling a bit more secure from a knowledge point of view, I can move on to the interpersonal part of the experience.
- I'm thankful for all the people who were very supportive when I went through some tough times at the beginning of the year. Although I am no longer in touch with some of these people, I appreciate that they were there when I needed them. Some of us have moved on, but the memories are comforting.
- I'm thankful for the glass studio that I can go to for artistic endeavors. OK, I don't consider myself an artist...it's a hobby. But, during the tough times, spending time at the glass studio was a form of salvation. Although there are times when I get frustrated at my lack of progress, when I have a good night there (like this week), I smile about it for the rest of the week.
- I'm thankful that, even though I won't be with family this year, several people invited me to join in their gatherings. Nice to know that people care enough to be concerned about where I would be on this day.
- I'm thankful that, at the moment, I'm financially secure. My heart goes out to family members who are struggling with unemployment and the fear of running out of funds. I've been there and know how horrible that feels. I've been more conscious of my own spending and trying hard to be less wasteful.
- I'm thankful that I still have a few, loyal readers for this blog :-) You know who you are. Thank you. It's nice to know that my words are not just echoing in the great Interweb abyss.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Monday, November 23, 2009
From there, the product manager took the idea, expanded it, and now, we're having a LEGO building contest at work. Woo Hoo!
It takes an entire office to build a LEGO village...
I like LEGOs although I never had a set of my own or built anything of significance with them. But, I'm really psyched about this event. I've found a few castle gatehouse plans. I'm not sure I'll have enough bricks (we're each getting 300 bricks but we can purchase our own additions), but I'm hoping I can make it work.
The winner gets to select a charity and the company will donate $25.oo for each completed building in the village. So, it's all for a good cause. I think it will be fun and I'm hoping a lot of the people at work get into the act.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My parents moved to Florida 17 years ago. For some strange reason, when they first migrated south, we stopped having family gatherings for Thanksgiving. I have no idea why. There is a weird thing where my parents don't like to ask me to come down. They have a curious idea that if I came to visit in response to a request from them and something happened, they would feel responsible. So they never ask me, outright, to come for a visit. They hint, they ask "when are you coming to visit" but they never ask me to come down at a specific time. So, maybe that's why they didn't ask me to come down for Thanksgiving those first few years after they flew South.
After a couple of years of NOT being with family and hating it, I initiated my annual Thanksgiving visit. Ever since then, we've had a nice family gathering, with my sister, my aunt (while she was still alive) and my cousins. Due to mom's health issues, we stopped having a cooked dinner at home and found a restaurant that we go to every year. It became a regular tradition for us.
This year, we had our family gathering two weeks before Thanksgiving. It was a great gathering, in honor of Mom's birthday. But, it was just two weeks before Thanksgiving and I decided to not make a second trip down. At the time, it just seemed to be a hard thing to do...come home, unpack, repack, and travel back down. I told Dad, when the birthday party was first planned, that I would come down for that and not Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, I accepted a friend's invitation to join her Thanksgiving dinner (surprisingly enough, I had 4 different invitations --- kind of nice. I accepted the first one that came along). While, I'm happy that I don't have to spend the day on my own, I'm starting to regret my decision to not spend it with my parents. Dad seems quite sad about not having our usual gathering. I'm starting to wonder if I should cancel my plans for the T-Day weekend and get a last-minute flight down.
My concern....my parents are up there in years. What if this could be the last Thanksgiving and I'm not there? My sister will be there (she lives near them) so they won't be alone. And yet, I wonder...am I making a mistake by staying home this year?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Lately, I've been staying away from Facebook. I just don't get much out of it. I'm more or less bored with it. In fact, I think I prefer to use Facebook as a way of keeping up with family who are not local rather than people in my local area. (really, why use Facebook for local people when I can call, email, or text? Or Tweet, for that matter).
Periodically, I get a message that tells me that I have to reply to a text message to keep the feature alive. Today, I thought I received such a message, and typed Reply, as instructed. Turns out, it was a way to get me to update my status (which I hadn't done in quite a long time). And, of all the things I've posted as my status, the one word "Reply" received more responses than my more intelligent posts.
Really...what does that say about the people I know? Or, the types of things that I post? Or the way people react to me? A cryptic, meaningless word was more intriguing than a real sentence of substance. I just don't know what to think.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
On the plus side, I've discovered that Trader Joe's has soups that I just adore. What surprises me is that I find I can eat the same lunch, over and over again, and so far, it's not boring. Typical lunch is now: soup with melted cheese, bread and butter, and a piece of fruit. Soup is either creamy tomato or sweet potato bisque. I seem to have no problem eating this day after day after day. I look forward to it, in fact.
I do wish TJs had other soups that worked as well. The other types either have ingredients that I don't like (bell peppers, to be exact) or the sodium count is just way, way too high.
Cooking my own food is the real answer, isn't it? I'm toying with the idea of setting aside Sunday afternoons for cooking lunch-type things for the week. Best intentions, though...we'll see if I can really be disciplined enough to make that happen. It's certainly a lot less expensive than buying the food at some lunch place. And I find that most of the food at these places just doesn't appeal to me anymore.
And yet...I can eat the same soups over and over again. Odd.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I misplace my office badge all the time. But I always seem to find it in time to leave for work. It's been decades since I lost a badge, so it's nice to know I can still hold onto one (well, except for the time, I accidentally flushed the new one down the toilet. :-) So embarrassing!)
And then there was the time I couldn't find my glasses (again at a restaurant) and I didn't have my backup pair of glasses with me (and I can't read a thing without them). Turned out, they had fallen on the floor and I saw them before we left. Whew again.
But then, there are the things that seem to disappear into another dimension. Lost an earring some months back. Expensive earring. But I have no idea where it was lost. Lost a watch the other day. I knew it had a bad clasp, but previously, I always noticed when it fell off. Again, I have no idea where it was lost.
On and off, during the last few months, I've been looking for my passport. I had taken it out when I was working at my last job for some citizen verification thing we had to do. And then, I didn't put it back in it's usual place. I *know* it's in the house, but I've looked and looked. Can't find it, so now I have to spend way more than I like to get a new one. For 20 years, I didn't loose my passport. All of a sudden, it's gone into some mysterious place that I can't locate.
I can't find my iPod. I used it to listen to a collection of podcasts that I had. Then, I put it away. In a safe place. That's so safe, I can't find it. I suppose I could use my phone as an iPod...plenty of storage there. Or, I'll buy a new one.
I've become a lot better at putting important things back in places that are ingrained in my mind. It will be interesting when I finally move. I wonder if I'll finally discover all those "safe places" that are hiding all my lost items. Sigh...
Actually, I wish I could put an RFID chip into all my prized possessions so that I can always track them. In the long run, it would save me the money I have to spend replacing lost things.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I hate the Security questions/answers. Nine times out of ten, I forget what question I selected (or created). Even if I do remember the question, sometimes, I try to be clever and not provide an obvious answer. And I forget that as well.
I tried to log into a work website today and had to reset my password (yes, because I forgot it). I had to pick my security question. I sat there for 10 minutes, just staring at the question. I had absolutely no conscious memory of which question I had chosen, originally. Finally, I made wild guess. Oddly enough, I guess correctly. Or, the authentication doesn't really work and anything would have worked.
I so wish the age of username/password/security question would evolve into something else. I just cannot remember all the different usernames, passwords, questions, blah, blah, blah. I either have to write them down (which is a security issue in itself), or use variations of the same username/passwords -- again, not very secure. Biometrics, please? Or something else, please? Surely,with all the advances in technology, we can move beyond username/password/questions which are decades old.
It's just like me putting something away in a "safe" place. Nine times out of ten, I don't recall where that safe place exists and either I never find the object again, or it turns up way later than when I needed it.
Maybe I just need a personal assistant to take care of these details. Heavens knows, I am not managing well on my own.
Apparently, moths or something have attacked the closet where my wool sweaters live. For the second time in as many weeks, I arrived at work only to discover that my wool sweater has a large hole in the right sleeve.
Only the right sleeve. Does the right sleeve taste better than the left? Or, does the right sleeve wear out faster (I AM right handed) and thus become an easier location for rip?
The last I recall, the sweaters where intact when I stopped wearing them earlier on in the year. So, I'm guessing moths. Or maybe, I just didn't notice the large, gaping holes when the sweaters were off on their summer vacation.
Bleah. One of the sweaters is my very, very favorite one. 100% wool, closely woven. Maybe I should get some nice leather patches and put one on each elbow. (does any one actually wear sweaters that way?)
I do hope no one is noticing that I'm coming to work with ripped clothes. And now I have to go shopping for replacements. Finding 100% wool sweaters is hard work, these days.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
So, when you're at that middle point, when you've decided what (and who) needs to be left behind, but haven't decided what to bring in to your life, what do you do?
You wait and observe. You observe your own behavior. You observe what brings joy and what does not. You set standards f0r yourself. You back away from people who are not meeting your standards. You start to live according to your standards. Water seeks its own level; who you are is who you attract.
You learn to become comfortable with who you are, not who you were. You start to make plans about who you want to become, where you want to go. You ask questions, you seek answers. You learn to be patient.
But it takes time. Perhaps a lifetime. Perhaps all the questions never get answered. It's OK. Being willing to take the journey; being willing to step away from what might be comfortable but not right, is worthwhile.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
You would think this is common knowledge in the medical profession. Yet, no matter how many times I try to get nurses and doctors to hand me a written script or send it to me in snail-mail, they always ask me for the number of the pharmacy so they can call it in.
I spoke to a nurse about a new prescription last week. She asked for a pharmacy number. I requested that she mail it to me so I can send it to my mail order program. They called me several days later and asked me for the number of the pharamcy so they can call it in. I started to explain that I wanted to use my mail order program and then, suddenly, gave up. WTH, it's easier to just let them do it their way. Because, they just don't seem to have any idea that there's such a thing a mail-order and that the insurance companies want us to go that route.
Of course, now I have to get in touch with the mail order program and get them to transfer the prescription to them. And, of course, THEY will again request a written script, which I just couldn't get.
If the medical profession would just get a clue about how what they do cost the average person extra money, maybe we wouldn't have such high insurance costs.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
At the beginning of the week, I stopped by the QA Manager's office and talked to him about making sure the documentation was added to the test schedule. The QA Manager is a very nice guy so I knew he would make sure it happened.
Apparently, he's not only nice, but efficient :-) He gave his team a mandate that they had to review the existing content by the end of this week and the QA team has been busy writing bugs. I haven't looked at them yet, but I suspect they are very thorough.
I'll be busy fixing stuff now, which is good. But, I wouldn't be surprised if I have a lot of fixing to do -- so easy to miss things after looking at the same content a gazillion times.
So, I'm glad that the content is being reviewed...not looking forward to sorting through all the bugs, though. Two sides to every coin, eh?
Monday, October 12, 2009
But I did learn a few things about avoiding victim mentality (making excuses, instead of taking responsibility for ones actions) and about trust.
For trust to exist, each party in the relationship has to be willing to make themselves vulnerable by sharing something personal. One person has to take that risk first, and in many cases, the other person will recognize this and reciprocate. Thus, is trusting relationship born.
Last night, someone reached out to me and asked for my support. I was honored, indeed. This person is someone I recently met. She's a cool person and we've been friendly, yet not close friends (I haven't known her all that long). She's having some issues and needed to let her support system know that she was in need. And, she asked me to be part of that support system.
I recognize the courage and risk she took by reaching out to someone who she doesn't know very well. She is willing trust me with something that's so very personal. I admire and value that type of courage. And I have some understanding of what she's going through. And knowing that she is willing to trust me leads me to believe that I can trust her and let her be part of my own support system.
While I feel sad that this friend is struggling (and yes, I feel that I can call her "friend" now), there's also a sense of warmth that this person feels that I am worthy of her trust. A key goal for me is to BE a trustworthy person so I can build close connections with only trustworthy people.
Without trust, our relationships have so little meaning.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Which led to me not sleeping well at all. I tossed and turned and just felt horrid most of the night.
Tummy pains are just about gone now, but I'm totally exhausted. And yet, here I am at work, thinking that today will be an extremely long day.
I get it, dear digestive system. More fruits, veggies, and fiber. I promise to pay attention from now on!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I'm happy with my current job. I hope it lasts a long time. But, hearing about good colleagues who are now going through the same shock and sense of dislocation that I went through 6 months ago has brought it all back. A reminder for me to not take my current situation for granted and to not forget lessons learned (be more frugal, please!).
I was so lucky that I found work so soon after becoming unemployed. Was it a fluke? Maybe. If it happens again, I have to be prepared. I've been trying to figure out what type of education I should be pursuing in case I'm out in the cold again. Suddenly, I feel an urgency to get serious about this and make a real plan, just in case. The odds of getting lucky again, like I was this year, are not in my favor. The economy is still bad, unemployment is still high.
I did a few smart things in the new job. I picked a new tool, which is very popular in the workplace, so it's another asset on my resume. I'm learning new technology in a very hot area. But, tonight, I'm feeling a little shaken. Feeling like I need to not become complacent again about being employed. I'm hopeful that I can hold onto my current job for awhile, but I need to stay vigilant and engaged with creating Plan B (and Plan C, and maybe Plan D).
Sunday, October 4, 2009
But, I've yet to find my "inner artist." My work in the arts is typically without focus. I sit down and do stuff. Most of the really nice pieces that I produce are accidental...without any real intention. I have no particular style.
This lack of focus and style is why I don't call myself an artist. An artist has a style, an artist has a direction, the work with Intention. I just seem to mess around without any real inspiration. I keep trying new things, thinking that I'll find my Muse, my Special Talent. So far, I'm enjoying my hobbies very much.
I do wish that I had an artist's brain. I've tried to explain this to people and they just tell me I'm being too hard on myself (the "being too hard on myself" comments that I hear have become a new pet peeve...a topic for a different post). How do I explain the feeling, as I sit in the glass studio, wondering what to do next, desperately searching my mind for some creative idea? And coming up with static. The artists that I've met don't have a lot of static in their brain.
I think about writing and come up with titles and vague story lines. But, that's as far as it goes. I'm thinking of joining a writing group, in the hopes that, with support, I can put some focus into these vague ideas.
I love creating things, but I never become an expert at any of my endeavors. Am I a dilettante in all things or just not found my true calling?
Friday, October 2, 2009
Many years ago, when I was in my apartment rental phase, I had an apartment where the landlord controlled the heat. The heat was turned on October 15th and shut off on April 15th. If you were cold or hot at any other time of the year...tough luck. You put on a sweater or opened the windows. Now, this was quite a long time ago, before there was any real awareness about energy use, so if the heat was blasting and you had to have the windows wide open, no big deal.
To this day, I follow the tradition. I do my very best to wait until October 15th rolls around to turn on the heat. Which is incredibly ridiculous as I can control my heat, all by myself. But, still, I wrap myself in sweaters, and keep checking the internal temperature. Because, even with this odd clinging to an old tradition, if the temperature drops low enough, I'll give in and flip the switch. And if this happens before October 15th, I feel a slight twinge of disappointment. And the same thing happens on the other end of the year. If I feel compelled to keep the heat on after April 15th (and in New England, April can be a very chilly month), I feel that I've fallen short on my goal of keeping my heating dates.
The really amusing thing about this is that I don't even recall which apartment had this rule and there are no particularly fond memories that I carry with me about the place. And yet, it's as if some golden rule was written in my head regarding heat. And when I break the rule, I feel ever so slightly like a rebel. :-)
Maybe this year, I'll break the tradition for good and pick a new criteria for the heat switch on. Just to be different. Just to be a rebel.
It really doesn't take much for me to amuse myself...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
And what fun it is! The book is absolutely charming and very well written. A pleasure to read.
Today, we had our first editorial review of the initial, three chapters. I had some ideas about enhancing some scenes, some ideas about adding depth to some of the characters, and was able to point out some areas where some odd anomalies had crept in. The author was very gracious about hearing my thoughts and seemed to like the suggestions I gave very much.
I've never edited fiction before so I wasn't sure how to go about it. But, once I started reading, I could draw upon the gazillion stories that I've read. And it worked. I felt that I had been able to contribute in a positive way. It would be so much joy to see my colleague have her book published and know that I had a small part to play in its success.
Editing this book has made me think about doing some of my own writing -- something that I haven't done in many years. A friend of mine has a writing group ...a small group of authors of all types that get together for critique, ideas, support. I have some ideas about essays that I might want to try to write and am thinking about joining the group. I've always been way too self-conscious to do something like this...which is odd considering that as a tech writer, my work is critiqued on a regular basis. Then again, personal writing is so much more...well...personal. It's an extension of one's soul, it's the message that you want to share with the world.
Maybe I've just reached the point where I no longer take others' opinions of me or my work personally. Maybe I've gained enough self-confidence or sense of self-worth that the thought of listening to critique of something personal like writing is not as scary as it once was.
I like that I am starting to have some ideas about writing...even if I never go through with it, I'm content enough to think that if I do, I'd be quite OK with having it read.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
According to the blog entry, professional bluffers are people who know "...their stuff but didn’t practice it—inspiring marriage counselors in broken relationships, empowerment evangelists who never would accept contrarian ideas..."
I know people like this. They wax eloquently and long on topics such as how to live a more enlightened life and yet, rarely do what they're preaching. I like the phrase, "professional bluffer", much nice than "hypocrite", eh?
I took this thought inwards and realized that sometimes, I'm a professional bluffer (sigh). For example, I always tell people that saying no to people at work selling stuff is simple. Just say no (politely, of course). I even have the arrogance to think that I adhere to that principle very closely.
Bzzzzzt! Not true, oh greendragon.
Earlier this week, a co-worker gave me some cosmetic samples to try (yes, I knew she sold them, no, I never asked to try them). So, I tried them. Feeling that the polite thing to do was to let her know I did try them and that I thought they were nice (I did, but I didn't ask to buy anything). Next thing I know, I'm accepting an invitation to lunch so she can show me the whole line of products, blah, blah blah. And, of course, I'll purchase something (the products really are nice...but I suspect they'll be expensive).
I've rationalized this as part of the need to start bonding with my new co-workers -- something I haven't put a lot of effort into yet. But, the truth is, I just felt I couldn't say no.
There you go...a professional bluffer. A person who talks about how saying No is not terribly difficult. And yet, I ignored my own rules in this case. I need to keep an eye on this to make sure I stick ot my principles. Otherwise, who knows how much junk I might end up buying!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I left work at the usual time on Friday. The weather had cooled off significantly so I ended up stopping at home to grab some warmer clothes. This meant I got on the highway later than I had originally planned.
Now, Williamsburg is about a half hour north of Northampton. More or less, in the middle of nowhere. By the time I arrived, it was dark. Once I turned off the main road onto the lane that took me to Snow Farm, it was PITCH black. I mean, really, really dark! I crept up the gravel lane, going about 2 miles an hour, looking for something, anything, that would tell me where to go. Eventually, I ended up next to a building that had several cars parked behind it (turned out, I parked right behind the dorm building where I was staying...lucky coincidence!).
So, I parked and started walking around. In the dark. In the darkest of darks. I wandered around a bit and finally came across people with flashlights (which I never thought to bring with me). Another lucky coincidence -- I found my colleagues from the glass studio! They were kind enough to share their rum and cokes with me :-) The weekend had begun!
My glass buddies had a list of room assignments and with their help, I found my room and unloaded the car. For some reason, I didn't receive the email that told me what I was supposed to bring (thus, the reason I didn't end up bringing a flashlight), but I managed to bring the right things anyway...sleeping bag, towel, pillow, blanket...everything I needed to be comfy.
Sleeping accommodations at Snow Farm are comfortable, but rustic. Each room opens into an open corridor...roofed, but essentially out in the open. Each building has a shared bathroom. Yes, it's a coed facility, but there was a sign to let others know which gender was in residence. It seemed to work out well. But perhaps that's because most of the attendees were women ;-). Once I turned on the space heater (it was a dark and chilly night!), the room felt quite cozy and I settled in for the night.
Breakfast was served promptly at 8:00 (Two types of pancakes, sausage, yogurt and fruit, juice, coffee and more. Yummy). While we're waiting, I get to chat with some of my fellow bead makers. It's interesting to hear about people who really do make their living by making beads or other types of crafts. Also got some good tips about how to take pictures of my beads for online posting.
Then, it was off to class. I decided to take only one class and then use the rest of the time for open studio. My class was PMC - Precious Metal Clay. The other classes covered Soldering, Welding, Glass Blowing, and Bronze and Copper Metal Clay. Our instructor was fabulous and we had a great time making small items out of silver.
>>Sidebar: PMC is an organic clay with very small silver particles embedded in it. You shape the clay the same way you would with any type of clay. You can sculpt it or use molds and stamps to create elaborate designs. You let it dry completely and then put it in a kiln. After about a half hour, the clay burns away, the silver particles fuse together, and you're left with pure silver (99% pure). It's an amazing process. You can also use a liquid form of the clay to paint any organic item, such as leaves, flowers, sticks, insects, you name it. The kiln burns away the organic material and you're left with a pure silver flower, stick, insect, whatever.
After morning class, it's off to lunch (pesto pizza - a bit too salty -- and salad. They have an interesting choice of salad dressings. I choose Lemon Parmesan which is quite good) and then I had the entire afternoon to spend in the glass studio working on my bead making techniques. What a pleasure to just have time to practice, practice, practice. So, there I am, all focused on making half-way decent beads, when I notice that people are clustered around one of the instructors who walked in, oohing and ahhing. What a second...what's that she's holding? It's a HEDGEHOG! Yup, Joy has a pet hedgehog. It's about as cute as cute can be. I've never seen a hedgehog before. I pet it (kind of prickly, actually) and share a glance with this amazingly different and special animal. Sigh.
By the time dinner time rolled around, I was exhausted! As I walked past the Welding studio on my way to the dining hall, I stop in and check out what people are making. The welded sculptures are amazing. If I go back next year, I might consider welding...looks like tons of fun.
After dinner, most people head back to the studios to do some more work. Although my glass instructor made it sound like the evenings were all about late night parties, the reality was that by 11, most everyone was out of the studios and snuggled in their beds, including me.
Sunday, the routine starts again (breakfast is scrambled eggs and bacon, yum!). This morning, it's back to open studio again and this time I get a lot closer to perfecting a technique that eluded me the day before.
After lunch, it's back to part 2 of PMC class. We learn how to set stones, make bales and drill holes in our pieces. The afternoon flies by. Before I know it, it's time for dinner. Then back to the PMC studio to see if any of our pieces are done. The instructor shows me how to use a brass brush to remove the remnants of the clay and reveal the silver underneath. It's magical! From a dull, white, stone-like item emerges a bright, shiny, silver pendant. Cool!
And then, it's time to head home. I take with me the best of souvenirs...a pocket full of new beads and some, pretty silver pieces. PMC is now on my list as a possible artistic endeavor to pursue (yet another EXPENSIVE hobby). But, we'll see....
All in all, I highly recommend Art Camp!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
On the other hand, it means I need to get into the source code and remove the hard-coded text with labels. Which also means, I need to do local builds and unit tests to make sure I didn't break something. I'm not so fond of that.
If I'm careful, I should do just fine. But, I suspect I'll have to go the next step and learn how to merge code as the developers will be working with same code that I'm working with. Not such a good thing. Too easy for things to break.
I hate looking stupid in front of the developers, especially since I still consider myself new here and trying to prove that I'm not an idiot.
So, I'm feeling a bit stressed.
This project wouldn't be so bad if the developers hadn't started out hard coding text and used resource files from the beginning. But they didn't, so now I'm doing the retrofitting work for the them -- they have so much to do right now that it's the only way this work can be done.
Sigh...challenges...they're supposed to be good for me. But I'm really not in the mood for it.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
There was a man who was truly loved.
Listening to his young grandchildren deliver their final words to a deeply adored Grandpa was as poignant as one might imagine. Or more so.
Although I've never been a huge Kennedy fan, still, I couldn't help but be moved by the poise, the grace, the overall dignity of this family. The memories that all of the speakers shared at the different ceremonies showed an man who, while as flawed as any human being can be, was also a giving, and, at times, humble person, who BELIEVED. He believed in public service, he believed in trying to make this country a more livable place for many who suffered. He believed inthe love and strength of family. Stories of how he would have no qualms about having his name removed to the background on important bills, stories of how he helped everyday people, stories of how he called people directly to check on their well being.
I'm sorry I only learned these things after he died.
Will the Kennedy legacy live on? Do we even live in an age where such a thing as "legacy" even exists anymore? Is the magic of the Kennedy name gone, with the death of the final, famous Kennedy brother? Maybe. Or maybe it continues in more quiet way. Without the hype, without anyone trying to make legends and heroes out of good people who are trying to do good, the best way the know how.
Whether you liked the man or his politics or despised him -- I think it's hard not to see how deeply he affected our country, the state of Massachusetts, and his own family. And for that, respect him, honor him. And, let the dream live on.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
First up at bat: Peach Buttermilk Soup. (http://bit.ly/2zkpsP).
Basic ingredients: Peaches, buttermilk, honey, nutmeg, cardamom (which is hideously expensive), and cinnamon. It looked like a very simple recipe so I decided to give it a try -- especially since I adore peaches.
Now, pitting peaches is supposed to be easy. Run a knife down the equator and then twist. My peaches were astonishingly uncooperative. Was it because I blanched and peeled the fruit first (but that's what the recipe said to do!)? In any case, the twisting became an exercise with how to smush fruit by hand. What a sticky mess! Afterwards, I rechecked the method for pitting peaches and yes, everything I found said to cut and twist. Ha! I'll believe it if I ever get it to work.
The rest of the recipe was essentially, dump the ingredients into a blender and puree. Of course, I didn't read the recipe carefully and put all of the ingredients in at the same time. But, I suspect it didn't make much of a difference (and was easier).
The end result was not as yummy as it looked in the picture. I'm thinking I needed more peaches (or less buttermilk :-) ). I expected a thicker consistency. Maybe I'll add more pureed peaches?
I was originally planning to bring the soup to a friend's gathering, but I wasn't totally thrilled with the result, so I ended up making a strawberry/yogurt soup instead.
For next week...not sure. I just saw a really interesting recipe for Baby Back ribs (which I've never cooked). Doesn't look too hard and doesn't require a day's worth of effort. Although it's not a NYTimes recipe, this one might get on the Experimentation list.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday night: I pull everything out of the freezer and cram everything into a cooler. I'm a bit surprised to see that I have two packages of peas, two packages of green beans. I guess that's what happens when your freezer is a disorganized mess. And then, there's the stuff that was absolutely ancient. I toss all the old stuff from both the freezer and the fridge. I leave the rest of the food in the fridge, figuring that I have plenty of time to take everything out before the delivery men arrive.
Saturday, 6:45 am. The phone rings, I'm still in bed and they're arriving in 15 minutes! I throw on some clothes and fly downstairs. I grab the vacuum cleaner and get the worst of the dust behind the old fridge cleared. Then I start emptying the rest of the food from the fridge. And right on schedule, the delivery men arrive.
Moment of truth. Despite the many times I've measured my space and compared it with the specification sheet for the new refrigerator, I'm still not 100% sure that it will fit.
But it does! I have about 2 inches clearance between the top of the new fridge and the bottom of my cabinets (not counting the cabinet frame). And, although the new fridge is wider and deeper than the old one, it still fits well in the space.
The new fridge is quiet, quiet, quiet. I haven't had the ice maker connected yet -- need to call the plumber. I've read that it's noisy but I might as well have it turned on. All in all, I'm quite pleased with the new refrigerator.
And now I'm feeling a bit more inspired to do the rest of the renovations on my list. We'll see how long that lasts :-)
Friday, August 21, 2009
Silly to feel sad at saying goodbye to an appliance, no?
The new icebox is bigger--wider, deeper, and taller. I'm thinking that I'll probably end up walking into it in the beginning because it will extend further into the kitchen space than the old one. But, I think it will be OK.
Tonight..I have to clean out the old box. Figure out where I'll put the perishables until the new box is up and running. And set up an appointment to have the plumber connect the water line for the ice maker (the one negative comment that I heard about my new fridge is that the ice maker is quite noisy but how often does it make ice, I wonder?).
Farewell, old refrigerator...you've given great service all these years. But, it's time for you to retire and stop working so hard. I will think of you fondly.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
At the beginning of this week, the product manager let me know that I will be responsible for all of the words in the user interface. For one thing, it takes this burden away from the developers. We have 2 UI developers and they are just swamped with work. For another, the wording that they've used so far is...well, not horrible, but certainly needs work.
So, I *own* the words! I've never had this responsibility. Usually, I've been able to work with the User Experience person and help to edit what they do. Or I have to log bugs and hope that someone actually pays attention to them. So, having this responsibility is new and I'm quite pleased about it. I get to make a real impact on the product, that everyone can see and I get to do something new.
Monday, August 17, 2009
So, just to reward the faithful, here's my latest update.
I've decided to put some intention into my life and get going on doing some condo renovations. I've neglected the place for awhile and there's a ton of stuff that needs doing. I'm vaguely considering moving next year, which means the work has to be done if I can expect a decent price at all. Here's the list of things that I need to do:
1. New refrigerator (DONE!) - the old one is, well, old. Periodically, it makes odd, scary sounds. One time, it sounded like a dog's squeaky toy. And the gaskets need replacing. I'm getting *MILDEW* on them. ewww....And things freeze in the refrigerator. But, I just ordered a new one which will arrive next week. I'm praying it fits. I insisted on getting a fancy-dancy french door version and most of them are too tall for my space. I found one from LG that should fit (I've measured about a gazillion times)...here's hoping.
2. New dishwasher - the soap dispenser release thingy broke awhile back. And it's just not cleaning dishes well. It's getting worse over time. Most likely, this is the next item to do. Probably next month.
3. New carpeting for the bedrooms. Both of these rooms have the original carpeting. The pads are completely worn out. I think I'll do the master bedroom first and then the guest room. Can't do both at the same time...too much furniture to move and not enough room to put it. I'm hoping I can call on some strong friends to help me move stuff. I'm starting to think of appropriate bribes.
4. Touch up painting. I love my color scheme but there are nicks and chips everywhere. I'm not even sure I can get all of the same colors anymore, but I'm hoping.
5. New flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms. The wood tiles in the kitchen needs replacing. It was an amateur job to begin with and it just needs to be replaced with a real, hardwood floor. The bathroom floors deserve nice ceramic tile instead of the cheapo vinyl.
6. New countertops in the bathrooms. The orignal laminate is, well, lame. I want marble or corian or possibly recycled glass.
I think that's the list. Oh, and the rest of the carpeting is desperate for a cleaning. That goes on the list as well.
Thank you, my loyal readers. There may be only a few of you, but you've stuck with me!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Lost my office badge today. Actually, I managed to flush it down the toilet. Really. How embarrassing. It fell off my pants just as I hit the handle. Whoosh. Gone. I had to explain this to the nice IT guy who, I think, thought I was kidding. I got out of the teasing by promising to make him peanut butter cookies.
The other night, at the glass studio, my instructor gave me a small piece of glass to use on a new technique she showed me. I brought it over to my station, put it down, lit my torch. And couldn't find the small piece of glass. After I obtained another piece of glass, then I found my first piece of glass. Sheesh.
This morning, I was looking for stamps. Couldn't find them. I know I have them; I bought some recently. But I'll probably end up buying more stamps before I find the ones I already have.
I often misplace my cell phone. I use my landline phone to call my cell phone so I can find it. And keys...don't get me started about the keys. I carry two set of keys most times. When I misplace my main set of keys, I can pull out the backup set and at least get to where I need to go on time. BUT, this arrangement is fraught with peril. There are keys in the main set that I can't duplicate for the back up set. Makes me nervous.
If I could, I'd put locator chips in all items that I carry with me. This way, I'd be able to find the item I want, when I want it.
Till then, I just hope that the gnomes that take my stuff when I'm not looking (that's my theory about the items that go missing and then suddenly reappear) will eventually let me alone.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Now, the plants from Logee's are typically house plants. Their specialty is tropical container plants. Living in Zone 5, these plants usually spend their lives indoors. Logee's is a very special place, in my opinion. You drive up to an unassuming house and wonder...is this the right place? But, then you walk through the building to the back door and into a series of greenhouses that include a 107 year old Ponderosa lemon tree.
Spending a couple of hours at Logee's is like walking through a rain forest, especially in the summer. The place is wall to wall plants, with narrow walkways where you often have to push through an abundance of foliage.
I love the place. Plants are in bloom all year round--everywhere you turn, there's another fascinating plant to examine (and buy!).
This time around, I came home with three plants...a Gardenia with varigated leaves which I brought into the office, Michelia Figo, which has flowers that smell like ripe bananas, and some other mystery plant (I forget its name) which is supposed to have lovely yellow flowers.
Of course, the problem is that I know have to keep track of more plants that require watering and feeding. And, although you get to see prime examples of what the plants look like when they're blooming, the plants you purchase are typically not at that point. So, you need to nurture and hope for the best.
Or, wait for them to die. Poor little green things...I'm not always the best caretaker. Although, I did learn that putting a plant in pot that's too big can lead to the soil retaining too much moisture which will lead to root rot. A mistake I think I've made in the past. Thus, I'm a bit more optimistic that my new green friends will fare better than their predecessors.
Now, if I'll just remember to water them on time!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
With some new acquaintances of mine, I watched a local parade and then attended a good, old fashioned cookout. I felt like I had been transported back to the 50s for a short time. What fun! The parade was, literally, on Main Street. Could have been any Main Street in America...flags flying, old Victorian style houses lining the streets. People sitting out on porches, in folding chairs, watching, cheering, and clapping. And the parade was as Norman Rockwell as you could get. We had the marching bands, the bagpipers, the Town Selectman. There was a nice assortment of cranky-looking clowns and we had the horse riders from the local riding academy. A whole host of fire trucks from the neighboring towns (including my own), cruising down the street with sirens and horns blazing.
And of course, we had the veterans. From WWII and forward. Oddly enough, not many of them were in the parade -- maybe veterans don't care to march in parades any more...or maybe they're all deployed in the Middle East now-- but all were cheered and applauded.
America, home of the free and land of the brave. In small towns across the nation, this week will be full of the simple appreciation of this glorious and troubled nation.
As we watched the parade float by, I could hear local folks talking about budget cuts and how this parade would be the last. Are we losing the last remnants of old fashioned Americana...does it matter?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
There is one vague bit of uneasiness. When I was interviewing for the job, one of my friends wrote a wonderful, unsolicited recommendation for me. My friend knows one of the principal people in the company and the recommendation impressed that person greatly. I have mixed feelings about this. It was an incredibly kind and wonderful thing that my friend did. I didn't ask for it -- my friend took it upon herself to do this...as any good friend would do. I would do it myself.
On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if I would have landed the job on my own merits. Of course, that's the point of getting recommendations...they DO help you to get a job. And, I did work on a project with my friend. And did a good job. But still, there's a vague sense of unease. In time, I will prove that the recommendations reflected the truth of my abilities. Until then, I will need to deal with this vague whisper in the back of my mind that questions whether it was how well I interviewed that was the primary reason for my new job or the words of others.
I suppose, in the long run, it really doesn't matter. What matters is where I am today and what I plan to do with the opportunity.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Gay or not, Americans are fat. We went to a block party and, yes, lots of pretty men were there (alas, none of them noticed me, but several did cast a long glance at B). But there were also a lot of shirtless, flabby men. With tattoos. And not half as many drag queens as I expected.
Lots of good dancers. Yup, the gay boys do have rhythm...even the white ones. Now that I think of it, most of the men there WERE white. Possibly a Boston thing (yes, we in Massachusetts claim to be liberal, but there's still quite a bit of segregation that goes on)
The lesbians don't party with the men...they have a separate party elsewhere. Now that I think about it, that makes sense. Why would they want to party with men, when it's only the women that are of interest to them?
We didn't stay long at the block party. B's friend explained that the later the hour, the more of a meat market it would become. Neither B (who is in a committed relationship) or his friend were interested in staying long. I was kind of glad about that. I'm not fond of heterosexual meat markets -- I'm sure I would not have liked a gay one any better :-).
This is the first time that I've seen B in his "element." Most times when I see him, we're with a bunch of straight folks and I tend to forget that he plays on the other team. He's a dear, sweet, man, so his orientation doesn't matter to me at all. But it was a rather strange day to be reminded of our differences.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I'm content with the new job. People are nice enough. Once I actually start to produce something, I'm hoping to be able to show that they did hire a competent person. They're in a big hiring mode...which pleases me. While I don't mind small companies, I perfer ones that have a bit more bulk to them. In another month, the company will likely add another 10 people, which will provide some nice "bulk."
Now that the job issue is settled, I can turn my attention to other things. The very odd thing about being unemployed and the work at home job is that I ended up saving a lot more money than I expected. I'm still not sure how I ended up with the extra $$$. I was careful about spending for awhile, but not exceptionally so. Be that as it may, I have plans for the extra cash. Namely, fix up the condo. There's a very long list of improvements that I need.
First on the list, is a new refrigerator. The old one continues to make odd sounds and it's making me nervous. I think I've found one that will just fit in my available space. For extra measure...I think I'll get someone in to trim the apron on the top cabinets, just to give me a bit of extra leeway. After the fridge...it's time for new carpeting upstairs (oy! how to move all that furniture???). After that, upgrades to the kitchen and bathroom floors. Then, finally, redo the counter tops in the bathrooms. Also, some touch-up painting and caulking. Oh, and replace the fixtures for the tub in the master bath.
Whew...that should keep me busy all summer and into the fall. I'm quite excited about the neighborhood clean up day that's coming along next week. A chance to get rid of a bunch of stuff!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Now, I'm not a naturally gregarious type of person, so it takes awhile for me to be part of the group. So it has been at this first week of the new job. Each company has a routine for new employees. Often, there's a lunch, a meeting, an email announcement. Because of a big deadline at the new place, none of these things have taken place. On my first day, I was walked around the room, introduced, and then left in my cube. I've had a meeting or two, asked a question or two, but mostly, I've been reading. Trying to learn the product, the new technology, and so forth. And reading. And wishing I could have taken vacation time, the way I originally had hoped.
Next week will be different. The work for the big deadline will be done. I will get my new employee lunch, there will be an introduction email (so my new manager says), and I'll start attending the weekly status meetings. I think I'm going to like the new company, but I sure wish I wasn't the new kid on the block.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
And then, even though I hadn't posted anything, PEOPLE FOUND ME!!!
So, I now have a very small group of followers and feel compelled to post little blurbs. Only, I don't have much to say that isn't mundane (or possibly inane). Made the mistake of mentioning my new company's name in one of my posts. The CTO of the new company found me and is now following me. Ack!
Social Networking, sigh. It's cool and yet...there's something annoying about it. Almost makes me want to go back to old fashioned letter writing. Only, I was never very good about doing that!
Friday, May 22, 2009
I admit it, I'm a gardening dilettante. I know a few facts here and there, I keep acquiring plants (that I often kill) and I have a patio container garden. Although, I've been doing this for years, I' don't really know a whole lot about what I'm doing. I don't fuss over fertilizers or soil mixtures. I don't know the names of most of my plants. But, I like the whole growing thing. I like when plants that are supposed to bloom, do so. It's random though, most times, my green companions just glare at me because I neglect them. I think I've heard the primrose sigh in resignation as I water its wilted body for the thousandth time.
Last week, I went to a lovely class about growing herbs in containers. All of the class participants went home with a lovely collection of plants, neatly planted in our containers. Our instructions were to go home and give the pot a good, soaking watering.
I had the bright idea of putting the pot in the sink (after removing the unwashed pots that had taken up residence there, sigh) and using the sink sprayer thing to soak the soil. Of course, as I went to position the pot in the sink, I caught the edge on the faucet and the whole container went belly up. I had a sink full of dirt with my lovely plants buried beneath the results of the soil avalanche.
After digging up the dirt, including scooping the packed soil out of the garbage disposal, I replanted everything. The plants looked stunned and droopy. Sigh. Next day, I move the pot outdoors onto a wooden plant stand. In a day or two, the plants perked up and actually started to shake off that stunned look.
Today, I was rearranging some of the pots and as I moved one, the outdoor plant stand collapsed. Just folded into itself as if to say, enough. I've been outside all year and I need a break.
And there was my lovely herb pot, once again, belly up, plants buried beneath a soil avalanche.
I scooped up the dirt, replanted the plants, rearranged a few things, washed the dirt off the patio, and eyed that plant stand with suspicion, waiting for it to collapse again (no, I did not put all of the plants back on it, just a couple).
This weekend...buy a new plant stand that's a bit more sturdy! If I have to replant that herb pot one more time, I'll bury my head in the pot, instead.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The problem is that I haven't seen much that's new and innovative in the documentation world. Same old stuff. Oh sure, people are using DITA and topic-based content. But, that's not particularly earth-shaking stuff. And it seems odd to me that people are using DITA and creating output that makes it obvious that someone is using DITA. It's like keeping the outside cover of your laptop transparent so you can see how it was put together. Does anyone really care?
I did speak to one of the well-known consultants in the business and gleaned some ideas of how to incorporate videos and wiki content into user documentation. Simple, yet sensible ideas. So, I have something to start to mull over.
Having a mandate to create something new and innovative is kind of cool. Except, there isn't a lot of innovation in the tech doc world, so there aren't a lot of things I can use as a model. Ironically, my business card states that innovation is one of my strengths. It's a little bit of a lie...I'm not really all that innovative on my own. I can extrapolate ideas from others but a true innovator? Not really -- not when I'm starting from scratch.
It's all very exciting. And exhausting. Since 2000, I've had 4 jobs and now I'm starting the 5th. Five jobs in 9 years. What I liked about my old job is that it was comfortable. I knew the tools, I new the process, there was little stress involved. Now, I'm starting over, most likely creating a completely new tool kit. Which is good in some ways, but not exactly comfortable.
But, all whining aside...I DO truly recognize that I am very, very lucky to be offered the position. I am determined to live up to the expectations...some how. Because, I really want to be able to stay with this job for as long as possible.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Everyone I talked with seemed very excited to have me join the company. Very uplifting. The product manager wants me to help out with some user testing, the Engineering VP said he expects me to be very busy. And I just love the founder/CTO.
The company is actually smaller than I thought...only 16 US employees! (I thought it was 25). They're moving their off shore jobs back to the US, which thrills me to hear. Also, shows that they are solid decision makers. They have had the offshore team for less than a year. It wasn't working out well and decided to back off, rather than keep trying to make it work. Smart move. Most other places sit in denial about the failure of the off shore efforts and just continue to pour money into it.
Because the size of the company is so small, there are benefits they can't get yet...like short term disability. I've never worked without that safety net. But, the Founder assured me that, whatever the life event is, the company will do the right thing (as in, pay for the time off that you need). I like their philosophy about building employee loyalty --which only goes so far with me, to be quite honest. My view: treat me well, and I'll do well by the company.
I'm going to have to become a Twitterer and a Wii person (they play every Friday...at least I already have a nickname that I can use!). Mixed feelings about that. Fun and yet silly. That's the price you pay for joining a small start up. You've got to join in during "recess." I don't really need the whole "play time" thing but, it's something you have to do in the start up world.
I still believe that this job with be very challenging and not so easy. I'm definitely going to be moving outside of my usual comfort zone. For the first time, I'll have a job where I don't bring my usual box of tools with me. I'll have to create a whole new tool box! And yet, it just might be fun.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I've been debating whether to close down the blog. I don't seem to have much to say these days and although I treasure my small, loyal audience, well, it's a rather small audience. Maybe I'll Twitter instead.
Twitter is something I'm just starting to look at. Right now, I'm following NASA shuttle astronauts. Kind of cool, especially when they tweet from space. I might have to get on Twitter for the new job...they are very Web 2.0 and encourage employees to know and use these tools.
On the other hand, there's a part of me that wants to become a Luddite. Enough with all the changes, new technologies, social media, new this and that. My mind hurts some days, just trying to figure out what these things mean to me -- do I like them, do they serve any purpose in my life? I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I notice that most of the entries there, from me and my "friends" don't generate a whole lot of conversation. Which, is the point of it all, isn't it? Letting people know what you're doing or thinking and generating some interaction? Or, are people really exhibitionists and WANT others to watch them in silence?
Some days, it's all mind boggling. A former work colleague of mine retired a couple of years ago. He doesn't have to deal with wacky changes in the work place or pay attention to a whole lot of anything other than playing tennis and traveling with his wife. Sounds rather appealing to me these days.
Monday, May 11, 2009
On a couple of occasions, I've lost the display on the laptop. The first time it happened, the battery needed recharging. I had to plug it in and wait until there was enough power for the display to appear. Never had that happen with my Windows laptop. Even after the battery was 100% discharged, I could plug it in and it worked immediately.
The blank display thing happened again the other day. I have no clue what the deal was. I woke up the machine from sleep and poof..nothing. Just black. Eventually, after hitting the power button several times, I got the display to appear, but the boot-up sequence hung. I tried removing the wireless mouse thingie and restarted the machine, which worked. But, I'm not sure if that actually did anything or it was just coincidence.
I wandered around the system and found the console log and it looked like the culprit might have been the VM. But I'm not sure. Do I really have to suspend the VM when the machine goes to sleep? I've left the VM running before and never had this problem.
I think I need learn the underpinning of Mac OS so I can troubleshoot these issues.
Friday, May 8, 2009
All that's left to do right now is sign the papers. The IT guy has already contacted me about the type of laptop they should purchase for me (talk about serendipity...a couple of months ago, I decided to buy a MacBook Pro laptop, even though it was 3x the price of a Windows laptop. Turns out, the new company uses MacBook Pros as standard equipment! So, what I thought of as a splurge, simply because I wanted to learn how to use the Apple OS, turned out to be a wise choice).
The hunt is over. Considering today's market, my job hunt was exceptionally short. 4 months from when I lost one job and I start the next. There was a lot of luck involved, do not doubt it! Sure, I did the work of presenting myself as a good candidate. But, getting my foot in the door was luck, pure and simple.
Some people might say that losing my job was a blessing in disguise, meant to be, or happened so I could move on to something better.
Sorry...I'm not buying it. Stuff happens. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Being thrown out the door from my last job is something I could have done without. If it hadn't happened, I'm sure I would have been content to have stayed there. There's a new manager that could have made all the difference with my job satisfaction, I had a lot of vacation saved up, the benefits were just fine for me, I had a nice comfy office, walking trails, and a convenient cafeteria. I won't have all these things at the new place.
That's not to say that I can't find the upside to the whole event. Here are some of the things I will take with me as I move forward:
I am more motivated than ever to make the new job be as successful as possible. I am determined to be the best I can be (I sound like an Army commercial, eh?), to prove that I really was the best candidate for the job.
A good network is crucial. Keep the good people close and as much as possible, be a person of integrity. I found my new job because a former colleague thought highly of me and got me in the door. I never worked closely with this person, but somehow, I made a good impression on him. And his recommendation made a huge difference during the interview process.
Live a more simple life. One of the big shocks for me was to realize that at any moment, my comfy and expensive lifestyle could disappear. There's no need for me to "live large." A more simply lifestyle will enable change in the future with a lot less agony.
Plan for the future. I had nothing to fall back on because I kept putting off vague action plans for education. Because I was not unemployed for very long, I was able to save some money. I'm going to take some of that money and put in towards education. A friend of mine pointed me towards some interesting programs at the Arnold Arboreteum. Something that's completely different from tech writing. I have a feeling that there's something there for me, something that will be a good alternative when I'm done with technical writing (and yes, that day is coming).
"Pay it forward." A lot of people were quite supportive and helpful while I was working on surviving my job loss. I know the despair when you look out and just don't see any jobs or hear only silence after submitting resume after resume. Or the emptiness when you realize that there's just *nothing* out there other than finding ways to fill the slack time. I intend to help out wherever and whenever I can. There are some vague signs of economic improvement -- I met with my financial advisor last night and my IRA is up 6%, which is so much better than the humungo loss I had previously. But, jobs are still going to be hard to come by.
So, now I turn my face to the sun and leave the winter behind me. The new job will be demanding and ever so slightly scary, but I'm up for the challenge.
(and all these lofty, good intentions...I wonder if I'll really stick to them...)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
A friend of mine thought he had a form of lymphoma. But this week's biopsy results revealed that cancer is NOT the issue: he has a very treatable skin condition.
A friend of mine thought his cat was at the end of his life. But no, the vet prescribed medication and the cat's health seems to be improving.
A friend of mine thought she was going to have to put her dog down due to an incident with a neighbor (no, no one was hurt, just a scary situation). But no, the dog is not a menace to society, and has a long life ahead of her.
My former glass studio has a renewed lease on life. A local college needed space for it's fine arts program and they've formed an alliance with the glass studio. With a new influx of money, the studio can reopen soon. And the public will be able to take classes there again!
And for me, I was completely wrong about not moving forward with a potential job offer. Personal references are being checked and there's been talk of compensation and start dates. No formal offers are in my hand yet, but this week is looking much more promising than I thought.
It's a nice week.
The town where I worked maintains a herd of Belted Galloway cows (the ones that, as Diane Ziegler puts it, look like Oreo cookies). During the warm months, the cow caretakers walk the cows across the street to the conservation land. I like cows. I don't know why, but I do like cows. And I used to see them on a regular basis during my mid-day walks.
I miss my cows. A lot of them have probably calved by now and the babies are probably out in the field. We never knew their names, but we could refer to them by the number tags in their ears. (awww...isn't cow #51 cute!).
As I look towards my next job (and good news about that is on the horizon, I believe), I feel a touch of nostalgia for the lost walking trails and the cows. While the job had its issues, the location and amenities were about as perfect as I've ever had. The only place where I could visit cows on a regular basis.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I own one of the original e-book readers, the Rocket Ebook. I bought that little device, what...5 or more years ago or so? Back in the days when I had some aspirations of being an early adopter of neat gadgets.
I *loved* my e-book reader! I haven't used it in a long time, but I'm tempted to charge it up and start perusing the 40 or so books still stored on the device. I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to buying books. They're stacked all over my home -- I just don't have enough space to store them, I never get around to giving them away, or trading them, or selling them. An e-book reader gives me the option of feeding my addiction in a practical way. I can buy books, read them, but not have to use up what precious little space I have left to store them. And, I will never run out of reading material, no matter where I go.
Because of issues about price, reluctance of publishers to stand behind the technology, and proprietary formats, my e-book reader went the way of the dodo bird. Publishers no longer made books available, the service disappeared, and that was the end for a very long time.
Then, suddenly, Kindle appears. It's not even as good as my original - no backlighting from e-Ink, the technology that's behind all those lovely online words. Backlighting was great because it was easy to read in the dark). In many other ways, the Kindle is very, very similar to my original Rocket Ebook. But, it's selling and the Rocket just never caught on with a large enough crowed. Right idea at the wrong time, I suppose. Timing...so important, especially when it comes to profitable products!
Maybe, when I'm fully employed again, I'll treat myself to yet another new gadget. Yum.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
No other interviews are on the horizon but I do have work for another 5 weeks. I haven't heard anything from my current employer regarding additional projects, so I'm assuming there's no follow-up work right now.
What I think I'll do when my current contract ends:
Take a week to visit an old friend in Sante Fe. There have been some good air fare deals to get out there, so if all goes well, I can get out there without spending a fortune. Once there, I don't expect to spend a lot of money. My friend is on a fixed income and lives very simply. She's also a very centered, down-to-earth person who seems to be very content with her life. Overall, a good influence for me right now.
Once I'm back, I'm going to register for some type of education program. Either the online Masters program for Technical Communications at Northeastern (they have courses that can help me get a foot in the door with medical writing) or a database development certificate. Signing up for an educational program will also help to extend my unemployment benefits. (actually, I might do this before I take my mini-vacation). I'm beginning to suspect I'll need them.
And of course, continue bugging the recruiters and anyone else I can think of about a real job. Right now, that future is exceptionally uncertain. I'm really at a loss as to who to contact or what type of networking to do at this point. Need to think about this some more. A former colleague is offering free life coaching/career counseling services for the unemployed. Maybe I'll see how he can help out.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
You wait to hear if the last interview went well and whether a job offer will be forthcoming.
You wait to hear if a resume submitted to another company was accepted or rejected.
You wait to see if any new job posting will arise that match your skills.
You wait for that recruiter who keeps promising a job is about to open up to tell you that it finally did.
For some reason, I'm thinking that I did not land the job I wanted. The second interview seemed to go well, but I just couldn't tell if they really felt I would meet their needs. I felt more optimistic after the first interview.
Once again, I am so grateful for the work I DO have right now. It's something to focus on, it's income for another 5 weeks or so.
But, what happens then? There are days when I can put the uncertainty in a box and ignore it. Then there are days like today, when the horizon seems empty and all I can do is return to the search and wait for something I can grab and work on.