Thursday, June 28, 2012
Day 4, Hour 1

This morning I have sat on the deck and drank my early morning coffee with Callan (the cat). I scratched behind her ears, she sat in my lap and purred, and the coffee was hot and strong.

I call that a pretty good beginning to a day.

We haven't done any hoeing or weeding on the crops (okay, four rows of seed plants, but that's enough to qualify it as a farm, right? Also, there is wheat.) because the kenneling part of the business and her animals seem to take up 75% of Meg's time. If people aren't dropping animals off, they're picking them up, or the ones being boarded need to be fed or let out to play or whatever. Her own animals need the same attention, plus the goat has to be milked twice a day and the little headbanger fed twice a day. Not being a big "animal person" I don't get too involved in most of that.

In the evening, her husband gets home, we eat dinner, we watch television shows about cooking, and every goes to bed early, being worn out from the day.

Mostly we're just hanging out together. I try to help with her chores, although she has her own routines and I'm in the way as much as I'm helping, and we chat as we do errands or whatever.

Today we're going to meet a friend of hers for lunch in town.

We might also make the cheese and cottage cheese today. We've been eating the chevre (sp?) cheese she made last week and it's been delicious. It would be interesting to make cheese if we have time. I have churned butter before, but I have never made cheese.

It's a good vacation.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:39 AM | Comments (4)



Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Day 3, Hour 10

We have gone to the farm store, the bank, the veterinarian, the meat store, and the doctor today.

Farm life involves a lot of running into town to get things. If a bolt sheers off your tractor or you need goat feed, you gotta go to the farm store.

Also, we did some laundry and made more chocolate ice cream.

Today was a hot one. When we went out for the afternoon milking and feeding, the little headbanger goat didn't even dance. She seemed to feel it was too hot for that kind of nonsense, and I agreed with her.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)



Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Day 2, Hour 11

Fifteen minutes until big-goat-milking/baby-headbanger-goat-feeding time this afternoon.

Today we have gone to a used bookstore, the grocery store, and the veterinarian. It was all pretty entertaining.

Also, we made chocolate ice cream! Mmmm.

We're going back to the bookstore tomorrow when we have more than 15 minutes to spare. Possibly lunching with someone.

There are an awful lot of animals.

Meg got skewered by some kind of vampire bug that took a chunk out of her neck. Nature has not yet attacked me but I'm starting to feel that it's only a matter of time.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)



Day 2, Hour 2

Yesterday evening, there were goats! There are two goats--one is a baby. And it dances!

Okay, my friend says it's just energetic but me, I say that if a creature is trying to climb the walls and jumping on other's backs and generally bouncing all over, it's clearly an incipient head-banger looking for a mosh pit to play in.

I got to feed it a bottle. Very amusing.

I was up at 6ish (my time) this morning. Life starts early down on the farm.

Not enough coffee in the world.

P.S. Nature continues to refrain from attacking.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)



Monday, June 25, 2012
Vacation, Day 1, Hour 3

I'm in Wisconsin now.

So far, I have met seven (or maybe eight) dogs, gone to a dog chiropractor, seen my friend's kennel, and her house, and heard (but not yet seen) her goats.

In that uncanny way they have of seeing that someone is "not a dog person," all the dogs I have seen have swarmed me. I like cats, so naturally the cat hissed at me and ran off. (Although I suspect that had as much to do with me smelling of nine--or maybe ten--different dogs as anything else.)

I think I am scheduled to milk a goat tomorrow. Also, we're going to the feed store.

Wisconsin is the Land O'Cheese. We are going to make cheese. And cottage cheese. Goat cheese is not unfamiliar to me but goat's milk cottage cheese?

There is a little a tractor almost as old as me! The tractor has a little scooper-dooper thingie on the front. Help me think of a reason why they should let me whizz around on it.

What you need in a vacation is to do something different than your everyday life, right? This is pretty different.

There is a great deal of Nature all over the place. So far, none of it has attacked me, so, off to a promising start.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:22 PM | Comments (4)



Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Another Fantasy Venture

Thanks to The Professor, in an earlier comment, my brain has been inventing the Dirty Little Noodle Shop for the past couple of days.*

Unlike the Imaginary Teashop, this project doesn't feature a menu. (Yet.) What it does have, so far, is a sign on the wall.

No matter what business you're in, your customers want the same three things.

They want it fast, they want it good, and they want it cheap. Happiness comes from understanding that we can have any two, but only two, of the three.

We're not the cheapest dirty noodles in town, but your order comes fast and quality ingredients make it good.

I've given a little thought to the menu, but only enough to decide the merely obvious--to have ramen, soba, and udon dishes because I like all of those and it's my fantasy.

I haven't settled on a signature dish yet.

Also, I'm stealing the location from the previously discussed neighborhood ramen shop because it's a good location. If the place delivered--even just in a 5-mile radius--it could be a gold mine. The neighborhood is a great mixture of businesses for that all-important lunch rush and apartments, and single-family dwellings for evening and weekend traffic.**

I'm going to have to go back there--I can't quit thinking about the yakisoba.

I might decide to walk over tomorrow. I'm Working From Home (hereinafter abbreviated to WFH because I'm tired of typing all that) and it's just across the street.

The WFH this week is because of 2 factors:

#1 - webinar at noon
#2 - no transport to go to the office***

That second point.... Sigh. I'm dropping my car off at the shop after work this evening. It needs a muffler. And (wincing) a clutch. It also needs new shocks but I can't afford to do everything at once. As it is, the idea of the bill I'm going to get is very painful to me.

The R.C. is picking me up and I'm buying her dinner as a thank you. She's suggesting soup-and-salad since the restaurant is right next to the car repair shop, but I'm lobbying for Samurai (great sushi & Japanese food).


_____________

* Thank you, The Professor, for infecting my brain. :)

** I'm open to franchising if any of you would like to get in on the ground floor.

*** Okay, I could take the #27 bus and go to the office. If I don't have the car back on Friday that's what I'll do.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:08 PM | Comments (3)



Wednesday, March 2, 2011
You know what I hate?

I hate when you travel and then you get sick.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)



Friday, February 25, 2011
And then, I cuked.

So far, the con's a blast.

Two-and-a-half panels this morning (missed half of one because I was deeply involved in chatting), a roasted lobster sandwich for lunch, and then con suite duty where I was assigned to make cucumber sandwiches. (When I'm here, I always get cucumber sandwich duty. I like making cucumber sandwiches.)

I alternate panels, con suite duty, and (with luck, meals at some amazing restaurants for the rest of the weekend. I haven't scheduled anything for early mornings. One of these days, I might sleep late.

At a table in the con suite right now, of course. Listening to people talk about how to pronounce various city names. Also, strip-mining.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:03 PM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Must. Blog.

I'm happy to report that in a burst of pre-vacation enthusiasm, I got online, did the renewal for my license plates, made it to the bank to get large wads of cash, stocked up on portable carcinogens (sorry), gassed up my car, booked my transport to and from LAX, printed out my flight and hotel information*, and made the lavish decision to use a cab for airport transport in Denver.

Thanks to the same pre-vacation burst of manic energy, I have 98% of the work (freelance and otherwise) that needed to be done before I left actually done. Louie Louie's first client campaign is ready and waiting. Gidget is writing new ads for JasonWife's campaign. It would be doing a lot better if the ads I've been using hadn't been so very horrible. Bernie heard I was leaving town and a project he couldn't be bothered with last week became urgent on Monday, and it's done.

Yesterday afternoon I should have been able to check the last item--a haircut--off my list, but thanks to HairMan calling me up as I was waiting at the salon, five minutes before our appointment, to reveal that he and his auto were broken down on the side of the highway and that he needed me to come and rescue him, then drive him to a shopping mall to get his also-broken phone replaced (he was using one a passing Samaritan loaned him) and, presumably, home thereafter.

I did, in fact, go rescue him from the roadside. The tow truck arrived a couple of minutes before me--we met them at the salon, the tow truck driver (some people are so skilled) did something that fixed HairMan's phone, I politely declined to drive him the 20 miles to his home (someone doing my hair, even for the last ten years off and on, does not make them a close, personal friend), he called his next client who did make the offer, I got my bangs trimmed up out of my eyes, and was home a mere two hours after I arrived for my appointment. Still gray-haired but at least I'm not viewing the world through a thicket of hair.

I plan to spend today in a leisurely fashion. I'm waiting on one person to call up and give their credit card info to me so I can activate their campaign. Waiting on NewerBoss Peter to call me, as per the email he sent yesterday afternoon.

A significant percentage of my time today was earmarked for walking around, gloating that I'm going on vacation and everyone else here is not, but I've cancelled that. Of the short-timer Café staff, the six people retained to "transition" the work, three will be leaving for good on Monday. Under those circumstances, gloating seems out of place. I'm sorry that I'll miss their going-away lunch on Monday, though.

I was going to have another bout of guilt over it all, but it's really just the luck of the draw that I do something not easily replaceable and have consequently survived the last three rounds of layoffs. Guilt would be a waste of time. (I worked hard to learn this stuff.)

Tonight, a quick load of laundry and start packing. Tomorrow morning, toss the remainder of the what-not into the suitcase and I'm off.

Who knows? If I get really bored tomorrow, I might Twitter updates on random airport weirdnesses I see. (I'm annezo on Twitter.) Probably not - I generally read a book, but you never know.

___________________

* I am very sure of both the town and the hotel names. I checked twice.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)



Monday, February 21, 2011
California, here I come!

Vacation, baby!

I fly out on Thursday and if I survive the perils and pitfalls of LAX*, will be in Ventura by cocktail time. I might even have one. (Although probably not.) I return, tireder but theoretically refreshed, on Monday. I anticipate little or no blogging in the interval.

Why, yes, this is the same trip I took last year, the one I blogged that I was so aggressively uninterested in preparing for that I wound up at the wrong hotel (although, thankfully, in the right town). This year I have the name of the right hotel firmly in my mind. Once I get around to making reservations for that portion of the trip that gets me to the (right) town, I'm good to go. (Also, reservations for the Denver home-to-airport and back leg of the journey.) (And I need cash - must go to the bank.) (It's supposed to rain! Where is my raincoat?) (Aaack! I'm not ready!)




_________________

* If I'd known I was going to get a nice raise, back when I booked this ticket I'd have paid the premium to fly in and out of a smaller, less annoying airport. I know there's one that's a comfy, convenient rail ride away.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)



Thursday, November 18, 2010
Cookery & Crockery

Ohmigosh, how did I live without the internets?

Weird Things People Send Us.

Today my brain is obsessed less with the food I might eat than with how to get to it. Freezer to microwave containers so that I can prepare a variety of foods and have a couple of weeks worth of meals in the freezer at any one time.

This obsession may be because the R.C. hates it when I cook.

That is, she hates it when I cook for me. When I cook something I want her to try, I glance at the salt & pepper shakers and make sure there's an unsliced onion somewhere in the kitchen--that's about as much flavor/spice as she's really at peace with.

When I cook for me, I marinate, mince, and mix. The onion gets sliced, the garlic gets crushed, the pepper grinder comes into play, and I have a variety of sauce bottles from Worcestershire to balsamic vinegar to teriyaki to Italian salad dressing (perfect marinade for chicken) that come out of the cupboards.

This results in what I think of as the aroma of food and what the R.C. describes as what is that stink.

I've thought of five things I can cook up in batches and freeze in portion-sized containers, so the R.C. doesn't have to smell good food (hmph) more than a couple of times a month. Two meals a day for two weeks - say, 20 servings (sometimes I eat out or open a can of soup or dine on nachos), so I only need 2-4 portions each of my five dishes.

It's an interesting logistical problem. You just can't make two portions of vegetable soup. I mean, yes, you can buy six green beans, but you have to buy a whole squash and at least one whole carrot, etc. You have to open a whole can of tomato sauce. There is a minimum limit when you're cooking from scratch.

Unless you can take the same ten ingredients and use different combinations in different dishes. A very interesting logistical problem.

Looks uneasy. OTOH, I'm having a little trouble imagining the R.C.'s expression if I cook pasta sauce, chili, italian-vegetable soup, and chicken stir-fry, all on the same day. Talk about a smell....

I guess I could break down, spend the money on pricey single-serving foods that don't taste as good, and save myself the time, energy, and complaining.

Pauses - re-reads entry - deletes 2/3 of text

Why, yes, I'm still bored at work because I can't figure out what to do next or, indeed, if there's anything I should do. Why do you ask?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:38 PM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, November 16, 2010
At A Loss

I don't really know what to do next, as far as my job is concerned. I mean, if my goal for the year was an overall click-through rate of 2.5% and the average today is 3.4%, and I was hoping for a 15% conversion rate (sales leads) and we're hovering around 25% right now--what do I do next? I'm not really well-equipped to handle success.*

I've been dinking with things. Splitting accounts up to try one thing with half the traffic and something different (usually new and interesting) with the other half. I've been messing with budgets and schedules and markets and whatnot.

I'm afraid to do too much of that sort of thing, in case I break whatever it is that's working at the moment. Traditionally, November is the lowest revenue month of the year for the 'Nuts, but unless they drop the ball, that's not looking to hold true this year.

Ideally, what I want is double what I'm getting at the moment, in terms of actual leads. I like what we're getting, I just want a lot more of it. However, since the odds of convincing the various 'Nuts to double their spend are fairly slim, I'm at a bit of a loss for how to produce those results.**

I could think about lunch, of course. When packing up the box this morning, I eyed the remaining serving of Chicken Mash-Up dubiously, then disposed of it. So, today's Bento*** Experiment consists of carrots, pea pods, and broccoli, with some ('lite') Caesar dressing for dipping, steamed yam chunks, three (smallish) onigiri, and gargantuan grapes. So, I'm doing well when it comes to a variety of things in the box, but this first week hasn't been a success in terms of variety from one day to another. (A large part of this came about from my desire to stop having to eat the same boring things in the same boring way, every day, all week.)

It doesn't have to be Japanese or Chinese, of course. Once I've solved the rice ball problem, I'll probably move on to new things, but first I intend to master sticky rice that sticks less to me and more to itself. The Magic Perfect Rice Cooker mentioned in the comments--I feel it coming over me. I'm going to try to convince the R.C. that a trip to Sur La Table this weekend is a really good idea.****

Moving on, though. Barbecued chicken strips would work, as would beef-and-mushrooms. Potato soup or vegetable-beef soup are both always options. (I'd have to solve the bowl problem. I need a small enough bowl and it has to be microwaveable and have a leak-proof lid.) (Yes, I do own such bowls now, but they're really big. And, yes, I could carry the soup separately and not in the Bento Box, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the whole game, doesn't it?)

You can tell I'm bored at work this week, can't you? All I talk about is lunch. Lunch is not usually the high point of my day. It's the thing I do at 1:00 or 2:15 when I abruptly realize that nourishment is not an option, it's an essential.

Maybe I'll go break something in the campaigns, so I have something to do.



_________________

* Among other things, it's boring. After the first thirty seconds of self-congratulation and ego-stroking, there's nothing to do.

** Lowering costs is the obvious answer, so we can afford more without a bigger financial investment. Which means improving quality scores, which means writing ads. Writing ads is boring. Surely there is an easier path to success than developing the ability to be compelling and convincing in 25 characters or less? I am not pithy. I am not succinct. Ask me for a "summary" of something and I'll hand you four pages.

*** It's always fun how much changing your terminology can change your perception of something, isn't it? I mean, who'd care if I blogged about a lunch box or brown bag experiment? No one, not even me. But name it Bento and suddenly I'm amused.

**** I also need some of those silicone "baking" cups - not for baking but so that I can freeze portion-sized amounts of various dishes. Then I could have variety every day in the week by just selecting different things from the freezer.

Once again, the destruction of the planet caused by me using and tossing half a roll of plastic wrap every week concerns me but I'm certain that I can find more (I have two) freezable/microwaveable portion-sized containers if I just look hard enough.

I did find almost the sort of thing at an awfully good price (27 cents each!) but it's a bulk supply company and I can't see needing 100, which is what it would take to make up the $25 minimum.

Hey! The R.C. and I have about twenty of these, leftover from when we had to carefully measure out small portions for the diet! Honestly, I had no idea they were microwaveable!

Posted by AnneZook at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, November 15, 2010
The Stick Of It All

By the way - this morning's snowstorm moved out, right on schedule, and this afternoon it was sunny and 45. Now, though, as if to say, "ha ha, and that will teach you to mock the gods of weather!" it's started snowing again. Just in time for afternoon rush hour. If my commute wasn't 10 minutes, I'd work up a head of steam about that.

Steam--which leads us to steamed-- which leads us to rice. Lunch!

First impression: Well, that could have been more delicious.

I do love a buffet. However, five courses, even with only a few bites each, may have been a little generous. Especially considering the volume of rice involved.*

The Onigiri Experiment

Sticky rice, it turns out, is tricky rice. My intent was that the grains should sticky to each other--thus rice balls--but not so much success with that. It was all very sticky--but mostly it stickied to me (Except that I've been finding grains here and there around my desk all afternoon. Either I was careless unwrapping the onigiri or the alien rice is making a break for freedom.)

I might have over-steamed the rice--considering how much difficulty that first steamer-full gave me, that's quite possible. Or not allowed it to cool quite enough before forming it into rice balls. Or not have allowed it to set up sufficiently before I wrapped the balls and refrigerated them. Or some combination of the three.

Anyhow. Messy. Possibly that's why the nori, a step I won't skip next time.

Plenty of room for improvement on that front, that's all I'm saying.

This time, I wound up crumbling the onigiri into the empty salad dish and forking them. (At which point, let me add, the rice did an about-face and tried desperately to glue itself into a single tennis-ball sized glob. I don't like when my food fights back.)

The beef filling came out very well, though. And the bits of steamed carrot and minced green onion in the other onigiri was also a good flavor combination.

The Chicken Mash-Up thing was…. It's been over two hours since I ate it but the impression lingers. It was really sort of….

I do love hoisin, though, so I'm gonna try again--sans oysters. In, you know, a week or two.

How about chicken strips coated with cornstarch and quick-fried?** Or maybe broiled, to give the illusion of being 'healthy food', and sliced into dipping strips? Hoisin (brown sauce!) makes a great dipping sauce so practically anything should work--as long as the person holding the stirring spoon isn't a complete moron.***

I have my heart set on yakitori because I'm one of those people who thinks bits of things on sticks is the mecca of gastronomy.**** Also, I have skewers.


__________________

* I was somewhat concerned when the onigiri recipe had me start with a "handful" of rice, but my hands aren't exactly gigantic so I thought it would be okay. For tomorrow's lunch, though, maybe just two onigiri and two smallish side dishes.


** My current theory of frying is that it's not so bad if you avoid batter and breading. I could be fooling myself, of course.


*** 50-50 if it's me.


**** Also, some non-sticked foods live in my mecca, most of which, if revealed, would probably get me skewered in effigy by green-wingers.

Caviar is gorgeous stuff but I'm not really willing to commit piscine genocide for a mouthful of toast. (I mean, not unless you're offering.)

Snails--aren't they just the cutest little squiggly scooters? Pour on the garlic and butter and pass me a platter full.

Truffles--are fungus and thus should not be eaten. It can't be good for you. Send all your truffles to me! All your truffles.

You go to hell for eating pâté de foie gras (but, really, it might be worth it).

On the other hand, something like quail's eggs is just pretension in action because I know when no one is looking, everyone throws those into the trash. Nasty.

At this point, I abruptly realize that my vegetarian niece, Rapunzel, is probably no longer speaking to me. Sigh.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:51 PM | Comments (2)



Hey!

Who ordered snow for the Monday morning commute? I didn't order snow. I checked with the R.C. and she didn't order snow.

Snow for Saturday, yes, we were prepared for that. Food, toys, chores--we had it all and we were hunkered down to ride out a blizzard. (Saturday's storm dropped about twelve flakes across the city, but still.)

I guess if it's going to snow, I might as well be at work. Hmph.

Anyhow. Yesterday's* Sticky Rice Experiment was--sticky.

First I over estimated how much rice I could actually steam at one time--for future reference, 1/2 cup is the absolute limit. Then I absentmindedly put hoisin sauce on the chicken that already had soy sauce and oyster sauce on it--what I really wanted was the hoisin, so it was actually the oyster that was the mistake--and that's going to be an interesting flavor at lunch today.

Also, I had to scurry around looking for little pots and buckets to pack it all in so it could be carried in the base of my current 'bento' box. To my surprise, I did have little containers** more-or-less the right size to hold the various courses I was planning to take***.

So, I have some salad (spring greens & baby spinach leaves with carrots, pea pods, and broccoli) which, thematically, demands a miso dressing but Caesar is what I had so it's what I brought. I have chunks of steamed yam I was going to bring butter for but then I decided that nothing that tastes as good as a yam really needs adornment. I have the aforementioned Chicken Mash-Up--and to be honest, I'm a little afraid of that bucket.

And onigiri! One unstuffed, but with bits of steamed carrot and minced green onion mixed in with the rice. Two others filled--if you can call it "filled" when it's a teaspoon-sized serving inside a great glob of rice--with bits of beef marinated in soy sauce and some grated fresh ginger, then quick-cooked in a hot pan with some miso and a bit of oyster sauce (yes, again, because I like oyster sauce and also, that's how the oyster-hoisin mixup started).

For dessert, tucked into the nooks and corners of the box, seedless red grapes because when I was at the grocery store last week they had ginormous grapes on sale, so I bought some.

I am very excited about lunch today. That it will be a disaster goes without saying, but anything worth doing is worth taking some pains over and by the next time, I anticipate actually edible food!

I generally eat lunch around 1:00 or 1:30. Right now, it's 11:15 and I'm so interested to see how it all came out that I'm having trouble resisting the urge to go ahead and eat now.

__________________________

* Yes, I know the 'best' onigiri is same-day fresh but there are limits to what I'm willing to do for lunch and getting up at 5:00 am so I can steam multiple batches of rice in my tiny stovetop basket falls outside those limits.

** I talk a good game when it comes to plastic, but the truth is that my kitchen is full of all kinds of plastic food storage containers of all shapes and sizes. Except, usually, for the precise shape and size I need at any one moment.

*** But my current flat, dinner-sized bento box was every bit as awkward to carry in this morning as I'd thought it would be. Also, I found containers that fit in, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of wasted space inside. I'm thinking--dragon bento box!

Posted by AnneZook at 11:17 AM | Comments (4)



Friday, November 12, 2010
Onigiri (and poo)

After much pondering--which I'd call an abusive waste of company time if part of my brain didn't keep insisting that I'm actually allowed an hour for lunch*, each and every day--a certain amount of site-searching, a small amount of guilty Amazon-shopping, and a badly written** grocery store ingredients list, I've decided on next week's lunch theme.

Onigiri!

It was going to be bento (I already have the box!) but some of the (absolutely) necessary (really!) new accouterments (must have the proper toys tools for the game job, after all) won't be here for a week or more and anyhow, from what I've read, onigiri offers much more scope by way of trashing out the kitchen, which is always a plus. Sticky rice!

For those of you who didn't follow that out-of-the-box (not bento) leap into today's (starting) subject matter, onigiri are Japanese rice balls. Made with sticky rice and sometimes bits of whatnot for a spot of filling. Me, being me, there will be whatnot in weird and wild varieties. If you can eat it with rice, you can stick it in rice, that's my theory.

For the last two weeks, lunch has been whatever I found in the refrigerator each morning that took the least amount of thought. I've been very bored of food.

Pondering the tedium of lunch the last few days, I realized that part of the problem was the dingy parade of well-worn plastic bowls I wind up facing again and again.*** No matter what I put inside them, it's all essentially the same when I open it up at noon.

Soup bowl - runny food
OR
Ziplock bag - whole-wheat wrap AND
Rectangular box - slice o'turkey and slice o'low-fat Swiss or provolone to stuff inside the above.

On an adventurous day, the rectangular box also contains a couple of slices of cucumber and/or tomato. Two rectangular boxes means I felt generous and not pressed for time that morning and I included half a dozen or so tortilla chips or a handful of crackers. Sometimes I get wild and crazy and buy little pots of fruit for my lunch bag. Big treat.

No more! That bento box, so often loved but so rarely used at home is about to come into constant service. Presentation is all when it comes to mealtime excitement!**** The tempting crispness of fresh veggies, the heavy sweetness of bite-sized fruits, the smoky goodness of toasted nuts, the tart complexity of soy sauce, the insouciance of a spot of wasabi--does anyone but me think I'm getting a little stupid here?*****

The point is that I love many things in life, and one them is a buffet. Being able to have one or two bites of half a dozen different things entertains me enormously. Bento is buffet-in-a-box, so it's all good.

However, as already mentioned, some toys things I need for the full bento experience are en route, so I'm starting with onirigi, by way of practice.

I'm planning to start here:

Tuna with wasabi mayonnaise
Smoked salmon
Chopped, steamed veggies
Teriyaki chicken******

Sounds ambitious, doesn't it? The beauty of it is that the fillings are not complicated to prepare. For the tuna, you take canned (I have a packet, but same difference) tuna, drain very well, mix in minimal amount of wasabi mayonnaise (or soy sauce), and voila! Wrap a spoonful in sticky rice and you have a new and interesting food experience.

I'm hungry.

I stopped for a quick walk and to check the sky. No storm yet, so my plans for an after-work foray into the grocery store are still on.

I was going to blog my walk the other day--I walk around the building half a dozen times a day to get some fresh air and move around a little (okay, yes, and to smoke) and after our brief snow shower earlier this week, so many freshly turned leaves had fallen that it was like walking on a carpet of gold.

That was three days ago, though, and now the leaves are all damp and fading into compost-brown, so it's more like walking on a carpet of poo, which isn't really as blogworthy.

Also blogworthy--when I thought of it, at least--was this morning's light fog. Low temperatures meant frozen floating vapor creating a glitter-fog effect that a concert designer would kill to see on a stage.

The biggest problem with a bento box lunch (we're back to today's starting topic now) is transporting it without making a mess. My box is a flat one, not one of those tiered jobbies. And the lid sits on top without fastening. I either need to buy a broad strip of elastic and make a band to hold the lid on and deal with the awkwardness of toting a ten-inch square box, or buy a tiered jobbie.

This one comes with an "elastic band" for transport, which I suspect will turn out to be an oversized rubber band. But, sakura blossom pattern, which is a plus. (No, wait! I zoomed the picture and the elastic band is a good one.)

But then, this one is actually made to latch, which is a more elegant solution. It's almost sold out, but they might get more soon. Not nearly as pretty, either.

Or a dragon pattern, which has a much more interesting shape.

Whaddya think?******* 'Cause I'm thinking, dragon. (Of course I am. I just checked the respective prices and the dragon is by far the most expensive.) (That could be considered as my second super-power - the ability to look at a selection of things and unerringly fixate on the most expensive one.)

The sakura pattern one still appeals to me as well.



__________________


* Okay, that was weird. Eight typos to that point in the sentence. Am I unusually thumb-fingered today or has my brain abruptly lurched a full step down the painful path to senility?

** No, that's not a senility thing. My left-handedness means I've always had horrible handwriting. and twenty years of keyboarding didn't help.

*** Don't get me wrong--I bought things of plastic, thereby shortening the life of the planet a small but discouraging amount, so I'm going to keep using the plastic until I die, it dies (hah!), or (with luck) someone figures out how to recycle it.

**** For what it's worth, this plan first came into being when the weather was supposed to be ghastly this coming weekend and pottering around in the kitchen for hours would have been a delightful and useful way to spend some of the snowed-in hours.

***** It's late(ish) on Friday afternoon and I'm pretty much over working for a living this week.

****** A necessity, since I want to try out a couple of recipes for yakitori. I'm thinking, marinate, sear in a pan, then oven-finish to get the dryness.

(Also, the blog software doesn't like "teriyaki" and keeps suggesting "sukiyaki" instead. What kind of spellchecker knows sukiyaki but not teriyaki?) (It's also suggesting tertiary, but I think it's just messing with me there.)

******* Yes, okay, both plastic, but from my perspective, today's food supply is already iffy enough without playing Russian roulette non-sterilizable (Word insists that is not a real word) food containers. I sweartogosh I'll use it for years and years and years.

(What's with all the asterisks, anyhow? I originally started using them for random tangents but I think they're getting out of hand. Can I not think along a single track for even ten minutes?)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:30 PM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Bleah

That's how I feel today.

Not physically, but mentally. I have 20 days (while the 'Nuts are largely absorbed in the busy season rush) to decide what, if any, changes I should make to their advertising based on data from the new website structure. I realized about ten minutes ago that 60 days just isn't enough data to base any major alterations on, so now I'm sitting here, pretending I'd be doing something worthwhile with my time if I weren't at the office.

Fuss. Fuss. Fuss. So much to do, so little motivation when I'm not at work. Drawing to practice (I'm going to get back into it), knitting projects to work on, books to read, dvds to watch, recipes to experiment with, etc. Sigh.

I have a box o'books and a set of dvds ready to send to the L-i-K-S. Fortunately I'm a world-class procrastinator and I got them packed up but did not get them sent this weekend. "Fortunately" because I'd forgotten she was moving. She sent me her new address this morning. I'll re-address the box tonight and, with a bit of effort, get it to the post office one day this week.

Saturday, I got up and worked for a couple of hours.

Then the R.C. and I decided to do something together--something different. We headed over to Northfield (in old Stapleton, where the airport used to be) to check out the new-style "outdoor walking mall" they'd built there.

That was a bit of an adventure. Owing to an unfamiliarity with that part of the highway, we missed the poorly marked exit we'd been heading for and wound up circling about 220 compass degrees around our destination before we found a through street. (This, mind you, for a mall that is right beside the highway. When you drive past, it looks to be about a 30-second hop to get there.**)

I'll give them this--parts of the area can easily be walked. The big anchor stores (Target, Macy's, JCPenny's, etc.) would be a bit of a hike, especially if you made heavy purchases, but they're reasonably close. (Less than a quarter-mile.) The walking part is mostly non-chain stores or smaller, boutique kinds of stores. We tried on many things. The R.C. was tempted by (and fell for) a necklace. I bought a pair of $8 shorts.

The day was notable only for the restaurant we found, an Asian place called Ling and Louie's. The R.C. had the teriyaki beef (made with filet mignon) and I had the teriyaki chicken. Both were absolutely delicious. The R.C. was feeling a touch delicate, digestion-wise, so I demanded both her and my leftovers to take home.

I got 'em, too, and I've been enjoying them every day since. (You know what I call value? I call a $22 meal "value" when two people have lunch, then there are leftovers for five or six more meals.)
Adventure-wise, the R.C. was pretty much done but I was still eating (as in, still chewing) when the meal ended. Our Little Server Boy showed up at the table with our leftover/takeout boxes and proceeded to shovel the remainder of our food into them.

I had my chopsticks still in my hand. I was still chewing. What part of that picture do you think he interpreted as, "she is done eating now"?

In my next life, I want a more useful superpower than the ability to send service staff nutsoid the moment I appear on the horizon.

(This morning I was passing by some building HVAC techs here at the office and one of them stopped me and asked if it would be okay if they turned the A/C off for ten minutes to install a new part. Why were they asking me?)

Saturday evening was the little treat from 1977, Tentacles. Long-time sufferers on this blog know of my fondness for finding old monster movies--the cheesier the better. What I like is creature features.

This one was bad--but not really in a good way, you know? ( I mean, I had my doubts when the body count was initiated with an eight month-old baby.) I won't ruin it for you, but I did want to mention how very amusing and unusual some aspects were.

For instance, there was almost no incidental music. It's so ubiquitous in moves these days that you hardly notice it's there, but I have learned that you notice if it isn't. It was difficult to stay in the plot--when nothing in particular is happening onscreen and it's not happening in complete silence. It takes very little time before your mind starts to wander.

Also? I know nothing about the director or most of the actors, but I'm assuming the director was either terminally pretentious or g*a*y*. In place of the scantily clad female bodies that litter the screens of today's low-budget films, we got--legs. Lots of legs. Young male legs. (I swear, there was one part of the movie where the camera hadn't panned above a young man's calves for fifteen minutes.) Yes, they were nice calves and I did appreciate the opportunity to admire them, but it's more difficult to figure out who's who if you're never shown anyone's face.

The movie ended with two attractive young men going off together to start a new life.

O-kay.

Sunday, I got up and worked for three or four hours. Then it was Chore Day. I did some sewing and mending that's been piling up. (Just the odd droopy hem or missing button.) I cleaned in a half-hearted way. Porcelain in the kitchen and bath. Floors ditto. Some dusting. Cleaning counters. Tidying up piles o'piled-up-stuff.

Bein's* as I'm back on the diet, I also whacked up a pre-cooked turkey breast and a quarter of a watermelon and got them ready for weekday lunches. Those, a non-fat yogurt, and a baked potato (with salsa, not butter) are what I eat during the week, during the day. If it wasn't for binging in the evenings, I'd be thin!

With my bonus I also indulged myself in a few inexpensive "just for me" DVDs and a couple of books. Sunday is also (as I've mentioned) Being Happy day, so I started one of my new books and watched one of my new dvds.

Sunday evening's creature feature was Empire of the Ants. As a movie based on an H. G. Wells story, it really should have been better than it was. I suspect that that first 45 minutes where we established the sexual and financial peccadilloes of various characters was a Hollywood addition. I do give them credit for trying to establish some characterization, but it meant that the real heart of the story (I won't spoil it for you) was crammed willy-nilly into a half-hour or so block of time at the end of the movie. That block would have made a great movie.

Okay, that killed 30 minutes.

What else?

Yesterday the A/C went out here at the office and I went home to work when the temperature in here reached about 90 or 92. Then, last night, it got so cool that I had to sleep with my window shut. Very odd weather.

Oh! And I've introduced (via email) Gidget and Bernie. I have informed both of them that from now on, the initial and client-contact parts of Bernie's accounts are her problem, not mine.

That's a load off my mind.

I'm pretty sure I've actually done some interesting things recently, but I can't remember any of them right now.

On the calendar hanging by my desk, the 28th of this month is marked as, "28z" and it's bothering me. It's not a holiday (those are marked differently) and it's not something I can find on any other month. Just August 28th.

28z

28z

28z!

28z!

No matter how you punctuate it, it remains insignificant.

______________

* L-i-K-S - I did that just for you. Heh.

** Driving around Denver involves remembering two rules.
1) You can see it, but you can't get there from here; and
2) If you haven't been here before, we don't want you back.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:53 PM | Comments (3)



Monday, June 28, 2010
Aggravation!

The causes are varied.

#1 - My trusty thumb drive, the one with a ton of invaluable whatnot about my freelance work on it, died on me last week. Since I hadn't copied over the data since the end of April, I'm missing 60 days worth of information--some of it pretty significant. Sigh.

That's the aggravation that's really been preying on my mind the for the last week.

#2 - Due to circumstances beyond my control (sometimes you have to just be at peace with the idea of interruptions) (disinterest and disinclination were also factors) I haven't done much to manage the 'Nut campaigns in the last couple of weeks. I ran one reports this morning and there are red flags all over the place. Fortunately, it's the busy season right now, so I'm not getting enraged phone calls, but I'm determined to spend the next three days getting caught up. Sigh.

Only three days, though, because after that I have to do month-end reporting.

#3 - I've been in the middle of a project of trying to get my bedroom actually organized and tidy. (I believe I droned on about the dumping of that last plastic bookcase a few months ago.) What I need now are two more of the more expensive wood bookcases, but having just spent $900 on a new mattress, I'm having trouble giving myself permission to go ahead and buy them, so I can move ahead with the project.

- #3a - But there's a different bookcase that I saw this weekend that attracted me and I'm thinking of getting it instead. The shelves fold up when they're empty. That would be very useful on the bottom--it would make cleaning under it much easier, no need to completely unload the thing and try to move it--just empty the one shelf. I really like that idea. Sadly, I don't like the look of that bookcase nearly as much, and I'm not at all convinced it won't look cheap and nasty next to my other one.

I'll probably stick with my original selection and keep using a long-handled gizmo to get under them, but the image of myself just flipping the shelf up and swizzing the vacuum cleaner into the space lingers on.

- #3b - Part of the Great Room Reorganization is the Great Closet Clear-out. I'm shocked and astonished to have to report that I actually found another giant garbage bag full of "stuff" to throw out this past weekend. I'm long past understanding where it's all coming from.

#4 - Bernie still refuses to be fired. I billed him a week or so ago for the first few weeks of the work with the Funhouse gang and he paid me - I got a check on Friday. Since I used to work for him, I know that he normally pays invoices only on the 10th! His promptness this time was very suspicious.

I did almost no freelance work this weekend. I had intended to do a number of things, but Residual Aggro over the behavior of the Funhouse gang left me largely disinclined. (Also, yes, I got all distracted by cleaning, laundry, and throwing out trash, all of which I did in a big way. I think I can now officially declare Spring Cleaning as done. I can honestly say that that apartment--at least, the parts of it I'm responsible for cleaning--has not been this clean in a couple of years. Clearing out some clutter so I could get to various nooks and crannies to clean them was very satisfying.)

#5 - I bought some new jeans a while back--maybe six weeks ago. I may have to throw them away. In spite of repeated washings, they smell. They're fine in the washer and when they come out of the dryer, but then a few hours later there's a weird smell--the R.C. thinks it's like gasoline, but it smells like fireworks (gunpowder) to me. I searched around online--a number of people have posted about this in the last five years and the general consensus is that it gets less obnoxious in a few years, but never really goes away.*

Last night I got my PJs out of the closet where they'd been hanging next to the jeans and I realized that the PJs had picked up Smell from the jeans.

I'm really not comfortable going around smelling.

#6 - When I arrived at the office this morning, I immediately noticed that all the doors have fancy new deadbolts on them. (Must remember to get a key.) Clearly that conversation I overhead a week or so ago, between two people from a different office suite, about breaking in to offices was not just random chat. If that's what happened, it's the second break-in this building has had in the last two or three months.

It's sort of peculiar--there are no retail or cash-based businesses in the building and no pharmaceutical offices of any kind. I can't figure out what someone would break into this building for. If there had been wholesale removal of, for instance, computer equipment, I'm sure word would have gotten around, but I haven't head anything like that. (In fact, I've heard nothing--I hate it when there are Unusual Happenings and I'm left in the dark.)

It's possible, of course, that this is related to the previous d-e-a-t-h threat event.

4:00 p.m. update

For anyone who cares? #2, above? I got through 3 campaigns today.

What prevented me from working today, you ask?

30 minutes lost to a follow-up project from last week's issue of the 'Nut News.

An 11:30 lunch I forgot I promised to attend (Obligatory Coworker Bonding) that I got free from at 1:15.

Then a 2:00 conference call--I appeared on time and waited 15 minutes, only to be told it was being rescheduled to 2:30. At 2:30 it was rescheduled to 3:30. At 3:30 one guy dialed in and chatted about his personal life until 4:00 when he and NewBoss Anais decided the remaining participant wasn't going to appear and we' d have to reschedule it for tomorrow.




_____________________________

* No one knew the cause, although the obvious culprit is the particular dye being used. Personally, I suspect some sekrit government project to experiment on us all. Or, you know. some kind of border fumigation/extermination process.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:02 PM | Comments (6)



Monday, April 5, 2010
Eight Hours of Persuasion

Okay, two-and-a-half, but it felt like eight hours.

The R.C. and I are both big Austen fans and are always up for trying a new movie or miniseries from any of her works. Unfortunately, Persuasion (coincidentally, the favorite of each of us) has never been brought to screen successfully. About a year ago, we purchased a DVD that we thought was the "best" of what we'd seen--talk about damned with faint praise--and yesterday we sat down to re-watch it for the first time.

That’s two-and-a-half hours of a gloriously sunny Sunday that I'll never get back again.

All I can say is that if, at a time when we were trying a lot of versions, this one not only struck us as the "best" but as something good enough to spend money on, I hope I never remember how ghastly the others were.

I remember a time, quite a few years ago, when the local art house was showing a new adaptation that was getting a lot of good press and word of mouth. I took myself off to see it one day and then walked out--very early on--at the point where Our Heroine was packed off to visit her sister, dangling her legs off the back of a farm cart.

I want my weekend back!

Pauses to blush.

Yes, mostly because I got a new Harvest Moon game. Sunshine Islands! I need to be home playing with it.

Also because we got a new television Saturday. Not because we're rich, but because our VCR is going out and we got a new one and then it turned out that our TV was so old that it didn't have the necessary connectors on the back to hook up the (inexpensive) new VCR. So, the $80 VCR led to a $400 television expense.

Anyhow, I need to be, not home, but at Micro Center, buying a set of cables--I got the new TV hooked up and working fine, but we didn't have the right cables for the new VCR, so now we have a $a brand-new television and still can't watch anything on tape. I'm stopping at Micro Center on the way home tonight.

I can't think of anything else that needs to be said right now.

(In response to the R.C.s recent complaint about excess randomness, I have not footnoted. Thus, the world is spared my opinion on how Persuasion could be fitted to a movie screen, my idle thoughts about one one-hour stage adaptation, and a discussion of the daffodils that are blooming outside the office. You're welcome.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:09 PM | Comments (4)



Monday, March 22, 2010
Problematic

That's a good word. It implies something more interesting than a mere problem.

After many years of not writing (and intermittent whining about it), I'm dabbling in writing again. Many of my recent weekend (and evening) activities have been chosen specifically to encourage this state of mind. The results are--less than impressive, but I knew it was going to take time to get back in practice, so that's fine.

The problem, of course, comes in the when. If I could turn the creative part of my brain off from 8-5, M-F, that would be good. (And from 7-11 on weekends, since that's when I do most of my freelance work.) Arrange that for me, 'k?

Bernie called this morning. He passed my comments to the Freethinker and now the Freethinker is asking, 'what next'? Bernie wanted to know what we should do (and how long it would either take me to do it, or to teach Lorna, his Harried Helper, to do it). I hate questions like that. Questions about teaching someone. I am a horrible teacher* and I am honest enough to admit it

Lorna, his Harried Helper, hasn't done anything to me--I've never even met her. Why should I inflict myself on her in a role I'm completely unsuited for? Also? This is not a "beginner" project. This is not a project for someone who has never even seen the software.

I sympathize with his desire to have this work done in-house, so he doesn't have to pay a free-lancer for it. I support the idea of me not being responsible for the potpourri of random clients he has coming on board. He and his Harried Helper can, as I've told him more than once, log in to the free online lessons and learn. But I don't teach.

I don't mind reorganizing the Freethinker's stuff for him, though. (Even though it means I'll actually have to go read his web pages.) Anticipating that this would come up, I already have copious notes on what should be done. Organizing is much more fun than management and the check should cover the last of my travel expenses from the end of February.

The next leaf in Bernie's potpourri is Portuguese And wants to advertise in that language,. I tried--I did try, to explain the difficulty of this to Bernie but I don't think I got through. I know--the numbers are the same, but the words matter.

Crazy man.

Also, he told me that I'm in first place in our brackets group--we had a fifteen minute conversation about games that I assume must have taken place in the last week or something and have I ever mentioned on the blog how much I hate having to fake my way through in-depth conversations about teams and players I've never heard of**--but I can't figure out how to go look at it all to see how this strange thing happened, so I can't explain it.

___________________

* Seriously. "Here's the stuff. Just do it. If you have a question, search the web for an answer." That should be enough "teaching" for anyone.

** Some day I'm going to get caught doing that and someone's feelings will be hurt. (By the way, brackets are about basketball. Did you know that? I'm not sure I knew that before today.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:22 PM | Comments (4)



Monday, March 8, 2010
My Life In the Twilight Zone, Part 2

Now it's over a week in the past and I'm over it.

Short version. (I know, it looks long. Trust me, this is the short version.)

I arrived at the airport in Denver, double-checked my itinerary, and realized I'd been reading the landing time as my flight's departure time all day. (Not the first time I've done that.) Got on the flight with only a minor kerfluffle, made it to Ventura and then the hotel--realized that not only was I at the wrong hotel, I had no actual memory of ever knowing what hotel I was supposed to be at. In fact, standing there in the lobby of the M*rr**tt, I would have given even odds on my being in the wrong town.

Because M*rr**tt people rock the rockingest, the fabulously nice desk guy not only didn't mock me, he gave me a key to the hotel's business center so I could check the gathering's website and figure out where I was supposed to be. And then he called me a second cab to take me the mile or so down the road (no sidewalk, or I'd have just walked) to the place I should have been all along.

The weekend itself was uneventful, adventure-wise, with the tsunami from Chile's earthquake turning into a no-show, the food being plentiful, and my friends being fabulous, but my trip back was similarly adventurous.

A shuttle company I had not paid called me--they had my cell # and my flight info--to confirm my ride back to LAX. In spite of a moment of panic--clearly my brain is not to be trusted and the fact that I couldn't remember booking that shuttle wasn't proof I hadn't done it--I held firm to my printed itinerary and refused to compromise. The right shuttle--the one I'd already paid--showed up and did have me on the pick-up list.

I was peacefully watching the scenery whizz by the highway, double-checking my itinerary to confirm that I'd have a comfortable two hours to spare when I got to the airport, when my cell phone rang. Un*ted's automated system calling me to say my flight had canceled and they'd rebooked me on one three hours later.

Having no choice, I stayed on the shuttle heading to the airport. Once there, it turned out that the Un*ted terminal was under construction--a state of affairs that seems to have been going on for so long that they no longer felt it necessary to have informational signs redirecting travelers to the gates--but eventually I fought my way through to the goblin castle* of security, confirmed my 6:15 reservations, got put on standby for the 4:15 and 5:15 flights, and staggered to the nearest Starbucks.

You'd think that with three to five hours of excess time on my hands I'd have at least gotten a meal, wouldn't you? I did buy a sandwich from one place but the bread turned out to be rather tough--not stale, just overly chewy, possibly as a result of having been kept in a cooler--so I wound up picking the meat and cheese out of the middle of it.

They got me on the 4:15, but it was close--I'd wandered away from the gate to call the R.C. and complain about it all and only coincidentally wandered back in time to hear them yelling at me to come and get a seat.

These adventures aren't the onset of early dementia. I feel it's necessary to keep repeating that. I think most of the problem is that I used to travel so much that I got rather careless about it. I mean, as long as you print out your itineraries and have a list of relevant phone numbers, you're good. There's no need to obsess over the cab situation in a strange town--when you get there, it will be what it is. I think I took that whole mentality just a bit too far this time.

But I had fun!

__________________

* Gratuitous Labyrinth reference.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, March 3, 2010
My Life In the Twilight Zone, Part 1

Home! It's good to be home. As much as I love seeing my friends (and family), there's nothing quite as happy-making as sleeping in my own little bed (and knowing what city I'm in when I wake up in the morning).

The trip to Kansas went well, I think. I haven't been to a costume con in many, many years. While I did anticipate that an anime con would feature a lot of cosplay, I was somewhat surprised by the number and variety of costumes worn by attendees. Rapunzel and I were admiring the more creative costumes as we wandered from panel to panel. (After a while, I started feeling silly for not being in costume. I felt out of place!)

It takes very little snow to disrupt Kansas traffic so when a storm moved in on Saturday afternoon, Pippi and the L-i-K-S packed up my stuff and Rapunzel's and came down to the hotel where we all stayed over until Sunday. That was fun, because it meant we could keep attending panels until midnight.

Surprisingly enough, the weekend panels I enjoyed the most were the more generic ones--ones on the history of Toonami (and its affect on today's USofA anime fans), the star panel with voice actors, and the history and disappearance of OVAs. I didn't recognize "Toonami" when it appeared on the panel list but it turns out that I've seen at least a few episodes of all the most popular Toonami programs. Who knew?

The more specialized ones--chick gamers, etc.--turned out to be much less interesting. (There was nothing wrong with the topics, they were uninteresting because they had moderators who weren't quite sure how to lead a panel and who, in consequence, sat in front of the room and told endless and pointless personal anecdotes tangentially related to the subject matter.)

The two panels that Rapunzel was most excited about, the ones on dollfies, were both very good. I hadn't expected to be particularly interested in those, but the presenters really knew their material and there were a lot of different sizes and brands of dolls there to look at. Really, much cooler than I'd thought.

I spent, I am proud to say, very little money in the dealer's room. Mindful of the fact that I was experimenting with traveling "carry-on," I bought a couple of buttons, that's all.

Anyhow. I hope Rapunzel had fun. I think she did--she talked about going to the con again next year, so I think her first convention experience was fun for her.

In fact, it all went very well until I got home. Owing to a complicated variety of events, I was parked rather far from my usual outlying parking lot. I didn't anticipate this would be a problem--I've driven to and from that airport 30 times since it opened--so, after I'd scraped six inches of melted snow and ice off of my car, I hopped in, retraced my inbound route, found my road, and started happily, if tiredly, homeward.

Only.

It wasn't my road. I don't know what road it was.

I'm sure that at one point I drove under an overpass that was the road I needed, but there was no ramp, so I couldn't actually get to it.

Not a problem, I thought. After all, all roads lead to Rome, or something like that. It's Denver. All I needed was a reasonably major east-west road and I could get home.

I drove and I drove and I drove. No such roads appeared. In fact, since it was now long after sunset, the complete absence of any kind of city lights made it appear as though I was halfway to Wyoming. Eventually I came to an intersection large enough to warrant a stoplight. The crossroad was 140th street and I live at about -15, so I'd gone about 155 blocks too far north. But! It went west, so I took it.

And I drove and I drove and I drove. Having granted my wish for an east-west road, I guess the gods of asphalt decided to take the rest of the night off, so none of them heard my subsequent plea for a north-south artery.

I drove west for about six or seven years. Then, knowing I was too far north anyhow, I found a road that sort of promised to go north-south and took it a mile or so south--where it abruptly turned into a dead-end, forcing me to turn back east and eventually--wait for it--dumping me back out on 140th street.

I drove back on 140th for a while but it was feeling no more generous with north-south roads than it had been earlier. I found a Colorado highway and, under the assumption that it, at least, would not turn into a dead end, I took it, even though it seemed to be headed more east than south.

I drove on it for a while, pondering the fact that if you're in an unfamiliar part of a large city and you're accustomed to navigating by the mountains--invisible at night--you can't really be sure of your compass heading. (Also? Roads and highways in Denver are frequently labeled "north" or "west" but that doesn't mean the roads actually go "north" or "west." Sometimes a road labeled "west" will head dead-south or straight north for several miles.) Eventually I ran into--brace yourself--144th street. After 15 minutes of driving, I was four blocks farther from home and I no longer had the faintest clue where I was, east-west-north-south, in relation to any part of Denver I've ever seen before.

My options at this point were, (A) pull over and have a meltdown, (B) find a hotel and go to bed (not unrelated to (A)), or (C) call the R.C.

There's a reason she's the Resident Consultant. I found an intersection large enough to be labeled (in a suburb I've never even heard of before), pulled into a parking lot, called the R.C., and demanded that she Mapquest me and find out what freaking reality I was in.

Because she's good at that kind of thing, she talked me off the ledge, put up with my refusal to get back on the same highway that had been dumping me out on 140th street all night, and navigated me back to "my" part of town.

I am not suffering from early dementia! I think that needs to be stated, very clearly. I have a very bad sense of direction, I always have had, and I rely very heavily on being able to see the Front Range when I'm traveling around Denver.

You probably think that's all pretty weird. Wait until you hear the story of my second trip.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:33 PM | Comments (4)



Thursday, February 18, 2010
Whoosh - I'm excited!

I've been having a little trouble getting excited about my upcoming trips. Travel--especially winter travel--can be such a hassle any more. But now that my first trip is tomorrow and now that the R.C. has fulfilled her primary function in life (making my life run more smoothly), I'm very excited!

I ran mad this morning and frittered away $3.50 on a celebratory latte on the way to work.

Considering that they don't live that far away (the next state), I don't really see the L-i-K-S, Rapunzel, and Pippi that often. While it might have been fun to plan a longer trip--really spend some time with them--I'm always mindful of Ben Franklin's warning that "Fish and visitors stink after three days" and I planned a three-day trip.

(Also? Even without Franklin's words of warning, I've always thought that if I'm able to leave a place with the people I leave behind wishing, even just a little, that I could have stayed longer, I probably left just in time.)

I think I've successfully squelched Bernie on the idea that I should do some work "in your free time" on the trip. As I pointed out to him, a three-day trip doesn't come loaded with "free time."

Anyhow. I'm off work on Tuesday next week, after I get back, and I'm planning on doing some free-lance work then. Wednesday I'm back in the office and then Thursday afternoon, I'm off to California.

In the meantime, I've been working with focus and dedication all week, but now, at 1:30 in the afternoon, I'm abruptly over it and ready to start vacationing! (Yes, even with the knowledge that it's going to snow.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM | Comments (4)



Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It Was Toooosday and I just realized that it was a FAT one!

I mean, I don't really know or care from Mardi Gras, but I have got to jolly myself back into a better mood.

Yesterday's chores: bank (cash for my trip) and pharmacy (prescription refill). Today, I will potentially go to both the grocery store (almost out of coffee), and apartment management office (to refill my laundry card) on my way home. (Possibly I was a little too laid back and relaxed over the weekend--there seem to be a lot of things I didn't get done.)

Had a conference call with Bernie and Freethinker, the potential new client, Monday afternoon. In a complete reversal of what I expected to see, the Freethinker's website looked great (visually--layout--I didn't read anything during the meeting) and the ads I saw in his Webstrainer campaign looked, really, very good. Generally these things, especially good ads, are where DIY advertisers fail. It was nice to see a campaign where someone did it right.

Everything else was appalling, so, no surprises there. I mean, the guy did seem to have a vague idea of the potential of it all, but without defined goals (Bernie asked three times during the call and got three conflicting answers) and without some structure he isn't going to be able to tap into the potential.

I won't go on and on. I'll just say that if you open your account page and it's covered with red warning messages? Telling everyone how well you're doing it is--less convincing.

The Freethinker was pretty vague throughout the entire call, so I'm not sure if Bernie strong-armed him into agreeing to have someone evaluate his campaign or if it was his idea, but that's not my problem. I don't mind earning two or three hundred bucks for reviewing what he's got and making some suggestions. That's all I'm committed to right now.

Because I'm a moron, I just now realized that my 8:30am flight on Friday means I should be on the road and headed toward the airport by 6:30, at the latest. Since it's my vacation, there's snow forecast, and I'm not at my best before dawn under any circumstances, I'm almost thinking I should book a shuttle or something--get someone else to drive, somehow.

On the other hand, shuttle companies are insane any more. They refuse to pick you up any later than 4 hours before your flight. The odds of me getting out of bed, pulling myself together, and being downstairs, luggage in hand, at 4:00am are surprisingly small. Maybe I'll be wasteful and spend $50 on a cab. (Maybe I'll stop being such a baby and just drive myself--the stupid airport is only 30 minutes away.)

Today's excitement includes the stupid 'Nut Newsletter. We're on draft #6 right now. I only read one sentence (I'm getting very good at coding without reading) but it was ugly enough that I was unable to resist sending TeamChaos an email asking (after the fifth draft) if they were seriously going to leave it in the newsletter. NewBoss Anais emailed back and offered to let me rewrite it, but I refuse to take the first step down that slippery slope. I'm just going to decide to be Over it. Over it, over it, over it.

You'd be proud of me. They've been requesting additional bolding dropped in here and there, huge chunks of text in italics, more white space so titles can 'float' unconnected with the accompanying stories, and other random weirdness and I haven't said a single mean thing.

Over it, over it, over it.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)



Tuesday, February 16, 2010
It's Not All Bitching and Moaning Around Here

Wow.

I've never really suffered from hormone-induced psychosis but I sort of wish I had. At least I'd have something to blame that last post on.

I blame my weekend. I spent a lot of the time thinking thoughts either creative or intelligent or both. I think there was a bit of cognitive dissonance--even culture shock--around finding myself trapped in a situation where habit, training, and good manners were trying to force me to pretend to be enjoying the sensation of my brain cells withering and dying before their time.

I had to go apologize to Tyro, who was enthusiastically discussing her favorites among such shows when I went into the lunch room. She should be able to eat lunch without having my prejudices shoved down her throat and certainly she was entitled to be allowed to express her opinions without me dissing her.

I really did have a nice weekend. A bit of laundry and housekeeping. A little knitting and a little boat-building* and a little reading and some time spent playing on the DS--very laid-back. Restful.

I worked for three or four hours Saturday morning but not much more than 30 minutes Sunday morning--had a bit of a headache.

The R.C. and I went to a shopping mall Saturday afternoon. I can't remember the last time I did that. I didn't really buy much--just the moisturizer I went for, but I very nearly bought a lot of other things, which means I was very well entertained. I got to get out, wander around for a few hours (inside, out of the cold, even biting wind), play "fashion cop," and window shop some interesting stores. Both an inexpensive and amusing afternoon.

Saturday evening, I read a book and spent some time viewing, reviewing, marking, and contemplating a catalog.

I have no idea how I got on the mailing list, but I got the most fabulous course catalog in the mail last week. The Great Courses. Although there are a least a dozen courses in the catalog (and more on-line) that life won't be worth living without, I'm going to start with one or two--apparently there's a sale on right now and if I order before March 4, I can get a couple of classes for $80 or less.

Sunday, while I was amusing part of my brain with the stuff already mentioned, most of my thoughts were contrasting and comparing the sale courses in the print catalog.

This is how it went:

The first title that caught my eye was an in-depth course on world mythology. I have something of a passion for mythology, but I've done a lot of reading already, on my own, on that topic. (Hour-long pause while I review what I know, think I remember, and/or my opinions about what I read.) From translated texts to high school classes and Joseph Campbell through "mythology in the movies--I've read a lot on this topic. Still. A formal course is always interesting and takes you unexpected places.

But! Physics--even metaphysics! Granted that I know almost nothing about mathematics and would drool on you if you tried to talk to me in calculus-speak, I understand the parts of the concepts that can be put into words and there's an endless fascination to them. (Hour-long pause while I mentally review Hawkings' popular works, think about Godel, Escher, and Bach, that briefly popular and probably little-read tome of brain-damaging exercises, remember some online references I used to look at, and some private musings I had about How It All Works.) It's possible that my aging brain is no longer up to the kind of concentrated, linear thought that physics requires, even on a casual basis.

Reading! Writing! Words are not yet too difficult for me. My remaining stock of 25+books on reading and writing are just a fraction of the sizable library I once possessed. (Hour-long pause while I revisit books about how to write, books about how to read, books about grammar, books about plot construction, essays on the impetus for writing and/or essays on how to read for the maximum return.) There are a number of reading and writing courses in the catalog, the most tempting of which are around reading.

Economics. I'm not informed. (Hour-long pause while I debate whether I took a single micro- or macro-economics course in college. Can't remember, but nothing that did much more than introduce me to terminology until I got to Krugman's books, of which I read two or three.) I haven't studied this. Why not? Anyhow, all I've read so far consists of "not much" and maybe I'm not particularly interested, but how can I resist a course on critical decision making?

Philosophy! History! Weeps at the wealth of things she will never know.

I don't know where to start. A reading class, for sure. But what else? Philosophy or history? Mythology? A sweeping exploration of Western Civ? A more focused study of Egypt? I can't decide!

Some are only available on DVD, but I have the laptop so that's not a problem. Some can also be had on CD, so I'd need to buy a little player but I understand those aren't expensive these days. I'm more interested in topic--I'll take whatever media they suggest.

Okay, everyone. Vote!

Anyhow. I spent a lot of Sunday mentally reviewing Things I Have Learned, or Things I'm Starting To Learn and I wasn't in the right place, mentally, for a lunchroom conversation about television shows that expose people's weaknesses for entertainment. I had an entirely ugly flashback to books I've read that describe how, a couple of hundred years ago, people paid money to be able to tour asylums and laugh at the crazy people from a safe distance. The only difference between that and so-called "reality" television is that today we can laugh at the crazy people without leaving our living rooms or smelling anything too real.

Oh, dear.

Not over the crabby yet, I guess.

____________________

* Following up last weeks' "So, You Want To Build A Three-masted Schooner?" post, in the remote event than anyone cares, I got two pieces together! In fact, with the help of my old friends, Elmer and the Bulldog Clip, I got two pieces together solidly enough to let me attach another four pieces! Right now, it's all sitting on my table, clamped and drying. Right, wrong, or disastrous, I have a foundation upon which I can build a boat!

I may and/or may not have time to get back to it one evening this week before I leave town. If not, It will be there on March 7 (the next scheduled Lazy Sunday At Home on my calendar).

Posted by AnneZook at 12:25 PM | Comments (4)



Monday, February 8, 2010
So, You Want to Build a Three-masted Schooner?

No apologies for the obscure Frasier reference. I love that show.

I forgot to tell you that, the Argonut Café having an Actual Name that's tangentially related to, well, Argonauting, I find boat references sort of funny.

So, when wandering through a craft store a week ago, I spotted an incredibly inexpensive balsa-or-wood (the material is somewhere between those two) model of a sailing ship that you were allowed to assemble and finish yourself, I forked over the six bucks (yes, that's what it cost) and took my new toy home with me.

This weekend, I finally had a couple of hours to sit down, unwrap it, lay the pieces out, and--I know you're expecting my next words to be "assemble it" or even "start assembling it, but they aren't going to be--stare at it in bewilderment.

All of the pieces are there, no problem. There's a picture--unvarnished and unpainted for better reference--of the finished product. I just--can't tell which piece is which or what goes where.

Instructions: "Punch the pieces out from the balsa/wood board they're cut into. Attach to same number (1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3, etc.) using the picture and diagrams below as reference."

That's all very nice. Simple and clear, right? When I disassemble the pieces, there are handy slots for attaching, so that all seems good. But.

The pieces don't have numbers, not on them. The numbers are on the diagram and you're supposed to figure out (guess?) which piece they apply to. Many of the pieces are very similar in shape with only slight but (I suspect) rather important differences in length or width. It's impossible to tell from the diagram or picture if these two identical pieces are A1 and the two slightly larger pieces are B1, or vice-versa. the diagram isn't that precise.

Thirty minutes into the project, I thought to stop and Ponder Boatness. This led me to the revelation that the assorted pieces needed to be assembled on the framework of the keel (something mentioned nowhere in the instructions but which, in hindsight, I should have assumed from the beginning). You can't just hook "1" to "1" (assuming you figured out which two pieces each had a slot the designer thought of as "1") because you can't just push two pieces of wood together and shout stay! It's not a puppy.

So, I found the keel, found the pieces with slots "1" and "1" (or reasonable facsimiles thereof), placed each (facsimile) "1" on one side of the keel, let them go, and watched them drop to the floor. Not a puppy. Didn't stay.

There are no tabs--none of that Tab A and Slot B stuff. Yes, slots everywhere, but no tabs to push into them. The instructions mention gluing as an option if you want a permanent piece, but not just for assembly.

Another thirty minutes, and now I'm thinking that probably, when they told us to punch the pieces out from the board they were stamp-cut into? They didn't actually intend for us to separate mirror images from each other, even though those were stamp/cut in the same way other pieces were. Because, you see, if you didn't separate the mirror image pieces, then "1" and "1" are already hooked together! Voila!!

Granted, that would have been a better thought before I detached everything, but that was what the instructions said to do and, okay, the pieces wouldn't actually be attached to the keel, so you couldn't actually make a boat but I felt encouraged by this line of thought, even without having solved the problem of which pair of mirror-images had the designer's imaginary "1" on them and which had the "2", etc.)

It took only a few minutes to pick a handful of little strips of balsa-or-wood out of the trash with the idea that these discards might have been intended to do double-duty as pegs to keep "1" and "1" in contact while YES! if you pegged the mirror-image pieces together, then separated them a fraction of an inch, the middle part of the peg would just about fit into a heretofore unexplained slot in the keel and holding the two pieces against it!

That was the theory. It worked, too, except that the (probably makeshift) pegs are a trifle too wide for the slot and tend to break rather than slide in and except that the mirror-image pieces are a little too heavy to be held into place by 1/4" of balsa-or-wood sitting loosely in a 1/2" slot.

It looked right when I was holding the first piece, but when I let it go, it was not a puppy again.

Still. I'm not discouraged. I might have spent 90 minutes on the project and not actually have gotten two pieces attached, but I will try again. I don't think I have ever made a model before, of any kind. It is verrrry interesting.

I mean, you wonder what line of work is actually available to a sociopath in today's modern society, don't you? And then you try to assemble something and you look at the wholly inadequate and frequently outright dishonest instructions, and you know.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, January 11, 2010
Zzzzzzzz (I wish)

Killer insomnia last night. The last time I checked the clock, it was 2:45.

Couldn't have been physical - I cleaned out yesterday, sorting papers and books, organizing and throwing out (two giant leaf bags!), doing some cleaning and three loads of laundry, all of which took several hours.

Hmmm., I'll admit that while I felt pleasantly tired yesterday evening, I didn't feel precisely worn out. Maybe I was getting less physical exercise than I thought? Still. My bed felt comfy and my pillow felt snuggly. I just couldn't sleep. My brain & body just didn't feel sleepy.*

Possibly it was my diet - I experimented with new recipes yesterday and ate a weird assortment of things all day. While they were all quite delicious, it's more than possible that I overdid it--either on sheer quantity or on variety of ingredients.

Or, it could have been the fact that I slept in on Sunday morning--until 9:15! I can't remember the last time I slept in that late….

To put it all into perspective, of course, I should mention that I contacted DiamondGirl about doing some freelance stuff for me--some of the Gidget work that I don't like and don't want to mess with--and she told me that she's been fighting H1N1 since mid-December. Shudder. She's been sick for a month already and in spite of sounding like she should be in a hospital bed when we talked today, she swore that she's light-years better than she was a couple of weeks ago.

So, what else?

Well, the weekend was fun--I had a shopping spree on Saturday, the likes of which I haven't had in quite a long time. I got a new clock-radio, two $4 t-shirts, a new humidifier, new mascara, and some chocolate. (Okay, put like that, it doesn't sound quite so extravagant, but I swear it felt like an indulgence.) I did the aforementioned tidying, sorting, and cleaning on Sunday, a task that always leaves me feeling satisfied and a bit less claustrophobic in what is, after all, a reasonably spacious apartment for two people

Part of what I sorted out for donation is, yes, more books. Had to be done--they're the only thing I have left in significant bulk.

What I should have cleaned out but didn't were all of the sketching and drawing supplies. With me, every new hobby used to be a pretext for shopping and I have an assortment of pens, pencils, paper, and tools that would do credit to a professional artist. If I'm not going to use them, I really should donate them, but that's a step I haven't brought myself to take yet.


____________

* I feel sleepy enough now to make up for it. I'd ask NewBoss Anais for permission to go home and take a nap but I have this terrifying suspicion that napping this afternoon would lead to another sleepless night.

____________

P.S. That was at 11:00 this morning. Now it's 1:30. I just ate lunch and decided that the abundance of jalapeno peppers might have been the reason for the insomnia. That was hot.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, December 28, 2009
Loot!

Happy holidays! I hope everyone out there in the electronic world had a great time over the past few days and that Santa Claus brought you everything your little hearts could desire!*

Me? I cleaned up. A four-day weekend, a new DS game, new books, and other assorted whatsits to play with and/or eat. What's not to love?

I'm not big on official "resolutions" (why wait until the end of the year to make changes if you think they need to be made?) but I've been contemplating the Best Of--or, rather, a Best Discovery Of sort of thing.

The Best Discovery Of 2007 was a show called Clean House. During the First Great 21st Century Sabbatical, it provided much-needed impetus for me to get off my butt and clean out some of the accumulated debris of fifty years of living. (Because I live on the event horizon of a black hole or near the epicenter of a time warp or something, the flotsam and jetsam turned out to be limitless, but it gives me something to do when the weather is bad, right?)

The Best Discovery Of 2008 came last October when I discovered a show called What Not To Wear. Aside from the fun of mocking the show's victims, I found there was much to be learned. Practically nothing that was in my wardrobe in October of 2008 is in my wardrobe today.

The Best Discovery(ies) of 2009 are less life-improving but just as much, or more, fun.

There were three or four versions of Harvest Moon (The Game That Ate 2009) (I received yet another variation for Christmas!), there's a recently discovered show called Glee. and the year-long favorite Corner Gas, a little Canadian sitcom ("Time well-wasted.") that has me enchanted. (I got S6!)

Thanks to a friend of the R.C.'s, we discovered Hungry Girl. We have both tried and enjoyed recipes from the cookbook already (and the R.C. never cooks!) with at least two dozen more marked for trial. Since I have another five--or maybe ten--pounds I want to take off, a "diet" cookbook with recipes this delicious definitely comes in as a Discovery. I mean, cooking! I'm not good at it, but I do love to mess around in the kitchen. What fun to be able to mess around without packing on the pounds!

It's fun to contemplate the new things that have entered my life in the last few months. Probably more fun for me than for you, but that's okay. The internets are currently telling me that my blog site is down anyhow, so you aren't actually having this inflicted on you....

Two hours later - It's back! I'm inflicting!


__________________

* I did intend to log on and wish y'all the best of the season before it was all in the past, but my head got befuddled on Wednesday by a very nasty virus attack on my work computer.

Seriously. What is the point? And what's with the redirects to pr0n sites? (So very Twentieth Century.) Are you seriously telling me there are still people out there who find some kind of satisfaction in that kind of thing?

Anyhow. After that, I got frustrated on Thursday, trying to fix the sound on my home laptop before I got distracted by some freelance work, and so on and so on and so on.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)



Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A Dozen Also-Rans

Minor thoughts I'm bored enough to share....

#1 - The R.C. introduced me to a new restaurant last week. Andre's is, from what I'm told, one of those long-time institutions, and one of the R.C.'s favorite-ever dining places. (Her excuse for not having introduced me to in any time in the last twenty years or so was that she thought it had closed.) (Right.) It's a fabulous little prix fixe patisserie tucked away just off of a major thoroughfare. It has atmosphere. I love a non-chain restaurant, don't you?

#2 - Those of us toiling away at the Argonut Café are getting a four-day weekend at New Year's as well. While I love the idea of having such lovely, long weekends, the (teeny-tiny) mature part of me knows that the remaining winter months, with no holidays at all, are going to be long and gray.

#3 - The first season of Glee is due to be released on DVD at the end of this month. The R.C. has it on pre-order, so I'll be able to get caught up before the new season starts (in April, I think). In the meantime, the network is showing two episodes this Wednesday evening and two next Wednesday, so I can get started watching ever before I get started getting caught up.

#4 - I did not practice Frugality around Christmas this year. Considering that I only really exchange gifts with the R.C. (and send small gifts to the L-i-K-S, Rapunzel, and Pippi), there are an astonishing number of packages under our little Christmas tree. While many of them are of the very small "stocking stuffer" variety, another heaping helping are not. So far I have refrained from poking, prodding, or shaking any of the interestingly shaped boxes. I'm very trustworthy that way.

#5- One of the aforementioned parcels, embarrassingly enough, is from NewBoss Anais, someone for whom I not only didn't buy a gift, but didn't send a card.

#6 - Another friend surprised me with a bag of very good coffee. I like knowing someone thought of me and do try to accept gifts in that spirit, but I'm always flustered when gifted from someone with whom I have not previously made gift exchange plans and, yes, I'm aware that this sentence could have been more graceful but I don't care that much.

#7 - The R.C. was insufficiently inventive when it came to providing a wish list for gifts this year. I had to take some chances and I'm a bit concerned about one or two of them.

#8 - Gidget and I don't gift, but I did manage to convince her not to pay me for The Gidget Co work this month. She's short of money at the moment, so that amount really will be useful to her. Anyhow, I finally remembered to bill Bernie for the work I did this fall so I'm flush, and as I told her repeatedly, I haven't had that much time to spend on her accounts the last three weeks and I'd be ashamed to take money at this point.

#9 - When I lunched with Gidget and Vela last week, one of them mentioned the rumor that CEOJason had gotten canned. I can vouch for the fact that he's still showing up here every day, but the rumor (they have a pipeline into the Shadow Board that rules us all) does have me wondering....

#10 - I don't think I mentioned the Argonut Café Holiday get-together, did I? It was the evening of the 11th, at ChaosManager Daenna's home. Each member of the 10-person staff here at the Café was warned that there would be two dozen attendees and asked to bring enough of their dish (it was a pot-luck) to feed twenty. I suspect I'm the only person who thought about it and realized that if ten people each bring food for twenty, you have enough food to feed two hundred people--especially taking into account the American hostess's ever-present fear that there Won't Be Enough* which she inevitably insures against by providing a ham, two pies, home-made cookies, and six kinds of dinner rolls. We ate, they played pool or foosball or air hockey and then, endless hours later, we played a gift game--a variation of the dreidel game--and I wound up with two free movie tickets, big thrill, then everyone was getting tipsy and it was 11:00 p.m., so I went home. The end.

#11 - The last week or so, work has been a peculiar mixture of urgent tasks and "nothing to do." Because of the holidays, people who might ordinarily be searching for our services are now searching for things almost but not quite what we do. It would be a mistake, as I keep telling myself, to interpret any of the stats for the latter half of December as representative. So, basically I'm either doing four things at once, or sneaking over to read H. Rider Haggard novels online. I don't normally (aside from the occasional blog entry) goof off on company time. I'm not sure I really enjoy it, either. I think the days pass much more quickly when I'm working.

#12 - Am I lame if my favorite-ever Christmas movie is A Muppet Christmas Carol?


___________________

* Culturally, Americans seem to have some kind of weird issue around enoughness. Our entire society sometimes seems fixated on getting what's there to be gotten before there's not enough left to go around.

Without getting excessively political, I still want to say that I'm amused that the major oil contracts in Iraq are not being awarded to Chump & Cheney's Corporate Cohorts or, indeed, any US-based oil companies.

Right now, Dick and George are probably sitting there, stewing--thinking that killing a hundred thousand or so Iraqis should have done the trick and wondering what a guy's gotta do these days to get a guaranteed payoff.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Today's Crisis!

After a leisurely two-hour lunch with Gidget and (former boss) Vela, I went to get back into my car and I got a leg cramp! I had to stand up to make it go away!

Yes, that's what passes for drama in my life these days.

What can I say? I'm done with my holiday shopping, I mailed my cards, I've even finished my wrapping, all but one small gift. I survived the office party (so boring), made the long-overdue appointment to get my gray roots banished, got (mostly) caught up on my free-lance work, and even remembered to invoice Bernie for the last three months' work I've done for him.

I fell in love with a new television show (Glee) and have found online episodes I can watch. I'm working my way toward the "end" (as much as these have an "ending") of both Harvest Moon Island of Happiness and Cute. (Harvest Moon: The Game That Ate 2009!)

I finished fringing four more scarves for my ongoing personal Warm Necks For the Needy program. (I'm getting better at it - there are a couple of these I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in myself). I have two more scarves underway--both with self-invented (or at least "discovered") patterns and an idea for another one (pattern, I mean, not scarf) (although I suppose it's much the same thing). I bought a circular needle and am dabbling with the notion of hats--I have a lot of yarn to use up from a 2007 buying spree.

This year, I seem to be receiving the gift of peace for the holidays. My life is largely uneventful. I'm so pleased.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Cooking & 'Nuttery

I had a good weekend. Saturday I bought three (three!) new books. Sunday, I played in the kitchen. I love playing in the kitchen. I had a variety of ingredients I'd bought with a vague idea that they might be combined to produce some kind of food-like products.

Most of the combinations I tried were--unfortunate. Pre-made, frozen sheets of phyllo dough are fun, but you have to move faster than I move to actually cook with it. (You also need either a baklava recipe or savory ingredients--neither of which I had to hand.)

In the end, I fell back on a tried-and-true cobbler recipe and produced a cherry cobbler that was really very nice. (OTOH, what wouldn't be nice if you dumped half a cup of melted butter into it?) It kept talking to me, though, and since my butt is already quite large enough, thank you, I wound up putting most of it down the waste disposal unit.*

I shouldn't have mentioned the cobbler to Fun Bobby today. He's quite put out with me--he says my cobbler reminds him of the cobblers his granny used to make him out on the farm or something. Even the R.C., who doesn't like cobbler, complained because I didn't save her at least a spoonful of filling.

Yeah, and while I'm thinking about it, I don't want to hear from you cooking snobs about using pre-made dough. I always use it--life is too short to do otherwise. I'm more interested in playing with filling than in making dough.

Although, naturally, the batter for the cobbler was from scratch--there's no other way.

So, what else is new?

Well, I took a day off yesterday. I spent it the same way I've spent every other vacation day I've taken this year--working on free-lance projects. I got it all done, but I'm still uneasily aware that I should be working on these accounts each week, not every couple of weeks. Must. Be. More. Conscientious.

And today, I'm back at the office. Fending off 'Nuts with one hand while I dig through last week's notes with the other, trying to remember what it was I was working on before I was distracted by NewBoss Anais's request for a series of reports--reports that took 14 hours to produce--last week.**

I have accomplished very little today. I keep staring at the campaigns, starting to make edits, then stopping myself because I'm not sure what to do next. In consequence, the day is going very slowly.

The Southern 'Nuts--the S'SWest 'Nut and his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor, are complaining that their forced marketing remarriage is not producing leads. I marched into NewBoss Anais's office and said, "I told all of you not to do any of the things you've done and you did them anyhow and my position from here on out is that I don't care and I don't want to hear about it."

Sadly, she is wise to me and didn't believe me.

MadBoy & his crazy offspring have been quiet--I suspect they're Up To Something. Or, just lurking--waiting for Friday's call and the confirmation of their belief that the world is out to cheat them.

Another 'Nut location bit the dust today. (It's not on my conscience--he didn't have a marketing campaign. His opinion was that he shouldn't have to pay for leads. *boggle*) And, yes, he owed the Argonut Café a ton of money that we are unlikely to collect.

And, speaking of the corporate Café, Fun Bobby just wandered by to confirm my home phone number. They're making contingency plans, in case the snow storm moving in tonight is a big one. He said they'd call me if I didn't have to come in--I said they would be safe in assuming, if we have more than six inches, that I wouldn't even be trying.

Since the current forecast on a local news site is for "at least half a foot of snow" (emphasis theirs) by mid-morning, with more falling throughout the day, I'm already making plans.

Not that I need, you know, actual preparation. With a computer and internet access, I'm good to go.



_____________________

* I'm on a diet.

Crabby Diet Girl, that's me today. I want to lose another five pounds, but I don't want it to take two months, because then I can't eat Christmas candy! So, I'm back on tuna salad, yams, turkey, and low-fat yogurt. Bleah. (Okay, I really like yams and I can live with tuna salad for a few weeks and even a strict diet lets me have a single tablespoon of gravy on the turkey to liven it up and low-fat yogurt doesn't bother me. But I can't find a "diet" category of food that would cover cherry cobbler. Makes me crabby.

Anyhow, I'm a grown-up--I can be crabby whenever I want.

** She wanted me to send out quarterly "performance" reports to all of the locations. "Let sleeping dogs lie," I told her. "Don't rock the boat. Don't ask for trouble." No one ever listens to me.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, September 21, 2009
Naturally

The forecast was for cooler temperatures this week, with rain showers starting this evening. So, naturally, it's snowing.

I am not mentally prepared for snow yet this year and, okay, right now it's rain-mixed-with-snow and not accumulating or anything but still.

I feel very huffy about it.

Nice weekend and considerably less expensive than last week, what with not buying a new computer or two new pairs of shoes.

I did go into a shoe store and saw the Most Beautiful Shoes Ever, but I resisted buying them. There comes a time in your life when you have to admit that you're just too old to wear a three-inch spike heel, no matter how heartbreakingly gorgeous the peep-toe black suede and patent leather upper is. (I can live with getting older, mostly, but I'd sure like to have my 20 year-old feet back.)

Sigh. I bought sensible shoes last week. Today, as the rain-mixed-with-snow falls, I'm sure I'm better off in a closed-toe, moderate heel pump.

Bleah.

I have an appointment with Hairman this afternoon and need to sneak out of the office 30 minutes early, so naturally I overslept this morning and was almost 20 minutes late* getting in. I can't make it up during my lunch hour (assuming I was in the habit of not working through lunch anyhow) because I have an errand I need to run. It's very complicated to me be some days.

I don't know why I didn't get up this morning. My alarm went off, but I think I curled up to wait for sunrise or something. Sunrise didn't happen, and I didn't get up....

I wish I'd taken a picture of those shoes. I'd like to be able to post it and ask y'all if you thought I should go back and buy them, regardless. Just because owning something that fabulous would be good in and of itself. I could always carry them around and show them to people....

It's snowing. That's so wrong.


__________________

* "Late" is kind of relative around here. I mean, it was 8:20 and in theory I should arrive at 8:00, but since only two people made it in earlier than me, it's hard to feel that it's a big deal.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)



Tuesday, September 8, 2009
It's Monday-Tuesday

Lovely long weekend. Back at work today. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

I'm still trying to keep my mitts off of the 'Nut campaigns for long enough to see what kind of fallout there is from the massive changes I've been making. Today I'm managing, but only by dint of staying out of the campaigns entirely. Thus, it's 2:00 in the afternoon and I'm bored out of my gourd.

I ranted on the politiblog--not because I care or because I think anyone is listening, but just to kill time. I answered all of my email. I ate breakfast. A few hours later, I ate lunch. I went out four times to walk around the building.

I could do some work on Bernie's campaign, or on Gidget's stuff, but I'm really trying to avoid doing free-lance work on 'Nut time. (I don't know why. On days like today, it would be more honest than sitting here reading blogs. Or, at least, no less dishonest.)

It really was a lovely weekend. On Saturday, the R.C. and I did very little, slowly. We ate lunch. Browsed Ulta (a lotions-potions-makeup store). Spent an hour in a bookstore. Wandered through Target (for light bulbs and cleaning supplies). Stopped by the grocery store. All just leisurely, you know? Calm. Restful.

Sunday we spent a few hours in the mountains. It rained on us, but just enough to be fun, not enough to harsh the weekend's mellow vibe. We came home. I made soup. La-la-la-la-la. So peaceful.

Yesterday, the usual "Sunday" round of house cleaning, preparing lunches for the week, and doing laundry. (And, yes, not a couple of hours spent with the DS--feeding my chickens and harvesting crops. Why is that so amusing?)

And bugs! The R.C. ordered, and received, and Universal Pictures compilation of creature features, so we had a lot of giant bug movies all weekend. There was a giant mantis. A giant spider. (The R.C. narrated the spider parts, since I refused to look at the screen when the bug was shown.) A movie that advertised a giant leech but delivered a strange plot about how an old woman could be young and beautiful for 24 hours if she killed a man.

Last night we tried a televised offering that promised both a giant shark and a giant octopus--a two-fer! That one was a failure, I'm afraid. A giant octopus sinking a floating oil rig might be pretty standard fare, but I lost faith when I saw the giant shark leaping three thousand feet in the air to eat a jumbo jet.

As we all know, there's a level of stupid I'm just not prepared to deal with. The Science Fiction channel, irritatingly renamed SciFi and even more irritatingly rechristened ScyFy or somesuch stupidity, is responsible for a lot of really crappy stuff. I live in hope, though, because every now and then, quite by accident, they produce something watchable.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)



Friday, August 21, 2009
Random Insanity

Well, it's only 1:30 on Friday afternoon and I've already done so many weird things to the 'Nut campaigns that I have to stop messing with all of them and let the dust settle for a while. So, I'm playing with colored graphs and running unlikely reports to see if any interesting patterns show up. So far, nothing has, but that doesn't dim my enthusiasm for colored graphs.

This morning I'm out pacing around in the parking garage just to get some fresh air (Yes, I was smoking. Shaddup. It was freshish air.) and a woman in an SUV comes barreling into the garage, almost running me over. She did roll down her window and shout an apology. She was flossing her teeth, you see, and wasn't watching where she was going.

The R.C. got to feeling wealthy or something the other day and had a little Amazon indulgence. Since we both have a fondness for cheesy monster movies of the 50's & 60's era, she picked up a multi-pack of Roger (King Of the B Movies) Corman productions.

Last night, we had Creature from the Haunted Sea which was much less about creatures than about crooks and Cubans and spooks (of the spy variety). It featured the weirdest cast o'characters I've ever seen and was so peculiar it was almost riveting to watch. There was one guy who 'spoke' almost entirely in animal noises.

I'm thinking it would have made more sense at the time had I known it was supposed to be a parody.

Once, a million years ago, I saw the World's Lamest Creature Feature. Some people--in the bayou, IIRC, were being menaced by frogs. Not mutant frogs or anything. Just--frogs. They didn't have powers of any sort. Just your average, garden-variety, sitting around and croaking sorts of frogs. If memory serves, the penultimate moment came when the frogs killed a guy by--wait for it--hopping up to his chair and looking at him. That was, until last night, the weirdest creature feature I'd ever seen.

I don't know what else is in the R.C.'s new collection. I'm hoping for Not of This Earth" and It Conquered the World and maybe even Gas-s-s-s (also known as Gas! or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It, which is potentially the best B movie title in the history of the world) but only time will tell.

Now that I'm in a creature feature state of mind, maybe I'll look for The Amazing Colossal Man or The Thing from Another World. I'm pretty sure I already have "It Came From Outer Space" in another collection, but I need to check to be sure. I know I don't have Beginning of the End or Invaders From Mars (1953).

My own particular weakness is for atomic radiation mutants. Things like Them! or Attack of the Crab Monsters, you know? I don't know why. I just find them funny. (The R.C. wants Tarantula but I draw the line at spiders.) Oversized crustaceans are the most fun. Mysterious Island has the funniest Giant Crab Attack in movie history.

Speaking of monsters? Granted, I've been a Game Boy fan for the last fifteen years, but Rapunzel is opening up my eyes to whole new genres and the fun to be had while not killing mutants. 'Member how I told you that she had loaned me one of her games? Well, if the last game she recommended (and that I got for Christmas) was the original Game That Ate 2009, this new one is definitely the game that's going to swallow the rest of the year. Farming! I'm actually entranced by farming. (Well, okay, and mining.)

In other news, Gidget may have us a new client. She was contacted yesterday by an organization that treats add*ct*on for a three-letter word we can all guess. There's a strange and interesting variety in our growing client list, isn't there? We send things, train things, watch things, and now maybe we're going to try to prevent things.

And, speaking of things done, I finally heard back from Bernie about that project. He didn't say, "send the bill" but I'm going to do that tonight anyhow. He did say it was good timing (on the completion) but in a vague way that made it clear he hasn't bothered to look at what I did.

And then he asked me if I remember how to do something they used to do four years ago and since I was only employed there for a year (a year-and-a-half a go), I really don't. But, pursuant (I've missed my word!) to my policy of walking off with everything that isn't nailed down when I leave a job* I know I have the instructions on How To Do It, so I told him I'd dig them out.

'Member when I said the problem with Bernie is project creep? I hope this isn't the thin end of the wedge. I have to act cooperative until he pays me--and don't think he isn't aware of that or that he isn't in the habit of taking advantage of freelancers that way.

There must be some Actual Work I could be doing.


____________________

* Not precisely valuables. I don't steal. But I do take copies of passwords and access codes and websites and whatnot. Not to use but because 30 years in the job market has taught me that you never know what a former employer will come crying to you for six months or a year later. You buy a lot of goodwill by being able to help someone who's so desperate they're calling up people they thought they'd never have to speak to again.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:06 PM | Comments (3)



Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Dear Friends:

August 14

The R.C. also got hatemail from the credit card company (I hadn't realized before that we actually have cards issued by the same organization), slashing her credit by 40%! Unlike my letter, hers didn't try to pretend she was a deadbeat (you could eat off her credit report). No, what they told her was that they pulled her credit report and decided she didn't need all the credit they were extending to her. Times is tough, they told her. Not everyone is payin' their bills.You are, though. We hate you for that.

I feel badly for her. It's bad enough for me, someone who has, from time to time, had the odd late or missed payment. But for someone who's never paid a bill late in her life? What a slap in the face.

Because I do have a certain pity for her, I'm going to forego my planned blog entry, which featured large amounts of RC mockery. (Short story even shorter. She borrowed some software from her office. Tuesday evening, she spent an hour and a half with it--reading the installation manual. What kind of gomer reads installation manuals? I mean! 90 minutes! And then she never actually got the product installed!*
There was going to be mockery.)

August 17

I take my eyes off of Gidget for a few days and you know what happens? She breaks a finger (What was a woman with her current health problems doing moving rocks anyhow?), faints from the pain, falls on the rocks, and breaks two ribs. Good grief.

My weekend was uneventful. I took the entire weekend off. I hadn't had a day off in over three weeks, so I felt I was due.

Although. Now I'm feeling guilty because I didn't get the last of Bernie's project finished. I need to do that--I should have had it finished last week. After I get the last bit done, I need to do a write-up for the client explaining my changes. Then I can bill Bernie.

I turned in my expense report for the seminar I charged to it (for work) and when I get that reimbursement, that's going against the card balance. So is Bernie's money. I am so close to being debt-free--the balance on Credit Card Of Doom is under $2k--I can almost smell it.

August 18

Well, I finished Bernie's project and sent him an explanation of what I did. Because I'm a tad compulsive, I've gone back into the campaign a couple of times and made some edits, primarily to ads where the first version wasn't performing well. I figure I'll give him 48 hours to respond to my note. If I don't hear from him, I'm sending the bill.

Last weekend I went mad and spent $30 on a new pair of slacks. Now I'm wishing I'd bought them a size smaller. (I guess that's not a bad problem to have.) They're not unwearably large, but definitely baggy in the backside. I'm back on the diet and with 7 pounds still to go, I figure the problem will only get worse. Next payday, I think I'll treat myself to a new pair, in a smaller size.

I need new shoes. Really. I need these shoes, but I'll probably wind up with these shoes because they're more sensible. These appear to combine comfort with a reasonable heel height but I don't know if I'm ready to have all that ugly hanging off the ends of my ankles. On the other hand, these seem to combine the best of a loafer with the best of a medium-heel pump.

Amazon bought Zappos! That could turn out to be expensive for some of us.

August 19

This is turning into a ridiculously long serial blog entry.

In my final note for the entry, I'm feeling a tad smug. The outside "experts" that TeamChaos hired to run some test campaigns, with the idea that this agency would replace me in the hearts and minds of--well--everyone? Came hat in hand yesterday to beg the favor of my ads.

Turns out the ads written by the in-house experts were failing to perform. (I ask you--who doesn't just try something different?)

There's little that's "secret" or proprietary about what I do, but what there is, is mostly around ads. Ads are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Any dinkhead can handle the bidding and organization part of running a campaign. What separates the pros from the wanna-bes is the ability to write an ad that draws clicks. Takes nerve to ask someone to hand over their ads but more than that, it's an admission of defeat.

Huh. I'm better at this than people give me credit for.


___________________________

* Turns out? It's been so many decades long since she actually installed a piece of software that she didn't know that installation wizards are more-or-less standard any more. She was expecting to, you know, have to know things. Software doesn't require you to know anything any more.


Posted by AnneZook at 09:58 AM | Comments (4)



Monday, June 8, 2009
Not Living My Life

I've spent a lot of time missing opportunities to go out and frolic with friends in the last five months.

Partly, I blame Rapunzel, as I said once before. She recommended a new DS game to me last fall, Santa brought it to me for Christmas, and it ate my brain for the next few months. (Not the least because the buggy game file has crashed on me four times, forcing me to start over from the beginning.)

That's the sort of thing I do when life gets stressful. It used to be nothing but books--I'd go live in fictional or historical worlds when life got tough. For the last few years, the GameBoy has been right up there as one of my favorite hide-outs.

The point is that I realized, last week that it was June.

I mean, it's summer!

I have practically no memory of the past five months. It's all a sad-colored blur of work-related freak-outs and endless hours staring at a 2"x3" game screen, pretending that the biggest problem in life was keeping my cows happy.

This must cease. As the R.C. and I have been discussing for the past couple of weeks, we stepped back on the "career" ladder, taking lower-level jobs for (a lot) less money, to eliminate work stress and to help cure ourselves of workaholicism.

Gradually, I find myself sliding back into the bad old ways.
Granted, staying at the office for an extra hour a day to work on my free-lance projects (a tactic I decided on last night) isn't a sign of the apocalypse, and granted that working 4-5 hours a week to get a new business going is incredibly minimal, and granted that with the Six Month Frugality Plan still in place, evening and weekend amusements would still be limited to those things costing little or no money, but still. June!

By gosh, I decided, it's time to Get Out and enjoy summer as it arrives!

So, this weekend the R.C. and I went Out. And, yes, we Shopped. I am the proud possessor of a new beigey-champagne jacket and a complementary necklace and earring. And a shirt for weekend wear.

I'm lunching with Gidget and Vela and another former member of Team Chaos, Lina, on Wednesday. She's one of the Fortunate Few who has already found new gainful employment. I'm going to wow them with my muted but stylish ensemble.

And, as if to emphasize that Life Is For Living and that golden days and opportunities pass if we don't take advantage of them? The outdoor/walking mall we visited on Saturday we all-but plowed under by a tornado on Sunday, including massive damage to the one store we spent the most time (and money) in. (Okay, maybe not plowed under, but certainly extensively tilled.)*

It was quite a storm yesterday. About a mile from where I live, they had egg-sized hail. Fortunately we didn't quite get that. We had--not pea-sized but let's say lima-bean sized pellets. Although, they could have been larger before they landed. I was giving thanks for the carport as the hail pounded down so hard it broke on impact against the parking lot asphalt.

Yesterday I put a snap on a jacket, tightened the buttons on two shirts, hemmed a pair of pants, did a couple of loads of laundry, took out the trash, ironed, made a big pot o'soup, ran the dishwasher, did some work for Gidget, and (so embarrassing) spent at least six hours staring at a 2x3 screen, trying to make my cows happy. I'm starting to wonder if I have a problem. Maybe there's a 12-step program for recovering gameaholics?


____________________

* That's the second time that's happened to me, that a store I was shopping at was destroyed by a tornado a few hours later. Very peculiar.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)



Monday, June 1, 2009
Shhh. Sekrit!

I had a different sort of a weekend.

In an attempt to achieve 150% on their approval ratings* The Bates Motel, the RC's new employer, offered staff member f&f ** a free night's stay (and a meal, of course) if they'd come, check the place out, interact with the staff, and report back on any inadequacies. I volunteered to play.

Sadly, the RC is very popular with the handful of Managerial Type she supports. I say "sadly" because, no doubt in an attempt to be very, very nice to her f&f, they upgraded me to the Skyway--the nosebleed floor of the Motel where you find such things as the presidential suite and the speshul sekrit concierge club available only to those willing to fork out beaucoup bucks to keep from having to rub elbows with the hoi polloi.

The thing is, you see, in a place that considers outstanding service and amenities to be the starting point for how they operate on a daily business? Once you hit the Skyway level, there are just no inadequacies to report.

I did try. The free food in the speshul sekrit club, I decided, was not precisely hot either of the times I tried it. (Okay, I didn't expect the smoked salmon to be hot. Nor the cheese, although they could have made an effort with the brie--something approaching room temperature would have been enough. But the gourmet pizza should have been at least warm when I bit into it.)

The name tags, I fretted, needed to be bigger. I was supposed to identify the staff members I interacted with, but I draw the line at staring fixedly at women's chests. That's probably not something a "normal" guest would think about, though.

Someone in the restaurant was wearing pants with a raggedy hem and they delivered the wrong newspaper on Sunday morning. That's it. It took me two hours to come up with that much.

I'm not sure the Managerial Types are going to consider that kind of feedback a good return on the rather pricey room bill.

I'm sorry. The big-screen television worked perfectly, the oversized bathroom with separate tub and shower stalls was immaculate, the pillows heaped on the bed were fluffy. I took white socks and walked around the hotel room in them and they did not turn black, so the carpet was clean. The turn-down service was prompt and courteous. All the staff members I interacted with were helpful and smiling--they all looked like they were actually happy to be there.

Did I mention I fell in love? I dined in the restaurant after sampling the lukewarm hors-d'voures--dev'rous--dev'rous--snacks in the speshul sekrit club. Good ambiance, great food, and the cutest little server boy twinkling at me over my modest glass of iced tea and my Caesar salad.

Seriously, I could have just wrapped him up and taken him home with me. He was that delicious. (That's how the server in the restaurant became "someone" with a raggedy hem. At one point, I saw her nametag, but no strange woman's name is going to linger in my mind after I've been grinned at by a sexy guy.***)

Anyhow. Should I ever do such a thing again, I'm going to find a way to make myself a little less pleasant. I'll be a Problem Guest of some kind. You really need to make waves (or at least a few ripples) to find out how deep "great service" goes.


______________________

* Can I just say how much I'd like to work for a company that considers excellence to be the starting point?

* * friends and family

*** Yes, okay, he was mostly just angling for a good tip because I'm old but it was dim in there and I look younger in a dim light and anyhow I'm perfectly happy to hand an attractive man an extra buck or two if he smiles at me with any degree of sincerity.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:23 AM | Comments (4)



Friday, May 15, 2009
Two And An Egg

I'm developing some kind of new--not exactly an ailment or a condition, but a thing. I'm calling it Mouse Heel. I spend so much time using the mouse in this job that I swear the heel of my right hand is developing a slight callous. It's very peculiar.

More 'NutNews dinking around today.

I am having my passive-aggressive revenge on NewBoss Anais, for not rewriting the piece o'crud she grabbed from someone's website. She said it was good "as it is." So, I put it in the 'NutNews just like it was. Three font colors, bolding, underlining, twisted syntax and all. (You understand, there's a 50-50 chance that neither she nor Daenna, the other surviving member of TeamChaos and the one actually overseeing the 'NutNews these days, will see anything wrong with it.)

The weekend approaches! Without those interminable and abusive NIMO meetings, Fridays are once again a thing of joy. I don't have major plans for the weekend--much depends on the weather. Forecasts vary wildly. Sometimes they promise us our seventh (or is it eighth?) weekend of rain in a row. At other moments, they speak blithely of sunshine and temperatures around 70.

Right now, I'm seeing a 20% chance of rain here on the Front Range and a high of 67. In the mountains, a 40% chance of rain and a high around 48.

Yes, the weather matters. One inexpensive and fun weekend thing to do here is to take yourself up to some mountainous area and walk for a couple of hours or more. Since it can snow at any season in the mountains, the weather forecast is important, okay?

New toys! I indulged myself in a new lipstick last weekend. It's a "lip stain" designed to keep color on your lips long after traditional lipsticks have gone the way of the dodo. I remembered to try it this morning and I'm pleased to be able to announce that now, two hours, two cups of coffee, and an egg later, the color remains! It's very exciting. It would be more exciting if they'd had a color I felt was actually becoming to me, but whatever.

No, I shouldn't be frittering away money on things like that, but after 14 solid months of dumping pretty much every spare dime I had into paying down that credit card balance, I'm seeing a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's going to my head. To keep myself under control, I logged in to my credit card account this morning and dumped half my current cash assets (not a large sum of money) in as an "extra" payment.

___________________

P.S. Before I could get this posted, the first draft of edits on the 'NutNews came back. With that one gross mess of an article extensively edited. Sadly, it was edited in the same color of font the original article featured, so I'm having a little difficulty telling the edits, comments, and changes, from the original text.

I stomped into Daenna's office and told her that I'm not getting any younger, the she's wasting precious hours of my life I will never get back, and that it's a lot easier to do this stuff right the first time.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, April 27, 2009
Indignant and Domestic

This morning, Denver woke up to find itself in a winter wonderland again. How ridiculous. It didn't snow all winter, but it seems determined to snow all spring.

I am equally indignant over my weekend. I got started with Spring Cleaning yesterday and wound up having two giant trash bags to haul out.

Sadly, the closet cabinet is full up of things I wasn't ready to toss into a dumpster but have no immediate intention of using. When I look at that $200 or so worth of drawing supplies, I can clearly imagine myself taking up the attempt to learn to sketch again. (And I certainly can't afford to replace even a tenth of it.)

How can someone who hasn't been allowed to shop for over a year still have so much stuff? I swear, I spent 60 days clearing useless and unused Stuff out of my bedroom and closet during the Great Unemployment of '07. Since then, even before the pay cut, I haven't been making enough money to buy much new Stuff. From where, then, comes all of this Stuff? How many years of Not Shopping and Throwing Away Stuff will I have to endure before I am not drowning in Stuff? (At this point you should picture me clutching 1000+ books to my chest. Books are not Stuff.)

Still. I did some rearranging so that when I scan the shelves for 'something to read' I see a new selection. I dusted madly. I sorted, filed, shredded (as appropriate) all my papers from the first quarter of this year. I reorganized. Whether I improved or not remains to be seen, but the closet looks tidier.

I'm all peachy again today. I brought a new brand of peaches to eat for dessert. I managed to open the little plastic container without incident but at one point a huge and sloppy chunk leapt off my fork and into my lap. Clearly the peach and I are not compatible. (Or it's a sign that I should stop being lazy and buying fruit in evil plastic containers.) (Which would also be cheaper. But not much, because I bought the peaches at a deep discount.)

Anyhow. Not an exciting weekend, but a cheap one.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:28 PM | Comments (1)



Monday, April 13, 2009
Not It

I shopped and shopped and shopped this weekend. And, granted, I didn't spend much money (about $20-$30 more than I'd planned), but I did have a lot of fun. I got new work shoes, so I can throw out the ones with the sole pulling away from the upper. I got new "play" shoes, for walking, so my feet won't hurt on the weekends any more. And, yes, I got toilet paper, shoe polish, and dishwashing soap! (Whoah! Stop this crazy-mad roller-coaster of fun!)

I went into a bookstore and came out empty-handed. !!

I had a little make-up indulgence. Most of you know that I've been quasi-addicted to a reality show called What Not To Wear for the last six months. They're always talking about using "luminising primer" before you put your make-up on. It's supposed to create a "smooth canvas" and should make you glow like a 20 year-old or something. I had me some of that.

I'm wearing it today. I can't honestly say I look smashingly better--or even different--but Girly Toys don't really have to have an effect to make you happy, do they? (Actually, I'm wearing about four layers of make-up today and when I look in the mirror, it doesn't look as though I have any on at all--and not in the good way. Clearly I need a foundation with more coverage.)

What Not To Wear is a bad influence on me. As I wade through the six-month plan (now in its thirteenth month), I find it more and more difficult to keep myself out of stores. I need clothes - and I need them all custom tailored!*

Red shoes! All of the women on that show wind up with knock 'em dead red shoes. (Not infrequently with two or three inch stiletto heels.) I want red shoes!

I have never in my whole life had a pair of red shoes. I think that's sad, don't you?

In spite of set-backs (like $900 worth of car repairs or a 15% pay cut), I have remained focused on fighting my way out from under staggering (for me) debt and am very close to achieving a pay-as-you-go lifestyle. It's very exciting.

I did some rough figuring this weekend and I realized that I can account for almost every penny I made last year. Less than $1,500 is unaccounted for - so I frittered away less than that amount all year on things like eating out, buying books, car insurance, gasoline, Target (toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant), etc.

If you don't know me well, you won't know what an astonishing and sustained act of maturity this has been. (If you do, you probably still don't care, but I'm talking about it anyhow.) It's been a long, tough year but I'm seeing a tiny sign of light at the end of the tunnel.

Or, you know, I would be seeing a light, if not for the whole unemployment things. This week they're back to talking about my extended stay in terms of a month or two. Except for one ChaosManager, who said something that indicated I might not be here after next week. (My NewBoss Anais says I can never leave. I had to tell her that I don't put on make-up unless I'm being paid to.**)

Sheesh. Someone has to tell one of the 'Nuts that some territory he wants to market to is not in his "official" geographic area, but we'll let him 'manage' it until it's owned by someone else. Everyone in the conversation raced to claim "not it." What a bunch of fraidy-cats. I mean, comparatively speaking, this guy isn't even one of the mean ones. Whiny, yes, but not actually abusive. I told him myself.


__________________

* Obviously, tailors are not in my budget these days. But I'm not without skills. I have a shirt that would be just the kind of thing I need, if only it wasn't three inches too long. I measured it, cut off the bottom, and started hemming it myself yesterday.

I have no sewing machine, but I console myself with the thought that you can't machine-hem a shirt anyhow. Once I get the hem done, I might even splash out on taking the side seams in a bit. Mad skillz!

** That sounds vaguely obscene.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:40 PM | Comments (2)



Friday, March 6, 2009
I'm Just Not

Email, surfing the 'net, reading online magazines, abusing rightwing ignoramuses, none of my former amusements amuse me any more. I'm just not into them.

It's work stress - I don't have time for a lot of daytime surfing at this job and almost always work through lunch.

It's friend stress - Gidget is much stronger than she was and actually able to drive herself short distances and whatnot, but her doctor's appointment this week found a new infection and they've changed her antibiotics and doubled the dosage, so she's a long way from "well." I drove out to her house on Sunday (27 miles!) to explain how to manage an advertising campaign. Then I took the data home with me and created it for her and uploaded it, to save her the exertion.

It's my own illness - I didn't realize until I actually started feeling better that that last virus had hung on for three very long weeks. I mean, sure, I knew that by 3:00 every afternoon, I was falling out of my chair with exhaustion, but I'm not smart enough to have figured out that maybe I was still sick. (Can you blame me? I mean, Vela and I were unquestionably taking enough abuse every day to justify feeling beaten with a stick after a few hours.)

Most of it, though, is Rapunzel's fault. My beautiful niece (well, one of my two beautiful nieces) recommended a DS game called Harvest Moon to me last fall. I put it on my Christmas list and, lo! Santa provided!

I can barely begin to estimate how many hours I've put into this game in the last two months. Conservatively, I'm thinking 250+. Almost every spare second I've had, that's certain.

The poor R.C., who actually owns the DS, got a new game from Santa as well, but she never gets to play it. I'm starting to think the $130 investment for a second DS might be wise.

If she takes her game box back, how will my chickens get fed? Who will harvest my crops? Who will give the little red-headed girl a present every day? Who will rescue the Harvest Sprites? Ohmigod, it hardly bears thinking about.

This game manufacturer produces games with an occasional tendency to freeze up and corrupt your file. I read about it in the walkthrough I found online. Me, being me, I decided to take my chances. And, yes, last week my file froze up. Six (game) years into it all, I had to start over. That's normally the sort of thing that would put me off a game permanently, but with this one I just paused to mourn the loss of my $99,000,000 (took a lot of fishing to earn that!) and started over.

Today we had Mandatory Fun at the office - a "healthy food" potluck lunch. I tried out a new quiche recipe that I wanted to take to a brunch on Saturday. It was a reasonable facsimile of a food-like substance. Would have been much-improved if I'd remembered the salt and pepper. Shrug. I might rethink the mushrooms, too. Mushrooms are good in quiche, but the color puts me off.

For those of you keeping score at home? On the work front, leads were up this February by 20 percent over last February. News like that will probably get me fired. (That is, if Jason isn't already contemplating doing without me after I told him last week that his new pet program has been a waste of money, resources, and the dwindling hours of my life.)

There was a whole thing around me being snippy at MadBoy in an email and being made to apologize to the world at large, but I'm over it and it's too tedious to go into detail about. (Basically, he bragged that his ability to spend $20 for online marketing and not get anything for it proved that I don't know what I'm doing.)

The news that we're not paying most of our vendors, any of our free-lancers, or even some money we owe to some of the Argonuts Afield does not inspire confidence about this company's future. I'm starting to hoard my pennies against the next bout of unemployment.

The economy is not this company's fault. However, Jason's tendency to throw $50,000 at outside consultants every time one of the 'Nuts questions a Home Office policy, instead of backing up his management staff is this company's fault. If we had the money we spent last year on projects commissioned from outside sources and then thrown away before implementation? We wouldn't be in financial trouble at all. We wouldn't have had to lay off staff and we wouldn't all have had to take a pay cut. (Which gives you a broad idea of just how much money we wasted last year.)

None of which excuses my decision to bypass working this afternoon in favor of blogging, but I hadn't updated in so long it was ridiculous.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)



Friday, February 1, 2008
Extortion! Epic Failure! Cake!

Yesterday was Ruthless's birthday and Meghan took her out to lunch. I went along. I wanted to help take Ruthless to lunch, but extortion happened and that can really empty out your wallet.

You see, what happened was, I was driving to lunch and Megan called me because she had a flat tire and needed to be picked up. So, I exited the interstate and, with the help of four phone calls from her, finally found the hole-in-the-wall tire repair place she'd wound up at.

We're standing around, waiting on the guys to finish mounting the replacement tire she picked out (I waited with her to make sure she hadn't bent her rim by driving on a flat), when one of them, this very young guy, rushes up to her, all excited and wants to know how she's going to pay. Credit card, she tells him. He's disappointed. His accent is kind of thick, but she grasps that he's asking her doesn't she have cash? She offers him a check. Can she pay part in cash, he wants to know.

Confused, she starts digging for cash. I have a $20 bill, so I give it to her and she gives it to him. His face lights up and he stuffs it into his pocket. She can pay the rest by credit card or check, however she wants.

Why did you need cash, she finally thinks to ask him.

Lunch, he tells her.

I've never been extorted for cash for a job before, so that a company's staff could afford to eat. I'm guessing we're the only customers they'd had all day. Possibly all week.

Anyhow. What with one thing and another, we were 20 minutes late meeting Ruthless, who was sitting in a restaurant, waiting for us.

When we arrive, she said that the restaurant staff was starting to think she didn't really have friends--that she just wandered into restaurants and sat around eating free bread and butter and looking pathetic. Our friendships being what they are, we just laughed at her.

We ate. We chatted. I laughed, as they admitted that on Friday, after we all had dinner and I went home to watch SGA, they wound up skipping the mad drinkin' and dancin' evening they'd been bragging about.

Turns out that, like me, they find events that don't even get going until 10:00pm are starting to be just a little later at night than they're willing to stay awake for. Hee.

After the obligatory free birthday dessert (pineapple-upsidedown cake), the three of us wandered down to a funky used bookstore in the area and spent some time browsing. I could have spent a hundred bucks or more, easy, but I restrained myself.

After all, it's not like I have a job.

Oh--did I forget to mention that? The aforementioned (and afore-celebrated) job offer? Has not quite materialized. Yet.

I was supposed to get an offer letter. The only thing I actually got was a request to provide references and an ensuing, deafening silence.

Peculiar as it might seem, it almost appears as though I was the only person interviewed for the job and I have still somehow failed to secure the position.

I'm almost smug about that. Not everyone can achieve unemployablility (it could be a word) to that extent. It's almost epic, I think!

Sigh.

Other than that, recent good news includes the fact that the tax bill I've been talking about is not, after all, something we need to worry about paying.

I think I'll go toast my toes in the morning sunshine for a while.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Doing Chores

So much of my life seems to be spent this way.

Today's totals so far:

Kitchen counters cleaned - 3
Bathroom counters wiped - 1
Garments hand-washed - 1
Loads of laundry done - 2
Bathroom "fixtures" cleaned - 2
Showers taken - 1
Interviews attended - 1
Jobs obtained - 1

Hee.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:41 AM | Comments (5)



Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The process continues....

The phone interview went exceptionally well. Which it should have done, since it was with Gidget.

Tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m., that's the big one. That's the face-to-face with Gidget's boss.

Right now, they're looking at next week for a start date. Maybe mid-week. Me, I'm hoping for sooner. :) I don't have the spare cash for a week's worth of, "relax and enjoy your last few days off." I'd rather get started working.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:01 PM | Comments (5)



The news is good!

(I go up, I go down. Today, I'm up. )

I woke up to find a note in my inbox from Gidget, including a copy of the job description, the news that while the salary range for the position is a bit less than she'd been hoping for, it's right in my "starting range," and a demand that I call her later today to confirm an interview she's set up for me for tomorrow!

Woo! And hoo!

Posted by AnneZook at 07:27 AM | Comments (4)



Monday, January 28, 2008
Tense

Sometime this week, I will hear from Gidget about an interview with her boss. I'm on tenterhooks....

And a touch cranky.

Heard from the L-i-K-S today. No one in Missouri's tax dept is willing to talk to her on the phone, so that last tax bill, including all of the penalties and whatnot, is going to have to be paid. She's going to try including a letter of explanation but I figure the chances of them rebating any of it, including the "late" fees and whatnot, are slim to none. Missouri can't afford to give back any money it gets its hands on.

I'm also biting my nails about my annual get-together with friends in CA. I've booked it, but the bills keep rolling in and jobs do not (a tentative offer is not a job), nor does money.

And there's wind. I don't know why, but the trees are whipping, all the glass in our windows is trembling, and the birds are cowering in the trees. We're having amazing winds today.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Once Again, the Universe Provides*

Employment beckons coyly, from the distant future of next week, making half-promises it actually seems inclined to fulfill.

Yes, it's a JOB!!!

And, no, not the firm I've been interviewing at. I didn't like to say much, but after lunching with Opiette last week, I was much less excited about that company. Granted that "Dysfunctional Employers Welcome" has been my business mantra for the last twenty years but it's been feeling like time for a new philosophy. Working for crazymen gets old. Especially as I get older.

In this new (still potential) job, I'd be working for Gidget. We've worked together three times before, thanks in no small part to her habit of bringing me on board wherever she's working. As she so kindly said today, "I've stolen you away from other jobs to work for me and I'd have done it again this time." Poaching will not be required this time--I'm footloose, fancy-free, and ready for a paycheck new challenge.

It will be a new challenge, too. I'm to be initiated into the mysteries of G**gl* marketing on the tracking and managing side of things. Spreadsheets, you know. Looking up data in one place and plugging it into another place. Interrupted every so often by calls to/from franchisees using the company's product. Customers, in fact, to service. Right up my alley!

Internet marketing, too, making this a position with a skill that will actually be useful on my resume. This business, whose name I still do not know (Gidget calls, I answer without asking questions) is a huge internet marketer, so not only experience, but significant experience.

Coming, as we switch to the more selfish side of things, with a significant salary, significant benefits, and pre-approval for my annual California Trek early in March!

dances in mad little circles

The R.C. got a full-time job last week.

Meghan got the job she badly wanted just a day or so ago.

I might get a job next week.

Go, Jonathan! The planets are aligned for employment!



_______________

* In this production, the role of The Universe is played by Ms. (Hire My Friend!) Gidget.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:43 PM | Comments (4)



Tuesday, January 22, 2008
But Without Courage

Okay, I just sent Bernie and Her an email, saying I don't want to do any more freelance stuff for them, that's so diplomatically worded that I doubt they actually get it.

Sigh.

I didn't want to come out and say, "I don't want to work with you because you're driving me batshitcrazy" but there are few diplomatic ways to decline free-lance work for someone who knows you're currently unemployed.

"Never burn bridges," that's my motto, but I think I singed this one a bit.

Oh, well.

I forgot to chronicle my Adventures In Cooking this past week! I tried two new recipes--Thai Chicken Sir-Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Stir-Fry Chicken with Garlic Sauce. I had, yes, quite a lot of chicken I needed to use up.

The peanut sauce was not a huge success, failing entirely on the advertisement of "spicy" and being sweetly bland, just what you'd expect from a recipe that calls for both peanut butter and brown sugar. The dash of crushed red pepper and the bit of garlic the recipe called for were unable to hold their own.

On the other hand, yesterday's chicken with garlic sauce amply fulfilled its promise, due in no small part to my failure to remember that when you cut a recipe in half, you need to cut all of the ingredient quantities. As it turned out, I wound up with a ratio of something like 1 clove of garlic to each serving. Fortunately I like garlic and have no interviews scheduled for today....

Posted by AnneZook at 01:09 PM | Comments (2)



Wherein I Remain Firm

Today I am searching the job sites (and finding several possibilities, hooray!), chatting with the R.C. as she reports in from her first day of Full Employment, drinking coffee, and not doing any work for Bernie.

Yes, I'm still firmly convinced that much of last week's meltdown was the consequence of Bernieism or "free-lance creep." I have finally convinced myself that I'm not doing me any favors by free-lancing for him at a miniscule hourly rate as he gives me all of the work he considers needs more brains/skill than his full-time employee can handle. From now on, if he needs a certain skill-set, he can pay for it. (But pay someone else, I'm not available.)

So. What else?

Girls' Night In on Sunday was a huge success. Megan made chili, Ruthless brought yummy bread, I provided cheesecake, and we watched one of the world's strangest movies.

I'd never heard of The Boondock Saints before Meghan mentioned it. It was an--odd--experience, watching it. I'm not a fan of the large body of contemporary movies where the violence (especially sexualized violence) is the plot and this one certainly has more than enough to go around. At the same time, there's something hypnotic about the escalating violence and a darkly morbid vein of humor underlying the story. It's almost a spoof, but it's not self-conscious enough (although William Devane's performance would have worked in a spoof), it's not quite a caper-flick (with plot holes large enough to drive a production truck through) and, after the credits roll you slowly become away of the essential lack of coherent content, and yet....

Maybe it's because I tend to avoid movies with excessive violence that this one had such a dizzying impact on me?

We also watched Burning Down the House, the first episode of Due South's third season. An interesting contrast.

Other than that, this weekend's goal was to see if I could get through 2-3 days without spending any money. What with one thing and another, I wound up spending most of the money I made from Bernie last week on impulse purchases designed to make me feel better about working for the crazyman again. I needed to balance that.

I was successful, but it means I have little or nothing to report in the way of Outside Entertainment Experienced for the weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)



Friday, January 18, 2008
Freak-out!

I'm pretty sure that's the name of an old disco tune, isn't it?

Anyhow. Money or no money, I'm about done working for Bernie. I had a minor melt-down this morning as She was after me to do a lot more projects (today!) than Bernie has agreed to pay me for and he was after me because I've been reluctant to commit to solving a tech problem a long-time client has with a program that was antique long before he hired me and that I've never worked with. (He mortally offended the programmer who created the program for him and wants me to get up to speed and then call the guy for him.)

Anyhow. The R.C. talked me down off the ledge and pointed out that temp work through an agency pays less, but also doesn't drive you to searching for a tall building with windows that open, so after I finish this current project for Bernie next week, I think I'll just have to be unavailable from now on.

"He's a crazy man" is the #1 reason I quit that place, after all.

The #2 reason was, "he doesn't want to pay for the work he needs to have done" and he's currently paying me, for free-lance work, less an hour than he did when I worked for him, it's also beginning to occur to me that I set myself up for this entire ridiculous situation, so it's up to me to get myself out of it. And I'm going to.

Lunch today with DiamondGirl is rescheduled until Monday because she has a girlfriend having a crisis. That's okay, I'll probably be saner by Monday anyhow.

Om….

I'm having a Girl's Night In with Meghan and Ruthless on Sunday, which should be fun. Mocking bad television, eating good food (That Meghan, she can cook! And I'm bringing cheesecake for dessert.), knitting, and chatting.

And, of course, I have this week's Disasterpiece Theater production to tape Sunday night. This week we're seeing Mansfield Park, arguably my least-favorite of Austen's books anyhow (I always want to slap Fanny Price and tell her to grow a spine), so I'd imagine that whatever grotesquery I'm going to see will consequently be funnier to me than last week's Persuasion proved to be.

You can tell I had a meltdown today, can't you? My syntax is still sort of insane.

The R.C. is taking me out to lunch and then we're going to a bookstore and I have given myself permission to spend a fiver if I find something that will enrich, enliven, or lighten up my life.

And, speaking of working (which I was doing originally), yesterday's interview went….

Well, I don't know. You can't really tell, can you?

I mean, they chatted with me for the full hour scheduled for the interview, so I'm assuming I didn't say anything disastrous in the first ten minutes, but the Big Boss also made a point of saying they were seeing "several more people" (when I was told they were meeting with only 3-4 "final" candidates) before they were making a decision next week, so….

Sigh. Seriously? I think it was a little too apparent that I was winging it when I answered a couple of their questions. Being able to do the work and being able to describe the process you use aren't the same thing, especially when you're talking about creative work.

I mean, how do you write an ad? What kind of question is that? You find out what the client wants to communicate, find an eye-catching graphic that describes it and that will intrigue people to read the 25-word ad text, and you bang them with the client's three most important keywords.

How do you write it? How should I know? It happens in a part of my brain that works better if I don't try to micromanage it.

Also? While I have faith that I could learn to write in 25 words or less :) ads are not actually something I've done.

Take your pick. Either I'm not that sanguine about my performance yesterday or this morning's meltdown has sapped my already shaky confidence.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:09 PM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, January 16, 2008
More Ho, Additional Hum

For the record, the promised 59 degrees did not appear, thanks to a big ol' cloud bank that came and sat over Denver all day. It didn't rain or snow or anything. It just sat there, soaking up the winter sunshine and any bits of heat that might have been destined for us. Hmph.

Today dawned with the promised arctic air (I think it's about 10 out here) and a solid blanket of clouds.

I did hear from DiamondGirl's company again, we'll call them WebWaders for ease of reference, telling me they were delighted to have me back for a second interview. (Not half as delighted as I am....) Think of me at 2:00 on Thursday, okay?

I'm already panicking (in a casual, mental sort of way) over the all-important 2nd Interview Outfit. It's shaming to say that I've been job-hunting for 10 months and have only faced this problem 2-3 times before, but there you go. Denver's a casual dress kind of town, where "black tie" only means that men have to wear dinner jackets over their jeans, so outfits with jackets or matched suits aren't something I've had in my wardrobe for the last 15 years.

Since the threatened 1"-4" of snow turned into a skiff barely enough to whiten the roads before blowing away, I may swing through a couple of stores on my way to lunch today in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to find something.

Hmmm.... What else that might be of (one hopes) rather more interest?

Bernie called last night and we "consulted" for fifteen minutes before I promised to do 5-6 more hours of work for him this week. He also has another new client who's supposed to sign a contract next week and wants to offer me hours on that project if I'm still available. So--enough work coming in to pay most of the bills and buy food for another month, which is definitely a plus.

I made chili. I always make chili when it snows or snow is threatened. Later this morning I'm going to make some cornbread to go with it.

The truth is, I'm just not that interesting these days.

I'm in the middle of the winter blahs, the dispirited gray days that fall upon us after the holidays and generally linger until late March. I don't have enough disposable income to go anywhere new or interesting, and even I'm tired of hearing me talk about sending out resumes.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:43 AM | Comments (3)



Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Ho Hum

Today's high is supposed to be 59 degrees. Tomorrow's high will be 19. With snow. After checking the job sites, I really should get out into the beautiful weather today and enjoy it while it lasts.

I did a small amount of enjoying yesterday's high of 49. After three early-morning hours of working for Bernie, I went to the doctor's office for my annual physical, went to the bank to deposit the paycheck from the temp work I did over the holidays, and gassed up my car. The first and last of those were painful (to the bank balance) but it was a nice day.

Today I may and/or may not make it to Target to return an unused closet organizer. (We bought two for the hall closet but turned out to need only one. Frugally, and contrary to life-long habit, we are returning the second one to get our money back.)

Lunch! I am lunching with Opiette and Gidget tomorrow and with DiamondGirl on Thursday. I feel so popular!

I got an email from Opiette 's & DiamondGirl's HR guy, saying they were deciding who to call back for second interviews and that I (really "we" since it was a bulk email) should hear from him this afternoon. And, stupid me, I replied with the wrong alias, so let's all hope he doesn't go Google that email identity. (There are so many drawbacks to being a careless closet pornographer.)

Other than that, yesterday's schedule (which was busier than it sounds) didn't leave me time for the job sites, so I have a two-hour stint in front of me today.

Will finish later....

Posted by AnneZook at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Access! Interviews! Friends!

I arose yesterday to discover that our access to the Magical Electronic World was dead. No internet access! How traumatic! After two hours of vain fiddling with connections and diagnostic programs, I gave up and called for help, then waited all day for the repair tech to appear. I mention this just so you know how nice it was to wake up today, toddle out to the computer, and get instant access to all things webby!

All of that fiddling wasn't a total loss, though. While poking around the PC, I discovered that our free memory was down to 11%. A search revealed a massive heap o'tmp files that had been accumulating for quite a time, including a few Gb worth that accumulated over a two-day period in late November (I don't know why), at least 2,000 of which (files, I mean) had no earthly reason to continue existing. Free and unrestrained use of the delete key for about twenty minutes resulted in a PC with 44% of the available memory free. That's more like it.

Late yesterday afternoon I had a job interview!

Interestingly, I was less excited about this job description than about most that I wind up interviewing for, but the job lead was passed along to me by DiamondGirl and I appreciated it, so I followed up. Turns out that DiamondGirl isn't the only old acquaintance of mine now working at this company. In a blast from the past, it turns out that their sales dept is headed by Opiette, a woman I spent five years working with (in the 90s).

This job is having two rounds of interviews. Round #1 is about finding someone who will "fit the team." I suspect that I passed that part of the test with flying colors. I mean, if two former coworkers fall upon one with cries of delight, this indicates you're a good person to work with, right?

Opiette appeared during my interview (adding to the good impression I was making on the interviewer by her evident joy) and we had a few minutes to chat afterwards as well. I'm now under orders to dig Gidget, another former co-worker, out of the woodwork and schedule a time for us all to get together.

Also I need to contact DiamondGirl so we can have lunch.

(Also? Almost incidentally it occurs to me to mention that after seeing the organization and hearing a bit more about the position, I could do most of the work while taking a nap.)

So, score one for the plus side for yesterday.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:35 AM | Comments (6)



Friday, January 4, 2008
My Day, So Far

I did the job sites and sent in for 4 ads.

I did a few rows on each of my current knitting/crochet projects, and then got down to today's real work.

I swept and mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors, cleaned the kitchen counters and sink and wiped down the stove and hood.

I have also shaken out the kitchen and bathroom rugs, cleaned my bathroom counters, toilet, and medicine cabinet (inside and out), cleaned the bathroom mirrors and the mirror in the hallway, cleaned some woodwork, done a bit of dusting, and cleaned one of the sliding glass doors (the sun was still on the other one).

Then I took a shower, and boy did I need it.

Can I have a job? Please? Because all of this domesticity is giving me dishpan hands.

I think I feel guilty when the R.C. is off working at a temp job and I'm not working--I seem to get these fits of energy. Also, I know she hates the job they sent her to this time, so I feel doubly guilty. (Let's hope Buehler produces a major project next week.)

Now I am going to eat something. It amazes me, considering how often I forget to eat when I'm home alone, why I don't lose any weight. (Yes, I know all about what forgetting to eat does to your metabolism. I'm just saying.)

After that, I will either clean the second sliding glass door and get out the stepstool so I can clean the ceiling fan blades, or I will go to the grocery store. I will let the Winds of Fate decide.

This update, empty of actual content, brought to you by the letter L (for lethargic) and the number 0 (whose magic we all understand).

Posted by AnneZook at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Flying Wheelbarrows

Now I remember why being unemployed is so boring. The R.C. is, once again, off to her temp job and out of contact for the day. With no one around and no reason to do any particular thing at any particular moment, I'm having some trouble getting started on anything at all.

There are a few prospects on the job sites today, but I'm just not in the mood. Maybe in an hour or two.

I also have a little work (not much--an hour or two) I could do for Bernie but, again, not in the mood at the moment. I did exactly what he asked on that free-lance project and it's not my fault if what he asked me to do is not, in fact, what the clients wanted done.

I could finish up my holiday shopping for stocking stuffers but I can't get my car out of the parking lot at the moment. Also, I want molasses crinkles, but in order to have them I have to go to the store and buy molasses and ginger and I can't right now.

Both of those are because of the flying wheelbarrows.

As we all know, the Crazy Property Management Company has gotten all ambitious this year and decided to do a ton of work on the building.* Today there's a lifter-truck thingy--a cherry-picker or something--hauling roofing supplies down from the top of the building. One would have expected them to do that before it snowed, but whatever. A minute ago I looked out the door in time to see a wheelbarrow sailing past.

I do have plans to accomplish things today, even aside from the aforementioned shopping. For instance, I have to finish my holiday cards. The bathroom and the kitchen both need cleaned. I have a knitted scarf that's done except for being fringed, so I could finish it, although I'm not sure why.**

I could work on any of these things, if only I could drag myself out from in front of the computer keyboard. But here I sit, surfing the 'net aimlessly instead of doing something productive and useful with my time.

Sigh.

The phone rings a lot during the day, too. At this time of the year, it's mostly charities looking for donations and some of the callers are pretty obnoxious when you say, "no." The one from some version of the "make a wish" people got pretty snippy with me when I told her I didn't have any money to spare. While I regret having been unemployed for the last nine months, I have to say that I'm making notes and will not, once re-employed, be making donations to charities whose call tactics include attempted bullying.

I don't know why today's blog entry is such a downer. I'm sorry. It's a lovely, sunny day outside and supposed to hit 35 sometime this afternoon. I should be amazingly cheerful.

Maybe I should eat something?


_________________________________

* At no time, during the past decade when the R.C. and I were both employed and gone all day, every day, did they choose to enlist hordes of worker-bees with trucks full of loud machinery to swarm all over the building at all hours. No--they waited until we could both be subjected to the maximum amount of inconvenience.

** Very sadly, the gentleman who has been so generous in taking my hand-made items and distributing them for me, a former co-worker and dear friend of the R.C.'s, has been diagnosed with brain cancer. He and his wife are lovely people who donate a lot of time and effort to helping others, so this is one of those tragedies that just seem unfair.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:20 AM | Comments (2)



Friday, November 16, 2007
This week, briefly

So, lemme see, what's new?

Last week's Second Job Prospect checked in. Turns out that the woman who had quit, thus freeing up a position for me to fill, changed her mind and decided to stay.

This week I got a call from a guy who was so impressed with how ideally his needs matched my resume that he was all-but incoherent with trying to explain what his company did. He's going to call me back to schedule an interview next week (after, one presumes, he collects himself). I'd be more thrilled if his needs had matched any part of my resume except the job(s) I found the most boring, but whatever.

Got a call from Bernie and Her yesterday afternoon. They have a desperate need for someone to do some work for them. I agreed and drove to Boulder today to get the details.

#1 - Turns out that they have this need because She is taking all of next week off, which is not a thing I ever did when the company was facing major deadlines.

#2 - Part of what they need done is in reference to a major project Bernie is presenting to the client right after the holidays, so I anticipate an easy 20 hours or so of work. Income is good!

#3 - Having so injudiciously opened the door, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Bernie, almost first thing, sounded me out about taking over the entire account of a minor client who just might be about to turn into a very major client. No idea if he was thinking "full-time, employee status" or thinking that I'd just be available forever when and if this client needed help.

Anyhow. I'm downloading the dozen or so files he sent me (assuring me they were all essential to understanding the project) right now.

I haven't heard from Buehler lately, but Bernie says his project is moving very slowly, which is typical of Buehler. I think I'll write him again and tell him that if he doesn't have any more work for me this month, he can pay me what he owes me so far :) and we'll do a new deal whenver he has more work. (It's already been weeks since I did that last job and I don't want him to forget he owes me money! That's my January rent!)

I think that's about all that's happened this week.

Except. I shopped! New yarn! Just one skein, because I'm being frugal, but I decided that the world wouldn't end if I blew $2.50 frivolously.

Hmmm....

I made stew. Turned out okay. (I'm not a huge fan of stew but the R.C. really likes it.)

I'm meeting a friend for coffee and chatting tomorrow morning. I'm loaning her my season two Doctor Who DVDs and she (unless she forgets) is going to loan me season one of the Canadian series Slings and Arrows. I've been hearing really good buzz about it, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.

After that I'm going to swing by the store on the way home and buy the makings for chili. It's supposed to snow early next week and they're being cagy about the accumulation, which suggests it might be major, so maybe I'll stock up on junk food too. (I mean, just in case we get one of those every-five-years-or-so power outages, I should have things to eat that don't need to be cooked, right? It's sensible, not self-indulgent!)

And now, it's time for the new Stargate Atlantis episode. (It's not great television, but I'm just in love with Dr. Rodney McKay, so I don't mind.)

Posted by AnneZook at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)



Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sigh

I'm somewhat discouraged. I heard back from one of the companies I interviewed with last week, the job I was more interested in. A very polite little note informing me that, as usual, while they liked me and my resume, they were hiring someone else.

I swear that if I were the paranoiac-minded type, I'd be putting this down to age discrimination. I can't figure out what else it might be. Both of the guys I interviewed with liked me. One of them especially was having a great time talking with me--we got onto books and I emailed him a couple of links to things I think he'd find interesting--so I did the "bonding" thing. My resume had plenty of the right kinds of experiences on it.

Sigh.

Anyhow. I'm supposed to call the other company back today. I guess I should do that in the next hour or so and add their rejection to my collection.

I've half given up on the idea of trying to find part-time or "holiday" work. I've had so many rejections that my confidence that anyone would actually hire me, even for lousy money and a part-time job, is fairly well eroded.

In household organizing-and-tidying news, I have a pile o'trash to take out. Aside from that, there's just the ordinary stuff to be done--mopping floors and whatnot. All of the major/unusual/interesting projects are pretty much done. That's kind of a pity. I haven't quite finished my holiday cards for the year (thank goodness I did all of the shopping for those before The Great Unemployment) so I need to dig those out, but that's about it.

Oh. Wince.

The hall closet. I nearly forgot. It hasn't been cleaned out in a couple of years, so it's 'way past-due.

The R.C. and I went out yesterday, just for the sake of going out, and I'm proud to report that I spent only $3! And that was on take-out Kung Pao Beef for dinner.

Frugality does not come naturally to me. I finally had to stuff my hands in my pockets to remind myself that I'm not allowed to shop just to be buying things these days. There were many things I needed. Scented candles, books, lingerie, socks, even a hat. Sigh.

We went to an actual mall yesterday, too, a thing we rarely do except in the frosts of winter or the sweats of summer. Yesterday was one of those rare days where you wake up to clouds and gray skies and they linger for most of the daylight hours. After our string of sunny and 70s days, it was yucky, so we wandered around Park Meadows for a couple of hours instead of taking an outdoor walk. Today we're back to blue and balmy skies.

Okay, what else is happening in my life?

Pondering.

Well, naturally I'm doing a lot of reading. I don't know how I got onto this kick, but I'm rereading Asimov's entire Foundation series at the moment. I haven't read it in fifteen or twenty years. Like most of the best-loved books of my childhood, parts of it don't hold up well under the eyes of the more mature reader, but some of the core concepts remain very interesting.

Fortunately I also have an entire pile of new books to read, thanks to the R.C.'s Birthday Generosity.

Still. I have to say that unemployment, without a hefty bank balance, is certainly beginning to pall. It's extremely discouraging to hear that even the last-to-admit-it nightly television news programs are starting to use the R-word. I've already suffered through the recession of the 70s. I'm not really prepared for another one now--especially when I'm trying to find a job.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:27 AM | Comments (4)



THINK, people!

We're back to trucks and ladders and workers swarming over the building. They're finishing (one hopes) the painting on this side of the building today.

I mean--one hopes they're finishing, since there are now four colors on the building, creating a weird and not particularly attractive effect.

This management company means well, but they never get it quite right. They installed carports and instead of the kind supported with posts placed in front and back of the roof, they chose the kind with posts in the middle of the structure--right where the car door is when you park. Makes it tricky to get in or out of your car.

They installed concrete bumpers a couple of feet from the sidewalk, which is nice because now people can't pull so far into the parking spaces that they block the sidewalk (a thing that will also, I assume, be much appreciated by the snow-removal crews this winter). However, as (one assumes) a cost-saving measure, they installed one bumper for every two parking spaces. This means that for every other car, the driver has to step over the bumper to reach the sidewalk--a thing that's not a big problem today but, again, is going to be problematic when the snow comes and you can't quite tell what's concrete and what's a pile of snow.

And? For the carport people? They now have to navigate a virtual minefield of obstacles, since the bumpers were installed at a distance that virtually forces drivers to park right where the carport supports are guaranteed to block their doors. The alternative is to park with your car's tail sticking out into the driving lane of the parking lot (and where you lose half the advantage of using a carport).

They mean well, I'm sure. They just never quite get it right.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)



Monday, November 5, 2007
Grouching and Carousing

I insist that it must be possible for all of these workers to work on this building without spending so much time standing on our balcony.

I thought, this morning, that maybe they were done and we wouldn't have to live with the noise, the mess, or the nosiness any more, but noooo, they were just later than usual in starting.

Now, there they are. Climbing up and down ladders outside the balcony, occasionally making spraying noises for some reason I refuse to go and investigate, shouting up and down at each other and, not infrequently, wandering around on our balcony (but doing, as near as I can tell, nothing actually to or on our balcony.

Hmph.

I guess it's because the weather is still so good. It's 41 out there right now and, as always, feels 20 degrees warmer in the sun, which we have masses of today.

Anyhow.

I appreciate that they were late today since I spent the pre-intrusion interval opening presents and celebrating with a slice of 300-calorie pumpkin bread for breakfast.

Happy birthday to me!

I got great loot. I generally get great loot, of course, but every year it's a fresh treat to get great loot. I got books, kitchen toys, a new pillow (increased sleep comfort every day for years!), and a gift certificate to one of my favorite bookstores! (I got books and I get to go buy more books! Life is good.*)

And the R.C. is taking me out to lunch.

As if to reward me for surviving another year, the is minor movement on the job-hunting front.

Remember the other day, when I said that I should have waited until after my inspirational morning shower before I put myself through the effort of trying to customize my cover letter to explain why I think coffee and chocolate are fabulous? Well, those people must have a sense of humor. They called this morning and I have an interview with them this afternoon.

(I have to admit that the owner guy I spoke to on the phone didn't sound all that upbeat or anything, but maybe it was just Monday morning blahs?)

And I have another interview tomorrow morning, you know, so this week is starting out well.

I haven't done the job sites yet today, so who knows what magic still awaits?

I guess that's really all I had to say so far today.

__________________

* Although, as we can all see, not if you're a set of italics or a pair of parentheses in Anne's World.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM | Comments (6)



Thursday, November 1, 2007
Bustling Around (Parenthetically)

A swipe of dusting, a whiff of vacuuming, a brush of sweeping, and the apartment looks almost clean. I finished the previously mentioned porch-tidying, including sweeping it (a futile gesture for an outdoor space, I know). It's now ready for the Painting Attack, currently scheduled to begin tomorrow at (no doubt) 7:00 a.m. I've vacuumed up the debris that was scattered from various boxes during the Great Storage Unit clear-out (and the kitchen rugs, while I was at it). I scooped up the most obvious dust from various surfaces. I watered plants.

You can accomplish a lot in 30 minutes if you put your mind to it (and live in a fairly small space).

I washed the duster (a necessity) and the broom (an unusual step, but I don't normally use the "house" broom to sweep the balcony) and they're outside drying. Since I am neither Monica* nor Monk**, I don't own a dustbuster I can use to clean the vaccum cleaner. I did have a passing urge to wipe it down, but I got a grip on myself in the nick of time.

I carried out a bag of trash and ate some lunch.

Now I need a shower.

Cleanliness, household or personal, really doesn't last long.

A thing that interests me (but won't interest anyone else, I promise) is how many levels of cleaning I have organized in my head.

Today's efforts are a "skosh." I did a skosh of cleaning. From "skosh," the process runs the gamut through several stages until it reaches, "a good scrub-down." A bit (or "skosh") of cleaning means I hit the most obvious surfaces and tasks, but didn't wear myself out actually moving a lot of things and cleaning below and behind them. Scrubbing down involves removing everything from its place, washing that place, washing (or dusting, as the case may be) the thing itself, then putting it all back together.

The kitchen floor, for instance, can be "cleaned" by anything from a simple vacuuming to "sweep and soap-mop" to the more elaborate (and boring) "sweep, wash baseboards, wipe corners and edges with soapy wipes, damp mop, soap mop, rinse, wax" procedure.
As smug as the second process makes me feel, the truth is that the floor gets dirty again just as fast as it does after the simpler and easier single-stage mopping.

Seriously. I need a job.

Hmmm....

I also did a bit of crocheting and worrying about whether or not I originally purchased enough of the (rather expensive) yarn to complete the pattern and make a decent length scarf. (This one is plum, navy blue, and cream.)***

I rolled my eyes at a couple of headlines (the DOW plummets while oil prices soar and everyone looks surprised and Fred Phelps&Collected Loonies ordered to pay $10.9 million for "emotional distress" after cheering at the funeral of a Marine.).

I checked my email four times (only to find no interesting mail, although plenty of spam).

I checked this site's stats program and finally figured out how to clean the collected 5,500 spam emails out of the account I got with this site (and haven't been able to shut down), freeing up a considerable amount of disk space. I eyeballed the "hits" to the site and shut down the acess of some IPs located in Israel that have been banging against my bandwidth with spam searches. I considered, once again, taking down the politiblog since even if I did decide to blog again, I wouldn't need those years of history and broken links.

I decided to think about that another day.

The note we got from the property management company said to move our cars from in front of the building tomorrow, so they could paint. It did not say they would be chawing up logs in front of our building today. (Nor can I figure out why, with 11 empty spaces in front of the building, they felt it was best to park their chawer right behind the only car in that part of the lot (i.e. mine) before starting work.)

If I had a job, I wouldn't be here now and I wouldn't be having this problem.

_______________

* Friends

** Monk

*** After I've learned to stop abusing italics, I think I'll work on having some parenthesis restraint.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)



Clean!

Some days, the morning shower is just a shower. Other days, it's a revelation.

I don't know why, but I suspect it's linked to whether or not I'm having a "good hair" day.

Job-hunt update

4 possibilities this morning, one of which required me to customize my customizable cover letter to discuss why I think both chocolate and coffee are fabulous. I should have let that one wait until after my inspirational shower. The best I could do was to drop in references to coffee-drinking and chocolate-consumption at intervals. (I suppose, if they have a sense of humor, it might pass muster.)

Freelance update

After 2-3 weeks of complete silence from Buehler, I sent him another nudge, pointing out that I'm willing to do more work on the database (at no charge) if he'll just give me some parameters and, by the way, I haven't been paid for the part we agreed I'd be paid for yet. He responded with an offer of quick payment if I needed it (I know he's good for it) and an offer of more work. So, hooray for some holiday spending money!

I'm still on the fence about blogging for him, but I'm starting to lean that way. I mean, why not? I have opinions yet unexpressed. I'm sure I have hard-and-fast positions on issues I know nothing about, diatribes on the failings of those who are acting while I'm sitting on the sidelines, and criticism for the plans of those who, unlike myself, are at least trying to come up with plans. In short, I have everything I had when I first started politiblogging, right?

Tidying update

Nothing to report. I cleaned, tidied, organized, or arranged nothing yesterday.

Sometimes, you just take a day off.

Lurking on the near horizon is the annual struggle to tidy the hall closet but I'm going to think about that another day.

Reading update

I finished Foundation and Chaos (by Greg Bear) and am now jonesing for Foundation's Triumph (by David Brin) to complete the prequel trilogy. I'm trying to convince myself that it would be okay to swing by the used bookstore and see if they have it.

I'm also jonesing to reread my entire Asimov collection, a thing that would require hauling at least two boxes full of books over here from storage.

It may be time to rotate my books. (If you own thousands of books, you can rotate them in and out of storage, making it feel like you have dozens upon dozens of "new" things to read from time to time.) (This comes in handy during extended stints of unemployment when you're not really allowed to buy new books.)

I'll think about that another day.

Weather update

Sunny and mild with a high of 68 forecast. The sky is a glorious, unbroken blue, the trees are golden and crimson, and the air is crisp with a potent warmth where the sunshine falls.

It's nice to live in paradise.

Renovation update

The hordes of little worker bees are swarming over someone else's building today. For the first time in four days, I can step out onto the balcony without the danger of coming face-to-face with a painter or carpenter who is already occupying the space. Which is nice because tidying up the balcony is on today's to-do list.

Miscellaneous update

I got an email from Her a day or so ago. Not an email for me you understand. Just spamming the inboxes of everyone She knows (one assumes) to forward an alarmist (ostensible) health report suggesting that people who get annual flu shots are at much greater risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease. (For anyone interested/concerned, the culprit is mercury again.)

And that's about it. Not much to babble about yet this morning.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)



Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Updating to the Update

Life continues.

The job search continues apace.

The FBO called me yesterday before I had a chance to call them. I had to stop the car, move away from sources of ambient noise, and tell them, regretfully, that I'd decided to continue my search. They seemed--shocked. It did sound like an interesting position but the days of me giving 60 hours a week for starvation wages so that someone else's entrepreneurial dream can become a reality are just over. (Also? If I find myself willing to work for $12/hour? There are a ton of positions out there, most of which won't require the extra 20 hours a week and will pay for health insurance.)

The UNPO sent me an email telling me I didn't get that job. I'm so grateful. Like I said before, what they really needed was someone a lot more detail-oriented than I am.

Yesterday's phone interview with an internet-based, expanding California organization (IBEC) seemed to go well. Only 20 minutes, but they want me to come in for a face-to-face interview next week. In addition to the position I sent my resume in for, there are three or four other positions she wants to "explore" with me--some of which definitely sound more interesting.

Today's haul--five resumes sent. (Ring, little telephone, ring!)

Cleaning continues, yes, apace.

I've gotten through all of the boxes in storage that aren't books. Today's chores involve carrying out the bags full of trash littering my bedroom, breaking down the fifteen empty boxes I held onto (in case I wanted to repack anything), and carrying the two or three boxes of "things to be kept" back over to the storage unit.

I really haven't decided about the books that are still in storage yet. Part of me says, "repack them in smaller, lighter boxes" but the boxes they're already in are labeled as to author, so that would entail a lot of relabeling. (I have no idea why the idea of crossing something out in magic marker and then writing a name on a different box sounds like a lot of work to me today, but it does.) I guess I could, though. I could haul the smaller boxes back over to storage and repack the books which are currently loaded into large cartons. A few empty boxes, a magic marker, a flashlight, and a couple of hours work....

I can tell you one thing for sure. I'm not getting rid of any of them. After the last Great Clear-Out in my bedroom? It wasn't 48 hours before I was rooting around on the shelves, cursing myself for having gotten rid of this or that volume.

Bah.

Frugality suffers a setback.

So, what else is new? I ran mad in Borders a couple of days ago and bought three new books. I'm trying to read them slowly, savor them, since it may be a while before I get any more.

Had lunch with Meg yesterday. All of the aforementioned cleaning up in my bedroom was originally scheduled for yesterday, but when she called, I tossed the idea of being productive out the window. After lunching with her and discussing various girly things, I naturally developed a need to visit a drugstore with a large cosmetics section.

Then the R.C. and I visited a grocery store for a few essentials (nothing is more essential than potato chips), only to find ourselves surrounded by hordes of deranged seniors. Not, you know, literally. Just in the "blocking the aisles, moving far too slowly, stopping in the middle of traffic and preventing everyone else from getting to the food" sense. There was one guy who was wandering very, very slowly and aimlessly around the store, pushing a large cart that held nothing but a single carton of yogurt.

I don't mean to diss the elderly (after all, soon I will be one of them) and certainly I've had my own recent experience with being the rock in the stream of shoppers as I gimped slowly and painfully around the store, favoring my left foot, right knee, and ribcage, but at least I was apologetic about my failings. And I made an effort to move when I realized I was blocking someone's way.

I'm not really sure why I'm talking about it at all. Maybe just because any small item that breaks the routine of my days is noteworthy?

Maybe because I feel badly about a group of people whose days are so uneventful that a trip to the grocery store is a thing to be prolonged for as long as possible.

Politics briefly rears its head

I did the candidates quiz at http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460.

As always with these quizzes, at least 30% of the questions did not provide an answer that I really felt reflected my position. For instance, I disagreed with every, single candidate about Iraq. Is that because my position is unrealistic or because of the wording of the answer set?

I disagreed with 10 out of 12 on energy, another fact that doesn't surprise me. I'm not one of the faithful believers when it comes to ethanol. I don't dislike the stuff, but I don't see it as the panacea for all our energy woes.

Kucinich turns out to be the candidate that best fits my position--a fact that doesn't surprise me at all.

I was surprised to find Chris Dodd, a candidate who barely crosses my radar most of the time, in second place.

Edwards, my own pick for second-place, turned up in third. We disagree on the line-item veto. (I go back and forth on the line-item veto. Properly used, it could be a very worthy tool, but I don't anticipate it would be properly used. In the end, I usually wind up favoring the idea of reforming how Congress constructs legislation.)

Otherwise--

Mobs of energetic laborers continue to work on our apartment building and others around the complex. Replacing "damaged" wood pieces, installing concrete parking bumpers, power-washing, and, we're threatened, repainting. Mostly, when they get to our corner of our building, we get up and leave. It's difficult to sit here and live your life with two or three strange guys standing on your balcony operating some mysterious but very noisy machine.

I guess that's about it for now. I'm going to.... Well, I'm either going to sit down and read, or take myself over to storage and do some work. I'm not really sure. I guess my fate hangs in the balance at the moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Who's History?

So, I've been mostly spending time in the meat world, not the electronic world, for the last week. (I don't update that often, so I forgive anyone who really didn't notice.)

I'm happy to say that my mashed foot is mostly all healed. I barely limp at all these days and think nothing of putting on a pair of shoes and going out and driving myself somewhere. Quite the independent grown-up I am!

Remember last time I posted, when I said my October Resolution was to clean out my half of the storage unit? I am proud to announce that, unlike most of my resolutions, I've been hard at work keeping this one!

Thanks to the R.C.'s months of patient hard work cleaning a path in the mountain of boxes, I was able to start in the back of my stack, at the bottom. I figured the most interesting stuff would be there, since it would be the oldest. (These days, all I put into storage is a box of "legal papers" once a year.)

And boy did I find "stuff". First off, I found armloads of unorganized photos and additional armloads of half-filled albums. My first task was to spend two full days organizing, sorting, and labeling (where I could) all of those. We had a cold, snowy Sunday this week, so it was a good week to have an indoor project to work on, but I promise you I really was sick of the sight of my own face by the end of the weekend.

Other than that, I cannot believe some of the things I've put into storage over the years. (Any more than I can quite believe the things I'm learning about myself.)

I mean, I clearly remember selling off my Elvis albums at a friend's yard sale sometime in the 80s. I'm not sure, though, why I still have a box full o'memorabilia? Why didn't I sell it at the same time? Can I bring myself to throw it out now? (I found two stacks of photos from a trip two friends and I made to Memphis in the 70s. I've already organized millions of photos--can I just throw those away?)

Ditto for Doctor Who (but sans albums). Who knew I had an entire box full of old Doctor Who magazines and books, all from the 80s or before? What am I supposed to do with them? I can't quite bring myself to throw out actual books but I'm not sure there's anyone anywhere I can "give" them and the magazines to for resale or whatever.

And I am learning many things about me.

Did I ever tell you I worked on my school newspaper when I was in Junior High? Probably not, since I have zero memory of it, but I found a couple of certificates lauding my contribution to said publication, so I have to believe I did.

What do you do with old school yearbooks? I don't care about them, don't feel any urge to look at them, but am not entirely comfortable with the idea of tossing them into the trash. Dtto diplomas. I can almost see why you'd keep a High School or university diploma, but do I really need to keep one advertising the fact that I completed Junior High?

Yikes, what bad grades I got in school! Looking at my old Junior and Senior High School grade reports, I see a near-endless parade of Ds. Mostly for math, science, and PE classes, none of which I've ever cared about excelling in, but still. Those give your GPA a real hit when you only have six or seven classes a semester. (Okay, not all Ds, but it still looks bad.)

I found my ACT results. Reviewing those numbers, I can't believe the school counselor didn't sit me down and advise me to consider a career in the fast food industry. (Maybe because there wasn't a fast-food industry when I graduated high school?)

I have to admit that I didn't take standardized tests very seriously when I was young. No one ever explained why we had to take them, so I spent, as was my habit during tests, 80% of the time daydreaming and the other 20% of the time filling in whichever categories seemed most interesting.

I have a tendency to glaze over the bad spots in my past. My brain is not built to retain sad or depressing information. For that reason, I was quite surprised to find performance reviews and "official" memos from one of my favorite employers, pointing out a stream of ways in which I was entirely inadeqate to my position. (I'm sure I received other reviews that were less negative but after a certain point, I quit reading those papers.

And today I found yet another photo album full of miscellaneous pictures, all of which would fit neatly into one of the other seven albums I've already organized. At the moment, I'm trying to decide whether I have the strength to go back in and fight the album battle again, or if I'm just going to not care.

Anyhow. So far I've shredded seven boxes full of old papers, gone through seven other boxes of miscellaneous "stuff", carried out 15 bags of trash, accumulated one box full of "perfectly good but I don't want it any more" stuff for Goodwill, and identified three (small) boxes of things that can go back in storage.

I have approximately 15 boxes to go, 10 of which I'm reasonably sure contain all of the books I don't have room for in my bedroom.

One thing I can say for this most recent stint of unemployment--I certainly won't have to think I "wasted" most of my idle time. I've done enough cleaning out and clearing up to hold me for the next year.

Aside from that, I went to Meg's birthday party Saturday evening (she turned 32, I believe) where I got to chat with her and Ruth, another friend I don't get to see as much as I would like.

I had lunch with Meg today as well, which was fun since today is her actual birthday. She treated! I mean, today is her birthday. I should have treated! She said that she makes it a point every year on her birthday to do one act of charity. Taking her unemployed friend to lunch :) was this year's gesture. In any case it was much appreciated. We had coffee at her favorite coffee house, then lunch at a nice, little French café sort of place.

And, finally, yes, I'm still job-hunting. (Or, I should say, hunting again, since I had to hold off for two or three weeks.) I'd like a job. One with a generous, regular paycheck. I find it hard to deal with the idea that books have been published that I have not been able to purchase.

Whenever Buehler decides to pay me for that freelance work I did (which, by the way, I finished in much less time than I anticipated), the $600 is going to come in handy.

I am missing Doctor Who. I must check and see when the new season starts airing.

Torchwood and the new Kelsey Grammer show were the only two new shows I tried this year.

The Kelsey Grammer show was inexcusably bad.

I've also given up on Torchwood. I wanted to like it. Really, I did. I've heard a lot of good buzz about it and I was excited and entirely ready to love it. But I just didn't.

And that's about it.

_______________________

P.S. Maybe I should make a new resolution--to stop abusing italics?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:41 PM | Comments (3)



Saturday, October 13, 2007
Briefly

Shoes! I have graduated to wearing two shoes! And driving myself places! I feel like such a grown-up.

I had my hair done. It's a good thing I earned some free-lance $$ this week. Hair is expensive.

After weeks of balmy temperatures and glowing sunshine gilding the changing trees into summer gardens, autumn has arrived. We woke up today to gray, clouded skies and that flat, cool light that turns even the cheeriest leaf display into a limp, dispirited mess.

I blame that bird. Last night I dreamed first that a man came in off the balcony to try and sell me something and then, after I'd run him off and gone back to bed, a cat got in through the ceiling and jumped on my bed. Clearly some part of my brain no longer trusts that the place is secure, even when I think the doors are all closed. (Also? The ceiling? Really is solid.) Stupid bird.

People always aske me, "what are your plans for the weekend, Anne?" I have no "weekend" plans, people. (A) I'm unemployed and all "weekend" means to me is that there are more people out and about, getting in my way in stores I might want to visit; and (B) I'm unemployed and can't be roaming around spending random money anyhow.

My plans for next week? I plan to visit the storage unit each day. The R.C. has been hard at work on her half of it for most of the summer, cleaning out things no longer needed, loved, or useful. I've been focusing on doing things in my room (or, you know, playing games or reading books) but I know my half of the unit also needs cleaned, so now (quick, quick, quick, before winter comes!) I'm going to see how much of it I can get through in the next couple of weeks. Surely there are boxes full of useless junk I can rid my life of. (A month spent watching Clean House reruns creates a whole, new attitude about holding onto things you just don't care about.)

Things I would like to do next week? Spend part of my free-lance money on new books. Except that none of the series I'm reading have any new volumes due before November. And this is no time to get hooked on anything new. (I already had a $50 blow-out of new books the week I started the free-lance work.)

Posted by AnneZook at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Still Life With Wildlife or The Great Pigeon Persecution!

Some days you don't even have to leave the house to have major excitement. Some days, all you have to do is take a shower. Like today, when I returned to the living room after my morning shower, to find everythin--serene and still. I puttered around for a few minutes, then headed back to the bathroom.

As I passed my room, there was a rustle of unfamiliar noise. Almost like there was something (cue suspense music) alive in there. (I don't have any pets. I have a couple of plants in my room but they've shown no previous inclination to move about unassisted and if they're going to take to doing so, they're going to have to go.)

Bravely, I peeked into the room (the first person to investigate the strange noise from the ostensibly empty room always bites the dust ten seconds later in any decent horror flick), only to spy a bird sitting on my desk chair.

How, you might ask, did a bird get into my bedroom? I have no idea. The window was closed and in any case there's a sturdy screen on it. The sliding glass door in the living room was open, but the screen door was closed. I'd been in the shower and the R.C. was off in her room. Short of the idea that the bird opened the door for itself, it's a mystery.

And yet, there it was. Unmistakeably, a bird. A pigeon, in fact. A fairly young one, too. Sitting on the desk chair in my room, probably the farthest spot from the living room door in the entire apartment.

I recruited the R.C.'s assistance and began shooing the bird toward the (now open) screen door in the living room.

This took some doing. The animal wasn't as skittish as one might expect a wild bird, finding itself trapped inside a small apartment with two hostile inhabitants, to be. I shooed. It left the chair to batter itself against the closed window. I shooed. It fluttered to the floor near the corner. I shooed. It ran away on little pigeon feet. I shooed. It finally found the hallway. I shooed. It ran to the corner. I shooed. It flapped heavily to the top of a decorative screen. I shooed. It found the living room and the door and sailed out to rest on the balcony railing.

And then it stayed there. Sitting on the balcony railing. Watching me. It looked at me out of one beady, little eye. It turned its head and ogled me out of the other beady, little eye. It hunkered down and peered fixedly. It sidled up and down the railing, watching me from different angles.

Persecution, that's what I call it.

I made abusive remarks. I objected strenously to the attention. I went onto the balcony, lit a cigarette, and explained to it the difference between my living space and the great outdoors. It listened with a certain amount of attention but seemed unconvinced. It showed no concern, even when I stood a foot away and took a picture of it.

pigeon.jpg

For the next 40 minutes, it divided its attention between me and the sporadic activity in the parking lot. It just kept looking at me, as if wondering why I didn't open the door up and let it back in. Yes, eventually it took itself elsewhere, but I still maintain it was persecuting me, by sitting there, staring at me that way.

Also, it occurred to me that if this was a horror flick, when I went outside to reason with it, those little pigeon eyes would have started to glow red, that sharp beak would have burst into a four-foot spear, and it would have eaten me up.

Aside from that, not much new today.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I'm Still Here

Not doing much, yet.

Working on Buehler's free-lance job. I had to email him and tell him it was going to cost almost double what he had budgeted and he, that lovely man, wrote back to say okay. So, it's mind-numbingly boring work, but should net me $1k when it's all done. Nothing wrong with having a little money coming in!

On the other hand, it does mean sitting here at the computer for several hours a day, doing very repetitive work. Which leaves me little inclination to sit here at other times and do anything else. By the time I finish my daily stint, I'm usually sick to death of the computer.

The foot is still being cranky. I've tried a shoe on it a few times, when I was going out for a short trip. Invariably this has turned out to be a mistake and at least once it set the whole recovery process back a few days.

I did actually drive myself to the bank ATM to get some cash yesterday. I was getting a bit worried about leaving my car sitting there for so long. I was worried about the battery. Turns out it was fine, the car started right up. (Naturally my foot, even in comfy leather sandals, reacted badly to driving the six-block round-trip, and why I didn't replace this standard with a car with automatic transmission years ago is a mystery to me.)

Had an invitation to have lunch with Meg Friday but had to decline on account of, you know, not being able to get there. I hope to be back in shoes by next week.

I'm puttering around the house, cleaning out drawers and cabinets. Sitting in a chair with my foot elevated for several hours a day.

And, speaking of foot care, I've become a convert to the daily footbath! I've taken the little buckets I bought to do handwashing (back when I still deluded myself into believing that I'd actually handwash anything marked "delicate") and converted them to spa equipment.

A couple of trips to a couple of different stores and voila! I have a selection of different "foot soak" gels and liquids and powders to try out. I'm experimenting with a different one daily. (Have you noticed that in my life, even being confined to a chair is an excuse for shopping?) I fill my little buckets and tote them into the shower, then put my little stool at the edge of the shower stall and stick my feet in.

Then I yank them out and swear for a while, dip them back in, yank them out, and gradually I'm able to leave them in the water that I always make at least 10 degrees too hot for comfort.

Not only am I doing some much-needed "grooming" but I swear the daily soaking is doing wonders for the sore muscles in that foot. My mobility has improved 75% in the last four or five days.

Yep. That's my life these days. Foot baths. For my daily thrill.

I feel so geezery.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:44 AM | Comments (4)



Sunday, September 23, 2007
Because someone asked....

Before and after pictures of the alien spores.

When we began our journey, all seemed well:

spores_pre.jpg

Those are the untouched rocks, in the same metal saucer (I gave in and cleaned it).

The addition of a bit of water (or maybe it was the metal saucer, or the bracing Colorado air, or the slightly more humid atmosphere in the bathroom, we'll never know):

spores.jpg

Notice the growth on the container. Notice the mysterious color change.

Very disturbing, don't you agree?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:30 PM | Comments (3)



Saturday, September 22, 2007
Invasion! (?)

Remember that rock potpourri I discussed in that last, ridiculously long entry?

I'm a bit worried about it. I dropped a few rocks into a metal, saucer-shaped candle holder in my bathroom then, copying the guy at the RenFair, dribbled a bit of water over the rocks.

Checking back on it a day later, I see the water has (naturally) dried up. What I was not expecting is that the little smelly rocks are--blooming.

They look like coral. Or sashimi. (Octopus.)

Or, you know, some kind of alien creature, about to go into hyper-production.

I fear I might have inadvertently loosed some intergalactic plague upon the world.

Said alien growth, we'll call it Ferd, for easy reference, not content with blooming on the rocks, has crawled along the bottom of the saucer and, in places, is now creeping over the edge and beginning to cover the bottom of the dish. I'm a bit torn, trying to decide what to do, you know? Part of me wants to wait and see what happens. The other part of me (the part that watches Alien, even though I know it will scare me pantsless) thinks I should rush out and buy a flame gun or something. Ferd could turn nasty or something. I'd hate to wake up tomorrow with knobby growths and an alien consciousness forcing me to drive to the nearest grocery store and touch all the fresh food or something.

If you read in the headlines next week that Denver has been eaten by some extraterrestrial mold, the world can go to its end knowing that I'm really sorry. 'Satiable curiosity, you know.

I was assuming it was water the RenFair's guys rocks were sitting in. Maybe it was some complex chemical concoction designed to keep the spores dormant? If so, I'm pretty sure that's something I was entitled to be told up front.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:47 PM | Comments (5)



Walking on Sunshine

Marginally decent song with lyrics that describe what I've not been doing for the last week.

"Hey, Anne," you're saying right about now. "We thought you were supposed to be back in town Tuesday evening. This is the first time we're hearing from you. What's up with that?"

Well, it was an--eventful--trip.

Actually, the L-i-K-S called me the night before my flight and said they all had summer colds and if I was worried, maybe I should reschedule my trip. Not normally being vulnerable to these random illnesses that pass through society, I assured her I had no fear of being struck low.

I may have spoken a bit too soon.

No, I didn't catch anyone's cold. I can do better than that when it comes to making a trip eventful.

It started well. I landed in K.C. without the benefit of torrential rainstorms (sometimes I think just booking a trip to KCI is a signal to the weather gods to move in and start strutting their thunder), to be met by the L-i-K-S and Rapunzel.

Pippi was otherwise engaged that night, but the rest of us took off to the theater, where we saw Moonlight and Magnolias. The play was an interesting balance of humor and social messages--three men, two of them Jewish and the objects of discrimination, writing a movie script to make heroes of Civil War-era slave-owning Southerners? And yet, it was funny, since the nominal "script writer" in the group hadn't actually read the book, a fact that forced the three of them to act out scenes from the book as they wrote. A very enjoyable evening and a really charming little theater.

The next day, Rapunzel wanted to go to the local Renaissance Festival. Since it was a nicely cloudy day (no possibility of a return of the near-sunstroke I suffered at the Taste of Colorado Labor Day weekend), it sounded like a good idea and it was.

Naturally, we ate things. I was mocked for ordering a "foot-long sausage on a stick" but I didn't realize it was "foot-long" and thought it was, you know, just the normal "sausage onna stick" that you get at the RenFair. When I was served--well, let's just say it was all incredibly more phallic than I was really prepared to deal with. Also, I got mustard all over myself and then when I opened my bottle of lemonade, I got that all over me and what with one thing and another, we hadn't been there fifteen minutes before I desperately needed a shower.

But whatever. We were having fun. We wandered around and shopped. We (Rapunzel, Pippi, and I) rode an elephant! I've seen the elephant and camel rides at the local RenFair here in Denver, but this was my first time taking the plunge. (Elephants walk funny--all the parts move strangely under you and it turns out that a 30-second ride is enough to make an old person stiffen up and need assistance dismounting.)

We shopped. Rapunzel bought a print. Pippi bought a ring. I bought a strange kind of rock potpourri, warranted to last six months or more in a medium-sized room. Subsequently, the double plastic bag it was in had to be locked in the trunk of the car for the trip home, then triple-bagged in plastic and stuffed in the bottom of my suitcase to control the overwhelming odor for the rest of my trip. (By the time I unpacked, both inner bags were covered in an aromatic oil that somehow worked its way through the packaging. My hands smelled for two days but the rock potpourri ceased to have any aroma 24 hours after I put it out in a dish.) (The plastic bags are still fragrant, though.)

That evening, we ordered pizza for dinner (I can't remember how many years it's been since I ate pizza) and sat around reading and watching DVDs for a while. (I love my family--I love anyone whose idea of "entertaining a guest" means making sure they have an interesting book to read.)

Anyhow, and to get to the disaster portion of the trip, at one point I naturally needed to step outside to smoke a cigarette. Since I was going out anyhow, I offered to walk their dog.

Big mistake. Those who know me know I'm not really a dog person. Those who know me well know that dogs can sense this about me and consequently tend to ignore my firmly stated orders (not to mention begging requests...).

They leash up the dog (Which is, don't mistake me, really a very sweet animal. We met him on my previous trip to K.C, remember? Buster, the dog-inna-box.) and I putter outside. I smoke. I decide that "walking the dog" should be more than just letting it have a pee against the nearest tree. The poor thing is cooped up all day, after all. It should be allowed to romp a bit when it goes out, right?

You see what's coming, right? We're walking along, Buster freezes into place when he fixates on the sight of another dog on the other side of a fence. I turn my head to try a "commanding voice" to make him keep walking. I step forward as I do this.

My foot meets--nothingness.

Yes! There is a curb! I'm halfway to the sidewalk as I realize this. This is my last coherent thought for three or four seconds, a time-frame that seems to last an hour.

The rest is a blur of pain and panic as the hard plastic handle of the leash, after gouging me quite painfully in a sensitive part of my body just to the left of my right armpit, slips out of my hand. My left foot mushrooms into mass of agony.

Buster, a thing I was afraid to tell the L-i-K-S before now, romps off happily, thinking this is some new kind of game. Fortunately, he is a well-trained, sweet-tempered animal. When I gasp out his name, he returns to me, letting me grab the leash again (in, I need hardly add, my bloody hand).

Oh now, oh no, oh no.

I spend some time thinking that, before I decide to stand up and see if my foot will hold me. It does, just barely. Buster, somehow sensing I'm now wounded and vulnerable, pads slowly next to me as I stagger back to the building, up two flights of stairs, and back indoors.

Anyhow, all that melodrama aside, I scraped the back of my right hand, my right elbow, and my right shoulder. I scraped my left palm. There's the aforementioned damage to the (ahem soft tissue on the right side of my chest. And who knows what I did to the foot?

The L-i-K-S and the girls took good care of me for the rest of my trip. They went out the next morning to get me bandages and a cane. (It's a tricky proposition to use a cane when the hand you should hold it in is too damaged to use but using it in the other hand aggravates the muscles under the arm on that side.)

We sat around their house all day. I took Advil and napped. (The L-i-K-S naps, to get rid of the rest of her cold. Rapunzel naps, because she was awakened long before her normal time that morning. Pippi goes to school.) They waited on my hand and foot. Buster, still understanding I was hurt, but not sure what the problem was, persistently tried to lick my foot better. (I am very ticklish on the bottoms of my feet, so we discouraged this.)

The next day, they all returned to their normal pursuits. I spent two hours showering (sort of) and packing. I sat around a lot.

Airport (where a torrential rainstorm moves in just as they're about to load us), the flight (where I was, naturally, in the very back row of the, thankfully small, airplane). wheelchair ride to baggage claim where the R.C. reclaimed responsibility for me.

Then, home.

And that's pretty much it for excitement this week. I've spent the week sitting in a chair with my foot propped up, trying to get it to look less like a turnip (it took the trip badly) and more like a human appendage. With quite a lot of success, I should add. It's definitely foot-like today. Most of the swelling is gone. The bruising (base of all five toes, outside of foot, instep, bottom of foot) is starting to fade from red-and-purple to a healing sort of green.

How was your week?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:47 AM | Comments (2)



Friday, September 14, 2007
Job Me!

So, if you go here and click the "Career Matchmaker" link at the left (Username: nycareers Password: landmark), you get to take an inclination/aptitude test that tells you what you're interested in doing for a living.

I think I answered some questions wrong. How else can you explain my results?

So, here's my, personal Top 40 list of things the test thought would suit me, based on my interests:

1. Lobbyist - Seriously. The #1 job for me is lobbyist? Kill me now.
2. Computer Network Specialist - Ummm. It would be interesting to know these things. But I do not.
3. Criminologist - I don't think so.
4. Professor - Okay. Yeah. I can see this.
5. Political Aide - Not even.
6. Communications Specialist - Does having an inclination to tell people to slap themselves and get over it count as a good communications skill? Cause, if not....
7. Public Policy Analyst - Don't we all agree that the country is in enough trouble already without putting me in charge of anything?
8. Activist - I'm pretty sure you have to be 'active' to be an 'activist' and I'm more of a couch-potato.
9. Market Research Analyst - Yeah, I could have done this.
10. Writer - At least it made the top ten!
11. Telephone Operator
12. Print Journalist
13. Translator - What? English to English? (Seriously. I had an aptitude for languages when I was young, but I never did anything with it.)
14. Public Relations Specialist
15. Critic - I could do this.
16. Administrative Assistant - Oh! One I've done. (But does it count, when this is such a generic item?)
17. Anthropologist
18. Corporate / Commercial Lawyer - The only time I ever wanted to study law, it was the history of Constitutional law. I never wanted to be a practicing lawyer.
19. Curator
20. Historian - Hee! If only I'd figured out my love for history earlier in life....
21. Archivist
22. ESL Teacher
23. Foreign Language Instructor - Je me parle français comme une vache espagnol
24. Editor
25. Judge
26. Lawyer
27. Civil Litigator - Spend my life with people who are fighting about stuff? No way.
28. Criminal Lawyer - No. No, no, no, no, no.
29. Computer Trainer
30. Computer Programmer - Not in this lifetime. Hardware, maybe. Software is beyond me. I barely remember the rudiments of my "programming in Basic" course. (I'm so old....)
31. Planner - In general, I plan well. It's follow-through that bores me.
32. Gunsmith - Are you kidding me?
33. Economic Development Officer
34. Dental Lab Tech - Ick
35. Association Manager
36. Legal Secretary
37. GIS Specialist - I don't even know what that is.
38. Health Records Professional
39. Paralegal
40. Corporate Trainer

The important and interesting thing, I think, is that there is not one, single job on this list that comes close to matching up to anything I've actually done in life. (Except the Admin Assistant thing. I've done work like that, even though I've never had that exact title. Back in my day, they called it "secretary" and it's how most women started in the workplace.)

Everyone else's lists (many of my friends have tried this already) seem to suit them--they're all pleased. I'm shocked at how far from anything I should be doing for a living, I've actually done in my life, if you see what I mean.

This is worrying. Not, like, a lot worrying, because the past can't be changed and I don't intend to think about it that much. But, a little worrying.

In other news, I've been emailing with Buehler and he has a piece of contract work I can do for him next week. A little income is a little income, right? Plus which, I like Buehler and look forward to seeing him again.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)



Monday, September 10, 2007
Cataloging Stinks

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I had a catalogue of all my books.

It was a pretty cool catalogue, if I do say so myself. Books sorted into genre, publication date noted for older volumes, hardback or paperback, overall condition.

Cross-referencing for when I wanted to see what I had in the way of books in a particular series but was momentarily drawing a blank on the author's name. A list in the back of volumes I was in search off. All in a handy-dandy, purse-sized notebook that I could tote into a bookstore with me.

I put a lot of work into that catalogue.

That was also back in the days of Win 3.1, when password-protecting a file was a pretty cool thing to be able to do. For some unknown reason, I password-protected that file. I discovered this three years ago when I decided that it was 'way past time to update said catalogue.

You know what? A file password protected in the days of 3.1 isn't convertible. Not even if you still know the password.

I fought that battle for a month and then told myself that it was pointless to sweat it since only about 10% of the catalogue would still be accurate. Three months later I was sufficiently convinced to delete the old file, so it would stop taunting me.

For three years I thought about creating a new catalogue. A few days ago, spurred by shame because the R.C. has already almost completed her updated catalogue, I began.

Sixteen (handwritten) pages into it so far and I've only covered three bookshelves. I'm not even writing down all of the book titles. For an author where I know I have everything published to date, I'm just writing "all" and assuming I'll be able to find and cut-and-paste a complete title list from somewhere online.

I'm looking at the remaining four bookshelves, the ten foot shelf in the closet (stacked two deep), and thinking about the umpteen boxes in storage. I'm remembering that once I have this all written out, it's going to need to be transcribed. And you know how I feel about transcribing, right? And I'm thinking--how much does one really need a catalogue, anyhow?

I mean, seriously?

Because this is tedious, painful (whose bright idea was it to store Trudeau's Doonesbury books on the shelf near the floor blocked by the easy chair?), and boring.

Other than that, the R.C. and I have tentatively come to conclusions about what to do with mom's stuff. The Hummels and stained glass are going to a local charity shop that benefits Children's Hospital. (They sell on consignment and keep 30% of the proceeds.) It could take two years to sell it all, but a "fee" of 30% that goes to a charity we both support, as opposed to 50% that goes to an auction company? Works for us. (Let's all keep our fingers crossed that they're interesting in these items and agree to accept them.)

That leaves the Box O'Coins and the Box O'Miscellaneous. I'm taking the box BO'C to Rocky Mountain Coin to see if they know of anyone with any interest in any of them. I'm sorting out a handful of the potentially valuable stuff from the box BO'M to take by the local Antique Mall, to see if anyone there is buying inventory. That should pretty much clear the debris from the living room floor and, we've decided, bring the best results.

After that, we can return (well, the R.C. can "return" and I can begin) to the task of cleaning out the storage unit. (We should have something to show for all of this spare time, right?) Right now, I'm reluctant to haul any boxes over here until we get rid of the six boxes of stuff already in the floor.

I'm taking a quick trip at the end of this week. Out Saturday, back next Tuesday. Visiting the L-i-K-S and the girls. I'd been saying I was going back out there for the last four months and hadn't gotten the trip booked. A few days ago, I finally found a decently priced ticket.

I continue to be astonished by the ways in which unemployment (or, to be more accurate, the lack of a stable income) affects my life. And the ways in which it does not.

I spend most of my free time reading. That hasn't changed. But I take care when I'm too near a bookstore, knowing, as I do, that the special magnetic force such places exert on my brain can be dangerous to my bank balance.

Yesterday the R.C. and I walked over and had Mexican for lunch. Since we have the "frequent diner" card for that restaurant, they knew it was the R.C.'s birthday month and we got a free entrée. We gloated over the clear savings of $8.00. In the past, we would have thought, "a free meal, how cool" and forgotten to redeem it.

Don't run away with the idea that we're flat broke. That's not at all true. It's just that the first time I experienced a lengthy stint of unemployment, I paid no attention to how much money I was spending and wound up broke in three months. (And then I wound up taking contract work from the employer I'd ditched so I could pay a few of my bills.) (The second time I was unemployed, I was eligible for unemployment. That's a beauteous thing. I've never collected unemployment before and boy did it make a difference!)

Anyhow, I'm being careful this time, that's all.

I know I go on and on about this, but it's just so weird to have to think twice before buying something. It's probably good for me, though.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)



Thursday, August 30, 2007
Stuff That Happens

Boom!

That's a weird way to wake up in the morning. I know it's weird, because it's how I woke up yesterday morning. Our nearest transformer blew a fuse.

No power. No internets.

No coffee. I tried making it in the French press with hot water from the faucet. Ugh. Eventually the R.C. came back from her morning walk and said the power across the street was on, so I walked over to Starbucks. On the way back, I had to fight off a caffeine-deprived couple in our parking lot. They were disappointed I hadn't brought enough for everyone.

This experience taught me things. Things of little moment, but things.

#1 - The alarm clock in my bedroom needs a new battery if I really want to be able to rely on the "battery back-up" feature.

#2 - A bathroom without a window is dark, even at 8:00 in the morning. My habit of keeping a candle in there for those once-in-three-years blackouts is a good one.

#3 - Given coffee, I'm perfectly happy to survive without power for a few hours in the morning. I'd have been a bit happier if the living room fan had been working (lovely, cool morning outside but no way to draw the air inside) but I curled up in the bright morning light and read a book and life was fine.

Don't let me mislead you. The power outage only lasted for about an hour, so my willingness to live without Mod Cons wasn't severely tested.

After that, I accomplished significant things yesterday. I finished the inventory of the coin collection, pulled out and sorted the postcards with old stamps on them, and started the inventory of the "miscellaneous" box o'stuff. I got the notes written for all of the things I'm planning to ship to people. I got a couple of the boxes out of the floor and actually shipped. I gassed up my car, did three loads of laundry, and carried out a huge box o'trash.

Then, having tripped over the amazon.com website late last week and accidentally ordered five new books, I settled in to read for a while.

This morning? No boom! So far.

All I've done is drink coffee and surf the net.

Babble about the sorting of Mom's boxes and whatnot behind the cut, since I doubt any of you are that interested.

Continue reading "Stuff That Happens"
Posted by AnneZook at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)



Monday, August 27, 2007
Leisurely

That's the fashion in which I continue to live.

I start the day with roaming through the job sites and sending in resumes for those jobs (three today) that sound marginally interesting. I check my email, scan the headlines, swallow several mean remarks about the ghastly mess Bush&Co are making of our country (I am not going to get sucked back into politiblogging*), read my email, surf through the blogs and journals of a few friends, and then I'm usually offline for most of the rest of the day.

I go to the grocery store a couple of times a week (if you're practically living on fresh fruit, you need to make at least two trips a week to keep stocked up) and hit the Farmers' Market on Saturdays (Rocky Ford cantaloupes! The world's most fabulous peaches!).

Other than that, I hoard money. Knowing I have expensive dental work in my immediate future helps me control my urge to cheer myself up with new books and toys (although it didn't stop me from having a little amazon.com "accident" the other day).

I clean sporadically (kitchen and bathroom yesterday), tidy occasionally (that drafting table in the bedroom is out of control again), and do a load or two of laundry once or twice a week.

I watch some DVDs occasionally (just finished S1 and S2 of the new Doctor Who series again and while David Tennant is good, I really loved Christopher Eccleston and I wish he'd been with us longer) and a little television (okay, mostly just Doctor Who and the show I mentioned before, Clean House.) (And sometimes Jeopardy. I love Jeopardy. I mage $30k the other day!)

I watched that show Dail mentioned, the one on BBCAmerica. "How Clean Is your House?" I was expecting a British version of Clean House. I was not expecting to be treated to the sight of a family living in a place they said had not been cleaned in 16 years--or close-up views of a bathroom that proved it. It was the most sincerely disgusting thing I've seen in years (and the primary reason I tore apart my kitchen and bathroom and cleaned them yesterday).

Sporadically, I tidy. On today's schedule is the final sorting of All Those Boxes in the living room. I need to sort out the Things To Be Shipped** (so I know what boxes I need) from the Things To Be Appraised And Sold. The R.C. is pretty firm about all of those coins needing to go into the To Be Sold category, even though I still think they're cool to look at.

I guess she's right. It's not like I'm going to burst forth as a major coin collector or anything, so there's no point in keeping even just a handful of them for that once every year or two moment when I might want to look at them. Technically they were left to her, so if she wants to get rid of them, that's her choice.

Anyhow. We got the name of an appraiser a week or so ago, from a woman working in an antique place. For some reason the R.C. is convinced that we need to be careful not to be robbed by this person. While I agree that having an inventory of the stuff we turn over to them is just sensible, I can't understand why she thinks a bonded and insured firm is going to risk their business and reputation snagging any of our not-very-valuable junk?

If the entire pile o'stuff, aside from the Hummels, is worth $500, I'll be very surprised. (The Hummels are worth about $5k at retail, but we won't be selling them at retail and I figure we'll be lucky beyond lucky to find someone willing to take all of them off our hands for $1-2k).

Still. I made the commitment that I'd handle sorting and disposing of the stuff so, while she's more than willing to help, I think it's time and past time I dealt with these last few boxes.

And then I read and read and read.

Having finished all of the available Tolkien, I picked up Spacehounds of IPC at the used bookstore the other day and that got me started re-reading all of my E. E. "Doc" Smith books again.

Long-time readers know that I have a fondness for Golden Age SF (and detective) stories. I'm regretting that most of my SF&Fantasy is in boxes in storage but I know that in order to bring them out, I'm going to have to choose some hundreds of other volumes to pack away.

I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.

And yet--I know that storage unit is in my immediate future. I have boxes full o'stuff (of the nonbook variety) that need to be sorted and disposed of. Old financial papers to be shredded, old school yearsbooks & debris to be tossed out, that kind of thing.

As soon as I have the living room floor cleaned of the current load of boxes, I'll get started.


____________________

* I actually started politiblogging during a previous stint of unemployment when I had lots of time, not a lot of money, and a lot of energy to burn off. But that was PM (pre-meds) and now that I have my thyroid balanced and no longer suffer (enjoy?) those manic bouts of frenetic mental energy, it all seems so futile....)

____________________

** I've decided to ship the detritus of Dad's army career to my brother. Of the four of us, I think he's the only one that might be interested in having that kind of thing.

And, Jonathan, a closer examination of the pictures revealed that most of them were taken in the camp "near Kimpo" and "Yong Dung Poe" although his spelling isn't reliable. There are a few from Seoul and a couple vaguely labeled "in Japan" but I think that's about as much 'location' information as we're likely to get.

He drove a truck at a quarry for the 811th Engineer Aviation Battalion, which was apparently a "SCARWAF" (Special Category Army with Air Force) unit that helped build and maintain runways. I found some information -- here (scroll down to "Background on SCARWAF") and there -- online.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:39 AM | Comments (4)



Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Go, Me!

So, stuff has been happening.

Not a lot of stuff, but stuff. Sending in resumes, taking calls, even scheduling interviews.

I have two on Friday and (go, me!) one is a second-round interview for a place I think I'd really like to work. The money isn't fabulous (about $7k less than I wanted to start) but it's not in Boulder and seems like a nice group of folks. Eleven employees which counts, in my recent professional life, as a huge number of coworkers. The work sounds reasonably interesting--it's a nonprofit association, not an environment I'm familiar with but not a problem.

I'm less excited about Friday's other interview and if they hadn't emailed me three times and called me once I wouldn't have remembered sending them a resume at all or bothered to respond when they sent me an email inviting me to schedule an interview. The money's closer to what I wanted, the location is equally as attractive, but the company's business is a yawner.

The recruiter from last week? I did a phone interview with her, a follow-up interview with one of her coworkers, and eventually we all decided I wasn't suited for that position. (I was so not excited about the location.)

Hmmm, what else? I think I killed one of my marigold plants, my last remaining sunflower is spouting a third blossom, I've failed to quit smoking twice this summer, and I've developed an absolute mania for a show called Clean House on the Style Channel and have been watching a fair amount of (gasp!) daytime tv in the last week.

What is it? People send in a video proving that they live in absolute chaos, anything approaching a pigsty, and this group goes in, makes them throw stuff away, makes them sort out 'treasured' possessions for a garage sale, then takes the proceeds and uses the money to redecorate the house, organizing what's left of the 'stuff' and usually putting in new furniture.

I'm not sure why I've become so fascinated by the show, but I have. It's like Changing Rooms except that the drama comes when the crew make these hoarders and packrats and compulsive shoppers turn loose of their debris. People fight tooth and nail to keep the dumbest shit. Four year-old calendars, five broken vacuum cleaners, 22 beanie babies, dozens of pairs of shoes or housecoats, ratty old posters, fifteen ugly lamps, gifts they received five years ago that were never taken out of the boxes, etc. They curse and cry and carry on ridiculously. Over broken things, as often as not.

And they fight the crew.

Even though they had to submit a video and agree to the whole process, they fight like mad.

One family was so acquisitive that even after five commercial-sized dumpster loads of trash and a massive garage sale where everything that didn't sell was hauled away on a charity truck, their entire basement was still full of bins and bins and bins of stuff they refused to turn loose of. (At an estimate, I'm guessing 50 big bins.)

It's--perilously close to "reality television," a genre I abhor, but Niecy and the rest of the crew just fascinate me. How they can go into such pigsties week after week.... (Also, I'm in decorator-love with the designer, Mark, who turns out some fabulous rooms.

So, yeah, I guess that means I've been watching a lot of television.

The Fabulous New Hairdo (picture somewhere in an entry below) continues to please. I'm not sure it's the most attractive hairstyle I've ever had but it sure is nice and cool and easy to take care of!

And, if anyone's wondering, the Dental Man appointment went--fine. They took the series of x-rays and want me to make an appointment with the hugely expensive "specialist" to discuss my options. And another tooth is giving the occasional twinge, so I need a new filling, I can just tell.

Teeth. Ugh.

Other than that--the usual. Reading.

This past week? The Hobbit. That was fun, so I reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then I reread the Silmarillion and now I'm about halfway through Unfinished Tales. I've been feeling very Tolkien this week.

I sure am boring when I write blog entries at 11:00 at night.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:59 PM | Comments (7)



Wednesday, August 15, 2007
And So It Goes

Life, I mean. It's trundling along as usual around here.

The bathroom needs cleaned, the laundry needs done, I still have a few ads collected in this morning's search of the job sites* that I haven't responded to, I have a stack o'stuff to take to the post office (letters, parcels, etc.), most of which are "late" and yet here I sit, writing boring blog entries.

That's so me these days. (Well, all days.)

So, what's new? Well, after last week's orgy of Going Out To Lunch, I've been very restrained this week. Not a single lunch out! I hit the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning and I've been gorging on Rocky Ford cantaloupes (3 for $6!) and watermelon all this week.

Still, it hasn't been an inexpensive week.

I spent $135 yesterday on my hair. I was sick to death of it, so I went in, had six inches or more chopped off, got it colored, and added (subtle) highlights). I'm not really sure yet if I like it. It's a pretty extreme change.

I've generally avoided having really short hair since that one disastrous cut that revealed that, sans long hair, I look very butch. (Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw my father looking back at me. How is it possible for someone to look exactly like their mother and their father?) This cut isn't quite that extreme and so far I'm loving the idea that I can dry-and-style in five minutes instead of 40.

If I had a job, that would be a massive saving of time in the morning.

(If you care? The Hair.) (Excuse the lack of make-up. I hadn't actually intended to share my face online today.)

The R.C. isn't mad about it. Her only criteria for "good" or "bad" in a haircut is whether or not any hair shows any potential for getting close to covering all or part of one of your eyes. She has a phobia about it or something. Since this cut features a swath of bangs that I need to practice styling to sweep across my forehead, but stay out of my eyes, she's not loving it. I can live with her displeasure, though, since I blew my new 'do dry in 3-1/2 minutes this morning. She knows what I look like, so she doesn't need to look at me.

Tomorrow I'm back to the dentist. To pick up the (grossly expensive) temporary "appliance" I have to wear until the tooth extraction site heals up fully (6 weeks or so) and to have a full set of x-rays so that Dental Man can figure out what else he might want to yank out.

Price tag for this visit: Unknown.

It's been an expensive week and I've barely left the house!

Sigh. I know at least two more have to go. It's very sad to contemplate the impending whack to my credit card.

Dental Man is also very, very anxious to finally undertake capping my front four (top) teeth. He's wanted to do that for years and to be honest, they need it. They're grossly crooked. But caps! So pricey. I'm not sure how to break to him that I really don't feel it would be wise for me to undertake $5k or more of dental work (some of which is cosmetic) before I'm employed. (And yet, looking better might help me get a job, age discrimination or not, no?)

I sure wish I'd gotten over my Dental Phobia at any point in the last ten years when I was employed and had the caps done.

The R.C. wants to go to Halfprice Books today. Part of me is salivating, it's my favorite used bookstore in Denver, and part of me is cowering in fear at the damage I could do myself even at half-price. I've been resisting a growing urge to hit the manga store for the last week. I've only had two new manga books since the Great Unemployment of '07 hit. And only two new "other" books--the coin one and the Hummel one, in the last six weeks. (Oh, yeah, and the Potter book.) I'm having some serious withdrawal pains. Five books in five months! That's a starvation allowance.

For me to avoid general shopping is easy. To try and avoid buying books is so difficult. Mostly I accomplish it by avoiding bookstores altogether. And amazon.com.

And, okay, I still have two or three books I bought before the GU of '07, but one of those I'm still afraid to read (Bradbury's sequel to Dandelion Wine), once I'm almost done with (LeCarré's Absolute Friends), and the other (Secret Societies) was just a "research" book for the novel I'm pretending to write and a waste of money, even at the sellout price of $2.99.

It's probably not a coincidence that most of my "hobbies" and leisure pastimes involve things I have to buy books for.


________________

* Did I mention that I had an interview scheduled for yesterday? I did.

But I didn't go. Monday evening I emailed and cancelled, a thing I almost never do. After researching the company's website and such, I had a bad feeling about it being a churn-and-burn sort of sales organization. I mistrust a company whose website focuses on hiring instead of the service/product they have to offer their client(s). No reputable company that could be considered a "good place to work" should need to do that much hiring.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Catching Up With Me

This week, excitement abounds.

Monday, the R.C. and I caved in and went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. Not because we actually wanted to see it (we've been less-than thrilled with the movie adaptations) but because it's showing at one of our local IMAX theatres and was advertised as 3-D! I love a 3-D experience.

Mostly. This one? Not so much. It's not that I don't have the patience to sit through a movie that's 2 hours and 20 minutes long, because I do, but it has to be a movie I really want to see. I should have thought of that before.

And the 3-D thing? 20 minutes toward the end of the movie. A very truncated fight scene at the Ministry of Magic.

When the lights came up, I popped out of my seat and dashed for the door with a sense of having been released from confinement.

At $13/ticket, I don't recommend the IMAX Potter experience. I didn't really need to see a lot of sweating, teen-aged faces three stories high and I felt like the spectator at a tennis match, swinging my head back-and-forth to try and catch the action happening in different parts of the screen.

Ho-hum.

Yesterday I went with a friend to pick up some Craigslist finds she wanted in nearby Parker, Colorado. First, let me say that Parker has grown a lot since the last time I visited it, 15 or so years ago. It goes to show how clueless I am that I didn't realize it's practically a suburb of Denver now. In fact, we wound up about two miles south of the building where I worked for four years, back around '90.

Neither of us knew precisely where we were going, I have the world's worst sense of direction and am thus unqualified to navigate a turtle across a living room, much less a friend around an unfamiliar town. (There are people who can announce, "I've never been here before" and still navigate you directly to your destination. Those people frighten me.) We squabbled, we sniped at each other, and we enjoyed the occasional bitter silence.

At one point, a plastic piece popped off the open back door of her van and we scurried around in the street, trying to avoid traffic and figure out where it had gone.

Then we went to Target and I availed myself of the bathroom facilities while she bought a shower rod.

Then we went to Whole Foods and ate lunch.

Then she bought fish while I cooed over the Rocky Ford Cantaloupes now available and made plans to come back and buy great armloads later. (I was walking home from Whole Foods and while that's only half a block, half a dozen cantaloupes makes a heavy load.)

A good time was had by all.

As though our dubious friendship hasn't been tested enough for one week, today we're carpooling to Boulder to eat lunch with another friend. Sushi! And she wants to go to some other place she's heard of up there.

I have maps but little faith that today will work out any better than yesterday. (OTOH, yesterday we didn't have a map, so maybe I'm being too pessimistic?) (If I can pull myself together early enough to hit Grease Monkey on the way to her place, maybe I can drive and she'll have to navigate?)

On the Good News front, I got a call back from that agency I applied through a couple of weeks ago. I thought, given the long silence, that I'd been passed over. Turns out that their client had been traveling and only recently became available to review resumes. They loved mine, thought I was fabulous, but overqualified. They thought I'd be bored stiff so--no interview. (I informed the agency that it's been my experience that jobs expand to utilize the capabilities of the people in them.) The agency likes me, though, and wants to keep my resume in case of another opportunity.

It was nice to get a call like that. A sort of affirmation that I am, indeed, an acceptable candidate.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)



Friday, August 3, 2007
And Yet More Of My Uneventful Life

Because I know y'all find it so fascinating. (Not.)

Some weeks (months?) I just don’t have that much that's interesting to say.

I'm still brooding on Monday's interview and Wednesday's polite email notification that the company hired someone who was Not Me. Not to be all arrogant or anything, but when I was in my 20s and 30s, I was essentially offered every, single job that I interviewed for. In fact, I occasionally had difficulty convincing some would-be employer that I was serious in turning down their job offer.

As we've all noticed, I'm not really seeing that kind of action during this stint of unemployment. Nor did I see it during the last stint. Or the stint before that. All of which have happened in the last four or five years.

So, you tell me. Is this a sign of the dreaded Age Discrimination or just more evidence that, cooked numbers and cheery speeches aside, the corporate world knows better than Bush&Co. that things are not only Not Good, but Not Looking Up?

Most people I know agree that these days you can't find a job unless you know someone on the inside. In fact, the last four jobs I've gotten, I've gotten through a reference from someone already employed by the company, so that's looking more true the more I think about it.

And (speaking of past jobs), She called me the other day. With questions about a software program She was finding Herself unable to work. No matter how often I tell Her that there are manuals and instructions for everything, She never goes to look until I tell Her "there's a manual for that." In this case, I wrote a User Manual for this software program since it came without one. I put a printed copy in one of the Information Books and left the electronic copy on the computer harddrive. During training, I pointed the manual out to Her, making sure She knew it was there.

Yes, I'm a little bitter. Not only did I mostly train myself to use all of those proprietary and/or obscure software programs, but I wrote comprehensive manuals for all of the ones that didn't already have manuals. And I revised and simplified some of the other manuals. She shouldn't be calling me five months later, asking for help. I write good manuals, but I can't do anything about someone too dumb to read the manual. (Nor can I do anything about the fact that She and Bernie alienated the only other "expert" they had access to.)

Also, I'm tired of Her calling me and asking where in the electronic files something is. Everything is clearly labeled, either filed under the client's name and sorted by project, or under "company business" and sorted by project. Just look.

In addition to asking for help, She also wanted to say She had a line on a temporary project, if I was interested. Which was incredibly nice of Her and makes me feel a little bad about dissing Her.

It turned out to be a three-day job in Los Angeles, working for someone who couldn't guarantee they could cover my lodging and with no mention of travel expenses being covered, so not exactly a plum, but who knows? I haven't contacted the person yet (I was a bit distracted by the oral surgery there for a day or so) but maybe I will. A couple of hundred bucks is a couple of hundred bucks, right? (I'm assuming the job will be worth at least that.)

And, speaking of my mouth, it's fine. I never really have a lot of problems post-dental office work. Beyond the crankies because I couldn't really eat anything for 24 hours, I had no problems.

They always offer prescriptions for great pain meds and I'm always tempted to take them up on the offer, but I rarely do. The good stuff is expensive and, to be honest, I've thrown away so much unused medicine in my life that I'm to the point where I'm not even pretending I'm the kind of person who would take and/or abuse it.

I had plans to have lunch with a couple of friends yesterday and decided to go in spite of the missing tooth and the inability to actually eat. After all, if you can't go to lunch and visit with friends when you can't eat, can barely talk, and don't want to open your mouth and reveal your lack of dental accoutrements to the world, when can you go?

It was fun, but I think I'll let any other dining plans wait until I'm actually allowed to chew.

Today (brace yourself for the excitement) I'm doing some laundry. And rewriting a letter I sent my niece a couple of weeks ago. It's weird--I had a strange feeling about that letter, even as I dropped it into the letter box. Normally I just post my letters and stroll off, secure in the knowledge that the Post Office knows how to get paper from Denver to Kansas City. This time, I had a weird, uneasy feeling about it. And, sure enough, I talked to her today and she never got it. So annoying.

Later, I plan to eat something.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, August 1, 2007
OW!

So, the week commenced, and various pains ensued.

First, the 'SciFi' channel's Saturday night movies. Sands of Oblivion seemed to offer some promise. A sort of The Mummy rip-off, with Cecil B. DeMille wrapped into it, it purported to be the story of an ancient demon transported antiquities looted from Egypt to be used in a movie set.

There is much (much) I could say in this movie's disfavor, but I'll just say that any movie? That has the nerve to offer, during the climactic battle, the sight of the 'hero' doing battle with paint people who are wafted from the walls of an ancient tomb? Should never have been made.

Seriously. Paint people. The demon waves his hand, the essentially two-dimensional layers of paint peel themselves from the walls, and they fling themselves at the hero. To defend himself? He smacks them back up against a wall or stomps them flat against the ground. This seems to be sufficient to defeat them.

Next up was Boa vs. Python, a movie that offered promise only because of David Hewlitt's name at the top of the credits. He was good, even better than you might expect, given the entirely ridiculous dialogue he was given to deliver. The movie itself? Was so entirely lame that eventually I found myself rooting for the giant snakes to eat everyone. (Except David.)

I broke a tooth. Fortunately it was one upon which I've already had a root canal, so no pain ensued. But. I had an interview scheduled for Monday.

I'm not going to say that I didn't make the cut for the job because I looked like a backwoods hillbilly or something, but I suspect that, my graceful explanation aside, it had something to do with the matter.

Today? Was my dentist's appointment. A mild-mannered lecture or two later and I find myself more-or-less committed to about $6k worth of dental work. But first, we're fixing the current problem.

Oral surgery ensued. It was as quick and painful as anyone could wish (meaning very and absolutely) but that doesn't change the fact that right now my dentist is home diving into roast beef or lasagna and I'm sitting here packed with gauze and thinking it might be easier just to go to bed now and give up on the day.

I've spent the last five hours thinking longingly of all the food I should have eaten this morning, wishing desperately that I was allowed to brush my teeth, and hallucinating about sucking down giant glasses of ice water.

Also? The bill? $1,600 and change. For the temporary dental appliance I have to wear until the extraction site is healed up enough for a permanent solution.

That hurt.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:25 PM | Comments (2)



Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wherein I Get No Credit For My Pain

So. As I may have mentioned a few hundred times, the R.C. and I have been occupying this same apartment space for the last two decades.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but most of them boil down to laziness. What with one thing and another, this place is almost always conveniently located just about halfway between our respective places of employment (when such things exist), and it's bigger than the newer apartment spaces they've been building, and it's cheap (because we've been such long-term tenants).

And, you know, we don't have to go through the pain and expense of moving.

Stuff wears out from time to time, of course. We've had to have new bathroom fixtures (shower and sink faucets). We wanted a new dishwasher once, but they fixed the old one :( and it's still chugging along. We have gotten a ceiling fan, a couple of new disposal units, vertical blinds in the living room, Venetians in the bedrooms, and a new fluorescent light fixture and then new tile on the floor in the kitchen.

Recently, the refrigerator has been acting up.

Today, the R.C. called the office and they promised to send someone over to fix it but warned that if we needed a new refrigerator, they ones they use are on backorder and we'd have to wait a while. Maintenance called back and said they'd come and take care of it.

We left. We came back. (Can't sit around here waiting on non-existent refrigerators all day.) We found a note from maintenance.

"Will be back after lunch with new refrigerator."

Ah, the excitement! Would they be back or would they not?

Are refrigerators available or on backorder?

Should we clean out the refrigerator or not?

(Does the universe have some kind of bell or something, that lets it whack your refrigerator with a big, ol' spoonfull of entropy the day after you visit the grocery store and stock up on cold things?)

They came back. With a new refrigerator.

"Refrigerators exist!" We squealed.

"Big 'uns do," they said. (The new refrigerator is a Beast. Bigger, by a considerable amount, than our old one.) "We were going to send this one back but your needs come first."

They stood, patiently, even making jokes, as the R.C. and I scrambled to unload the old appliance, stacking food on all the counters and in the sink. And then taking down the wall-hanging spice racks and potholders and other debris a kitchen accumulates. And removing the rugs. We hustled and finished in something under ten minutes.

They measured. Measured again. Debated. Listened as I promised that if everything had to go back into the old refrigerator, we'd be standing over them as they did it.

They measured a third time. Concluded that The Beast would, just barely, fit into the space.

They pulled out the old refrigerator, leaving a trail of oil as they went. I'd like to think it wasn't sitting there, leaking gunk for the last month or two, but who knows.

Such nice men. They tried hard to wipe up the trail they were leaving on our light-gray linoleum. They waited while we spread a carpet protector (one of those things you use in your office so that your desk chair will roll smoothly when you're playing Jedi Knights with your cubicle neighbor and two rulers) between the kitchen and the front door, both so they could roll their dolly more easily and to protect our light-beige carpet from the dirty black oil. Waited again as we cleaned the walls previously hidden behind the appliance and mopped the filthy linoleum previously hidden under the appliance.

Then they moved The Beast in and, yes, it barely fit. I estimate there's a clearance of, maybe, 1/4 inch between the top of it and the bottom of the cabinet above. (It seems clear that my days of cleaning the top of the refrigerator are at an end. I can't imagine how, short of taping a damp washrag to a yardstick, I can get a cleaning cloth into there.)

They assembled the shelves, declined my polite invitation to feel free to restow all of the food for us, and left.

The R.C. and I scrambled again, this time to get all the food back in before it all melted. (Fortunately, no raw meat or ice cream products were involved.)

We stood back for a few seconds to admire the spacious interior of the new machine before closing it up solidly and waiting for it to achieve coldness.

"It's frost-free," I said with glee. "No more defrosting!"

"What do you care," the R.C. said bitterly. "It's not like you ever defrosted it."

"No more defrosting," I repeated. "No more of the usable space getting smaller by the day as the ice pack accumulates on the walls! No more defrosting!"

"What difference does it make to you?" The R.C. repeated with even more bitterness. "Anyhow, it only needed to be defrosted two or three times a year."

I get no credit for my pain.

When it had been a while since the R.C. had defrosted the old refrigerator, sometimes I'd be hard-pressed to find enough space to keep my ice cream and frozen veggies.

Sometimes I would have to not buy any more freezer items because I didn't have enough space for them.

No credit.

______________________

P.S. Also? We don't move because of refrigerators.

When our refrigerator wore out, the apartment folks sent a couple of sturdy men over with a new one.

When you homeowners lose an appliance, you have to go and buy it and even if someone delivers, you have to uninstall your old one and reinstall your new one, or pay someone extra to do it. We stood around and made fun of the maintenance guy who almost got stuck behind The Beast after plugging it in.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:20 PM | Comments (5)



Monday, July 23, 2007
Blogless in Denver

Wow. I didn't actually intend to take a week-long break from blogging. It just sort of happened.

So, what's new in the "very little happening, very slowly" department?

One of my best friends had the misfortune of having her employer suddenly close their doors last week. No real notice--they just called everyone together and said, "we're shutting down, as of this second."

A shock when that happens, although a bit of severance pay and eligibility for unemployment help to soften the blow a bit. (At least, it did for me when Mr. Snow, my last "start-up" employer, suddenly went out of business.)

Still. It's good for me, you know! Someone to run around and play with sometimes! We had lunch last week and she found us a $2 yarn sale to visit this week. (I'm still restricted from buying any new yarn until I've used up all of my old yarn, but I figure for $2, I can be flexible if I find something really interesting.)

I was crowing about her availability in a different venue and another friend popped up to point out that her university position is very quiet this time of year, and she's always available for lunch and/or whatnot. So, double-good for me!

In other news, Pippi turned 18 this past weekend and in spite of repeated reminders from the R.C., I entirely spaced out calling her. I'm a bad aunt. Sigh. (Although, the girls have known me, or I should say, not known me, for 18 years now, and I think they expect me to have a weak brain....)

Still. Happy birthday, Pippi! ♥ ♥ ♥

And, yes, my new Potter book arrived Saturday. And, yes, I sat down immediately and read it cover-to-cover. Most of it twice.

Without offering any spoilers, let me say that I wasn't sure after the first reading how much I liked it. After the second reading, I decided I liked it very well, but maybe not for the reasons one might expect. And I was glad it wasn't as dark as, say, Book 5, because ick.

And, while we're on the subject of Potter and Book 5, I wasn't going to go see the new movie (I really haven't been seeing them in the theatres) but then the R.C. read in the paper that the current one is being shown at the IMAX 3-D theatre. The ad said the movie was 3D, which I find almost impossible to believe--don't you have to shoot a movie specially to be in 3D and doesn't it cost four times as much--but if that's true, it might be worth seeing.

And the IMAX theater is, of course, air-conditioned. Because, temperatures? Remain hot. We came close to cracking 100 yesterday. Today? 9:30 in the morning and if I move out from under the fan I have blowing directly at me, I start to sweat.

The R.C. and I went out "bashing around" (her term) yesterday and visited a couple of bookstores where, in spite of the Pottermania infesting the world of literature this week, I managed to find some completely unrelated books I wanted. I didn't buy them, what with being on a budget and all, but I'm making a list and when I get a job....

Garden-wise, I'm sad to report that the blight infesting one of my pots seems to be spreading. The collection of what had been my healthiest flowers is wilting fast. I don't know what's wrong with the stupid things. I give them water and don't walk on them or knock them over. What else do they need?

Employment-wise, nothing has really changed. The resumes go out. I get an occasional call asking for more information or something. No one hires me. Sigh.

Sitting around the house-wise, I'm stuck on that stupid GameBoy game and will remain so until I find an hour when I have the endless patience I'm going to need to kill this particular dungeon boss. (It's too hot to be patient.)

The L-i-K-S called and said she'd shipped the "collectibles" of Mom's to me. They should arrive this week, so I'll have to make some choices about the venues I'm researched for selling them. She also said she'd found some more coins, some that might be Civil War era, so I'm excited about getting to play with those!

(And, on a related topic, the nephew, Billy Jo's son, did actually make a payment on Mom's trailer this month, and he's working with the bank to get the loan transferred into his name, so that's one worry off our backs. We still need to figure out where the paperwork is on the third cemetary plot Mom and Dad owned, because we need to sell that, but I think we're getting down to the last of that kind of thing. The L-i-K-S has the filing for the life insurance under control, we all know we'll have to do a final tax filing, and I think that's it.)

I'm sorry my life isn't more interesting or more blog-worthy. I'll try to drum up a little excitement before I blog again.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:51 AM | Comments (4)



Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Mood: Indignant

I have a blemish. Upon my face.

Why has my face produced this unsightly protrusion? I don't know. I made it all the way through puberty with only three pimples*, so why, now, at this late date, has my face decided to develop oil?

It's appalling and I so object.

Can I file a complaint? What we need is a BBBB** I can file a complain with.

When the warranty runs out on your car, it develops a thing, a noise or something***, and you have to take it to the mechanic and it costs you $500 to fix it.

When the warranty runs out on your body, it develops a thing and while you're getting it to the doctor, the transmission starts to miss and the brakes get mushy and the carburetor gets sticky and by the time you're limping into the parking lot, pieces are threatening to fall off. And there's not enough money in the world to restore it to factory condition.****

I took on this body under the understanding that it was a lifetime warranty. I'm starting to suspect false advertising.

I mean, wouldn't you think that when Marvelous Medical Miracles started becoming commonplace and we all started living to be 90 instead of falling over when we were 45, wouldn't you assume that the warranty would automatically be extended and that we'd all enjoy perfect health for at least the first sixty or seventy decades?

I know I did.

Okay.

Laundry done. Coffee slurped. Bedroom tidied. Laptop packed up and ready to go to the computer store. Shower accomplished. Hair a ghastly mess. Breakfast finished.

I still need to vacuum and actually get into my car and drive the laptop the entire three miles to the store.

In short, I've accomplished pretty much everything I can accomplish***** without leaving the building. It's time to brave the Summer Inferno.

Footnotes To My Life would make a good book title. I probably wouldn't read it, it doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but it would be an interesting title.


_______________

* Could have been four.

** Better Body Business Bureau

***My mother used to call that, "a hitch in your gitalong." Never say this blog isn't educational.

**** Not that I'd want to. I mean, not if it meant going back and starting all over again. I wouldn't relive anything before my 30s, not on a bet. (Although I'd go back to when I was 18 and beat myself up until I promised never to start smoking....)

***** Pretty much. Short of vacuuming.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)



Write something!

I feel a pressure to blog, in spite of my continuing deficit of brain.

It's supposed to be 98 here today. Forget the future of the planet and turn on the a/c! (Not that we haven't every day anyhow.)

My recent life:

Job-hunting - a few good ads, resumes submitted, thundering silence ensuing.

Gardening - staring at the plants, watering them twice-daily, otherwise losing interest in this game since, in the end, plants just sit there.

Laptop - owing to the aforementioned deficit of brain, I completely forgot that yesterday was Monday. I'm planning to take it in today, instead.

Travel - I need to book my last trip to KC for the first week of August. Kansas. In August. Be still my quivering (sweating, wilting) heart. I need to pack up great armloads of things, mostly fragile, to ship back here to Denver and then I need to figure out how to sell/dispose of them.

Head - I have definitely decided to cut my hair off. (Well, not me personally. I'll go to the stylist.) In spite of a lifelong distaste for my chin and my reluctance to wear my hair in any way that exposes it, I've just had it with all this hair. It's thick, heavy, and hot.

Excitement - Sadly lacking.

I have accomplished no amazing feats of house-cleaning or tidying up. I have started/finished no fantabulous new books (I'm not allowed to buy any new books while I'm unemployed) and have already talked too much about the "old" books I'm re-reading.

I have, essentially, been nowhere and done nothing.

This is partly the heat (I crouch indoors, snarling at the shimmering sunshine and crawling ever closer to the air conditioner) and partly a lack of imagination on my part. There's a whole, giant city out there but I can't seem to get interested in it.

I'm going to kick myself when I'm back in the 9-5 rut again. I know I am. I should do my daily job-hunting in the morning and then treat the rest of the day like an unexpected vacation. Sigh.

Maybe I'll do something exciting today? Besides cleaning house (the carpet cleaners come tomorrow, so I need to vacuum and tidy up) and taking the laptop in, I mean.

Actually, the R.C. and I went to the Worldwide Antique show at the Merchandise Mart last week. ("Worldwide" is a bit of an exaggeration. 90% of the booths seemed to be people from surrounding states.)

We saw many fabulous things, none of which I bought (not even the completely unused Sèvres dinner set for 12, for only $14,500) but many of which I coveted madly. Nor the pottery with the beautiful and unusual "Rose Tapestry" glaze that felt, to the fingers, like the glaze had been woven, not poured. I coveted those pieces very madly, but they were priced in the hundreds of dollars per piece.

We wandered around for a couple of hours, ooohing and aaahing and generally drooling on everything we got close to. We were eyeballed by no small number of vendors who feared that our enthusiasm might run away with us, to the extend of pocketing some attractive but expensive piece, but we also got to eavesdrop on some fascinating conversations as sellers educated buyers about the details of various bits and pieces of history.

Good times.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:33 AM | Comments (4)



Thursday, July 12, 2007
Color Me Embarrassed

So, okay, I've worn the new pants (the Capris) out of the house twice now. Once to walk over to lunch, once to go to the complex management office to sign a new lease. ($34 rent increase!) I was--cringing. Both times.

I swore to myself if I bought them I'd wear them, but I don't know. I may be getting on toward geezerdom in years but I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the sight of myself dressed toward geezerdom.

Ah, well.

No interviews this week, except one phone interview from an agency.

Don't get me wrong--I take even a phone interview as encouraging. Especially when, as this place did, they call back for clarification on certain points. That means that they're at least really considering you, right? She called back because their client had some questions about my resume, which was very encouraging. (It's less encouraging that I haven't heard back from her since, though.)

As the R.C. points out, I'm getting three times the play on my resume submissions this time, which means I've finally got the resume tweaked correctly. Now all I need is someone willing to hire me even though I'm not 25 any more. (I don't get this age-discrimination in hiring thing. It's not like anyone signs on and becomes a life-long employee of most companies any more. People job-hop every couple of years. My resume shows I stay for an average of five years at most jobs, making me one of the most astonishingly stable employees you could have.)

What I really want is for someone to call up and say, "We'll hire you for as much money as you said you wanted and we want you to start in two weeks." That way I both have employment and I have a brief interval when I can finally relax and enjoy some of this time off. (After all, starting over means no vacation time for six months or more.)

Speaking of geezerdom, I need a haircut. I'm going to bypass the cheap-but-not-talented stylist I've been using to go back to Mr. One-Hour-Minimum-and-Mortgage-Your-House guy. I begrudge the time he needs to give me a cut (even when I'm unemployed and have all the time one could want) but he does a good job.

I'm squirming a bit though. I have to explain to him why I haven't been to see him for the last eight months, after seeing him regularly for eight years.

What else is new?

Well, I have friends I'm supposed to be contacting that I haven't been. I have housecleaning I told myself I needed to do that I haven't done.

The R.C., after months of debate and indecision, wandered out the other day and came home with a GameBoy DS and a new game or two. What with one thing and another, it reignited my own love for playing video games and we've been switching off machines and games ever since.

She's playing the new HP DS game. I'm working on that one but I'm also using the GB Advance to work my way through the Zelda Minish Cap game. She's had it forever, but I never got around to playing it.

Now that I am, I'm giving thanks once again for walkthroughs.

(I remember, back in the dark ages when GB was new, you had to call a phone number and pay by the minute to get help if you were stuck.* Then there was an official walkthrough book and life was good. Later, there were many more games, not all with official books, but by then there was the internet and Game Geeks rushing to be the first ones to finish a game so they could post walkthroughs online, and life was really good.)

I like to think that my fondness for the GameBoy suggests that I am not some kind of Luddite (in spite of still resisting the lure of Firefox and letting my html skills nearly atrophy) and that I am, as my resume claims, comfortable with technology.

Summer o'Gardening-wise, I will not be being replaced by a pod-person at any time in the near future. For some reason the budding pods (or whatever) on my bromeliad have wilted. The plant itself seems happy enough, though. One of my mixed planting pots on the porch has developed some weird kind of mange, though. And I whacked a pot full of marigolds against a shelf the other day and broke off half the plant.

"Green thumb" isn't the first thing I think of when I'm thinking of my own skill-set.

There was something else I meant to blog about, but I've forgotten what it was.

_________________

* At that point, when the phone tips failed us, I'd sneak the GB into my office and take it to the tech support department when no one was watching. There was always some Game Geek there who could figure out the tricks and get us past hard parts.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:03 PM | Comments (2)



Saturday, July 7, 2007
My Life, Today

So. What else is new?

Well, the Summer of Gardening is going well, in spite of the near-100 daily temperatures that have forced me to move my fragile-and-unlikely-to-survive Forget-Me-Not seedlings indoors.

Marigolds thrive in the heat. I have blooms in four or five pots, which is pretty cool.

marigolds.jpg

The R.C.'s dianthus also seems to like the hot.

dianthus1.jpg

dianthus2.jpg

Much prettier than anything I'm growing. All of these live outside, but on the shady side of the balcony. I'm not sure any of them would survive both this altitude and the incredible heat generated by a concrete balcony and a stone building.

The sunflowers, that grow like weeds in Kansas, are growing much more slowly than I'd anticipated.

sunflowers.jpg

The R.C. had eight or ten of those going, before I burnt them up with the A/C exhaust. She has about four surviving now.

My bromeliad, an indoor plant, seems to be producing some kind of extrusions. I fully expect that the R.C. and I will be replaced by pod people sometime in the next month.

bromeliad_2.jpg

Or, you know, it could be thinking about flowering.

Otherwise, I went completely mad yesterday. I blew $70 (!!) on new clothes.

Ever since the diet, I've been down to three pairs of grossly baggy shorts and four ratty tee shirts to wear in my time off. Those, with three rapidly decaying polo shirts and two pair of jeans that it's really too hot to wear, have been rotated in and out of the laundry for the past three months as I cope with being off work full-time in the heat of summer.

Yesterday I found a really decent sale and got five shirts, two pair of shorts, and a pair of capris. Now, even if I'm out of work for the rest of the summer, at least I have something to put on my body, something that was becoming a concern. (I had to throw one of my original four tee-shirts away last week--it got too dilapidated even to wear around the house.)

(Capris, though. When I was a kid, we thought of those as being "old lady pants." Now they're fashionable again and I've been scorning them for the past couple of years. But there are times when you need something that's not as casual as shorts, but not as hot and heavy as jeans, you know? So I bought a pair. Time will tell if I ever actually wear them out in public.)

I probably shouldn't have spent the money, but I tell myself that in the olden days, back when I worked for a living, I'd have spent that much in books in one afternoon, without a second thought.

And new clothes mean laundry. What with one thing and another, I did five loads yesterday. Ugh. (Do I need to add the $9 I spent on doing laundry to the total of yesterday's expenditures?)

Spending.... In the 3-1/2 months that I've been unemployed, I've bought seven books, a purse, and these clothes. Beyond a few minor expenditures at the craft/hobby store, that's been the extent of my non-essential shopping. For me, that's a lot of restraint. I guess I was bound to break out eventually.

Which reminds me that She called yesterday, looking for a file. Fourteen weeks she's been there, and she still hasn't figured out that documents to do with company business are on the P.C., in a file marked, "company"? In spite of the fact that I've told her so half a dozen times?

She and Bernie still want me to work for them this summer.

Short version--she's proven incapable of learning or even wanting to learn to use the software programs to code jobs for the company, and it's either me or they find & train someone else to do it (an impossibility since you have to know the software to train it, and neither of them do) and it seems to them to be ideal all the way around that I should make some money while I'm job-hunting and they should get their clients serviced.

Put like that, it does seem sensible. And, at $25/hour, I wouldn't object to making a little money.

Only my experience of Bernie and my knowledge that after promising contract employees the moon, he usually winds up serving them mud pies, makes me hesitate. Knowing, as I do, that he underbids the hours necessary to actually do jobs, I just don't feel like getting into the middle of a fight with him about what he wants to pay versus what it takes to actually do the work.

Bernie said in his last email that, as I suspected and warned him, She spends a fair amount of company time living Her personal life. Lots of personal phone calls and suchlike. (One hesitates to mention that those same hours would have been more usefully spent learning the software--when I was young, we were taught that work came first during the hours you were being paid. What happened to that work ethic? I mean, She is older than I am, so it's not like She's some dumb kid.)

Anyhow. I'll think about that later. (But not too much later, because I have an email from Bernie that I need to answer.)

Other than that, it's 9:30 on a Saturday morning, so I think I'll go pour myself more coffee and start thinking about breakfast. Have a good weekend!

Posted by AnneZook at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Quick Misc.

The interview seemed to go well, but I was the first person they interviewed, so we'll see. They might find someone who blows them away in the rest of the "handful" of applicants they've decided to interview.

The company is planning to make a decision quickly, by Friday and will send out e-mail notifications to all interviewees, including the lucky winner :) of the position. (I need to find a way to check my email on Friday!)

Other than that, I have a 7:00 a.m. flight out tomorrow. I'll be back online some time Monday or Tuesday, after I get home.

Take care of yourselves!

Posted by AnneZook at 06:15 PM | Comments (2)



Monday, June 4, 2007

Shhh!

This is not a peaceful place to hang out during the day.

At precisely 8:10 a.m., the massive mowers started up, right outside our windows. Makes me cranky (although not as cranky as the days when they start at 7:00 a.m.)

Then, about an hour later, a guy was messing with the cable/internet box outside the building, setting up someone's access (I presume) and messed up our Comcast feed. We had to keep dashing out to the balcony for half an hour, watching for him to come back, then convince him that the internets were working before he did his thing and make him go back into the box and fix whatever it was he'd messed up.

The L-i-K-S called a couple of times, with updates about Mom.

The stupid screen door fell off again, about nine times (every time we went outdoors). (I wish that "special order" door would come in.) We couldn't just leave it off because there was a bee loitering around out there and I won't have bees inside the house.

A missed call on my cell phone (one of the times I was talking to the L-i-K-S ) turned out to have been someone wanting to talk to me about an interview.

Once the mowers moved out, the guys with the 2500-decibel, gasoline-powered trimmers moved in and you couldn't hear yourself think anywhere in the apartment.

A callback to the potential interview where I left a voicemail and then a moment of panic as I realize I left them my cell number and couldn't then use my cell to make the call to Mom I promised the L-i-K-S I'd make at precisely 11:30 MT. (The R.C. called her.)

And, eventually, a callback from the potential interview, which I took in my bedroom with the windows hermetically sealed to block out the landscaping noises.

Yeah, okay, no, it doesn't sound like a lot of turmoil for a 3 hour stretch of time, but the R.C.'s phone was ringing too, with some business of her own she was trying to get done and as she was trying to get her laundry finished, I was trying to do some job-hunting online, and it really was something of a zoo around here for a while, there.

Anyhow. Put this on your "to do" list. Wednesday, 1:00 MT. Interview! The usual good wishes and positive vibes would be appreciated.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)



Sunday, June 3, 2007
Cheat! (And other topics.)

The R.C. says, "let's play a game" and I say, "okay" because I'm good-natured that way, and she says, "what's your favorite book" and I don't like that game.

I don't have One and Only Favorite things. It depends, you know? My "favorite" food is whatever I've eaten recently that was particularly nice. My "favorite" color is whatever I happen to like at the moment. My "favorite" song depends on whether I'm in the mood for pop, rock, or classical at the moment. (But favorite composer would always be Mozart.) (Although I do get into Strauss or Verdi moods.)

I have some "Mosts," though.

Most overrated (and overwrought) composer--Wagner.

Most overrated author(s): In the "pop culture" category--Stephen King. In the "classics" category--James Joyce.

Most annoying neighbors: The people downstairs who bought a giant cardboard tub and for some reason spend a lot of time breaking glass into it.

I might, given a month or two to think about it, be able to choose a single "very favored" book in each genre I read in, but one, single favorite of all the books I've ever read? So not possible.

Anyhow. She pushes and finally I say maybe, Dandelion Wine because while I'm not sure if it's my favorite book ever it's certainly the one that appears most consistently in my Top Ten over the years.

But she doesn't like that book and, not having my selective memory of our childhood, has never understood why it's so seminal for me.

She says, "Pick a better book" which is just wrong. Cheating!

I am entitled to my own favorites, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.

Other topics:

Plants: This whole "garden" thing is very disappointing. I swear those stupid seeds aren't growing at all. Except for the weeds sunflower seeds.

A little internet research has revealed that those of us wanting early summer blossoms should be starting our seeds indoors a couple of months in advance. Grrr. (You know, where I was raised, in Kansas? You stick a seed in the ground and jump back so it doesn't hit you as it stretches for the sky.)

The weekend hasn't been punctuated by any outstandingly interesting events. Friday, I did some laundry. Yesterday, I went shopping and got away with a total of under $20 for the entire day. (Go me!) Today I gave myself an at-home "spa day" with a pedicure, facial, hot-oil treatment for my hair, etc. Tomorrow I'm going to Target to buy some bath oil.

Some weeks are more interesting than others. The past week hasn't been a big one for me.

I've been thinking about holiday cards. (Yes, already. Because they're a "spare time" activity and I have lots of that right now.) (And also I'm back on the diet, fighting to lose 5-10 lbs, so I need activities to occupy my hands.)

Yes, of course, I'm still sending out resumes. To the complete indifference of the entire Denver metropolitan area, I might add.

I'm hitting another of those worrisome points where I'll be sending out resumes Mon-Wed this week, then flying out of town to a place where my Verizon phone gets lousy coverage Thur-Mon, so I won't be available to take calls or schedule interviews.

On the other hand it's always possible that this week's resumes will fall into the same black hole of apathy as the ones I sent out last week. Shrug.

I won't be taking the laptop this time. I'm told that the phone service at my Mom's trailer has been shut off, so I wouldn't be able to get online, even with the lame dial-up account. Also, I'm flying to Joplin for a day, going to K.C. for 2 days, then going back to Joplin for another overnight stay before I fly back to Denver, so my travel arrangements are already complicated enough.

I fully intend to have some adventures during my stint of unemployment. I must admit that electronic searching on job sites is a heckuvalot faster than old-style "mail your resume to this address" newspaper ads and consequently, even checking all four or five jobs sites twice a day, I have plenty of spare time.

I'm just not sure what adventures or when. I'd like to go to the museum (or, really, several of the many museums scattered around the Denver landscape), back to the Botanic Gardens when the roses are in bloom, back to the Chamberlin Observatory on a non-cloudy evening.

Having spent money I hadn't anticipated spending (on Unexpected Medical Bills and Unexpected Family Medical Emergencies), I'm trying to find Frugal Adventures. There are plenty of things you can do in Denver for $5 or less.

Mother Digression Hidden Below Cut (Those Uninterested Should Not Click)

Continue reading "Cheat! (And other topics.)"
Posted by AnneZook at 10:20 PM | Comments (3)



Wednesday, May 30, 2007
You Need SOMEONE

Job-hunting teaches you so much about what other people don't know. Punctuation, grammar, proof-reading. Little things like that.

Sometimes you can figure out what they're trying to say. Sometimes you can't.

The following knowledge’s are required - Why do people abuse the poor apostrophe in this fashion?

Able to think consequentially - A job ad shouldn't read as though you used a thesaurus to compose it.

....a very employee-friendly work environment!! - The exclamation point was not born a twin.

This position is responsible for some calculations of products - I can't decide if this means they want you to go to the shelf and count what's there, then subtract what's been sold, or what?

Compensation: $35000 per month - I am all about getting this job!

Sometimes, I think that what companies really need is someone to write their job ads for them.

So. Three prospects today. I've bookmarked them and am creating cover letters at the moment. Nothing in the writing arena, so I might have a better chance at getting an interview for one of these. Office Manager, Product Development Coordinator, and Logistics Coordinator. I have a weird collection of skills (or "knowledge's") that fit into a lot of different job descriptions.

Otherwise, another day with not much planned. Grocery store. Laundry.

I'm going to a friend's house for dinner tonight. She also has an aging mother with health problems, so it's probably going to turn out to be a mutual support group kind of evening.

And now, if I don't want to spend the day looking like Howdy-Doody, I'd better go dry my hair.

(Mother-related digression below the cut)

Continue reading "You Need SOMEONE"
Posted by AnneZook at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)



Monday, May 28, 2007
It's Holiday Monday!

The thing about being unemployed is that you tend to lose track of things like holidays. I mean, I just realized that there's no reason to think that any of the three companies I applied to this morning are actually doing business today.

This whole "writing sample" thing is becoming a nuisance, too. One of the jobs I was applying for this morning wasn't actually for a writer, and they still wanted a writing sample. I'm not sure why. (Maybe they're trying to screen out illiterates who paid a professional service to write their resumes and cover letters?) Anyhow, I wasted half an hour writing something I could attach to use as a writing sample and I have no idea if it will fulfill their needs or not. (I suspect that I've only proven that I know what a paragraph break is and that I abuse commas.)

I guess if I get desperate, I could be a phone sex person. There seem to be plenty of ads looking for "creative" women who can spin "fantasies" and who like to talk on the phone.

What's up with my life otherwise?

Well, the seedlings are--seedy. I swear none of them have grown a fraction of an inch in the last week and one of the forget-me-nots lost two of its six leaves. I can't figure out if I'm over-watering, under-watering, over-sunning, under-sunning, or what. Stupid plants.

In the arena of fun and frolic, the R.C. and I took ourselves out to the Chamberlin Observatory last Saturday evening. The R.C. heard tell that they were having an Open House and letting us mundanes come in and take a peek at Saturn through the Big Telescope for the modest fee of a buck a head, so we trotted out, wrinkled bills in hand, to take a peek at the rarely open historic building and the "20-inch aperture classic refractor telescope."

(I don't know why I got all folksy there, but I'm better now.)

The building was fascinating, especially up top, where the telescope is housed. We got to watch them rotate the dome and reposition the telescope. Several times. Sadly, billowing cloud cover prevented them from finding any astronomical bodies that anyone could actually look at, but it was 'way cool to watch them trying. Well worth a buck, we both agreed.

Checking the literature, we see that we can make reservations almost any Tuesday and/or Thursday evening and, for three dollars, get another chance to actually look at something. It's definitely on our list of Things To Do This Summer. (They do an Open House once a month, but we have a small hope that the extra two bucks a head will cut down on the hordes of shrieking children present.) (That's sour grapes on my part--every time we wondered aloud what this or that bright spot in the sky was, some eight year-old piped up to inform us that it was Saturn or Venus or whatever. Little know-it-alls.) (It's true, though, that the Tues-Thurs opportunities are limited to a dozen people a time, where the Open House evenings are for all comers. It would be nice to have the opportunity to look through the telescope for more than three seconds without the uneasy guilt of picturing a line of 50 people waiting impatiently for their turn.)

Yesterday, I did--pretty much nothing. A 30-minute walk to check a flower bed where some peonies should be bursting into flower any day now. A short conversation with my mother* on the phone where I confirmed that I'll be back out her direction in a week or so. A lot of reading.

I'm already thinking of holiday cards for the upcoming year. The R.C. pointed out that now, while I have a lot of time on my hands, might be a good time to start working on potential designs for cards for the fall. It's not a bad idea, even if I am seriously considering buying cards this year. I mean, why spend hours making cards when for $20 I can buy enough cards for everyone on my list and then come? The commercial ones are prettier, too.

Still. Pretending that I might make cards was a good reason for me to dig out the paper, paste, and scissors yesterday.** In fact, I amused myself for an hour reorganizing the box I keep paper and scraps in and digging around to figure out what bits and pieces I have that could be turned into cards. I even came up with one potential design.

And, speaking of digging, I did finally get around to pulling out the drawing supplies this past weekend. I spent some time on that, as well. Mostly flipping through the pages of old sketchbooks and admiring or condemning various drawings. If the amount of time I've spent thinking about drawing translated into practice, I'd be all limbered up and ready to produce something recognizable by now. (I seem to be using Harold Hill's Think System for learning to draw these days.) I was almost there, back when I was taking classes but of course daily practice helps a lot.

My teacher had a certain amount of contempt for creating shading and depth with pencil effects (See example), something I was reduced to learning out of a book when, in despair, I looked around the class and realized that everyone there was a thousand times more creative and experienced than I was.

You're supposed to do a lot with line, of course, but even though this was ostensibly a "beginning" drawing class, she didn't teach us about that. I'd like to use that as an excuse for why I'm unable to produce the desired effects when I try to sketch, but I know better.

Drawing is just like writing. Those who have genius do go farther, but no one goes anywhere without practice and anyone who practices regularly can achieve a certain minimum proficiency.

I need, for instance, to practice until I can achieve with pen-and-ink, the same 3D effects I learned to achieve with pencil. More than that, I need to learn to look at things, until I can see shapes and patterns. (You might wonder why someone so auditory took on a hobby so visual. I know I do.)

So. Plans for today include....

Well, I don't have many at the moment. I got up. Drank coffee. Did the job-hunt thing. Now I'm blogging. At some point I need to gas up my car. I intend to go out to lunch.

Life's pretty exciting in the Unemployment Lane these days.


__________________________

* I hear she got all fired up Saturday and demanded that we all appear on her doorstep next weekend and help her wind up her affairs so she could check herself into a nursing home, but by the time I talked to her on Sunday, the mood (or the problem or whatever it was) had passed. From what she tells me, the disease is progressing faster than anticipated, but I won't believe that until I see her again. She's--not reliable on things like that.

__________________________

** In Anne's World, you're never too old to play with paper and paste and scissors.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:53 AM | Comments (2)



Friday, May 25, 2007

Still a laissez-faire sort of life

The sun is shining. (After the rainstorms we've been having, this is a blog-worthy event.) There's a promise of spring warmth in the air. It's gonna be a golden day.

In other news.... Well, not much is going on. The housecleaning desperately needs to be done. The laundry pile is growing. I'm trying to care.

Oh! And there's some kind of SGI* thing going on in the building.

When we were in the stairway yesterday, we noticed that back in the corner, behind the shopping cart someone stole from Whole Foods, there was a flat, white box of the Inexplicable Electronics variety.

In spite of the fact that the two cords or cables hanging from the box were connected to nothing, the box featured a number of glowing green lights of the UFO variety. It made no noise and seemed not to be labeled with anything that might explain its function or purpose on the floor of the stairwell. It just--sat there. Glowing.

Very suspicious, don't you think?

I have a credit card payment due on 6/17. The minimum (although I don't normally pay just the minimum) is $247.00. Wincing. Looks like those medical bill payments landed. Sigh. So. I have less than a month to get a job and get a paycheck. Or, you know, start selling body parts and/or personal belongings.

With only one recent interview under my belt and that company not planning to hire until 6/1, the odds don't look good. I wonder if it's time to hit Starbucks or someplace like that and get at least a part-time job?

I have no plans for today, unless the aforementioned household chores suddenly take possession of my brain. It's not easy to think of things to do that don't cost any money, you know?

(Speaking of Starbucks! The R.C. just returned from her morning walk and brought me a latte! Isn't she the just the greatest?)

I mean, I could happily wallow around the house, reading or practicing drawing, all day, every day, except that being that inert gives even me a headache after a couple of days. The weather hasn’t been nice enough to go walking just for the sake of getting out (although today looks promising) and I'm not a huge fan of walking just to be walking anyhow. I have no objection to walking in order to go somewhere, even if it's a couple of miles away. But just random walking isn't that amusing. (The R.C. is always up for a walk, because of her back problems, so I can make her go with me to talk to me I guess.)

But it's not fabulously interesting to look back on your day and think, "I went for a walk." Feels sort of geriatric, in fact.

Meghan asked me about a syndicated feed on the blog. It doesn't have one and I have no idea how to set one up. I know bloglines offers a feed using annezo.net/index.xml but she uses LiveJournal and I have no idea how to set up whatever kind of feed that site uses. (Let's face it--if it wasn't written by the people who designed the site for me, it doesn't exist.)

You know, I have the time, now, to stop and learn about stuff like that. I should do that, shouldn't I? Once you dive into software stuff, it's usually much simpler than you expect, to learn how to do things. (I'll get right on that, as soon as the R.C. agrees that it's fair for me to hog up the computer for six hours a day.)

I have thought of at least one "no money required" activity that I should undertake during this temporary hiatus from being a productive member of society. I really should get over to the storage unit and start cleaning things out. (Also? I could bring some of those boxes of books back to the apartment.... If I tried, I'm sure I could find room for another hundred or two.)

That's about it, at least for now. It's only 10:00 and I haven't done that much today.

Further bulletins on the SGI, the job-hunting process, and/or my daily activities as events warrant or as the mood strikes me.

(Web stats continue to bemuse me. You and I both know there aren't 70-80 people a month reading this blog, just as we know there aren't 300+ people reading Peevish every day. Why can't I get the "hit count" stats cleaned out of the spammers or whoever it is hitting the blogs?)


___________________________

* SGI = Secret Government Installation

This is an abbreviation the R.C. and I have developed to describe any and all weird and/or inexplicable buildings, events, or occurrences we might encounter.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:11 AM | Comments (4)



Interview Update

Thanks for the good wishes yesterday afternoon.

I'm not sure how the interview went. Generally during an interview, there's a magic moment, an instant when you can feel the interviewer's guard go down and you really start to bond with them. I didn't get that from yesterday's interview. I did very well with Lady #1, the one who handled the initial phone screening and who chatted with me about the position for a few minutes while we waited for Lady #2 to show up. Lady #2, when she appeared, wasn't quite as easy to read and I never really felt I was giving her the answers she wanted to hear. (That's important, since Lady #2 is the boss of the department in question.)

Oh, well. It was an interview, right? At least if someone likes your resume and cover letter enough to give you a call, you feel a little less like the unwanted tidal trash on the beach of life.

Today's catch wasn't big. Two writing jobs, though, which made me happy even just to apply for. (I'm so glad they changed the rule about ending sentences with prepositions.)

One was a tech writer position (thank you to my friend, Megan, who forwarded the link to me) that I probably won't get because I have no "official" tech writing experience, even though I've written half a dozen or more technical and user manuals.

Another ("Full Time Writer") I probably won't ever hear about again because I have no idea what to submit when someone requests "writing samples" with your resume. Also, that one was a "work from home" position for a company based in CA. I'm not sure I'm looking to spend my professional life home alone, but who knows? (The thought occurs that if I got a job like that, it could be done even in Missouri....)

A few days ago I also applied to a "Writer / Researcher / Editorial" ad. Candidates will be responsible for a multitude of research concerning various important historical figures, creating compelling non-fiction prose, while also assuring compliance with standard English usage and grammatical rules. No, you don't have to tell me I'm not qualified for that one, either. I know my grammar is appalling and my punctuation is erratic. (I could learn, you know. If I wanted to.)

Still. It makes me happy to apply for writing jobs. :) I like to fantasize that I could be a writer.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Send some vibes!

Got a call earlier this afternoon, and I have a job interview at 2:00 MT tomorrow.

Send a few good vibes my way, okay? :) Thanks!

Posted by AnneZook at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)



Sunday, May 20, 2007

Briefly Boring

I guess it's fair to say I haven't been up to much since I got back to town. That and intermittent internet access problems have been keeping me offline. The Little Man came to fix the net access a day or so ago, though, and now we're back to our usual blazing-fast, incredibly reliable service and daily blog posting will be easy.

That doesn't mean I have anything to say.

So, monotonously:

Seedlings - All remaining growths seem to be surviving. A few even seem to be thriving. I'm embittered by the realization that the joy of growing your own plants from seeds has to be balanced by the frustration of having to wait months to see any flowers.

It looks like only one of those forget-me-not seeds actually sprouted and survived the first 30 days. The one seedling that's left is, very slowly, starting to show signs of progress.

The marigolds are looking sturdy, though. I think most of those are going to make it to the blossoming stage.

I really should have started these three months ago. At the rate they're going, it's going to be September before my little flower garden has flowers. If I had the money, I'd go out and buy a handful of already-flowering plants to add a little color to my balcony-based garden. Sigh.

Yarn-based pastimes - Largely all stalled. The mood has not been upon me recently. I ripped out two projects (one "completed" and one "in progress" to start them again because I didn't like what I'd done. I need to get back to them.

Maybe later today. I can knit while I watch the last two episodes of ReGenesis that I'm behind on. Or while I finish watching Veritas, a show that annoys me with its wasted potential and yet remains just good enough that I'm watching the DVDs and musing on What Might Have Been.

Drawing practice - An idea that's still in the conceptual stage. I'd like to spend some of this unexpected free time on drawing practice. Really, I would. But being unemployed is depressing and I can't write or draw or do anything very creative when I'm depressed.

So, the downer topics:

Job-hunting - The process continues. I send out resumes into oblivion. It's one thing to know that it always takes months to find a new job--it's quite another to be in the middle of the process so often, as I seem to have been for the last five years.

Mom - From what I'm told, she's gone into a bit of a tailspin since she got the 1-2 year diagnosis. I don't blame her and depression is one of the things to be expected when someone has received notice that they only have a year or two to live, and that the quality of their life is going to be going down until then, but it's worrying.

The R.C. was planning to make a trip down there before I went again, but I think I'm going to have to schedule a return visit fairly soon. I'm getting questions from the L-i-K-S and sometimes from Mom about the promised return visit. I don't know what I can do, even if I go. Mom needs someone to really discuss her finances with, someone to bully her into making a will, someone to start the process of vetting nursing homes, since she's going to need 24/7 care before the end, someone to arrange for her sister and b-i-l to get some kind of care stipend each month, etc., but my mom isn't amenable to discussing such things. I'm not really the Take Charge kind of person to do it, not in my own eyes, but--I'm the one who needs to do it. I'm the oldest, except for my brother and he's the least-suitable of all of us.

Less depressingly:

The weather is gorgeous and I've talked the R.C. into a visit to Denver's Botanic Garden tomorrow. I'm planning to take my little digital camera, so maybe I'll have pictures to post!

Fun-wise, I've gotten together with friends a few times in the last couple of weeks, mostly for conversation. While I enjoyed it, it doesn't make for interesting blog-fodder.

I've made it in and out of two bookstores without making a purchase. I was doing well with Frugal Living until Friday when I fell for a book at Tattered Cover LoDo. No, I didn't need a $16 anthology of the stories that inspired some of today's top SF authors to write themselves (The World Turned Upside Down), but I don't care. I wanted it, I've been reading it, and I've been falling in love all over again with some of my favorite Golden Age SF authors. I may have to go to storage and dig out some of those cartons of SF books I put away a few years ago.

Other than that, I've been re-reading Alexander Kent's Bolitho (naval) series. It's gotten me back into the mood for Napoleonic War era stories again, so I think I'll re-read Dudley Pope's Ramage series next. I'm finishing the last of Cornwall's Sharpe books and being happy that I went to the expense of buying them--it's a series I'm sure I'll read again.

And now I'm brooding on books in general. I don't particularly care for contemporary fiction, but a couple of friends are suggesting that we start our own knit-lit group (knitting and book discussion) and I'm a bit concerned. I'm scanning my bookshelves and wondering if there's anything I read that they'd enjoy, wondering what they, themselves, read when no one is looking, and wondering if I'd have anything to say in a book discussion group anyhow. Sure, I've read 50,000 books in my life, but outside of a classroom, I don't think I've ever done any organized discussion.

I mean, yes, they're friends, so I don't have to worry that either of them will throw offf the mask and stand revealed as a Harlequin fan or anything, but not reading sloppy romances still leaves a lot of book territory.

The R.C. likes biographies, for instance. I'm not a big fan, so I probably couldn't "discuss" a biography. (Just by way of example. She's not one of the people talking about starting the group, although she's welcome to come along.) I mean, you can't read just one, right? If you actually care about what a person's life was like, you have to read from a dozen sources to evaluate how accurate the biography is and to fill in the gaps and stuff. Sounds like a lot of work.

I like mysteries and SF/F, but I read very little that's contemporary. As the aforementioned anthology suggests, I have a fondness for Golden Age stories, in both genres.

I read some nonfiction, but usually writing-related or history stuff. Or mythology. Or, very rarely these days, philosophy.

It's very worrying. What if they hate everything I like?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:55 AM | Comments (8)



Saturday, May 12, 2007

In passing

Yes, I made it back from Missouri last week with no problems. Intermittent internet access combined with a run of gorgeous weather means I haven't been spending much time at the computer.

Mom got stronger and feeling better every day while I was there, which was very reassuring. On the other hand, and in the less than good news category, the prognosis is 1-2 years.

Random updates:

Yarn stuff: Haven't been making progress.

Seeds stuff: Most of the seeds I planted have sprouted but they seem disinclined to actually grow big enough to develop flowers. |-( Maybe I'm not being patient enough....

Job stuff: Many resumes sent, no reaction from the business world yet. These things take time. Maybe i'm not being patient enough....

Drawing stuff: Having wasted much of this week in ways that wind up merely passing the time and not using it, I've decided to start spending at least an hour a day on sketching practice.

More soon, I promise.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:45 PM | Comments (2)



Thursday, April 26, 2007
Traveling

Internet access now rock-steady and acting as though there was never anything wrong. (No, the Little Man didn't fix it. It fixed itself an hour or so before he showed up. Very embarrassing. Still, he messed around and changed out some cables and stuff, even increasing our speed a bit, so it's all to the good.)

Most of the seeds (we've decided to designate this as the Summer Of Gardening) I planted have sprouted! Hooray! I planted forget-me-nots, marigolds, and sunflowers. It's all very exciting to see the little green shoots unfurling each day.

I very nearly did them in on Wednesday. Expecting the temperatures to be warmer than it turned out to be, I had them sitting outside for hours before I realized the little buds were shivering and nearly shriveling. They all seem okay today, though.

I regret that I won't be around to love them for a week, but the R.C. can be counted on for regular watering and stints in the sunshine. (I swear mine grow faster than hers because I lavish love on mine. She's rather more demanding--offering them regular water and sunshine and then standing over then, asking why they're not sprouting yet.) By the time I get back, half of mine will be ready to move into bigger pots.

In lesser excitement, today's schedule includes laundry and packing for tomorrow's departure. Not exciting, but necessary.

The schedule also includes a bit of housecleaning. Looking around this place, I can really see that I wasn't feeling up to cleaning last week. The dust is an inch thick (she exaggerated without shame) and somehow a pile o'papers has grown on the table next to the chair. I should look at those before I leave town and see if any of them are something I need to deal with.

Other than that, I'm downloading/copying/moving files from the PC to the laptop so I'll have Things To Amuse Me With during my incarceration time.

Anyhow, I'll have the laptop and dial-up access (I think) while I'm in the wilds of Missouri. If all works as planned, I should be able to update at least occasionally.


Posted by AnneZook at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Updating Again

Internete access remains unreliable. Technician supposed to be dispatched this afternoon.

Mom is out of the hospital and ensconsed in a little bedroom/bathroom set-up at her sister's house.

Final diagnosis? (Diagnosises? Diagnoses?) Lou Gehrig's disease, a mass on one of her adrenal glands, a partially enlarged heart due to blood clots, and an unusual amount of brain damage from her hypertension.

Yes, we feel guilty about not taking charge of her and watching her health over the last two or three years, but when she was feeling well, no one could make her do anything she didn't want to do and what she didn't want to do was lose her independence.

We, along with tens of thousands of other families in the USofA have been struggling with this issue for years. How unhappy are you entitled to make an aging parent under the guise of "taking care of them"?

My health? Quite fine, thank you. As expected, the CAT scan found nothing at all. The "shadow" was just a shadow.

Yesterday's massive storm dropped up to 20" of snow around south and west of the Denver area and in the foothills. Colorado in the spring is such an adventure.

We got snow and rain alternating all day long, but no actual accumulation (the rain melted it). I had to cancel plans to drive to Colorado Springs to have dinner with friends because the highway was closed, but I have new plans for this evening and hope to make it through tonight!

Leaving for Missouri on Friday. I'll be taking the laptop and should have internet access at least once a day.

Nothing new on the job hunt. To be honest, between the health stuff (mine and Mom's) and the internet problems, I haven't had a lot of time to be searching in the last week. Now that I'm leaving town for a week, I'm not sure how much point there is in searching until I get back. I won't be available for interviews.

Being a Lady of Leisure isn't quite turning out the way I'd anticipated.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:42 AM | Comments (2)



Sunday, April 22, 2007
Update

Our internet access, after being rock-steady for the last six years, has chosen the past few days to become unreliable. Not sure how much I'll be online in the next couple of days. That's kind of a drag for the job-hunting process. Can't search the online sites if you can't stay online.

Just as an update, my CAT scan for the "kidney shadow" is tomorrow morning. I should have results on Tuesday. (I've given up obsessing about it.)

My mother's in the hospital down where she lives. They swear most of her problem is dehydration, which makes sense to me. (Anyone who drinks coffee from 6 am to 9 pm is going to be dehydrated.)

She's arguing the diagnosis, but she'd argue if you told her the sky was blue. Fortunately she has excellent BC/BS "gap" insurance for her Medicare. (And, as it turns out, her healthcare is excellent as well. My dissatisfaction with it turns out to have been based on entirely erroneous information from her about what her caregivers were treating her for and how.

The L-i-K-S drove down from KC this weekend and Mom has a lot of family in the area. I'm flying down there for a week (at least) this coming Friday to see for myself how things stand.

I think we're at the point where she can no longer live alone, which is going to make her furious. Her choices will be to live with one of her sisters and her husband (they smoke heavily), move in with the L-i-K-S, or move to Denver and get an apartment with me/us.

I hope our internet access stays up today. It's a drag being to get into my email for only five minutes a day.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:44 AM | Comments (2)



Friday, April 20, 2007

Psychosomatic Symptoms

Warning: Not a cheerful post.

So, the whole gross incident is now safely behind me. I have no further symptoms and everything seems to be normal again.

Actually I felt a huge amount better by Wednesday, but I was still safely medicated and couldn't tell if I was actually better or just drugged to near-insensibility.

This, of course, means I have the leisure to worry about other things. There are two primary subjects on my mind today.

#1 - The Shadow

In the process of doing the CAT scan for the kidney stone on Tuesday, they found a "shadow" on my pancreas. They said it wasn't a good angle to figure out what it was and wanted me to see my regular doctor to have it checked out. I was procrastinating (what you don't know....) the subject until today. I called my regular doc and they sounded worried enough to get me into their office this afternoon. :-( I don't want people to be taking it that seriously, okay?

I guess that means another bout of drinking weird substances, waiting on them to work through my system, and then rolling in and out of the machine.

As someone unemployed and without healthcare* I'd prefer that all of this be not happening. Could anyone here arrange that for me?

And I'm having psychsomatic symptoms. I don't even know where my pancreas is but my subconscious has chosen an area of my torso and has been offering me symptoms for the last day or so. Nothing real. The most normal of things, like a hiccup, strike my brain as ominous.

(* I had Kaiser insurance at my last job. I still have the COBRA option but since none of my chosen healthcare professionals are Kaiser, I haven't been able to decide whether or not to sign up for it. Now that I've had Actual Medical Incidents, I don't even know if Kaiser would cover me.)

#2 - The Mother

Mom called today to report that she'd had "an incident" last night. Basically dizziness, pain, falling down, and being helpless. She called one of her sisters who took her to the ER where she waited an hour and a half and never got to see anyone. Eventually they took her home with them and she'll be staying there for a few days.

I hate the healthcare system where she lives. I don’t like her doctor who prescribes her meds she's supposed to know make my mom sick. I don't like an ER that can't get an elderly patient with stroke symptoms in for treatment. I don't like a 'specialist' who sees a serious circulation problem and schedules a treatment for two months later.

Anyhow. Once I get my "shadow" problem dealt with today (yes, I've decided it's something that can be dealt with in one day), I'm going to have to book a ticket to Missouri and plan to spend a couple of weeks there. If all goes as planned, I'll be leaving next Friday, so I'll be offline for a couple of weeks at that point.

At this point, I can't decide whether or not to worry about my mother because it stops me from obsessing about the Big C, or to worry about myself, because it stops me from obsessing about my mother.

Sorry to be such a downer today. I'd actually planned an entry on the joys of spring, of sunshine, the small but definite sense of triumph I feel from having planted flower seeds and seen them sprout, and my anticipation of a really good sushi lunch to celebrate my return to normality. Also I wanted to talk about ReGenesis and Veritas and a couple of books I've been reading. Sigh. I'll come back when I'm more cheerful.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Intermission

Sorry, a short intermission in posting there.

Quick update:

1) The HR guy did not call from the interview. Shrug. I guess they found someone they liked better. It's a shame. I'm thinking of calling the interview guy tomorrow, just to ask him what's up.

2) Half a dozen more resumes sent out, no responses yet.

3) Went up to the mountains on Sunday, to do a little light gambling at the casinos and enjoy the weather, which finally turned nice. I won $66 on one machine, which makes me the Big Winner in the ongoing competition the R.C. and I run. (When you play penny and nickel machines, $66 counts as a huge win.)

4) After a week-long silence, She called with an emergency today. Sadly, I was unavailable until 3:00, by which time She'd already solved the problem Herself.

5) Why unavailable? Well, the pain started at 6:00 this morning and progressively got worse for the next three hours. Eventually even I can be taught, so I dragged my butt into the living room to tell the R.C. that I needed to go to the emergency room.

My fear was appendicitis, which seems to run in my Mom's family. I had all of the symptoms--pain in lower right quadrant of abdomen, upchucking, etc.

Anyhow, a few hours in the ER, some anti-nausea drugs and some pain-killers in an IV, and a CAT scan of my stomach later--I was diagnosed wtih a kidney stone. You know, I'd heard those are painful, but I had no idea what "pain" really meant before today.

This would probably have been a more entertaining entry if I wasn't currently doped up on narcotics, but I can't say I'm sorry.

Hope your day was better?

Posted by AnneZook at 04:37 PM | Comments (8)



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Update

The interview went, I think, very well. Thank you all for the good wishes I know you were sending. :)

The current project manager was a nice guy and we talked for about an hour. He liked the variety of my professional history, especially the variety of functions I fulfilled in each job. (Apparently finding people who understand that "project management" requires that you be hands-on, and involved in a lot of things at once, is difficult.) I made it through Phase I of the process, anyhow. Phase II is a phone interview with their HR person (a function they outsource) which will probably happen on Friday.

It's an interesting company. One of their precepts is that everyone should be involved in continuing education and improvement. I can get behind that. I've been tempted to sign up for a Microsoft Project class before now and it would be nice to take it and know it's getting me work-related brownie points.

I've never studied Project but I assume Microsoft has found some way to computerize the computation of Gantt charts (which I taught myself from a $12 book, fifteen years ago) and other standard project management tools. I'm looking forward to learning it.

And something called "Visio" which I've heard of but am entirely unacquainted with. (A quick Google reveals that this is "diagramming" software. Okay. That's going to be interesting.)

And they offer a whopping amount of time off. Two weeks vacation, of course, plus five days of "personal" (euphemism for "sick") time. That's pretty standard. Health insurance plus vision and dental (neither of which I've had for ten years). A 401k. And a whopping 18 annual "holidays." Boggles the mind, doesn't it? Aside from the usual suspects, this company gets a number of nonstandard religious days off in a year. Because the owners--well, because they believe and they want to offer the time or something.

It's a ten-minute drive from home, so a shorter commute. Or, you know, 25 minutes on public transportation.

In the meantime, I'm not resting on the dubious laurel of having secured one interview. I've sent out eight more resumes and have hopes that one or more of those companies will find my qualifications interesting.

(Is it narrow-minded of me to reject some ads purely based on the companies that have placed them? I find myself avoiding national chains, large corporations, and companies I suspect, quite without foundation, of being "evil.")

Little else of amusement to report. Another spring storm is moving into the area. Precipitation isn't supposed to start until Thursday but they're forecasting around 6" for Denver on Friday. Sigh. If I'm going to have some enforced time off, why can't it be days drenched with sunshine and bathed in warmth? Why snowstorms?

I'm afraid my day didn't offer much in the way of blog-fodder. Unless you want to hear about how I gave myself a facial, a manicure, styled my new 'do and frowned dubiously at the red highlights the stylist thought would be "fun" for summer, and changed clothes four times trying for a balance between "mature professional" and "young enough to be fun to work with"?

Posted by AnneZook at 06:51 PM | Comments (2)



Monday, April 9, 2007
Later that same year....

"So, Anne," I can hear the throngs of frustrated readers asking. "Where the heck are you these days?"

"Here I am," I say, with a guilty twitch.

Sorry for the extended silence. After spending the first week of my unemployment cleaning and tidying like a fiend, I felt it incumbent (reasonably good word) upon me to spend time during my second week actually, you know, looking for a job. So, I spent some time sending out resumes last week.

Not like I did that one time, sending out to the ads that promised weird and interesting responses. Nope, this time I responded to real ads.

I suppose it's a reflection of how aggravated I got with Bernie's constant neuroses that the only things that really appealed to me the first three days were writing jobs. (I like the idea of a job where I just sit and type this kind of stuff, but the Sensible Me knows it won't pay.

I even have an interview! Think of me tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 MT, okay? I like the sound of this one. Let's hope the reality matches my imagination and that they find me the most suitable of all their applicants.

Also, winter returned last week and we had light snow Thursday and Friday and then Sunday, when they'd promised that the storm would move on out of here, we had heavier snow. Nothing radical. It was barely freezing most of the time, so the snow was melting almost as fast as it fell, but I got cranky about it.

What else?

Various yarn projects either finished, ripped out and restarted, or progressing normally.

Last week's gardening experiment seems to be bearing fruit. The seeds I planted have sprouted! Three in one pot and one in another. It's very exciting. I wonder if flowers will actually bloom at some point?

I revisited some of Eddings' earlier books and have decided that while the Belgariad is still interesting, it was in the Mallorean series that his writing started to get annoying. I had this vague impression that some of the things that are annoying me in The Dreamers were things that bothered me in his earlier books, so I went back to review them and I was right. He suffers from the flaw of finding some conversational tic or gambit really cute and repeating it ad nauseum.

Having decided that, I think I'll put his stuff down for a while and return to Cornwall's Sharpe series.

I still have the new Bradbury waiting to be read (Farewell Summer) but Dandelion Wine was such a seminal book for me that I'm really more than half-afraid to pick up a sequel, written so many years later, you know? A bad sequel can ruin the original book for you sometimes.

So far, no drawing practice. I did finish tidying up that last pile o'papers in my room, so that the drafting table would be clear to spread my drawing stuff out on (and found a letter to my niece that I thought I'd mailed a month ago) but I haven't gotten to the point of getting out the drawing supplies, much less working on anything.

Everything in my room is so tidy. I know that part of the reason I tidied it up so ruthlessly was so that I'd have room to spread out a project or two, but now that it's neat and clean, I'm reluctant to mess it up.

Today's schedule includes--very little. I drank coffee, showered, and ate breakfast. I checked the job sites and sent out two more resumes. At 3:00 I'm having my hair done in preparation for tomorrow's interview. At some point, I need to give myself a manicure. Today or tomorrow, I need to get back on the company's website and memorize all of the information there. Interviewing is a lot of work.

Other than that--nothing. I'm sorry I didn't have anything more interesting to share, after such a long absence, but the weather was icky, I'm still trying not to spend money carelessly, in case my unemployment lasts a while, and once you've said, "I sat in a chair and read for hours" that pretty much covers how I spent most of my weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)



Thursday, April 5, 2007

And Then There Was Love

First there's a sweet flare of chocolate. That's followed by a rich fruitiness that dissolves into mocha--a dusky taste of something that almost promises to become nutmeg. It goes on from there to deliver a mouth-filling rush of rich cocoa and an unexpected bite at the finish.

Chocolate, with benefits.

My latest indulgence is Häagen-Dazs' new Mayan Chocolate ice cream and it was a fabulous choice. Chocolate with cinnamon is one of those ideas you think could be interesting, but that you might have trouble mentally "tasting." Let me tell you, those Mayans knew what they were doing. A "match made in heaven" doesn't even begin to describe this astonishing combination.

It doesn't hurt that Häagen-Dazs holds no brief for the fad of "low-fat" when it comes to ice cream--something I'm eternally grateful for. I don't eat ice cream often and when I do, I love how the full-fat part of a good recipe adds body and richness to even 'ordinary' ice cream flavors. For the Mayan Chocolate, well, it would have been criminal to have short-changed this amazing flavor in any way. Put away your sauces, leave your nut toppings on the shelf, and don't even bother with that pre-fab whipped cream. This isn't an ice cream that needs or deserves to be drowned in lesser flavors.

Mmmm. Ice cream love!

I wish I was feeling some book-love these days. I've been trying Eddings' The Dreamers series. I got the first two books, but I'm not sure I'll buy any more. His Belgariad, etc. books were good in the beginning although some of Eddings' writing tricks were getting--tired, by the last trilogy. His writing, again, good enough in the first trilogy, was becoming labored, and his jokes belabored, by the end.

In The Dreamers, all of the things that became annoying about the first series are back, tripled and triply annoying. Along with some new irritants. Characters talking in dialect and bad jokes beaten into the ground are bad enough. For some reason, we keep revisiting the same scenes over and over in the new series, from the perspective of different characters. And for no particular reason, since none of the characters have any epiphanies or any unique reactions to events to warrant dragging us through the same scenes three or four times. (Eddings uses a sort of, "he saw this happen and then that happened and then that happened and then that happened" approach--we don't actually follow the characters through the scenes, it's all sort of expositioned at us.) I guess it's an easy way to pad out your word count, but it certainly slows the story down. I'm so bored right now I can't even remember why I cared enough about this series to buy a second book.

Anyhow. A quick visit to the bookstore yesterday netted me three more of Cornwall's Sharpe books. So far, that series isn't letting me down.

So, I hear you thinking, what have you been doing with this week's leisure time as an unemployed woman?

Not blogging, I guess.

The R.C. finally worked out her notice and now we're both without gainful employment. This has changed the rhythm of my days somewhat.

I haven't cleaned, washed, or tidied anything in four days. I have a significant need to do (more) laundry and, looking around, I see that both the kitchen and bathroom could use cleaning again.

Mostly, I get up and check the job sites, sending out resumes and giving my personal email a quick look, first thing in the morning.

At some point I have to exchange emails and/or IMs with Her. She jumps on me every time I'm on IM. I've started leaving IM turned off when I'm online in the mornings.

That job I finished for them the weekend after my last day--well, they finally went back to the client with it, the client made major changes, and She and I have been having something of a stand-off ever since as She tries to get me to do all of the recoding and I stand firm behind my belief that She should do it. I've agreed to do the "hard parts" for Her, against my better judgment since She has to learn sometime, but I'm telling myself to be gracious about it. She got pitched into this awfully fast, the learning curve on this job is steep anyhow, and (in my less-annoyed moments) I can acknowledge that She's trying.

I sent Bernie my last time-sheet yesterday. We'll see what happens. He should owe me for a week of pay, plus whatever accumulated vacation hours I had. If it doesn't show up in my checking account tomorrow, I'm done helping out.

No love for Bernie & Her.

It's amazing how quickly I've gotten used to not going to work, though. I mean, yes, I spend a fair amount of times on the jobsites in the mornings and would spend more if I wasn't being careful not to hog up the computer (the R.C. wants to use it too, after all) but other than that, it's less of a strain than I anticipated.

I should be freaking out, but I'm not.

Earlier this week we went to Home Depot (she said with the casual cool of someone who has plumbed the mysteries of Home Depot before and anyhow who didn’t go beyond the first aisle this week and so stood in no danger of getting--suborned). The R.C. and I each bought a plant and I picked up some saucers I needed for the planters I already had. Then we came home and she repotted and I planted seeds and now I'm waiting with breathless anticipation to see if anything sprouts. I've never grown anything from a seed before. It's very exciting.

So. What's the damage?

Home Depot. $11.50

The bookstore yesterday. $40

We were downtown one day, for lunch at The Market. I think that was Saturday. We also swung by The Cheesecake Factor and bought an entire 6" cheesecake! (I've never bought more than a slice of cheesecake before.) $8.00

Thinking. I think that's all the money I've spent so far this week. I went to the grocery store one day, and we had lunch a couple of times, but food comes out of a different budget. ("Cheesecake" doesn't count as food. It's definitely on the "extras" list.)

As always, bookstores remain the biggest item in my personal expenditures list. Still, I think I'm doing pretty well at not overspending.

I Hate Yarn (brief) Interval

I finished a shawl/shoulder wrap. I don't love it. The colors are fabulous (cobalt blue, vivid purple, separated by swaths of black) but I should have used a pattern. Still. It will be warm for whoever gets it, and that's the point, right?

Also, a light-blue and white scarf. Because I had a skein of light-blue left over and a handful of white.

Still working: A cobalt blue scarf, another scarf with that cream-and-pastel-mess yarn (to use up what I had left over) and another medium-blue afghan (to use up, etc.), which is looking like it's going to turn out to be huge. (And warm!) Another scarf (to use up, etc.) with the fabuloso variegated (dark blue through light purple) yarn that turned out to be less-attractive when worked than I'd hoped it would be.

Buying the just the right amount of yarn for a project is a problem for me.

I need to do more yarn stuff in the evenings. I may be doing well at not overspending, but I'm not doing at all well at not overeating. It's time to start keeping my hands busy again.

/end I Hate Yarn Interval

Lemmee see.... I've spent some time playing computer games. Watched a few DVDs. Got together with friends last Sunday to watch episodes of Supernatural, a show they both adore and that I'm indifferent to but I like getting together with them anyhow.

Next up on my list of things to do while I'm unemployed is to dig out the drawing supplies again (I can't find anything since I tidied my room so ruthlessly) and do some practicing.

I have a lot of things around here I could play with (and that I always think of wistfully, when I'm tied to the tyranny of a 9-5 job) and I'm going to try to get to all of them. If nothing else, playing with the toys I already own will help keep me from spending money I shouldn't spend.

And that's how my week has gone I hope yours as been equally as peaceful?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:07 AM | Comments (4)



Friday, March 30, 2007

L.O.L. - Day Five and no progress

Sorry for the silence. Today I was distracted from most of my usual unemployment pursuits.

I did no housecleaning, although I did run the dishwasher. I made chili. I'm going to go make cornbread here in a few minutes.

I checked the job sites and was unimpressed with the selection.

I spent a lot of time trying to get caught up on the online sites I used to love reading on a daily basis. I didn't get through even half of them, but it's a start, yes?

I think I was tired. Physically, I mean. I've done a lot of manual labor in the past few days, not to mention the tons of furniture and whatnot I shifted around while trying to make Bernie's new office habitable.

Today, finally, I was UNemployed. I did almost nothing, and did it all very slowly.

She's still IM'ing me to ask questions, but today's questions haven't been dumb ones, so I'm not aggravated. (Except that she wants step-by-step instructions for coding html. Which I can't provide. If Bernie didn't make basic html part of the job requirements, that's their problem.)

Mostly, I feel very lazy.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)



Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Unemployment Trail - Speaking of swindles

Would you think less of me if I were a professional money-launderer?

The company offering to pay me 5K a month to work part-time from home emailed in response to my resume to say that I'm just perfect for them. Sight-unseen, without even a phone call. There's minimal training, via email, and they'll pay me $3,600/month to start.

All I have to do is to accept payments from people I don't know, put them in my personal bank account, skim my bit off the top, and then transfer the money to a different account when asked so to do. They gave e-bay as an example but never claimed all or even any of the money was coming from e-bay transactions.

Tempting, no? I don't think they could put me in jail, either. I'd clearly have no idea of anything Naughty and no provable connection with the same.

I skim 8% off the top in addition to the salary, which is (I assume) where the $5k salary comes in.

I ask you. What legitimate company pays $5k a month for someone to handle, doing the math, $17,500 worth of business? None. I used to handle $500,000+ worth of business for one company. I didn't even make 10% of that, but I'm expected to believe this bunch wants to pay me 27% or 28%?

They sent a contract but it and the email I received were clearly not written by a native English speaker. You can get to their website (where they claim to be a bank-US, France, Netherlands, Ukraine--and isn't that an interesting combination?)) via direct link ("Welcome to Finincal Web Site!" it says), but Google never heard of them. They have pictures of their "team" (five fairly whitebread faces) and a Pennsylvania address.

People buy stuff, you see. Individuals buy yachts. Businesses do deals with other businesses. All of these folks need their money held in escrow from time to time. And this "bank" finds my checking account a more satisfactory form of escrow than, oh, I don't know, an escrow account.

You tell me. CIA front? Clumsy terr*rist organization? Mob money-laundering ploy?

Another company responded with an offer to set me up in my own business as a virtual office assistant.

They're going to provide me with everything I need to start my own business being an admin assistant from home and they assure me that all of the tasks I'm routinely expected to do as a full-time employee can be charged for separately when I'm a free-lancer. Which is probably true, but I left that rung of the employment ladder behind fifteen years ago and am not eager to return to it.

Admittedly I've answered a couple of ads more because they were weird and intriguing than because I was interested in the world they were offering, but this job-hunting process is turning out to be a lot more entertaining than I'd anticipated.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:14 PM | Comments (6)



L.O.L. - What a swindle

So, I finished the kitchen (except for the floor) and the bathroom (mostly) and vacuumed the living room and I can't go to Goodwill because I haven't showered yet and I'm icky.

As I look around the living room, I see that those two shelves full of tiny knick-knacks (I'm not a very knick-knacky person, but we all accumulate a few things as we go through life) are just filthy. They were on my To Do list for today but I don't care any more.

The mood is over

You know why? Because I went to strip the quilt off the bed so I could finally wash it and when I looked at the laundry basket in the closet, it's half-full again and I'm going to need to do laundry again tomorrow.

I did seven loads just a couple of days ago.

House cleaning? Is a cheat and a lie. There's no such thing as "clean." There are only rooms and articles of clothing in varying stages of decay. Entropy rules all.

The rest of my Lady of Leisure time is going to be devoted to job-hunting, practicing drawing, and the occasional stint of dusting when the filth starts to pile up.

It's snowing harder again now. Another good reason to put off going to Goodwill. Because I'm sulking at the insistent return of winter to my world.

I ate some yogurt and some cheese. Tonight I really have to go to the grocery store. (I'm thinking, it's winter again, right? Chili!)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)



L.O.L. - Day Four and We Remain UNemployed

Okay, who ordered the winter wonderland of snow for today? There's 6" of snow out there and it's still coming down. Because it's been so warm, it's melting as fast as it hits the streets, but still. I am doing Spring Cleaning. I can hardly get in the mood for Spring Cleaning if it looks like December outside my window.

Here are a couple of views from the balcony.

It's totally harshing my Spring Cleaning Vibe.

Oh, well. The fun "heavy, physical labor" part of the job is over anyhow. Nothing left but the actual cleaning, and that's year-round anyhow.

For those of you wondering if I've forgotten the "un" part of my UNemployment, no, I have not. I'm checking the job sites daily. So far without exciting results.

I found a job with my title (Account Executive) that looked fine except that it was offering 25% less than Bernie paid me, and he was already paying me 20% less than I'm accustomed to making.

Another job advertised under the category (it's sort of a catch-all title) was actually someone looking for a salesperson willing to make endless cold calls. I can do that, but it's hardly a skill and it's not really how I want to spend my days.

Another position offered $5k/month for part-time work. Yeah, like I'm going to believe that. They list it as salary but anything "part-time" in that salary range is going to be a sales position and largely dependent on commissions. No one pays you $5k month part-time to work from home. Sounds scammy to me.

Still. I applied for three or four openings. We'll see what happens.

The part-time writing jobs still look like more fun but no way I can live on $300/week.

Silly or not, though, I applied for a blogging gig. Part-time, of course. Spare time stuff. Blog where you've been in Denver. Restaurants, events, etc. Doesn't have a salary of course, just pay-by-hits on the ads, but it could be fun and obviously I'm In The Mood for blogging again these days. If they take a chance on me and I rake in $5/month or something, it's not the money, it's the fun of doing it that I'll focus on. (Again I regret not having any "writing samples" to show beyond the political blog, but whatever.)

In Old Work news, She IM'd me this morning. She has been making changes to a survey, the one I did some of the coding on for Her because She was afraid. She wanted to send me the updates. I've written back, reasonably politely, to remind Her that yes, I did the logic statements for Her but I didn't volunteer to do all of the text edits.

I don't mean to be cold, but She has to learn to do it herself.

While I have more and more doubts about Her ability to do the job (and certainly She won't be doing everything I did), She's what Bernie's got at the moment and She can learn the way I did. A bit of training, then being dumped into it headfirst and left to sink or swim.

I'm not abandoning her and I'm more than willing to answer any questions She has, but my agreement with Bernie did not cover me actually doing Her work. Just additional training time as needed.

And now I've avoided the truth for long enough.

It's time to clean something.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)



L.O.L. - Day Four and We Remain UNemployed

Okay, who ordered the winter wonderland of snow for today? There's 6" of snow out there and it's still coming down. Because it's been so warm, it's melting as fast as it hits the streets, but still. I am doing Spring Cleaning. I can hardly get in the mood for Spring Cleaning if it looks like December outside my window.

Here are a couple of views from the balcony.

It's totally harshing my Spring Cleaning Vibe.

Oh, well. The fun "heavy, physical labor" part of the job is over anyhow. Nothing left but the actual cleaning, and that's year-round anyhow.

For those of you wondering if I've forgotten the "un" part of my UNemployment, no, I have not. I'm checking the job sites daily. So far without exciting results.

I found a job with my title (Account Executive) that looked fine except that it was offering 25% less than Bernie paid me, and he was already paying me 20% less than I'm accustomed to making.

Another job advertised under the category (it's sort of a catch-all title) was actually someone looking for a salesperson willing to make endless cold calls. I can do that, but it's hardly a skill and it's not really how I want to spend my days.

Another position offered $5k/month for part-time work. Yeah, like I'm going to believe that. They list it as salary but anything "part-time" in that salary range is going to be a sales position and largely dependent on commissions. No one pays you $5k month part-time to work from home. Sounds scammy to me.

Still. I applied for three or four openings. We'll see what happens.

The part-time writing jobs still look like more fun but no way I can live on $300/week.

Silly or not, though, I applied for a blogging gig. Part-time, of course. Spare time stuff. Blog where you've been in Denver. Restaurants, events, etc. Doesn't have a salary of course, just pay-by-hits on the ads, but it could be fun and obviously I'm In The Mood for blogging again these days. If they take a chance on me and I rake in $5/month or something, it's not the money, it's the fun of doing it that I'll focus on. (Again I regret not having any "writing samples" to show beyond the political blog, but whatever.)

In Old Work news, She IM'd me this morning. She has been making changes to a survey, the one I did some of the coding on for Her because She was afraid. She wanted to send me the updates. I've written back, reasonably politely, to remind Her that yes, I did the logic statements for Her but I didn't volunteer to do all of the text edits.

I don't mean to be cold, but She has to learn to do it herself.

While I have more and more doubts about Her ability to do the job (and certainly She won't be doing everything I did), She's what Bernie's got at the moment and She can learn the way I did. A bit of training, then being dumped into it headfirst and left to sink or swim.

I'm not abandoning her and I'm more than willing to answer any questions She has, but my agreement with Bernie did not cover me actually doing Her work. Just additional training time as needed.

And now I've avoided the truth for long enough.

It's time to clean something.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

L.O.L. - Day Three (Things To Be Smug About Today Version)

The water problem corrected itself by the time I finished blogging about it. Now I could/should start cleaning.

Instead, I'm staring around my bedroom (how is it possible to spend three days cleaning out one room) in awe at the wreckage. I reassembled it yesterday evening so I could sleep on the bed, but today's efforts have created twice the chaos.

A bit later....

I have achieved shelves! I have achieved five shelves! Of varying sizes, yes, but all empty!

In the process, I dusted (Yes. Again. The R.C. was right. Having the place all opened up yesterday while I kicked up a lot of dust didn't mean the dust blew out the windows. It meant it settled on every surface again.) and cleaned baseboards as they were available.

Now I'm torn between running to the storage unit to recover some of the books I've had to leave in limbo and running to the bookstore to buy new books. (This is why The Great Clean-Out is an annual event.)

Much later....

Yesterday I rearranged books. Today I rearranged actual furniture as well. Now, the bedroom is done. Tidy, dusted, organized, and spacious.

At least, it's done if you don't look inside the closet. There's one pile o'stuff I just couldn't decide what to do with, so I shoved it into the chest that lives in the closet and told myself I'd worry about it another day. (Thus sowing the seeds of next year's Great Clean-Out.)

Now all I have to do is to make four trips to my car to load up all the stuff destined for Goodwill and that part of my Lady of Leisure To Do list is complete.

The bedroom. The room that I considered and laughingly assigned a mental two hours for when I was figuring what it would take to make this place actually tidy again.

Two minutes later....

I went to wash my hands and now I'm thinking, my god how did the bathroom get into such a filthy state?

This is a small apartment. Surely there has to come a point at which I declare it clean?

Maybe after I clean the bathroom and the kitchen, oil the woodwork, vacuum the living room (again), dust the living room (again) plant those Forget-Me-Not seeds the R.C. got at work yesterday, find a place for that planter to live, and figure out what do with the that one empty-and-yet-untidy empty shelf in the living room?

Then I'll have time to deal with the pile of Important Papers on the table in the bedroom and the pile of Important Papers on the table by my chair in the living room. (It will be nice to have a sit-down task.)

I think I'm changing my mind about the Joy of Leisure. I need to get a job so I can rest.

Also, I need food. My cupboard is relatively bare. There's some tuna salad in the refrigerator but I can't remember how long it's been there. Anyone know how long tuna salad will last in the refrigerator? I'm not sure my usual, "if it's not growing fungus, it's edible" refrigerator theory is really applicable to fish-based products. As near as I can figure, it's been ten or twelve days or so, so I put it in the trash. Just in case.

Fortunately I have both bread and cheese. If one has bread and cheese, one has a toasted cheese sandwich in their future, and that's a happy thought. (Mammoth Cave Aged Cheddar, courtesy, except not really because we paid for it, of Whole Foods. Mmmm.)

(That kitchen is just disgusting. Why doesn't someone clean it?)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)




L.O.L. - Day Three

A couple more ruthless passes across a couple of bookshelves and I think the Great Clean-Out is done.

Now starts the Great Clean-UP, except--not.

Being at home all day has its interesting moments. Yesterday it was the lawn service with their BRRRRR machines, making the day hideous for hours as those of us Enjoying Leisure were attempting to open all of our doors and windows and let the fresh, spring air in.

Today, we seem to lack one essential component that today's To Do list requires. Water.

Can't clean without water.

Can't quit and take a shower. No water.

Can't sit back and relax for a while with a second pot of coffee. No water.

Can't stop ignoring that last load of laundry and get it finished. No water.

Can't just give up and go somewhere else. I've been cleaning for the past 90 minutes and I need a shower.

I finally got some "leisure" in my Days of Leisure and I'm too filthy to do anything but stand still in the middle of the floor.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Lady of Leisure - Day Two

11:00 and I've done none of my Leisure-Time projects. I finished up the last of the work I brought home to do for Her, though, so that's something. I "owed" Bernie 10 hours when I left last Friday. Now it's down to seven. :D I look upon it as working off my debt to society.

I've got two loads of laundry in and two more to do when those are done. (This will be the first time I've had to wash that hand-made quilt my mother and her sisters sent me. I'm crossing my fingers that those burgundy panels are color-fast.)

Yesterday I got all side-tracked on tidying instead of cleaning. I'm still there today. Working on my second box of books for Goodwill at the moment.

(She's IMing me. She's been IMing me all morning. She couldn't remember the password for the mail system that was written down right in front of Her and when I gave it to Her a second time, She logged in, didn't instantly see a flashing message explaining Her problem, declared it beyond Her capabilities, and called the on-call tech support guy. Bernie's going to love getting the bill for that.) (Now, Bernie has questions about another project and wants me to call him.) (And, yes, al of this is going down on my sheet against the time I "owe" Bernie.)

Third load of laundry in. Second box of books full. Starting on a third box.

I'm at the point where I honestly can't tell if I'm eliminating the mess in my bedroom or just moving it from one place to another?

I'm moving the books around (which is where the "mess gone, or just moved?" question comes in) to try and make those left-over-from-my-poverty-stricken-youth black plastic bookcases look less nasty. I should just replace them with the better quality black steel ones I found. (Not as utilitarian as they sound.). The metal ones hold twice the books in less space. But I'm unemployed and not spending extra money right now, right?

I've made a gross mess in my bedroom (she said with a certain morbid satisfaction). I can't even walk in there. Boxes o'stuff for Goodwill, a giant trash bag, that last load of laundry on the floor. What on earth possessed me to start a week-long project at a time when I could logically offer only a day or two of part-time effort?

Sping! I'm spring-cleaning!

I can't believe it's after 1:00 and I'm still working on bookshelves.

Give until it hurts. That's what they say, right?

I'm willing to suffer a few pangs, but not actual pain. I might not read all of Dickens every year, but that's no reason not to keep those books. Ditto for Tey, Bradbury, LeCarré, Trollope, Williams (Charles), Crispin, Doyle (and other gaslight-era detective novelists), Twain, Sayer, Smith (E.E. "Doc"), etc.

And then there's the stuff in storage. 20 years of Heinlein, Asimov, all my favorite "children's" books (including a rare copy of a rare Baum book), and who knows what else?

And yet, the bookshelves are still loaded.

It would seem clear that I have been insufficiently ruthless.

Back to the bedroom....

Posted by AnneZook at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)



Monday, March 26, 2007

Wherein I am a Lady Of Leisure and Day 1 continues

I have three loads of laundry in now and I need to reload my laundry card before I can do any more. Looking over the piles in my bedroom floor, I'm guessing three more loads. Who knew I was such a dirty person? (Seriously. Doing everything at once, rugs, comforter, towels, sheets, and clothes, makes a lot of laundry).

Sigh. I've started the Great Tidy-Up of '07. Cleaning out the stuff I've allowed to accumulate on table-tops over the last month, smug in the knowledge that soon I would have time to deal with it all.

Bottom line? Books. More books will have to go. I have six bookcases in my bedroom, an over-the-door bookshelf on the bedroom door, two rows of books lining the 10' linen/storage shelf in the bedroom closet, and three boxes of books stored in the floor of the closet. I have no idea how many books I have in storage, but a conservative guess is 6-8 large cartons. Although it will wring the very lifeblood from my heart, it's time to clear some of them out.

Some will wring less than others.

Those Gemmell books I talked about recently. I can Goodwill those without a qualm.

The Robin Hobbs books I just finished a few days ago. Nine books I read. About 7,200 pages. And then the ending was just stupid. I'm tempted to write a warning note inside the flap of the first one, but not everyone reads critically.

You take a chance when you trust an author--if they're writing a long series, you fasten plot points and things that seem to point to major character development in your mind as you go and trust that they'll make sense of it all, that the author is going somewhere with it all in the end. With the Hobbs books, it's not that I didn't care for where she went with it. It's that I discovered on the last page that she hadn't been going anywhere in particular. I can't believe I wasted two weeks of my life on that. (Also? If you spend 2000+ pages writing a love story between two characters? Having them wave bye-bye and go off to their separate ways with barely an angsty qualm? Will annoy your readers. If you're going to separate them and they're not going to care that much, don't bother with the love story. I don't require a love story in the books I read, but if you include one and make it the centerpiece of 2000 pages of writing, it had better matter.)

(If I buy make-up from my local Walgreens drugstore and I don't like it? I can return it for a refund. Why can't I return a book that turns out to be stupid and get a refund?)

A handful of airport books can go. (The kind of stuff you buy in airports when you're desperate for something more to read after they announced the third hour-long delay of your flight. That sort of thing. I carry a lot of books with me when I travel, but it takes a lot of books to give me enough to read for five or six consecutive hours.)

Books I read and enjoyed but would likely never read again. Cook's Tour, for example. The Way of All Flesh for another. Many books are readable, but they're not all re-readable.

Sigh. I'd allotted myself one day to do my cleaning and tidying. Tomorrow I need to get onto the job-hunting trail. Looks like I'll be spending the intervals between reading ads and responding to them in the actual cleaning I didn't get to today.

I just checked my work email, as I agreed with Bernie I'd keep doing this week, only to find that She has gone in and changed the layout and suchlike. I sent Her a polite email essentially saying, "keep yer mitts to yerself." It bounced. I tried again. Bounced. Now I gotta decide whether or not to call her and warn that she needs to clean out the spam account.

Decisions, decisions....

Ohmigod. She just IM'd me. She can't get Word to open a txt file She created with one of their proprietary software programs.

30 seconds of troubleshooting and I find that She just changed the document extension and assumed that's all she needed to do. The brain. Boggles.

Her resume claimed extensive familiarity with the standard office software programs they use, including the Microsoft suite and QuickBooks. She lied.

Last week, She had me show Her how to create an invoice in QB three times (you click the button that says, "invoice") and now She doesn't know what file extensions mean?

Then She wanted to know how to get to the relevant folder on Her hard drive. That you could change directories in the "file open" dialogue box seems to have surprised Her.

She was saying She couldn't get into this or that program today because She forgot Her notebook with the passwords She'd written down. I had to remind Her that I left Her three indexed notebooks with URLs, passwords, user names, and everything necessary.

Bernie? You hired an idiot.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)




Wherein I am a Lady Of Leisure, Day 1

Pursuant (such a great word) to both that and the job hunting process, I ego-surfed myself today. It's a thing I've heard that others do frequently but not something I normally think to do for myself.

Glancing at the job sites this morning, it occurred to me that I might find part-time work writing for someone online, a thing I could do from (gulp) Missouri if I had to. I could take the laptop and get myself some kind of dial-up account. (So primitive.)

Granted, I lack most of the qualifications of a writer, never having published and not being able to provide a Serious Body of Work to prove my bona fides but most internet sites aren't looking for weighty prose, they're looking for readability and I think I could achieve that with some advance thought and attention. (Also? I'm not finding anything attractive to me in the "regular" job categories.) (Not that I'm looking exactly, since I promised myself a couple of days off, but....)

Anyhow. I ego-surfed myself and of course Peevish came up all over the place. (All three times I've ego surfed myself, I pop up right at the top of Google's hitlist. (People complain about how hard it is to get noticed on the internet and I don't understand that. I've never been able to stay below the radar.) That's about all I have online to show my "writing experience" and I'm not sure a personal blog I abandoned is really the ideal demo to offer but whatever..

I guess can live with anyone who Googles to find my writing experience finding that blog. If that happened, it might just be wise for me to be grateful that anyone considered my job application that seriously. It's not like I have to worry about them reading every post and finding the times when I went grossly over the top or posted without benefit of proofreading. (Okay, I worry a little.) I can also live with the idea that a potential employer who turns out to be a right-winger or a fundamentalist passing on hiring me.

I'm boring when I'm unemployed, aren't I? I warned you.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:45 AM | Comments (2)




Plans For My Life

Here I am. Free! It's an odd feeling but kind of a nice one.

*does a little dance*

I've already heard from Her, via email this morning. She asked for my IM address because she'd left it at home this morning and wanted it in case She needed me. Since I not only wrote it down for Her on a sticky note on Friday, pasting it to the side of the computer monitor, but went ahead and plugged it into Her "co-workers" buddy list, I'm guessing She lied when I asked Her if She needed a quick how-to on using IMs and She said, "No."

I have/had plans for this little interval of unemployment. Beyond finding a job, I mean. I had plans to take a couple of days off before I even started the job search. There are Things I Wanted To Do.

Like massive amounts of laundry. I want to wash everything I own and have it all clean, all at once.

And cleaning. I want to scrub right into the corners of this place. It's spring-cleaning time and my fingers are itching to be at it.

And throwing out. Both my room and the storage unit are littered with boxes full of things I don't care about and would never look at again. I need to dig those out and get rid of them. Spring cleaning! Everything (unwanted) must go!

And sleeping. I have got to stop being so careless with my meds. I've had killer insomnia for the last week.

I'm not getting all of today's To Do list done because I'm distracted. Worrying about my mother. Based on an email I got from the L-i-K-S today, I may have to forego my plans to become re-employed as quickly as possible (thereby salvaging my retirement savings plan and not digging myself into a financial hole it will take me five years to dig back out of) in favor of spending most of my carefully hoarded funds to fly to Missouri and spend a couple of weeks with my mother.

Okay. Time to be "productive" for a while.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)