Sunday, August 31, 2008

November cannot come soon enough!

The news this weekend is grim for proponents of democracy. Thank you, Dr Momentum for Twittering about this.

Apparently the GOP can't stomach the idea of protesters spoiling their party in St Paul by highlighting the failures of the current administration. This weekend, St Paul Police raided homes of potential RNC protesters. Police surrounded one house for two hours while they waited for a warrant, informing residents that anyone who attempted to leave would be arrested

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, really. According to MN Blue, a site which follows Minnesota politics, at recent Republican national conventions, police have been overstepping boundaries, using violent crowd tactics on peaceful protesters resulting in rightfully huge damage judgments. An update to the story on MN Blue describes items confiscated from raided homes. MN Blue questions whether there was just cause in these cases. And, also questions if those who were harassed really are the individuals they should be worried about.

At least we'll have less GOP posturing to put up with as the result of Gustav barreling into the Gulf Coast. Bush and Cheney are passing on the convention because of the impending hurricane. Maybe we'll get lucky and the two of them will go down there to witness the potential destruction first hand? Doubtful, but I can dream can't I?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A little something about meme

I'm carrying this on from Barbie2be.

Maybe I should - go cold turkey on all my consumption vices so I can drop all the weight I've gained back over the past two years.
I love the smell of - a warm chlorinated pool.
People would say that I - am exceptionally impatient.
I don’t understand why - people seem compelled to talk on their cell phones in public constantly for mundane reasons.
I lost - fifty pounds and then gained thirty of it back.
Life is - too short to spend it doing so many pointless and unimportant things.
My past - got me where I am; I'm not proud of some of it. However, some of it taught me valuable lessons, and some of it I'll always cherish.
I get annoyed - with stupid people (and sadly there are a lot of them out there)
My idea of a good time is - spending time with good friends and making each other laugh until tears roll down our faces.
I wish - my chronic pain issues would just be gone one day so I could get on with my life with fresh eyes.
Twins are - scary.
Dust bunnies - are everywhere.
Tomorrow I’m going to - work on my son's computer, do some crafting, exercise, and generally have a very mellow Sunday.
I have low tolerance for - stupid people.
I’m totally terrified of - public speaking.
I wonder why - shopping makes me happy, even though I know that having stuff does not make me happy.
Never in my life have I - ridden a horse.
High school was - a wasted opportunity. I would love to have a "Peggy Sue Got Married" chance to go back and do it all over knowing that none of the petty stuff really mattered.
When I’m nervous - I chew on my cuticles.
One time at a family gathering - I hid out in the bedroom for an hour.
Take my advice: Smile when you really don't feel like it. Sometimes, it helps you feel like it!
Taking a good picture - makes me feel like I've done something creative.
I’m almost always - in some kind of pain.
I’m addicted to - way, way, too many things to list comfortably. It's scary.
I want someone to - take care of me for just a little while. (Stolen from someone else's list, because it really is the perfect sentiment.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

And then there is Hope

I think this piece embodies what the majority of Obama supporters see when they look at him.

I am a bit jaded. I believe that he still is a politician, with all the requisite flaws. However, I have some Hope based on this movement. Whether or not Obama is the man that his followers think that HE is, his followers may be the voices that spur that change.

I think that Barack Obama's campaign is less about him than about the ideals that it embodies and attracts. May this movement bring out the best in each of us. Then, may each of us do our part to bring the envisioned changes into being.

Mixed days

I am all things to all people at work. Plus we've seen a massive spike in systems exposed to malware this week. My boss has been great. He's terribly overburdened himself, but he totally realizes that I'm wearing too many hats. So, today I told him about 'the interview'. He totally gets my need for an environment that is supportive to professional development. He said that he's trying to get his management to drink that Kool Aid. He also has put in for at least one new person on our team, and possibly two.

He asked me what role I would least mind giving up primary responsibility for if we got another senior level person. Today, I said that I really didn't care, but to please take something! I like all the things that I do. There really is just too much to do and not enough hours in the day. And, no one with enough experience to delegate things to.

In theory, I had off on Monday as a comp day for last weekend. And then, I was supposed to take leave yesterday afternoon. When I added up my hours this morning for my weekly status report, I realized that I didn't have to take vacation time. I had worked enough hours last weekend and half of Monday and a few hours extra each day. So, I'd gone way over 40 already. Someday, I'll have a massive vacation available? (Right? HA!)

I've put on fifteen pounds since Xmas due to self-indulgence in response to stress. I want it gone by this Xmas. Somehow, I need to get enough control of my life overall so that I can exert some control over my caloric weaknesses. When you're a foody who is stressing, you really cannot fathom a low-carb, low-fat, life style (nor a low alchohol one).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Best interview ever

So, the key to having a great interview is not caring if you get the job but to look at the encounter as an opportunity to network. What a liberating experience!

After I met with several different people from the department I'd be working in (assuming I got the job), the manager asked me if the job sounded like a good fit. I asked her a few questions and then said, "Probably not." I then explained that I felt that I was a bit more experienced than the level one vacant position needed. She jotted a bunch of notes, and then asked me if a level two position were available if that would be a better fit, and I said that it probably would be. I reminded her of my years of experience and my current level of responsibility. She wrote a bunch of notes. We continued to talk. I said that I really enjoyed learning about their organization and that maybe we could help each other out in the near future. She seemed genuinely glad to have spoken to me, and passed me off to another person to talk to.

Two people later, I got to meet with the assistant department head. We had a wonderful conversation. Lots of similar experiences and viewpoints. She seemed to have gotten the word that I wasn't all that interested in the vacant position, so she started feeling me out for what I was interested in doing. She describe the other responsibilities of her department, and we talked about potential fits. As we ended our meeting she shook my hand and warmly said, "We'll be talking to you soon."

The Fates are very strange, indeed. I have never had such a positive interview experience. Everyone seemed very interested in my experience. I spoke their language. I understood their problems. I was totally comfortable with everyone and everyone seemed totally comfortable with me (had lunch with one guy, and had humorous and intelligent conversations with two other gentlemen). I'm not terribly anxious to change jobs at the moment. The place I interviewed at has a lot to offer. They also are just as dysfunctional (if not more) than the place that I currently work. If they offer me an interesting sounding position for a significant pile of cash, I will have some hard thinking to do.

So, when you are desperately looking for a job, you are screwed. When you don't care, you get people practically falling over themselves to figure out how they can get you in their organization.

The universe is a very interesting place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ambivalent interviewing

I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon, that kind of came out of the blue. I'd applied for several positions at M+ (an organization very similar to ours about 10 minutes closer to home) a few months back when I was really unhappy at the direction my current organization (disorganization) was taking. We have since gotten a new team lead, and things are looking WAY up.

So, of course, the Fates see fit to have M+ call me for an interview, and for them to sound VERY interested in talking to me.

I'm not really interested in leaving my current position. However, exploring other possibilities is always a good thing. Keeps you sharp, and gives you a chance to think about what else you might be doing career-wise.

M+ sent over an actual job application. I filled out the very minimum amount of information. They want job descriptions and salary for past jobs. I don't really remember what I made fifteen years ago, for crying out loud. And, I've already thoroughly described my past jobs on my resume. Maybe I'll print out a couple of copies and table the descriptions into the job application. It'd certainly be easier to read than my chicken scratch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Apologies to Shawn Johnson

While watching the Olympics, my husband started referring to Shawn Johnson as Sandy Cheeks. He said she reminded him of the squirrel character from Sponge Bob. Sadly, the link is now in my mind.

Shawn, I am SO sorry, but there is kind of a resemblance. At least Sandy is also known for her athleticism!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


In tapping Biden as his running mate, some say that Obama's choice shows a lack of confidence, or a willingness to stray from his promise of change. I think it shows that Obama realizes that he needs to bring some experience into his freshman ticket. Biden's liberal record is very close in alignment to Obama's vision, so I see no betrayal here. By picking someone from "the inside" Obama has a better chance at getting heard on Capitol Hill.

It will be very interesting now to see who McCain picks. Will he align himself with a former foe (Romney) known for his fundraising prowess, a popular moderate (Lieberman) to attract independents who've recently fallen out-of-love with McCain's sudden shift to the right, or a known conservative (such as Huckabee) to accentuate the difference between the democratic and Republican tickets. There's an interesting discussion of the contenders which includes the the Vegas odds for each choice.

The Olympics finish up on Sunday night. The Democratic Convention starts Monday night. So, we'll all still have games to watch!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Super Sad - Sax player in Dave Matthews Band has died

Sax player in Dave Matthews Band has died - Music-

I absolutely love the Dave Matthews Band. This was very sad news to hear. Forty-six is too young for anyone to die. My heart goes out to Dave and the Band and LeRoi's family.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My brother did NOT fall off the planet

My wonderful brother moved to Paris in May. I haven't heard much from him, and I was getting grumpy about it. So, last night I emailed him to say "WTF?" Low and behold, he (mostly my sister-in-law) had been corresponding with me, but had been sending it to the wrong email address!

If you want to read what life is like for new ex-Pats in Paris check out Monkeys in Paris. Despite some frustrations with the transition, I'm still pretty jealous of their brave move and adventurous spirit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympics, post #2 - WOW!

We have been Olympic watching fiends the last few days. Our favorite events are gymnastics and swimming, and we have not been disappointed by the results. In swimming our team has been awesome particularly Phelps AND Torres. Yes, Torres. Everyone knows what a fabulous performance Michael Phelps has given in this Olympics (a record 8 gold in one Olympic meeting). However, Dara Torres has done the unbelievable. Here's the summary from NBC's bio of her:

Dara Torres won her 10th Olympic medal in Beijing when she anchored the 4x100m freestyle relay to a silver medal in the first session of finals. Torres now has five medals in that event alone: three gold, one silver and one bronze, and she is the only swimmer to win a medal in five Olympics. Her split on the relay was the second-fastest in history at 52.44, behind only Libby Trickett, whose 52.34 in the same race secured bronze for Australia. At age 41, she's oldest Olympic swimming medalist in history and the only swimmer to win a medal in five Olympics.

Over 40 does not mean over the hill. Congratulations Dara!

In gymnastics, both our teams won medals, even if they weren't gold. However, it was thrilling to see Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson win the all around gold and silver. The first time the US has taken two spots in the all around medals, I think. We're looking forward to both men and women's individual apparatus competitions now.

What a summer!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics, post #1

We're watching the Olympics in TiVo-time-delay. We records the repeats that are being run between midnight and 6am. Primarily, we are interested in gymnastics and swimming (at this point). We have been thoroughly impressed by the American men's swimming and gymnastics. However, the Chinese men's gymnastics have been fabulous. The American women's swimming has been a good effort too.

We were really impressed last weekend by the women's weightlifting. We keep hoping for a view into the Judo competitions. So far, nothing. At some point we'll watch some of the track and field.

I've been a fan of televised Olympics since I was in grade school. Go U.S.A.!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Strange weekend: Milestones, Food, Music, oh my.

OK. On the entertainment front it has been a surreal weekend: Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes died. And, Madonna turned 50!!!

On the other hand, I had a pleasant weekend of cooking. Yes, cooking. I like to cook. Partially because I like to eat. But also because I like the process of cooking. It relaxes me. This weekend, I made buttermilk biscuits, rattatoui, and whole wheat cinnamon raisin muffins. I also picked a big bag of lettuce from my patio garden just a few hours before a freak hail storm destroyed my plants.

We watched some of the Olympics this weekend too. Men's gymnastics, men's swimming, and women's weightlifting, were the highlights for us. The Chinese really have an edge in the men's gymnastics.

I'm working on converting over my music from Yahoo Unlimited to Rhapsody. It really wasn't my choice. Yahoo sold out to Real Media. It looks like it'll probably work out ok though. I do like that I can access my Rhapsody account on my TiVo box. And, Summer has got me working on my 'top 100' songs of all time, which is currently well over 200!

We watched the season finale of Doctor Who (WOW!). We also watched another episode of the old BBC series Spaced (strange but highly amusing). Then, we watched "Mad Money" with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. Highly recommended conspiracy comedy. (Betcha didn't know THAT was a genre.)

Still working on meal planning, with the goal of cleaning out our freezer and pantry. The grocery bill was nearly half this week what it was a few weeks ago. After listening to "The Omnivore's Dilemma" the bill may continue to be lower (or a lot higher ... since the only way I'm eating meat is if it's grass-fed and free range, which is way more expensive).

I'm sure this week will be busy at work. However, last week was one of the most wretched on record. So, I'm looking on the bright side. Statistically speaking, this week will probably be better. If not, I can look back at last week with a nostalgic eye.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Time to eat less meat?

A while back I started reading "An Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. It floated to the top of the pile again this week as I became more thoughtful about what was in our freezer and pantry. The chapter covering the feed lots where cattle spend the last miserable months of their lives was disturbing on so many levels. The conditions the animals live in is not just inhumane to the animals, it's unhealthy to those of us who consume their flesh after their slaughter.

Feed lot cattle spend most of their time standing around in their own manure. Microbes that live in the manure often end up on the hides of the animals. When the animals leave the feed lot for the slaughter houses, they are processed so quickly that the microbes from their hides sometimes end up in the meat.

That's probably what happened here: More Nebraska Beef recalled

Before reading this story, I told my husband that reading Omnivore's Dilemma had me wanting to limit my meat consumption. Whenever possible I think we'll be switching to grass-fed free range beef, and free range chicken. Meat raised by small scale producers is nearly three times as expensive as industrially processed meat. However, our health and the health of the planet are worth it.

As to 'the planet' part: the amount of fossil fuels invovled in the feeding and production of industrial meat is just astounding. Every time you eat a hamburger you are indirectly consuming gallons and gallons of crude oil.

I highly recommend this book. But first, go watch "King Corn". It's a fun documentary that scratches the surface of the root of our hidden food crisis. Nearly every processed food we eat relies on the production of #2 field corn. This corn costs more to grow than the farmers can get for it, so the government pays farmers a fixed price per bushel to assure that they get at least a pittance for their effort. Most corn farmers are not making a living at farming. They have second jobs, or they rely on the second income from their wives' jobs.

It's all very depressing.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Summer playlist

I couldn't find any site that would actually let me easily share my current playlist here, so we'll just have to pretend:

  • Hey Man by the Eels

  • There Ain't A Girl Alive by Joan Armitrading

  • Ashes and Wine by A Fine Frenzy

  • Poetry Man by Queen Latifah

  • Old Shit/New Shit by the Eels

  • Wicked Game by Giant Drag

  • Wind Blow by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

  • Rehab by Amy Winehouse

  • Sittin' At A Bar by Rehab

  • My Way by Los Lonely Boys

  • Other Ways by Trevor Hall

  • Lucky Man by The Verve

  • For You I Will by Teddy Geiger

  • This is Your Life by Low vs Diamond

  • Fake Emprie by The National

  • 1234 by Feist

  • Kindly Unspoken by Kate Voegele

  • Over You by Daughtry

  • I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry

  • Dracula From Houston by Butthole Surfers

  • Hallelujah by John Cale

  • I'm Shipping Up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphys

  • Handlebars by Flobots

  • Trying to Lose My Mind by Matt Costa

  • Apologize by One Republic

  • Love Song by Sara Bareilles

  • Apologize by Timbaland

Some are a little older, but most are from this calendar year. Not bad for an old lady, huh?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Things are rocky all over

I nearly had an accident when I saw this sign over the weekend. I enjoyed it so much, I had to go back with my camera so I could share it with all of you.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Laundry-loving kitty

Our neurotic cat has a new hobby of late, dragging dirty laundry up from the basement and depositing it around the house. He is especially fond of the dining room. There's nothing like coming home in the evening to dirty skivies in the dining room. One day last week, I gathered up all the dirty laundry he had redistributed during the day. It was a particularly huge haul. See:

I really want a web cam to capture him dragging this stuff up the basement stairs. The beach towel would have been particularly impressive to see.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Meal planning

I am a compulsive list maker. I often make the same lists two or three times in a twenty four hour period. The act of writing things down helps me remember more than referring to a list that I've made. When I'm in school, taking notes is more important than studying words on a page. And, like the majority of learners, I retain better from hearing rather than reading (especially if I'm writing down what I hear). But, I digress from my intended topic.

I have spent significant cycles this summer to cleaning and organizing my house. One area that has been sorely in need of such attention is our food storage areas. We are like squirrels, constantly accumulating things and stashing them away (not just food, but we DO excel at food accumulation and storage).

I decided to clean a cupboard this morning that had a sticky shelf, due to a syrup leak. Once I got started on that shelf, I realized how much stuff was in that particular cupboard. In our defense, the cupboard is one of those stupid corner cupboards where you really can't see what's in the back half of it. However, I have an idea how to improve that situation as well.

Seeing all the food on the counter after I cleaned out the cupboard reminded me of all the aging food in our freezer. So, I made a resolution to plan our meals for the week so that each meal would include at least one item from what was currently in our freezer or that problematic corner cupboard. I made a meal plan, and then I made the grocery list.

The grocery list only had two new main course items on it (hot dogs and ground turkey and macaroni - for a casserole I plan to make tomorrow while I'm working from home). The rest of our main courses would be from our stores. I figure we'll need to do this for about three weeks to turnover all the aging food from the freezer and cupboard.

We also have a large pantry at the top of our basement. This one gets turned over pretty well since we can see everything that's in it. I really LOVE this pantry. (Thank you, Goblin, for building it for me.)

I won't bore you with my meal plan for the week. It's not like they are supremely healthy or anything. It's oriented towards a different goal: getting our food storage under control.

Who knows, maybe our grocery bills will be a little smaller for a few weeks.