There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
You are very welcome here, so feel free to comment and contribute!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dog Insanity

Gwynneth, the blind corgi, has been barking her head off lately, which sends the other dogs into frenzies. Buddy mainly barks if a person is visible, or comes to the door, which is bad, but not constant. Gwynnie, on the other hand, barks if she hears anything at all. A door opens. The wind blows. One of the other dogs moves in a way she doesn't like. And if she gets real agitated and it upsets Buddy, then the pug starts making these hysterical howls and even Rose, the "quiet" one starts in. It's worse when Lee isn't here. All the barking settles when he is here.

Today, after Gwynneth started in on erupting every 5 minutes, and would not stop when I said to, I put her in her kennel. I am going to try a new system of putting her in the kennel for a few hours in the morning, letting her out in the early afternoon, and then putting her back in during the horrible, awful hours when kids are coming home from school and adults coming home from work. She is much quieter in the kennel. I think she can't sense things as often from there in the back of the house.

I hope this works. The dogs are pretty good nowadays other than the barking. It is hard to rest or concentrate on trying to find work or doing house stuff.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #8 and Food

Gosh, I had really hoped to not hit 8 job seeker blogs! And there's really nothing to report, either. I did apply to 6 different jobs yesterday. And one was a state job where you have to fill out the forms manually, in great detail. What a pain. Naturally, I will hear nothing back. Oh, not true, one recruiter did respond with surprise that I am still looking. Well it surprises ME as well.

One good thing about not working is that I have a lot more time to cook and try new recipes. Last night I made a version of chicken and dumplings, somewhat based on a recipe I found online, but of course I digressed greatly. It came out Mexican.

The BEST discovery was that if you cut flour tortillas into strips and cook them in a stew, they become practically indistinguishable from the dumplings my mom used to make out of rolled-out biscuit dough. They were great! What I did was cook up some chicken tenders I found in the freezer, and some leftover turkey. At the same time I cooked some onion and celery. Once the chicken was cooked a bit, I shredded it up with a spatula and combined the two things into one pan. I then added 2 cups of chicken broth and (this will either sound yummy or awful) a can of cream of mushroom soup AND a can of cream of poblano pepper soup. That is what made it Mexican. I also added a can of plain corn (I would have used frozen but didn't have any). I found a hot pepper Lee had grown in the freezer and added it for some zestiness. I just let all that stuff cook, and added some spices. Um. Cilantro and something. And a wee bit of salt and pepper. About 20 minutes before serving, I added the sliced tortillas. Well, it was good! Our visitor, Jody, even asked for the recipe. OK, that was it, Jody.

I also made a recipe for banana bread with cream cheese in it that I found. It was so good that it is already gone. So I will need to make Amish friendship bread from the starter I got last week at choir. I have to look for a recipe for that, too, since the one my friend gave me called for a box of pudding. I know you don't need pudding in the normal recipe for that. I do have one pudding left over from the teeth pulling adventure, though.

Wow, isn't my life EXCITING these days?? Let's just hope our friends at the unemployment office find it in their hearts to pay me something soon. I have no idea what their schedule is. They paid me twice in 5 days then nothing since.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flower Power

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Uh huh. Sure. Being a snapdragon means I am a mischievous friend who makes people laugh. That is better than some. I guess pansy wasn't an option.

Nothing new here. So far the highlight of the day has been putting my unemployment money in my checking account, so I think I can contain the excitement. I didn't sleep much, due to some stupid itching issue I get when the air in the house is really dry.

I'll go knit now. But I will leave you with a link to a really interesting article on religion and politics by Bill Moyers. It reminded me that the right wing aren't the only ones with Christian agendas in the US. You can't really be a viable candidate without one. Glad Tuba Boy left this open on my computer this morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend Snooze

It's been a less than stellar weekend, but at least things got accomplished. Oh, it really hasn't been that bad--I just let the job woes color everything, which is never a good idea.

One reason it's felt weird is that Tuba Boy has not been around practically at all. He had a debate tournament on Friday and Saturday, a "lock in" at church Friday night, then church stuff all day today. He just got home and we had our first conversation since Thursday! I'm glad he is doing the Our Whole Lives sexuality education curriculum at church this year. It's his last chance during high school. I'm even happier because I got to see an old and dear friend at the parent orientation. One of the people the church mess *I* went through had lost to me. The group of kids seems like it will be fun, and there are some good teachers. I hope he gets to finish it this time--he didn't last time he took it, in middle school (it was during the complicated divorce time).

But, while Tuba Boy was gone, the rest of us did some fun stuff. Lee, Beccano and I had a nice Chinese dinner on Friday, then went to IKEA, just for something to do. B. had never been there before, and Lee and I both really enjoyed watching him take in all the sights. He had many home decor ideas--what fun to see his taste developing. I got an inexpensive press coffee maker to use while Lee isn't drinking coffee (he figured out it is taking his blood pressure from normal to borderline high). And some candles. Not wild spending, but I have to be so careful right now!

Yesterday featured the usual teaching of knitting, and that was pleasant--really nice ladies who were great learners. Plus two of my favorite knitting friends showed up and we had calm, cheerful conversation. It was just a nice pleasant interlude.

After that, I realized it was finally sunny and not cold (had rained/fogged all week, and boy am I tired of cleaning up dog footprints in the kitchen). I came home and worked in the yard for a couple of hours. Got old plant matter cleared out so the new can show up, and raked an incredible amount of leaves out of the flower bed where the burr oak is. Every plant in that bed seems to be designed to make leaf removal impossible, too. But, it looks really good in the front yard now, and I feel a lot better seeing some visible results of my efforts. Lee, in the meantime, got a ton of work done in the garage, so those results are also great to see. The motorcycle is back in the garage (whew--I figure the home owner association would be writing us about it soon).

In the meantime, while I was at the yarn shop, Beccano straightened his hair. The photo depicts him attempting to project teen angst. I just about burst a gut watching him do various tricks with the straight hair, which was so full of gel it would go anywhere and stay. There were the "Extra Emo" look, the "Bozo the Clown" and the very special "Looks Like He Has Built-in Headphones" look. I cannot say which I preferred. But it was fun and funny.

Today was good in church, even with an incredibly tedious sermon by a rambling church member, who of course, had the best of intentions. The best part was that I was absolutely thrilled to see another old friend, who had left for another church, back. I had been thinking about how much I missed her just the day before. Heck, I am tearing up just thinking about it. Just having a little bit of "the way things were" back makes me feel good. Now, if only certain fellow bloggers whose names start with "S" would come...both she and Diane missed seeing the new baby of our fellow choir members. He has hair! He is nursing well! He's still mostly asleep! The ideal baby!

After church, Lee, Beccano and I went for a drive in the country. We just looked at stuff and listened to CDs, including Pete Townshend's incredibly weird Psycho Derelict -- one I have practically memorized because it was on an MP3 CD I used to listen to in my old car over and over. It was really nice to see the outside world for a bit. Once we got home, I hit a funk after talking to my dad, but I think I will live. Just have to keep up my spirits somehow while I wait for job action.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: How many times per day do you usually laugh?
2-3. I used to laugh more when I had more time with friends and wasn't worried all the time. Well, if I watch the Daily Show the number goes up.

Soup: What do your sunglasses look like?
They are prescription glasses with clip ons. The frames are 4 sided but not square. They are navy in the front but have layers that are green and teal. The clip-ons have green metal.

Salad: You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
British Columbia.

Main Course: Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
The wildflowers in the spring.

Dessert: If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Family Update

I figure I owe a family update, so here are some random news tidbits.

First, I am so sick of our barking dogs that I could scream. Every single thing that makes a noise sets Gwynneth off, then Scrunchy begins this awful small dog sound that really resembles coughing up his internal organs. Gwynn seems to have hurt herself, or gotten hurt pestering Buddy. She is limping again. I do not blame Buddy. When she gets all agitated she bounces around and barks in his face.

Tuba Boy has a new car. Sorta. There is a car in our driveway that looks very much like the one in this picture, but it still belongs to his dad, because he didn't buy it until just before he left, so the title has not been sent to him yet. There was no way to sign it over to me. So, I can't insure it. So, Tuba Boy's new car gets to sit in the driveway. But isn't it a nice car? I think it was a good choice, and is certainly in good shape for a 1995 Swedish people mover. The back seat will certainly hold a tuba. It drives pretty well, but sure requires some clutch and steering effort. I like it, though--it drives the way I like and is very comfortable. I think, once we get the title, change over the registration, and get his license renewed (also a pain in the butt thanks to needing a form from school, even to renew the darned thing), he will enjoy it. He has turned into a pretty good driver.

And here is Beccano's new toy. His dad got it for him as a late Christmas gift (because the original plan didn't work out--I ended up just buying the Rock Band software). Yesterday, when the kids were off from school, Beccano spent a lot of time making this thing do all sorts of tricks. He was very patient in figuring out what to do to complete the circuits to light up lights, sound buzzers, and such. I can see that lots of learning will happen with this little electronics lab, so I am glad he picked it. I really enjoy listening to his thought processes as he plays with it, too. He's also been playing a lot of guitar (got a blister from it!) and making much progress on the fine songs of Radiohead, which I don't know, so I have no idea if he's doing well or not. But he is learning to finger pick!

Beccano got a very interesting book called Dead Children Playing, which contains art from the people who do Radiohead's album art. It is really interesting, and I am intrigued by his choice of favorite artist. There's a lot to discuss in this very dark art. I love the techniques and ideas, especially the series of words seen on signs around various cities.

Lee is improving rapidly and I am so glad that the pneumonia is fading away. He is working normally and able to do a little around the house. I don't want him to push it, though, since his lungs are not healed yet, I am sure.

As for me, I am not feeling too well--seeing how bad the economy is going, and losing that ALE job because they have once again stopped hiring folks like me--that doesn't help. I've had a few friends with sad deaths in their families or scary illnesses, and that concerns me, too. I didn't get the usual optimism from thinking about people like MLK yesterday, either. I just feel bad that all his wonderful ideas are expressed so rarely any more. War, not peace, is what people seem to want. And hate, not love for people who differ from you is the norm. Not enough of us are saying aloud, "I don't like this!" because we are afraid of the consequences. Hope for the future? I do not see much.

So, love your families. I love mine. One happy note: my dad plans to visit. He hasn't been here in years.

Job Seeker Blog #7

I haven't posted much lately because nothing happened until recently. I have to admit it has been getting me down. It takes a lot of my energy to keep up the good front, and every couple of weeks I fall down and start to wallow. So, I spent the last couple of days wallowing. Lee had some idea that I'd get an offer yesterday, so when nothing happened, I felt even worse. Of course, maybe someone was just thinking of me or something!

But, my tarot cards were all happy, so I kept hoping and kept applying.

Of course things turned around, or at least things happened. My friend Ginger keeps sending me referrals, and that helps, too. She was the best thing that happened at the previous job!

Today these developments occurred:
  1. I got an email from the place I like best, asking me to come back in tomorrow for another round of interviews. Whew. They like to interview. My concern is they may be considering me for a different position. But, the title of my interview sheet still lists the previous one. Lee's idea is maybe they want me for a management position. Yeah, that would be a possibility, given the level of people scheduled to interview me. That would be fun! I'll continue to hope for that good job I already interviewed for.
  2. I got a call from a recruiter for a job I applied for last week, and did a phone interview with her. I honestly don't think this one will work out, but I commend the company for looking at candidates outside their usual pool of applicants. They want writing samples. That seems to be my downfall.
  3. I finally heard back from ALE about that job I interviewed for in December. Sure enough, that job went away. The recruiter said someone already there is going to have my job added to their responsibilities. Sigh. He said right now only the jobs that directly interact with customers are moving forward. There go the other jobs I applied for there! He did say the guys I talked to really liked me, and he put positive notes in my file for the other jobs I'd applied for. That is nice. Of course, I know how that goes.
There you have it. I hope I hear back from some of the places I have applied for this week. Keep up the good thoughts. This is really dragging out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Important News (Humor)

This came across my church chat list, and while usually I am not fond of mass email forwards, this one cracked me up. I do have a few questions on it, which will appear at the end.

Begin Internet Forwarded Message:

Many of you have heard Dr. Laura, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others speak of the "Homosexual Agenda," but no one has ever seen a copy of it. A friend of mine recently obtained a copy directly from the Head Homosexual. At long last we will all know exactly what is on this "Homosexual Agenda".

I certainly hope it will assist all of you so that you will be prepared when these leaders reveal their plan...

The Homosexual Agenda...

6:00 am: Gym

8:00 am: Breakfast (oatmeal, egg whites and mimosas)

9:00 am: Hair appointment

10:00 am: Shopping (preferably at Neiman's or Saks)

12:00 pm: Brunch

2:00 pm: Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as all other forms of world government, destroy all healthy marriages, replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents from Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels, bulldoze all houses of worship, secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media.

2:15 pm: Be fabulous

2:30 pm: Mud mask and forty winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from the stress of world conquest

4:00 pm: Cocktails

6:00 pm: Light Dinner (soup, salad with romaine, radicchio, arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and Pouilly Fuisse)

8:00 pm: Theatre

10:30 pm: "Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight!"

End Forwarded Internet Message

My Questions:

1. Who or whom is the Head Homosexual? Can I nominate anyone?
2. Should I tell my gay friends? What if they missed the memo?
3. Could someone please send me the Liberal Agenda? I am now feeling lost because I am not sure what I should be doing right now, though a shower seems like a good idea.

Yes, I am aware the email plays upon gay stereotypes. And I am abundantly aware that most gay people aren't stereotypical in most ways. It's just cute, that's all. And am I not the typical liberal, apologizing for some light-hearted humor, in case someone humorless takes offense. Sigh. What's the world coming to? Don't answer. I know.

I hope to post something less silly later today.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday's Feast Plus

Peekaboo! I am looking at you through a scarf I finished last night. It's gotten pretty cold, so I am glad I finished it. I also finished Lee's cardigan, and to my relief not only did he like it, but it fit! I'll have a post about it on the knitting blog, or you can look at this picture of Lee not looking as thrilled as he feels.

The knitting cheered me up, since there's no new job action, and I am feeling sad for a couple of friends--one's estranged parents got hit by a car and killed as they crossed the street to church, and another's parents lost a beloved pet rather suddenly. There are some pretty icky illnesses in my dad's side of the family as well. Sigh. At least we are all getting healthy. Lee is much improved.

OK, off to the fluff and fun of Friday's Feast...

Appetizer: What is your favorite beverage?
I must name three! Cold = Diet Coke with Lime. Hot = Freshly ground coffee. Alcoholic = Drambuie/Ace Pear Cider (hard to decide)

Soup: Name 3 things that are on your computer desk at home or work.
1. My black Notebook of Knowledge that has all my work and job notes.
2. The camera--always ready to upload new pix
3. A pug on a spring (on the second monitor)

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how honest do you think you are?
9. I think honesty is important. But I am afraid that I have been known to bend the truth so as to not hurt someone unnecessarily. Like I didn't tell my dying mother my boyfriend and I were breaking up, so she could die happy about our future--she loved both of us so much.

Main Course: If you could change the name of one city in the world, what would you rename it and why?
Gosh, this isn't a huge concern to me. Maybe I'd change Normal, Illinois. It has to be hard to live up to that (yes, I know what it means--it's where the teaching college was).

Dessert: What stresses you out? What calms you down?
My friends are laughing now. They will say EVERYTHING stresses me out. I do have anxiety disorder to a small extent.

My biggest stressors: Not having enough money/a job, discord at home, being around loud discordant noises, crowds.

Calming influences: knitting, being alone in silence, controlled breathing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuba Boy Birthday Dinner

Tuba Boy Birthday Dinner
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Just a quick post to share one photo from Tuba Boy's birthday. They are acting pretty maniacal there (but this is better than the photo looking up Beccano's nose, which I didn't even upload to Flickr). Now you may understand why there's a snifter there, which is drained of delicious Drambuie at that point.

Actually, it was a nice birthday for Tuba Boy, even with few gifts. I got him a sizable Sonic gift card, which made him happy, and Lee put money in the bank for him, so combined with other relatives' contributions, he got good birthday cash (to spend on candy and soda, from what I can determine of his spending habits). Beccano got him two CDs he really wanted, and Debate Girl got him two cute t-shirts. All good.

As a special treat, we went to Z Tejas, a restaurant that just opened a branch near our house (finally, a more formal restaurant near our house!). We had some really good entrees, with fish for me and Beccano and Mexican things for Lee and Tuba Boy. Other than Lee not liking his cole slaw (it had cilantro and other mystery seasonings in it), all went down mighty quickly. For a Stick Boy, that TB sure could eat. He downed his whole chicken entree and tried some of everyone else's too. It is so nice to see him eating well, given his weight.

And of course we all had dessert. The men all had beautiful Reese's cheesecake and I had berry cobbler. All good.

And that's the birthday report! Today's my stepmother's big day, so I will call her. And I hope Jeff is returning to Austin today or tomorrow. He spent a long time in Florida caring for his mother, and it really has wiped him out. I know he'll be glad to get back to his old routines.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parental Anniversary Musings

Seventeen years ago today, this young fellow was two hours old. He's been a great companion all these years, and brought me immeasurable joy. I feel pretty bad that we can't do anything more for his birthday, but I bought Rock Band right after New Year's and he knew that counted as his birthday gift. Plus, I let him drive my car to school today, woo.

I'd hoped to take him and his two friends out to dinner, but neither can come. The girl's dad won't let her go to dinner. I can't quite fathom that. Now the hope is that Lee will feel well enough to go out to a nice dinner tonight. I think Lee is doing well enough to make it, especially since he isn't going to try to drag himself into ALE today. Doing that yesterday really knocked him out.

A big birthday complication is that his dad is bringing him a car, which he will be paying his dad back for in the fatherly quest to teach responsibility. Guess whose responsibility it is to arrange for the insurance for someone else's car that she doesn't even know the year on? Me. The unemployed person. Having the third car will be handy, though I don't look forward to all the parking ballet in our two-car driveway.

Other Things

I had a really weird couple of days battling my personal issues. For some reason I woke up one night feeling really lonely, like I had no one to talk to. A number of things led to it: good friends here in town announced they did NOT want anyone interacting with them while they dealt with a family problem. I had already not been speaking to the wife, who is someone I used to think of as a close friend, because that was the request. I feel so sad--apparently people in the women's group I used to belong to get to be supportive, but the rest of us are outsiders and not welcome. I'd thought this couple were my close friends, but I think it was mostly on my end. (Same with another supposed close friend who didn't invite me to his wedding--I think I don't have a good ability to tell when friends go from close to acquaintance.) So, I am spending a LOT of time telling myself that I am being a good friend by not saying anything, as they requested. And of course I want to honor the request and just send good vibes. I wouldn't have given advice, anyway--I am always so worried about saying something inappropriate that I try to let people lead the way on things like that, and just try to listen.

And speaking of inappropriate, I accidentally typed "aloud" my sad thoughts about an event one of my email lists is planning--they are all gleefully planning travel, arranging complicated seminars and events, which all sounds so great. I have been so sad that I can't make any plans due to my situation--when they started I had no vacation/sick days, and now I have no nothing. I am sure I am mostly jealous that others can plan fun events with friends and that is not in my range of possibilities (and my family can't visit me--pretty lonely). But, I didn't phrase my concern well at all and that lead to people wanting to analyze me and have me explain myself and...stuff I am not good at. Ugh. That sort of thing brings up all my huge issues with desertion, and the idea I have in my head that all the people who suddenly disappear from my life do so because I accidentally phrase things in an inappropriate way and it pisses them off, but I get no chance to explain what I meant.

I must say, even I grow tired of my neuroses.

I think a root issue is that I just wish I had someone to vent to so I could get it out of my system, and I am temporarily out of "venting" friends. My previous venting target I rarely hear from since I lost the job in Illinois and she got all involved in her new job and partner. I miss her so much--she didn't judge me at all. And that's what had me all sad: I felt like my local and distant friends have all been drifting away.

Note to readers: I realize this is all in my head, and it mostly doesn't come up unless I am depressed or down for other reasons. I realize this will pass. No, I am not suicidal or clinically depressed. I am just worn out from the money and illness stuff. Read the next part.

On the Other Hand

I am proud of myself that, when I woke up all upset about this stuff, I was able to remind myself that there ARE people to talk to. Lee is here when not sick. Jody is here when not consumed with her own stuff. (So they are temporarily unavailable.) And there are still some wonderful friends both here and elsewhere who have not gone anywhere and are still sending me sweet emails and posting helpful comments here. How could I forget them? I didn't! I remembered them, and have decided to concentrate on those folks. And I'll try to be more in contact with the good friends I just don't hear from as much as I'd like--at least I got one knitting friend to show up at the LYS last week.

So, I am less nutso than I think I am.

Nice Stuff

(This is what happens when I take a couple of days off, I have too much to say, and I veer from sad to happy--what can I say, I'm a Pisces and that means "emotion" in a big way.)

Sunday I got a chance to get away and hang out with Jody as she went on quests to buy spinning equipment. Mostly I just wanted to get out of the house--sitting by the phone gets tiring. I enjoyed looking at the countryside, meeting new people and looking at longhorns and horses. I was glad to be there to be supportive of her during a weird time, and that we could talk about our somewhat wishful future plans, family stuff, and yarn stuff. So, see, I have a friend! And I had some fun!

I am also having fun learning stuff in the community choir. I love choral arrangements of spirituals, and we are doing some of those. I think it's really smart for me to have done this. Cheers me up.

So all is well. All that angst is PAST angst, posted mainly to show what a weird thought process I sometimes have, but that I can get past it! OK?


Job Seeker Blog #6

Whew, I am feeling marginally better. I'd been a bit worried that the place I liked so much hadn't contacted me about the follow-up call, but then yesterday I got an email saying the VP was in town this week, so please could I meet with him personally on Wednesday (tomorrow). Yay and hooray. I also found out that one of my church friends just got a job there, and it would be neat to work in the same place as this nice kid (OK, man, he's about to be a father).

I am having trouble finding even marginally appropriate new things to apply for, but I do hope some of the interviews I had the last two weeks will pan out.

And the lovely unemployment money is in the bank, which is good. What is not to great is that it really takes some doing to get the money OFF the debit card they give it to me on, and ON to my bank account, which is where my bills get paid from. I'm sure this system works well for people who don't have bank accounts or mostly pay things by credit card, but if you use your own bank account to pay things, having to force the bank to reluctantly do a cash advance to get money into your account is not fun. It took forever for the bank person to accomplish this, whereas a check could get deposited from the drive-through lane. I guess there aren't as many unemployed people out there as I thought.

Good thoughts for tomorrow!

I am very grateful for the money, though. Looks like we won't go bankrupt while I am looking.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday's Feast

It seems to be more of a Saturday event since the job went away. I keep forgetting it's Friday.

Appetizer: What is your middle name? Would you change any of your names if you could? If so, what would you like to be called?
Ann. I once changed my name to SueAnn when I was briefly married and changed my name. Used my last name as my middle name and the other person's name as a surname. I didn't like that. I do go by Suna with people who know me well.

Soup: If you were a fashion designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you probably use the most?
I'd probably make comfortable things in natural fabrics, in whatever colors I liked. I'd probably feature a lot of hand knits.

Salad: What is your least favorite chore, and why?
So many to choose from. Mopping the floor. I am never sure it is actually clean. And the dogs will dirty it up in a few minutes.

Main Course: What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?
Guns. I never met my grandfather because someone shot him while he was trying to break up a fight. A neighbor committed suicide when I was a child, very near us. Everyone was so upset.

Dessert: Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.
I am at my work area in the office. Where I worked for many years. I can see oak trees, my pansy coffee cup and tarot cards.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #5

There is little to report on the job front for the past two days. All I did was write some thank-you notes to places where I interviewed. I hope I did those OK. No calls came in, and everything on Monster, Craigslist and Yahoo Hot Jobs was either not something I was qualified for or paid so little I really couldn't live on them. Sigh.

The theory is that the places I liked so much are checking my references right this minute! Yeah!

The slight highlight is that I got my unemployment debit card with an amount on it that is just about half of what I was making when I worked. That will be extremely helpful, and probably we can get by on that. I do hope I don't need it for long. It is sad to be on unemployment. Also the card is very irritating. What I need is for money to be in my checking account, to pay all those bills that get automatically deducted. So I will have to go go the bank and have them show me how to get all the money off that card and into the bank account. Grr.

All this has me not in the best mood.

Also, not related to the job search, please, please send vibes to Lee. His illness is not getting better--still having high fevers. He broke down and went to the doctor, which is no fun without insurance, and discovered that yep, he has pneumonia. At least he now has strong antibiotics, and got his allergy prescription refilled, on top of that. I feel so sorry for him. It's a LONG time to be sick. And he's been trying to work from home, and doing pretty well--still, that is really difficult.

We are just not having a very good week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Music Makes It Good

What? Suna's posting about Tom Petty again? Well, after a day of no job action whatsoever, hurting my back doing laundry, worrying that Lee is still sick, and knitting on a somewhat boring project, nothing can perk a girl up like music.

I am watching a Tom Petty concert on public television, a 30th anniversary event in our mutual hometown (I have waxed nostalgic about Gainesville before, so I will try to tone it down). It's neat that there are still two Heartbreakers from G'ville, too.

I just love nice, clean rock and roll. Not full of glitz and glitter, not noise for its own sake, but pure rock. I have happy ears, and even enjoyed Stevie Nicks' guest appearance. Tee hee, our favorite singing witch.

The other thing that has helped keep the ole spirits up has been that the Daily Show (I mean A Daily Show) and Colbert Report are back. They aren't doing a bad job at all, I think. I like happy news better than the dismal stuff I have been seeing lately every time I look at Way too many parents killing children, gore and maiming. But, I can smile at the fake news shows and revel in the fact that, whoa, the first two primaries didn't totally make the rest of them pointless.

Let's ignore that my 401K equivalent thingie lost money last quarter, and Big Business sure doesn't want to let ME get ahead. There's always tomorrow for dreams to come true. Or to slog through. Take your pick.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #4

After a pretty darned depressing morning, with me feeling bad about not getting that job and Lee being sick still, I rallied and went to today's interviews, which were with a company that does software for nonprofits.

It's funny that I interviewed at the place we moved down here for XH to work (sorta, it got eaten by Big Blue and moved offices), then today I interviewed in the place he last worked when he was here. Of course, that place was long ago eaten by another company, but the furniture is still there. Still a cool building and now next to shopping...

I interviewed at this place last year (I think or year before) but it has changed a lot. For the better! I really liked everyone I talked to, and honestly think I'd be a wonderful fit there--pretty much they were looking for me or a person very much like me. I did get a good feeling about it. And the benefits...ahhhh.

We'll just have to see how this one comes out but it does seem a bit better fit than some of the others. I like it as much as the Thursday place, and it has the advantage of not being about to move really far away. They just moved where they are now and have plenty of space. At least I still have a few viable options.

And of course, I applied for a bunch more today. Various degrees of fit. And because my self esteem is LOW I submitted myself to a contract position at ALE with bad pay (less than I made there before). But, one needs a backup.

Job Seeker Report #3: Not a Good Start

Sigh, last night I got an email from the place where I did the big presentation on Friday, stating they would "not be going forward with the interview process." As I suspected, spending most of the time I should have been working on the presentation taking care of the kids' teeth issues was not a good thing. Or who knows, maybe they just didn't like my personality. The thing is, this was one of the GOOD places. On the other hand, it was one of the ones that was not going to pay very well.

I am surprised I didn't get my rejection for the second job I interviewed for that day yet. I expect it later.

Still in the running for good ole ALE as far as I know, and the place with the really nice people from last week. And I have a big series of interviews at the really interesting nonprofit software place I lost out on last spring (yeah, that de-motivates me, but I better ACT motivated). And tomorrow, another presentation. Now I worry I suck at that, but heck, I KNOW I am good at that...and I have read two books and four websites to prepare for this one.

This morning I am reading up on the job I am interviewing for today, and working more on the presentation. Tonight and tomorrow morning, more presentation work. Then after the presentation, nothing. I did apply to a couple of more jobs yesterday. Trying to be all pumped up...but it can be hard!

The kids are back at school, but Lee is still here. He has some horrible illness with a bad fever and a lot of coughing. I am staying away, trying to keep healthy at least until tomorrow afternoon. I feel so bad for him--and worried that neither of us is earning much if he is sick (trying to work from home) and that he has no health insurance. Crap. Not thrilled at Big Business so far this week. Please think of poor sickly Lee. Sick Lee. Ahaha.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Is It Just Me?

You know what? I have stopped getting spam. My junk mail folder for the past few days has nothing in it but a couple of legitimate emails that were blind carbons. I seem to be getting all my legit email, though.

No one cares if my pee-pee is big enough any more? What if I have ED? And, sniff, how will I ever get OEM software? Ooh, here's an article on how Viagra spam works, if you ever wondered. I hope it's OK with them to share their illustration. I cited the source.

Did some newer and fancier anti-spam law pass when I wasn't looking? I just got a 2008 email marketing technique book, and it only mentions CAN-SPAM from 2003. Did all the spammers just give up? Did Eudora suddenly improve when I wasn't looking? (I doubt that--my email software won't update again until I pay money again, and I can't now.)

Has anyone else noticed a remarkable decrease in unwanted email in the past week or two?

Quote I Liked

This was the quote of the day on Anu Garg's Word a Day site (been reading it for almost as long as he's been doing it, as I may have mentioned before):

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty."
-Albert Einstein

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Birthday Month Meme Amusement

I have mentioned before that I read the blog by Barb Cooper, currently a local humor writer, soon to be a distant humor writer. She is always wanting to be tagged for memes, and answering ones she isn't tagged for, anyway. In her honor, I am doing this one that she was tagged for but I was not (cause she doesn't tag me in this semi-hidden blog, anyway). I just laughed and laughed at the whole concept, so will play along.

She said in her blog: "Okay, this meme asks you to take the attributes supposedly associated with your birth month (February) and talk about how they apply to you. Pay no attention to the fact that they seem to have been randomly generated by some astrological parody engine or a house elf or something."

She's right, they are pretty funny and random, but some hit the nail on the head for this Child of March (depicted by the lovely aquamarine crystal above). Here are my reactions...


Attractive personality. Not sure what I attract other than inappropriate partners (before the autumn of 2006, of course) but sure, yeah, I must attract something.

Sexy. As long as Lee thinks I am, I will buy into that. I do not really care if anyone else thinks so.

Affectionate. In my own not-too-touchy-feely way, sure. I am more mentally affectionate.

Shy and reserved. Well, as I will tell anyone, I am a well-socialized introvert. I actually AM shy, I just may not appear to be due to my stellar acting abilities in public situations.

Secretive. Absolutely positootely. And I will not tell you why or in what way.

Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic. And that has been my undoing more than once. But, I like being that way, really.

Loves peace and serenity. I don't call myself a pacifist for nothing. And there's a reason I flee conflict. Love that peace and serenity and would like it as much as possible all day all the time.

Sensitive to others. Very. Usually a good thing. Especially when I can spot a predator, mean person, or person liable to harm others in a flash. Not good when I see that someone has chosen such a person as a partner. Hard to keep my mouth shut.

Loves to serve others. Fraid so. All those years at the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization speak to that.

Easily angered. It takes a while to build up, actually, but once the trigger hits, I guess.

Trustworthy. Trust me; I am. Or ask my friends and family if you refuse to trust my self-reported trustworthiness.

Appreciative and returns kindness. I am always surprised when anyone is kind to me, and I am not sure why that is. I really enjoy being kind to others.

Observant and assesses others. Very much so. I am perhaps too observant at times. My assessments are usually accurate and I sure get pissed off at myself if they are not.

Revengeful. Maybe when younger. I think I have drummed that out of myself.

Loves to dream and fantasize. I'm a Pisces; what do you expect? Yeah. Much of my life I have been more in the fantasy world than the real one. Lately it's been more real.

Loves traveling. Absolutely, though I also love home. I like to see different things and see how other people live.

Loves attention. Look at meeee, look at meeeee. This is another thing I have worked on lessening.

Hasty decisions in choosing partners. BWA HA HA. This is the one that had me literally ROFL-ing. Yep, I have always been hasty. That's why I tried to ignore all the signals between Lee and me and go as slowly as I could. Still, once we were together, we were hastily partners. He was born in March, too, ya know.

Loves home decors. Or office cubicle decor.

Musically talented. I do like to sing, and read music fairly well. Lots of people are more talented, but I enjoy what I have.

Loves special things. I didn't know what this meant, but if it means I have sentimental attachments to objects, I do. Thus, the clutter of "special items" in the house.

Moody. Overly, perhaps.

By the way, Barb posted all the months' supposed attributes if you want to wax eloquent about yourself and your month (scroll past the discussion of a book about sex ed for young girls, or not, as you wish).

Friday's Feast (Late Again)

Appetizer: When was the last time you received a surprise in the mail, and what was it?
Yay, an easy one. Just a few weeks ago I got a box from a member of a couple of my email lists, which had some lovely red silk laceweight knitting yarn, a nice card and some candy in it. I had no idea it was coming--I suspect the members of that list conspired to send some people having hard times little pick-me-ups. It was so very much appreciated.

Soup: If you could have a summer and/or winter home, where would you want it to be?
Let's have four homes! Winter: Virgin Islands; Spring: Texas Hill Country; Summer: Great North Woods near a lake in either Wisconsin or Minnesota; Fall: western Ireland.
Salad: Pick one: pineapple, orange, banana, apple, cherry.
Pineapple. My favorite fruit.

Main Course: Describe the nicest piece of clothing that you own.
Probably the shawl that Jody knitted for me last year. It is mottled red silk/cashmere yarn and a faroese-ish shape, with beautiful lace patterning and a lovely border. It stays on perfectly and is nice and big. It's a piece of art AND something to wear. The picture on this post is a close-up of some of the shawl's details.

Dessert: If you could forget one whole day from your life, which day would you choose to wipe from your memory?
At first I was going to say 9/11, but maybe I need to remember that, awful as the experience was. I'd like to forget, though, the last day I was at the main office of the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization, when the guy I worked with for a year and a half told me I was off the project and to go get another job. I knew he suddenly turned on people if they made even a tiny perceived error, but I guess I thought it would not be me. I really pity anyone who works with this fellow--perhaps the most two-faced individual I have ever met. And if you're spying on me for his folks, feel free to tell him.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #2

This really old photo of me from my Old Life is here because it shows me doing what I like to do best (next to knitting)--standing up in front of people and 'splaining stuff to them or singing to them. The 'splaining what I did today as part of one of my endless job application processes. I made a PowerPoint presentation of a case study of a company's website and how it could improve its use of the employer's company's product. It was NOT my best work (explanation below) but I sure enjoyed presenting it, anyway. I love an audience.

Let's go back. When I last posted, the darling children were having 8 teeth removed, 4 each. Boy howdy, they were knocked out. I didn't leave the dentist office until after 11. I got them home, changed their bloody discharges (gag) and went to the grocery store to get their pain med prescriptions filled. Well, come to discover XH's insurance, which would be my least favorite insurance company on earth if it didn't also pay my child support, stopped supporting the HEB pharmacy as of December 1. Of course I got no notice (it not being my insurance). Sigh. So, rather than spend another 45 minutes waiting at another pharmacy, I paid. Now, I'd already paid a ton of money ($1.5K) for part of the teeth extraction, on no salary. Dang. I better get a job and soon! By the time I got home, it was nearly 1 pm and I had an interview at 3! When was I going to write that PowerPoint...

Job Hunter must report that the interview yesterday afternoon was super-dee-duper from the job seeker perspective. I sure loved the company, thought its product was cool and wanted to be bestest friends with everyone I interviewed with. And I parked next to my friend's husband's car (it says "Troi") when I was at the recruiter's for this one on Wednesday, which was a good omen, I figured. The only downside to this one is they are moving to my LEAST favorite place for an office (if you are in Austin, it's 360 and Bee Caves, a place it is impossible to get to from my house without hitting multiple bottlenecks). Right now they are ten minutes from me. Sigh. But wow, what cool people. One guy's wife had recently had a home birth and he was all impressed with the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization and stuff. So, even if I don't get that one, I had a good time interviewing. For them, I had to write a little essay on Technical Writing. I may post that here. I don't know how great it was, but it was fun to write, so that's a positive experience, regardless.

I spent all evening yesterday writing the PowerPoint, then I got up, wrote the essay, finished the PowerPoint and went off. After the presentation, I had time to kill because the next interview was across the street, so I was able to wander around the Domain, a fancy shopping center that used to be a manufacturing site of the maker of my first computer back in 1986. I found my rose perfume there, and got a very, very on sale cardigan and black turtleneck at White House Black Market. I will wear that to one of the interviews next week, to a place that's already seen the Black Interview Suit.

Because I had to go to a pretty formal workplace for the afternoon interview, The Black Interview Suit had to be seen twice by today's first company. I varied the blouse. Of course. Wow, was the second interview of the day in a beautiful, yet austere place. I felt sorry for the receptionist. She was all alone in an acre of floor and wall space. Very tasteful, but very alone. The workplace was really lovely, but at least had some homey touches. This interview was for a contract tech writer position (I mentioned it yesterday I think). But it turned out they wanted someone who was a real programmer. That is not me. I think it's OK to eliminate one possibility, though. I really have plenty of opportunities remaining!

And another "job" opportunity came up today, sorta. A lady called about designing or making dog sweaters for a dog rescue organization in California. I didn't get to talk to her much, but that sounds at least like a fun possibility.

Both boys feel better today, by the way. Tuba Boy was a mess most of yesterday--really had issues with the pain. Beccano, who had a rougher surgery, was a real trouper. Must have inherited my pain tolerance. Tuba Boy got Lee's, even though they aren't actually related!

Tomorrow, all I am going to do is apply for jobs, knit and enjoy the family. A little respite from interviewing for the weekend!

If you read all of this, I award you Bonus Friend Loyalty points.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Job Seeker Blog #1

I am going to label posts mostly about the job searcharama as "job seeker blog" for a while, I think.

Yesterday was the first post-holiday job seeking day. Things sure started off with a big bang. Beginning at 9 am, emails and calls began, and the last one came in just before 9 pm! Not all the places I talked to previously contacted me, but most did.

Here’s a summary so far:

1. The fun place with the gongs in the office, where I’d be a person who supports clients using the product sent me email instructions for a rather complicated presentation they want me to do on Friday/tomorrow. I am to analyze a company’s use of their software and make recommendations for getting more product reviews for the company’s products. Of course, doing this has been hampered by all the other calls and interviews, and the fact that the kids have oral surgery today.

2. The first place I talked to during the week before Christmas also wants a presentation, this one on “email marketing best practices.” I sure hate the phrase “best practices,” because I am such an anti-buzzword gal. But, I know how to use the Internet and I will go make something for them. That won’t be until next Wednesday, so I have time.

3. I got a call from a recruiter about a contract job at a place where things are usually the color of the sky and are very big. If I went there, I’d have hit the three biggest conglomerates in town, all in a row! On this one, of course, the pay is really good, and I’d work with someone who used to be at ALE in the next department over, which would be nice. The job sounds much like the one I just left, with better equipment—creating e-training. He’d put in a good word for me, which is always appreciated. I go there tomorrow, after the big presentation. Luckily it’s right across the street. In another irony, I’d be working on the products that XH moved us to Austin to work on in the first place, which was at a once-fun startup that got bought and made extra-corporate.

4. I talked to the HR person at a job that originally sounded sorta dull, but once she described it, became much better—a nice variety of writing tasks and at another place with fun and nice people. It might be somewhat far away, but she said they have VERY flexible hours. I could leave later and miss some of the nasty ole traffic that way. I go there this afternoon. Lee’s gonna come home and watch the kids sleep or heal or whatever it is they will be doing.

5. And lest we forget, the company that supports nonprofit organizations, where I interviewed last spring, has asked me to come in next week on Tuesday to talk to them about a position that sounds even better than the other one. I’d still really like to work there—I do understand nonprofits and their needs—just have to do a better job convincing them of it than I did last time.

That’s a lot of possibilities, not to mention the one I interviewed for at ALE before Christmas, which I hope to hear more from (the one with the best compensation package of all the jobs so far) and the video game place that still never managed to contact me…and the places I applied to in the meantime!

PS: More in the morning, an interview report and kid tooth fun. Not fun.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


This time of year everyone publishes resolutions or "challenges" to themselves.

I resolve only to try to get a reasonable job that has benefits, but I won't berate myself if I can't. I will just do the best I can.

It's just too much pressure to try to force myself to knit a hundred socks or do a random act of kindness a day or give a thousand bucks or whatever. I have enough self-imposed pressure. Perhaps asking myself to do the very best I can, and be gentle with myself if I don't live up to my own standards would be the best thing for me this year.
The pictures today are our New Year's photos, taken when Lee and I got back from the quiet celebration we had with friends (thankfully the bad behavior and "too much fun" days are long gone in that social circle). I wore my new scarf and the vest that my dad had gotten me for Christmas, and Lee wore his ever-popular camel-hair jacket, which is so much fun to pet. The leis were party decorations from the big champagne and horn blowing at midnight.

While we were out, Beccano had been busy. He made himself a festive New Year's pirate mask from the vast expanse of black cloth he recently had us buy for him. Soon I will teach him how to cut cloth in a straight line, which I wish I had thought of before he tore into his 3 yards of black cloth!

No photo of Tuba Boy, who was at his friend's house with the other Debate Boys and associates. He came home at quite a reasonable hour, however.

We spent New Year's Day relatively quietly. I knitted, talked to my parents and Jeff (still in Florida with his mother), cooked the black eyed peas, collards and such, and started taking down Christmas decorations. That, and looking for work, are the big plans for today. I am ready for the phone to start ringing and the email to begin. I simply EXUDE positive energy, regardless of the dismal tarot cards I keep drawing!