Thursday, October 30, 2008

Season Over!

It froze again last night. I think the temperature got as low as 29 degrees last night. I remembered to bring in the potted plants a couple of nights ago. I completely spaced about harvesting the basil though. Ooopsies. It's not really harvestable now. Fortunately I still have basil cubes left from last summer.

I might try to harvest and dry some of the pineapple sage yet. I wish I'd remembered to try the sage cookies with pineapple sage. I don't know if I can manage to collect any seed from the dried blossoms or if any such seed would even germinate. Certainly I (and the moths, butterflies and hummingbirds) got more than $5 worth of enjoyment from my two "little" sage plants.

The good news is that I have plenty of green tomatoes and eggplant to eat for the next few weeks. Tonight I tried baking green tomato slices after dipping them in seasoned cornmeal. OH MY GOSH they turned out WONDERFULLY. This is a marvelous solution for reducing fat in one of my favorite foods and it also means I don't have to stand over a frying pan to cook myself dinner. I like simple, mostly hands-off cooking at the moment.

The Daily Downer!
The early voting thing didn't happen again today. I tried to go at lunch but the place was mobbed. By the end of the day I had a headache and could barely keep two neurons focused enough to drive home, so I thought it the better part of valor to go home rather than try to pay attention to the nifty e-voting tablet thingie and vote correctly.

Earlier this week we were notified of a very sick child with severe GI problems. We found out today that child died. Late in the day we found out the child's older sibling is now sick with the same symptoms. I really hope that the second child recovers. Planning one kid's funeral is bad enough.

I left and returned to my cubicle a whole bunch of times today, thinking each time that *this* time my laptop case will be there. It wasn't. The head computer guy did the same thing for me this morning after telling the powers that be that the laptop was AWOL. He wasn't able to make it re-appear either. The police report has been filed and visitor logs have been checked. I'll probably talk to a police investigator and a government auditor next week.

The Daily Yay!
I gave a pandemic influenza presentation today that apparently went stunningly well. I didn't actually write any of the presentation, I just had to present it. Two different people told me it was, by far, the best presentation of that material than they had ever seen. w00t! I was mostly just aiming for keeping the audience awake. I succeeded. People nodded when I said things that made sense. People asked questions. It was good.

So far I am still clear to have tomorrow off. I've let the folks at work know they can call me in if things go crazy. At the moment I'm planning to catch up on the house cleaning and yard work.

At the moment, I'm watching a rather creepy movie called Willard. Crispin Glover plays a rather odd, poorly socialized young man who has a strange connection wtih rats. I think right now he's about to sick his rat friends on a bunch of bad people. Turner Classic Movies is presently showing The House of Usher. Don't you just love Edgar Allan Poe stories? They don't always translate well as movies, probably for the same reason that HP Lovecraft and Stephen King don't do well as movies--the creepiness comes from *imagining* the monsters and situations, rather than from seeing it. For the next 24 hours, both TCM and American Movie Classics will show scary movies constantly. Tomorrow AMC's line-up will be hosted by Rob Zombie. I'm betting I might sleep with the light on tomorrow night. Hee hee.

My Critters Knits knitting patterns arrived today from Morehouse Merino. They're all adorable. The best part of all is that the notebook was wrapped in *two* layers of bubble wrap inside the box. I've been popping it while I watch TV. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, Isn't that Interesting....

My work laptop appears to have gone AWOL. Ordinarily it sits next to my desk in its sexy little black bag. Today I noticed that it wasn't there. The problem is that I cannot swear it was or wasn't there yesterday or Monday. I think I remember having to navigate around it to get to the phone yesterday (because it's kinda in the way to reach the phone and I don't like to knock it over), but I'm not 100% certain. What bothers me most is that I apparently didn't immediately grok it was missing. I like to think I'm a bit more observant than that. *sigh*

Surprisingly, I am not at all stressed, depressed or otherwise upset about it. I guess my new behavior changes are taking effect already. A couple of months ago I'd have been beating myself up about it. The thing is, I can't exactly secure my cubicle and of the lockable drawers in said cube, all of them are full of files with no room for a laptop and bag. The HD was encrypted and password protected, so that's good at least.

The Friday Off Jinx
I had intended to take last Friday off when things got really busy at work, so I figured I'd just move it to this Friday. Yeah. Well, we got the same kind of phone call late today that we got exactly one week ago, so it looks like we'll be busy as heck again tomorrow and Friday. Methinks I won't be taking this Friday off either. Maybe I'll try for the Monday before Veteran's Day instead. That would even give me a 4 day weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Things, They Are A Changin'...

Well, it sounds like I'm about halfway to a job offer at a different organization. It's a step down in responsibility, but likely a step up (or three) in actually using my training on a reliable basis. The paycheck will be bigger, but the cost of living will also be higher so there would actually be a small effective decrease in income.

Unfortunately, now is not a particularly good time to be trying to sell a house. On top of that, I'm not entirely certain that this new job would fix my general problem with a presently unfulfilling career. Heck, I'm not completely certain just what the problem is, exactly. It seems to change from day to day.

There would be some merit, I think, to staying where I am for a little while and figuring out where it is that I want to go and what it is I want to do, rather than just going away from where I am now. It seems like there might be some advantage to having a destination to aim toward rather than only having a departure to be fleeing. I'm making dramatic progress toward figuring out what I want and taking steps to get there. I've started making various life changes and I'd like to continue making that progress and building those new habits. I'm not sure a major move at the moment would be conducive to continuing that progress.

So what if I passed up this particular opportunity, continued my work on myself and on my other options for development and, instead, have faith in the belief that when I am ready another even better opportunity will present itself and then I'll jump on it for all I'm worth. How does that sound? (Don't you wish you could look up the answers in the back of the Book of Life?)

First Up? A name change...
Some of you know that Morenna is the name of my primary online gaming character. Much as I would like to claim it as my own invention, I cannot. I actually saw it at a fiber festival ten years ago and borrowed it to name my game char. It has since become something of an online alter-ego for me. I have recently come to the conclusion that it's a bit unfair to Robin Edmundson for me to continue to use the name she came up with for her company, regardless of how beautiful that name is. (By the way, Robin dyes gorgeous rovings and yarns. You really should go check it out. I'm particularly fond of the Hummingbird colorway.) So, you'll notice in the next few days that the name on my blog will be changing. Yes, it's confusing and I'm sure it'll aggravate some of you, but it's the right thing to do, so I'm doing it. My apologies to Robin.

The new name will be Ruby Louise. Ruby Louise is a combination of my grandmother's names and I always thought it would be a good name for an interesting book character. Anyway, I hope most of you will stick around and see what's to come.

On a Less Serious Note
I have a new digital camera!!! Twitchh sent me an early Christmas present, so now it'll be a blog with *pictures* again. (Since July I've had to use an old digital camera that won't re-charge or my phone's camera. Needless to say, that rather put a crimp in my daily picture taking.)

Now I can show you that the local bird population has been doing a particularly bad job of cleaning up the fallen birdseed. All that new growth is sprouting sunflower seeds. I think part of the problem is the neighborhood orange tabby cat who has figured out that hiding under my deck is a great place to ambush pigeons. That explains the clumps of feathers I have periodically found on the ground near the bird feeder.

And finally, part of my tool collection. Just in case you were concerned that the new changes meant an end to my insanity/wackiness, I washed my tools. Technically, they're my paternal grandfather's tools that I acquired after my grandmother died ten years ago. When I got them, they were still coated with a good layer of motor oil and grease, with a sprinkling of old grass clippings and dirt. This weekend I was tidying up the garage and needed to re-organize and put away my tools. I decided it was time to finally clean up the old toolbox. It took a lot of hot water, some ammonia and some long soaking times. I'm particularly fond of the two wrenches on the right side of the photo which have ends broken off. I imagine there was some spectacular swearing that went on when that happened.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Heck of a Week

I actually did heaps and heaps of work this week and it was WONDERFUL!!! I found myself kapoinging awake at 4am without an alarm clock, ready to go. I didn't get to the gym half the week, but I did get to work at 7am twice and left after 5pm three times. I had intended to take Friday off, but decided that I really needed to be at work instead since we had lots of stuff going on which was somewhat time-sensitive.

The highlight of the week was when I *squeed* during a conference call with our head office. My attitude was about 2500% improved over the previous month. I was bouncy and energetic and largely uncaffeinated. There was laughing and joking and I took a proactive approach to planning the actions in the investigation, which was surprisingly well-received. (I decided that the dearth of definitive leadership needed to be addressed, rather than whined about.) All-in-all, it was a fun time.

Next week we'll wrap up the last bits of work and collect information for reports. I'd like to pop out the first report by the end of the week and have most of the second one written and ready by Friday as well. With any luck I'll actually take Friday off this time.

Stop Whining!
Having started reading "Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life" by Larry Winget, I am increasingly aware of the volume of complaining/whining that goes on in daily life. I've been paying more attention to the conversations around me and attempting to gauge what percentage of them are whining and what percentage are not. So far most of what people talk to each other about is how things aren't going right or someone has done them wrong. I do it too. I do it a whole lot more than I'd like to. The fact of the matter is that it doesn't actually fix whatever is going wrong and it doesn't address the behavior of the person who done you wrong either. It just spews out negativity. Sympathy from others is great, but that seems a lot like rewarding ineffective or bad behavior to me.

The most recent whining behavior I overheard involved people apparently in an online degree program. They read in the program manual that they were expected to take a comprehensive exam partway through the program, but they were not explicitly, verbally told this at any point until about two months ago. To hear this guy go on about it, the entire group of people in the program didn't think they had to take the test since they hadn't been verbally told about it and it was just in the manual. He mentioned that it was in the manual three times, but that it wasn't what they were supposed to do. I'm not sure why he (or they) were surprised to find out the manual actually was correct.

The next complaint was that the manual said they were supposed to have a program advisor assigned when they began, but none had actually been assigned. So now the manual is supposed to be correct and the group is irate that the program has screwed up and not followed the manual. Despite having been in this program for what sounds like a year, nobody in the group thought it might be a good idea to take some responsibility for their educational process and *ask* about the advisor thing. Based on the conversation this guy was having with his cell phone, it's the school/program's fault that they are screwing up his degree and that he's having to do more work than they told him about, even if said work was spelled out in writing in the materials he received about it when he started.

I wonder if the whining and expecting everything to be spoonfed/delivered on a silver platter is a function of helicopter parenting and giving kids everything they might possibly want. The ingrained sense of entitlement has caused people to think that everything will be done for them, brought to them, digested for them and otherwise giftwrapped without any effort on their part. When the world doesn't deliver to that degree, they rant, complain, berate customer service people and otherwise make their disgruntlement known, often in a way that would put a three year old to shame. What ever happened to self-reliance, initiative and taking responsibility for one's life and actions? I know it's easy to whine about how someone else should have done something or let you know there was a project/program/whatever available. I have done that. I've even whined here about it. But to live your entire life that way? I remember having years of whiner periods in my life. Yikes. Talk about not fun and not productive. All I ever did was alienate people and isolate myself. I rarely got anything done, but raise my blood pressure and develop insomnia.

So, I have a new behavior for myself: No whining. If there is a need to whine or complain, look at the situation and figure out what is wrong so that you can come up with a solution to the problem. This will accomplish two things: first, I can actually get a solution to whatever is not going well and second, I get to solve problems, which is one of my favoritest things to do anyway. If nothing else, solving problems is a lot more fun than whining. It is hard to get a sense of accomplishment about whining but easy to get a sense of accomplishment about solving a problem.

Today
Today I am a lady of leisure. I decided that after a week of lots of work at work, I would have a day of doing whatever the heck I felt like doing, instead of trying to get things done from my neverending, albeit productivity enhancing, lists.

The morning started with a bit of productivity and hilarity. I got the knitted treat bags I made for my niece and nephew finished last night. They look just like candy corn and are adorable. I got them wrapped in tissue paper and boxed up this morning along with some almond hot chocolate mix for my sister. When I took the box to the post office, the usual semi-grumpy postal guy was there. He took the box and mumbled something to the effect of "Do you need anything else today?" I replied that I needed to wake up. He said he could smack me if that would help. I told him that I was actually going to get coffee as my next stop but that if it didn't do the trick I might be back. His response? "We close at 11." BWAHAHAHAHAHA! :-)

I picked up a couple of bags of lemons on sale at the veggie store. With some of them, I'll make lemon bars and take them to work next week. At the moment I'm hanging out at the bookstore, having just noshed on a mini lemon bundt cake and a latte. The hyperkinetic girl is not working the coffeeshop today. The guy who is there is not quite as personable, but is still very good. He brought me my latte when he finished making it, rather than telling me to come get it. He also brought my cake to me after noticing I had failed to pick it up myself (oops). OTOH, he did do a nice job of asking me if I wanted a treat out of the bakery case when I ordered my coffee.

The only "work" I need to do today is to mow the lawn (and thoroughly clean the mower and weed whacker) and to purchase some mouse bait and furnace filters. I have one filter left in the closet which is about to get put in the system. I like to have filters on hand since that's the only way I can remember what size to buy. I also need to get up in the attic and check on the mouse issue. I thought I heard a scurrying in the walls a few weeks back. It's cold enough at night now that I wouldn't be surprised if the critters had moved back in. I wish I knew how they were getting up there, so I could block their entry. I think my next "House Project" will be to finish putting extra insulation batts into the attic over my bedroom and computer room, then insulate the attic hatch in the hallway. It doesn't seat itself properly any more since I cracked it (oops) and it's just a piece of thin fiber board anyway. I probably could wash/wax my car too. I can't remember when I waxed it last. Mostly I'm inclined to just gaze out the window and watch people go by.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Am Such a Wimp

I have already turned on the heat in my house. I had thought that I would not run the heat until at least November, but it didn't work that way. It was in the upper 50s to lower 60s today, as it has been much of the past week or two. It will be in the 40s tonight. It's in the upper 60s in the house. I just don't like being cold. Yes, I can put on a sweater and wrap my mohair wrap (garage sale find for $1 years ago!) around my shoulders, but when my hands ache and my nose is cold, I have to draw a line. I imagine the cold feelings today are exacerbated by the rain outside. The office has been absolutely frigid lately too, with temps probably in the upper 60s because the heating system there is a bit wonky and unreliable. I spend a lot of my work days wearing a fleece jacket and running a space heater. It makes me tired and irritable, though I do drink extra amounts of decaf green tea or peppermint tea, which is probably good for me.

Yummy Pie!
I ate at the Fish Hut today. The special was fried pork chops with 3 veggies (from a choice of 7 or 8). I decided to have a veggie plate, which worked out great since they were out of pork chops at the time anyway so I didn't have to explain so much to the guys I was with that I don't eat meat (I didn't really feel like essplaining things today). I ate boiled cabbage, green beans and fried green tomatoes. Oh my! The tomatoes were *delicious*. I haven't had fried green tomatoes in over a year and these were wonderful. They were breaded with cornmeal and deeply browned. The cornmeal added a bit of crunch to the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Dessert was your choice from an assortment of pies and cakes. My dining companions chose coconut cream pie and I chose chocolate cream pie. Both had meringue and were served warmed, which I hadn't expected. A bite of the coconut pie was shared with me. It was *DELICIOUS*! The coconut in the filling tasted like they'd toasted it before adding it in. If I eat there again, I'll definitely get the coconut pie.

Still No Shopping
I actually brought the grocery list sticky note with me today. And then I was too tired and unwilling to deal with the rainy traffic backups at the end of the day. We've been really really busy at work the past week and a half. I just didn't have the mental energy to deal with either fighting traffic on the roads or at the store, so I went straight home. I haven't decided if I even want to try again tomorrow or just bag it for Saturday. At this point, I probably ought to bag it until Saturday since the list has probably changed or needs things added to it over the past week.

Working Out
I didn't get to the gym today since I went in to work an hour early, but I did workout a bit at home and was rather pleasantly surprised to find my stamina and cardio capacity is much improved over six months ago. Yay! It's always good to find out that all the effort and getting up extra early has actually accomplished something. That greatly helps with my motivation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still Talking to Myself:

If you get the sticky note grocery list out of your backpack so you can add things to it, it would be helpful if you would put it back in your backpack before leaving for work. Leaving it on the desk at home does not assist with the shopping process. I'm not entirely sure why I stuck a random blank piece of paper into my shirt pocket today and imagined it was the shopping list, but I did.

Self, you have already discovered that peanut brittle for dinner is not the world's greatest idea. Peanut brittle for breakfast is also not likely to be a good idea, though hot coffee is a fairly good peanut brittle solvent. I don't care how much you whine and plead or how many times you swear you'll take your garden shoes off at the back door instead of tracking dirt through the house. You are NOT having peanut brittle for breakfast. Why? Because I said so, that's why. What's that? What makes my "Because I said so" better than your "Because I said so?" Because I said it first! Besides, you just finished eating all the peanut brittle anyway. Don't come whining to me when your tummy is queasy with all the sugar. And, no, peanut brittle is not "just like a PB&J sammich with extra jelly (sugar) and no bread". Now go have a time out and consider healthy meal options, you silly slow learner.

More Recently Overheard Conversations in Public Places:
"You know the only reason black people are voting is because a black guy is running for President." This was followed by extended discourse on how said black candidate will only do things for "his people" and "the rest of us will be on our own".

I dunno, I've not always been terribly impressed by the abilities of the rich white guys to get things done. Perhaps a change would be good. I'm also pretty sure that the President doesn't just get a free pass to do whatever the heck he wants once he gets the nifty round office, the red phone and the assorted bill signing pen collection. I'm pretty sure there's this thing called balance of power between the branches, so even if a president wanted to cater only to his particular special interest group, that power might be limited. (though with congress filled with rich white guys, that may not be much of an impediment depending upon the group in which you are specially interested).

I will, however, be greatly amused if there is a greater proportion of registered minority voters voting this year than the white folks. That would shake up some folks. So would the election of a minority dude. It's going to be fun to watch what happens. I just hope there isn't another hanging chad sort of fiasco.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Notes to Self:

If you eat a bunch of peanut brittle for dinner on Monday and discover that it gives you a tummy ache, it's a fair bet that having even more peanut brittle for dinner on Tuesday will also give you a tummy ache.

Remember the grocery list sticky note from yesterday? I had every intention of moving said sticky note from the library books and taking it with me to work today. When I left work, I remembered that I hadn't done that. When I got home from work, I discovered that the grocery list sticky note was not on the library books. Interesting. So, where do I find the list? In my backpack, where I apparently put it after removing it from the library books this morning. *sigh*
(No, a lack of groceries is not why I'm eating peanut brittle for dinner. I have real food to eat. I just can't keep my hand out of the tub o' peanut brittle.)

Don't buy raw peanuts ever again. This should help prevent future peanut brittle outbreaks in my kitchen with subsequent peanut brittle dinner incidents.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Notes To Self:

A little peanut brittle is a good snack. Eating peanut brittle until your jaws hurt from chewing and your tummy is upset is waaaaaaaay more than a snack amount. Also, apparently you don't get sugar rushes when you get older. This is something of a bummer. (And the sugar rush had darned well better not kick in at bedtime or I'm gonna be tweaked.)

Tilling up the garden at the end of the growing season is good. Leaving one's shoes untied during this exercise is an excellent way to get most of the garden dirt inside said shoes (and actually inside one's socks too). Failing to think about this results in needing to vacuum up the portion of the garden you track inside the house. DOH!

Attempting to have a more positive attitude at work may be paying off. I did get asked to participate in/work on a big project that cropped up over the weekend. Yay! This may be a sign of changing behaviors in more people than just me. W00t! (Based upon how well things go, I may re-evaluate my exit strategy.)

If hitting the snooze button two times results in my being late getting to the gym, hitting the snooze button *three* times will not result in my getting to the gym earlier than hitting it just two times. Oh, and there is no tear in the space-time continuum between my house and the gym. Although my vehicle does periodically activate a cloaking device, it does not seem capable of folding time and space when I need to be places sooner.

It's not a good idea to put the renewal notices for your license plates in a "safe place" until you have a day off to pay them. Unless you write down where that "safe place" is and put that note somewhere obvious.

Writing a grocery list on a sticky note is good. Putting the sticky note on the library books you're taking back today is also good. Renewing the books online just as you leave the house and then leaving the books at home rather makes it difficult to use the grocery list after work. DOH!

Today's Moral Dilemma:

I tipped over the compost bin and distributed the contents across 1/4 of the garden before tilling it under. During this process, I discovered that I rendered two mice homeless. The second one must have just woken up from a pre-dinner nap because he seemed a bit confused to suddenly be outside. He just sat there, then hopped a couple of steps, then stopped and looked around, then hopped a bit further before disappearing into the tomato plants. The first mouse just beat a quick retreat to the other end of the garden. I kinda feel bad about wrecking their house. It was probably really warm in their soil cave underneath all the decomposing plant material. I can't replace their house though and I'm sure they'll manage to come up with a solution to not having a house. Well, I'll keep telling myself they won't end up as mouse-cicles. The local coyote pack may find them easier prey now too, but then at least they wouldn't freeze to death.

OTOH, the garden looks pretty good, though I'll till it up again tomorrow after I get more fuel for the tiller. Once all the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants die, I'll till up the remainder of the garden too.

Have I mentioned how much I like to get to do lots of real work at work? *SQUEE!*

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aw, Rats!

Well, my moving of the Rose of Sharon shrublets doesn't seem to have gone as well as I had hoped.  I moved four baby shrubs and all of them are dropping leaves badly.  I am going to hope that the moving stress is just causing them to shed leaves earlier than the shrub which is still in the original location (and is still green and leafy).  Because I was traveling at the beginning of last week, I wasn't able to water them daily, but it did rain at least one day.  Perhaps lack of water right after transplanting was a problem anyway.

Career Options
At the meetings last week, I once again continued my pleas with higher ups for projects to do since I'm only working at 20-30% capacity and spending most of my time filing paperwork.  This was again largely met with blank looks, rolled eyes, changes of subject or sudden needs to be somewhere else.  It has now been two years that I have been asking the higher ups if I could participate in projects and asking for some guidance/mentoring in how to translate from grad student to working professional in my field.  These requests have been e-mailed to three people who are still in the organization.  For the most part, these requests have gone unanswered.  I had one little nibble, but then something else came up and subsequent pings received no replies.  It was frustrating to see the research and other projects being done by people at the central office. *THAT* is the sort of stuff that I want to do.  I desperately want to make a substantial contribution to the organization and to be recognized for my work (or at least to get some idea from *someone* that I'm doing something useful/beneficial, not just taking up space).  I know that I shouldn't care what other people think, but I guess I still do.  It doesn't seem to me as though I'm doing anything particularly meaningful and I'm definitely not using any of my training.  From conversations I had this week, it would appear that my frustrations are found among other persons in my position all across the state.  This does not give me much hope for having this problem be solved.

I would like to help people out in my office. I have said repeatedly in the past few weeks that I can help the people who are currently overloaded.  My co-workers say "Ok.", but that's all the further it goes.  I don't know how to communicate that I can actually help them and share the load.  I don't want to harass them and be a pest, asking every 5 minutes if I can help yet, but perhaps they think I don't really mean it when I say I can help.  As I have commented before, this frustrates me and doesn't do much for my attitude which, in turn, doesn't really make it likely that anybody will approach me for help since I know I get really prickly and unpleasant.  (OTOH, Friday I was asked twice to help a colleague who rarely asks me for anything and it went very well.  I was very pleased.  I would be very interested in having that interaction continue.  It's nice to actually be working as part of the team, rather than isolated in my corner.)

On the Job Front
I did have a phone interview last week that went very well.  They asked if they could contact my current supervisor and I said yes.  And then I promptly forgot to say anything to my current supervisor.  So I got a call late Friday afternoon from said supervisor indicating he'd received a call from the interview chair.  Oops.  Supervisor knows that I'm not entirely happy with things at work and that I feel underutilized, but I feel like I just blindsided the super.  I should have mentioned it before the phone call arrived.  I did apologize, but I do feel bad about it.  They said they understood when I indicated that I was looking for more responsibility and greater workload.  Of course, there's also the part about my not being a good fit in this office personality-wise, which can't really be fixed.

One thing the interview did was boost my confidence in my knowledge and it also caused me to realize something interesting about the interview for my current position.  When I interviewed for my current position, I was asked no questions to establish what I know about the field I studied in graduate school.  There did not appear to be a pre-set series of questions.  It really seemed rather ad hoc and unstructured.  This may just be a perception on my part, but could have been an early sign that they weren't sure what to do with me once I got my main job task done two weeks after I arrived.

I have set myself a goal to completely apply for at least three positions each weekend and at least two positions each week.  You see, I have a tendency to start an application, then get bogged down with a detail or three and fail to follow through completely before the position closes.  This, of course, results in my application not being considered.  Faxing in supporting documents (transcripts, etc.) seems to be a real problem that needs to be overcome.  It would be easier if the various application sites were better designed.  Why should I be required to both submit a resume *and* key in all the educational and work information from said resume into a clunky user interface?  Why does this stuff have to be duplicated? That's a tremendous time sink and incredibly inefficient.  It also makes me wonder about the abilities of the company's HR or IT folks in getting the information from both sources.

The Last of the Garden Bounty
The eggplant plants have gone insane.  I always thought these were summer/warm season producers, but apparently they are not.  They set few flowers during the summer.  Right now there are seven fruits growing on two plants with another six or eight blossoms.  The pepper plants are also going crazy.  The tomatoes are winding things down.  Soon I'll need to decide if I want to pick green tomatoes again this year.  Temperatures have been down in the 40s at night so I suspect the future of ripe tomatoes is quite limited at this point.  The basil harvest hasn't even started yet.  Of course, I never did quite use up the basil I coarsely chopped and froze last year, so part of me doesn't want to bother with harvesting and freezing this year.  The other part of me feels bad about "wasting" the basil.  I could try trying some basil and giving it away over the winter.

On a whim, I purchased two pineapple sage plants in the late spring and planted them at the back of the house.  I figured they'd die out pretty quickly, but I really like the scent of the leaves so I went ahead and bought them anyway with my weekly allowance.  I was wrong about the dying out part.  They're as tall as I am now (65 inches) and just past the peak blooming time.  Pineapple sage blossoms are incredibly attractive to moths and butterflies.  I haven't been able to decide about harvesting leaves or what to do with them if I did harvest the leaves.  I have a recipe for sage cookies which might be very tasty with pineapple sage rather than regular sage, but I don't know if the fruity overtones would be lost in baking or not.  I really should try drying at least some of the leaves and see how that works.  If nothing else, perhaps I could make some sachets or potpourri.

Soon I'll need to till under the garden and plant garlic for next year.  Yes, I may be moving in the next six months, but that doesnt' mean I won't still plant garlic.  (And yes, I am stressing in the back of my mind about what to do with moving plants again when I move.  I don't want to give up all my irises, esp since a large chunk of them came from my late buddy DZD and remind me of her whenever I see them.  Then there's the Rose of Sharon, though I could still get seedlings from the original Lucky-donated plant if I had to.  And the blackberries and raspberries and the coreopsis, though I have about 5 quarts of seed from this year too.  This is becoming an exercise in practicing to only worry about things which are NOW, not things which are in the future and might never even be an issue.)

Baking Weekend
As chilly as it's been, I'm definitely baking this weekend.  Of course, I'm also out of bread, so that's extra incentive.  I'll do the usual Oatmeal Toasting Bread.  I also would like something a little sweet and fruity to eat, so might try Raspberry Lime Bread from the former Bakingsheet blog (now Baking Bites).  I will, of course, use Blackberries instead since I have oodles of them frozen.  I'll probably also use whole wheat flour for a bit of extra flavor.  I'll keep you posted how things turn out.

Cookie baking season is about to kick into high gear.  I am the annual unofficial cookie supplier to the SCinet crew at annual international supercomputing conference, SC08.  My best friend is the fiber chair again this year.  He and his crew will spend a week setting up the world's fastest network, let it run for a week and then tear it all down. As you might imagine, this makes for some rather long, stressful days (and nights).  I usually send a couple boxes of cookies for the set-up week and one for the week of the conference.  This has been widely regarded as a great boost for productivity and morale.  I even take requests for what to bake. (I don't really care what I bake and sometimes it's nice to have someone else make the decision.)  The overall SCinet Chairperson, Patrick, likes oatmeal raisin cookies so I'll make those and the fiber infrastructure database developer/keeper, Jon, likes all cookies but favors chocolate and nuts so I'll throw in something special for him too.  Staging is the week of October 27th.  Setup is the week of November 10th, with the conference starting November 15th.  The tentative cookie list for this year includes: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, gingerbread, snickerdoodles, brown sugar, and possibly peanut butter.  

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dirt in My Pants

I don't remember the last time I had dirt in my pants. It took me a while to figure out how I got it in there today. Then I remembered. I carried a dug-up tree to the other end of the yard. Normally I do the "bad" thing and just grab them by the trunk and don't support the root ball at all. Today I decided to do the right thing (yay me!) and held it by the root ball. Apparently I held it close enough to my belly that it pressed up against me and dirt worked its way in between my t-shirt and the waist of my pants. Then it stayed there through relocating some irises and attempting to move the bigger trees. I found it when I dumped the pants dirt all over the floor as I changed my clothes.

About the tree moving attempt: The smaller of the bigger trees got its taproot snapped. The larger of the bigger trees is going to have to be cut. Its root ball is goign to be too big to dig up easily and it's near the gas and water lines going to my house. I'd rather just cut the tree and let it go. It's not going to be worth risking a utility "oops" or worth paying someone to come out and do it "professionally", which wouldn't necessarily eliminate the risk of the "oops" either. So I'll let it go for now and cut it down in the spring. I discovered it's got some pokey, thorny bits today too, which would have made digging it up "interesting".

Turning Over New Leaves of a Different Sort....
Here's a more eloquent explanation of my recently adopted attitude about whining. These are actually the straight-forward and wise words of "http://www.larrywinget.com/">Larry Winget from his book "Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life":
Whining prolongs the problem. As long as you continue to whine about what is wrong with your life there will be no room for anything good to come into your life. That is just the way life works. You cannot focus on the solution when you are whining about the problem. You cannot do two things at once. Pick the one that moves you closer to where you want to be in life. Does whining bring you closer to success? Does whining bring you closer to a better relationship? Does whining really make you happy? Does it make you smile? Seriously, have you ever seen anyone smile and whine at the same time?

The answer obviously is that whining does not move you closer to where you want to be. Whining will only make your problem stick around longer. It will not make you smile. And trust me on this one, it will not endear you to others.
It's basically what I've already figured out, but said more clearly. It also helps to get the confirmation from someone else that I'm on the right track. Now I just need to remember it more often and not let the urge to whine/complain/bitch win when I get frustrated or aggravated. And when I forget, I need to just quit it and move on. The hard part will be stopping the slowly growing grumpiness when my frustration builds up.

Lately, I've been slipping on my "no complaints" behavior. Various frustrations and aggravations have been getting to me. Of course, I also can't find my anti-complaining bracelet. Not that that is any excuse, but the visual reminder helps. (For more on the anti-complaining bracelets and a separate anti-complaining program, see A Complaint Free World. Technically, my bracelet was just a random jelly bracelet that was a freebie at a conference, but it worked just the same.) What helps with the grumpiness/frustration is to visualize carrying a sphere of zen calmness and serenity around me. Then life becomes a game where my goal is to not let the world pop my bubble. Call it immature, if you'd like, but I'm always more successful at things that I can turn into a "game" and it seems to take the pressure off about failing, since everybody knows you can't always win the game. I never bother to keep score either. I just keep playing.

Lucky Would Be Pleased

Lucky is a former neighbor. He was somewhere between70 and 80 years old. He once gave me a small Rose of Sharon shrub he needed to move. I planted it at a friend's house. This shrub, over the course of the next few years, spawned numerous offspring as it spewed out seeds every fall. When I moved here, I brought with me several of the offspring from Lucky's shrub. I planted them on the south side of my house as a temporary stopping place until I figured out their final location.

Nearly two years later, I've mostly figured out where to plant them. Two of them are now in a newly made bed on the south side of the deck. Since it's impossible to mow into a corner and I hate having to go back with the weed whacker, I have now made a gently curved bed out of that corner. The corner will be anchored by the larger of the two shrubs. The other one is a bit further south along the back of the house. I'm not 100% certain I like the second shrub being placed there, but it'll work for tonight. It may end up along the edge of the old poison ivy corner or in an expansion of the north side flower bed. Of the two, as yet unmoved shrubs, one will stay on the southwest corner of the house. The other will go down by the garden shed and the big oak tree. This was the first year these shrubs set flowers, but I have harvested as many seed pods as I could find. I'd like to keep propagating Lucky's shrubs wherever I go. They're pretty, they're easy to grow and they're a reminder of a kind person's generosity.

Tomorrow I'll see if I can get the trees in the irises moved. They'll be planted off the southwest corner of the house in hopes they will eventually shade the house somewhat in the summer. The larger of the two trees may be too big to get dug up and moved, but I'll be patient and try my best. The really rainy day we had earlier this week was a big help at softening the ground for me. The softened ground has also eliminated the last excuse I had to avoid the nasty weeding I have avoided for the past two years. Ugh. On the other hand, it also means I won't be tilling up the garden this weekend since it's too wet. Yet another excuse gone.... *sigh*

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Love Halloween!

Every October, there is at least one cable TV channel that shows scary movies every night of the month. This year it seems to be the SciFi channel. I think we're watching the movie Rose Red, which is a Stephen King book (and seems to be a variation on The Haunting). I just watched a woman panic because something was crawling toward her under the area rug and then under the blankets up between her legs. But she failed to move or otherwise evade it. I don't know about you, but if there was something crawling under the blankets towards me I don't think I'd just lay there. I would not, however, be likely to look under the bed to see if anything "bad" was under there. That's just inviting to be dragged under by the monsters under the bed and gobbled right up. I do have to give the kid in the movie credit for pointing out that it's not a Boogey Man, but a Boogey Lady that's the problem they're dealing with, which got me thinking....

Have you ever wondered why the monsters are never female? The only female monster/scary movie lead character I can recall is Mothra. At least I think Mothra was female. From what I remember, she/it had kids. (That is not to say that male monsters can't have strong parental tendencies and go crazy defending their kids, but the general assumption is that somehow the mothering instinct is stronger than the fathering instinct. I wonder if that holds true for species which lay eggs, rather than gestating. Boy, let's get a little bit more random in our digressions, shall we?) I guess the Bride of Frankenstein was female too, but she was more of a sidekick kind of monster. Why didn't Dr. Frankenstein make a female monster first? Or was Ms. Shelley giving the good (bad?) doctor an even bigger God complex by having him reproduce the original creation myth? From a cursory examination of the plots I recall in my head, literature has lots of strong female lead characters, but no really big bad scary female leads (with the possible exception of the psycho woman in the book Misery). Does that seem to you like it's a gap that needs filling? Hmmm..... And NaNoWriMo is coming in November too.

Yay Me!
I'm still holding steady at 160 pounds of weight, but I'm about an inch of hip size away from wearing my size 12 Levi's. Just a few months ago, the size 16s were getting snug. I wonder if I can shrink myself enough to wear my 501s on my birthday. (The 501s fit much more trimly than my usual 550s.)

As I noted a day or two ago, the Y is having a fat buster "contest" over the next six weeks. I was wrong about it being based only on BMI. There was a fat percentage measurement, using bioelectrical impedance. It's not the most accurate way to measure body composition, but if the inaccuracy is consistent (as opposed to random), I ought to get a reasonable measure of any change in body fat, even if the starting and ending points aren't quite accurate. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Today, I'm at 33.8% body fat, which plops me into the obese range. I'm not really happy about that, but I can't say that it's really wrong either. Let's just say my muscles have plenty of insulation over them.

In any event, my goal is to get closer to 22-24% body fat. If we figure that I have 106 pounds of lean body mass, then at 24% body fat I'd have a total body weight of 140 pounds. Oddly enough, that was the goal weight I picked when I first started hitting the gym. Between 135 and 140 pounds is the weight I've always felt best at.

I've already got almost two months of regular gym time under my belt. Today's measurements have really helped boost my motivation level. I'm not trying to win the contest against everybody else. I just want to see a couple percentage point change in myself. If I can lose 1-2 pounds of fat each week for six week, that's 6-12 pounds and halfway to my overall goal! And if I can't quite get there, I'll still be closer than I am today.

But first, I need a snack. (I really need to work on actually eating dinner, instead of putting it off and just having a couple of snacks instead. I'd probably feel better if I actually had dinner and I really haven't got any excuse there.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

*SHTINKY!*

Ok, sports fans, you'll remember that I cleaned up the home office and threw a bunch of stuff out over the weekend. Sunday night I discovered that the home office now smells like something died in there. I shampooed the carpet last night. It still smelled this morning. When I got home from work this evening, it still smelled but I thought I could tolerate it. I can't. I shampooed it again. I might give it one more try tomorrow evening. After that, I'm seriously considering ripping up the carpet and laying a laminate or bamboo floor. No, it's really not in the budget, but the room is basically unusable with the smell right now and as far as I can tell it's coming from the carpet. I guess moving all those boxes around and smooshing various parts of the carpet stirred something up.

Needless to say the waste water from the carpet cleaner was *nasty*! This is not the first time I've cleaned this carpet, but I'm getting the impression that I may have been the first person to have ever cleaned it. Ugh.

Biggest Loser!
Well, not exactly. The local YMCA is having a fat loss contest over the next six weeks. The weigh/measure-in starts tomorrow morning. Entry fee is $10. Surprisingly, they aren't actually doing caliper-based measurements. In fact, they aren't actually measuring body fat at all. They are instead recording height, weight and age, then applying a formula to arrive at a body fat number. I suspect they're actually looking at Body Mass Index (BMI) instead, but I could be wrong. Either way, it'll be good motivation to keep hitting the gym, eating well and working out hard!

Musings on my Job Conflict
I have figured out why my job drives me nuts. It's not the job that is the problem. It's the standards of the management/leadership. Whenever data is released revealing our performance level relative to all the other regions, the statement I hear most often is "Well, at least we're not the worst region." This stupefies me. Wouldn't it make more sense to set being the BEST region as your goal, not to just be marginally above the worst? Why say denigrating things about the high-performing regions? It sure doesn't make us look any better. If there is a training program where we might learn to do our jobs more effectively, why grumble about having to attend or to learn new (and potentially better) ways to get our jobs done? Do you really want to work harder in order to achieve worse results? Wouldn't you rather work smarter and achieve more?

If the rankings involve the public in the region, why is it acceptable to explain the reason for poor performance by saying that the residents are uneducated and poor? Since you also live here, does that mean you are dumb and poor as well? There are certainly other poor and uneducated populations in this state (and in other states), yet they often outperform us. Why is that? If you have given up on making any difference in the rankings via the job you presently have, why are you still working here? You're certainly not doing the public any good. You've already decided they're too poor and dumb to improve.

Why is it acceptable for mediocrity to be the status quo? Why not keep striving for improved performance, both overall as an organization as well as personally? The only person I have to be better than is the person I was yesterday. Why would I want anything less than that? If you're resting on your laurels, you're wearing them on the wrong body part.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Drowning in Post-It Notes

I have developed a bad habit. I blame it all on the inventor of the Post-It note. You see, I keep a pad of sticky notes just about everywhere. There is one in the car, one on the nightstand, one on just about every desk in the house, one by the knitting/reading/laptop chair and, of course, there are sticky notes at work. I use them to jot down whatever bit of philosophizing flits through my brain or notes from an audiobook or a grocery list or list of things to get done that day. It's the notes, rather than the lists, that are the problem. I end up with two to six new notes every day.

The problem is that I don't like to get rid of the notes. I end up losing them or they get smashed at the bottom of my backpack and crumpled into an unreadable state. I like to keep track of them and either remember what they said or develop the idea/concept scribbled on them into an essay or blog post. In hopes of saving more of these notes, I've started using small manilla envelopes to collect the notes, which I then review on the weekends and develop the essays or further ponder whatever they say. Of course, I haven't quite yet gotten past stuffing the notes in my backpack yet and I don't always have a Saturday or Sunday available to ponder the notes, so the accumulation still outpaces the musings and writing. And then there are the storage boxes of notes from the past several years....

At any rate, I need to come up with some regular method of reviewing the notes to myself and digesting the knowledge, then incorporating it. Perhaps that will become my Saturday morning musing at the coffee shop. That doesn't feel exactly like the right answer either. I don't want to give up the random writing that springs out of my head when I hang out in public, watching people, overhearing conversations and listening to the mutterings of my brain. Of course, I also don't think one morning a week will get me out of note debt, but it would be better than nothing at all.

The predilection for writing notes comes from the years and years of life in college, where I documented nearly every event with notes. This is part of the reason why I had six boxes of stuff to get rid of this weekend. I have, unfortunately, come to rely very heavily on the notes to remember things, rather than to store information in my short-term or long-term memory. If I write it down, I don't need to take up any brain space. I just need to find the right note at the right time. I also have a tendency to repeat things. I'll have a brilliant idea one week and then forget all about it, only to have it again later on. I do the same thing with some blog posts. Or I'll have contradictory ideas/notes and not remember the earlier idea/note at all. It's not that I can't make up my mind, it's that I don't always remember what my mind made up in the first place. I need to work on that. Remembering a few good things is probably a better strategy than cramming every possible thing into my head and forgetting most of them.

Excellent Black Bean Soup
I made this for dinner last night. It will likely become a fixture of my meal planning for the winter. Thickened, it would make good enchiladas or be tasty served over rice. Next time I might add sauteed onions and garlic as well, but this was darn good and quick too.

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can diced green chiles
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
1-2 tablespoons lime juice

Combine beans, tomatoes, chiles, cumin and oregano. Cook over medium heat until heated through and beginning to thicken. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir in lime juice. Serve plain as a soup/stew or cook until thick and serve over rice. Serves 3.

Tonight I drew up another menu plan for the next two weeks. It is amazing to me how much difference this makes in my attitude and motivation toward dinner. It also simplifies the shopping process since I know exactly what I need and how much of it. I like to be efficient in my shopping and to not waste any food through spoilage. I never thought it would make that much of a difference to write down on paper what I'm planning to eat in a week, but it really does.

Working Out Again
I wasn't terribly excited about the prospects of hitting the gym last week and only showed up three days. I wasn't terribly excited about getting out of bed this morning either, but did it anyway and had a fun time on the treadmill. The key, I think, will be getting to bed at a reasonable hour so that I can get up with less difficulty in the morning. If I leave the house at 5:30, I can get to the gym in time for 3 miles on the treadmill plus at least a partial weight circuit. That will be my goal. Before long I'll be hooked on the endorphin high again and will be bounding out of bed, ready and raring to go.

Soon I'll have to get to work on a formal 10K training plan. The race in January is creeping up on me. I want to finish the race in about an hour so we'll have the rest of the day to relax and goof off. Right now the plan is to get to the condo on Sunday (the race is on Friday) and I imagine we'll spend a good bit of time playing at the various theme parks. We'll leave either Saturday or Sunday, depending upon when we each need to be back at work.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Great Clean-Up Continues....

This was last week's pile of stuff to recycle. I decided that I really don't need to save all the nice shopping bags with handles for some future use, especially since I never actually remember that I have any of them, so never use them. Now I have one bag of bags, half of which are actually Christmas/holiday gift bags, which I'm hoping I'll remember to actually use this year. If I don't use them this year, I'll take them over to the GoodWill store for someone else to use.

This week's pile of stuff is from my home office. It's mostly class notes and old research papers. This stuff used to take up six file boxes. Now I have two and a half file boxes and nothing that is school-related in the filing cabinet. I also emptied 1 1/2 filing cabinet drawers of miscellaneous papers that didn't need saving and organized the remaining 1/2 drawer with neatly labeled folders. Once I put all the papers in the recycle pile, I got extremely anxious. You see, I spent a lot of time and money to accumulate this information/knowledge. I don't want to throw it out and suddenly realize that I forgot something that was in it. Then again, I haven't used any of these notes in 8-12 years so it's not terribly likely. And I can always use my Google-fu and other research powers to find whatever information I don't remember.

Have I mentioned lately how happy I am that a paper recycling drop-off dumpster has appeared in the Wal-Mart parking lot?

While tearing up the home office, I also switched the computers between desks so now the Mac is by the window. I discovered that I can't spend hours reading e-mail, blogs and surfing the internet while sitting in the corner. I have to look out the window. Now I just need to finish putting all the stuff back on the desks since I made a huge mess of it, though I'm tempted to leave everything off the desks and in a box for a week, just adding back the things I use and none of the extra bits. I rather like having a minimally cluttered desk. It helps me keep things neat and tidy and uncluttered. Once I start putting stuff where it doesn't belong, it seems to multiply.

Next up: going through all my software and old floppy disks and getting rid of stuff that doesn't work on the existing computers or that I haven't used in at least 2 years.

My reward for all this work? I get to relocate two sweet gum seedlings that sprouted in my front flowerbed. Soon they'll be living happily in the back yard next to one of the other big gum trees. The spots I've chosen are where two trees used to be. That seemed fitting to me.

Next week I'll have to move the two trees that came up in the irises on the south side of the house. Unfortunately one of them is taller than I am, so that could be a bit of a bear to deal with. I think I'll put it about 20 feet away from the house on the west side. Eventually it'll shade the house, but still be far enough away to not hang over it and drop branches on the roof. The smaller of the two trees, I'm not so sure about yet. Maybe I'll plant them near each other and they can keep each other company.

Living Room Spider Update
The LR Spider has not, in fact, left for other locations. I discovered that it's living underneath the floor lamp. This is good. I would hate to overcrowd the bathroom with spiders. There are already two of them living in there--one behind the toilet and one behind the door. I did take the liberty of cleaning up the insect carcasses the LR spider left in its abode. I hope it didn't mind. I must say that I enjoy the company while I knit or watch DVDs. Is it wrong that I keep hoping that I'll find a bug to feed it?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Have Stealth Mode!

I discovered today that my car apparently contains super secret Stealth technology, not unlike that pictured in the photo of the plane to the right. On the way to work today, both a school bus and a semi-truck pulled out in front of me, apparently without even seeing me. If I hadn't locked up the brakes for the second one, I'd have wedged my car underneath the trailer and possibly decapitated myself. I have now said enough bad words in a single day that there is no way on earth that I'll get back on the "nice" list by Christmas. So, it looks like I won't get that pony this year. I did not, however, spill any of the coffee in my travel mug. *That* would have really ticked me off.

The trip home was no less exciting as a FedEx delivery truck decided that its stop sign was optional and nearly t-boned the passenger side of the car. My options were to swerve into oncoming traffic or to hope that the FedEx truck saw me and stopped in time. Have you ever tried to suck the sides of your car in so that it's narrower? Fortunately, the FedEx person decided at the last minute that the stop sign might really mean stop (not to mention the bit about yielding to cross traffic). I said more bad words, but I also failed to spill any of my open can of diet Pepsi. When I got home, I went to the backyard and smooshed grass between my bare toes until the homicidal impulses faded.

The work day in between was not all that great either. It's really wearing on me to spend 90% of each day filing paperwork, week after week. I had really hoped that getting a PhD might qualify me for something a bit more mentally engaging than that. I tried to distract myself with podcasts and audiobooks as usual, but it didn't work very well today. (My brain kept trying to come up with ways to better organize the data and/or to analyze it.) I'm becoming increasingly discouraged and depressed. I have finally given up on actually getting to do anything I have actually been trained to do or which appears in my job description, which also depresses me. It is frustrating to watch people without formal training do the things I spent years learning how to do with a high degree of competence, while I remove staples and alphabetize. I'm trying very hard to not have a bad attitude at work, but I know I'm not doing a very good job of that. I spent a good chunk of the day crying in my cube, actually. I am meeting with my boss tomorrow and I'm considering asking for the fourth time to ask for help, but a large part of me doesn't know why I'd bother. Needless to say, I'm kicking the job hunt into high gear. Here's hoping the tanking economy and housing market don't get in my way too badly.

On the other hand, I am willing to sell my Stealth car for the low, low price of only $500,000 USD. Lump sum cash payment only. Tax, title, license, dealer prep and destination charges not included.

Update: My sister has informed me that it's not a Stealth car, it merely has a cloaking device that randomly activates.

Two words that should not go together:
Beef Slurry. Also Meat Smoothie.

I made the mistake of watching the National Geographic channel this evening while they showed how hot dogs are made. These two terms were used to describe the meat product after grinding. A not terribly attractive looking product.

I'll stick to my veggie dogs, thanks. :-)

On the other hand, I now know how/why there's that funny seam line down the side of a hotdog. It's where the casing is slit before it's removed. In this particular plant, the dogs pass under a steam jet, then pass the knife that slits the casing the length of the hotdog. A blast of air from the cut side blows the casing off the hotdog and the released dogs are ejected from the end of the "skinner" en route to the packaging station.

More Job Thoughts
Thinking a bit more about it, the problem is not that the job is not mentally engaging. I can do mindless jobs. I spent a couple years working part-time in a print shop, running the trimming, binding, stapling and sorting equipment. I wrote essays and research papers in my head while I worked. It was great! I can also knit miles of stockinette or garter stitch as needed and spend 1.5-3 hours per week mowing the lawn or weeding. The frustrating part is that I wasn't hired to do mindless filing and data entry. I was hired to do some very specific tasks for which the minimum job requirement was a master's degree. Frankly, a high school dropout could manage what I have been doing for the past several months, perhaps with the exception of the week at the shelter and I'm not entirely convinced of that, having worked in emergency medical services with folks whose highest educational level was high school. They'd have managed that setting with no sweat whatsoever. I really expected, based on the job description and job requirements, that I would be using the degree I spent 8 years and tens of thousands of dollars to earn.

Now I am torn between trying a similar job in a completely different place or trying a completely different sort of job entirely (and a completely different place). I am unable, at the moment, to separate my frustration with the current job from the frustration of being unable to use my degree. I am very tempted to turn my back completely on my degree and training if I can find an employer who is willing to hire someone with LOTS of energy who wants to work at 70-80% of capacity for 80+% of the time and to work at 100%+ the rest of the time. I am capable of working on my own or with others. I am a fast learner. In fact, I love to learn and would welcome having to learn new things regularly in a job. All I need is some direction and guidance to get me started, with perhaps a few checks along the way to make sure I'm on track toward meeting the specified objective(s). I would really welcome a mentor or someone from whom I could solicit advice or critique along the way. I am well-organized and am very particular about keeping data neat and documented, in both digital and paper formats. I can write fairly clearly (see my blogs) and also manage public speaking fairly well. It would be nice if I got credit for the work I did, but mostly I just want a sense of satisfaction at a job well done and the knowledge that I have made a significant contribution to the organization--I need to know that I have made a difference. A paycheck at least as large as the one I have now would be nice too. Most of all, I like challenges and I truly believe that boredom *is* the enemy.