Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Knew I was Crazy, Right?

As you might imagine, my work world has gotten a wee bit hectic with the new novel influenza outbreak that is going on. There's a pretty good chance that the WHO will declare pandemic alert level 6 in the next couple days. So far no cases in the neck of the woods where I am, but that's subject to change at any time. No panicky clearing out of the grocery stores either, unless you count the completely decimated supply of diet Pepsi.

So, why am I crazy this week? For starters, I'm still getting to the gym before work for my morning mighty endomorphin fix. I'm having less caffeine than usual and I'm even more hyper than usual, probably because I have things to do. Ever seen a golden retriever with a nice big stick to carry? Yep. That's me.

And tonight I signed up for Twitter. Why would I do that, you ask? So I can follow the CDC. *sigh* Yes, it's true folks. I'm a nerd.

Now I have to learn Twittiquette. <-- Like the new word I just made up? Twitter etiquette. Twittiquette. I haven't a clue how the silly thing works and I've decided I probably shouldn't Tweet until I figure at least a little bit out. And then I'll add a Twitter thingie to the blog. Maybe.

Update 4/30/09: Turns out that Twittiquette is already a "word". And here I thought I was being all clever. Obviously that was the tired talking. :-)

Pictures Coming Soon
I planted a bunch o' stuff in my garden this weekend (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, dill, pineapple sage, kale, lettuce, radishes). The blackberries and raspberries are starting to bloom. The roses, irises and daisies are blooming. Things are looking quite springlike. There are dozens of toads hanging out in the yard, flowerbeds and garden too. I've even seen a lizard or two. If I get home at a reasonable hour between now and Saturday and still have mental capacity left after cooking dinner and/or doing laundry and cleaning house, I'll get some pics up for ya.

TMI Trivia
My sister informs me that it's possibly a bad thing to go for ten hours without needing to pee. It doesn't seem to count that I had a friend pee for me twice since he was going anyway. This is apparently not a task you can either outsource or delegate. Bummer. I'll be sure to text her the next time I'm in the bathroom.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Most Excellent Road Trip

My sister and I had fun trekking around Nashville on Saturday. I picked her up at her conference around 1:30 in the afternoon. After stopping by her hotel to change clothes, we took off for a bit of shopping. Our first destination was Haus of Yarn for some sock and lace yarn, followed by Target in a search for jeans and pants. The first stop was very successful, the second stop was not. After shopping and a brief detour to look at historic houses, we headed over to Centennial Park to see The Parthenon.

We discovered there was an Earth Day festival going on. There were some gorgeous tulips too.

We saw a toddler being toted over his dad's shoulder (with dad and toddler laughing the whole time) and a neato painted van.

We also saw a UPS minivan, which neither of us had ever seen before. It seemed so small and dainty compared to the usual UPS delivery trucks.

For dinner we headed to Jack's Barbecue, which Jo thought was delicious albeit much smokier in flavor than she's used to. We then wandered down to the river and back up 2nd Street for a bit of people watching.

The highlight of the day occurred when we returned to our car, parked across the street from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. There was a wedding party taking pictures outside the Center. As we pulled out of the parking space, Jo's attention was captured by a flame red head of hair and took a closer look. Then she gasps, because she thinks it might be Wynonna Judd, but then decides it couldn't possibly be her. I said "Why not? She lives near Nashville." On the second time around the block, Jo decided it was definitely Ms. Judd, but didn't get a picture taken. On the third time around the block, we did get a picture taken, but Ms. Judd was no longer there. It was a fun adventure anyway and we laughed a lot at our silliness.

We ended the day by going to see Duplicity, which was quite a decent movie. The pace dragged a little bit in spots, the dialogue was pretty predictable and the acting wasn't as smooth as other performances I've seen from Julia Roberts or Clive Owen, but the plot was decent and the ending was excellent. I hadn't realized how akwardly Ms. Roberts walks in heels. At times, she almost lumbers in a manner reminiscent of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, then at other times, she's quite graceful.

Sunday morning, we got up early as Jo needed to get to the airport for an early flight. I was back home at 9:30 in the morning and jumped right into cleaning house and finishing up laundry. By 11am, I had everything done for the weekend, which rather left me at a loss for things to do the rest of the day. I need to work on structuring my free time. I don't know what to do with myself if I run out of things to do on the Things To Get Done list. I did spend about ninety minutes confirming that there was indeed NOTHING to watch on TV, then I took a nap. There wasn't much on TV after my nap either, so I ironed clothes before switching my attention to Hulu.

I may need to work on how my garden drains. It rained pretty hard most of Sunday and I've discovered there's a bit of a stream running through the northwest corner of the plot. There is a bit of a stream flowing into the middle of the garden too, but that's less of a concern to me. The corner stream actually runs across the yard and off into the neighboring property. That corner may stay wet for a long time too since it's a low spot.

With any luck, the rest of the week will be dry and I'll be able to start planting this weekend. Lowe's has pineapple sage plants again this year. I think I'll get four of them this time. The thrived last summer, they attracted hummingbirds and they smell *wonderful*!

How Could I Resist?!

I had to bring this little guy home with me. I now have a porch duckling. Naturally, I named him Quacky.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Word is Out

I spoke with my supervisor today and let Super know that I am actively seeking other employment. I gave it some long, hard thought over the past several weeks. During that time, I realized that I've been here over 2 1/2 years and the problems that exist now are the same problems that cropped up at the beginning of my tenure and the same problems that I have attempted to address with some regularity since I started working here. Even the excuses for these continuing problems are the same. While I am remarkably persistent, there's no point in being persistent when or where nothing changes. I am not the person for this particular job and workplace.

My attitude lately has been quite depressed and unhappy, both at home and at work, which only makes everything worse and makes me certain I need to get out soon. My headaches are starting to come back too. The thought of even going to work is enough to bring me to tears. I still put forth my best effort and put on as happy a face as I can manage, but I know that's not sustainable and it sure isn't fun when there's no end in sight, so it seems that the best choice is to move on. I'm just not a good fit at this particular workplace and there is nothing I know of to fix that. Nobody else seems to have any ideas either. They just shrug and the lack of communication continues. As I told Super, I've done all the trying that I have the energy to try and the situation hasn't changed. Super said that was understandable and apologized for things not going better. I said it wasn't Super's fault and also explained that I would continue to work at my best level until I found a different position. Super said that would be fine. I also stated that I would provide probably 4 weeks notice about my departure, which was also acceptable.

Now I'll have to see how well the news of my intended departure goes over. I would like to think that maturity and professionalism will reign, but I don't trust some people very much, given the backstabbing and gossiping I've seen and heard them do about others. I'll watch my back and do my job and remain professional. That's all I can do.

By coincidence, things today already didn't go well. I was invited to join a bunch of folks for lunch, which was a very nice surprise. Later on, one of the folks specifically asked if I was going and I said yes. The group left without me. Despite there being three people standing around when I said yes I would go to lunch, nobody knew I was going so they all piled into a vehicle and took off. I should have just gone back inside and eaten by myself. The whole meal was very uncomfortable and I really didn't want to be there. It's really hard to stay cheerful when things like that happen. My plan from here on out is to go in, do my work, stay out of everybody's way as much as I can and go home.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the rumor mill/grapevine to distribute my decision to leave throughout the building. If people ask why I'm leaving I'll just tell them that I'm not a good fit and after 2 1/2 years of trying, it is clear that I never will be a good fit for this workplace.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend Accountability

On Friday, a message board I frequent had a thread about what people were planning to accomplish over the weekend, with the direction to post again on Monday and share how our weekend plans fared when confronted with reality. Here was my list:
  • clean up computer room, removing old hardware and detritus.
    {reward for cleaning up computer room is to use new shiny Mac Mini delivered on Thursday}
  • workout x 3
  • watch 2-4 episodes Firefly on Hulu
  • mow lawn and mulch trees (if weather permits)
  • wash, fold and put away laundry
  • cook meal to use for lunches next week
  • empty dishwasher and clean kitchen
  • vacuum carpets and mop floors
  • sort through at least two boxes of stuff in garage/storage room
  • haul load of stuff to GoodWill
  • get RMA from New Egg and re-pack parts for shipment on Monday
  • return library books
  • pay bills and balance checkbook
  • tidy up living room and clean off desk there
  • finish up the socks I'm knitting

    I'd really like to plant early stuff in my veggie garden and dig the grass out from around the raspberry and blackberry brambles, but I think it'll be too wet for that this weekend.

I have managed to accomplish nearly the entire list of things. I'm sure I'll get the remainder of the list finished today. So far, the weather has been incredibly cooperative, which has helped me greatly. I spent most of yesterday outside weeding, mulching and planting flowerbeds, which might well count as a workout in itself, given that I hauled several 40 pound bales of peat moss around the yard. In a little while, I'll mow the lawn and finish mulching the trees and brambles.

It's amusing to me how much more productive I am when I post my "Things to Get Done" list on the internet, instead of just writing it down for me on paper.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Need Another Favor

A co-worker's father is in the hospital. He had a brain bleed last week and has been up/down all week, taking turns for the worse the past few days. He's spent most of the time on a ventilator in the ICU. Today things went downhill again and the decision was made to take him off the ventilator. So, if you have a few spare neurons, beam some comforting thoughts in the general direction of F's dad. As you can imagine the situation is causing some extreme intra-family stress.

Cleaned Up Computer Room!

My task for today was to clean up my computer room. I have, for some time, been dumping papers and other stuff to be filed near the filing cabinet, but never actually putting things away. Today I hauled all the stuff out and cleaned the detritus off the desks.
It's now piled in my living room where I will be much more likely to deal with it, instead of just ignoring it by not going into my computer room. Most of the paper clutter can and should be recycled. If it's been in a pile of papers for the past 6-12 months and I haven't missed it, I'm pretty sure it can just go away. What's left will be filed appropriately.

The one thing which looks neat, but really isn't is the software library. Oh my is there a lot of crap in there. For starters there are a hundred 3 1/2" floppy disks and some old Zip disks (yes, I still have a computer that will read those) that should be sorted through and disposed of. Then there are the commercially produced disks for peripherals I no longer own and other obsolete software. The software decluttering is a fine task for rainy days in chunks of about an hour so my brain doesn't get fuzzy and I end up deleting something I want to keep.

Upcoming Things to Buy
This week I acquired a new Mac Mini. My mom came across a great deal on the computer and decided to give my sister and me new machines. Right now I'm using an old 17" or 18" CRT monitor. I'd like to get myself a nice spiffy LCD flat screen for the computer. I need to do some research to figure out which monitor I want. Obviously it needs to have pretty good resolution, but I'd also like something that will do its job well for up to five years.

The other upcoming purchase will be a new vacuum cleaner. It's been making some odd noises ever since I had to dismantle it to retrieve my yarn. Today, when I vacuumed the freshly cleaned computer room, the vacuum didn't make the noises, but it did perfume the room with a burning rubber smell by the time I was finished. I might take the thing apart one more time and see if I can figure out what isn't working right, but then again the vacuum is over five years old and it may be time for a new one. I'd rather not have to drop a hundred bucks on a vacuum right now though. I may try to limp through for a while with my little Oreck handheld vacuum.

Have a Great Weekend!!!
The weather looks like it will cooperate tomorrow and let me mulch this flower bed and the fruit trees, plus mow the lawn!

Monday, April 06, 2009

An Illustration of a Difference Between My Co-workers and Me

Last week at lunch a co-worker asked me if I'd heard anything about the President and First Lady in England. I replied that I had and went on to summarize the speech given by the President to the G20 conference and how it was received by other heads of state. Co-worker listened attentively until I was finished, then said she really just wanted to know what they were wearing and if the First Lady was covering her arms yet or still wearing sleeveless things.

Leaf Raking Update
So, about those 14 loads of leaves I hauled down to the garden. The good news is that most of them are still there. The bad news is that for the past 30 hours, we've had 15-25 mph winds. Let's just say some of the leaves are migrating northeast. At least they're spreading out on their migratory path, instead of all bunched up along the fence, like lemmings at the bottom of a cliff. It won't be too much work to either re-rake them or to just munch them up with the lawnmower. Which reminds me....the mower needs its 80 hour checkup/service. (Yes, I can do all the work myself, but I figure it's not a bad investment to pay the John Deere service folks once every other year to make sure it gets done right.)

Doggy Visitors
While cleaning up the yard this weekend, portions of the neighbor's dog pack stopped by to say hello. The Dachsund has never before come into the yard. Usually he just barks at the edge of the fence while the other dogs explore. This weekend, he actually crossed the fence line all by himself. He continued to bark whenever I stopped to look at him, but wandered into the yard, wagging his tail the whole time. He never did get up the nerve to come up to me and say hello, but he got within 10 feet of me on his foray through the new smells and roamed all over the back yard.

Later the three black labs wandered back through the yard after finishing their neighborhood exploration. One of them even looped back warily to sniff my hand before continuing on to the farm. I'd have scritched his ears, but he didn't get that close and seemed very nervous/fearful, with his tail tucked under and his head down. Maybe next time he'll be bolder. The three of them apparently found some lovely smelly things along the fence line because I found several areas where they were digging stuff up. I can only hope they found a mole or three.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Who Needs A Gym?

I didn't go to the gym Friday. My hip was bothering me again at wake up time. I got twinges from it off and on during the morning at work too. I briefly debated going to the gym today, but jumped straight into yardwork instead. I'm still trying to figure out why I took a shower this morning before getting all dirty and sweaty, but it's to late to go back now. I'll just take another shower later. I suspect most of the "tan" on my arms is dirt. I know the "tan" on my feet is all dirt.

Today's accomplishments include weed whackitating the lawn edges, which always makes things look nice, then raking up the miscellaneous bits of stuff laying in the front yard, which also makes things look nice. The next four hours were spent raking leaves and hauling them to either the burn pile (for the loads with brush in them) or to the garden. Yes, that's correct. Four *hours* of raking leaves. I dumped about 4 wheelbarrow loads onto the burn pile and another 14 into the garden. I estimate there are about 10 more loads waiting to be raked up. My shoulders and abs will be pleasantly achey in the morning. Rather than continuing the yardwork by digging up some of the badly neglected flower beds, I'm stopping for the day. I want to be able to get back at it tomorrow without the copious use of pain medication. I've got quite a bit of work to get done in anticipation of peat moss and mulch delivery on Monday night.

Lest we think that spring has really, truly arrived, Mother Nature will be giving us a lovely cold front on Monday with freezing temperatures (low- to mid-20s) expected Sunday night and Monday night. Monday's high temp will be 45 degrees. It's 70 degrees and sunny today. I have all the windows open in the house and I have started to drain the water off the pool cover. This is similar weather to what we experienced a couple years ago when a hard freeze happened on Easter weekend and killed off all the fruit buds on my peach tree. I sincerely hope that won't happen this year. I'm determined to have home-grown fresh peaches this summer. A nice peach cobbler and peach shortcake sound really good, don't they?

The good news about the "late" hard freeze is that there will probably be cold-damaged plants on sale at the home improvement stores next week. I picked up a bunch of perennials 2 years ago that way. I'm definitely glad I didn't purchase any flowering annuals or veggie plants yet this year. I debated picking up some Friday afternoon, but decided against it in the end.

It's Not *Really* Watching TV, Is It?
Not if I'm watching it on the computer, right? You see, I've discovered Hulu. I couldn't resist the goofy commercials calling the TV watching public a bunch of idiots any longer. What I found was a nice assortment of TV shows that I can stream over the internet. There are quite a few science fiction and horror/suspense shows, like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dark Shadows, Serenity and Babylon5. This is going to come in very handy when I'm working on fiber stuff and the regular cable TV lineup lets me down. I've got several seasons of Bab5 to watch and I never did watch Serenity when it was on. I could probably get several months worth of viewing goodness out of Hulu before I lose interest or find some other thing to capture my attention.

Dinner Tonight
I completely forgot to eat lunch today. That seems to happen on big yardwork days. I get started about mid-morning and stop just in time to cook dinner. My intention was to make meatless loaf for dinner, along with some sort of colorful veggie and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. I ended up making red beans with quinoa and kale. I don't know that I've ever cooked kale before. I know I've eaten it plenty of times and find it very tasty. Anyway, for this recipe, canned kidney beans are simmered with some sauteed onion, garlic and green peppers. The quinoa and kale are cooked separately. I'll serve it by piling beans and kale on top of the quinoa and letting the bean broth soak into the grain. The recipe claims to make 2 to 4 servings, but their stomachs must be much larger than mine. I think I'll get closer to 4-6 or even eight servings out of the recipe. The meatless loaf may end up waiting until next week.

Oranges have become my favorite snack of late. A pair of them makes for a nice filling bit of sweetness in the afternoon or for dessert. I used to avoid eating them because they were a nuisance to peel. Either I'm getting better at peeling, the oranges are shedding their skins more easily or I'm a whole lot more patient about getting good food. I've also had a lot of luck in picking out tasty bags of oranges too which always helps. Nothing like a mealy tasteless orange (or any other fruit) to put you off.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

You Know You've Re-Shaped Your Body When...

your "skinny" pants are still loose when you first put them on, even when you're all bloated. And your belt is loose enough that you cannot feel your phone vibrating when it rings. Of course, I haven't been to the gym in over a week, so things might be a little different next week.

In related news, my back and hip appear to be mostly back to normal now. I've been stretching my hips, but no actual workout at all. I debated going to the Y just to use the hot tub, but haven't gotten that far yet. I may get there in the morning for just a mile on the treadmill to see how the hip does, but I also have a very long day tomorrow (out of town work-related meeting after hours), so that might not be the best timing if things don't go well. I will have a short day on Friday to balance out the long day tomorrow. Perhaps a Friday morning workout would be better. I really really really want to be a gym rat again. I miss my endomorphin mornings and my gym buddies. It's nice to have some time with smiling sweaty people.

Garden Progress
Well, there really hasn't been any. It's been raining the past several days. Tonight I did finish digging up the front flower bed and tomorrow it will rain again. I can't put the cannas and glads back in until after I get the bales of peat moss delivered from the local home fixit store and get that dug in too. Well, I could put the cannas and glads back first, but that would be silly since I'd just be digging them all up again to fix the soil. I'll make the purchase of the peat moss bales on Friday and have them delivered on Saturday. (I can only fit two at a time in my car and I want to buy ten of the suckers. That will take care of all of the flower beds *and* the garden. To me it's worth the delivery fee to get everything all at once instead of buying two bales at a time over a week and losing an hour of garden/outdoor time each night.)

I decapitated a bunch of worms tonight. That always makes me feel bad. I like to see worms and I thank them for all the wonderful digging and digesting they're doing for me, but I hate to accidentally cut them in pieces or squish them. Just the way they wiggle up into a ball when they get squished or cut, you know that's got to at least sting a bit, if not feel like having your funny bone bashed with a hammer. Sorry wormies.

No toads were visible this evening, but I did hear some croaking going on when I finally went inside for the night.

A Thought for Mr. Hubert
Last fall when we had Hurricane Gustav evacuees from New Orleans staying at a local shelter, I met a gentleman named Hubert. We struck up a conversation while he was waiting to see one of the physicians at the clinic we were operating. He's lived in Chicago and San Francisco, prior to moving back to N.O. and worked for Traveler's Aid for a while, meeting a lot of interesting people from around the world. It was delightful chatting with him, so I asked if he minded if I wrote him after he returned home. He said that would be nice and we've been corresponding occasionally since. Well, Mr. Hubert isn't feeling well at the moment. He's apparently having some back problems and has been x-rayed several times. He is quite worried about the doctors being unable to figure out what is wrong and being unable to help him. So I have a favor to ask of you. If you have any spare thoughts or beams of healing energy, could you please direct a few of them toward New Orleans and Mr. Hubert? He's quite an interesting character and a very kind person. I hope he feels better soon.

I'm debating sending him some flowers to perk him up, just for the heck of it. Or a box of homemade cookies. I dunno. I don't want him to feel obligated to send anything back, gift-wise. I'll decide this weekend and either order or mail something off on Monday.