Friday, July 31, 2009

About That Job Interview...

It went well, according to the interview panel. I thought it did too. Here's hoping they recommend me to the nice human resources people and I get a contingent offer of employment in a week or two.

Contingent offer? Yep. This is not a bad thing. The hiring of any candidate for this job is contingent upon obtaining a security clearance. That process may take a couple of months. Once the clearance is obtained, the final offer will be extended. Even if the contingent offer was made next week, it might be December before the candidate could start.

Sniffle, Sniffle. Hack, Hack.
I am either coming down with a cold or I have managed to catch everybody's favorite influenza virus. The deciding factor will be whether or not I develop a fever. If I just have the stuffy, achey head and sore throat, I won't be terribly concerned. If I end up with fever too, I'll be obligated to spend a week at home so as to not share my germies with anybody else.

Except that I don't want to lose a week of work to being sick. I have a stack o' stuff to do at work. It is somewhat ironic that one of the things I have to do is write an outline for a presentation to school administrators about H1N1 influenza and keeping sick students/staff out of school. *sigh*

Time to put on my pajamas, take out my contact lenses and make a pot of hot tea....

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Line with Great Possibilities.....

This sentence from the original Three Beautiful Things blog struck a chord with me today. It's a simple, short, yet evocative, sentence that paints a clear picture in my head.
"I like to sit on the old long sofa from old flat and talk with Katie until my problems are unravelled."
This is the sort of sentence around which an entire novel could be built, don't you think? The plot would entail the unravelling of said problems off the couch with the subsequent visits back to the couch to finish off the ancillary problems. Sounds like a chick flick to me.

Speaking of Great Possibilities....
I have a phone interview later this week for what sounds like my dream job. Tonight I'm busy preparing to answer the typical interview questions. I've got a copy of my application handy and will print a copy of the resume I sent too. The job is with the federal government and would involve pulling together information from multiple sources to create risk assessments. Based on the organization's mission statement and how well it fits what I want, this will be a splendid fit for me and for them. I am confident that things will go well, particularly once I prepare a bit more.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video of the Day and Genius Update

Genius Update:

I have successfully avoided any subsequent acts of genius since washing my checkbook a few weeks ago. I didn't lose any keys, luggage, sanity or other belongings while traveling. I haven't locked myself out of the car or any hotel rooms. I haven't even really gotten lost, though my mom's GPS navigation system is sadistic and routed me through all the construction zones it could find. It's sad when the PAPER maps I generated via Googlemaps actually work better than the nav system that's supposed to be smarter than most toasters. Sis and I hypothesize the GPS lady was mad because we ignored her for the duration of our journey through Iowa City, so she got even by running me through construction.

Speaking of nav systems.....I realize that the reason the nav system won't figure out what's around you when you're moving is to keep the driver from playing with it when the driver should be driving. This, however, is rather a pain when the PASSENGER is fully capable of running the nav system while the driver is driving. There should be some sort of dead man's switch put in the passenger side door so that the passenger can work the system on the fly.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I am a GENIUS!!

Wanna hear what I did today? You'll never believe it.

I ran my checkbook through the laundry today. Apparently I didn't take it out of my pocket after paying the lawnmower delivery guy. Since I never put stuff like that in the pockets of my work jeans, I just threw them into the washer without checking them.

The mistake was discovered when I moved the clothes to the dryer and I discovered my navy blue pants covered with a mass of white fuzz. The checks and check register completely disintegrated as did any other paper that was exposed. The lining of the checkbook fell out too, though the pockets that you tuck the check packet and the check register into are still intact. There were only 8-10 checks left, so it's not as bad as it could have been. The check register was fairly new too and easily recreated from my last bank statement. That would have been a real pain to re-do had it been nearly full of entries, instead of only 1-2 pages full.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Only One Bite Left....

Oral presentation done! Poster done! Essay written! All that remains is the revision of the presentation from last year and I've actually been working on that for the past couple of days.

Lawnmower returns home tomorrow from its trip to the spa repair shop. It's supposed to be back first thing in the morning. It'll get a few hours to get adjusted to being back at home, then it'll be straight to work. The lawn is just a day or so past needing a mowing.

Then there's the packing. I have a general mental idea of what clothes I'll pack. Just need to get them out, check them over and get them into the suitcase. As always, I'm going with the minimalist packing plan. One pair of work shoes, running shoes, two pairs of pants, four shirts, one belt, two sets workout clothes, plus one set undergarments for each day. I could probably get all of this into my gym bag, but I don't trust that bag to hold up to the loving care of the airport baggage handling equipment. What I really need is an actual suitcase that is of a size intermediate between the suitcase I have and my gym bag. I'll just have to make do with what I've got.

But that's stuff to deal with in the morning. Right now it's bedtime.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Crunchy Progress

Now with more nuts!!

Just kidding.

I got the first presentation done in good time, but didn't get the opportunity to rehearse it fully. I had gone over mentally what I would say, but hadn't actually done it. When I first went into the conference room, I discovered that in the audience would be a higher-up from the central office. When we were introduced, she said she had heard of me. Six to twelve months ago that would have worried me. Yesterday I just smiled broadly and shook her hand, telling her it was nice to meet her. Frankly I'd heard her name before too, but I didn't tell her that. At the end of the talk as I was leaving, she said she thought my presentation was good. I thought it went well too. I caught myself doing some distracting behaviors/tics and corrected or stopped them.

The poster was mostly wrapped up today. Just some minor tweaks left. It's set up as having a red background, but since I'm printing it on my own dime at Kinko's it'll probably get printed on a white background if there's a price differential. Technically I won't have to print it until Tuesday, for a Wednesday showing. I will have to remember to bring pushpins with me.

The internet safety talk I have been revising on paper from last year's slides. Fortunately there is plenty of material circulating the internet and news media to supplement what I already have written. I'll hammer it out on Saturday while I pack for a 1/2 week work-related trip. Technically it's not due until Wednesday.

Winding Things Up
Since I'm travelling part of each of the next two weeks, I'm needing to get various errands and projects finished. I had a library book on hold, but I won't have time to read it so I'm releasing the hold request. Still have to get my mower back from the repair shop. I sincerely hope they have it finished since they've had it a week, but have yet to call me. The usual house and yard weekly chores will need to be done. Plus packing. At least the laundry is done and I only have to pack for three days. With the extra time I'll accrue on the travel days, I won't be allowed to work on Thursday and Friday of next week which will help me get caught up at home. It's too bad I can't bump that extra time to the following week instead of using vacation time, but that's not how the system works. I must remember to bring home all the trip and conference paperwork tomorrow....

I'm not at all stressed about being away for several days. I've kept up with bills, cleaning and maintenance tasks so nothing will have to be frantically accomplished on the day before I leave. All I will need to do is the usual daily tidying up and to pack. On travel day, I'll wash my breakfast dishes by hand, put them away, make my bed and head on out the door at the appointed time. No fuss and no stress. Yes, this method takes a little time each weekday, but that's a whole lot less time consuming and stressful than putting the tasks off until they absolutely have to get done. I look forward to kicking my home/life management skills into the next gear when I return. I've achieved some degree of comfort where I'm at which indicates to me that it's time to take on a bit more complexity and to set a higher goal for accomplishment.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Crunch Time

Ok, so in addition to the 1.5 jobs I'm doing at work, I have to get three presentations pulled together this week. I mostly have the one for tomorrow morning finished. I just need to tweak it and run through it a couple times to get it solidified in my head. Then I have to finish the poster for next week and send it to the co-authors for review. The final presentation is a 2 hour powerpoint presentation that is an updating/revision of a talk I have given for three years now, so that will be fairly easy. Not only that, but I don't have to give the presentation since I'll be at the poster conference instead.

So now that I'm really tired, I need to hammer my way through the first talk tonight. Tomorrow I'll finish up the poster and get it sent off for formatting and final revisions. Tomorrow night I'll finish up an unrelated writing project. The final presentation could be put off as late as Saturday, but I'd like to get it done earlier than that. Like by bedtime Friday.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

You Know You Are Procrastinating When...

you iron *all* the shirts in your closet rather than working on one of three presentations that need to be finished this week. Frankly, the ironing really needed to be done anyway. I was nearly out of shirts to wear that didn't need ironing.

I'm glad I didn't attempt to stain the fence or deck this weekend. It rained quite a bit last night and again today. That would have goofed everything up. Now I can only hope my lawnmower returns from the fixit place soon. The grass seems to have grown an inch overnight thanks to the rain. At least the front yard still looks presentable. In a pinch, I could haul out the push mower (and hope that it still starts).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Red Sun

Here's a movie to make your brain hurt--Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Ursula Andress in a Western. Red Sun. It was on AMC this morning. I caught a few minutes of it. Not surprisingly, Mr. Mifune plays a samurai in traditional clothing. I have no idea how he ended up in the American west. I'd have never guessed that Bronson and Mifune were in a movie together and I'd have predicted it would be a WWII movie not a Western, if I did guess. Or perhaps a comedy where Mr. Bronson plays the hopelessly befuddled gaijin trying to grok Japanese culture.

Now I want a bowl of miso soup and a cucumber roll.

Blackberry/garden update:
I have re-buried the blackberries. It doesn't look like I'll lose any plants though there was a raspberry vine that got snapped off at some point. No new digging today. I have a couple rolls of wire fencing that used to actually support the blackberries. I'll work on getting that wired to the barbed wire fence in the next day or two. I'll still need another 50-60 feet of fencing though. I'm trying to decide if it's even worth trying to keep the dogs out since they'll likely just dig under the fence if they really want to get through.

Today's weeding progress included weeding the entire back side of the house and scaring the bejeebers out of some gray mammal critter (it moved too fast for me to see exactly what it was) and it bopped back and forth between the edge on one bed and a hiding spot under the deck. I don't think it was a rat since rats would be perfectly capable of hopping over the top of the cement border edging and running away. I didn't see a long tail either. I really didn't get a good view of it. It was about guinea pig sized and gray. That's all I got.

Once I finish having a bit of a lunch break, I'll go back and finally dig out the expanded deck bed. It's quite cool out today so far and the sun is still on the front side of the house. I will need some more dirt to fill up the bed along the deck edge. The bed is about two inches below the grade of the grass, so it readily fills up with sunflower seed hulls from the bird feeder.

I got really tired after the yardwork yesterday and I had attributed that to a bit of heat exhaustion. I suspect now that it was mostly just plain tiredness from a lack of sleep the night or two before. I'm not having any extra tiredness today, but I'm paying attention to drinking lots of water and not getting overheated.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bad Dogs!!!

I discovered this afternoon that the neighbor's dog pack excavated my blackberry bushes this morning. I don't have the energy to put the dirt back this afternoon, at least not in the hot sun. I'll have to get up early tomorrow and spend a couple hours re-burying the plants. Hopefully this won't have killed any of them. I can see that I'll now have to make putting up some fencing a priority. That will bump the fence and deck off the budget for a while. This digging issue is a new problem this year. I don't know what the problem is, but it's no longer acceptable. I could tolerate some small digging in the grass, but not an 8 foot by 2 foot bed being dug down 4-8 inches and plants uprooted. Not acceptable.

My solution will be to add some wire utility fencing to the already existing 3-strand barbed wire fence between my property and the farm where the dogs live. All I need to do is keep the pack from ducking under the bottom wire. Hopefully it will be a simple solution and the problem won't just escalate into more digging and destruction.

Early Progress!

Due to an early morning appointment for my lawn mower, I had to be up and presentable to the public early today, even though it's a holiday. I was in the front yard pruning a tree at 7:20 this morning. By 9am, I had pruned two trees and four rosebushes and had weeded 1 1/2 flower beds. The bad news is that my mower needs some work that the service guy couldn't fix in the back of the truck, so my mower is having a little vacation at the shop this weekend.

Since I was up an about this morning, I decided to stay productive. I've since pruned a shrub, weed whacked the front yard and finished weeding the front flower beds. I even took a couple of breaks in the air conditioning. I had a go at cleaning the deck too. I have discovered that doing this in full sun is a bad idea. The cleaner stuff dries before it can really do its work. This will be more of an early morning/evening task if I want to maximize the effectiveness of the cleaning stuff and reduce the amount of work it will take to get the deck clean enough to stain.

On the deck and fence staining front, I have picked what colors and stains I'll use as well as the order in which I'll do the three jobs. The non-public side of the fence will be cleaned and stained last because that's going to be a biiiiiiig job. The public side of the fence would be the quickest job and the most visible, so it will be first. The deck will be more complicated. For starters, the deck will be getting a solid color stain, so it'll need two coats. It's also going to be two colors. Finally, getting the vertical parts of the railing stained will take more time and effort to stain well.

I really want to get the deck and fence done soon. The problem is that it's not a hot weather project and it's going to be hot weather for the next couple of months. I would just work on this project in the morning, but the morning dew makes that impossible. The deck and fence must dry out completely before I can stain them. Looks like I get to practice patience for a while. Maybe I'll transfer my painting energy to the baseboards and trim inside the house. They really need to be refreshed.

If you're wondering about what colors I picked (since I've changed my mind about six times since I started planning this project), I have chosen Russet, a semi-transparent stain, for the fence. The deck will be either Winning Red or Navaho Red on the top rail and deck floor, with Rawhide on the vertical slats in the railing. Those are both solid stains. I wasn't sure what the deck was previously stained with and a solid stain will be able to cover whatever is there already. The color choices for the deck were difficult. I wanted a reddish brown for the floor, but worried about picking a color which was too dark and that would get hot in the sun. Yet I didn't want a color which was too light and which would readily get dirty when I walk across it after digging in the garden or mowing the lawn. I also wanted colors which would look reasonably good with the current landscape. I think it would be impossible to pick the right color green and orange or pink were definitely right out.

Typographical Errors
I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this: if at all possible, I refuse to do business with companies who have spelling and grammar errors in their advertising. If the company isn't smart enough to proofread their ads, I really wonder how smart they are about their products and services. If they cared enough to do their very best, they should check their ads and/or hire people smart enough to spell/write properly. This message brought to you by a product which as a "poll adapter" that allows you to use it with a POLE so you can reach the ceiling. With a poll adapter, it should be helping me vote.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Reading Styles

I don't think I've mentioned this before (and I'm too lazy at the moment to read back through my postings to find out). I have a confession to make--I'm a book tramp. I can't be loyal to just one book at a time. To concentrate only on that single book from start to finish, reading only that one book at every reading opportunity. I've tried repeatedly over the years to be faithful. Sometimes I can manage for a week or two and even for a book or two, but then my eyes and mind start to wander. Even avoiding the library and bookstore doesn't help me. The books I own somehow sense my vulnerability to temptation and begin to talk to me. When that fails to capture my attention, the siren song begins. There is clearly some conspiracy involved here as different books speak at different times. Sometimes it's entertaining, mindless fiction. Sometimes it's something educational. Or biography. Or philosophy. Or literature. Or art. I suppose it doesn't help that from my favorite chair I can hear see most of my book collection on the big living room bookcases. On the rare occasions when I think I've defeated the living room books, the books in the computer room (mostly tech and science stuff) and in the spare room (mostly kids books and literature) start in on me. You'd think I wouldn't even try to resist, but somehow it makes the plunge into the pages that much sweeter.

At the moment, I have only two books in the active reading loop: Gene Wolfe's Shadow and Claw (which combines Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator into a single volume) and Tales from the Perilous Realm by J. R. R. Tolkein. I am missing a lunchtime book. I feel the urge to read something educational. I just read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget. I'm listening to a Suze Orman book on my mp3 player at the gym and just finished Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I don't know if I want to continue on the financial theme or switch to something completely different. For all that my books (and the library's books) talk to me, they aren't being very forthcoming with suggestions for a lunch book.

It's amusing that I'm a book tramp as an adult. As a child I was more of a single book kind of girl, at least during the school year. I think that largely developed because of limited bookbag space--I could only take one or maybe two books to school each day. I don't recall using the school library as a resource for books to leave in my school desk. Most of the reading I recall doing in school was from books I brought from home or from the public library. In the summer I suspect my reading habits were less monogamous, but I'm not certain. I know I would have checked out more books from the public library, but I don't know that I would have interleaved the reading of the books themselves. I might have just motored through each week's stack of books in serial fashion.

There is only one thing I regret about my career as a reader. I wish I had kept a list of all the books I have read. Nothing elaborate. Just a simple author-title list, perhaps with year of publication for good measure and the year I read it. For the past fifteen or so years, I've wondered how long that lifetime reading list would be by now. Of course, this curiosity has not been strong enough to cause me to start making that list yet. I could probably reconstruct a partial list of books I read as a child and teenager. Perhaps I'll work on that as an inclement weather project in the coming months.

Oddly enough, for all that I have not written a list of books I have read, I am very good at collecting the titles of books from published reviews or lists of "must read" books for various seasons, subjects and literary periods. I compile lists of books to read from magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers. I carefully jot down the authors and titles. I save Post-It notes with books on them, then transcribe the note to a larger piece of paper. I create these lists and lose these lists, only to create new lists. And I never read a single book from them (at least not knowingly). I have no idea why. You'd think if I went to the trouble of writing it down, I'd actually consult one of these lists and go track down one of the books!! Nope.