Friday, July 31, 2009

Resolution Almost

So after nearly 4 weeks, I finally have an appointment to get my car fixed. For those of you not in the know, I had a minor fender bender in my new car about a month ago. I was hit from behind IN A PARKING GARAGE BY A WOMAN WHO WAS TEXTING HER LAWYER. I felt bad for her because she was clearly distraught, in the process of getting a divorce, and for some reason, felt that A PARKING GARAGE WAS AN APPROPRIATE VENUE TO COMMUNICATE VIA TEXT MESSAGE WITH HER LAWYER.

There are so many things wrong with this incident on so many levels. Texting while driving at any time is super dangerous and distracting. I don't care how dexterous one is with their thumbs, you're not that good. Second, it's a PARKING GARAGE. A RESIDENTIAL PARKING GARAGE. Meaning, there are people backing in and out of spots all the live long day and people walking across the parking garage all the live long day. So it's not even the best place to TALK on your cell phone (especially when you consider it's a two-way garage, not a one way, and with tight corners; I affectionately call it "The Garage of Death.").

The point is, I had stopped and because she was texting, she did not see I was at a full stop and she hit me. Luckily, she owned up and now the insurance company is going to pay my claim. Anyway, she's off the hook now. She gave me her insurance information, but in return for her inability to make good decisions, I have had to do or will do the following:

1) I had to file a claim with Very Big Insurance Company. I used to work at Very Big Insurance Company for four years, so I know how they work and so I thought I was prepared. HA HA HA.

2) I had to go to the doctor because I had back pain from the incident. Doctor verified back pain and sent me to the pharmacist. I was out $40 from the incident, not to mention the 30 minutes at the doctor's office and the one hour at the pharmacy waiting for the prescriptions to be filled.

3) The claim rep called to let me know he got my claim, but then never called me again. So I then made a follow-up call but the claim rep had gone on vacation and they still had not contacted the woman who had hit me to verify the incident. They promised to call me.

4) They never called, so I called again. This time they agreed that my claim was valid, the woman verified it, and so now I can get it fixed, but to wait for the official letter.

5) I've received the official letter so now I made an appointment at the dealer to get it fixed. I'm taking it on Monday. In the meantime, I have to be without my shiny new car that I've owned less than 2 months. Luckily, I can drive my beloved Corolla instead of going to a rental. I find rental cars seriously annoying.

I feel very grateful that the accident wasn't worse than it was. I'm aggravated that my dream car has already been marred and in such a stupid fashion as well; I'm probably going to need an entirely new bumper (in addition to the dent, it also came loose from the frame of the car). And this accident was entirely avoidable in every way possible. She felt she needed to text her lawyer at that very moment in order to get something done, and those 30 seconds have caused a whole lot of aggravation on my end -- something that, with everything else going on in my life right now, I don't need.

Don't text and drive!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

By the Power of Grayskull (or something)

Episodes of "She-Ra" are available on Hulu! Would totally watch except for the fact my computer is so slooooooow that pictures and sounds move at different rates, causing a rather psychedelically annoying visual and auditory experience. But still, for those of you not similarly, constrained, "SHE-RA"! On Hulu! What are you waiting for?

Interesting blog, especially in this employment environment - Ask a Manager. Some good advice/insight there.

So many post ideas, so little time.

The news is claiming the recession is over and that we're officially in a new bull market that is going to last until mid spring 2010. That's "Kudlow and Company," by the way, who said that. You can catch them on MSNBC. I don't know what Kool-Aid they're drinking, but I got an email from a friend today asking to go to lunch next week to blow off steam; second round of layoffs at her company yesterday and now she's super stressed about her job. Not a lot of fat left, and the unemployment numbers are steady. A job cut here, a job cut there. Sure doesn't feel like the recession is over or that the bulls are running.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In you I see God

I'm addicted to this particular song from "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi." We actually did a dance to "Dance pe Chance" from the same movie in our Bollywood/Bhangra class. Later when we watched the film to get the context of the dance, I was instead instantly attracted to this song. The lyrics of this particular song -- "Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai" -- were just really beautiful. This particular version of the song has subtitles so of course I have to post and share it with the rest of the world. Seriously, one of the most romantic (if not a little sad-- but it's a Bollywood movie; sadness doesn't last long) songs ever.

The movie is really very cute and probably one of the best Shah Rukh Khan movies I've seen. The plot is a little out there, but all the same, very fun. And I think the music is fantastic.

To get the subtitles, click on the little triangle in the right hand side of the menu bar on the bottom of the video screen. A little "cc" option will pop up. Click that and you'll get the subtitles.

My niece, who has only been (ahem)blogging for just over 4 years, has about 125 more blog entries than I do. And I first started blogging in 2001. Clearly I've been slacking. But it's okay, as she's way cuter than me and as such has much better material.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Everything I own is old and is starting to show their age. My television, more than 12 years old, has been on the fritz for the last two weeks and now, I think it's gone. It served me well, has been through a lot (spent a summer in a storage unit without A/C, shipped across the country, numerous episodes of "The Girls Next Door", not to mention various incarnations of Trek). So it's sad and I'm going to miss having the ability to watch television when I want to, but eh. With the advent of Hulu, I don't see it being a huge deal.

My computer is from 2001 and also is starting to creak its way towards... well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes on a mini notebook computer. My Corolla is 11 years old this year, and it's still plodding along (though yes, I did buy a new car last month, I still own the Corolla and plan to continue driving it in the near term).

My stereo is coming on 15 years of service; it has a dual tape deck, a single CD player and a digital tuner -- at the time it was state of the art. I still use it on and off, but the CD player has started to skip, and generally, I'm not into music as much as I used to be so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about replacement.

Other old things I own -- my VCR is circa 1999 and my DVD player is probably one of the newer items I own. It's probably from 2003 or 2004. I still use the VCR -- or did until this recent incident with the television. I actually use the VCR more than the DVD player, oddly enough. I guess I won't be using the DVD player anymore either.

I recently replaced my circa 1997 cell phone with a new version after I realized it was nothing short of madness to carry a cell phone that couldn't sustain a charge for more than 10 minutes. My circa 2000 digital camera was replaced last year after it fizzled on a trip to Europe.

Anyway, all my stuff is old and I've been fine with it all, but now I'm staring into a future nightmare -- where everything goes kaput all at once. I'm dreading that. For now, I'm thinking about not getting a new television and making do with hulu. Just with "impending doom" staring me down, I'm thinking a new computer is probably a wiser investment and more practical than a television anyway. We'll see how it goes. This is my first day without a television so I reserve the right to change my mind.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More on Health Care

The NY Times editorial breaks it all out -- a lot easier to understand without the rhetoric and hot blood of either side. What caught my eye was this paragraph: Right now employers are free to change or even drop your coverage at any time. Under likely reforms, they would remain free to do so, provided they paid a penalty to help offset the cost for their workers who would then buy coverage through an exchange.

This actually happened to me at a previous employer. Our good health plan was switched and we were told that 95% of our doctors etc., would remain the same. But lo and behold, when I went to use the plan, I soon learned that it was literally the Edsel of health insurance plans. No one would take my insurance except for a few clinics scattered here or there. My colleagues, including one who had a brain tumor, found themselves in the same boat. We couldn't even find a dentist who would accept our insurance. The irony of all this? Our premiums actually went up while our coverage, in theory, went down. Our employer argued that they kept the coverage the same -- which could be true, but we couldn't actually prove this because no doctors would accept our insurance.

Flash forward a year, and our employer was forced to change our plan because the outcry was so much. We ended up getting a better plan, and again, premiums went up, but at least this time, we had doctors and dentists who would accept the plan. I would have gladly, for that year, taken an offset payment and gone with a private insurance plan on an exchange or elsewhere rather than paying for something I clearly could not use.

I have no idea if Obama's plan is the right one, but I do know inaction isn't the right way to go. I'm in favor of doing *something* -- such a complex subject and so many opinions, it's hard to know who's right and who's wrong. I only know I have had enough experience with the existing system to know it can't go on like this.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Dibs is a brilliant product. I mean, bite sized ice cream -- eat as much or as little as you want, and you know no one (read: me) is going to stop at just a few bites. It's sooo easy to keep eating bite size bite after bite -- so much more so than say, a tub of ice-cream or any variation of ice cream on a stick; harder to ration as it's so easy to consume. Before you know it, the tub of Dibs is gone and you have to run out and get another one. I wish I were the marketing genius who came up with that idea.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I'm really, really glad Bush and Cheney are gone, and especially Cheney. Back in 2000, I thought he'd be the voice of reason, the experience to shepherd Bush through the presidency, but by 2008, I was convinced he was nothing short of the boogey man, albeit with a man-size safe and a cunning ability to make his own house "disappear" from Google maps. That being said, Time has a fascinating article on Bush and Cheney's final days in the White House. It's almost like Bush had finally come out from under Cheney's thumb, but it was too late; the damage was done.

But the fight over the [Libby] pardon was also a prelude to the difficult questions about justice and national security inherited by the Obama Administration: How closely should the nation examine the actions of government officials who took steps — legal or possibly illegal — to defend the nation's security during the war on terrorism? The Libby investigation, which began nearly six years ago, went to the heart of whether the Bush Administration misled the public in making its case to invade Iraq. But other Bush-era policies are still coming under legal scrutiny. Who, for example, should be held accountable in one of the darkest corners of the war on terrorism — the interrogators who may have tortured detainees? Or the men who conceived and crafted the policies that led to those secret sessions in the first place? How far back — and how high up the chain of command — should these inquiries go?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm having massive computer problems tonight, but I had to share a link with you that I found awfully provocative. I'm not sure whether I agree with the article or not but it made sense. I'm imagining anyone who suggests rationing health care must be getting a lot of hate mail. An unpopular argument, for sure, but I found it intelligently put.


Health care is a scarce resource, and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another. In the United States, most health care is privately financed, and so most rationing is by price: you get what you, or your employer, can afford to insure you for. But our current system of employer-financed health insurance exists only because the federal government encouraged it by making the premiums tax deductible. That is, in effect, a more than $200 billion government subsidy for health care. In the public sector, primarily Medicare, Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, health care is rationed by long waits, high patient copayment requirements, low payments to doctors that discourage some from serving public patients and limits on payments to hospitals.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The interesting thing about job hunting during a recession is that it really highlights just how important it is to keep up and upgrade one's skills. Until recently, the MBA earned in 2003 opened doors for me. But now I look at what jobs are available to someone who works in marketing like me and I realize that the skills required are beyond what I can do today. I have strong data analysis skills, which one employer required but they also wanted someone who could understand ink and paper selection for collateral development; I don't have those skills, clearly (always left that piece to the printer, actually). I have every confidence that I could learn how to select the right ink for the right paper fairly easily but if there's someone out there who already has that skill, why hire me when you can get that person instead?*

I look at this positively. Until now, I didn't really consider what else I might want to do or what other courses/certifications I could get. Now I'm looking at some of the requirements and thinking, "Well that seems interesting," or "That doesn't fit what I want to do long-term." I run the gamut from thinking I could take a course or two at Sweat Sock Community College to learn certain software applications that could enhance my resume and make me potentially more valuable to an employer, or making an investment in another degree. This could be the chance to go in an entirely new direction -- a new field maybe or perhaps a new industry? -- and that is exciting.

In this example, I had about 95 percent of what they were looking for, but the initial assessment fell short over the ink/paper question. Now, it could have been a case of them not liking my skills enough to let the ink/paper go, or it could be that that one thing is so important to them that they need to have a person who understands on day one what's required. I do wonder about how much a vacancy would cost per day versus the time required to learn this skill, but these days, it's an employers' market and they are making what they consider the best decision for their company.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Unemployment in Sweat Sock City has reached 8 percent according to this morning's news report. Big change from just a year ago when unemployment was really, really low and it was hard to find qualified candidates. How things change. The boom is over (for now). I'm optimistic that it will come around again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Free from fees

Okay, so the title is a little bit of a misnomer, because if there's a way, there's a fee. But I ran into a little trouble with my bank last month as I was traveling and you know how it is when you cross time zones and borders; it's like all intelligence seeps out of your brain, slowly eroding memory. So one thing led to another and the next think I knew, I was looking at an Overdraft charge of $20. The kicker is, the bank pulled money from my savings account to cover my checking account; so it's not like the bank was out any money but *I* was out $20.

Anyway, that happened last month. On a whim today, I called my bank and asked them to waive the ODP charges. And -- they did. They're crediting me back the $20, which is essentially 10 breakfast tacos at my favorite taco joint, or 5 Starbucks coffees for those of you who drink those. It was fairly easy. I didn't even have to explain what happened, even though I had a ready story. I just said that I was charged $20 before the privilege of using my own money and that it didn't make sense. The representative went on and on about how the ODP was cheaper than Insufficient Funds, and my point back is, "You had my money. You used my money to pay the bill. You just had to take it from one account and move it to another." I was nice about it, and I was rewarded for my efforts. It was a total of 10 minutes work and the return was awesome.

I guess the lesson learned here is to ask. In the past, I've gotten late fees from credit cards waived, I've gotten cell phone charges for texting knocked off, negotiated down my internet bill, etc. People don't like to do these things because a) it seems confrontational, b) it takes time, and c) it's this whole idea of David vs Goliath. I mean really, who *is* Seema in the face of the Borg entity that is my bank? But nearly every time I've asked nicely, as Jack Nicholson would say, I've gotten the charges waived. And most of the times, you don't have to argue -- the customer representative usually has a bit of discretion to do what you ask and if you're a good customer and generally pay on time, they'll do what they can to make you happy.

A few months ago, I was tardy on renewing my cell phone contract on a new offer they sent me for two free months for renewal plus $15 off one month's service. So I just called up and asked them yes, I know the offer expired a couple of days ago, but can I get it anyway? And they said yes, and then I asked for the $15 off as well. They said yes to that. Total savings for about 10 minutes worth of work again was about $87. Again, awesome return -- better than you'd get in the stock market for sure.

Anyways, I'm pumped; I think I'm going to have a breakfast taco for dinner to celebrate.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I had a severe headache and vomiting on Tuesday. I knew it was most probably a migraine brought on by heat and stress, but I just wanted to double check. So I turned to Dr. Google and found this site --- FreeMD(r). Basically, you can be seen by a "virtual doctor". It's an interesting concept. The virtual program interviews you, and then after getting enough information, gives you a possible diagnosis, tells you if and how quickly you should see a doctor, and presents it all in an easy to print out form just in case you need it as a reference. I checked my headache (I was right -- migraine) and also just for fun, my lower back pain.

My lower back pain, incidentally, was caused from poor posture in an abs class some time ago and can be relieved with a good yoga class. So I was pretty sure the issue is a tight back muscle, given that yoga pretty much fixes the problem. So after the migraine diagnosis, I ran the lower back. And lo and behold, it diagnosed me with "acute back strain or sprain."

Anyway, I thought it was a neat tool. What I like about it is that they give you an idea of how serious your problem is. For instance, for the lower back pain, they recommended seeing a doctor within the next two weeks; for the migraine headache, they recommended I see a doctor within 8 hours. Luckily my headache was gone in that time!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I love Sunday mornings. Just hanging out online for a couple of hours, drinking coffee, and then heading to pilates. Just really relaxing and a good time to get some browsing done online. It's the only time of the week that I really get this opportunity. Every other day is just chock full of activities, trying to keep up day to day.

I love Sundays.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Job hunting

Everyone has advice on how to find a job in this economy. I've got advice too, but more along the lines of "this has worked for me in the past." Your mileage may vary. I should note that the current job hunt has attracted many job offers in the form of "work from home" and "start your own business working part-time." It's mildly discouraging, but necessary evil. I try to keep my spirits up by reminding myself that the last time the economy was bad -- 2003 -- it took me about 3 months from the day I graduated to the day I started my new job. And I'm lucky, comparatively, as I live in a part of the country that isn't hurting as badly. But still, it's not easy.

That being said, here's how I'm doing it:

1. I use job boards. I know people frown on them, but my last three jobs were found through,, and, respectively. Prior to that, I applied for my job at Very Big Insurance Company through a newspaper ad. I also use (have gotten interviews in the past through, but no job) and as well. There's also a search engine,, that can help round up the jobs available on a variety of other niche boards. also has job boards, but I've no experience on whether that site is any better than any other.

2. I write cover letters. Each cover letter is specific to the job I'm applying for. I tell the person where I found the job and why I think I'm a good fit, citing experiences that fit with the job description. It used to take a longer time to write these, but now I have a lot of general cover letters written and I just tweak each one accordingly.

3. Spell check!

4. I only use one resume. I know they say you're supposed to have different resumes for different jobs, but at this point, my experience and skills are aimed at such a niche area of the job market that I only use one. I may reconsider this one in about a month if I don't get anywhere.

5. I keep a spreadsheet of every job I apply to. I started this spreadsheet back in the summer of 2003 and it has basically every job I've ever applied to since then. It's kind of sad, really. But it keeps me sane, in a way, and makes me feel like I'm doing something since I really haven't gotten any responses except 3 (1 headhunter who forwarded my resume, and two outright rejections). The spreadsheet acts as a measure of activity. I keep track of when I applied for the job, the company, the location, where I found the job online, and what the results were. It also keeps me straight on whether I've applied somewhere or not before.

6. The old me used to apply for any job whether I was qualified for it or not. I figure quantity over quality. The end result was I'd have to apply for 50 jobs before I got one interview. Now, I only apply for jobs that I'm actually qualified for. If it asks for an engineering degree or Ruby on Rails, I don't apply, even if I can do everything else listed on the description. Applications take forever to fill out and I don't want to waste my time or the hiring company's time when it's obvious I don't meet key criteria.

7. I still follow my loose adage that it takes 50 applications to get one interview. That's another sanity check, because it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you're going to get an interview right away and keep checking email on hourly basis thinking someone is going to respond. I haven't reached the 50 application market yet, so I'm not discouraged yet.

It is hard slogging. But as my 2-year old niece once said, "But then it will be better."

Monday, July 06, 2009


All you people on your cell phones who think you are driving really, really well? No, no, you're not. And yes, we can tell that you're talking on your phone while you're driving -- it's that obvious. So cut it out already. You're not cool, you're dangerous.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


I apologize for not being around, for being awful with email, updating blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, what have you. There's been a lot going on and just to reveal what all that entails here -- well, I'm not ready to do that. It's been a tough few weeks, and I'm trying to focus on the positive and just move forward. Dwelling on the past, mistakes, etc., none of that matters because it doesn't actually help me at all except for the lessons learned part. I do however have awesome family and friends :-).

On the upside, I'm taking dance lessons again, once a week, and it's a lot of fun, though my feet are having a hard time adjusting to the pounding. Still, even with extremely sore tendons the morning after, I'm enjoying every minute.

Thing the second, I bought a new car. Yes, I finally surrendered the Corolla and bought a Toyota Prius. On today's roadtrip, for a good portion, I was getting about 52 miles per gallon. Only when a headwind attacked towards the end, did my gas mileage drop -- to 50 miles per gallon.

I'll start emailing again and I apologize for not being around. Just have been attacked brutally by Real Life(tm). One of these days, when I'm feeling up to it, I'll let you know what's going on.