Monday, August 31, 2009


The coldest, driest, and calmest place on Earth has been found. No surprise that it's in Antarctica, and apparently the views of the heavens are wonderful. Of course, you've got to brave -94 F temperatures and a 13,000+ foot hike to get to the top.
Mystery on the Bayou

Don't mind me, but I'm reading Agatha Christie again, and I've got this habit of turning everything and everyone around me into a story. On another time, I'll tell you about how I turned a simple outing to a Vietnamese sandwich shop into an undercover sting operation for a mafioso. But this mystery is closer to home, or rather two doors down. My neighbor has been evicted. Or rather, eviction papers were served a few days ago -- posted on her door, and I'm nosy so I looked -- but she moved out a couple weeks ago.

Until recently my neighbor and I had a cordial relationship. She moved in a few months before I did, so we've lived -- separated by one apartment -- on this hall for the last six years. We weren't close, but we knew each other's names and we occasionally had conversations in the hall. This was all before she went really and totally crazy.

It started with the simple shredding of menus that are annoyingly left on our doors. Then one day when I drove up in my car and parked next to hers (leaving a wide gap), she flipped out on me, using some choice four letter words. Her issue with my parking? I usually park on the first floor of our parking garage and then climb up to our floor, but due to chronic foot problems, I started parking on the same level as the apartment to avoid the impact of the stairs on my feet. The point was -- she took offense at my parking on our floor instead of my usual first floor parking, even though we don't have assigned parking in our garage (she did pay a monthly fee for an assigned spot though). She came out and apologized a few minutes later but I was spooked enough that I moved my car several parking spots away from her. We never spoke again.

Her behavior slowly escalated from shredding menus in the hallway to leaving strange post-it notes on her door with messages like "DO NOT ENTER; MY APARTMENT IS ALARMED." She then started leaving notes in the garage, some of them pretty offensive. One day she was walking around the garage in what seemed to be her underwear, but was really just a tanktop over her bikini. I found this odd because the pool is over there and not over here and most women cover-up when not around the immediate pool area. About two weeks before she moved out, she left post-it notes and flowers on my Prius; all of the notes were essentially incoherent saying things like "I've given all my stuff to the Salvation Army." I wish I had kept them now because I don't really remember anymore than that one note out of the six posted on my car. In retrospect, I wonder if there was a message there for me, some sign I should have paid more attention too.

It was alarming and I was contemplating saying something to the apartment office. I spoke to Florida Girl, who is a mental health professional in the ER, and asked what was up. She said that my neighbor's behavior sounded suspiciously like someone who was off her meds -- i.e. going from normal to crazy in no time flat. She asked if my neighbor had lost her job recently and I said I didn't know; we hadn't spoken since her four-letter word barrage. Florida Girl said she was seeing a lot of cases in the ER that were similar to what I was describing -- people had lost their jobs, couldn't afford their medications and/or were spacing the dosage out to make the medication last longer, and the results could be dangerous.

Anyway, my neighbor is gone. She has moved out and I'm not going to know what happened here. I'm assuming that she lost her job, went off medication (if she had been on medication), and then fled when she could no longer pay rent. Clearly the apartment complex didn't know she was gone if they left eviction notes on her door. I'm definitely sad because I don't like how our acquaintance ended, but at the same time, her behavior was so odd and alarming that I couldn't help but keep my distance. While I knew something was wrong, I also didn't feel like we were close enough or that I knew her well enough to ask what was up or offer any assistance. Mea culpa.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

LotD - Health Care Round-Up

Scary op-ed here about the effects of medical bills on people's marriages. I remember this kind of story being prevalent in the LTC market back when I worked for Very Big Insurance Company. Again, there's got to be a better way.

A study reported in The American Journal of Medicine this month found that 62 percent of American bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. These medical bankruptcies had increased nearly 50 percent in just six years. Astonishingly, 78 percent of these people actually had health insurance, but the gaps and inadequacies left them unprotected when they were hit by devastating bills.

I find this above fact just... wow. Mind-boggling. Given the subject of this op-ed, I wonder where are the "family values" reflected when a wife chooses to divorce her husband in order to save their future together?

I also found the dichotomy in this article about Senator DeMint from South Carolina. He's fighting against health care reform, spreading lies about what the bill actually says, and yet, the average rate of uninsured people in his state is higher than the national average.

The subject of health care in Mr. DeMint’s own state rarely comes up either. But South Carolina, much of which is poor and rural, faces some particular challenges. Its unemployment rate of 11.8 percent exceeds the national rate of 9.4 percent. And 16.2 percent of the population has no insurance, more than the national average of 15.3 percent.

Rather, voters seem more interested in whether Mr. DeMint might run for president.

Reminds me a lot of that book -- "What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- which had people voting emotionally on their anti-abortion stances to their own economic disadvantage.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ready Freddy

I've upgraded my hurricane preparedness kit after last year's boondoggle. So in addition to all the things I had last year, I've added an LED lantern that allegedly lights up an entire room and will work on battery for 1 1/2 months at 5 hours a day, and also a crank cell phone charger. The LED light has actually come in handy as I don't think our electric grid was properly repaired and we lose power during storms quite often these days. It's never for long -- maybe 5 to 10 minutes, and one day, while I was at work, it was nearly the entire day (no biggy -- I was gone). Other people I know have been losing power regularly and for longer periods of time. So I guess it's always good to have these things "just in case".

Friday, August 28, 2009

RiP Ted Kennedy

He made some big mistakes in his life but he did a lot of common good and was the symbol of liberalism, not to mention this also feels like the end of the Kennedy mystique. I'm at a loss as to who has the stature to fill those shoes and be the torch bearer for the Democratic Party or for liberalism in general. While Ted Kennedy was in the Senate, there was always hope that cherished legislation -- health care reform, to name one -- would become reality. It's truly the end of an era.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The emperor has no clothes

I was reading a stat today that about 10 to 30 percent of resumes have lies in them, whether inflating or exaggerating accomplishments to lying about military experience or saying one has a degree from a school that one does not have one from*. I don't understand what's the point. The lie might get you in the door -- for instance, I could say I'm a petroleum engineer with 20 years of experience, but anyone's going to know 3 minutes into my first day on the job that that can't possibly be true.

That's what keeps me honest. I stress over things like getting the month of my graduations right (honestly cannot remember anymore if I graduated in April, May or June of a certain year). I recently took some bullet points off my resume from when I was at Very Big Insurance Company; I'm sure they were true, but it's been nearly a decade and I can't remember what projects those bullet points refer to now. If I can't talk intelligently about the things on my resume, off them come.

It's awfully tempting to put programs like SPSS or Minitab on my resume because I have used them at one point, but gosh darn if I remember how to use it. I know those are programs that are in demand in my field and I know it wouldn't take me long to learn them, but still -- something holds me back, namely conscience. I'd rather 'fess to having used them at some point, the memory has faded, but I'm confident I could re-learn in a short period of time.

It's a tough job market, but there are plenty of examples out there of people representing one thing to get the job but don't last any length of time because they're very quickly found out. Not worth it, in my opinion.

Monday, August 24, 2009


The Washington Post has an insider's view of last year's attacks in Mumbai here.

I arrived in Mumbai on the Sunday evening before these attacks and Monday mid-morning, we stood outside of the Taj Hotel and looked out across the sea from where the attackers arrived on Wednesday afternoon. It was chilling to download my photos several weeks later, in the safety of my home in Sweat Sock City, and the first two or three pictures were of the Taj Hotel -- royal, majestic, and without blemish, and no indication either of what was to come.

After that day of pictures, the only images of the Taj Hotel from then on were of smoke billowing out of the windows. The horror of what was happening inside could only be imagined; the WaPo article referenced above tells one out of what must have been hundreds of stories of those terrible days.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh yeah

Big missing from the job searching spreadsheet I've been mentioning -- a separate tab for sites, username and password. Every single site -- whether it's a job board, a company career site, a search engine, etc -- requires some kind of login. And some of those passwords are just as secure, if not, more, than what would be needed for a bank account. One site, I can't remember which, doesn't allow you to have a password that resembles anything like the previous 20. All of that is fine if you're only using/logging in to one or two sites total. But when you're up to 30 or 40, it gets confusing, not to mention annoying to keep clicking on the "forgot password" link. So as of today, I've added a new tab to the ever expanding job search spreadsheet -- Passwords. My headers are: Site (URL), Username and Password. I guess security hint might be a good one too, but you don't generally need them if you know your password.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I think once trust is broken, it's hard to regain it. I've been contemplating many plans of action in the last 6 weeks, including the one that would make me feel better and reduce my anxiety greatly. But at the same time, I keep coming back to a vital point that I can't let go of: I was lied to. No, correction -- I was and am being lied to. Which makes it really hard. So I could take the action described above -- basically, confrontation -- or I could not confront, do my own thing, and get out of the situation entirely.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Across the pond

Another trip coming up and I'm nervous about it for any number of reasons. I'm just not feeling it. Usually I'm super excited about going to a place I've never been to before, but this time, I just get the... I don't know. There's something that doesn't feel right to me. However, the next trip, I'm completely cool with. It's just this one that feels a little off. I think maybe if I do some research about my destination, find a guided tour that I can take over the weekend when I'm not working, I think I'll be fine. Just have to keep the anxiety to a dull roar.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The hunt

Towards the end of May of 2003, I applied for a job at Very Big Publishing Company. I started work there in August of 2003. So from time of application to interview to acceptance to first day was about 2 months. Total number of jobs applied to: 50. Number of interviews: 2. Both companies I interviewed with called me back for second interviews and one offered me the job. The other one chose someone else but then called me six months later to offer me the job; I had to decline as I'd already moved across the state for Very Big Publishing Company.

In the fall of 2003, I realized that the job at Very Big Publishing Company wasn't a fit. Yes, I was finally an editor, but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be and the work environment was debilitating. I got my next job in December of 2004, but I applied to about 30 jobs over that 15 month period. I had two interviews, including one randomly weird and long-winded process; believe it or not, the job I got I only interviewed for about 45 minutes and they called and offered me the job a few weeks later.

I didn't start looking for another job until the spring of 2007. I really liked the job I took in December 2004, and I especially liked the people I worked with. But I also realized I had reached the limit of what I could do there and it was time for a new challenge. My job search was so new in the spring of 2007 that I don't even have a record of what I looked for or how many jobs I applied for. I got an interview within a couple of days of posting my resume on and then I got that job a couple months later.

So far, I've applied to 35 jobs during the month of July and month-to-date August. I've had 5 "rejections" so far, one call-back for an interview, and the rest have been no response. Given that the conditions now are about the same as they were in the spring of 2003, I'm thinking I have another 20 or so applications to fill out to get at least one more interview.

It's mentally and emotionally exhausting. My stomach hurts more often than not these days, headaches are a constant companion, and sometimes I'm so anxious, I can't sleep. I'm trying to be upbeat and positive, but it's really not easy. Even though I've been working through the Impending Doom/punch-in-the-gut, as the saying goes, there's always something to remind me and it starts all over again. I'm just hoping that when all is said and done, I end up in a much better place.

Wow. Just. Wow. Here's a job tip NOT to follow. I am curious to know how successful this candidate is in looking for a job, i.e. does he/she get called back for a second interview or receive a job offer after pulling something like this? Just. Wow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


More on the Bush/Cheney saga here. I'm just fascinated by the dynamic. The Bush who is emerging post-term seems so foreign to me. The first hint of the nouveau!Bush is that he didn't start any more wars during his second term, but this rift with Cheney and Bush's sensitivity to public opinion is fascinating reading. I do still think Cheney is the Boogey Man though. I might be softening on Bush the person (though I still abhor his policies and his actions), but Cheney... he's a scary, scary man. To wit:

"What impressed me was his continuing zeal," said an associate who discussed the book with Cheney. "He hadn't stepped back a bit from the positions he took in office to a more relaxed, Olympian view. He was still very much in the fray. He's not going to soften anything or accommodate shifts of conscience. There was no sense in which he looked back and said, 'I wish I'd done something differently.' Rather, there was a sense that they hadn't gone far enough. If he'd been equipped with a group of people as ideologically rigorous as he was, they'd have been able to push further.

I was away from my computer all day today and it's so weird how disconnected I feel. I have no idea what has happened in the world outside since the first 20 minutes of the Today show this morning. I mean, on the one hand, I love busy days because you're just going and going, but on the other hand, every now and then it's nice to take a breather.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Darn it!

We actually tried to snag Best Buy's $9.99 52 inch Samsung television as a replacement for mine. I mean, TEN DOLLARS. What a steal. But alas, it was not to be. I shall continue onwards in life without a 52-inch television.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Writers may appreciate this blog: Mighty Red Pen; I learned the difference between comprise and compose here. And a blog dedicated to instances of apostrophe abuse here; this last one is a much needed public service.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Worst. Idea. For. A. Show. Ever. Apparently, a new show from Fox revolves around firing people on-air. Seriously. Real life people in real life jobs and their co-workers decide who goes, who stays. I just can't even fathom how something like this would work. Not to mention, who on earth would want to participate? I can't possibly see the value of Impending Doom being broadcast across the nation. And I know there are people who'd want to watch this train wreck of a show, but don't we see enough as we watch our friends and family members lose their jobs? Ugh. Terrible idea. As much as I enjoy reality shows, I'll pass on this one.

I can't remember if I've said this before, but even so, it bears repeating: if one eats fish (seafood), one is not a vegetarian. If one eats any thing that once had a face -- whether it's a chicken or a worm or a seahorse -- one is not a vegetarian. I really, really wish this trend would stop. I can't even count how many people have said, "Oh I'm vegetarian, but I love tuna salad and eat it every day," or something to that effect. People who shun all meat except for seafood (or any other one variety) are not vegetarians. It makes so hard for REAL vegetarians because people think we eat fish, and are shocked (SHOCKED!) when they find out that's not the case. Real vegetarians don't eat anything that once had a face. Vegans don't eat anything that once had a face and also skip eggs and dairy.

Hope that clears things up.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


What I like about Facebook is that in certain applications, it bears no resemblance to real life. Everyone talks about the status updates and the whole reconnecting with people from high school and middle school, but WHAT ABOUT THE GAMES? Only on Facebook can I have a dog (I strongly dislike dogs), a farm (I like the concept of gardening, but dirt on my hands makes me a little crazy), a restaurant (just awesome), and I can also spend time as a fashionista (which I'm not in RL).

On Facebook, I also can own a house with a windmill in the front yard and I have a job in Yoville, but I'm not quite sure what it is I do there (I seem to dance and laugh and joke with various friends -- if only I could turn that into a paying gig in RL!). At various points, I get to travel abroad in something called Kidnapped! and there's also a Mafia War going on. For a while, I was deeply embroiled in a Parking War. I also have a kingdom of my own and apparently my vassals are restless for my return; I don't know what is they expect me to do.

Right now the restaurant game is my favorite. It runs slowly and it's rather high maintenance (actually, all of the virtual life games are high maintenance); not quite feasible for someone who check the site every few days or so. It's like I go and plant crops on my farm, but by the time I return to harvest them, they're all dead. So the only solution is to keep coming back and that, my friends, is the ingenuity of Facebook. After all, you'd feel guilty too if your virtual dog was pawing at you for attention because you happened to have an attack of RL along the way. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think have a war or three to fight.

It's not so much that my computer is slow, but my ISP is super slow. So much for high speed internet. I tested my connection here. I had thought about dropping down to SBC's $15 plan at lower speeds, but kept the $25 because I thought it would be too slow to stream video etc. Well, apparently according to, a turtle could outrun my connection. My upload speed is 0.31 mb/s and my download speed is 0.94 mb/s. Average for my ISP is 3.25 mb/s and for my region, 5.73 mb/s. Still faster than dial-up, but what's the point of high speed if it's just a smidgen faster? I'd better compare those numbers to what SBC says I'm getting for the money.

Cable is not an option as my current location only provides for DSL. But I'll be moving in a few months, so perhaps there will be another option then.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Here are some ideas on how to to expand the Cash for Clunkers program. I have a whole apartment full of stuff that I'd love the government to give me a rebate on so I can get something shiny and new. So how about it, Uncle Sam?

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Wow -- online speak has come a long way. I'm not a texter, so I haven't seen most of these. Almost scary. I shudder to think what this is doing to our grammar and spelling skills.
Impending Doom

Remember that book from the late 90s, "Who Moved My Cheese?" These days, it seems like lots of people are moving le fromage everywhere. "I didn't see it coming," one friend lamented to me a couple of days ago. Another friend said to me that she has survived two rounds of Impending Doom(tm) but now can't sleep or eat, she's so stressed because another round is sure to come.

I think waiting is the hard part. Anticipating kind of sucks too. I think the thing to recognize is that the cheese is going to move, whether you want it to or not. You need to always be thinking which way is which, and hopefully stay in front of the cheese.

Or something.

My point is, what's the plan? In situations of Impending Doom, it's rare that you as an individual have any control over what's happening or any influence whatsoever. So the only thing to do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And keep a stiff upper lip.

In my case, I made a plan which I hopefully will not have to implement. The plan, in broad strokes, goes something like this:

1) How will I handle myself? What questions do I need to ask?
2) What is my exit strategy?
3) What is next? How will I cope with extra time?

In the first case, I wrote out Things I Need to Know(tm). That way I don't miss anything important. This is the category for things like severance, insurance coverage, confidentiality agreements, non-compete clauses, etc. YMMV, but these are just some of the things to think about.

Second, how did you exit? I visualized what my vision of a dignified departure in the face of bad news would look like. I decided I wanted to be gracious and that I wanted to be sincere in my efforts. I wanted to feel like if I did indeed fall prey to Impending Doom (tm) that I had done everything I could to make myself and my company successful. I didn't ever want to look back and say, "I wish I had done that," or "If only I had done that." So I think about every day, "what can I do to be successful today? What can I do to make the company money today?" That way I don't have to be regretful about anything.

In the third case, I needed a plan for the extra time I might have on my hands. I can't possibly sit around and play word games on Facebook all day long. So I thought about what would I want to do? Do I want to write? Do I want to get back into web design? What about going back to school and acquiring additional skills? Honestly, all of those things sound like fun and I'm at a loss at focusing on just one of them.

Underlying all of this is the budgetary plan. This is the hardest part, and it's scary when you sit down and try to figure out how much your lifestyle costs on a monthly basis. Then you have to think that it could be 6 to 9 months before you find another job. I have friends who were out of work for a couple of years before finding something. YMMV. The point is, you take that Scary Monthly Lifestyle Cost and multiply it by 9. That's what you need to keep going.

Impending Doom, unfortunately, is broadening its reach. People who were safe through the first several rounds of layoffs aren't safe anymore. People talk about how to make yourself invaluable, etc., during this time -- how to keep the job you have. But at the end of the day, that decision isn't really yours, is it? I mean, to an extent you can make an effort, but roles and requirements change in a tight economy. So the idea is to have a plan of some kind so whatever happens, you can deal with it.

And honestly, it's better to plan now and not wait. There's a sense of security in knowing you know what's going to happen if the worst ever happens. Plus, if you've prepared and know how you want to deal with the situation, then you at least have the chance of being dignified and gracious. And remember -- the cheese is being moved because it's a business decision; it's not personal. The crummy part is, I think we understand the business decision part; it's the latter that's just so hard to accept and understand.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Look what I found!

X-Files 3! Okay, so it's just speculation and rumor at this point but a fangirl can always dream of a moose and squirrel reunion. Though I can say that XF2 was kind of a bummer of a film, it did have its super cute moments and just fun to be spending time with Mulder and Scully again (funny -- I almost typed in 'Skinner' instead of Scully -- Freudian finger slip, you think?). Here's a debunked rumor and here's a placeholder for a film due in 2012. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'd watch Mulder and Scully read a phone book, though honestly I'd hope Chris Carter and company do better than that.
Ick factor

No matter how often I read variations of this story, I still can't get over Ryan O'Neal hitting on his own daughter at Farrah Fawcett's funeral. I mean really, how out of touch do you have to be, how out of it do you have to be, to not even recognize your own child? So messed up.
Vewy intevesting

"Impending Doom" has taken an interesting twist. I can't figure out what to make of it. If my deliberate vagueness confuses you, it's because I'm being purposeful. The Internets have eyes, y'know. Just not sure what to do, but am keeping the guard up and the focus on moving forward. Because even if "Impending Doom" has been averted, I still have to look at the situation with a) mixture of relief but also that b) I learned something I didn't need/want to know and c) that makes me uneasy and unwanted. The ego is still recovering from its sucker punch and I've come too far in the last 30 days to relax now. Onward ho!

More workplace linkage. This time, meet Evil HR Lady. Interesting reading.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


What happens when you're juggling two cell phones while driving? Apparently you end up in a swimming pool.