Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sad, sad, sad commentary on my dork-factor

Today, in a moment of utter idleness brought on by brain fatigue, it suddenly occurred to me that gee – it’s been a while since I was in school! Heh heh, I said to myself, isn’t it great how I’m not lugging books with me! How I don’t have to spend my commute time studying! No papers due! No new algorithms to puzzle out! No having to lock myself in the office at home for hours on end trying to calculate the minimum and maximum number of hops an email message would have to make to wend its way from San Francisco to New York.

Yes, I sure am glad I’m not in school anymore. Yup. It was fun and all, but gee golly whiz bang, it sure is good to be out of it.

Yup. Great to be free. Great to be a proud holder of the BS/CIS (magna cum laude), which has gotten me more than one nice position at a pretty damned robust pay rate ever since the framed diploma got slapped up on the wall next to my husband’s.

(Mine’s bigger. Nyah-nyah.) (Although he got summa cum laude, the smart twerp, which is bigger than magna.) (But still. My diploma is bigger. So nyah-nyah.)

But I digress. As I was congratulating myself on no longer taking any classes, I suddenly remembered that Golden Gate, my alma mater, has a reduced rate for ‘personal enrichment’ courses taken by its alumni.

Oooooooooh, really…?

One thing leading to another (as one thing so often does with me), I found myself at this page.

“This” would be the course outline for the MS in Finance.

I was thinking maybe a nice course in something fun, like, say, FI 203, Financial Analysis for Managers. Or perhaps a jaunt through FI 307, Financial Modeling. Or of course there’s always my personal favorite, Math 240, Data Analysis for Managers.

I went down the list and every single subject made me go, “EEEEEEE! That would be fun! And useful! And altogether groovy!”

International Economics! SHRIEK!
Venture Capital! Ooooooooh!
Derivative Markets! Oooh-aaaaah!
Wyckoff Method! Mmmmmmm…
Behavioral Finance! {singing} People are stuuuuupid, in the stock marrrrrket…! {/singing}

And now I’m positively lusting to be back in school going after my MS in Finance. LUSTING!, I tell you!!

Finance is Fun?

Now, just how sad a commentary on my life in general is that?


Hmm. That said...I wonder what the fiscal return would be on a $30,000 / 2 year investment toward an MS/FI…?

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Amazing what a difference a few hours of intense labor can make, eh?

It was hard to motivate myself to do it. What I wanted to do was lie on my sofa with my knitting whimpering to myself about how hard it is to get back in the groove after two years – TWO YEARS! – of SAHM-ness. Maybe drink of few classes of the darned tasty deLorimier Sauvignon Blanc to help me relax a little bit, maybe a few bites of Godiva Chocolate, which can be conveniently purchased just above the Powell Street BART station, which conveniently sells the high value BART tickets - $64 ticket for $60, a 6% discount WOW!!!!!!!

But I said to myself, said I, “Self! You know better! If you don’t get it on here, you will be whining and pissy all week because you won’t have anything to wear or eat, and you’ll be trying to do it all in the wee hours of the night when you know full damned well you have to get up early in the morning and then what? You’ll come down with pneumonia or something and end up in the hospital on life support with some bizarre ‘mystery’ upper respiratory complaint no doctor on earth can diagnose while family and friends come by in an endless stream trying to bring you support and cheer until you want to just crawl under the bed and die in peace, when finally your long lost love Gwalchmai appears, conveniently having just graduated from a fifteen year course in upper-respiratory diseases and their cures to whisk you off to a warm tropical climate to take the Mango-Rum cure – for which you have neither time nor inclination and besides, you’re not all that fond of mangos and never did learn how to pronounce ‘Gwalchmai’.”

Yes, it would have been quite the travesty. So instead, I got my lazy butt off the couch and got busy.

I did eight loads of laundry, and for bonus points put them and the six loads that were piled up on my dresser from the here-and-there loads the husband ran during the week away, cleaned my bathroom, did more ironing than really should ever be necessary, went to Costco, filled up the van with gas, cleaned the kitchen twice, took out the garbage and made a menu for the week’s meal – I even took the appropriate meat out of the freezer so I won’t be running around fifteen minutes before I wanted to be cooking shrieking, “No chicken! No chicken! How am I supposed to roast a frozen effin’ chicken?!” (The answer, of course, is 1-800-SEND-PIZZA.) I cleaned the office, paid the bills, adjusted the budget and made appropriate transfers for the month of February.

Also, I handwashed six wool sweaters and may I just say that it is irritating that we wear them when the weather is cold and damp. So I handwash the wool and lay them flat to dry, which takes approximately six months in this kind of weather. It would take them maybe two hours in the summer, but ooooooh no. This is winter. It is rainy and cold, and damp wool just sits there for days and days making the whole house smell like a wet sheep. Oh well. The price we pay for the wonder that is wool sweaters.

I set up my remote access and confirmed that I can access all the necessary database servers from the delightful little cave I call my home office. I can get my work email. I can, in short, do all the things I will need to be able to do once I start telecommuting two or three days a week…which is the only reason I took this job downtown instead of holding out for something closer. While I’m fairly hardened to the commute by now, still. There never really has been any reason I can’t be antisocial from the comfort of my own Den instead of traveling all that way to be so in person.

And then, when all the Denizens were in bed, I got into the bathtub with a Basin bath bomb I bought in Downtown Disney last week, lit the lavender candles (also purchased from Downtown Disney – the hotel gave me a $150 gift card, woo hoo!) (the kids got awesome presents from Disneyland!!!), and buried my nose in my book.

Today, I have a gentle little list involving multiple stops near multiple coffee shops, at which I fully intend to throw money in a kind of orgy of self-indulgence. YES, THAT’S RIGHT! The Queen of Cheap is probably going to go through about ten bucks on hot milk and espresso.

Because it’s good to be the Queen…when she’s organized.

Hillbilly fried rice

A friend emailed this to me this morning.

What frightens me is, it does sound good.

Because friends…I can’t think of many things that aren’t made better by a spot o’bacon.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Unsolicited Advice from the Mother of Chaos

I have some utterly unsolicited advice for all those out there who may be considering a return to the workforce after, say, two years at home with their Adorable Offspring™.

Unless you have a personal valet to follow you around ‘handling it’ all for you, don’t attempt to start work on the Monday following a five day trip. Especially if said trip involved most of your ‘work-appropriate’ clothing being packed in a suitcase and worn during said trip. Doubly so if you also have an Uber Commute – one that, say, has you standing on a train platform at 6:00 in the morning which you won’t see again until 7:15 that night.

Because what will happen is this: come Thursday, you will find that you have no clean bras, are wearing the same pair of pants again and hoping nobody notices and/or gives a darn, have dug a sweater out of the dirty clothes and, upon sniffing deeply, decided that it will do for now because otherwise, well, you’ll just be going to work topless and for most of us – that’s a bad thing.

I share this with you because I care. I don’t want anybody else to go through the kind of mayhem I’ve been enjoying this week. We got back from our trip at almost 7:00 Sunday evening – and I had to be at the train station by 6:00 the next morning. I had planned to do a load or two of laundry, put together some lunch stuff, etc. etc. etc.


The suitcase still hasn’t even made it upstairs. It is sprawled open in the middle of the downstairs hall, and both the husband and myself have been picking items out of it all week. “Oh, there’s my belt!” “…I’ll just grab a pair of underwear here…” “…are my new earrings still in here?”


I’ve also forgotten my lunch three times. Well, Monday I didn’t bring one because I didn’t know what the ‘lunch’ situation might be (fridge/no fridge/microwave/ban on eating at desks, who knew what mania might be attached to consuming calories in this new world?!). But the rest of the week…I just forgot. Shot right out the door and didn’t realize I’d forgotten until I was already on a train chugging over the hills.

And let me tell you, nothing irks me like shelling out $6 for a lukewarm meal of greasy chow mein noodles and steam-table kung pao chicken. Add to that the dreaded ‘every single meal out’ routine and you’ve got one pissed off and $20 poorer mommy stomping the mean streets. $6 for coffee (very good coffee, but still!) and a scone for breakfast. $6.50 for lunch. $5 for a truly vile cup of coffee-flavored that had as its one and only redeeming value the fact that it was hot enough to remove barnacles from the underbelly of a tanker and a stale muffin in the evening. Plus another $3 for a mocha with ‘the team’ to be sociable after the meeting.

The majority of the problem is that I have no work-groove yet. I don’t have a system. No procedure. A complete lack of A Plan. I have nothing I can grab ‘real quick’ for breakfast or afternoon tea, no stockpile of muffins (prepackaged or otherwise), no cookies (ooooooh, the sheer unmitigated horror of a house with NO COOKIES IN IT!!!!!!), no stash of pre-measured baggies loaded with nuts, crackers, dried fruit or anything else to sustain the system in the late afternoon.

It isn’t that I don’t know to do these things. I’ve even stood in front of the cabinet where I usually keep the pre-loaded baggies staring at the dried pasta resentfully thinking, Where are my dried apricots?!

Oh. Yeah. Didn’t…do that part yet…

The good news, of course, is that the weekend is a mere day and a half away. I’ve got two whole days to sleep in, plan the meals, do laundry, clean the bathrooms, get the suitcase put away, bag up my edibles, pat the children on their little heads, vacuum, dust, polish the silver, do my yoga and Pilates, hit up the library, supermarket and dry cleaners, pay the bills, catch up on the stock market news…

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saddle up!


Well. This is just…déjà vu all over again.

I am sitting at my new desk. I just got through with a TWO HOUR conference call regarding data systems here, there and everywhere. In that two hour period, I put about twenty hours of work onto my task bar. Having forgotten my more physically and fiscally sensible lunch at home, I ran across the street and got a two item “special” (and by “special”, we mean…special) from the cheesy Chinese place, which I am now scooping into my maw as though it were my last meal before the approaching meteor hits while I scan through the News of the Day before attempting to get my tired brain back into the World of Convoluted Data Structures and How to Make This Damned Thing Do What I Want It To Do Before End of Day TODAY.

If it weren’t for the pictorial proof on my desk, clearly showing four (4) adorable children ranging in age from 18 months to 7 years instead of two (2) adorable children aged two and ‘brand new’, I’d swear that it was 2000 and I was back in the data team at MegaBankCorp.com. Same high energy. Same data-convoluted-ness. Same being surrounded by bright people.

Same office color scheme, for Pete’s sake.

Same distant rumbling of traffic far, far below us. Same occasional blast of a horn, or whoop from some strong-lunged construction worker. Same glimpses of the bay – today she’s cold, a dark slate-green and choppy. The last time I paused at the big window, only two little sailboats were tacking manfully along; the rest are undoubtedly huddled in their slips waiting for sunnier weather.

I know that in the weeks and months to come, I’m going to have days of yelping and squealing and complaining and maybe even throwing things over how ‘awful’ all of this is. How hard it is to get the laundry done, or how unfair it is that I had to miss the Butterfly Parade at school, or how tired I am, or how much I wish that {coworker, client, random stranger} would just hack up a hairball and die, instead of pestering me incessantly about the stupid {project}, which everybody knows is nothing but a load of {expletive} nobody cares about in the first place.

But it is good. It’s like coming home, in a way. I expected I’d need a lot more adjusting, a lot more settling in, getting used to the concept of working again.

Instead, I’m just…in. As if it were nothing more than a long weekend away followed by moving into a new cubicle on a different floor. Where’s the coffee maker, where’s the bathroom – OK. I’m good. Ready to go.

Speaking of which, my truly awful Chinese food is as consumed as it is going to be and my task bar is not getting any shorter so with that – I leave you, my dear friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hopelessly laughing...

…at Man Versus Sweater at a newly discovered-by-me blog, the Panopticon.

Ooooooooooooh, my ever-livin’ DAWG. The things we knitters will get ourselves into at times…

Rivers and Rocks

Today is one of those ‘meaningful’ days in the Grand Order of Things. The husband is (glory be and for the first time in two weeks) in the office-office – this morning I shoved him unceremoniously out the door kissed him farewell as he wandered, grumbling all the way I’m sure, back to his home away from home, Da Office.

The children are safely ensconced at their schools.

And I am supposed to be getting ready to leave tomorrow morning on this, my last day of (relative) sanity before the End of Life As We Know It.

What I have actually managed to do so far today: {silence}

OK, that’s not entirely true. I got the kids off to school, that has to count for something.

And, I got a cup of extremely strong coffee at Jack in the Box.

Then I went to the doctor’s office where I was informed that in spite of the fact that I clearly have “Dr. H, 9:45” in my Treo, the same was not written in the good doctor’s appointment book.

Well. Alrighty then. So I’ll just be, uh, going, then, shall I?

But wait, it gets better! I came home and, with less than an hour until I had to leave to get my nails buffed, I began to putter. I put away some dishes. I paid a couple bills. I read my email, paid another bill or two and grumbled at the stock market today.

Then, as I was getting up to find my jacket, my Treo chirruped at me and behold, it was my manicurist, who said, “Hi, hey, could I bump you back a couple hours, would that be OK?”

“Sure!” I said, looking at the utter devastation I call my house, thinking of the never-ending list of Stuff I Absolutely Must Get Done Today No Matter What. “That…actually works better for me. I have a lot to do here.”

And then…I sat down at my kitchen table clutching the cold paper cup containing the sad remains of what had been a pretty decent cup of coffee and watched my non-winterized rose bushes be…well, kind of dead looking, actually.

I have a Mood on me that defies description. I’m all stirred up. I feel like a kettle that’s been whistling cheerfully for some time and getting pissed off that nobody’s coming to make their damned tea, already! Explosively charged and yet…somehow…

Not tired, or sad, or depressed, or defeated. Not particularly happy or angry or worried or carefree. Neither mischievous or responsible, concerned or untroubled.

I guess I’d have to say…I’ve been just sitting here…accepting things. Thinking about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it – and what I’m simply not going to get around to doing today, and that I’m by-golly OK with that.

I suddenly understand an old meditation I used to pretend to do. I mean, I sorta got it…but not really. But out of the blue, I do.

Picture a river, swiftly flowing. In the center of it stands a boulder, ancient and rounded by the relentless stream of water.

Now, the exercise was to become both the water and the boulder. The swift-moving, energetic, enthusiastic water, which simply flows around any obstacle to itself. The implacable boulder, stubborn and strong, unmoved by the stream’s urgency. The strength of both energy and peace, together. To flow and run and find a path where perhaps none existed, while at the same time being impervious to the rush and bother of the stream around you. Giving, and taking, being altered but unchanged, rock-steady and water-malleable.

I never got it, back when such meditations were a major part of my life (B.C., Before Children). I never quite managed to grasp what my mentor was trying to get at, and it used to drive me buggy. Either you are rushing around all hyper, or you are sitting peacefully. You can’t have both! You can’t be both! Not at the same time!

Positive and negative can’t live in the same house, and hyper energy and passive calm likewise cancel each other out. It’s just…it’s crazy talk, that’s what it is!

…(muttering) stupid Berkley-dwelling urban-hippie granola crunching New Agers and their pseudo-Buddhist idiocies…

But…now I suddenly get it. (Sorry about the pseudo-Buddhist crack, Star Angel Dust FireWater Fox Dancing Wolf Moon Flower Sunchild*…I was powerfully distressed, probably because my chakras are messed up…again…)

I’m rushed and panicked and crazy and finding ways to get six hours work crammed into only two hours of tick-tock-time. And at the same exact time, I have a granite-like peace. A stubborn, I don’t care if the devil may care, defiant and what’s it to ya peace.

I’m going to get done what I get done – and not a thing more. I’ll do the best I can do and that’s all I can do. I’m OK with my best. I don’t really give a fig whether anybody else is (not) OK with it.

Eventually, it’ll all just be water over, under, and around the boulder.

*No, that wasn’t really her name. But her name did change at least three times in the two years I knew her, because her ‘totem power forms’ changed. Ah, the New Age, gotta love it…

–Tama Starfire Jasmine no wait make that Sandalwood Roadrunner Beetle Slayer Jones

Monday, January 16, 2006

This just in: I am officially insane

Let’s see. Just how much of a lunatic am I, really?

In two days, I’m leaving for a friend’s wedding. I will be gone for five days. Much frivolity will be enjoyed. (Note that children will be here at home whilst mommy is away.) (Note that mommy will be drinking and eating in restaurants which require reservations. Bwa-hahaha.)

Day six, I start back to work – for the first time in two years. I am going to be doing fairly cerebral work in a brand new industry among a group of highly intelligent (which here means, hard to hoodwink) people. Must…act…intelligent…

Additionally, my children will be finishing their winter break and going back to school the first of February, which means the return of the dreaded homework.

I am attending Stitches West and have packed up three whole days with classes (one of which, at least, should be covering the topic of steeks, which will become important shortly thereafter).

AND THEN, the Yarn Harlot tosses out a little Olympic challenge and instead of the more sensible, “Wow, that sounds like fun – have a good time with that, let me know how it all turns out!” I say…

“SURE! I know! I’ll do one of the projects I’ve wanted to do for ever-so-long but have been way too big a coward to even contemplate!!!!”

Brilliant, Tama, just brilliant.

How I think I’m going to be able to cast on and complete an entire sweater in sixteen days to begin with is beyond me. It can take me eight weeks to finish a pair of preschooler-sized socks. The last sweater I did took me something like four months to finish.

Yet I seem to believe that I can finish the Armagh sweater from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection in sixteen days. And not ‘sixteen days of my choosing’, but the specific sixteen days between February 10 and February 26.



In spite of the fact that my two-color stranding work has been limited to one (1) child’s sweater that turned out, well, pretty OK I guess; and I have never once in my entire life even contemplated the possibility of doing a sweater with steeks.

But here I am, in front of the Entire Internet, saying, “Sure! In sixteen days I will produce an adult-sized, Fair-Isle-stranded two color sweater with steeks!!”


You know. If you were real friends, you’d at least pretend to be shocked at the news instead of just laughing like that…

Friday, January 13, 2006

While in the meantime…

My children have had several things to say about my going back to work. The only kid with a problem is Captain Adventure, who does not believe his personal slave should be doing anything but tending his every whim.

He doesn’t get a vote. Because if he got one, I’d never leave the house again.

Let’s see. My favorite statements of support so far from my daughters…

Eldest said to me, “I like it when you’re working, because you look happier and prettier. And also, I like your earrings. Um…mommy…could I, you know, um, borrow some earrings? Sometime?”

Maybe when you’re older. Like, say, twenty-seven.

Danger Mouse, who stopped suddenly on her way into the classroom to say, “Wait. Do you mean that if you go to work, you’ll get money?” {pause to reflect upon the affirmative answer} “Does that mean I can have an Amazing Amanda doll now?”

No. We are not buying a doll that spews out phrases like, “I love you more than bunnies.” However, I am open to negotiation when it comes to bikes, educational software or dolls that do NOT issue forth aural saccharine.

And finally, Boo Bug, who proclaimed to her entire class, “My mommy has to go to work now! And that means that I get to do lots of art now! And I like my new school because I can do art! And also because I like the feathers!”

In other words, get out already, woman! It is time for me to wrap myself in the pink and purple boas and do some serious coloring, which I obviously cannot do with you standing there!

Ah yes. They support my career intentions. They applaud my dedication to our fiscal health. They validate my need to explore both my nurturing and my analytical sides.

Also, they’d like the jewelry, toys, and arts and crafts time they feel should go along with having a mother who works.


The Happy Dance

Yes, here it is. The official “Got a Job” Happy Dance (workplace appropriateness warning: music will play, be recognized, and bring coworkers from miles around to peer over your wall to see what the heck you’ve found).

Apparently my enormous brain fart yesterday was not enough to scare them off – they called last night and offered me a position at exactly the pay I wanted (whaaaaaat? I don’t hafta wrangle with you about it?!), and I pondered for about, oh, eight seconds before I said something to the effect of “Hell, YES!”

The deal-clincher wasn’t really the pay, though – it was the family-friendliness. All of us are scattered throughout the land, and everybody does a combination of trekking into the office and telecommuting. Right out the gate, I’ve got a deal where I’m telecommuting a couple days a week – which means I can be home when the husband is in the office, and vice versa. Nice.

My other options were a lot less parent-friendly. I used to work at a MegaBank, and I had some keen interest (and higher pay option) from them, but man! They put their toes right up on the line when it comes to family friendly / family hostile. Definitely not friendly, and encroaching on hostile. They were one of those places where if you said, “I’m sorry, I have to leave at 4:00 to catch my train”, they understood completely and would be pushing you out the door. But if you said, “I’m sorry, I have to leave at 4:00 because my daughter has a ballet recital tonight”, they’d look at you as if to say, “Your earth ways are strange to us! What means it, ‘daughter’?”

And then they’d start this stuff: “OK, so, you’re leaving early [no I’m not, that’s when I always leave] aaaaaaaand…how is the Johnson report coming? And the retention program? And the Ixshnay analysis? And…? {taps foot in disapproval of your blatant disregard for the sacred needs of MegaBank}”

But missing a train? Never mind! None of it matters! Just go! We’ll pick it up tomorrow!!

Nope, not a bit sorry not to be going back to MegaBank.

I start on the 23rd. Appropriate train tickets have been purchased. Clothing has been dusted. Ooh, which reminds me, second happy dance: suit jackets and slacks are being altered down a size or two! Or, in one notable case, four sizes!

Oh yes. That’s worth another happy dance, right there.

Now, if I can just keep my mitts off those stupid glazed rolls at Specialties bakery I’ll be set!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What I Hate About Interviewing

I actually don’t mind interviewing that much. It’s kind of fun. But there are a few things that drive me nuts about it. One of them happened to me today.

You know how sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a conversation, your brain will suddenly sort of…fart? And blow every intelligent thought you ever had right out and leave you sitting there wondering what’s going on?

Oh yes. {raises hand} Happened to me today.

So. We’re sitting there, and first off they asked me what tools I used to write SQL.

And my brain went: fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffwap!

It left me with nothing. I’m sitting there like a moron.

OK, here’s what they meant by ‘what tools I used to write SQL’, choose any of these: Query Analyzer, SQL Navigator, PL/SQL, Notepad, the query grid in Access, the smart guy across the hall.

But my brain got stuck on something like this: “Whaddya mean, what ‘tools’ do I use? It’s SQL, stupid, you know, SELECT-FROM-WHERE-HAVING-GROUP BY, you don’t need a tool to do that!!”


Eventually, after a shockingly long period of flailing and much help from the interviewers, it occurred to me what they were actually asking and I began attempting to maneuver my brain in that direction.

But wait! It gets worse! Because the fart had so utterly emptied my brain of sense that I couldn’t think of the two words Query Analyzer.

So what came out of my lips? What stunningly brilliant thing did I say, describing the tools I used to mess around with invaluable data?

“Oh, I can totally see it…it’s the one with the colors, where the ‘SELECT’ turns blue and if you’ve got a stupid semicolon in the wrong place it turns red…”


Oh yeah. Sheer brilliance. Quick, get this kid a corner office, she’s golden. Knows all her colors, she’s like a total graduate student from Sesame Street University. Now, can we count to twenty as well, or are we still working on that…?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oh. My. Goodness.

Do not ever, under any circumstances, post your resume on Dice unless you really-really mean it.

Holy smokes.

I was on the phone all day long yesterday with recruiters, Lord bless them. They’re (mostly) nice folks. A bit intense. A bit pushy. A bit on the fast-talking side. I’ve talked with a few old friends who have slyly ribbed me about going back to work, and a few even older friends who are wondering aloud whether or not I’ve gone barking mad (as they’re trying to get me in for an interview at the same time, there’s politics for you!), some complete strangers and a few flat-out nutcases.

Also, I got several dozen emails, most of them obviously auto-generated, most of them…er…nothing to do with me at all. The computer scanned through, saw “Oracle” and fired off an email eagerly outlining the Super Uber Geek Senior Developer Who Knows More About It Than The Inventors position.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be paid $125 an hour to develop Oracle databases. In…Connecticut…OK, see, I think we may have a slight geographical improbability issue, here…

Well…that and the minor little teeny-weeny, hesitate-to-even-mention fact that…I don’t know how to do the Super Uber Geek Senior Developer Who Knows More About It Than The Inventors gig. Not a clue. But if you’ll hum a few bars, I’d be delighted to fake it…

Which brings me to the subject of falsifying my resume. One of the nutcases who called was insisting that I could so totally do one this one job involving things I’d barely heard of, let alone done, at a level about two steps and five years experience above me. INSISTED! And when I pointed out that my resume did not support this kind of work, he then said, “Well, we could probably just change the wording here and there on your resume and…”

‘Change the wording’? Oh, I see. You mean, “Lie like a cheap rug.” Gotcha. Glad we cleared that up.

Today I’m sorely tempted to curl up in a ball under my desk and pretend I’m not home. Or maybe take myself out for ice cream. Or take myself out for ice cream, and then come home and pretend I’m out while I curl up on my sofa and eat it while watching Mad Money.

Yeah. That works for me.

But one of the intriguing possibilities that I can’t be specific about because it isn’t kosher at this point in the negotiations is becoming ever-more intriguing. The pay is ‘eh’, not good, not bad, just ‘eh’, but…the commute…

The commute would be a breeze. I would drive five (5) minutes to the train station, take the train to the destination station (a mere 30 to 35 minutes, which trust me is nothing in these parts of the woods – it can take me longer to drive to my local supermarket, sometimes) (not really, it just feels that way), and then a nice, healthy-but-not-too-healthy one crummy mile walk on a nice, flat, well-maintained sidewalk (past one espresso joint [offering a ‘customer appreciation card’, this was important], one bagel shop [no card, phooey], and a deli [for the occasional “dang it, I forgot my lunch AGAIN?!” roast beef sandwich]) to the office.

Hence, Mommy gets her titanic butt in gear and gets two miles worth of brisk walking in every day – painlessly. Because Lord knows, I’d never go do two miles on a treadmill at the gym. I’d have better uses for my time. I’d be busy. I’d be cooking (and eating) something, or cleaning something (so I could eat off it) or folding something (into something else, then baking and eating it).

And my total commute, including the exercise-walk, would be under one hour each way.

Coming from a background where two-hour-each-way, three-if-there’s-any-traffic commutes, may I just take this moment to say: {!swoon!}

Heh. Some poker-face, huh? “Yes, well, you know, I’m considering my options and after all I could easily get an extra $15 an hour if I just went with MegaBankingCorp downtown, so…wait…WHAT WAS THAT COMMUTE SITUATION AGAIN? I’LL TAKE IT! I’LL TAKE IT! OOOH! OOH! PICK ME! PICK ME!!!!!”

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Itty Bitty Pleasure d’Jour

Tiny bathrooms with their very own full-room-sized heating vents that get up to probably 80-some-odd degrees, when the rest of the house is somewhere around 62.

Just like a sauna.

Without all the nekkid, sweaty old men.

What? What? What?

I got a phone call yesterday from a recruiter.

At least, I think it was a recruiter.

I’m pretty sure it was.

One would ordinarily be able to tell such things. But this particularly Friend to the Industry had both an accent so thick you could use it to insulate your house and…he mumbled.

I hate it when people mumble. Especially when they’re leaving long messages on my voicemail.

“Hi Tagackleburble, this {inaudible} from the {inaudible} I’m calling because {inaudible} {inaudible} {inaudible} in SQL and {inaudible} please call if {inaudible} for Saturday [Saturday? did he say Saturday? WHY did he say Saturday?!] and {inaudible}. OK? Thank yooooooooou! My number is {inaudible} OK, goodbye.”

Those of you who have endured ‘live’ conversations on the phone or otherwise with me are undoubtedly, at this very minute, laughing your BUTT off, pointing at the screen and shrieking, “YOU, complaining about people mumbling?! YOU mumble worse than ANYTHING on the phone! GOD! It’s HORRIBLE!!”

Yes, I know. I mumble. This is due to two main things: one, half the time I’m not talking to you at all – I’m thinking out loud. And the other is that, in spite of the fact that people around me are straining to hear me, stuffing hearing aids into their ears and so forth in a (vain) attempt to listen, I often feel like I’m shouting. So, I try to make myself be quiet.

For about half of my natural life (and probably some of my unnatural life, too), The Lady My Mother has turned to me during conversations and said, “Can’t you hear how LOUD you are?! Please, stop shouting and speak normally!”

Over the years, I’ve become paranoid about shouting. I’m always afraid that I’m shouting at people. I don’t mean to shout at people. I don’t want to shout at people.

So I try to keep the volume down to a “normal” level.

Which apparently translates to mumbling.

Because for the other half of my (un)natural life, The Lady has rolled her eyes at me and said, “You’re mumbling again, HEAVENS, you’re as bad as your FATHER! Speak up! And don’t slouch like that, you’re giving me a backache!”

Ah, mothers.

But I do have this one thing going for me: unlike my Friend to the Industry (I think I like that title), I do not use the telephone as a major part of my daily life. In point of fact, I avoid the phone whenever possible. In spite of hearing tests proving that I can hear just fine, I’d swear that I’m about three-quarters deaf when it comes to the danged phone. I can’t hear you. I can’t understand you. I feel like I spend half the conversations either saying, “What?” or trying desperately to pretend I heard you just fine because I don’t want to say “What?” yet again. (Same thing happens at parties or in train stations or anywhere else where there is a lot of noise and distraction. Maybe it’s just ADD. Maybe I just need a pill…or two…or twelve…)

Fortunately, my Friend also sent me an email. Ah. Yes. Now that – I can understand.

And, BTW, thank you very much for considering me but no. I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past the 24/7 rotating on-call thing. Been there. Done that. Always found that, mysteriously, in spite of it not technically being “my” rotation and so forth and so on…mine was the pager that beeped. Mine was the sorry behind being dragged into the stupid office at 2:15 on a Sunday morning-after-the-night-before to flip a stupid switch on the stupid server so the stupid database could reset its stupid self because of a memory leak or a rat-chewed cable or because some idjit had tried to play Super Nuke-Em Monkey Z-Ball XII on the server box.

Ah yes. Those were the days. {mutter mumble gurble blech mutter mutter sigh}

Monday, January 09, 2006

Silly, Meaningless WOO HOO

Oh yeah. The DOW at 11,012.




This one goes to eleven.

Which is one more. Not ten.


So. Woo hoo!

Now, stop looking at this. You’ve seen enough of this one.

Pushin’ the Envelope

Well. At seventeen months (week 2), the Child Development Experts™ at BabyCenter advise me to Choose My Battles.

“Does your child deliberately ignore you when you ask him not to do something? Try not to lose your temper if he does. At this age, making a big deal over little transgressions like pulling petals off a flower or spreading newspapers around the house may inspire him to test your limits even more. Ignore the minor infractions and save your lectures for really big no-nos like biting a playmate or pulling the dog's tail.”

But what they are not telling us, these Child Development Experts™, what they are keeping a deep, dark secret that I am about to shine the incandescent, unblinking Eye of Truth upon, is this: it doesn’t begin and end with Toddlerhood.

According to my own experience, it is still well under way at age seven. According to my friends with even older children, it still occurs up to age 22. According to my mother it is still shockingly prevalent at thirty-mumble. And my Gran informs me that even at age sixty-someodd, children are still astonishingly prone to forcing you to ask that question: Is this a battle I care to fight, or should I save my ammo for the next skirmish?

So I’m not going to get an email from the Experts™ informing me that, hey! Congratulations! Here it is, Month 304 (week 3) and viola! No more having to choose your battles, no more having your kid(s) push the disciplinary envelope, no more having to decide if it’s worth yammering on about the toys on the floor, or if you’d rather save the I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it! voice for something a little more…serious. Like hitting your sister with a meat cleaver, or dragging the baby up the stairs using his neck as a convenient carrying handle.

But I digress.

My kids taught me long ago to choose my battles. I’ve become highly selective about what battle I’m going to fight, and I stick with that battle until it is won. In this way, I am slowly but surely chipping away at the barbarism of my young and converting them to the ways of the civilized.

Lately, it’s been the towels in the bathroom.

My children have trouble with the concept of the towel rack. To their eyes, once one has used a towel to dry one’s hands, the natural place to put it is on the floor. Or in the bathtub. Or perhaps draped artfully across the toilet seat.

But the last thing that would occur to them would be to hang it back on the rack. What a positively revolutionary notion! Hang the towel…ha! What a novel approach to things!

I’m ignoring the leaving of toothbrushes on the sink, or using the clothes hangers as toys, or putting your shoes behind the toilet for now, to focus on this one issue.

“Hang up the towel after you use it!” I sing out, two (or three, or ten) times a day.

“Oh!” they sing back. “Sorry, mommy!” And thundering feet pound into the bathroom, a scuffle breaks out over who gets the ‘privilege’ of hanging up the towel, and eventually the towel gets triumphantly perched back on the rack.

It isn’t because the other things don’t annoy me. It’s because I have learned that if I have one thing I consistently nag about for, say, a week, it becomes a habit for them and I can move on. Next week, I can get on them about leaving their ill-rinsed toothbrushes on the sink in their bathroom instead of putting them back into the toothbrush stand, and they will continue to hang up the towel because they’ve gotten used to doing so.

Also, I’ve learned that if I’m yammering on and on about Everything, they tune me out so completely that I can insert truly ludicrous things into my statements and not get a rise out of them. Like last night, when Boo Bug began tuning me out so I began telling her to watch out for the crocodiles Captain Adventure keeps in his diaper, because they’ll !!SNAP!! her little fingers right off if she isn’t careful, just like they did to the space alien that used to live under our sofa until the talking mouse moved in…

Didn’t even glance at me. I’d been yammering on too long at her, and she’d put me on “Ignore”.

If I say, “Hey! Don’t forget to hang up the towel after you use it, gang!” and that’s it – they hear that. They respond to it.

But if I say, “Hey! You guys need to hang up these towels, this is really starting to irritate me and WHO put their toothbrush on the counter and WHY is there toothpaste all over the sink and GOOD LORD is that toothpaste ON THE LIGHT FIXTURE and can you EXPLAIN to me what IN THE WORLD you kids have against flushing the potty once in a while and let’s go over again the concept of ‘enough’ toilet paper and WHY are these shoes in the bathtub and IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU ONE MORE TIME…!”

They tuned me out somewhere between the toothbrush and the light fixture. They never even heard the word ‘shoe’ and pretty much anything else I say all day long is going to be translated as ‘blah blah blah’ in their little ears.

Sometimes it seems frustratingly slow. Especially when you’ve gotten the older two trained, and them here comes Madam Four Years Old who leaves her toothbrush on the back of the toilet one (1) time – and suddenly all three of them are doing it again.

But choose my battles really does work the best. One field of warfare at a time, my children are becoming (reasonably) civilized little people.

I haven’t found a towel on the floor in two days.

Now. About that ‘flushing the potty’ part…

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Plan A

Well, I haven’t posted much about the job situation because…it’s still pretty up in the air. The only thing we’ve dropped is working as an independent, because our city wants to get too far into our peanut butter on that. Permits, inspections, blah blah blah – even if you just want to do computer programming from your house. Sure, I could try the whole “I’ll just do it and hope I don’t get busted” thing, but the penalties can be pretty darned stiff.

Also, I have pretty high fixed costs out the gate, here. I can’t afford to have “bad” months, given the cost of childcare and so forth.

I’ve got an interview coming up for a regular salaried job. It’s Plan A right now, but could get derailed faster and harder than a skateboarder hitting a crack in the pavement if we have a major schism between when I need to earn and what they want to pay. It’s very appealing for two reasons: a reliable paycheck and (more importantly, frankly) we’re talking about doing an awful lot of telecommuting. Why yes, that would work for me, thanks for asking…

But the pay thing can be tricky. It’s easy to have a tremendous misunderstanding on that front. That’s the one thing about the IT field I’ve found the most frustrating over the years: the difference between a Level I and a Level III may seem obvious on paper, yet gets fuzzy both in practice and in the minds of the employer. So after the employer has gotten through describing how he wants me to be able to do Everything! All of it! Invent the Internet! Build the enterprise system from scratch using nothing more than a hair pin and a circa 1994 desktop nobody else is using! Create our marketing plans! Guide our research projects! And, get us the best price on office coffee!!, he’ll then turn right around and say, enthusiastically, “Yes, this is a great ground floor opportunity paying $55,000 a year! WOW!”

It isn’t that $55,000 is a rotten entry level salary. It’s a nice entry level salary. It’s just that what he’s asking me to do is more along the Level III category, which has a median of about $90,000.

(In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about with all this ‘level’ stuff, I’m using the definitions [and salaries] from www.salary.com for a Database Developer in zipcode 94102 – this is a cool resource, BTW, if you’re working. A great way to get a realistic take on what you’re worth in the open market, and awesome for ammo come raise time!)

Having had this kind of salary confrontation happen quite frequently, I’m nervous about it. Not in a ‘sitting up all night chewing my fingernails’ way, but more in a ‘man, I hope I don’t have to actually go out and interview again somewhere else’ way. I know the work is out there for me, at full pay. Mostly because companies hire Level I data geeks to do Level III work, and then desperately need someone to come in and fix the horrific mess they’ve left – FAST – because quarter close or something is coming up.

It’s just that I want to be working sooner, and I like everybody I’ve met at this company pretty darned well. I think it would work out beautifully overall.

Also, I hate interviewing. I hate having headhunters calling me day and night. “HEY! We’ve got a fabulous-fabulous-fabulous opportunity for you, dah-link! It is paying a fabulous $13.72 an hour doing data entry in fabulous Armpit, California!!”

Um. Did you read my resume at all? Even once? Did you glance at it? Armpit is about 85 miles from my house and EXCUSE ME, data entry?!

Dear God. I haven’t done data entry in so long that it has dropped off my resume altogether! But their keyword was ‘Excel’, and they just skipped over the fact that my ‘Excel’ is connected with ‘VB programming in’ and ‘reports presented via’.


Ah well. I love the work. I can hate the work-getting process, it’s only a small part of things. I love the work, and can’t wait to get back to it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

First days

The kids had their first day back at daycare yesterday.

Picking up Captain Adventure was one of those delicious agonies, where you feel so good and so bad at the same time you almost can’t bear it. When he saw me standing at the door, he rushed over as fast as his little legs could carry him and flung himself against my legs. As I picked him up, he wrapped his entire body around me and was laughing and crying so hard he was almost hysterical. He smeared my entire face with slimy but enthusiastic toddler-kisses, wrapped his fists in my hair, and crushed himself against me like he thought he could just melt into me and never risk being left again!

I felt like an evil villain for leaving him in the first place, and like a kind of goddess to have been so missed. And evil again, for enjoying that he missed me. And all-over fuzzy because…I missed him too! It felt so good to have my little baby boy back in my arms again after six whole hours!

{rolls eyes at own melodrama}

But still. It was the Very First Time he’s ever been left somewhere. He’s had a babysitter for a few hours, he’s even been left with his grandma for five whole days – but here in our house. Not Elsewhere. And definitely not with strangers, for cripes’ sake! (Even though those ‘strangers’ are the same women who tended his big sisters for us and are pretty close to ‘family’ for our Den.)

The girls, on the other hand…Eldest and Danger Mouse didn’t want to leave and informed us, coolly, that they were scheduled to have snack at 6:00 and could we please go away and return at, say, 6:15 or so? And Boo Bug looked up indifferently, took her fingers out of her mouth and said, “I’m listening to storytime, go get coffee right now and come back later!”

Well. Glad to have been missed so desperately.

This morning, Captain Adventure gave me a little initial howling about being back at that Evil Place – but we took it slow and he got involved in the playing and the snack and so forth and hardly even blinked when I waved at him through the door. When I peeked back in a few minutes later, he was still playing with the bead maze and smiling.

Like having had seventeen months – SEVENTEEN MONTHS! – at home with him, these next couple weeks are likewise a blessing. To have the time, every morning, to go as slowly as needed to make him feel secure, to not have a train to catch or a client to meet or irons in the fire.

It’s a good thing.

Why I collect large sticks

Large sticks, commonly called a “shillelagh” by my Celtic relatives, are things I avidly collect. Can’t have too many shillelagh lying around, no indeed.

Why would a woman want to have a bunch of big sticks lying around, you may ask?

THIS is why:

Now, with these three exceptionally gorgeous creatures (not that I’m biased or anything) for daughters, are you surprised that I’m preparing to fend off raging hordes of youthful male hormones that are sure to be pounding on our doors in all-too-few years to come?!

You’d do the same.

You know you would.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ooooooooh, the humanity

There is a very basic problem with having a bunch of older sisters.

They like “sistery” stuff. Like, say, hats with flowers on them.

And, they think nothing in the world is more adorable than the sight of, say, a bright orange hat with large flowers stuck on the head of their baby brother.

Ooooooooh, the humanity!