Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley & Ashley

Just bein' Miley

Poor Miley Cyrus. She gets a photo shoot with a famous photog, probably thinks they look great, and then is forced to admit they were embarrassing after other people start freaking out about it. The Today Show this morning had a piece on "how to talk to your kids about those racy Miley Cyrus photos". Personally, I think the pics are artistic, not "racy". Prudish America strikes again -- oooo, a bare back, we can't have that! There's not even a hint of side boob. This isn't "racy".

I will admit that the message is inconsistent. If you're marketing a 15 year old girl to tweens and kids, then this picture really doesn't have any place in that. However, the pictures were taken for Vanity Fair -- an adult magazine. That raises a couple of points: even though that is an adult magazine, in today's media world, you can't guarantee that kids won't see it and ask questions; second, why are they marketing a 15 year old girl to an adult audience? I'm less worried about what kids think when they see her bare back than seeing males of America lusting after "jail bait".

Miley has hit a very high level of fame at a difficult age. She's only 15, but living in Grown Up Land. That's a dangerous combo. I hope her parents can keep her grounded so she doesn't end up like her peers.

Ashley the money-grubber

Ashley Dupre is suing Girls Gone Wild owner Joe Francis for $10M, saying she had a fake ID when she signed her GGW release form. She was only 17 and didn't understand fully what she was doing. I can't believe there would come a day when I would say this, but I have to side with Joe Francis on this one. Signing that release form and appearing in those videos is pretty stupid to begin with.

Life is full of lessons, and this is one she should be forced to learn. Don't tie up the justice system with this stupid lawsuit. You treated yourself as an adult, obtained a fake ID, and made a decision in your life that you now regret. Too damn bad. Why should the taxpayers of America pay for the courts to decide you need more money for showing your boobs in a video? If you were so full of yourself as to circumvent the age requirement (which, hey, maybe is there for a reason) then you don't deserve anything.

Return to reality

I returned home to the usual crap. If people actually paid attention to me when I tell them my schedule, perhaps there wouldn't be misunderstandings. I'm tired of being invisible except when someone else thinks there is an "emergency" or when it's convenient for them to use me. That seems to be a common theme in my life: I am invisible until I am of use. Unfortunate, but somehow true at the same time.

Last week was supposed to be a restful vacation, but due to the magnitude of crap that happened, I don't feel all that rested. The good news of John's immigration approval bolstered my spirits but upon returning home, I don't feel like I truly had a "vacation". I'm already starting to feel myself drop back into the apathy that was present when I left. It only took an hour of being back in the office to feel mentally beaten down. The next two days of cold, whipping rain won't do much for my spirits either. I had hoped to get back to regular walking, but may have to wait until the end of the week.

I'm concerned about how expensive this summer is going to be. We will have to pay for John's health expenses while we sit through the 3 month waiting period for Medicare. I can't add him to my group health insurance at work because they also require a 3 month waiting period. Add on the expense of moving and his unemployment and it starts to look pretty scary. I've got to start thinking about what I can cut back on.

I also need to start cleaning things up and making room for John in the house. I can start that by making some room to get organized and getting the patio furniture out for the season, but I was hoping to use a power washer on the deck and house, so it would be best if I did that before putting the furniture out. I need to fire up the BBQ and check on how well it's working. Last time I used it, I remember thinking the burner wasn't long for this world. I would love to have a new BBQ, but a replacement burner may have to do for now, if necessary.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More bad news

We heard back from the vet today about Caly. She has diabetes. It means she'd have to take shots and medication is costly. Since John lost his job, and will have enough issues with his own health care costs, this news is tough to hear. He now has a very hard decision to make.

It's been a rough week for him, and I am very glad I'm here to at least provide moral support in person.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No rest for the wicked

I realized today that my vacation is not going to be the relaxing, stress-relieving event I was hoping it would be. John found out today that he is losing his job as of April 30. This event opens up a big can of worms. Being unemployed without an answer from the government sucks. I am very concerned about health coverage, so I have started the process of adding him on to my coverage. I hope there are no snarls with that because he's not yet a Canadian resident. At the same time, he can join a health plan for those who are unemployed, but it will be expensive. Something is better than nothing, though, and he must remain covered.

Caly is also having issues. Around 3:30am this morning she started throwing up on the bed. That resulted in us having to get up and change the sheets and blankets. Later in the morning, around 9am, I walked back in the bedroom to discover a big wet spot on the bed. This is the second time recently that that has happened, so we booked an appointment to take her to the vet tomorrow. With her frequent trips to the litter box lately, she may truly have a UTI this time. She has also been throwing up a lot lately. If it is something more serious that requires a lot of money to fix, well... I think you can guess where that might be going.

On the positive side, John is able to spend most of this week with me. He is on paid leave until Thursday, when he has to go back in to do paperwork and find out about his severance package. He had planned to take Friday off as vacation anyway, so effectively he will only work one day this week.

We saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" last night, it was a funny movie. I think it is one of those movies that was funny to start with, and will get more funny with repeated watchings. "Oh the weather outside is weather..."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tips for job applicants

  • If you're not going to submit a cover letter, then you'd better tailor your resume to show me that you have the skills required to do the job. Submitting only a resume with only a listing of past jobs, with no description of what you did in those jobs, will not get you an interview.
  • If you list a phone number, and you're hoping for an interview, it may be wise to have voicemail on that number. Hearing "The customer you are calling is unavailable at the moment..." doesn't give me an opportunity to talk to you about an interview, does it? I don't want to email you, as that may result in pestering questions or spam if I'm not interested in hiring you.
  • 5 page resumes that are extremely wordy will not get read.
  • I personally think the categories of "Profile", "Objective", and a generic description of skills & attributes, such as "a great listener", are pretty much useless bull. Your objective is to get a job and pay your bills. If you had higher aspirations, you wouldn't be applying for this position. Of course you're going to describe yourself as wonderful.
  • If your name is Bart Simpson, and the email address on your resume is "thesimpson@gmail.com", then I just think you're a cocky moron. Use something more professional when communicating with employers. Save the "fun" email addresses for your friends.
  • If your "objective" is to "seek employment related to your current field of study", then your current field of study had better match what field I am looking for. You may be the best IT guy in your engineering class, but your actions are not consistent with your words. Reword your resume to match what the job is looking for.
  • Just because you've worked in my company's industry doesn't mean you know anything about IT. Are you sure you're even applying for the right job? Did you even read the requirements in the posting? Don't waste my time!
  • I called one person's phone and got their voicemail. It started off with the generic "Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system. [blank] is not available." In the [blank] should be a voice recording of the person's name. On this person's voicemail, it went something like this: "Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system. [Hey, this is Bart. Leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can"] is not available." This person can't even figure out how to properly set a voicemail message, and yet he wants a job that involves taking phone calls and answering messages? *shakes head*

It's been fun so far. I'm amazed at how many people just send out generic resumes with no tailoring toward the specific job, or who don't seem to realize how important their contact information is. I'd rather not hire anyone than someone who can't do the basics of what I need. I don't have time to extensively train someone. It's rapidly looking like I may not have an extra body in here this summer.

High, then low

Last week ended on a high note. I managed to find the best deal I could on a dishwasher by calling Lounsburys in Moncton. Not only would they price-match, they also threw in the stemware holder/cup shelf for free, and they had the dishwasher in stock -- no waiting. I asked Dad if he could drive me up to get it, and he helped me install it. It's working great so far, dishes seem to be much cleaner, and I can fit larger things in it.

I attended a house party on Saturday night. It was good for the most part, but a bit too much shop talk for my liking. It made me uncomfortable after a while. Once the intoxication reached a certain level, I lost interest and decided to leave. I was tired after having been up early that morning to go to Moncton. I did have a good time though, and played Wii for the first time. The bowling was fun, once I got the hang of how to use the controller.

I can't remember what I did on Sunday. It wasn't much.

I've been reading Dragonfly In Amber. I'm liking it so far, but starting to find the France parts are dragging, so I hope there is some change-up soon. I won't be able to finish it before I leave on Saturday, so I found a paperback copy at United Bookstore. That will save me from dragging the large hardcover from the library with me in my carry-on.

I haven't even unearthed my luggage yet to pack, and I'm running out of time. Work has been hectic this week, my co-worker has been out sick yesterday and today, I've had meetings, trying to set up interviews with more potential summer students... it's been nuts. I still haven't managed to attack what I must get done before going.

Tai Chi has been going well. I find most Tuesday nights I don't feel like dragging myself out to class, but am usually glad I did by the time class is over. It will be easier when I finish beginner and join the continuing class, as I will have more options during the week to pick from for class times. I think I will also enjoy it more when John is here and we can do it together. I will miss one class while I am away next week. Hopefully I can put in some effort to practice over the next two weeks so I don't lose everything I learned so far.

I'm still thinking pretty strongly about wanting to do a yoga class. Not sure if I want to start now, with lots of other things going on, or wait until the fall.

The location of my annual work conference was announced yesterday as being Key Largo, FL. I have never been to the keys, so it will be interesting, providing I can go. My office is moving sometime around August 1, but if that gets delayed, it may run into September so there is a chance I may not be able to make it. Still up in the air for now. The conference finishes up on my birthday, so I know what I'll be doing for my birthday this year. At least there is a banquet that night.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I put a job offer out to a student who I thought was a lock, and he declined the offer. Now I am back at square one with no prospects. I was really disappointed by this news. I am so overwhelmed with things to do at work. I am now starting to get calls from people wondering why I haven't gotten to their issues yet. I'm doing the best that I can, but I feel that shortly that answer won't be good enough. I thought I'd be ok to go on vacation knowing I had a student ready to start when I got back, but now my vacation may hinder my ability to do interviews. This is really stressing me out, but I am just trying to do one thing at a time and get through.

On Tuesday, I had the repairman in to look at the dishwasher. The conclusion is that the motor was blown. To replace it would cost over $500 (parts & labor). Considering the fact that it is 5-6 years old and out of warranty, it doesn't make much sense to sink that much money into it. I've spent yesterday doing some dishwasher shopping. I didn't have as many choices as I thought I might, but I was limited by wanting a stainless steel interior. I think I have settled on the model I want, which will cost $799. Plus extended warranty, delivery, hookup, and removal of old unit, around $1000. Plus HST. This is not a cheap venture. I have been wanting a new dishwasher for a while now, and don't really want to compromise. I'm just going to have to suck it up. At least my tax refund arrived, and that will pay for $500 of it.

I had been anticipating an invitation to a baby shower for my brother & SIL, and it came this week. Unfortunately, this is being held in Montreal. I've looked at my options and my money situation, but I just don't think I can swing it. My plan had been to pay for my mother and I to go up to the shower, since she couldn't swing that on her own. One ticket, after taxes & fees, will cost $405. Double that and I can tell pretty quickly that I can't afford it right now. I can get one points ticket but not two, so I could send my mother up by herself for under $200; I am still debating that. Since it is being held on the long weekend in May, points seats are scarce. I don't really see driving as an option. I don't have any vacation time left, so I would have to leave Friday night and drive at least halfway to make the noon Saturday party. Gas, hotel... probably not much cheaper than a single plane ticket. All of this, plus I'd have to buy a gift. I just don't see how I can do it, especially with the unknown variable of John's moving costs.

I am really disappointed about not being able to go to the shower. I had planned on making it a nice trip for my mother & I, but I wasn't anticipating a broken dishwasher. As much as I hate to make it sound like a choice, I would have to pick a new dishwasher over a trip to Montreal. I'm just really bummed about it.

I went to the ophthalmologist today. Not a disappointment, seeing as how she said I was in good eye health, but no real reason for Creepy Red Eye™. She suggested I call and come back in when the flare-up happens again, which won't be until its usual November time. She said then she could confirm what was happening. She thought it could be caused by the wood stove, since that is around when I start using it for the season, but who knows. The bad part about this appointment was that I had to have eye drops. It's 3.5h later and I am still returning to normal. My pupils were so dilated that I barely had anything other than pupils visible. I had to get someone to drive me home from work because things were still a bit blurry and I wanted to play it safe. I'll have to go pick my car up later tonight.

So it's been a disappointing week thus far. I hope my luck will turn around next week.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Long week

I'm kicking it old school today, washing all of my dishes by hand. Not something I enjoy doing, but it was a necessity as my dishwasher seems to have stopped functioning. One more thing that happened to cap off a bad week.

Monday morning had me dropping by the hospital with my jug o' urine. My doctor had me on a 24h urine collection, the latest in a bunch of tests to determine what Creepy Red Eye™ is all about. I had to have another blood test after dropping that off, fortunately the nurse heeded my warning to use the butterfly needle. I am headed to see the ophthalmologist on Thursday of this week, and then my GP again next week. Hopefully some answers. My GP says there is something going on with me, but my test results have been inconsistent.

My bad luck began overnight on Monday/Tuesday, when my basement flooded. I came home Tuesday evening after work to a smell I recognized all too well. I spent the next hour picking things up off the floor so they'd dry, and doing some cleanup as best I could. It didn't leave me any time to myself before Tai Chi class, and I ended up dropping by my grandfather's house after class instead of before. I did get to meet his new dog, Max, a golden retriever. Less annoying than the last dog, thankfully. I think I will be able to get along with this dog a bit better.

My Dad came over Wednesday night to help with the basement. He installed a trap on a pipe in one of the bathroom floor holes, so it would drain whenever the water got high enough. He also patched a crack by the door. Thursday night he returned and sealed the 2nd hole in the bathroom. With these changes, *fingers crossed*, I hope to have the issue solved.

Thursday brought a minor annoyance in the death of my watch. I had replaced the battery a week prior, but as I pressed the button to see the light, it flickered and died. On Friday, I took it back to where I bought the battery, tested it, but indeed the watch was dead. They also told me the battery was about 50%... for a week old battery? Next time I'm buying and installing my own battery. They did give me my money back, but I lost some trust there. Leaving the jeweler, I walked down to Zellers to see what they had for watches. I really didn't want to be shopping for a new watch, I liked what I had, and hoped I could find something similar. I did find the same watch, slightly different due to the fact that it's many years after buying the first. I didn't bother to price shop -- I needed a watch, this was the one I wanted, and it was most convenient to get it then & there, so I did. Not a big deal for most people, but for me, that was pretty decisive.

Friday brought a very difficult day at work. I drove to Fredericton with my co-worker to conduct interviews for potential summer students. While there, we became involved in a series of emails that left me seething for the rest of the day. I am still angry about it, two days later. The interviews went ok, but not great, as the students didn't have the skill set we were looking for. The one shining spot of Friday was a phone interview we conducted. I think this may be the student we want, but I have 3 more interviews Monday morning before I make a final decision.

I was supposed to get a haircut Friday night, but my stylist left a day earlier than planned for vacation and neglected to tell me. I luckily had put 2 and 2 together before driving over to the salon, so I didn't waste a trip, at least. I ended up just going home instead. Kind of a let-down after a long, hard day, but I didn't feel much like socializing anyway, and didn't have any reason not to wait a few more days.

Saturday had me going uptown to the market to pick up a baguette for dinner at Suzy's later in the day. I poked around the market, wandered over to Brunswick Square. Noticed that Blue Oasis was closed, I was disappointed to see that. Have they moved, or closed for good? I bought a card at Hallmark, then made my way back to the car and home. I continued reading Outlander for a bit (our current book club selection), and then went to church. I came home, realized the dishwasher had not made any progress while I was gone, and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to get someone to come over and look at it. I showered, changed, and headed to Suzy's for dinner. I was the first one there, oddly enough. I helped a bit and chatted, just glad to be out of my solitary house for a while.

I am at a strange spot right now, I find. There are times when I have an overwhelming desire to just be home, alone, quiet; yet at the same time, the quiet can seem oppressive and the house too lonely. I haven't been eating well since John left. Food just isn't appealing to me, especially going to the bother of preparing it. I'm sure that's been adding to my stress, but I haven't adjusted my habits yet. While there are times when I want or need to be alone, I'm finding it more difficult to be spending ALL of my time alone. It won't be easy for the two of us to both uproot our lives and live together, when the time finally comes, but I am not sure how much more of this total solitary life I can lead. After the week I've had, I just want to be comforted, and IMs or phone calls just aren't the same.

Back to my story. Saturday night's dinner was really great, the food as well as the company. I felt so much better to be out and with a bunch of friends, talking and laughing, not sitting home by myself with my thoughts. I had a great time.

Today I haven't done much more than read. I finished Outlander, as was my hope when I picked it up this morning. I got absorbed in it, not noticing when it was suddenly an hour and a half later than the last time I looked at the clock. It was intriguing enough to make me want to continue reading the series, and I find after I invest so much of my time in a larger book, I am not usually prepared to leave the characters just yet. I will have to get to the library to pick up the next book, but if it's a large hardcover, I don't necessarily want to start it unless I can finish it in the next 2 weeks, before I go away.

The biggest news of the week dealt with John's job. His division was bought by another company, so as of May 1, he will have a new employer. Unfortunately, this will quash a visit from him in May. I had been debating on visiting him this month, possibly around his birthday (26th), but was leaning toward not doing so until that news arrived. Once I realized I may not get to see him until June, my next trip by plane across the border, I decided 3 months between seeing one another was too long. I asked my Dad for points and was able to book a flight to SoCal on the 19th, returning on the 27th, overnight stay with my brother, then arriving back home on the 28th around lunchtime. That is pretty much the only open week I had, between doctor appointments and work meetings. I can't leave in May with a new student under my wing, so it was now or wait until June.

I am looking forward to some vacation, getting out of my office, seeing my husband, scratching the cat, and enjoying the sunshine. I just wish all of that could be done with the use of transporters instead of 12h worth of flying time. The travel is wearing me down. If John has word on his immigration status by the end of June and is in the process of moving, I am considering skipping my next work meeting. It's in Seattle, and the thought of going all that way for a one-day meeting, without an added visit to John, isn't very exciting. I was in Seattle 2 years ago, saw what I wanted to, and while the city was ok, I don't feel any great desire to put in the long flight to get there just for a day.

I'm feeling despondent tonight in anticipation of work tomorrow. I am not looking forward to the interviews, the decision-making, the other issue that still has me very angry. I'd rather play ostrich. I also don't want to have to get up early. I have to run an errand for my Dad on the way in to work, find time to call the appliance repair shop, and be ready to start an interview at 8:30am. I just need to get through the day as best I can. It likely means I won't sleep well tonight, though. I just wish my husband were here for support. I miss him.

Oddly enough, I miss Caly too. I've never been much of a one for pets, but I seem to have spent enough time with Caly that I found she's grown on me quite a bit. I get the feeling I wouldn't be lonely if she were here, walking by every once in a while for me to scratch, curling up on the back of the couch, or sprawling out on the floor in front of the TV. I have been wondering what she'll think of having so much more room to wander around in and explore. Hopefully she sticks to the litter box though.

Time seems to be running out on my evening. I guess I'd better try to get some sleep and get through Monday in one piece.