Friday, October 24, 2014

A low profile

Just please don't forget that I'm still here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


A friend posted this article on Facebook and it had me writing a long comment, so I decided to turn it into a blog instead.

Both printed maps and GPS have their place. If I'm driving alone, following a GPS voice is safer than trying to fight with a printed map. But GPS devices don't provide that larger overview (or if they do, the screen is too small). I like to have a sense of where I'm going, and to confirm that the GPS is indeed sending me in the right direction.

I was always the "navigator" in my family of 5. Dad did the driving, and I was always in charge of the maps. My mother, whose famous quote is: "I could get lost in the Sears parking lot," was never great with maps or directions, so that duty fell to me.  I don't recall why, maybe I asked to look at the map and figure it out?  I could look at maps for hours, staring at the routes, seeing where they go, looking at fun or different city names, mountains, parks, etc. Give me a map, and I can figure out how to get us from A to B.

One of our trips to Florida involved a drive from Kissimmee to Cape Canaveral to visit the Kennedy Space Center. My older brother was in university and wasn't with us, so it was just me and my younger brother in the backseat. On the way back, I don't recall why I wasn't on map duty, it may have been one of the rare times where I couldn't figure it out.  We were lost, and my Dad was trying to read the map. He got so frustrated he crumpled it up and threw it in the back seat. My brother and I each turned and just stared at the ball of map as my Dad stomped on the gas to just figure it out on his own. This incident was hereafter known as "Crumple Crumple Throw."

My Dad always did all of the driving on our road trips. He could go to a city once and remember how to get around, with one exception: Boston. For some reason, that city didn't stick in his head. May have had something to do with the fact that Boston is always under construction. He used to say he could keep 50 cities in his head, but Boston must have been the 51st because he could never remember it.  If I asked him now, he's probably been there enough times that he knows it. "50 cities" always makes me chuckle, as I'm sure that's more than I can remember.

On our first date, John and I got turned around and a bit lost in Tucson. It was after dinner, during which we were both very nervous, and we had driven off into what became a very dark and desolate area. Cue the feelings of "he's taking me out to the desert to kill me." He handed me his atlas and we figured out where we'd gone wrong, and the task of map reading help break the tension of our first date, as well as showcased my map reading skills in an area I'd never visited before.

Three years ago, John and I went on our first big road trip as a married couple.  We weren't sure whether we would want to kill each other by the end of it, but we hoped we'd travel well together. We drove to Montreal, down to Pennsylvania, and back home.  John likes to play the "gas mileage game," where he constantly monitors his gas mileage, sees how each tank of gas reacts, etc. I like to get somewhere as fast as possible, which isn't good on gas mileage. Since we were driving in his truck, he wasn't thrilled with my lead foot, and I got annoyed having to keep checking myself and my speed. So we gravitated toward John doing the driving of his vehicle the way he liked (and, honestly, less likely to get a speeding ticket) and I handled the GPS, maps, navigation, passing of water/snacks, cleaning of glasses, etc. It worked out well and has been our configuration ever since, unless John needs a rest from driving.

On that particular trip, we found that as we were driving through Maine to Quebec, the GPS was lacking in that large-overview way. I like to see the bigger picture, to see where the GPS is taking me, to mentally confirm that indeed this is the right way. Or if there was construction, I could quickly see and determine a better route. Though our GPS could give an alternate route, I liked the reassurance. We stopped at the CAA in Sherbrooke to pick up maps of the Northeast and I felt much better about our plan. While in Montreal, it was the printed map I broke out to visualize our route to Pennsylvania. When the GPS listed its directions, I already knew and agreed that it was the right way, such as avoiding NYC even if it was a more direct route.

I still have my box of maps I've collected over the years, as well as a pile in my glove compartment. I don't need them very much anymore, but I have the comfort of knowing that they're there if I need them. I can still pull them out and be fascinated for ages. It's one of the things I know I'm good at and can be trusted with.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Mercury, you little devil

If someone asked, I'd swear we were still in Mercury retrograde. It seems like since it ended at the beginning of the month, my communications have gotten worse, not better. I keep running into situations where people refuse to listen to me. When they do listen, it seems like I trip over my words, and/or the person receiving misinterprets it and refuses to allow me to clarify. Or doesn't believe me when I do. I've hit a couple of walls over the past week that seem to be insurmountable.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Disappearing office cutlery

I've worked in this office, with a lot of the same people, for 13.5 years. During that time, we've had a continuing problem of never having enough cutlery in the kitchen drawer. When my husband moved in and we combined our kitchen utensils, I took my half-plastic set to work since they could be well used there.  Some of that set still sits in the drawer, but some of it is missing.

A few years ago, after moving into this new building, I went to Costco and bought a set of flatware. It was thicker and nice, and there were enough pieces that I figured it would solve the problem.  Currently there is one fork remaining, perhaps one teaspoon, and at least half of the knives. The question is: where is the rest of the cutlery?

I searched around on the internet to see if anyone had any comments on this problem. In addition to a fun scientific experiment, the common answers dealt with theft by children to use in their play (not an issue in this office), office workers who have kept the cutlery at their desks for exclusive use, or the utensils get thrown in the trash when the dishes are cleaned up.

Who throws metal cutlery in the trash?

If you're scraping a dish, how can you not notice the cutlery falling into the trash? Plate loss isn't generally attributed to trash disposal, so why cutlery (just because it's small)?  I have found office cutlery around desks, so some are being hoarded by co-workers. At least it's still in the building.  I just can't fathom how or why so many of these utensils go missing. My best guess is that people are putting work cutlery into their dirty Tupperware containers and taking them home, so the work cutlery gets absorbed into their home inventory.

What I couldn't find in my research was any way to alleviate the problem. Buying plastic cutlery means it can be thrown out, but then it ends up at the landfill. At least only some of the metal cutlery is ending up at the landfill. Buying new cutlery sets just results in the eventual loss of that set.  Bringing in my own cutlery will lead to others ignoring my name on it and using it anyway, and then it will get lost. Since I want to run the items through the dishwasher, I don't want to store cutlery at my desk.  Some who have had lunches stolen from work refrigerators suggest that kid-like bags deter theives, so maybe I should try getting kid cutlery in hopes that no one else wants to be seen using a Dora The Explorer spoon?

I'm not sure what the answer is, but soon I will be forced to start eating yogurt with a knife.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An open prayer

Hey God,

I don't usually type things to you, but I figured if I got it out in the open and visible, maybe it would help me.

Though I'm resistant to change, as you know, I think I've bashed my head against the proverbial brick wall long enough. I'm going to need your help to figure this out, and this time I really want to come to an answer instead of deferring the problem for 10+ years. I'll do the work if you can help me find some direction.

Please make this week easier than the last. It's so exhausting being the person who cares so much, compared to those who don't but should. I'm tired of being angry, bitter, depressed, and unhappy. I'd like that to change, I just don't know how to go about it. I could really use some light at the end of the tunnel, some hope that things are going to get better.

Hopefully you can show me the way.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I've been having a particularly stressful time since, well, the basement flood, really. Following the flood was work stress in one area, then John hurting his back, the usual Christmas stress, and since the beginning of the year more work stress in another area, John hurting his back again, concern about my health, and a relentless, punishing winter. This morning we shoveled and snow-blowed another 4' of drifts in our driveway. I also had a work meeting that had been building up and bothering me, and I got through it today fairly successfully, considering the topic. Between those two events today, I'm drained. But I'm committed to keeping up with my Zumba schedule, and think the exercise will help relieve the stress I've been feeling leading up to today. Or at least give me an hour's worth of distraction.

Lately I've been unable to feel like I'm getting a good night's rest. Sleep is never a problem for me, it's the quality that's the issue. I may have gotten 7-8h of uninterrupted sleep, but I still wake up feeling like a zombie.  In the evenings, when I'm trying to enjoy my free time, thoughts of the work stresses creep in and spoil my mood.  Yesterday I worked from home due to the impending storm. Many friends were sent home early and had some extra relaxing time, but I felt since I was already working from home, I'd better work until my normal time, so I did. I still didn't get as much done as I wanted. I wondered whether I should go back downstairs and work some more.

The hard part is knowing that the work stress ebbs & flows, but is far from over. This will be a year of changes that I don't want, but will have to find a way to accept and move forward.  The uncertainty of how it's going to pan out is only part of the problem.  I'm trying to deal with it based on the information I have now and get through each day, but I can't ignore that sound of the train horn nearby either. And that's wearing on me too.

I'm leaving for a meeting in just over a week. I'll be glad for the change in scenery, and to be somewhere where I won't have to shovel snow. But often when I leave, something happens to make things worse. I was contemplating a few days of vacation before the meeting, but had to cancel. I wouldn't have had fun anyway, I would have just worried about what went on while I was gone.  I'll only be gone for 3 working days. Hopefully in that time, things can stay normal.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I'm an avid supporter of Speedpass, the RFID tag used by Exxon/Mobil and Esso gas stations which enables you to pay at the pump without having to fumble with credit and loyalty cards.  So much easier and I'm not sure why it never caught on.

While attending my first tire software conference in Chicago in 2002, I went to a McDonalds and snapped this pic because I was thrilled to see Speedpass in a place other than a gas station.  I had forgotten all about this until today, when I was opening a few random files to make sure the copies I made were working.

Per Wikipedia:
At one point, Speedpass was deployed experimentally in fast-food restaurants and supermarkets in select markets. McDonald's alone deployed Speedpass in over 400 Chicago area restaurants. Additionally, Stop & Shop grocery chain tested Speedpass at their Boston area stores and removed the units in early 2005. The test was deemed a failure and McDonald's removed the scanners from all their restaurants in mid-2004. Speedpass has also been previously available through a Speedpass Car Tag and Speedpass-enabled Timex watch.
I didn't actually use my Speedpass that day because I keep it on my car key ring, which I didn't have with me. Interesting, and neat that I was there during that experiment, though.

Tiger lights up!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 2014 photo - Day 19


I baked a mix for apple cinnamon muffins this morning, and wrapped them individually for the freezer.

January 2014 photo - Day 18

Happy place

Just picked up our new Yogibo bean bag chairs yesterday. So the Yogibo + Kindle = Happy Place.

January 2014 photo - Day 17


The smallest of bears in my collection of Snuffles.

January 2014 photo - Day 16


[Skipped yesterday's Black & White]

Managed to sneak this pic in the day before.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 2014 photo - Day 14

Three things

I walked past the Community Garden and picked out three compost bins. Perhaps I should have stuck with my original idea of 3 pieces of [colorful] garbage I saw on a different street.

January 2014 photo - Day 12


January in Canada is definitely not a time filled with color. Even worse when the snow thaws and you're left with mud-colored landscape. But I did manage to see a bright red fire hydrant along the street to bring some color.

January 2014 photo - Day 11

Looking down

I tried a downward perspective before, of a streetscape, without much success. This works better.

January 2014 photo - Day 10


By contrast, here is a man-made break in a tree, also part of the aftermath of the ice storm.

January 2014 photo - Day 9


We had a large ice storm just before Christmas, followed by plenty of days of cold which didn't allow the ice to melt. As a result, the tree limbs bent and broke. This is a natural break as a result of that storm from a neighbor's house up the street.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 2014 photo - Day 13

Makes me smile

The older I get, the less I like winter. So seeing the green grass as the snow recedes during our January thaw makes me happy.

January 2014 photo - Day 8

Lucky number

I'm not sure I have a lucky number myself, but plenty of people consider 7 to be a lucky number.

January 2014 photo - Day 7

Upside down is the logo on my laptop.

January 2014 photo - Day 6

Happens Everyday -- the mail gets delivered. At least, until Canada Post stops door-to-door delivery.

January 2014 photo - Day 5

Missed My Town and Words to live by. May come back to My Town but I don't really have any words to live by.

With the January thaw, I was able to get out for a lunchtime walk and snap a bunch of pics to make up for the days lost.  Day 5 was Found, where I found a shoelace that had been exposed after the thaw.

January 2014 photo - Day 2

Begins with G: board games in our basement. Cropping help by John.

Monday, January 06, 2014

January 2014 photo - Day 1

Back on the wagon. Day 1 was Lunch. I wasn't eating lunch at lunchtime, but was waiting for the start of a free New Year's Day Zumba class.