Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm it!

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It's been a long time since I posted, because I have a bad case of Can't Be Bothered. The five-day work week is going better; I've been pacing myself better, and a few work fires burned out, so that helped greatly as well. Stitching and knitting have been scarce due to lack of energy. Hopefully I'll feel inspired to post more soon. But for now, I've been tagged by Jill. Here goes...

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themself. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 0r 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer."

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
In May 1998, our loft was on the Atlanta Downtown Tour of Lofts for the first time. We actually had a visit from a Metropolitan Home rep, but our place didn't make the cut for the magazine. I was preparing to celebrate my first wedding anniversary (we went to Callaway Gardens). I was about to leave my first "real" job (as a consultant at a small place) to start a new one. That "new" job, at MAPICS, turned into "the best of times, the worst of times". I met my current manager (who I convinced to come work here) at that job, and that is a Very Good Thing! This was also the year I went to my first-ever needlework event, Spirit of Cross Stitch, where I met DFs Jill and Teresa for the first time. That was a life-changing event for sure! =) We've spent many great times together over the years, and their friendships have enriched my life greatly! You know, it's a darned good thing we wrote a Christmas letter for that year and posted it. Otherwise, I'd never have remembered all that!! (Like, when did I change jobs, anyway?? Duh.....)

2. What are five things on my to do list for today?

  • make sure hubby is packed for business trip (no, I don't pack for him like my mom does for my dad, but I gotta check him for missing buttons and such!)

  • get haircut

  • do application build for release nope, can't do that...gotta wait for tomorrow for coworker to check in his code...

  • buy more contact solution, saline and Scrubbing Bubbles

  • if time, pick up ??? to finish the ??? I'm making for ???

  • unload dishwasher

3. Snacks I enjoy...

  • Publix Trinity ice cream (OMGosh!)

  • like everyone else, Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M's

  • dark chocolate covered crystallized ginger

  • Teddy Graham Bears & Bees

  • Twizzlers

  • Harry & David's pepper jam mixed with cream cheese with tortilla chips

  • hummus & pita chips

  • blueberries with milk & a dash of sugar (or better yet, Jean's blueberry trifle...does that count as a snack or a meal??)

  • Andy's guacamole with tortilla chips (snarf!)

4.Things I would do if I were a billionaire...

  • hire someone to manage the bucks and make sure I never "have" to work again

  • spend at least a month (or two...) traveling around the world. Literally. Around it. All the way.

  • re-film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and HPatCoS with Michael Gambon

  • build a time machine and re-film Episode I with Hayley Joel Osment

  • make all manner of charitable contributions...the Aquarium, Atlanta Union Mission, Samaritan's Purse, Prison Fellowship Ministries, etc., etc. I think I'd have to set up a foundation.

  • learn to do all the stuff I wish I had time to learn to do (play various instruments, various dance styles)

  • see how many TV cameo appearances I could buy my way into =)

  • take care of family members: Mom and Dad get cleaning/organizing staff and personal trainers. Oldest sister gets her own tea shop. Middle sister...hmmm...I might employ her to run my charitable foundation! Youngest sister gets a travel allowance, since her stingy husband won't pay for any trips for her. Nieces and nephews get help with school or housing or something.

5. Places I have lived...

  • Michigan ('til I was 3)

  • Dunwoody, GA

  • Oxford, MS (on a lake...sigh....)

  • Downtown Atlanta

6. What jobs have I had...

I'm only going to do paying jobs...
  • accompanist (on piano)

  • teaching assistant at Georgia Tech for an artificial intelligence class

  • research assistant at GT

  • actress (yup, I've gotten paid...more than once, too!)

  • consultant (of the software variety)

  • software developer

Nope, I've never worked in retail or food service. I would have been horrible at either!

Unpaid jobs...
  • choreographer (for a cheerleading team...and if you don't think that's work...!!!)

  • reading tutor

  • Sunday school teacher (yeah, it's work for sure!!)

  • worship team singer/percussionist

  • technology specialist (and ball roller) at the Paralympics (We were at the Standing Volleyball venue and they were short-handed on floor staff one day)

7. Peeps I want to know more about...
I'll tag

Whew! I actually cut that list down to six to comply with the rules (you know me ;). I'm counting on you guys to tag the peeps I missed. =)

Sing with me now..."Getting to knooooow you, getting to know alllll aboooout youuuu...."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Amazon April Abridgment

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Before May is over, I thought I'd give the summary of what happened (needlwork-wise) during April.

I worked on Autumn Queen. This was her before:
and after:
There really is some progress in there, somewhere. I wish I could claim most of it was Wisper, so you really can't see it, but only a very little of it is Wisper. The good news is that she is now at her full width! This gives me a teensy feeling of accomplishment. She only gets smaller from here. Huzzah for big hips! :b

On the knitting front, I did knit on Tubey, but I don't have a picture of it. I should have taken a picture of it when I tried it on (to make sure it was going to be something approaching fitting), but I was too distraught by the fact that its trip down my torso was so much shorter than I'd been hoping. It's mind-numbingly boring to work on, and it seems to take soooo long to get around each round. I know it's going to be so cute when it's done, though! I also wove in some ends, which is going to take for-freaking-ever, based on my time to get the sleeves done! I need to search online to find tutorials for weaving in ends. I know, it's basic, but I'm very technical and have all kinds of specific questions like, "How much? How far? How many stitches? Which direction??"

Branching out, here's the before and after pictures of Peacock Tapestry:
Get it? (groan!!)
This is Michael's favorite illustrative cross-stitch piece, and is his constant response whenever I ask what I should work on. That second picture was taken in the sunlight, by the way...don't fear for my fabric!

And after that pair of pear pix, here's another: (A pear, not a pair =)
It's actually the !@#$%&* pear I may have mentioned before. I love it now, and it'll be super-cute finished with its Weeks Dye Works wool backing and cute leaf. But it was dubbed "The !@#$%&* Pear" because...all that gold...! *swoon* Plus, it's on 340 count. OK, maybe it's just 40 count, but still! This was my travel project, so it has been replaced by Quaker Turtles!

Yeah, I totally had to use the thesaurus to find "abridgment"....

Princess and the Beep

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Why is it that these things always happen at 4 in the morning? Batteries have all manner of reasonable times of day to run low, causing the electronic devices in which they're installed to beep at an annoyingly regular interval. There's 2 PM, 6:30 PM...Oooo, 11:16 AM, there's a good one! Even 8 AM would have been preferrable to the 3:42 AM at which the old, much maligned phone decided to begin its incessant, quietly insistent plea for help. It woke me from a dream. If I remember correctly, which is unlikely, given my sleep-deprived state, the dream was about teaching someone hardanger. Weird.

I wandered downstairs, because it was clearly not coming from anything on the third floor. Then I went downstairs again, because it was still faint. My first thought was, "Oh NO! Media Center has completely filled the hard disk drive before we were able to install the new drive! Oh, the humanity!" But it was just the stupid phone, which, although unplugged, was not de-batteried. I ripped its dry cell guts out and left the thing lying on the floor.

It's still there.

At times like this, all poor Michael can do is tell me that I must have princess hearing to be woken from a dead sleep by a teensy beep two floors down. I think it's his generic coping mechanism for my plentiful personality quirks. =) Wife can't exist on less than 7 hours sleep a night? Must be a princess. Wife unable to tromp around strange cities without three square meals a day? Princess. Wife can hear nearly inaudible beeping? Princess hearing. You must understand, he does not bestow this designation upon me the way one would call a child a spoiled brat. It's more like I just tried on the glass slipper. ;)

After we got back to bed, I said, "We didn't change our smoke alarm batteries at the time change this year, did we? We need to DO that." Then I laid awake for about 2 hours because my body was listening for any other weird sounds. Stupid body.

Has anyone had a battery reminder beep during daylight hours? I have not, to my knowledge, ever witnessed one, with the exception of my parents' smoke alarm, which was going off when I arrived to water their plants. Since they'd been gone for a while, though, I'm sure it started at 4 AM.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Riddle me this

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Here's some stuff you've been asking lately...

-Did you make that cake?
Nope, BUT my oldest sister did. She is kind of crazy in the kitchen. One year I threw a Christmas tea for some friends, and she made all the food...including piping iced holly leaves and berries ON THE SUGAR CUBES!!! This coconut cake came with amaretto-chocolate sauce...it was like eating an Almond Joy!

-Jill said I should post some stats (posts, comments, # jiff notes, # hits). Unfortunately, it's post-blogiversary, but here they are to this point:

Number of posts: 125
Number of comments: 374 (Wow! You like me! You really like me!)
Most comments per post:
Now, it's the sad post on me going full-time.
When I started this, it was...
Tie between Disney Arrival (which sort of doesn't count, because I was one of the commenters) and the blogiversary post (what a shock!), both with 10 comments
Runners-up are my finished Quaker Sewing Case (which I really appreciate, since I was rather proud of it!) and the inaugural JiffNotes post

Which brings us to...
Number of JiffNotes: 57

And from BlogPatrol (http://www.blogpatrol.com/) (at time of writing):
Total hits: 5597
Total visitors (by IP): 3363

Most hits/day (I'm going on memory here): 31
Typical hits/day: 10-15

Most frequently visited posts (by URL, other than "main page"):
The one about the sofa
Dumbledore's ArmyThis is also from my memory, rather than what BlogPatrol says. They are both due to search engines....

My favorites:
Casserole de corn
Inept contractor
Also a search engine favorite...When Geeks Talk Trash
Fireworks gone awry
Free food, priceless company
ASG redux
Life-changing Pancakes
Heather has skillz
Yeah...I know...they're mostly "blah blah blah" posts. Click on the needlework tag on the right if you want more pretty pictures. =)

-Jill also asked about starting the Herringbone block shawl at the other end.
This probably won't make any sense if you haven't seen Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Benedikta sweater...but anyway, here's how it looks now:
The directions say to keep knitting diamonds 'til it's the length you want, then knit another piece like the pink/purple sawtooth piece (at the bottom) and seam it onto the end. Instead, I'm going to knit another piece like in the picture above, then keep knitting them both 'til each is half the length I want the whole thing to be. Then, I'm going to seam them together in the middle of the shawl. I think the purl ridges will line up in a cool way. Fortunately, I have another skein of the Kureyon I knit the sawtooth with, so I just need to get it to the point where the same color range starts.

-Richard said, "Wait! I want to hear more about neural nets and natural language processing and Lisp code that writes itself!"
Well, he is probably the only one.... =) But here goes.... When I was getting my Master's in Computer Science, one of my specializations was Artificial Intelligence. One quarter I decided to participate in a research project, for two reasons. First, I was kind of tired of being a teaching assistant. I loved it, but I'd gotten tired of having to have office hours and no one ever showing up (the class wasn't rocket surgery, as David Lee Roth would say). Second, I was toying with the idea of getting my Ph.D., so I thought I'd better see what it was like and have some experience in case I was trying to get into the program. I am honestly kind of fuzzy (HA!) now on what exactly the overall goal of the project was, but my part was to write LISP code that would ask a remote database questions about its structure, map that to a master database's structure, and automatically write functions that would map data between the two. There is really nothing cooler than code that writes more code! This conversation came about because one of my coworkers found this book for cheap and was talking about how cool all this stuff was, so I started talking about all the cool classes I took in college.... Sorry, Richard, nothing specific or helpful. =)

-Jill, still full of questions, wanted to know if I got some gold dance shoes for my DDR win (or a mirror-ball trophy)
Sadly, no. Just the virtual trophy. And since I already own four (!) pairs of tap shoes, I probably won't be buying myself any. ;) Oh, yeah, I did get an achievement for it!

And, since I haven't done it for a while, here's a brief list of recent searches that hit the blog:
  • "quaker turtles" [sorry you didn't see much here!]

  • "Catherine Theron" [at least you found one finish]

  • foxglove socks [you only got 1/2 a sock]

  • giant metal tea ball [say what?]

  • Disadvantages of Graffiti [you're kidding, right??]

  • sleepys dynasty headboard [schwunh?]

  • "hawaiian programmers" [I'd love to know if you want one or want to be one]

  • carved monkey coconut heads [I'll let you have one cheap]

  • hop 2 you drop [did you mean "'til"?]

  • what to do first arriving disney [I could write a book on this. It totally depends on what time you get there and where you're staying.]

  • nora bellows [love her]

  • jiff notes [!!! I bet they were really searching for CliffsNotes. I ain't that famous]

I do eventually answer all questions...eventually.... Julia, yours is the first one at the top. =)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dream to Daze

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Today, I feel almost human.

Last week was my first full week of work. Well, at least, my first full week in a long time. From some comments I've gotten (here and IRL), I thought I'd clarify a few things.

I've been working part-time for about 5 years, I think. Once upon a time I worked very, very far away. (26 miles--about an hour--one way...I know, I know, others have it worse, but they made that choice. My company moved.) I couldn't take the commute, so I quit. Meanwhile, a solutions provider offered me a job. Problem: They were in the same building. Solution: They said I could work from home and only come in for meetings. Problem: After a couple years, they reneged on this offer. Solution: I went part-time. Eventually, I quit that job, and I actually took a year off (that's how bad the job was, and that's another subject entirely dealing with a boss who had issues with women). Now, before all that drama, I was working full time and had been since I got my Master's. At one point, I was even contracting in Orlando during the week. I've done 12-hour days (and more) many a time. I still do, in fact. But only when it's necessary.

After a year off, I went back to work as a contractor (still part-time). I actually didn't think they'd want me part-time, but I had more domain knowledge than anyone else they would have gotten, so it was worth it for them. The contract was only supposed to be three months, but they wanted to keep me. Even though there was a hiring freeze, and the company was bought and they let all contractors go, I was still there. I'm not sure what they did; I think they transitioned me to a permanent employee behind someone's back! Anyway, the problem again became the commute. I thought, I can do anything for three months, but I wasn't prepared to take up residence at a job that far away again. So, I found my current job.

I came into my current job as a replacement for a full-time programmer. Once he left, there were just two of us...another full-timer and me. This was great for about six months...then, he left as well. So there I was, all alone, doing the work of two full-time guys in my part-time schedule. This was due in part to my brilliant (former) manager, who kept non-essential tasks off my horizon until we hired another resource. And somehow I gracefully avoided making jokes about one woman being able to do the work of two men (at least out loud). =)

When I went full-time, indystitch, I did say "at least until the end of the year." I'm really hoping I can go back part-time then. Three days a week is great; it gives me two days to do all the household chores and rest up a bit. It's the equivalent of my sister the middle school media specialist (librarian); my vacation is just spread throughout the year. She's tried to get me to swtich to being a media specialist, but it'd take me a while to get to my current level of income in that position!

Normally, on Thursday, I sleep an extra 2-3 hours to make up for the amount I've worked during Monday-Wednesday. This past Thursday, I could tell my body was in shock. I felt tired, but more like my body was saying, "Hey, what's going on here? Oh, this must be one of the weeks when we're working a little extra. OK." Friday, it revolted. I was so brain-dead by about 3:00 that I couldn't even do simple coding tasks like removing carriage returns from Strings. I seem to have been getting through my weeks on stress; Saturday morning I woke up at 5am (after 6 hours sleep...and I'm one of those people that need 8 hours a night) and couldn't go back to sleep, I was so stressed. Not about anything in particular, except trying to get everything I'd normally do Thursday-Saturday done in one day. I did nap for about two hours. Sunday, I could express that Saturday I felt like I had jet lag, the worst headache ever, the worst lower backache ever and the worst upper backache ever, all at the same time. I couldn't have told you that Saturday; I was too much in a daze.

My (current) manager even told me on Friday, "I know how you are; you really need to pace yourself from now on." How often does your manager tell you to slow down?? I think that when I was part-time, I'd been trying to do five days' worth of work in three. Last week, I did that, then worked two extra days. That's not going to cut it. I'm trying to go easy this week. And last night I went to bed at 9:30 (unheard of at the Lott Loft), because I was already feeling dead tired yesterday (I wasn't totally recovered by Monday).

As for buying more stash with the extra cash, my stash diet for the year was not due to lack of funds...it was due to lack of time to do everything I have. And now there's even less time. I am ogling a few expensive electronic gadgets, though. ;)

Susan, I have one thing to say: GO FOR IT!! After all, we work to live and not the converse! Time is precious! And you'll definitely make more as a contractor, that's for sure.

Michael has been helping me with dinner, which has actually been kind of fun. It certainly seems like less of a chore. I just have to curtail my perfectionist tendencies and let him do stuff his way...it still gets done and still tastes good. =) When I was part-time, I'd cook two or three nights out of Thursday-Sunday, and we'd eat leftovers Monday-Wednesday. Yesterday, we left work a little earlier (6:00 rather than 6:30 or 7) so we could cook.

Lene...totally. The dream is for Michael and I BOTH to work part-time!! Someday we'll make it happen!! People get way too wrapped up in their jobs and miss so much beauty around them!

I did get some more interesting reactions when people found out I was going full time. Quite a few "now you're just like the rest of us" (erm, sorry, still not like the rest of you people ;), spoken with varying levels of bitterness. I get it...really I do. You can't help the jealousy. But I have to thank you lovely commenters for being some of my few sympathizers! I know lots of people have it worse. I really had a rotten week (with some family kerfuffle thrown in the mix), though, and all I wanted was a little pat on the back and a "there, there". Sometimes you don't want your suffering judged on the curve.

Enough rambling on...I need to talk about the end of Amazon April and the start of May Memories. And, you know, show pictures instead of making your eyes glaze over with words, words, words!

Next time, I promise.

Working part-time is awesome, working full-time is terrible, and switching from part-time to full-time makes you feel like you're starring in Night of the Living Dead.

Old Geek-outs