Politics

I don’t intend to discuss politics on this blog. Don’t get me wrong at some point I may digress into some wildly liberal, tree hugging, LGBTQI agenda loving, Feminist rants but for now I am so very burnt out on raving about politics. Also others are doing a much better job expressing the things I want to say than what I can come up with so I will stick to my probably sorta true stories.

You should be able to tell from these posts that I lean to the left on most things but if you want to know what party I am thats a discussion best left for people I actually know face to face. I’m not sure anything is gained anymore talking politics online. Because really when it comes right down to it, it’s about the belief that one side knows the best way to accomplish what both sides think needs to be done.

So while I might succumb at some point to ranting about some injustice or the other that’s not my intent. You will find this blog to be a little bit of a haven from such things as blatant policial ravings. In fact let me promise you right now that I will clearly mark any post that is a political rant as such so you can skip over it if you wish. I think that’s fair. However since I’ve given myself permission to write whatever I want I never want to restrict myself from a topic even if I think right now I won’t write about it. So fair is fair. Let there be catagories!

Kitty

Kitty!

This summer we inherited two cats from my cousin. He was moving across country and couldn’t take them. One cat is threes year old, a solidly built Siamese mix with a sweet disposition and a very easy purr. Her name is Maple. The other is a dainty little orange tabby who is ten years old named Bessie.

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I like cats and these two are no exception however I currently have a dog. The dog was raised with cats. She also likes cats however she is a bit overly enthusiastic for these two, who are more timid than those she was raised with. Our first couple of months were a little bit touch and go. Now everyone has settled into new roles and habits mostly. The dog is still overly enthusiastic but she usually doesn’t chase the cats much and the cats generally stay either on us, or above ground level on the furniture or on their cat tree. Happily the cats have all their claws so if the dog is bothering them they can swat her which has now happened and emboldened them since her reaction was to yip and runaway.

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My little Bessie is an interesting cat. She is sweet but very vocal in her demands. She is also deaf. Generally when I’ve had a cat it meows for attention. I would answer it back and the cat will usually come to me or attempt to trip me if I was walking by winding through my legs. Either was fine as the cat was no longer meowing . Bessie is stone deaf, probably slightly nearsighted, has no teeth and frankly gets lost if people leave the room she is in and she doesn’t see them go. She also has the loudest most annoying meow you have ever heard.

So When Bessie meows it can’t be ignored. And calling to her is useless. If she is facing away from you she can’t see your lips move. If she is facing me I wave to her which sort of gets the point across to her that someone is paying attention but not always. Remember I said she is slightly nearsighted. However miss Bessie does have something that totally makes up for the ear splitting screech. When you pet her she coos.

Its adorable! She purrs and coos at the same time. My annoyance just melts away when I walk up to her loud self. I reach down to pet her and she bumps my hand with her head and coo-purrs. All is right with the world.

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The Marriage Question

Capture

I listen to podcasts throughout most of the day to keep me company while I work. There are 30 or so that I have pushed to my phone; some NPR shows, some Maker podcasts, some serialized fiction/podiobooks, a prepper show, and a couple of random indepent talk shows. Since most podcasts come out once a week or every other week that amount gives me a good mix where i usually have 3 or 4 hours of solid listening available per day.

Yesterday a friends podcast went live. Normally I dread that kind of thing because if you don’t like something you are always left with the need to either lie or possibly hurt someone feelings. Happily I get to say I liked the podcast very much. They put out two episodes right away. An Intro “why we are doing this” episode and then their first standard format episode. The production values are crisp and clear. The banter is interesting and amusing. The two hosts manage to stay on track for the most part which keeps the show moving right along. The first standard format episode is a bit over and hour long but it was engaging enough that I kept listening without getting bored.

The show is “The Marriage Question” you can find it on iTunes or the link in this post. I highly recommend giving the show a try. It sounds like the exploration of “trying to understand why it [marriage] works in some situations and why it utterly fails in others” is going to be quite a ride.

Again!

I am old enough that it wasn’t common to have a computer to do homework on. Research was done at the library using card catalogs and paper books.  Teachers expected 5 page papers to be neatly handwritten. If they couldn’t read your handwriting you didn’t get credit for the assignment.  

I have terrible handwriting.  My cursive suuuuucks and my printing is sometimes illegible.  Typing became the fastest easiest way for me to get down my thoughts.  I’m not a two finger typist but I’m not 180 wpm typer either. I make a lot of mistakes. When I was using a typewriter is was easier to just go slow and look at the keys.  That’s a habit now to look at the keys but I am faster than I am slow. The thing that really did it though was when computers came along with word processing software that catches most of your errors.  Suddenly a whole new world of writing opened up to me.  

Right now as I’m typing this you should see all the red underlines and wrong words or dropped words. I’ll have to go back and edit quite a bit after the first stream of consciousness draft.  But I don’t mind, because being able to put down what’s in my head at the speed I think of it is golden. I can think of a phrase or idea and within seconds it’s pouring out of my fingers.  I like to think the feeling is the same as piano player discovering new bits of music as they play around on the piano. There is a rhythm to a well crafted paragraph that I love.

I like all of the parts of writing itself.  The tap of the keys. The feel of my fingers flicking. Ideas appearing on the screen. I find it easiest to feel flow is when I am writing. That state when it’s all just coming together. When it’s done and I look back over it I like that I did that.  

I’ve missed this. I used to write every day. Multiple hours at a time. Lots and lots of words.  Stories, blog posts, long email responses.  Then my life changed and there wasn’t energy or time for it. Then there was time but no energy. Then there was time and energy but by then inertia and depression weighed me down.  Then I went back to school and there was no time again no matter the desire.  Then last year happened.  

Last year was a downward spiral.

I was miserable. And I was a miserable person to be around.  It affected a lot. Everything I was trying wasn’t helping.  Finally a little chemical help has turned me around.  Suddenly I don’t just want to write. I Am writing. I’ve given myself permission to just write what I want to write.  That’s led to motivation and ideas. It’s led to B.I.C. (butt in chair) which is where the work happens.  I’m rusty for sure but that’s OK. Practice will have its effects.

Now to go back and edit this mess and post.

Pursue the good, don’t give up and do the work.

Service

Service-Merchandise-Logo-Large

I used to work for a retailer called Service Merchandise. I was pretty sure they are out of business now but turns out they have an online presence at least.  They were a showroom attached to a warehouse.  People would browse the showroom and write down what they wanted on a little slip of paper what catalog number they wanted then go up to the cash registers and pay for the item.  The computer would then spit out a paper back in the warehouse where the crew back there would pull “brand new in a box” item off the shelf and send it up front to Pick up on a long conveyor belt. The front line crew would match the object with the patron via receipt number and off the customer would go.

There was a lot of room for error and delay in that system.  There are many reasons retail stores just put everything out on the shelves. The main one being people are not patient once they have paid money.  They want their item and they want to leave.  They don’t want to wait 5 more minutes for a surly teenager to find it back in a dusty warehouse and bring it up front.  And that’s basically who staffed that store about 5 adults in their 20’s who were “management” and a gaggle of part time teenagers on their first or second job.

I worked there for several years. Long enough to make it through a couple of holiday seasons which indelibly bred in me a hatred for Christmas music and shopping at that time of year.  People are mean some times and Customers are the meanest type of people there are.

Early one January after I had worked for 97 days straight, btw Yes that’s a thing in retail.  Stores are continually understaffed. Mangers have to fill shifts. If a part timer can’t make it in and they can’t fill it any other way their salaried butt was out on the floor or back in the warehouse. I was an “assistant manager” which means I had all of the responsibilities and none of the pay or power that went along with it.  But it did mean I was paid by the hour still. So when someone didn’t show up I was tapped to fill that shift. So yes 97 days straight, usually 8.5 hours with a half hour unpaid lunch. But thanksgiving and Christmas the store is closed right? Well you’d think that and be right but some people still have to work. All those day were to me were days to clean and restock. The day After thanksgiving is insane with a lot of prep work going into it. The days Before and After Christmas are like being in the middle of a human hurricane of angst and anger. Then comes December 31st or as they liked to call it Inventory. That was its own kind of hell.

Where was I? Oh yes January. I’d finally gotten a weekend off. I’d gotten paid. All those hours were a nice start to the year. I decided I’d swing by the store and use my employee discount to finally pick up a new boom box. Kids if you don’t know what that is use your GoogleFoo to find out. Anyway it was a present to myself. I slipped in, got a slip, put a catalog number on it and stood in line.  I kept my head down trying not to be recognized. The cashier was slow as heck and the line was full of grumbles. You could feel the mood around the front of the store shifting to anger the closer I got to the front.

When I got to the head of the line I saw why. The waiting area was packed with people and the conveyor that usually ran almost nonstop was sitting still with nothing coming up from the back.  The cashier recognized me when I stepped in front of her. She lit up with relief and quickly waived over her boss, my opposite number for the pick up crew.  You see I worked in the warehouse and wrangled the boys back there. While she worked out front and wrangled the girls.  Yes it was a very sexist division of labor, it was the 90’s.

“You have to do something!” she said frantically, “Nothings come up in 15 minutes. I sent Cara back there a little bit ago to help because we had this rush but still the orders aren’t coming up!”

I rolled my eyes because I knew exactly what had happened. I had a good crew of guys but they were all horny teenage boys. And Cara was their current obsession. She was pretty, smart, and nice to everyone. Which is exactly who you want helping customers out front and also exactly who you don’t want back in a warehouse full of boys who are flooded with an excess of testosterone and a desire to impress her. I could pretty much guarantee that my 4 person crew were all vying for her attention while getting in each other’s way while they tried to locate something for her.

“Fine” I said grimly.  I took the time to take off my jacket while logging into the time clock so whatever time it took to clear this up I would get paid for. (I am not dumb and don’t work for free).  The rest of the customers in the pickup area were all staring at me. some were whispering to each other. There was a general air of angry confusion. I wasn’t dressed like an employee but obviously I was Someone. I squared my shoulders, aimed at the swinging door to the warehouse next to the conveyor belt and built up a head of steam as I headed for it.

BAM!

“What. Is. Going. On. Back. Here?” I yelled as I barreled into the warehouse proper but I am sure it was heard all over most of the store. Five heads swiveled towards me with shocked expressions.  I’d caught them all standing around the printer, just talking, well flirting more likely. They all had the grace to look guilty as fuck.

I Pointed. “You! Out. Now.” The Pick up Lead could deal with her. Cara scrambled past me towards the door I’d come in. I looked over and noticed there were orders piled on the belt.  Well at least they had been doing something before getting distracted by Cara. However the belt wasn’t on so the packages weren’t headed to the pickup area. I stalked forward, slapped the start button and rounded on my crew. If you’ve ever seen a puppy trying to gain speed on a linoleum floor you have a hint of what these knuckle heads attempted to manage as I headed for them.  I can’t say that they were afraid of me before that moment but I’m told my face convinced them that if I could reach them they would regret it.

Fiercely enjoying their startled terror I started shouting directions and ripping orders off the printer. I don’t think I’d ever seen them move that fast before. We cleared the backlog in record time. I didn’t have to lecture them or even say anything else about the incident.  I did, however, bar the Pick up crew from the warehouse for the foreseeable future. That hurt them where it counts. Its hard to show off for someone you only see when your breaks happen to sync up.

From that day until the day I quit I made it a habit to randomly stop by unexpectedly when it wasn’t my shift. Our fulfillment time averages decreased dramatically.

 

 

 

The Ugly Bug Dance

Being a home owner means yard maintenance.  That’s not something I ever really appreciated while growing up in the suburbs.  That damn yard is a second job.  Want to go out on the weekend? Well hell son you better plan on doing some extra late evening weeding and mowing or the yard is gonna look like shit.

When we bought our first house the back yard was a mess. It had been terraced into garden beds but then ignored and left to run wild. Little did I know how wise the previous owners had been! The back fence was completely over grown with holly.  It turns out that half of my “grass” was actually chives. Which we didn’t find out until we mowed the first time.

When the mower hit that tallish green patch, slicing it down, it seriously felt like I’d been hit with tear gas just like back in Basic training. My eyes started watering profusely while screwing shut. My nose when into snot producing overdrive and I couldn’t spit fast enough to get the taste of burning sulfurous green onion out of my mouth. This scene tried to replay itself every time we mowed.  We took to wearing a mask and goggles just to get through that third of the yard.  Also chives are hard to get rid of. I’d pull them up only to find that by the next week new shoots were already thriving in the bare spot crowding out the grass seed I’d put down.  I finally resorted to Round Up to kill the entire back yard that fall and started over the next spring.

Clearing the back fence from the overgrown holly was another chore.  I thought the holly at the fence line was immune to the Round Up until I realized that what I was faced with was several very large holly trees that took up a good quarter of the neighbor’s yard.  The trunks were far enough away from the fence line that my chemical attack couldn’t reach them. I resorted to mechanical means of destruction and took hedge trimmers to the holly on my side of the fence until I could actually see the chain link.  The fence was only 4 foot high but we were guaranteed privacy because that holly tree created a wall of spiky leaved greenery at least 8 foot tall and 5 foot deep all along that back fence line. This deforestation of my property regained me 3 to 5 ft of back yard depth.

One evening after a wind storm that had lasted all day I stepped in to the back yard to see if we’d had any damage. Leaves and small branches were scattered about in my patchy grass.  Not bad. I was worried there would be worse considering the wind had been wicked with powerline down around the neighborhood.  Then I saw it.

At roughly chest height in the wall of holly that kept trying to eat my back fence there was what looked like a small birch branch poking out about a foot into my yard. Nothing else seemed amiss. I figured the wind must have tossed the little stick into my holly hedge from the side neighbor’s tall tree. I wandered up to it and gave it a tug, thinking to put it in the yard debris bin. It was no thicker than my pinky.

The hedge rustled.  Then the stick was suddenly slithering straight at me. I stumbled backward then fell to the side as the stick became a branch as big around as my wrist.  It kept sliding out of the hedge to become a limb as big as my thigh.  I scrambled backwards as the jagged end of the broken limb thumped into the ground where I had just been standing.

It turns out my side neighbor had lost a Large 12 foot limb off his tree during the wind storm. As it fell the wind had pushed it over causing it to settle precariously in the holly. Waiting for me. Plotting. Planning its revenge.  Well it missed impaling me but it had managed to drag several strange critters out of the holly and deposit them on me as I scrambled away. I didn’t notice them until I was getting up to brush myself off and something moved under my hand.  I am not ashamed to say I screamed like a little girl. I wiggled, shimmed and shook while stomping about, flinging my arms and slapping at my clothes while I dislodged and destroyed said critters.

My husband, made curious by my screams, ventured into the back yard. There he found me in the midst of my ugly bug dance. That was the day I gave up on the back yard.

I am pretty sure it was just as overgrown as I had found it the day we moved out.  I wish the new owners all the best with it.

Flat tire

The image below is similar to the freaking little jack in the story below only this one is more robust looking than the one that came with the car…

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I came home and noticed the car Wife drives had a flat. Of course it was cold and course was raining.  When does something like that ever happen when it isn’t?  However, No problem I have a good floor jack and nice dry well lit garage.

Unfortunately Plan A was disabled immediately.  The Roommate was asleep so we couldn’t access his key to move his truck to take the car into the back where the garage is.  OK, yes we could have woken him but by then the rain had stopped so the front drive way was just wet.  No need to wake the hard working roommate.

Moving on to Plan B I went to the garage to get the floor jack.  Turns out Wife’s daily driver is too low for floor jack so we decided to use the cars jack where the car is parked. Sure its dark and wet but we have flashlights and a tarp! Wife tried to get the lug nuts loosened, she really tried, but to no avail. After watching her struggle a bit I offered to take over. Yup I got the lugs loosened. I’ve done this before. (Ladies our legs are much more powerful than our arms. Stand next to the car and squat down. Grab the tire iron. Position your self so that you will be pulling up on the tire iron to loosen the nut (remember righty tighty lefty loosey) and make sure the socket is firmly seated on the lug nut.  Now holding on to the tire iron with your arms straight lift with your legs not your back.  Just loosen each nut a half turn.)

Once we had the nuts loosened just that little bit we positioned the car’s freaky little jack in place btw when I say freaky I mean I’d never seen a jack like this and I will never use one like it again. It looked like a one legged scissor lift.

We cranked away. Car was aaaalmost off the ground. There was a ping and groan then jack slips back under car. Well damn. Now the jack had been position properly but I suspect the wet ground let it slither out of position as the crank handle was turned just enough to cause it to slip and become pinned under the car.

On to Plan C! We used our other car’s jack (which is more robust and stable) to lift Wife’s car just enough to retrieve the freaky little jack. Then we lowered and re-positioned the good jack properly and cranked away. Did I mention ground was soaked and its very dark out front? Yes? Well I feel like I should mention it again because by this time even with the tarp on the ground we are both wet from the knees down.

Happily we got car lifted and tire changed out for full sized spare in like 30 seconds. But once on the ground we realized the Full sized spare is very under inflated. This is where having the right tool for the job paid off. I used my $19.95 handy dandy tire inflator that certain people (ahem Wife) had questioned the purchase of. Tada tire fixed. The original tire had a nail in it and needs to be fixed, Les Schwab will take care of that for free but the car also needs a new jack because that freaky little jacks threaded rod is definitely bent.

So Three jacks, one inflator, two flashlights, one wet tarp, three plans, and four wet knees later. The tire is changed.

 

Depression

I get depressed from time to time. It usually lasts for 2-3 months. Its not debilitating to the point I cant work or function but it makes everything harder. Its like the difference between walking down the sidewalk and walking in dry sand. In the sand you get where you are going but it takes more effort and you end up tired and grumpy by the end of normal stuff that you have to do so you dont have a lot left over for other things. Top that off with a hefty helping of being introverted with a side of anxiety and this last episode really bit me in the ass. Lucky thing is I have insurance and a good doctor who helped me out with a diagnosis and a prescription of Prozac.

I was leery about taking a brain chemical altering drug because its not like medicine is able to do a blood draw and tell you exactly which drug you need and at what dose you need to take (yet) to bring you back to “normal”.  In fact that reluctance had stopped me many times before from even seeking help.  Now being a believer in evidence based medicine I have been using a simple app called Dailyo to track my moods over the past 62 days that I’ve been taking this low dose.

I Am experiencing a distinct trend upwards, even during the holidays which are traditionally a low spot for me.  I will continue to track my moods to be sure that A) this dosage is working and B)I have a record for reference when I go off of Prozac as planned (with my doctor) in several months to see if my moods dip back down with out the chemical assist. I suspect my moods will dip considering the dramatic change I’ve experienced this last month. I am not looking forward to that.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, because I’m not the only one who’s ever suffered from the effects of depression. A great number of people have. The stigma as a culture we have about people with mental illness is a barrier we need to knock down. I am a strong person. I have a good life, friends, people who love me and family who cares about me but still I was experiencing deep oppressive depression that lasted longer than a normal situation induced episode should. It seems my brain was being an asshole and lying to me about my reality.

Needing this chemical assist doesn’t make me less of a person or more of one. It’s just like the pill I take to keep my cholesterol in check so I have a longer happier life. If you are experiencing the effects of depression and they are interfering with your life please see your doctor and discuss it. There is nothing weak or shameful in taking care of yourself so that you can live a fuller life.

I’m a fucking warrior, be one too.

 

Pebbles

Currently I am amused as hell watching an email exchange. I work for a good company with people who are in general very nice.

I’ve had a customer for a while that has been asking for us to make what seems like it should be a small change to our product tag. Frankly it’s a reasonable request and a program functionality that should have been built into the system. Note: it wasn’t built into the system.

Anyway my team has pursued the fix through all the levels of the required red tape. We are now at the testing and implementation stage. Or as Kosh put it “The Avalanche has started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.”

Well the pebbles are voting. Vociferously.

The project manager is politely as possible kicking back responses to “Don’t change it!” with some email Aikido that is settling ruffled feathers while pressing the change forward.

Lessons learned from this: 1) Being nice doesn’t mean weak or folding when you are right. 2) Working for a company that values employee input is nice. 3) Having project managers that know how to handle that input graciously is golden.

First blog post

“This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.”

That’s the text that came with this template as I set up the site. So yep this is my first blog post on this site.  I used to have a LiveJournal oh so long ago but it was before there was ever a Myspace or Facebook. Its been years since I’ve written regularly for pleasure but now I’m feeling urge to share publicly again. Maybe I’ve healed enough from various emotional blows that I can or maybe I just didn’t have anything worth sharing. Either way I have some pieces I’ve written to edit then set up to post.  I am hoping to bring my longer form thoughts here and tell you stories I find humorous or memorable.  A few essays to break the rust off my writing pen should do it.

 

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