harmoney: (Default)
2011-02-24 08:10 am
Entry tags:

Changes on the Wind

I have been unemployed for more than 6 months now. Only a few weeks of that was ... relaxed. The truth is, the state of employment in the US, and Oregon specifically, is bad. An example of a response I received from one of the few places I was called in to interview:

Thank you for your time for the interview. You were one of the top 4 candidates out of 325
candidates for the position. However, we have selected a candidate that did have the most
skills that matched our needs.

Good luck to you on your job search.

That position was for a receptionist at a music corporation who would double in some website maintenance and customer service needs. It was ~ 40 minute commute /without/ an option for public transportation (in a very industrial part of NE Portland/Gresham) and the offering pay was $10/hr. To give you an idea, Oregon's minimum wage is currently $8.50/hr. One of the requirements of the position was a college degree.

I had applied to a veterinary rehabilitation clinic, who was offering $12/hr for an experienced CVT (which is actually the starting wage for a CVT right out of school). The hiring manager was interested in the rehabilitation experience I had at Kirkwood (our class was involved in a surgery rehabilitation for a 6-month-old Great Pyranese puppy). She was impressed because she told me most candidates have no experience with rehabilitation at *all*. Attempts to negotiate a higher (you know, fair) salary lost me any possible consideration by the hiring manager. When I called to ask on the status of my application (she said she was going to call me 2 weeks prior for a working interview), I was told, and I quote: "We haven't decided yet if we want you or not." I saw the same position posted no less than 3 times over the course of the next month. I informed them I was still interested (despite misgivings by how uncommunicative and unreliable the hiring manager was starting to seem), and was told (aka: insulted AGAIN):

While you are a very qualified vet tech, I have had and continue to receive
resumes from candidates with more extensive experience in working with animals
in need of rehabilitation. I still have your resume and will consider your
application should an opening occur that is more appropriate to your skills.
Thank you for contacting us again.

I applied, and was subsequently rejected, for so many positions that I began dreading opening any unread emails in Evolution, just *knowing* it was going to be another "You're not qualified enough to answer phones." response. And, invariably, it was.

Meanwhile, my hearing issues were causing direct difficulties in interviewing (I was having difficulties hearing some of the interviewers) and any appointments with an audiologist to discuss hearing aids were at *least* a month out, with another at *least* 2 week waiting period for hearing aids to arrive. Acupuncture and chinese herbs failed me. I tortured myself with a dairy elimination diet and showed no improvement with the tinnitus/hearing loss, though I found when I *reduced* dairy intake, I felt *better* physically. (As a side note, I've decided to reduce my dairy intake because that's apparently what my body requests.) Western medicine can't explain what's going on (other than it's an abnormal hearing loss pattern). I'm running out of options to figure out how to resolve the tinnitus and hearing loss, so now, I am trying to reconcile myself with compensating.

Then, I received a call to interview for a position with VetSource as an inside sales person. The position requires customer service skills, technical skills, and technical support skills all within a web environment (and on the phone). The position isn't to necessarily *sell* products, but to support the outside sales people when customers/clients need assistance, training, information and follow-up. Having a good background in veterinary medicine was a requirement. I adored the two people I interviewed with. While Kim was bouncy, high-energy, enthusiastic, honest and open, Essa was laid back, calm and inviting. Having experience in open source (I kid you not) *impressed* both of them to no end and is what made my resume stand out (aside from being a CVT). It felt like they were going to offer me the job before I left the building.

The next morning, I received a call from Kim asking for references. I provided them, but she had difficulty reaching 2 of them, so everything was put on hold until earlier this week. She provisionally offered me the position *very near* my asking wage (which was near the wage I was making at my last general hospital, which is MUCH higher than $12/hr) pending background check and drug screen. That makes sense. It's more or less a pharmaceutical company. If they *didn't* do background check and drug screen, I likely would've recommended it for any other incoming personnel. I also came to find out that the first reference she got ahold of didn't give me the glowing review the contact suggested to me that she gave me. So, lesson learned in that is to ensure you know *exactly* what your references are saying about you before having a potential employer call them.

As of yesterday, I have hearing aids. They're... weird. And with my itchy/irritable ears, sometimes weird isn't good. The nice thing is, I can hear pretty much everything. The bad thing is, everything is amplified sound. Most voices sound like they're being piped through a microphone/speaker (or, as I explained yesterday, like they are being heard through a stethoscope). Noises that didn't seem that bad before are now overwhelming (the garbage disposal, the toilet flushing, Steve yelling at other drivers). I was told that as a new user with an abnormal hearing loss pattern and a musician to boot, it's going to be very difficult to adjust the programming to fit my needs and make me feel... comfortable. I found that listening to conversations in a pub is *still* difficult, and I couldn't determine if I could hear people better or not with them in last night while at pub quiz.

So, apparently, I'm going into March and the promises of spring with changes of my own.

  1. Amplified hearing adjustment.

  2. New job, in the veterinary community, but not in a hospital, and still using my license.

  3. Slight diet changes that make my body feel better, including more vegetables in my diet, less dairy in my diet and reduced sweets intake (this one is hard).



And I need to make decisions on trips to Europe. I think a friend's wedding in Cambridge is the highest priority, and from there, we'll see if I can swing any others.
harmoney: (Default)
2011-01-21 02:18 pm
Entry tags:

What I Want to do When I Grow Up

I've been gainfully unemployed since July. Well, not so much gainful. More like painfully unemployed since July. The lengthy unemployment came due to a departure from my previous employer (to say simply, I was fired) over disagreements on "acceptable" staffing and duties. I shouldn't have been nearly as upset over the dismissal as I was. Honestly, there were a few issues that if we hadn't found an appropriate compromise, I was preparing myself to resign. But, a dismissal, no matter how flowerly given or no matter what benefits succeed the dismissal, a dismissal is painful. It's a clear declaration that your employer did not feel you were worth the effort of fixing perceived issues. If you resign, you take that decision into your own hands, but when an employer makes that decision for you, especially when you consider yourself loyal and dedicated, the pain is immense.

The dismissal I experienced was painful. I had protected my subordinates quietly in the shadows, and even took responsibility for one of the doctors who was going to be dismissed a year prior in an effort to save her job, clients who would be upset at her departure, and chaos that would have erupted as a result. Naturally, because of the politics behind those protections and responsibilities, nobody could know, but a very small number of people (namely myself and one or two others). Not the people who I was protecting, and certainly nobody else in the company. I regularly cut my hours to ensure those reporting to me had enough wages to pay for rent/groceries/whatever bills they had. I would schedule around little things they had going on in their lives without requiring time-off requests. When I was told to choose one of my subordinates to lay off during a business crisis, I found a way to keep her employed by the hospital - EVEN THOUGH she would no longer be in my department. She didn't know about that. She only saw a demotion without a pay cut (yes, I managed to keep her wage the same, too). When I finally built up the courage to lay out concerns and complaints I had, to call upon promises made by upper management months prior, and with a couple of plans on how to make things work, I was fired. I was simply not worth the effort of fixing perceived issues. And more than that, there was nobody - NOBODY - to protect me when I needed it.

It seems to me this is a common crisis in veterinary medicine. Technicians are difficult to hold on to and in constant demand (except when the economy tanks, apparently). Why can't veterinary hospitals hang on to their technicians? The job is emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Pay scales are above minimum wage, but comparable to much, much easier fields. Overtime is regularly frowned upon, but any one technician must be able to balance the workload of at least 2 people while being able to do the job of nearly anyone (except the veterinarian, of course) and never let anyone know you're drained or tapped. You are expected to give your all to every client who walks in the door (or calls on the phone or emails), but make sure you only do it within a certain time period, because you have other clients and duties to see to. You are expected to give your all to every patient, but make sure you do it in a timely manner so you can still answer phones, check in appointments, monitor/induce anesthesia, or prepare radiology. It's not the multi-tasking that wears on people, it's the constant barrage of high-priority duties while never taking a break, while always being mentally attuned to the environment, and not even flinching when you have more work than you can possibly do by yourself.

I was taught in school by MULTIPLE instructors that a well-run veterinary hospital has 2 technicians and 2 assistants per doctor. Apparently practice managers, the people making the human resources decisions, are taught that for every one doctor SHIFT, you need to ensure you have enough people to cover TWO SHIFTS. So, when you count it out, if you have 8 doctor shifts per week, that means you have 16 technician/assistant shifts available. If you have 4 people on 4-10 hour days, you're golden! Except, when you put it to paper and realize that 2 of those 4 people will NEVER have 2 days off in a row in any given week based on doctor availability, or 1 of those 4 people works 2 shifts as a kennel attendant, leaving you with 3 people to cover 2 doctors (1 in surgery and any technician appointments that come in), you're suddenly short-staffed. Only, it's not so sudden, and it's not short-term. This is one of many factors that can contribute to burn-out. And, in my case, has.

Finding a job in this economy has been painful. The unemployment rate in Oregon has been tragically high for the last few years, and has been gradually dipping. Is it because people are getting jobs? Possibly. Another possibility is the one I face in the next couple of weeks. Unemployment benefits are running out and I will no longer be able to claim. I've done everything that has been asked of me. Despite not wanting to return to veterinary medicine, I have applied for veterinary positions KNOWING FULL WELL I would take a pay cut and likely burn-out further and find a steeper decline into depression.

I managed to get an interview at one of the places I looked into, and they plan to pay what's considered a starting wage right out of school (with no experience and just having passed the boards, that is) despite being a specialty hospital, and couldn't give me clear answers on benefits or hours (other than I may be scheduled until 8, but expected to stay until well past 9, or may be expected to come in on the weekends on short notice, etc.). Still, I smiled, and remained engaged in the interview to the very end. I thought I had done well, even if they didn't. I was supposed to be called back within 3 days for a working interview. Since this time period fell over Christmas (and thus, New Year's), I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited until after the new year to give them a call. I was told, and I quote, "We haven't decided yet if we want you or not." A quick glance at Craigslist confirmed that they had reposted the position. And an IM from a tech friend of mine let me know she was interviewing there that day.

This delivered a lesson to me with the force of a run-away freight train. Veterinary medicine, despite its cries and woes of being unable to attract and retain good technicians, does what it can to grind the people they get into the ground, then toss them aside when they're burned out or experiencing compassion fatigue to start over. Why? Because in this economy, where else are you going to go? You could be like me and spend 6 months looking for a job in or out of the veterinary community, and find NOTHING. I received a message that there were many qualified applicants, but only the most experienced would be interviewed FOR ANSWERING PHONES. No, I didn't get called to interview.

What do I want to do? Well, that's tricky. I'm not entirely sure at this point. I *want* to work in a field that either fully supports music, or is somehow involved in music. I *want* to use my customer service abilities that I've honed pretty well. I *want* to work somewhere where I'm encouraged to be creative, to grow and expand, to learn and somewhere that encourages me to give back to the company I'm working for. However, my technical skills are all over the board. I can type well, I have a pretty good attention to detail. I research very well, I write very well. I can handle customer disputes with ease, and I can keep conversations productive and moving forward. I LOVE to learn new skills and new trades, and I like doing things that are intellectually stimulating/challenging. I'm a problem solver, and if given a crisis or problem, I will work on it UNTIL IT'S SOLVED. If I'm given a task, that task WILL BE DONE. But, I can't market myself. I don't know what computer programs I know, because I simply sit down at the computer and DO IT. I don't know specifically what skillset I have because I just do what needs to be done, and research what I don't know how to do because it needs to be done, too.

I guess, I just want to work for someone who believes in me, and someone I believe in, with goals and philosophies I can stand behind. I want someone who will be flexible to allow me to attend things like DebConf and UDS, but also still be flexible for being involved in an orchestra or community musical. I want someone who will see me, see my skills, put them to good use, and help me build more skills. I want to work for a company that I'll feel happy working for for DECADES, not just a couple of years. I want to smile because I feel like smiling, not because it's expected that I smile at that customer/client. But, most of all, I want an employer whose goal isn't to grind me into the ground and toss me aside when I'm no longer needed or relevant. Where's my boss in shining armor?
harmoney: (Default)
2010-12-13 09:38 am
Entry tags:

Anti-Harassment

An awesome friend of mine recently co-authored and proposed an anti-harassment policy for use at open source conferences (or any technical-related conference, really). I thought this was a great idea, and to my delight, I'm starting to see Debian (and the DebConf team) run with it, and not just for conferences. (I can't take credit for any of it, regretfully, as they picked it up on their own, but I'm still very pleased to see it.)

I'm starting to realize that whether or not my situation is unique, I have been brought up with a very spoiled and privileged attitude. My family is *largely* matriarchal, with a few "gender-related duties" tossed in for good measure. However, my sister was interested in cars, and thus, grandpa taught her how to get under the hood of her own and tinker. I was interested in power tools and things that go WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRR when you turn them on, so grandpa taught me safety and how to use his tools for various things. In middle school, I received a better grade in shop than I did in home economics. When I was in high school, I was overly-interested in my aunt's computer, so for graduation, she spear-headed an effort to get me my own. My aunt goes hunting, and there are pictures of her bringing home deer when the guys she was out with came home empty-handed. I really was raised with an "Anything you can do, I can do better," attitude, and rose to the challenge when guys in school would declare I couldn't do something "because I was a girl", including AND ESPECIALLY taking advanced-placement physics.

A few years ago, I declared the living room needed rearranged, and our TV is a 2-person beast. Steve refused to help me. Instead of discouraging me, I simply went out, rearranged all the furniture /BY MYSELF/, then stared at the TV while I engineered a way to move it from one end of the room to the other /BY MYSELF/. I moved the love-seat to the entertainment center, carefully lowered the TV to the cushions, laid a blanket in front of the love-seat, carefully lowered the TV to the blanket, moved the love-seat back where it belonged and used the blanket as a make-shift litter to drag the TV across the room. I moved the entertainment center, then paused to reassess the situation. I was in the process (I kid you not) of devising a pulley system I could use to get the TV up onto the entertainment center when Steve came out to investigate the noise. He gave in and helped me lift the TV up when I told him I needed to run to Lowes for wheels, rope and some hooks.

That said, I joke today about things I don't like doing being "men's work" and pushing it off on Steve, but I rearranged the entertainment center last night and hooked up our last speaker to the surround sound system, with my own tool set (the one Steve has to ask to use for any given project). I still play video games, and am learning to program. I watch Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars and anime, attend Pub Quiz regularly and don't balk at leadership when it's needed. I knit, clean, cook, bake and also love football and hockey. I tend my hair carefully, and sometimes put on makeup and skirts, but only minorly grumble when I need to get on the snowy and muddy ground to put chains on the tires of our car. I'll dote on a cat in my arms, then get down on the floor and wrestle with a dog.

I'm a girl, I'm a nerd, and anything you can do, I can do better. If I were to be harassed at a conference, I would either shrug it off, return it in kind, or deck the harasser. The harassment wouldn't faze me one way or the other, though I might vent a bit later.

But, I'm learning that not everyone has had the benefit of this teaching, which is why this *needs* to exist. It *does* exist because harassment has been a serious problem at conferences, allegedly or openly. (Thankfully I haven't seen any at the ones to which I've been.) It's depressing that this has to exist; it's frustrating that we can't just declare, "Be righteous to one another" and expect it to hold.

I'm proud of Valerie and her collaborators, and hope that I can do something to help.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-11-09 02:51 pm
Entry tags:

Geek Girls and Sexual Assault

I was reading over Valerie Aurora's blog and read about Noirin Shirley being sexually assaulted by Florian Leibert while out for drinks and attending ApacheCon. My gut reaction was, "I can't believe this! But, before I say anything, I really should read on and find out what happened before really committing to a reaction on this." Which was the ABSOLUTE WORST THING I could possibly have ever found myself thinking. I'm so very ashamed of that. Naturally, before saying/spreading/discussing, I *should* be in the know, but damnit. A woman was *SEXUALLY GROPED AFTER SHE SAID NO* - this is NOT OK. Ever. I don't care if it was in a bar, in a strip club, or in the backseat of a Volkswagon Beetle. When a woman says NO, IT IS NOT OK TO PUSH INTENTIONS ON HER. EVER.

I think what's equally as disgusting as what Noirin has already gone through is the overwhelming online reaction to her situation. She asked for it? What? It seems to me she specifically said "I'm not interested.". She's just crying for attention? As well she damned well should be! For crying out loud! A guy GROPED HER AFTER SHE SAID NO. She's ruining his online reputation? Awesome. More power to her. I hope I can help. It amazes me that in this day and age people will still try to blame a victim for something like this. Is Florian's reputation *honestly* more important than Noirin's *personal* rights? Some have been crying that he just made a mistake. Yes, he did. A big one. And in the process of making that mistake, he clearly displayed his personal opinions of women in general.

What this resolves in me is a more intense desire to be involved in the annual Debian Conference more intimately. Why? Because if someone decides they'd like a go where I have a stronger influence on the organization, their online reputation would be the last thing they should worry about by the time I'm finished.

I'm far too angry over this to be able to make a coherent post. Perhaps after I cool down, I'll be able to write something a bit more eloquent. Right now, the only thing that keeps going through my mind is FUCK FLORIAN LEIBERT.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-08-17 08:23 pm
Entry tags:

Pants Continued

I have found a happy compromise in the pants debacle of my household.

I put them on, then declare it's No Pants Time when I'm tired of them, but have already succeeded once in the day of putting them on, thus, everyone is happy.

That is all.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-08-09 11:29 pm
Entry tags:

Productivity

I have discovered that Steve and I have clearly different views on what constitutes a successful, productive day. I have come to the conclusion that I must be a half-full type of girl (despite my last post) because when asked, "What did you do today?" I can pause, reflect, then answer confidently, "I cleaned the kitchen, did laundry and put on pants." and honestly believe all three events were COMPLETELY successful. Apparently, pants do not constitute success in my husband's opinion, and in fact, the success of pants was entirely and utterly rejected as part of my successful day. I offer the following explanations why I believe Pants are an acceptable, and wholly productive part of any day and should be celebrated as such, not dismissed as simply /expected/:

1) Putting on pants suggests you have left the comfort of no-pants, or pajama-pants, or bath robe, or whatever it is, and *chosen* to interact with the world in a way that demands conformity of either fashion or acceptable lower body wear.

2) Putting on pants indicates that you have cleaned yourself appropriately for whatever the day may bring. Sometimes this can be work! And for women (in many cases), the amount of cleanliness will dictate what form your pants may take; ie, shorts or capris require much more planning and work to ensure lack of embarrassment (it takes time to shave).

3) Putting on pants prepares you to meet any social encounters that may come your way - either if they come *to* you, such as someone calling to your home, or if you are to go *to* them, in the case of grocery shopping (which I swear I meant to do today).

4) To many people, pants are even a prerequisite for phone conversations. (It feels rather odd to be conversing with someone in a professional voice when you have a very distinct lack of appropriate attire.) In related news, the nice unemployment counselor I spoke with today is a Debian user and contributor. (I was wearing pants, and thus able to carry on a conversation.)

5) Choosing pants requires fore-thought, decision-making and conflict-resolution skills, especially when one is not simply wearing jeans. The ability to find pants that meet requirements for the day, are clean, don't look as though they were buried in a clothes basket (or suitcase) for over a week, and will work with whatever *shirt* you choose is a finely-honed skill, and shouldn't be rushed or dismissed quite so easily.

Thus, I contend that Pants is a very *prominent* and decidedly productive part of any day. Even the conscious decision *for* pants indicates a level of commitment to accomplish anything!
harmoney: (Default)
2010-06-09 11:24 pm
Entry tags:

Frustrations

The awful part of being exposed to as much geekery, science and computer stuff as I have been over the last few years is when I step back and take stock of what my skills and knowledge are now (at a time when I'm wanting to change direction with my life), I have no idea what I can offer a company. I know it's Damned Good, and I know I'd be an asset where ever I end up, but damnit. I don't know what I can do.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-05-26 12:37 pm
Entry tags:

For my Geek Friends Out There....

Any Googlish friends of mine that are watching know much about AdSense? Anyone I can ask a potential Abuse question of, and see if it is, legitimately abuse? I've been following an awesome blog lately, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/, and she was using AdSense until some very recent problems she's been having issues with. One person suggested a potential for a malicious abuse due to some gaping TOS holes, and I'm wondering if they really exist.

It really would be a shame if the theories and suggestions about AdSense are going to tarnish Google's reputation. I kinda like Google in general and would hate to see a service of theirs run awry.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-04-18 10:17 am
Entry tags:

Cooking Adventures with Patty: The Fun Continues!

If you've ever wondered what it's like to go on a cooking adventure with me, lets take into account my complete inability to focus on one task into consideration. This usually involves me saying something like, "Oh. I'd like to make blueberry lemon muffins! I know I have blueberries and lemon juice, so I should be good to go!" and not bothering to look at the rest of the required ingredients until I'm well entrenched in the making of blueberry lemon muffin goodness. Sometimes, this involves creative substitutes, sometimes this involves a mad dash to the store (either by me, or my wonderful husband who never complains about having to dash to the store in the middle of a release cycle. really.), sometimes this involves an 'oh shit what can I do with these ingredients NOW?' and sometimes it's completely different because my inability to focus actually caused chaos in the recipe in a *different*, completely unexpected way.

Such as this morning. My goals for this morning involved making dishes for *two* social events I've been invited to. This is, like, almost a quota for social eventage in an entire year for me, so it's very important to me that not screw up either dishes. One is a girl's brunch. We have a variety of people coming, but the only concern that is taken into account is one of the girls is vegetarian. I now I don't have to worry about catering to her since there will be others, but I do because she's a friend and OH MY GOD what if NOBODY ELSE thinks about her and brings like bacon wrapped bacon logs or something and she CAN'T EAT and can only DRINK THE MIMOSAS provided?! See? It's very important for me to consider this. This consideration is important later. After about two hours of researching recipes, trying to come up with novel, but yummy, ideas, I finally settled on deviled eggs, because, dude. Deviled eggs. I went through my recipe last night to ensure I had EVERYTHING I NEEDED (actually forced myself to read the ingredients list), and boiled the eggs so they'd be ready for this morning and I'd only need to devil them. Excellent.

The other goal is for a craft-dessert thing this evening. Now, the hostess is actually dairy-intolerant. This is a new concept to me, so I was bound and determined to figure something out for her despite her assurances that I don't need to worry about her, and it's not necessary to ensure she can partake in the dessert, there will be plenty and there was more rambling, but I stopped listening because I was already planning to attempt a rice pudding with almond milk or coconut milk instead of cow's milk. (I'm actually a very good cook, despite the rest of this post.) So, I went through the recipe last night and was very careful to read the entire ingredient list to ensure I could substitute everything sanely. I briefly considered baking shortcakes for strawberry shortcakes, and even considered making a fruit tart, but decided the lack of cream cheese in the latter and the lack of whipping cream in the former would entirely ruin the dessertiness. So, I went back to the rice pudding, even pleased that we actually have GOLDEN RAISINS in our pantry.

So, I got up this morning, briefly played on the computer, then hopped in the shower to begin my day of throwing everything together. I'm fairly confident in my abilities at this point to put together two awesome dishes and have fun and enjoyment for the next few hours. So, after my careful planning the night before, I got to work. Now, I've made both many times before, so I felt I only had to be especially careful with the rice pudding, ensuring no utensils were cross-used, ensuring dishes were kept separate, ensuring that I focus on one while the other does it's thing (such as the deviled eggs sitting in the fridge). I was even proud of not even making a mess of the kitchen, which Steve generally disapproves of. Then, it dawned on me, "What if nobody brings anything sweet to the brunch and we're stuck with eggs of all sorts? What if we don't have muffins of ANY KIND?!" I dismissed it, thinking that I know a few recipes and I can throw something together easily at the hostess' house if demands are made. But, then I started worrying that would be rude, and what if someone WANTED something sweet, but didn't want to say something for fear of being rude and oh god, then someone would be unhappy and I could have solved it just by making fruit tarts, but no, I had to make deviled eggs because I was worried there wouldn't be enough fresh fruits and now my selfishness is going to cost someone their sweet tooth!

I dug through my recipes frantically, looking for a quick, easy-to-make muffin recipe. I came across a blueberry lemon muffin recipe that looked great, and hey, I have blueberries and lemon juice. I can do this. So, I set it down. But, not satisfied this is the PERFECT SOLUTION, I continue to look through the recipe cards and come across my coffee cake muffin recipe, which I made years ago, and it was really good, and hey, I should make that again. It was easy and went over really well. But, today, I think blueberries. I still have a lot from last summer in the freezer. Instead of doing the normal thing, you know, putting the recipe card back, I just set it aside because, well, I decided against it, right? but it's still a good recipe! And I carried the blueberry lemon muffin recipe card over to the Kitchenaid stand mixer.

I glanced at the first step (not the ingredient list, mind you) and said, "Ok. Flour, sugar and baking powder. 2 tablespoons? Wow. That's a lot. Huh. Ok, well, we'll just see." and wandered off to collect the items. I came back, glanced at the recipe card on the OTHER side of the sink and said, "Ok. 2 cups of flour, only a 1/2 cup sugar? Excellent. This will be easy to reduce later once I get the hang of this. Divided? Hmm. That's interesting. Ok. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Odd. I swear it said 2 tablespoons. Huh. Oh well, I just misread it." and moved over to the stand mixer to begin mixing the dry ingredients per the recipe card. (Caught on yet, have you?)

So, I get the dry ingredients mixed, move back over to the recipe card next to the sink and start working on the wet ingredients, carefully following the instructions word by word. I get to the point where I'm supposed to mix everything together and I start wondering, "When do I put the blueberries in?" So, I skim the rest of the instructions. Nothing about blueberries. Blinkblink. I look back over the ingredient list, no blueberries. How the hell can you have blueberry lemon muffins without blueberries?! So, I look at the top of the card: Coffee Cake Muffins. Shit. I don't WANT coffee cake muffins! I want blueberry lemon muffins! Damnit, can I fix this? Where the hell is the blueberry lemon muffin card? Oh, it's by the mixer. Right, I remember putting it there now. What are the ingredients? Damnit all to hell, the proportions are completely different and now everything's mixed together and I don't have time to start over and ugh.

Hmm. I can add blueberries to the coffee cake muffins. Except, looking closer, the coffee cake muffins only called for 1 and 1/2 cup flour, but I put in 2, because I saw it somewhere else. Oh hell. Yup, on the blueberry muffin recipe. Well. Hmm. Nothing to be done, everything's mixed. Let's toss some blueberries in and see how they turn out.

So, now I'm waiting for the muffins to brown because I don't know exactly how long it's going to take the muffins since I MONSTERFIED the recipe, the kitchen is trashed, and I have 13 minutes to get dressed and get to the brunch.

Despite all of this, I have a tendency to produce some pretty wonderful eats. I just wonder how the hell I manage it.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-03-21 11:21 am
Entry tags:

On-line Photo Organization

I've been using Gallery for years (because I'm too lazy to learn anything else) and I'm tired of some of the crap I have to deal with (namely, spammers). Anyone know of a better photo sharing organizer that I can learn fairly easily? I want to be able to do this myself, not rely on Steve or other geek friends to set it up for me.
harmoney: (Default)
2010-03-09 09:59 pm
Entry tags:

Copyright on Grammar

I have an eclectic list of interests, I've found. I discovered this in my last trip through college where I took pre-calculus, history, physics and chemistry for fun. Of those classes, only one of the chemistry classes I took was *required* for my degree, but. Well, the others were interesting, so I took them. It seems to be the story of my life. I become interested in a subject matter, find a way to apply myself and my life to it, and become absorbed.

I discovered something the other night. A new discovery! While Steve was rambling at me (admittedly, I only half-listen at best most of the time), I realized I actually understood what he was talking about. I paused, and turned to look at him in confusion. I don't think he was actually expecting me to be listening to him (in truth, I don't think I was, either), and I mentioned that I actually understood that. He paused, possibly carefully treading on this new development. I further ventured that it's ... frustrating ... that I can understand these things (at a basic level), but it seems to do me no good in my professional or personal life (I do believe my words were: I can't make money on this.) After some chuckles, Steve pointed out that I could, in fact, learn more about, what I lovingly refer to as, his world.

So, he pointed me towards Upstart, Ubuntu's beloved initialization ... ah, software. After a crash course of what does this do, "Oh, I never realized people actually *code* those things, I just thought that just happened. You know, fairy dust." "Dear, I work on the platform team. My *job* is to do fairy dust." and so forth, I started prodding further into the depths of "Well, geez, this is actually kind of fascinating." and Steve, being ever so helpful, pointed me to the manpage.

Now, it is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts but with one step. This step of mine included staring blearily at a black background with white text, much of which was almost incomprehensible, and then stumbling, if you will, over lack of subject/verb agreement. This offended me! I couldn't even comprehend the line I was reading because of the distraction of, "Oh my god. This was written by an Englishman - what the hell!" I take a deep breath, scroll down so the noun/verb agreement no longer plagues my attention span, and come across a missing verb in another paragraph. Again, the distraction is just too much. I pointed out to Steve I can't do this. I need a red pen or something. So, Steve handed me the red pen.

The red pen is called bzr. I got a new crash course; this one in submitting patches, as they're much kinder to the developer than IRC conversations or emails (or so I'm told). After 1/2 hour or so of fiddling with logins, ssh keys, accounts and setups, I successfully submitted my very first patch EVER! (Ok, 2 grammar fixes, BUT THIS IS BIG, PEOPLE. This is my FIRST ADDITION TO THE COMMUNITY! Honestly, I feel like I should get a ribbon or a plaque or something for this.)

The pride of my success was dashed, however. To be able to submit this glorious patch for a noun/verb disagreement and a wayward verb, I must read and submit my agreement to Copyright Assignment (where I've found further grammar errors). For grammar. For the Queen's language. For a fixed manpage that I can actually read (or at least have no excuses why my eyes are glazing over and I'm not retaining what I've just read).

All joking aside, I'm still quite baffled by this requirement. If I were employed by a company who actually cared about such a thing, would my contributions be ignored? I can understand being careful with copyright law, but is there a point where we're overzealous? Is there seriously concern that I will attempt to claim copyright to a noun/verb agreement and missing verb? I mean, as ridiculously funny as that sounds to me, I sincerely doubt that any protections need to be in place for that. Is there a similar requirement in Debian? Were I to submit a patch to correct a typo in a manpage, would I be required to agree to their Social Contract?

It seems to me that this is losing sight of community focus, a general concern of mine as of late.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-05-16 08:20 am
Entry tags:

woodwind quintet

The flute player quit. She sent her resignation in on Tuesday. We all stared at it in disbelief. It was... a good thing, really, considering she was practically nothing but blatent hostility over the last few months, but it was so unexpected. On Wednesday, our french horn player sent in her resignation via email. Still no word from our oboe player and we were scheduled to rehearse on Friday. The bassoon player's response was similar to mine: Holy crap. What do we say? What do we do? I chose silence as the best and safest option.

By Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I felt the quintet had imploded. I'd have no musical outlet (other than the clarinet quartet gig in June and Midsummer Musical Retreat in August) until orchestra started back up in September. It was... a very depressing thought. And the feeling kinda surprised me. I haven't been back into music so long that it should be terribly riveting, but there you have it. The idea of a summer without music was *extremely* bleak to me.

Then the oboe player sent a message on Thursday night. She'd found a flute player and a horn player. We could meet at her house on Friday evening, get together and play. I knew the horn player and knew he was good - that sounded like fun.

Last night we rehearsed. Before I trekked out to Hillsboro, I grabbed the music from the old horn player and found out exactly how bitter the flute player is. Though her resignation letter was .. cordial .. she apparently is very angry and bitter and spiteful towards us. It made me snicker, but I just went on to rehearsal, looking forward to what our oboe player had in store for us. Oh my GOD. The new horn player is beyond good. He was AMAZING. And the new flute player was bemoaning her sight reading skills. But she was excellent! We played some music the bassoon, oboe and I knew already, and even we were caught with such surprise at how .... wonderfully ... we balanced, and how *gorgeous* everything sounded (ESPECIALLY THE HORN!!) that we missed notes, screwed up rhythms, got lost, etc. It was amusing. And amazing.

I left rehearsal last night completely energized - excited and happy to be a part of something so wonderful again. There was no stress. There was no hostility. Everyone was laughing. We played good music. CHALLENGING music. And we played it well.

I'm looking forward to quintet again. I haven't felt this way in probably a good year. Eeeeee!
harmoney: (Default)
2009-05-10 01:37 am
Entry tags:

Day 1 Ammended

According to Steve, dreamwidth is open sourcey and acceptable in his eyes because Russ is involved.

And he was mildly surprised that I managed to find my way here without going through Debian or Ubuntu circles.

Yay 6 degrees connections!

Hmm. I wonder if Kevin Bacon will open an account here.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-05-10 01:07 am
Entry tags:

Day 1

I'm.. really unsure what I will do with a second blog site, as I seem to have fallen behind on my first, but I'll have to admit, I was worried about the LJ buy-outs. Multiple buyouts that quickly usually lead to bad, bad situations. I'm convinced my data there isn't safe, but then again, I've never been convinced that data online is safe in any way. Any way I look at it, I'm trusting my thoughts and opinions to be stored electronically on someone else's servers, and must trust their security and ability to maintain their hardware and software. Blahblahblah, yakkity schmakkity.

I have arrived. Safe and sound.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-04-30 08:10 pm

So, I took a walk...

I've been stressed lately. At work, there are concerns and worries, and I'm not getting along as splendidly with one of the doctors as I wish I could. I come home, and my husband and I haven't been getting along as well either. I try to hide, tending to either have my clarinet at ready, or play on an online game that keeps me sufficiently distracted enough to not really care that my husband and I aren't getting along. Except, it doesn't work. If you hide from the problems, they still exist when you come out of hiding, sometimes much larger and much worse off than when you hid from them originally. I know this - I've known this for years. It, however, doesn't stop me from sticking my head in the sand.

So, I requested a mental health day from work and went for a walk.

I thought about where I would go on my walk for awhile, then decided I'd drive over to Tualatin Hills Nature Park, because it's one of my favorites, and it's fairly flat, which means less huffing and puffing and more thinking.

And then I spent the first 10 minutes of my walk silently arguing with myself. I had no idea what I was supposed to do, or why I was taking off of work to go on a walk. I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to find any answers to anything just walking and not talking. And who I was asking the questions to? The trees were certainly not going to answer. Nor were the birds singing at me. I wasn't going to have any clearer answers walking than standing at work, holding a dog, drawing blood, setting a catheter, etc. But, I kept walking anyway.

That's about when I came to my first fork in the path. And I looked at my options. I had no idea where I wanted to go. No idea what I wanted to see. Where I needed to be. I didn't know which way to go. So, I chose the path that I don't often take when I'm there just because, well, I thought maybe the change of scenery would help. Shortly afterwards, I came to another fork. I paused a little briefer this time. I tried to figure out which way I wanted to go. Which way I *should* go, then decided it didn't matter. The idea was to walk, not to choose paths. So, I just turned and kept going. I came along another fork in the path and simply went a direction. I chose by virtue that I kept moving, but I didn't justify my choice to anyone - especially myself.

As I walked, I started questioning myself. And debating with myself. And arguing with myself. I feel stressed constantly. I'm finally back in music, and I think that's the one thing keeping me sane and grounded. Well, at least as sane and grounded as I have been. But, I never seem to be content or happy. I'm lazy. I'm reinvolved in ATS and seem to hide behind that shield as much as I can. It doesn't make me *happy*, but it certainly uses time and keeps me occupied. I continued walking. I started asking myself what the questions were at heart. And trying to find meaning. Searching for meaning, and not finding ANYTHING, but trying.

I came along a path that would take me to a pond. So, I took it. And I sat down and watched the pond for awhile. At this point, I'd been walking and taking random forks for the last 20 minutes or so. So, I started watching the water (I love water) and listening to the birds. After a few minutes, I decided I should move on, and started getting antsy over it. But, I was comfortable. And it was a beautiful day, and the pond was gorgeous - everything was green, the sun was out. Why should I move on? Because, came the voice in my head, you're sitting idle. You should keep moving. At that point, I told myself that I was there FOR ME. Not for other people, and I didn't have to worry about anyone declaring me idle or lazy.

So, I sat there for as long as I wanted. And, I saw movement on the other side of the pond. I stood up to look closer, and it was a blue heron. He paused and watched me. I stood still and watched him. Eventually, he waded out into the pond and started fishing. I could *feel* when he was about to jab at a fish after a couple of times. I could anticipate when he was about to lower his head. He was so beautiful. I simply watched him. I tried to take a picture with my camera phone, but it's not an iPhone so it sucked. That's ok, though. At the moment, it was the most beautiful thing ever. I turned and left the heron to his fishing.

Back up the path I wandered, pleased to have seen the heron. I came across a bridge. I love water, as I mentioned, so I paused on the bridge to watch the stream. A jogger passed by. I ensured I wasn't in his way and he paused after he passed me on the bridge. He pointed behind me, further downstream, and told me of the nutria that lives in the general area. He said that he likes to come out and forage for food occassionally. And then the jogger smiled kindly and wished me a good day. I wished him one as well, thanked him and started watching for the critter. He didn't come out, but that was fine. I decided to move on when I wanted to.

I continued across the bridge and down the path, following the stream. I was thinking about the nutria, and how I wasn't terribly disappointed that I didn't get to see him; afterall, I got to watch the heron, and that was cool. The path led me to a dead-end. I looked around for a little while, then turned around and walked back the way I came. I didn't feel frustrated. I didn't feel like I'd wasted time, even though I ended up nowhere. I didn't feel pressured to find a destination. I simply continued on, even though I had to backtrack. I also noticed that seeing the trees and stream from a different angle completely changed the perspective and the .. tone .. of the walk. It looked .. different. Still nice, just different. I got back to the bridge, wished Mr. Nutria farewell, and continued up the path. At this point, I decided maybe it was time to get back to my car.

So, I continued on, pausing to look at the path directional signs and following the signs back to the parking lot. The day was beautiful - very seriously beautiful. Not too warm, not too cool, light clouds dotting the sky. Gorgeous. I started thinking. You know, I've had low self-esteem most of my life (read: all), and I used to think that I was so lucky that Steve chose ME. Of everyone he could have chosen, why ME? Why not someone better? Prettier? Thinner? Smarter? More confident? More active? More influential? More ANYTHING ELSE? But despite this, I realized that I chose him, too. I had boyfriends in college. And I left most of them - a couple left me, but you know. That happens. For the most part, I left them, for one reason or another, some good reasons, some bad reasons, but regardless. I chose HIM every bit as he chose ME. It was then about love. And I do still love him, despite how much of an ass he can be. I don't want to leave him, and though we may be approaching an impass where something will have to give for us to be happy together, we're not there yet.

I continued walking. While walking, I looked around. I decided that even though I wasn't seeing everything on my walk, I wasn't missing a thing. Everything I saw was beautiful. Each trillium was different, unique, beautiful. And even if I didn't see them ALL, the ones I did see made me smile. I continued walking on. I discovered that even if I didn't have a destination chosen, I was still content with the path I was taking. It's cliche - that you should be happy with the journey. But, that's honestly how I felt. I walked, and I arrived. I could choose my path, or I could simply allow myself to be taken along the paths. Either way, I still arrived. I let myself get lost, and I allowed myself to find the path leading back to my car - back to the real world. Origin didn't matter that day. Destination didn't matter. Only the journey. Only refocusing and recentering. Finding balance within myself again.

One of the latest fights I've had with Steve is that I don't have goals for myself. I don't have ambitions. Let me explain something. When I set a goal - I go above and beyond to meet it. I become very focused. Very tunnel-visioned. I will see that goal, or I will die trying. I can't possibly focus on other things - I become almost OBSESSED with realizing the goal. Goals and ambitions are VERY stressful for me. If I want something, I want it NOW. I don't want to wait - I don't have the patience to wait. I never have. That's when I realized I'm an EXTREMELY lucky person. I don't mean as in 'fortunate at this point in life', I mean, I have some sort of luck charm on me that works in OVERTIME. Things fall in my lap. I tend to be in the right place at the right time. I look at people and simply know to remember them, that I'm going to need something from them later, or to remember minor details that seem insignificant at the time, but months later are incredibly important. When something bad is about to happen to me, something completely unexpected intervenes. I'll be doing something I shouldn't be (like maybe driving a little faster than is expected) and decide that I should slow down (very randomly) and end up finding a speed trap a mile down the road. The strangest strokes of luck - once or twice, can be coincidence, but I seem to LIVE in it. And I don't even appreciate it. There are people who are SO good to me, and I often times forget about them. I don't appreciate everything I have, and instead focus on what I want; where I want to be; what I want to do - even without setting goals, I know I do this.

And that's when I let go, as I turned the corner to take me back to the parking lot. It wasn't in view yet, but it would be soon. I let go. For a few moments, then, I was happy with who I was, grateful for those around me, knowing that I'm lucky beyond belief, in love even if not completely content, but most of all, pleased with my journey. The destination will be there whether I set it for myself or not. The origin has already been there, whether I'm happy about it or not. My journey is the only appreciable thing I have that I can affect, that I can tangibly enjoy, that I can for sure appreciate.

And my journey, though it made my legs hurt, brought me back into a peaceful harmony. Which is much more than I could have ever asked for.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-04-23 12:30 am
Entry tags:
harmoney: (Default)
2009-04-05 05:34 pm
Entry tags:

Palm Sunday

I loves my Sunnie, I do.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-03-13 11:32 pm
Entry tags:

Post Performance High

I haven't had one of these for awhile!

First concert went.. amazingly well. I love it. I've been invited to stay permanently with the orchestra. Yay!

And, one of the oboe players shared this funny funny joke - it made me think of you, Sunnie!



Why were the viola players standing outside?


Because they couldn't find the key and didn't know when to come in!


*slap knee, giggle insanely*

giggle.
harmoney: (Default)
2009-01-13 01:15 pm
Entry tags:

Wings of Music

I started orchestra yesterday. No, really. I packed up my clarinet, drove myself over to Hillsboro, sat down, and played for a couple of hours with a group of people who sound much more amazing than I had assumed they did. At first, it was rough. Sight reading has never been my ... strong point .. and that's what I was doing, all the while thinking, "What the HELL am I DOING here? I don't hold a candle next to many of these people!" After awhile, I stopped thinking and started playing and felt a lot better.

At one point, one of the flute players turned around and introduced herself, then exclaimed, "You sound SO WONDERFUL!" I stared at her and wondered just what was in that water bottle she brought with her. We talked for awhile, and she was surprised to find out I have only been back to playing for about 1.5 years. Come to think of it, so am I.

But, now I'm playing where I'm supposed to be playing again. Symphony Orchestra. That is where I belong. It just took me awhile to get there.

Now, to get my sight reading while transposing music back up to par.

I'm in orchestra! Hurray me!
harmoney: (Default)
2008-12-27 09:51 pm

Adventures Afoot

Portland got snow. Like, wow, snow. Like, impressive even for an Iowan snowfall snow. 13 inches, in fact, measured on our upper deck (I hope it's still there - the deck, not the snow) before we left for Iowa. We were required to buy chains for our car. No shit. This is something that's... strange... for us. 27 years of living in Iowa, 11 of it driving in awful winters, and not once did I ever think chains were even necessary. Apparently, when you have hills/mountains and a metro area that does not get snow regularly (read: in decades), and thus doesn't have the infrastructure to handle safely clearing the roads, chains become necessary.

I could detail the number of adventures in driving a chained up Prius I've had over the last week or so, but. I'm sure you can find similar adventures by finding anyone's blog from Portland. For the record, even with chains, you still need to know how to drive in winter conditions - which Portlanders by and large DO NOT. Trips to the grocery stores, shopping mall, Fred's and work were all accomplished with a minimal amount of stress, but, still - FOUR WHEEL DRIVE DOES NOT MAKE YOU INVINCIBLE, PEOPLE NOR DO TIRE CHAINS.

We somehow miraculously made it to Iowa - after a 3-hour delay at PDX to get *into* MSP. We, naturally, missed our connecting flight into CID, but managed to get on one that left late that night, getting to my aunt's house around midnight and eventually Davenport (Steve's parent's house) around 2am. I can't even begin to describe how awful it was, but, we made it. And spent Christmas with Steve's dad, brother and sister-in-law. All-in-all, good. I refused to get up for church the next morning, and nobody seemed to be put-out with it. Apparently, it was understandable that I was tired. ;)

Yesterday was spent hanging out, then we came back to Cedar Rapids to spend time with my family. I cannot even begin to describe the amount of steam created from suddenly melting several inches of ice within the span of a few hours. The temperature rose to 51F, which led to ... extreme... foggy conditions to drive through. We made it, but I have to wonder if that was an act of God in of itself.

Today, the cousin (brother) and his wife made it out and we had a great time opening presents, watching movies, shopping and generally catching up on friend gossip. My cousin has a corvette now. Which is, um, ok. Right. Sure. =D

Today's quote of the day, for those playing along at home is: Wait... wait wait wait. Are you telling me that my mother sells ... sex toys?

Sadly, the answer to that was 'yes'.

Christmas has been good to me so far.