Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrapping a few things up

yesterday I wrote about goals.  where blogging is concerned, I wanted to:

  • write 10 posts per month here
  • increase my twitter followers to 1000
  • increase my FB page likes to 500

I've fallen short by 5-10% on two of those three goals.   No big deal.  The FB Page isn't as strong as it was in the early days and I managed to surpass my 2013 number of posts even if I fall short of 120. 

Note: I could publish a lot of quick photos to pad the numbers but that isn't me.  I also have a dozen or so draft "secret entries" which I may or may not ever publish depending on how things work out.

Which brings up, what to do with this space?  I like putting more personal journal like nuggets here because obviously this was originally intended to be an "web log".  If I have a good "interesting" post that is far reaching, I can publish it at ChicagoNow and get better traffic.

Finding time to write decent posts here is challenging and managing two blogs is double work. 

Car troubles

Lucky i have this mini compresor
Yesterday Nightingale called me to tell me that she discovered her car had a flat tire as she was
leaving .  I asked if she knew how to put on the spare "doughnut" tire and she said she wasn't even sure how to find it.  Normally I would have drove out to pick her up but I was in charge of the kiddos and they were not having any of me leaving the room, let alone the zip code.  Luckily her parking garage provides a compressor that was able to fill her tire back up for the ride home.

Today the kids are a little more back to normal so I am able to get away to get the tire repaired.  This is good that Nightingale can drive my car because I failed an emissions test, supposedly because I hadn't driven my car in a while.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Traveling with Children is not easy

In case a past version of me travels to the future and reads this:   A 5 hour car ride is just too much for our kids (15 months) to deal with right now. The longest they will nap, especially in a vehicle, is 2 hours so that means three hours of trying to keep them entertained.

Usually traffic and/or construction causes us a delay when traveling between Chicago and Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  This time it was weather.  We left GP much later than we intended because we had been up late trying to get Moose and Squirrel to go to bed.  After  5+ days of doing not thing but wrangle our children, we were exhausted and slept in the first chance they gave us...the day we really should have got out the door as early as possible.  We left GP at 10am and didn't get to our house until 6pm.  [time is in CST and we had two stops totaling 75 minutes.]
For our entire trip all the routine and schedule was off the books.  Any given night, one or the other wouldn't go down after bath.  Once we finally got the problem child to go to sleep, the other one would wake from a power nap and it would be hours before they succumbed to fatigue.

On top of this, they only wanted to be with Nightingale or me, and usually had to be held.  And not just held but sometimes they require that we hold them while we are in the standing position.  I guess the atmospheric pressure or pull of gravity is noticeably different from that height.

Goals for the Year:   According to my DailyMile, I just need to run 6 more miles to have 300 for the year.  While that is not anything to sneeze at since some people never run that much in a lifetime.  Still it's a little sad that each year my miles logged is more and more diminished.

This also assumes I will be able to get those last 6 miles in.  A small but not insignificant part of not being able to get out for a run is because of Moose and Squirrel.  Before I figured out how to run before work, I often skipped the lunch time "Runch" or didn't run after work because I wanted to beat traffic and get home at a decent hour.  Getting away on weekends required a lot of moving parts to coordinate.

I had also wanted to get a few more projects completed around the house but expenses prevented that.  On the plus side, I finally have my credit cards under control and have officially paid off the damage caused by that flood.  Technically I paid it off a long time ago via the credit card roulette game of juggling debt and kicking the can down the road as long as possible.  House maintenance ain't sexy but you have to do it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to all

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I wish you the readers of this blog the very best

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

The Longest Night of the year has come. The day is about nine hours long and night is about 15 hours. In June the summer solstice has the longest day of the year. The spring and fall equinox are in March and September. Day and night time are equal.

This image is from last year

Considering that this day started at 5 am because Boris woke up, and it is only noon, I fear this may actually be the longest day EVER.

Monday, December 21, 2015

First Week observations of being a SAHD

It's a little difficult to get things done because both kids want to be held.  They are generally not content with you just being in the proximity or even in the same room.  You must be holding them.  Sometimes they don't even want you to be sitting down.  I suspect they are extra sensitive to the difference in atmospheric pressure that an extra foot or two might bring.

The most they will concede is take turns being held. So the only time I get anything done is when they are napping or distracted by one of their toys.  The nap buys me an hour or two, the toys about 15 minutes tops.

While the weather has been warm enough on certain days to take them outside, those days were rainy and thus outside wasn't really an option.  I did take them to my hair stylist on Thursday because I was getting cabin fever and it was an opportunity to get Boris hair cut too. 

My stylist works quickly but doesn't like to do an incomplete job.  However we had to cut it short because Boris was not too happy about it and cried. Still, it looks much better than it did  before. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SAHD: The Shower Awakens!

In an effort to save a little money, we took Moose and Squirrel out of daycare for the month of December.  My company TopFive shuts down for two weeks at the end of the year so by WFH the last working week of December, we can save a good chunk of change.

So far it has been a rough go because this week I happen to be on a work assignment with our offshore group in Mambi.  They can only work with me from 8 to 12 CST and that is when the kids are most feisty.  I really should have moved my laptop down to the basement for some of the calls.

This is basically a beta test of whether I can get enough work done to see if we can change to a part time Daycare or not.  We really like the one we have but there are less expensive ones closer to home.  Close enough to walk to which means my mom could drop off and/or pick up the kids and remove that stressful burden from Nightingale.

When I WFH sans kids, I usually get a few things done around the house.  With kids I get one task completed each day.  They want to be constantly held and if you leave their vicinity they get upset.

Monday was fixing the broken handle on the upstairs toilet.  This broken handle caused a few cascading problems such as me breaking a glass container and also the toilet flooding and causing a plaster/drywall seam to split in our dining room ceiling.

Tuesday was laundry and today my goal is to organize that garage wall I put together back in May.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Eight more weeks of Timesheets and Paychecks

 I'm writing these entries as they happen and as I have time to jot things down but I may not publish until months from now (or ever). Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren't to bash my former employer but to share my experience.

So TopFive missed the 9/1 deadline but around the middle of Sept told us they were going to do it.  They outlined a timetable to tell us when thing would happen and it was kinda lame.  I didn't find out my end date until Nov 17th.

My original end date was given to me as January 4th but has now been extended to March 1.  Because they finally realized how hopelessly, hilariously ill prepared they are with the knowledge transitions.  So good news, I get a 8 more weeks of paychecks, bad news I get 8 more weeks of insanity.

On the one hand extra paychecks are a good thing.  On the down side, I had already made my peace with Jan 4.  And while I didn't expect to have a job on Jan 5th, I figured it would be easier to interview and start a job sooner.  Now if I want to keep my severance pay -- a nice tidy sum that would be a shame to forfeit at this point -- I have to stay at TopFive until March 1.

However, my boss, being one of the Left Behind that will be re-badged, realized that the knowledge transitions were scheduled too tightly and the separation dates too soon.  This means that all the knowledge would walk out the door before it could be imparted on the people replacing us. 

This association with TopFive has become a dysfunctional relationship without the angry sex. It's like a bad romance that should end but you hang out because you want to be sure to have someone to bang on NYE.

Meanwhile, when we thought my last day was 1/4/16, we decided to take our kids out of daycare to save some money.  Only after we made those arrangements did I get the news about the extension.  Since TopFive shuts down for the last two weeks of the year because of where the holidays fall on the calendar, this meant I only had to do one week of being a Stay At Home Day and Working From Home.  It was hell. 

We probably could have gotten our spot back in daycare but saving the money is more paramount at the moment.  At the moment, I'm taking care of the kids with my mom's help.  She's the only resource we have in the Tri-State area and she comes with her own bag of crazy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hump Day Two weeks ago


This post was supposed to be published a few weeks ago but I failed to hit publish.

Traffic was light on the way to work this morning, at a time slot where it’s never light.  It's funny how it seems on days that I want to get into work as early as possible so I can work out, we either run late or traffic blows.  Today it didn't matter and I got here at 8:04.

We actually got out the door relatively quickly this morning -- 7:10 -- which is twenty minutes sooner than our average.  Nightingale is a little disappointed because we got up early and had a good start to the day and it slide off the rails a little with our kids.  Natasha was in a great mood because she not only seems to have finally shook off her cough but also passed it along to Boris.  Well played sibling.

A lot of mornings over the last year were a challenge because we were sleep deprived and trying to get some extra minutes of snooze before having to get up and wrangle babies.  Combine that with us not being the most get-up-and-go morning people to begin with and that makes for a inefficient morning.

Once Moose and Squirrel started sleeping through the night, our game improved but not until we had a few months of trying to catch up on our sleep deficit.
It says 210 lbs

I've resolved that my weight it probably going to oscillate between 210 and 215 pounds this winter.  Even with my running 12 - 15 miles a week, my food and alcohol consumption combined with the body's storing of fat for winter will cancel each other out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where is Facebook heading

Like many bloggers I rely on Facebook for a social media presence and page traffic.  I've even written some posts about it here.  and here.  And also here.

Like many people I also have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  Just when I dare to hope that Facebook has peaked and I move on, another friend ups their Facebook-Fu and its the only way I can keep in contact with the small fraction of the human population I don't utterly despise. 

Facebook is the main portal to the internet, how they get their news, how they communicate with friends far and near, an ever-changing TV channel tuned to You, starring Your Friends, reflecting Your Excellent Opinions.  -Nancy Nall

  • Option 1:  it *could* fade away like Friendster or Myspace.
  • Option 2:  it could fade into the background and still be around but used less and less often
  • Option 3:  it could become something very different that it is today.  Evolve

Or it might just continue to be the 600 lb gorilla of social media and all that comes with it.

My Facebook Dilemma

Like many people I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  Like many bloggers I also rely on Facebook for a social media presence and page traffic.  I've even written some posts about it here.  and here.  And also here.

I enjoy keeping up with friends and seeing them unlock major and minor Life Achievements and sharing my Most Excellent News whenever I have some.

What I don't enjoy is the stupid memes that attempt to boil down complicated issues into jokes and zingers suitable for sharing on your Facebook wall.  Both Sides Do This!

On a person level I also don't like that of the nearly 1000 friends I have, I only interact with less than 10 percent of them.  Some of this is by choice, I admit.  Some of it is by Facebook Algorithm where Zuckerberg's drones have determined which friends updates you get to see and which ones you don't based on nothing that makes any sense at all.

Still there are some that probably actively choose to ignore everyone and only post their rants and raves without giving two shits about other people.

Most of my FB friends are from high school, college and ChicagoNow bloggers.  These are also the ones I seem to interact with the most.  Others are people I use to hang out with in the Runner Groups, Catholic Circles or other social scenes from my single days.  There are enough people to form a group called People I Met At a Party Once and Ex Work Friends I Don't Wish a Car Accident On.

Once in a while, I'd find out that someone unfriended me and it would bother me.  Usually because it was an action I did like either out my political viewpoint or have the audacity to have another birthday, thus calling attention to someone who forgot I even existed.  Other times I'm sure it had nothing to do with me per se but someone decided it's easier to interact with a smaller list of people than to have a bunch of outlier friends that clutter their feed.

So it seems hypocritical that right now I'm tempted to cull my friends list.  I'm fine with hiding the ones who post things that are out of alignment with my views to keep it from my feed.  But for some reason I want to get rid of some people I seldom interact with on Facebook or IRL.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December Weather forecast

I cannot recall what the weather was like this week last year.  I can say however that this is supposed to be a mild winter.  And if the temperature for the first week of December is any indication, I think that is a fair expectation.  That doesn't mean we won't get lots of snow.  What I hope it means is we won't get lots of cold and whatever snow and cold we do get, won't stick around until Memorial Day like a guest overstaying their welcome.

There is still time and need for me to do one more racking of the leaves which I hope to get to when last night's light but very wet snowfall melts.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Cover Letter Conundrum

I'm writing these entries as they happen and as I have time to jot things down but I may not publish until months from now (or ever). 

Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren't to bash my former employer but to share my experience.

In early September I basically talked my way out of a potential job because my salary requirements are too high.  I don't really want to work for a law firm again but if I have to, knowing what I know about the expectations, I would demand top dollar.

I saw a job I was interested in several weeks ago and was going to tweak my resume to match it.  Before I got a chance, the listing was removed.  So then I mind-fucked myself by apply for a few jobs before tweaking my resume at all, so I probably screwed the pooch on those as well.

In the meantime I've been encouraged to write cover letters to go along with my job submissions.  I hate writing cover letters almost as much as I hate going through the HR Pre-interview Dance.  The cover letter is marketed as a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd but its really just one more opportunity to screw up something that has no bearing on your job whatsoever.

You cannot know if the person you are sending it to like them short or long; its one more thing you have to proofread because Gods forbids if you make a single typo or punctuation mistake you are obviously a horrible DBA, developer, System Admin or other form of Widget Maker.  And you have to track down useless information like their office snail mail address even though you are sending this stuff electronically.

The reality is that the people who read these letters need their egos stroked so they look forward to a well written cover letter but also relish a bad one so that they have justification for not choosing said candidate.  It's much easier to eliminate someone on the grounds that if they forgot a comma, they aren't detailed oriented and will obviously bring ALL the network Servers down first chance they get rather than determine based on resume fodder who is a better investment of an interview. 

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