Tuesday, November 29, 2022

What a drag it is getting old

We were in Chicago last week for Thanksgiving.  If I had a normal life, we could have stayed at my mom's house.  But her crapshack is in seriously bad shape so a pricy West Loop hotel room it was.  It's strange how the West Loop is so neighborhoody now when it once was factories and warehouses back in the day. Next time we will have to find a more cost-effective option, especially if I don't find steady work.

Speaking of, the new gig did not work out.  Not only was it a shitshow but they didn't have enough work for me.  Their leadership was also lacking clarity and direction.  They didn't even have the decency to tell me things were not working out.  I found out because I saw a post for my role, slightly watered down and for less money.  I showed it to the recruiter and he was blindsided as well.

I got paid for 301 hours at $83/hr which was enough to pay for getting our deck stained and sealed and perhaps the new garage door we needed.


Four or Five Sundays ago (Nov 6), I woke up with a sharp, stabbing pain in my right shoulder blade. I didn’t do anything strenuous the days before so I’m assuming I slept on it funny. The pain didn’t go away and antiinflammatories did very little the first few days though they are helping now. Each day it did diminish slightly and shift; one day in my arm, the next day shoulder, the next day shoulder blade, etc.

Some advice my friends at NancyNall shared

"Icarus, there are 4 muscles that are involved in the rotator cuff which allows you to move your arms at the shoulder and keeps your shoulder in its socket. I learned all this last year when I blew out my bicep and also had shoulder issues, and went to physical therapy. The muscles do the following (from the internet): Supraspinatus controls internal rotation and lifting of the arm. Infraspinatus allows you to externally rotate your arm in the shoulder socket. Teres minor is a small muscle that helps rotate your arm. Subscapularis controls arm abduction (holding your arm out straight, away from your body.

The Subscapularis is behind your shoulder blade and curls up over the shoulder. That turned out partly to be the cause of my problems. The physical therapy I did were exercises with rubbery bands and lots of deep massage in the area which was painful while it was happening but helpful overall. I had to hold my elbow up in an awkward position when I was prone facedown so that my shoulder blade stuck up straight and they massaged deep behind it. It helped."  Deborah

Icarus, my husband had polymyalgia rheumatica which began in the shoulders and was oh so painful. His rheumatologist treated him with prednisone over two years weaning him from 40 mg to 0 very gradually. It is problematic for folks with Northern European genetics and he is German to the bone. SED rate was high, which helped diagnosis. No fun.  -Deni Menken

"Icarus, I once woke up with severe shoulder pain and found out that it was cervical radiculopathy. It was coming from a pinched nerve in my neck and had nothing to do with the shoulder at all. I had some steroid injections into the spine and physical therapy and things pretty much came back to normal. That was about 12 or more years ago. Alex

Friday, November 4, 2022

Guest Post: Enjoying the Benefits of Youth Sports Without Busting Your Budget

 by Colleen Stewart

With its crucial role in improving heart and lung function, reducing obesity, and strengthening muscles and bones, it’s no surprise the CDC touts physical activity as beneficial for children. Engaging in competitive youth sports provides intellectual and social upsides, too. While children have fun playing with others, they develop teamwork skills, grow from defeats and setbacks, and learn that winning isn't the only thing that matters.

 Unfortunately, there’s not always room in the family budget to pay for the uniforms, equipment, and fees your children require to participate in sports. Here are four tips to make investing in your kids’ activities more affordable.

 Choose Low-Investment Sports
When you don’t have much to spend on suiting your children up, encourage them to participate in sports that don’t require expensive gear. For instance, rather than playing hockey, which requires investing in costly skates, sticks, pads, and helmets, have them check out swimming or basketball. The former only requires a suit and goggles, while acquiring sturdy shoes and a ball is all it takes to start shooting hoops. Track and volleyball are other low-cost options, as are up-and-coming sports such as hand tennis and paddle.

 Share Gear
Of course, the more children you have, the more expensive sports participation becomes, but there are still ways to stretch your budget. If you’re raising twins or have kids that are close in age or size, try sharing equipment and uniforms. Although it may require juggling your schedule, signing each child up for the same sport on separate teams means they’ll play on different days, and the same equipment can be used by everyone. When there are more significant gaps in your kids’ ages, hold onto sports items as your older ones move onto new activities, and then hand them down to your younger children.

 Organize Neighborhood Swaps
Another gear-sharing idea is to organize a “sports swap,” where you and other neighborhood parents pool outgrown and gently used items and redistribute them. Recycling on a larger scale is not only cost-effective, but it’s also eco-friendly.

 Swapping transportation duties by organizing carpools is another way to keep costs down. Sharing fuel expenses lessens the financial burden of shuttling kids to multiple practices and games, and when you and other neighborhood parents rotate driving duties you put less mileage on your own vehicle. This helps your car last longer and extends the time between costly maintenance tasks.


Skip Club Sports
Although youth sports clubs have proliferated in recent years, it’s cheaper for casual players to stick with school or community teams. Between higher coaching costs, equipment investments, and travel expenses, joining a club program isn’t the most affordable way to play sports.

 Participating in neighborhood or school leagues allows kids to benefit from team play on a smaller budget. Equipment is often provided or shared, games are scheduled close to home, and most leagues are free or inexpensive to join. Plus, with a different sport played each season, your kids build new social connections and develop different physical and mental skills.

 There’s little doubt that the seeds of lifelong healthy habits are planted when kids play team sports. Just follow one or more of the tips shared here, so everyone in your family has the chance to participate without busting the household budget.

Colleen Stewart loves giving her two kids a healthy example to live by. Her passion for community and wellness inspired her and her husband to team up with their neighbors and create a playgroup that allows the adults and their kiddos to squeeze in a workout a few times a week. She created Playdate Fitness to help inspire other mamas and papas to make their well-being a priority, and set a healthy foundation for their little ones in the process.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Wood Storage Lumber Organizer Racks

 So I did a thing.   I ordered two sets of these Wood Storage Lumber Organizer Racks.  Only one arrived intact.  The other set was a box of 4 rungs which is essentially useless.  I asked Woot, which is owned by Amazon, to send me a new set, but Customer Service insisted they were out.  A week later Woot advertised them again.

In the meantime, I returned the incomplete set and ordered a new set from Amazon.  I'm not out any money, just time.  I realize I might not have placed these in the optimal locations, but it's not a big deal to move them.  I have plenty of cabinet screws.

The set from Woot didn't have mounting hardware.  The set from Amazon did.  

And I know I could have just built something with all the wood that I'm trying to organize that would have done the same thing, but that would have taken time I don't have right now.  

Friday, October 7, 2022

Chrysler driving soccer parents

 Last spring we signed the kids up for soccer.  This was our first experience in small-town suburban soccer leagues.  As I recall practice started in February, although a good portion was rained out.  I think we had some makeup games too.  We didn't do too well because we played against teams with bigger kids but I think we actually finished .500 depending on how the makeup shootout went.  We had to miss the last game because of our travels.

Boris was not interested in soccer because of his...let's call it neurodivergence for now.  Natashia loved it, however, so we signed her up this fall.  Unlike the spring league, her games are at 6 pm or 7:30 pm.  Her team is called Bronze. 

Her team is surprisingly undefeated.   =Since I'm working West Coast hours, I haven't been able to attend too many.  Last night I was able to attend but there wasn't much going on at her end of the field (defense) because our offense kept the ball at the other goal zone most of the game.

Natasha plays defense and in this league, they play 3 players across the goal (I'm sure there's a formal term for that).  There was one game early in the season where Natasha kicked the ball as hard as she could and it went all the way across the field into the other team's goal, cutting their lead 2-1!  It wasn't because she intended to do that; she couldn't repeat it if she tried.  Instead, no one expected the ball to travel that far so everyone kinda ignored it...including the goalie.

In another game, the opposing team scored in the first minute of the game.  Then the Bronze team scored two points during the game and we all thought we'd get to go home.  But the other team scored in the last minute and we had to have another shootout (which we won).  So effectively the other team did nothing for 58 minutes but still sent us to overtime.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Another New Gig

I started a new gig this week.  I don't want to say with whom, in case they have a google alert set up for their name, but let's just say I never thought in a million years I'd be working for the corp de Fox.  

It's a contract role but it pays well and might lead to a full-time with benefits position.  Even if it doesn't, it should provide me with the missing experience that hiring managers have claimed has caused them to pass on me in the past.  

I almost didn't move forward because the First Contact was a person with an Indian name and those usually are call center recruiters who are just trying to hit numbers with cattle calls.  But I took a chance and he and his Manager got me an interview.  

There were 3 rounds which seemed like overkill for a 6-month contract position. Still, the nice thing was the interviews were about introducing me to the teams and seeing how we gel, as opposed to trying to score cheap points by asking questions that have no bearing on my skills and capabilities.  

Saturday, September 3, 2022

I Wanna Quit the Gym!

The following is a re-post of something I wrote on Facebook Note circa 2009.  I think Note was Facebook's attempt to dip its toe into the blogging world before it realized it does better as a Micro-blogging platform.  It's hard to find Notes on Facebook, this one came up in my Memories and I am not allowed to edit it, which tells me these will soon be deprecated even further.  

I Wanna Quit the Gym!

(2009)  I've been a member of the Ray Meyer Fitness Center at DePaul Unversity's Lincoln Park campus since 2004.  It was a great deal at the time: a discounted alumni rate and it was on the way home.  All I had to do was pack my workout bag in the morning and after work, get off at Fullerton Brown line stop, go work out, and get back on.  

At first, I was even able to complete a workout and get back on the EL within the same 2-hour transfer window.  But the workouts got longer as I'd include a spin class.  That prompted me to switch to a monthly CTA pass.

Over the years, things have changed.  Though my office is located near all of the major El lines, I don't take the brown line to work anymore, so it's not as convenient to take it home and stop at the gym -- especially if I leave my car at the blue line station in Irving Park.  Also, the gym mostly caters to students, not alumni or other non-student members.  This is evident by the elimination of many of the late evening spin classes.  

So after realizing that I hadn't been to the gym since February, I called and asked about canceling my membership.  You can't just do it over the phone, you have to fill out a Membership Cancelation Form (MCF).  The lady who took my call offered to fax me the form.  About a day or two went by when I realized I didn't receive the fax.  I called back and asked for someone to fax me the MCF.  This went on for a couple of months.  I'd periodically remember that I wanted to quit the gym and would call and never receive the fax.

I decided to drop in one Sunday afternoon before going to mass since my church, also DePaul is across the street.  Alias, the Membership Relations part of the gym was closed at the time I got there (about 90 minutes too late).  No one could find the MCF form although a nice polish kid did try to help.  I started to count this as one of those times when it would be helpful to speak the language of my ancestors, but it turns out it wouldn't have made a difference because he couldn't find the form.  

I politely suggested that putting the form on the website might be 1) useful, 2) 21st century and 3) a FUCKTACULAR idea. His response indicated that he had drunk a full gallon of the corporate cool-aid when he said "oh the reason we don't is because we have it right here where you need it when you want it". 

"But you don't have it here," I pointed out.  he smiles and shrugs his shoulders while checking the same file cabinet for the fourth time to see if the MCF had magically appeared.

Flash forward to Monday.  I called the gym again for the MCF.  This time it actually arrived at my fax machine!  I filled out the form and tried to fax it back.  I'd hear the busy signal and the report sheet would come back busy/no response.  The thing about cancelation is that if you don't do it by the 15th of 

the current month, you are charged for the next month.  I'd be able to use the gym but since I'm not using it now, it's kinda a moot point.  I was determined to get this resolved, so I called and asked if their fax machine was, in fact, working.

The lady who answered -- same voice as the one who promised to always send me the fax -- said it was working.  Let's call her name is Trudy.  I explained my issue and Trudy suggested I try it again, and added, if it doesn't work I can email it to you.  I know what she meant, at least I hope she meant that I could email her a scanned document, but if not, I'm not sure how her emailing me something would help. 

After trying to send the fax several times over the next couple of days, I called back and got the same lady and asked if I could scan the MCF and email it to someone.  She said sure and gave me an email address.  This is on a Friday afternoon and With the 15th of the month deadline drawing near, I could just see my email sitting in someone's junk/spam folder.

Finally, at the end of the day, I get an email that say:


I am out of town until Tuesday, I will have Trudy follow up with you regarding your cancellation.

Thanks for letting us know.


Now I'm thinking that the fate of membership, whether or not I will be charged another month's dues, depends on the skillset of Trudy, the lady who couldn't or wouldn't fax me the MCF all these months.  The lady who thought the problem with her fax machine could be solved by emailing me.  I'll be lucky if I don't get charged twice each month from here on in!

While heading home I entertain a wild thought:  there's a scene in the movie Reality Bites where Winona Ryder sets camp at a gas station and offers to pay for everyone's gas in exchange for cash.  I start to figure out if there is a way I can do this with my gym membership.  Maybe just send homeless person after homeless person into the gym to use the shower and take advantage of the complimentary towels!  Alas, I recall that they check my gym card against a photo they have on file.

The good news is that Monday I did receive an automated email from Campus Recreation:  "We received your request for cancellation. Your membership will expire on 7/31/09. "  The bad news is I've gained some extra pounds and could really use a gym to work out right about now.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Last Day of August

 So we have lived here for, more or less, one entire year.  While it is still Hell's Porch Hot, it's the time of year when some days it isn't too bad in the early morning or after 5 pm.  It will still be hot in another month or so but not "cannot do anything outside" hot.

On the last weekend of July 2021, we loaded up a U-Haul and brought our kids and my Honda Element down to Olive Branch, MS.  We got the kids enrolled in school which started that Thursday and Nightingale headed back to Chicago that weekend.  

After things were settled and we realized that I needed to be back there as well to help with packing, purging, and selling whatever I could, I joined her.  

To say we made the move on the Highest Difficulty Setting is an understatement.  The crazy idea was conceived on a visit down here in June.  We would pretend to rent from our in-laws so our kids could register while we waited for our house to sell and then buy the in-laws' house.  Somehow that morphed into buying their house without the renting option.

Because it was so bleeding hot, we didn't really unload the U-Haul in a logical fashion.  It was more just getting it done and getting out of the heat.  We put things in storage but there were a few boxes I would have liked to work on while Nightingale was up north and I had nothing else to do while the kids were at school.

I'm pretty isolated down here.  Working from Home doesn't afford me the opportunity to meet anyone and since I'm not running anymore, that avenue isn't there either.  The only "friend" I've made is the grandmother of one of my daughter's friends.  We meet at the Red Park and we all went to the Zoo once.  

The good news is my kids, especially Boris, are thriving at school.  They both got into SpotLight, and love it.  

Edit from the Future:  I didn't get to finish this post back in August, but I'm publishing it just to get it out of the draft queue.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Avocado Toast with runny eggs

I saw this on Twitter but cannot find the tweet because I forgot to like it.  Or maybe I did but the poster took it down.  Anyway, the joke is:

Made me some Avocado toast. I guess I’m not buying a home anytime soon

These turned out to be delicious.  Now i just have to figure out how to flip them over without breaking the yokes.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Good Bye ChicagoNow, it's been a slice

 I started blogging at ChicagoNow on October 1, 2012, although I haven’t really published much since Boris and Natasha were born. Anyway, the Powers-That-Be at the Chicago Tribune and Alden Global Capital closed the site down today.

No one communicated anything to us either by email or on our Facebook Group. We knew it was coming when our last community manager resigned at the end of June and said we’d heard something in a few days.  And honestly, I suspected the end was coming when our first and best community manager Jimmy Greenfeld took the trib buyout and left.  Then the annoying ads in the middle of our posts came.  

Some bloggers continued to post even though the Front Page (landing page, home page whatever term you prefer) wasn’t updating. A few bloggers wrote goodbye posts that apparently caught the higher-ups’ attention because those were taken down.

It’s kinda crappy the way they chose to go about it. Some of those blogs brought in large audiences which I’m sure led to decent passive revenue. I suspect our site didn’t cost them much especially once they cut the monetary rewards for Best Post and Best Gallery (which I won a few times).

No skin off my nose as I wasn’t one of the paid talents (they use to pay some of the heavy hitters but stopped that years ago and the heavy hitters went elsewhere). But I was hoping to post a Last Post on my blogoversary in October and was also hoping to link to a podcast I might be on; the ChicagoNow traffic would have helped.

When I  joined CN, if you wanted to get a space there,  you needed a pitch.  My wife and I were house hunting and so Adventures in House Hunting was created.  Ironically, sometime after my first or second post, we made an offer on a house.  That house would be the home my kids were born in and filled with treasured memories.

At some point, our Editor announced that you could blog about anything you wanted.  Spoiler alert: you always could, but this just made it official.  

It was like Hogwarts for Bloggers.  I know with Rowling's TERF issues that reference is not as pure as it once was.  I said what I said.

I made many virtual and even real friendships with many bloggers here.  I also pissed off a few and we are no longer FB friends.  boo hoo.  

Some people were really cool, including the heavy hitters.  They gave my Fan Page a like when that thing had more currency than it does today.  Others felt it was a zero-sum game and wouldn't click the button, which is fine.  Except for the one person who kept asking me for tech support but couldn't click like.  WTF.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Our visit to Gulf Port.

While this is still fresh in my head, I should write about our trip down to the gulf last week.  We went to Gulfport, which has got to be one of the laziest names for a place.  I guess ShipDock was already taken.  This was actually the first family vacation that didn't involve going to visit family.  Instead, Katness came down with her kids and sans husband and we caravaned together.

It was a 5 hour drive and with 3 drivers and two cars, one person just doesn't get a break.  One of our only local friends said that 3 days at the gulf is plenty.  We went down on Tuesday and were going to leave Friday morning but we were expecting to have bad weather late Thursday evening through Friday.  I'm not sure why that would be a problem other than packing the car in the rain.  I'm also not sure why we still left once the weather report showed the rain would pass us.  

But mostly, I'm pissed that we couldn't leave until 6 pm because Katness wanted to take the kids to a water park and get them the snowcones they were promised.  That meant driving 5 and half hours in the dark.

Most of this trip was reliving her last visit here just in her husband's place.  We went to most of the same restaurants as she did last time.  

Edit from the Future:  I was going to write more about this trip last July but life got busy and I had other things that took my time.  The main thing is when we got home, I pretty much ignored Katness and didn't do anything during the remaining days of her visit.  Nightingale went with her to various places of course, but I stayed home.

We got together again in St Loius the weekend of Columbus Day because our kids were off, and by then I was over it.  

Friday, July 1, 2022

2022 is half over

Depending on how you look at it, 2022 is half over, or 50% complete.  So on that note, let's talk about my Steps stats.

I was doing really well at first.  Between NG and I going for walks and my being able to eck out a 1-mile run, I was able to hit the 10K steps usually before dinner time.  Then one day, I did something during a run and my knee had inflammation.  It didn't go away with rest, so I iced and ibuprofen and it eventually subsided but didn't completely disappear.

Since we are on cheap insurance, we tried to wait it out, but finally, I went to a doctor to evaluate.  She gave me a steroid shot and all has been great since then.  Unfortunately, based on our experience with knee injuries, we suspect that there are underlying issues.  Perhaps another lacerated meniscus.  

So I have to do Physical Therapy for a few weeks and if things don't get better, I can get an MRI.  Not sure if our insurance will cover any of it because no one can ever tell you what something will cost.  And half of America is scared of Universal Healthcare because, socialism.


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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Down to 8 lives now

The other day I’m doing laundry and I put the load from the washer into the dryer. Before doing so, I take a blanket out of the dryer (from the previous load) and walk not 10 yards away to put it on the sectional.

Ryder: a near-death experience changes ya, man

Close the door and hit start. A few minutes later I happen to walk by and hear a thumping. I open the dryer and see my cat had gotten in there without me noticing. Luckily it had only been 5 minutes and though he was gasping like he was out of breath, he’s fine now, though it took a day before he would purr.

Elsa needs another cup of coffee, or something stronger

We laugh now but I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn’t notice for the entire 30 minutes.  Our Google Research showed that this is not an uncommon occurrence because cats love to explore new places and warm laundry is very attractive.  It also showed that many of these occurrences don't end well, so again, very fortunate.


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Keeping the Faith

 So it's been 2 years since I was laid off from Big Audit 2.0.  Since then I've talked to a zillion recruiters, had dozens of interviews, and one contract gig.  The contract gig, despite its drama, was more of a liferaft than I ever imagined.  It lets me reframe the narrative from "I've been unemployed since July 2020" to "I've been unemployed since May 2022".  Because without a job, I have no power.  No control over my life.  

To say I'm losing faith is an understatement.  I know I've blown a few interviews, but it doesn't seem mathematically possible to have blown them all so badly that no one will take a chance on me.

To be sure, there have been 5 places this year alone that should have taken me on, based on my experience alone.  Two were even contract gigs which would be low risk if it didn't work out.

  • There were interviews given by people who don't know how to conduct an interview.  
  • There were interviews where the role described did not match the job description given.
  • There was a job interview where one of the interviewer was drinking wine.
  • There was a job interview where the interviewer was wearing an ill-fitting T-shirt.
  • There was a job interview where the interviewer picked his nose.

In my field, there are a few options.  I can work for a law firm and be a Widget Engineer.  They might call it something different.  If I'm lucky, I can find another Audit or non-law firm company that uses the No-Name Software.  Finally, the last option is to work for one of the consulting firms that get hired for short-term implementation or upgrade projects.

And I'm so ANGRY.  Angry that my Office Nemesis is still employed there.  Angry that he was allowed to bully and harass me with no repercussions.  


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Monday, June 20, 2022

Slightly Reduced Humble Brag

In my old apartment, and later in my condo, I had a wall devoted to my Running Achievements.  Specifically, it held the framed marathon certificates and the medals I received from completing various races.  At first, it was just marathons but over the years, smaller races decided to give finisher medals as well.  When we moved into the house, I left the certificates in the moving box, thinking one day I would find an appropriate place for them.  The medals went on this:

I paid $5-10 for it at a garage sale I drove past during lunchtime when I worked out in Oak Brook Terrace.

Now that we've moved to Mississippi, I've decided to purge a lot of things.  I was going to just put up the certificate from my best race, the Spirit of St Louis Marathon in 2006 where I ran a 3:29:54, along with a few medals from other milestone races.  But then the challenge was, how do I pick?  

My first marathon?  sure.  My best Chicago Time?  My International Marathons?  Too many to choose from.  

And then one of the daily deal emails I got had a coupon code for a discount at a place that makes custom metal things, especially medal holders. It would have cost $80 for the two but with the discount code it dropped to $53, so I pulled the trigger and ordered them.

So I decided to make another shrine to running.  And I'm certain my runner nickname will give my brother-in-law Jethro something else (that concerns him not the least) to be upset about (he cannot stand that my vanity license plate has Chicago in it).

These cost a bit more

It took a few weeks for my medal holder to arrive and when they did, I didn't exactly have the energy I had when I started this project in my head.  But I started slow.  First I added the Personal Best and then built everything around it.  Not every certificate is going up, just the more meaningful ones.  This is mostly because I didn't always invest in good frames and don't want to now.  And also because I only have so much wall space to work with.  I'm not sure how many medals I will put up.  

Also rearranged the office a bit

I've also saved almost every racing big and a variety of Teflon blankets that they hand out post-race.  I always thought I could do something cool with those.  For now, they will go back in the smaller box and be stored somewhere out of sight.  And when I shed this mortal coil, I want my family to dispose of this stuff as they see fit.  No need to keep it around and create any unwanted clutter.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

We have bike racks

 The other day I wrote: I've got the attached garage as organized as I can.  In a perfect world I would have been able to completely empty it out, and then put things in a logical position while simultaneously installing ceiling racks and even epoxy painting the floor.  unfortunately, life didn't roll that way so I had to retrofit as space became available.

Last week I finally installed the bike racks.  This allows me to move the bicycles from the detached garage to the attached garage, clearing up a little bit of space.  I'm going to try and better organize the detached garage because while it is a big space, it is not optimally organized.


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Friday, May 13, 2022

The Hot Weather Arrives

I completed another spin around the sun last weekend.  We were going to go get a steak dinner but we had spent Friday and Saturday morning "Peopling" and the thought of getting cleaned up and going out didn't appeal to me.  Plus we had a big Mother's Day dinner on Sunday, which required getting up early to get a table, so neither Stay-at-Home Days were sleep-in days.  We will have a raincheck later this month.  

I'm at the point where all I want for my birthday is minimal acknowledgment from family and friends.  We emphasize for our kids and try to make sure their birthdays are memorable, but otherwise, I guess I'm over it.

The contract gig ended last Friday.  I'm simultaneously relieved and a little discombobulated because I'm so used to a routine, insane as it was.  I was half expecting a last-minute, can you please stall on one more week, but I suspect the PM mismanagement of the project led to pulling the plug and letting the internal team handle the rest.

Of course just as I got a job when Nightingale ended hers, her new job started on Monday.  So our plans to explore Memphis while the kids are in school are once again put on hold.

Also, the weather is now starting to heat up so many of the projects I want to do around here require doing as much as I can before the midday heat sets in.  In another month or so, it will be too hot to do anything during the day.  

I've got the attached garage as organized as I can.  In a perfect world I would have been able to completely empty it out, and then put things in a logical position while simultaneously installing ceiling racks and even epoxy painting the floor.  unfortunately, life didn't roll that way so I had to retrofit as space became available.


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Monday, May 2, 2022

Don't look now, it's May

There isn't too much to write about and yet there is.  I should be posting updates about stuff we are doing at the new house.  For instance, we got a rain barrel, and a composter and planted some plants and vegetables.  We also finally hung a few more pieces of art around the house.

I'm slowly clearing out some stuff.  Take this painting for instance.  I bought it from a street vendor in NYC back in the mid-90s.  I thought it was cool and new agey, but really it was just a cheap piece of wall covering.  I don't really have a good place to put it here, so I'm gonna toss it.  What's cute is that Natassa said I should sell it.  

My contract gig ends this Friday and I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I'm happy to be free of the insane-O Project Manager.  On the other hand, it was easy money, of which I now need to find a new source.

I had an interview last week which was okay but I doubt I'll get a callback.  The problem is most people don't know how to conduct an interview and when you ask a person who maybe does one interview every 2-3 years, it takes a while to get any momentum.  They tend to talk about things that no interviewee is interested in unless they get the job.  They often overexplain and over answer (sometimes the answer simply: The color Blue).  

As the interviewee, you have to be polite and not interrupt.   It wasn't until the very end, when we were out of time, that I realized what he was looking for.  I'll try to do better next time, but next time will be a different person, a different need, and a different format.  


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Friday, April 29, 2022

My mood right now

Recruiter: Hey we are looking for a LEFT-HANDED WIDGET Maker. I see that you are a Left-handed Widget Maker. Are you interested?

Me: sure.

Recruiter: Great, send me your updated resume. Because the resume I have, the one that shows your vast experience of being a Left-Handed Widget Maker just isn’t good enough, for reasons.

Me: !@#$.

My frustration is that 1) if I were still working at my last employer, my resume would be fine and 2) the contract gig I’m working on isn’t a game-changing experience. No one looking for a Left-Handed Widget Maker will choose me over another LH Widget Maker based on the 6 months of pushing a button on a lame project that I’ve been working on.

Friday, April 15, 2022

And now it's April

 I thought I'd do a quick update just for the sake of posterity.

My contract was extended until July, even though I still have relatively nothing to do.  The PM is a bit more polite but still asks us to do stuff she could and should do herself.  I understand and am all about delegating but in the time it takes her to ask us to do something and then explain what she wants because she didn't communicate it properly, she could have completed it herself.  It just boggles my mind that someone like her is gainfully employed and I'm struggling to find permanent work.

Speaking of, I had interviews with three places that seemed promising.   One was another contract job that would have kept me employed for the year at a decent hourly rate.  It wouldn't have been joyful work, nor anything I could really leverage to a future position, but it would have been steady income. 

 The other two were consulting gigs with benefits that would have kept me busy and gotten me back into the No-Name Software ecosystem.  There are some law firms that have remote positions available but the caveat is you have to work in a state where they have an office because of taxes.  Or so I'm told.

Both consulting gigs eventually reached out to say they were moving forward with other candidates. That's about the best answer you can get legally.  The first consulting firm said they were trying to fill multiple positions and had a backlog of projects, so it technically doesn't make sense that they didn't bring me on.

I'm still going through the PSTD that my Office Nemesis from the last job put me through.  

On the homefront, I'm going through the stuff in the box called Memory Vault.  I have scanned some old stories that I wrote ages ago and now they will collect digital dust instead of paper dust.  I'm also reading and shredding my old Journals.  Honestly, I should just shred and skip the reading part...do I really need to read 8 years of journals?  And that was before I switched over to typing my journal on a computer in the 90s.  

Finally, my weight is hovering between 206 and 212, give or take. I managed to damage my right knee, so even running a mile is out of the question right now.  


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Monday, March 28, 2022

It Feels Like

In the years that my in-laws lived in Olive Branch, Mississippi, we visited them numerous times throughout the year.  Usually for Christmas but sometimes for Easter, which floats between March and April for no good reason.  We also made some other off-holiday visits now and again.  

The point I'm trying to make is that while we couldn't speak to the temperature of Mississippi in the day-to-day experience, we had a decent sampling of what the climate would feel like most months, give or take.  

My FIL says that the seasons here are about six weeks earlier or behind what we are used to back home.  That seems to gel.  While spring here is much warmer than in Chicago, which got some more snow over the weekend but will be 80 on Thursday, it still is chilly.  My weather app tells me that the "Feels Like" temperature is often colder than the indicated temperature because of wind chill. 

This is a very long way of going about saying that while it's good running weather (could I still run), it is just a little too cold to hang out outside without a jacket or sweater.  There are a variety of things I need to do outside but by the time it warms up enough to deal with them, it's time to get the kids from school.  I expect that will change in April and May.  And in June it will be too hot to be outside much past 11 am, I suspect.

Those Blue things still need to go

So we got the kids these loft beds for their room.  We also moved the spare TV into it and now the room is 7-year-old Heaven.  They now spend more time in their room than any other room in the house.  To be fair, they always spent time there on their tablets, but now they have even more options.  

We also got ourselves a piece of furniture.  We struggled to find an appropriate sectional and finally settled upon one from Costco.  Throw in a nice rug and now the room feels more like ours.  We still need to put up some artwork and I'd love to get rid of the leather sofa the in-laws gave us.  We could even move the Entertainment Center there.  For Father's Day, I'm going to invest in a new TV.

Our next project will hopefully be redoing the fireplace.  We need to replace the gas logs and we really should replace that door from the 80s.  I'm not crazy about the mantle, the surround, or the brick.  The problem is there really isn't anyone around here that seems to do this kind of work and it might be just a bit much for DIY.


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