Sunday, November 25, 2007

get your feet wet in my stream of consciousness

There's a joke I tell about the green Energizer rechargeable batteries in my camera: if you charge all four of them and put two in the camera, when you have to change pairs because you've drained the first pair from use the second pair will already be flat from sitting around, so you had better bring some alkalines also. That got a little annoying, it was like both pairs have an expiration date of ten days no matter whether they were ever tapped. So after asking my fellow local photographers what the best rechargeables are and doing a little reading online, I've invested in some Sanyo Eneloop AA's, which if fully charged and left alone at room temperature will still have 85% of their charge left one year later. Another investment was an HP Deskjet D4260 printer, replacing that Lexmark-made Canon printer which hasn't done a job right in over two years. Once I figured out that horizontal on the screen really means you put the photo paper in vertically and found out Preview is your friend because the software has this nasty habit of changing all your high-quality photo printing settings back to regular full-page settings and wanting to print on just 3" x 4" of a 4" x 6" paper when all settings are set to (and are displaying the test image as) filling the paper, all was well. I encountered some serious stupidity with my house wiring yesterday by surprise. My wife and I were about to hit some long-overdue home projects (her: painting the lavendar touch-ups on the accent wall cran-plum; me: stripping some paint and varnish off the kitchen cabinet doors) and I flipped the light switch in the diningroom... and half the lights in the house went out. And the breaker did not trip. I have now learned how to take the panel out of the breaker box and remove a breaker switch, a valuable skill, but the switch wasn't defective. It wasn't until that night that I found out where the problem was: The wiring goes from the breaker box to the inside of the light fixture in the mudroom, where it splits to the porch light ahead and the rest of the lights on that side of the house (kitchen, diningroom, bathroom, master bedroom, and my computer's socket). The mudroom light wasn't coming on, yet the porchlight was. Predictably, this morning when I opened up the light fixture to look for loose wire and test voltages, ding, suddenly the light and the rest of the circuit works. I have no idea how some wires under a cap (in a light that wasn't on at the time) could act like a breaker but, hey, whatever, all is well now. Work seems to be okay, but then again I worked on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when the street traffic to work was way dead and the call traffic at work was even deader. That kind of goodness can't last (said 11 hours before my Monday morning shift). My Thanksgiving otherwise was tolerable -- I don't consider the lettuce and cucumber sandwiches with one slice of meat each from Subway, courtesy of the agency, a "feast" -- and on Saturday my bride made a turkey and some fixin's so I didn't go without much. I even had my cranberry sauce on Sunday: I dropped a can of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash on my floor and it did precisely that, it splashed cranberry all over (and under) the stack of cabinet doors; the 'sauce' comes in because despite my efforts to wipe the floor clean with a wet rag I noticed in my stocking feet that the linoleum is a little tacky. There's probably more or something actually useful to say but there's always later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

fill your life with croutons!

wild artHello, friends. I'm a week and some overdue in my writing, but I will claim that getting into the new job is to credit/blame for that. So far it's pretty good, just a matter of learning what goes where and the answers to questions you wouldn't picture people asking. The commute is stupid but bearable and, as I determined a few years ago when I worked just down the hill from where I am now, sort of a relaxing down-time (though I prefer to do something with my down-time... you can't read or get on the computer while driving). And then there's the price of gasoline, which is mega-stupid, but sometime I'll evade that by abandoning or augmenting the internal combustion engine. The picture of the day came from the latest Tacoma Photo Gang jaunt... a barber chair on a business' porch roof wrapped in rope lights.

Noted last time was that we can't start decorating until we put our tools and stuff away. Well, we haven't made much headway into that, however we now have all the cabinet doors off and five of them have been stripped. The rest will be stripped shortly, I presume. As for the drawer fronts (the drawers will be dipped end-first in stripper, not taken off) and the cabinet bodies (spray-on stripper!), those will likely wait until January. Then we can clean up and put stuff away? I believe we're at a stopping point with the kitchen (once the doors are stripped) so we can put away the tools that fill the diningroom and move diningroom items out of the livingroom. We're working on the color scheme for the cabinets now, one shade of grey for the doors/drawers and another for the cabinets. The Christmas tree will be going up likely the second week of December. As much as I love Christmas and decorating, some rules of decorum such as not before Thanksgiving!! have to be followed. Stocking up on goodies, though, that I do year-'round.

The latest tale of stupidity, as of today (my wait to write had some benefit!), turns out to have a happy ending. Okay. As you know from flipping back a couple entries, I lost my job with the antiphishing place on October 20. When I was signing the termination paperwork, I asked the supervisor to promise that he would not interfere with my attempts to collect unemployment, and he said he wouldn't. Hmm, well, three weeks later I get a call from a case manager at Unemployment, asking for my side of the story. It seems that he told them that the site I mistakenly blocked was legitimate and that I had not made any improvement in my work pattern since my written warning of August, when I did put a couple bank sites on blocking. "That's inaccurate," I said calmly, and told her what happened once she asked. And to my surprise, I received two envelopes from Unemployment today: one containing a letter saying they took my word for it, and that incompetance [heh] is not the same as willful misconduct; the other containing a $249 check for the one week I was able to claim before starting my new job. I closed my claim last week. It's a small victory and one that I wasn't going to pursue unless I hadn't gotten this job, and the real value is that in case I wind up leaving this job in the next month I can re-open my claim without so much hoop-jumping. That, I should hope, is the end of the story.
[And CR: you should have stuck to your word and to the truth.]

Okay, actually, I do have one real-world stupidity: how does lying to a grand jury have a larger penalty than murder? Seriously, Barry Bonds (whom I could care about since he doesn't play for the Mariners) is facing thirty years in jail for perjury. Not that I believe he'd actually do a day in the pokey, but the penalty threatened is a lot greater than what people who actually commit grevious crimes sometimes get. There's only one person who needs to be put away for telling lies, but he's still in office for another year. Aptera electric

I didn't say this was an exciting entry, just an overdue one. You want exciting? Check out the new electric vehicle, the Aptera. I know, that's Latin for "without wings", but this is an affordable plug-in electric or gas-electric hybrid with a low-weight futuristic look. I razz on "futuristic" and unrealistic looks, but the form follows the function.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

in exchange for a floating life

Apple //e computer   Hello, blog buddies and any other sort! As you may have derived from the previous entries, things have been eventful. Doors closing, doors opening, timing and placement conspiring to change things and it's yet to be seen whether it's for the better or not. But let me catch you up on the rudimentaries of the last week, and all sales are not final so please hang onto your receipt in case of product malfunction.
   I went to meet the guy at the well-known travel business on Wednesday, and finding the right place was interesting since there were five buildings across four distinct lots which had the same sunny word in their names. The gentleman himself was very cordial and seems like a good guy to work for. At least I know that the dress code in the helpdesk is casual. The thing that struck me is that I'm dressed up for an interview and he's in a dirty t-shirt, with a large belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly as he nervously wiggled his knee while I spoke. (That will derail your train of thought.) The placement agency person said I'd hear later in the day how things went, then she escorted another candidate dressed to the nines with a pleather LifeRunner in. I went to IKEA and a gourmet hotdog franchise afterwards, waded through traffic, and got home at 4 p.m. to a call on my answering machine saying the dude liked me so was offering me the gig.
   I went to the placement agency on Friday to fill out the standard paperwork -- W-2, I-9, auth to snoop through my background, auth to check my credit history (I still don't understand how that's relevant in any way but I know my score is improving), and auth to enjoy a sample of my urine. The staff at my agency is very easy on the eyes, though I didn't ask why the receptionist had to offset her radiant hawtness by getting an angel (or is that a ghost with a halo?) tattooed on her left wrist. Oh well, we all make decisions we're stuck with that don't make sense to others sometimes. Once I was done there it was another jaunt to the Crate & Barrel and the Cost Plus, just like my last visit to their office... it's a good thing I don't work there, that's all I'm gonna say. I went from there to the drug testing place, giving the bored person behind the counter with emphysema some amusement, and then gave her a few fluid ounces of what I was just going to whiz away anyway. As soon as they ascertain that I live cleanly despite residing in "Methlehem" (Parkland/Spanaway is known for its methamphetamine labs and Tacoma has a higher-than-average per-capita population of alcoholics) they'll tell the agency who will then tell me I can start, so it will be Tuesday or Wednesday that I actually begin working. And the poppy seeds on that gourmet hotdog two days earlier had better not make it look like I'm a morphine addict!
   "How go the home improvements?" you ask... I think we're approaching a bookmark. The original goal was that we'd do the entire kitchen and dining area over the summer. Uh, yeah, molars and motors got in the way financially. So autumn has been more forgiving, having painted one wall (which needs repainting courtesy of my wife and her sister fidgeting with flawed spots one night) and converting a fan-holding hole in the ceiling to a hanging fixture with a drywall patch two feet away then converting a two-foot-by-four-foot fluorescent trough into a flat surface with two fixture boxes and a bad memory. You knew all that already, so that was a refresher before moving into the "and now?" part. Paige and I were sitting in the livingroom yesterday discussing what we want to do with the Christmas tree this year -- the theme will be just like last year, which was green/silver/white/clear with snowflakes, but with blue replacing the green -- and she said we can't decorate the house until we reclaim it. Stuff that belongs in the dining area is in the livingroom. Stuff that's in the dining area is covered with plastic tarps and has paint cans and such under. Half the kitchen has tools and building supplies on the counters. And then there's the matter of those cupboard doors she took off so we could strip the paint, but haven't done that yet. a foggy day at Stadium High So I proposed that we finish the obvious pending projects of painting that wall and stripping the cabinet doors, put all of our toys away for the winter, and we can get to the replacement of the flooring plus painting of the other walls and ceiling plus redoing the counters and cabinets next year. Let's see if that happens.
   Oh yes, speaking of the kitchen light replacement project: yes, I completed the ceiling patchwork the other day. I kinda let four or five days elapse between the second and third plaster coats, that's why it's so tardy, but when I finally did that finish coat I applied primer and texture soon after so it's ready for a coat of paint. Will the patches be invisible? Not entirely but you will have to know where to look and what to look for. In the meantime, I really need to get up all that plaster dust and stray texture that went everywhere... I consider that part of the pre-holiday cleanup. Anyhow, that's the blog entry and I won't try to think of anything stupid to report. Okay, I do have one thing but it's someone else's problem so I won't hash it out here (I will give you this much: if you move 4,000 miles away from someone because you can't stand being with them anymore, and they call to ask if you could make airline reservations for them to come visit you at Thanksgiving, you have to wonder... did someone not get the memo?). Cheers and hope your Halloween was hunky-dory. Mine, for the record, was almost as quiet as it ever is... we don't get trick-or-treaters anyway, but we did have one knock at the door because I forgot to turn off the porchlight after getting home from the new Home Depot behind the apartments I used to live in a decade ago.

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