I could have been cool AND warm

I guess I was paying more attention to the forecast in Kentucky than I was to our forecast because I had no idea it was supposed to snow last night and this morning.  We only got about an inch, but it was coming down when we woke up and that was enough to convince us to skip the gym.  (It shouldn’t be that easy to convince us to skip the gym.)  I had a moment of welcome-back-to-the-east-coast panic (everyone from Texas to Maine got snow last week – it’s not just New England), but then I remembered that this is the year (or maybe next year – we’ll see) that I get real, honest-to-goodness cold weather stuff.

I can’t have the coat I WANT because it sold out in less than 30 minutes the day it came out.

John wants this one.

Columbia made 1,980 of each of these (plus a Han Solo parka we don’t like as much), and even though they were $400 each, they were GONE.  The website said they were totally sold out online, but stores had a limited number, so I called three different stores.  I only got through to one place (in Minneapolis).  The guy said they had one XS Leia and one 2XL Luke left, but “I’m looking at a customer who has them both in her hands right now.”  It was 10:20 in the morning.  The store opened at 10.

John and I are holding out hope that they’ll make more of them someday.  Until then, I’ll just have to be cold in my totally not awesome normal coat.

Meeting expectations

You know what doesn’t come out of felt?  Coffee.  Especially sugary coffee.  And you know what doesn’t smell appealing?  Felt drenched in sugary coffee, even after it has dried.  But you know what’s better?  New felt that doesn’t smell like anything.

You know what’s a weird word?  Felt.

(I dumped coffee on my felt laptop case.  I ordered a new one.  It came today.  I’m happy again.)

You know what else is a weird word?  Knap.  Also, belvedere.

Beeeeelllllllll-ve-deeeeeeeerrrreeee.

That is the sound of my brain shutting down.  ‘Night!

I appreciate my life

Working from home gives me freedoms I haven’t really appreciated before.  No one can see me when I’m on the phone, so I have the freedom to roll my eyes when certain annoying people go on and on unnecessarily about something.  I have the freedom to drop my head into my hands.  I have the freedom to shout at my computer when certain emails come in or to walk away or to pace during phone calls or even make tea during meetings.  I can get actual WORK done during meetings that don’t require my full attention without appearing rude or self-important.

My self-control during the two days I was in the office, after a year and 9 months of freedom, was, if I may say so myself, impressive.

And I am SO GLAD to be home.

Portland is weirder than Providence

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Unipiper.  I mean, we hadn’t until we moved to Oregon, so I don’t know why you would have.  In case this is your first introduction, he’s a guy in Portland who plays bagpipes while riding his unicycle.  The Unipiper.  He has a website.

He also made this video.  Cracks me up every time I watch it.  Thank you, Will, for sending it to John!

Welcome to the 20th century

Congratulations are in order!  We are the proud owners of a microwave for the first time in nearly two years.  Nearly three, if you’d like to be pedantic about it.  The last time we had a microwave at our disposal was in the Annapolis apartment.  The Oregon house didn’t come with one, and after a few months without it, it became a matter of principle to get by without buying one.  But now, a year and nine months later, we have abandoned principle.  We have a microwave and the first thing we did with it was reheat tea.  Anticlimactic.  The second thing we did with it was soften butter because I had a lot of baking to do and I forgot to leave the butter out, and softening butter in a saucepan is really more like melting butter which is not the same thing!

I don’t think we’ve used it for anything else.  It’s been a week.

We’re not used to having it.

Too…tired…to…brain

Back home, thoroughly exhausted, and there’s a fancy party in Newport tonight.  We’re going with John’s parents, and I’m afraid I might not have the eyelid strength needed to keep both eyes open past 8pm.  Maybe one at a time, but not both together.  If anyone there takes pictures, I’ll be the one in the background winking.

Reinforcement

 

I certainly didn’t need it, but coming to the office these last two days has confirmed that we made the right decision when we left to work remotely.  I hardly got anything done yesterday.  It was nice to see everyone, but I’ve had the same conversation 75 times, and people who did and said annoying things still do and say those annoying things.  The pies and cookies were a hit (I made two sweet potato pies and dozens of cookies), so I can go home confident that I have renewed whatever good will I may have needed, but that wasn’t something I was particularly worried about, either.

Anyway, boo office stuff and yay working from home.

This is what happens when I travel alone. It’s super exciting.

Here’s a thing I do not regret: getting rid of cable all those years ago.  I’m sitting in a hotel room, having worked late at the office (gag), eaten too much takeout Indian too late in the evening, and I turned on the TV.  This hotel has DirectTV, and there are a ton of channels, and is anyone going to be surprised when I say that there is nothing on?  I should hope not.

I eventually settled on an episode of Friends, which is half over by now.  It’s the one where Rachel gets closure.  Except, you know, not.  Except, actually, maybe yeah.  Anyway.

Why did I turn on the TV?

A moment of reflection

I had another frustrating run-in with a coworker, and as I walked to CVS, I mapped out an imaginary conversation with her where I tried to find a way for us to get past this stupid thing we keep butting heads about, and I got angrier and angrier because I feel like she’s taking this personally and getting emotional about it and that’s why we’re not able to work through it –

And then I realized how angry was getting and maybe I’m taking it personally.  Of course, the part I’m taking personally is her reaction to my very reasonable request for her opinion on something because it feels like a personal attack, but still.  It’s work.  It’s not personal.  Or maybe it is for her, but that’s not my problem, and it doesn’t have to be for me.

It’s work.  It’s not my life.


BUT I’M GOING TO THE OFFICE FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS AND I’LL HAVE TO WORK WITH HER IN PERSON!

 

It’s about time

I am LONG overdue for a new mouse pad.  I tried to order a new mouse pad last March that never came.  I eventually gave up on it, and Amazon canceled the order and refunded the money.

I’ve been using the same one for almost 8 years, ever since I started working for my current company.  We made and gave out these mouse pads in the training classes I taught.  This pad has been everywhere, and it shows.  Food stains, coffee stains, and general dirt stains are embedded in it – it’s truly disgusting, and I don’t know why I’ve put up with it for so long.

Out with the old.

In with the new.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

We saw Paula Poundstone last night, and, as expected, she’s hilarious.  When we left, my face hurt from all the smiling and laughing.  She has some material we’d heard pieces of, but mostly she talks to the audience, and it’s great.  Including last night, when two out of the three people she had extended conversations with ended up pissed off.  The rest of us thought it was hilarious – those two, not so much.  She may have been a bit too pointed, or they may not have been able laugh at themselves, or maybe a bit of both.  I loved it.

Not related: I have Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” stuck in my head.  At Thanksgiving last week, someone said something about Chinese food, and John, Sean, and I all started singing “chickity china the Chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'”.  Molly didn’t know what was happening, poor sheltered child.  So we educated her.  By singing the whole song.  Multiple times.

And now it’s stuck in your brain, too.  Or maybe you’re in my brain, listening to my ear worms?  Welcome!  We have a good time.  All I ask is that you put safety first – beware the trap doors and stay out of the way of the roller derby.

Peace and quiet

When we moved in to this house, it was still summer.  It was September, and it was hot, and we kept the windows open.  We used the portable AC in our bedroom at night.  Any noise from the AC or the fans we have was constant – white noise that masked traffic sounds and helped us sleep.

Then it got cold.  We turned on the heat.  The noise began.

That’s steam hammer.  We have steam heat, generated by a boiler in the basement, with radiators in every room.  That banging starts in the basement and echoes (loudly) through all four floors of the house every time the heat kicks on.  On top of that, high-pressure steam hisses out of each radiator’s vent periodically, also loudly.  Like, the hissing wakes us up at night.  We’ve taken to dropping the heat lower than we normally would at night so it won’t kick on and we don’t get scared out of bed thinking someone is coming after us with a pipewrench.

At first, we thought the banging and hissing might be happening because it was the first time the heat was running since last winter.  Maybe it would work itself out after a few days of keeping the heat on.  Maybe the water that is doing the actual banging would drain out on its own.  It didn’t.  The heat would kick on, the banging would start, and the people in my office, who could hear it clear as day on the other end of the conference line, wanted to know why I was working from a construction site.

We emailed our landlord on the 1st of November, and after 6, maybe 7, visits to the house by people with escalating levels of expertise, we THINK the problem has been resolved.  As of TODAY, the 30th of November.  Today, after several visits from the handyman and two different plumbers, they sent out an actual steam heating expert, who diagnosed the problem as bad return piping (which is what John diagnosed the problem to be a month ago after doing lots of internetting) and immediately fixed it.  And the crazy hissing?  It’s because all the high-pressure steam was only going to half the radiators, so they were getting twice the expected pressure and were attempting not to explode.  Since he fixed the piping, about 3 hours ago, we haven’t heard any banging.  Fingers crossed we can have quiet heat the rest of the winter.

It took a month to resolve, but ZERO DOLLARS from us.  Renting isn’t perfect, but this is a big perk.

New additions

You all remember Bird and Bird, right?

Bird and Bird joined us when our house was on the market during the holiday season in 2014, and it behooved us to decorate mildly but tastefully.  I bought a little abstract sort of tree and a holiday-ish table runner for the dining room table, a green bough of some kind for the mantle, and Bird and Bird for the counter.  The other decorations didn’t make the cut, but Bird and Bird accompanied us to Annapolis, across the country to Eugene, and back the other way to Providence.  We like them.

Three years into our travels with Bird and Bird, we decided they needed friends.

Meet Bird and Bird:

They are appropriately dressed for the weather, and they’re ready to make friends.

Don’t they look like a fun bunch?

Time to move!

Last month, I told you that my toaster has lost its ding.  It still made ticking sounds while it toasted (and it did still toast).  This morning, things got weird.

  1. I put a piece of bread in the toaster and closed the door.  It started ticking.  I did NOT start the toaster.  I twisted the dial until it stopped ticking and then walked away.  (I wasn’t ready to actually toast the bread yet.)
  2. When I came back a few minutes later, John asked me if I was trying to burn the house down.  My piece of bread was practically ash.  John stopped the toaster when he smelled it burning.
  3. I got a new piece of bread, watched it while it toasted, and then twisted the dial to stop the ticking when it had toasted enough.
  4. I unplugged the toaster (just to be sure), and sat down in the dining room to eat my not-burnt toast.
  5. About ten minutes later, I heard the toaster ticking.  IT WAS STILL UNPLUGGED.

The toaster is haunted.

Mortality

A Twitter friend and occasional pen pal died yesterday.  It was sudden – he was fine the day before Thanksgiving but then that night, his family rushed him to the hospital.  He’d had a brain aneurysm.  After several surgeries over the course of the weekend, the doctors determined that too much brain tissue had died for him to survive, even with another surgery.  His wife took him off the ventilator Sunday afternoon.

He was unconscious the whole time.  She didn’t even get to talk to him again.  He was around my age, had two kids.

I only knew him through Twitter and a couple of postcards – he was funny, supportive, and kind.  I feel awful for his wife and kids, and I’m trying to help in small ways.

I keep crying, but I know my emotional response is not about him.  It’s not about his family.  (I’d be a better person if it were.)  It’s about my fear.  There were no warnings.  This could happen to anyone.  What if it had happened to John? She didn’t even get to talk to him again.  I think about what his wife is going through and I break down again, and then I feel guilty about it because it’s not about me.  It didn’t happen to me.  And I’m so glad it didn’t happen to me, and whoops there goes the guilt again.

I’ll be fine.  I’ll do what I can to help his wife and family be fine.  And tomorrow I’ll go back to our regular inane programming.

Nostalgia

I watched The Man From Snowy River tonight for the first time in probably 20 years, and I think it’s hilarious how vindictive and nearly evil they paint the black horse who’s in charge of the wild brumby herd, what with the rearing and the freeze frames of crazy eyes.  Equally hilarious is how Kirk Douglas plays two brothers, one of them camouflaged behind a beard and a peg leg.   A beard doesn’t fool me, movie makers.  I’ve got eyes.

Not so hilarious is the scene where poor Jessica wakes up on a tiny ledge over the side of a cliff.  I didn’t remember that at all.

Impressive: according to Wikipedia, the actor who played Jim had never ridden before he got this role, and he did his own stunts.

Opinion after 20 years: the movie holds up.  It leaves Netflix on Dec 1st.  You’ve got a week!

Let’s go to the mall!

Would you believe I was in the mall the other day and I DIDN’T go to Athleta?  It’s true.  Would you believe I have lived in Providence for two and a half months now, within easy reach of Athleta after a year and a half of being two hours from the nearest one, and I haven’t been even once?  Also true.  I must be ill.  Would you believe I went into a bookstore yesterday and didn’t buy a single book?  You would?  You’re gullible.

We were at the mall over the weekend to see the third Thor movie, which is BY FAR the best of the Thor movies.  Those first two were pretty bad.  The second one is easily the worst of the Marvel movies.  This one was more like Guardians of the Galaxy – funny, fast-paced, and fun.

The mall was all decked out for Christmas, and we had to go through the entire thing, from the basement level to the top floor, and from one end to the other, to get from the car to the movie theater.  We didn’t do any shopping – I’m afraid that once we go back so we can buy stuff, we’ll be holiday’d out faster than usual.  Would you believe it?  Somehow we’ll live.

Wonder of wonders

I have gone more than two weeks with this ridiculous piece of paper as a temporary driver’s license, convinced every time I had to show it to someone (which was surprisingly often) that they’d reject it.  That almost happened last week, actually.  It stumped the bouncer at the club for the Arkells concert, and he was about to tell me he couldn’t take it as ID.  I can’t blame him, really.  It’s a full size piece of paper that I have folded into a tiny square so it’ll fit in my wallet.  When I unfold it to show it to someone, it’s all creased and worn and it really doesn’t look official.  Printing “Official Temporary Driver’s License” across the top does not make it look less fake, State of Rhode Island.  So with all that, I’m not really sure why he changed his mind.  Maybe it was my look of fury.  (Have you seen my look of fury?  No?  I should work on that.)  More likely it was my sad eyes and bedraggled state (we’d been standing out in the rain for 20 minutes waiting for the doors to open).  And also the fact that NO ONE could look at me and not think I was over 21.

I’ve been checking the mail every day hoping my real license would arrive and it did!  Today!  Right before we were about to drive across several states for Thanksgiving!  I feel legal again.

It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!

Band love

I’m sure this will be shocking to you, but I have to say it: the Arkells are REALLY good and their shows are REALLY fun.  Their opening act was this band from LA called Irontom.  They were pretty good, super entertaining, but the main attraction there was their lead singer, who is…odd.  Super odd.  At first I thought he was doing the flamboyant front man thing, a la Freddie Mercury, and he was, and it was great, but then it got weird, and at one point (during a guitar solo), I thought he might be having some sort of breakdown in the back corner of the stage.  From that point, I was a little more concerned than entertained, but their music was good, and I’d like to hear more.

But Irontom is NOT why we were there.  We got there shortly after the doors opened because I was not about to ruin our streak of being right down front.

We were successful.  That’s Max.  He’s adorable.

Arkells were headlining this time (the other two times we saw them they were opening), so we got double the setlist, which was AWESOME.  They played all our favorite songs, Max came out in the crowd for a couple of songs and we got hugs on his way back to the stage, and then we talked to him for a couple of minutes after the show.

Now, naturally, John wonders where his life went off course.  He should be in a band like that!

Supervisors by the numbers

  • I have had 10 bosses in not quite 8 years with the same company.  Well, 9 bosses, since my current boss was my boss a year ago, but I had a different boss in the year in between.
  • 4 of them don’t work for the company anymore.
  • In 2 cases, I got a new boss because they left the company.
  • My shortest period of time working for someone was about 3 months.
  • My longest period of time working for someone was nearly 2 years.
  • 5 of my 9 bosses have been women, but not the past 3.
  • All 9 are older than I am.
  • I have had 3 bosses since I started working remotely (more than 2 years ago).  4, if you count the one who’s my boss again.
  • I’ve had 1 boss I’ve never met in person (my current boss), although that will change in about 3 weeks.

This has been illuminating.  I don’t know what it tells me – maybe that we have a lot of turnover (except that more than half of them still work for the company), or maybe that the company doesn’t know what to do with me, or maybe nothing, and this is just how it goes when you work in one place for nearly 8 years.