Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pasta Ideas?

We have a big bowl of cooked macaronis and another big bowl of cooked spaghettis in the fridge, and need to eat them both up pretty soon.

I'm thinking of doing some sort of chicken peanut thing, and maybe pretending that the spaghetti is lo mein noodles.

(I bought five pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts the other day. Shrike's not a huge chicken fan, so I'm trying to trick her into eating it by putting peanut butter on it.)

We're getting a little tired of the Italian genre, so I'd appreciate any other suggestions that anyone might have for using up either pasta - preferably with the chicken or some of the four pounds of ground beef that was also on sale last week.

Other than that, it's been a quiet day and my mind is blank.

I don't know what's up. I couldn't shut up on here last night. Today, I got nothin'.

Photo Hunter #1: Water


I couldn't choose, so I'm posting two.





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Friday, March 30, 2007

Nigeria, hmmm?

There must be some sort of scam afoot with all this "intrest in my lesson."

I've now heard from (supposedly) four different people from overseas, all of whom want me to teach their kids while they are on holiday in the US. All of the emails seem to follow a similar outline.

There's definitely something hinky going on.

But what???

From : (his name)
Sent : Friday, March 30, 2007 9:00 PM
Subject : INTREST IN LESSON


Hello,
My name is (his name) and I am a buisness man and I work full time as the designer director and recuitment manager with nigeria branch of Ozone clothing company. I am presently in Eindhoven Netherland on a buisness trip. and I am writing just to confirm if you still take the lesson you advertised on craigslist. If yes, i will also like to know if you will be available to take my daughter of 19years of age lesson for may 1st to june 30th 2007.

My daughter who just concluded her high school, would be coming to your city in usa for holiday for the whole of may and june and since i dont want her to be too idle,i have decided to enroll her in your lesson so as to widen her knowledge and keep her a bit busy. i hope a lessons of five hours every week would be okay for the two months since she is a beginner.

If this is okay with you i will like you to email me the fee for the monthly tution so that i can forward the estimate to my company who would be responsible for the payment and her flight ticket to usa.

I would appreciate if this is done at your earliest convenience so that advance payment can be made before her arrival on may 1st. also i will later arrange with her for the time of lessons.

I will like you to reply me as soon as possible so that if you will be available i can make arrangement for your payment so as to secure this dates and as a sign of seriousness. I am sorry i sent you an email instead of call,it is because i am in presently not in my country and i dont have long distant credit neither do i have acess to the phone.

Warmest Regards,
(His Name)
OZONE CLOTHING
(address)
SOUTH AFRICA
www.ozoneclothing.co.za

Overheard While Photographing Dinner

Shrike: Don't show that end of the table (where all the crap is piled). They'll make fun of your housekeeping!

Whozat: My housekeeping?

Shrike: Yeah, you're the one who cooks, so you must be the wife.

(Later, while photographing MamaCat eating on the table.)

Shrike: Oh, they're really going to make fun of you now.

Whozat: Who?

Shrike: The people who made fun of your housekeeping.

Whozat: You mean the ones who made fun of it a minute ago? In your head?

Shrike: Oh. Yeah, them.

Amish Country Casserole

I did some more Google cooking today. I put it together last night, actually, and just popped it in the oven today for lunch.

I don't remember exactly what I was looking for, but I think one of the search terms was cream o' something soup.

Of course, I added a few thing of my own, as noted below. I thought it was a little bland, and added lots of salt and pepper to mine.

When we had leftovers for dinner, I actually added some barbeque sauce and additional cheese to mine.

Shrike like it just fine as-is, and said it was even better as leftovers. Or maybe she'd just worked up an appetite since lunch?

MamaCat liked it just fine with the barbecue, and the pups were pissed that there wasn't any left for them. Nevermind that they'd just had a Greenie and a BusyBone - and a hike.

Amish Country Casserole
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef

1 onion, chopped
(I used more like 1/4 onion, because I didn't have much.)

1 T each of green, red and yellow bellpeppers, chopped
(This was my own addition, because I had some in the freezer.)

1 can cream of tomato soup, undiluted

1 lb egg noodles, cooked
(I used elbow macaroni, I cooked less than 1 lb, and only used about half of that.)

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 cup shredded cheese
(More or less.)
  1. Saute onions and bell peppers.
  2. Add beef and cook until done. Drain the fat.
  3. Add tomato soup to meat and simmer for a bit. In a bowl, add mushroom soup to noodles and mix well.
  4. In a greased 8" x 9" baking dish, layer noodle mixture, cheese, and beef mixture, repeating until all is used, then top with more cheese.
    (I started to use this size dish, then decided it wouldn't be big enough. I used a 9" x 13" and the casserole only filled it half-way to the top. I guess the smaller one would have been fine. Unless I'd used the whole pound of noodles. Hmm, you'll just have to eyeball it.
  5. Bake a 350 F for 15 - 25 minutes, until it's all done looking.

Weekend Dog Blog #3: A-Hiking We Shall Go

We live about thirty minutes from the Appalachian Trail. In fact, I crossed it everyday to get to OldJob.

Photo:
BigGaloot, Shrike, PerfectPup


Shrike has a rare Friday off today, so, instead of our usual walk in the neighborhood, we decided to go for a hike, where the trail passes through a nearby state park.

I've taken a couple of really short walks on the trail before, but going in the other direction from the highway, so this was all new to me today.

The weather was beautiful, and the pups loved being out in the woods. The trail meanders along a stream and the dogs were able to wade in it a bit. BigGaloot, in particular, loves this.

We hiked for almost two hours, including a couple of rest stops. We might have stayed out longer, but the last fifteen minutes or so before we decided to turn back was a pretty steep ascent, so we decided that we were about done. Or at least, more than half done!

We will definitely have to do this again soon.
More Weekend Dog Blogs here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tag Yourself Meme

I asked Toni to tag me for this interview meme.

Here's the deal. If you want to be "tagged" just let me know in the comments, and I'll send you five questions to answer on your blog. Let me know when they're posted and I'll link to them from here.

Here are Toni's questions for me:

  1. What is one thing you do to unwind from an extremely stressful day?
    Whether or not my day is particularly stressful, I enjoy a good, hot bath. I prefer to have something to read while I'm in the tub, even if it's just a catalog. I like to add something to smelly-up the water, but have a hard time with the idea of paying $5 for one bath worth of smelly-stuff. I'd just as soon get the big bottle of bubbles from the dollar aisle at the grocery store, and have a month of baths for a buck!

  2. What was the all time best vacation you took? Why?
    Shrike and I went to Toronto for PrideFest in 2005.We stayed with my long-time friend Katr and her partner, Roro. Their condo was right in the heart of the Gayborhood, and we watched the parade from their living room. We also walked in the Dyke March (photos) and attended several other event. I had my honey, good friends, and civil rights. What more can a girl ask for?

  3. What is one goal you want to achieve this year?
    I would like to be pregant by the end of the year. First, I need to get a job and health insurance. Or have I already mentioned that?

  4. What is your favorite drink? (Alcohol or non, or both)
    Ooo! I don't know that I really have a favorite non-alcoholic drink, maybe fancy flavory coffee? I'd say my favorite alcoholic drink would be a either a mudslide or a something in the chocolate martini family.

  5. What is your favorite indulgence?
    Hmmm, see above, re the hot baths and mudslides? I'm also all about sleeping late in the mornings, which some folks see as an indulgence. I guess I'd better start seeing it that way and really appreciating it while I still can!
If you want to play along, post a comment and I'll send you some questions!

Thursday Thirteen #4


Now that I've covered the fan requests from my original Thursday Thirteen post, 13 Ideas for Future Thursday Thirteen Lists, I'll just work my way through the list.

13 Places That I've Visited
  1. New York, NY
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Various Places in the US States Shown in Red Above
  4. Salzburg, Austria
  5. Cancun, Mexico
  6. Luzerne, Switzerland
  7. Ocho Rios, Jamaica
  8. Toronto, ON, Canada
  9. US & British Virgin Islands
  10. Spain (multiple cities)
  11. France (multiple cities)
  12. England (multiple cities)
  13. Germany (multiple cities)
Like the maps? Make Your Own!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jumping the Gun?

The CountyShopper is advertising a 3-year-old (but barely used, because they actually ended up co-sleeping) crib / toddler bed, just like the one pictured here, for $75.

We are of a variety of minds about it:

  1. It's a heck of a deal.
  2. Would we "jinx ourselves" by buying before we're pregant?
  3. It would be very hard if things didn't work out and we had to get rid of stuff we never got to use.
  4. Another baby might need it now.
  5. It's a heck of a deal.
Yeah, it's probably a dumb idea. But it's a heck of a deal.

Wordless Wednesday #2: Happy Birthday, Baby Cats!

MamaCat with BoyCat, GirlCat, and their two brothers
March 30, 1997 - Two Days Old


MamaCat, GirlCat, BoyCat
March 28, 2007 - Ten Years Old


Learn more about Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another Grocery Report

Since I know everyone is just one the edge of their seats to hear about my latest trip to the grocery store, here it is:

Weis
Purina Dog Chow
Regular Price: $16.39 / 37.5 lbs
Weis Club Price: $24 / 2 bags
Coupon: $2.00 off 2 bags
Paid: $22.00* / 75 lbs
*Actually, that's not quite true. I was just checking my receipt and saw that they did not deduct the Weis Club savings. I called the store, and they said I can take in my receipt and they'll refund the $8.78.

I also did several other Club / Coupon twofers (including some with double coupons!) some of which were planned and some weren't, but are for non-perishable things like trashbags.

Total Bill
Original Total: $164.78
Weis Club Savings: $23.51 (counting the Dog Chow)
Coupon Savings: $24.01
Paid: $117.26

Food Lion
I just went there for a few things that were on sale.

Total Bill
Original Total: $46.74
MVP Saving: $15.17
Coupon Savings: $1.00
Paid: $30.57

Total for the Day: $147.83
Total Savings: $63.69 = 30.10%

Pros and Cons

So, here are the pros and cons of the two jobs that I'm looking at right now:

StateJob - Pros

  • Salary $3K - $14K higher than other job
  • State has good benefits
  • On-site Daycare (down the road)
  • Already interviewed
StateJob - Cons
  • Commute(1 hour)
  • Starts at 8:30 am - can't wait up for Shrike
  • Schedule not flexible?
  • Parking $50 - $120/month (Free parking pass?)
  • Position 2 - Travel
  • Position 2 - Not comfortable with some aspects; would require doing things that are my weak points
TutoringCenter - Pros
  • Shorter commute (45 min)
  • 2 mornings start at 10:30 am - could wait up for Shrike
  • No parking fees
  • More comfortable with job
  • Could have dinner with Shrike, 1 - 2 evenings/week
TutoringCenter - Cons
  • Salary much lower - at least $10K lower than what I made at OldJob
  • Evenings - work til 7:30 pm two nights, could conflict with other activities
So, what say you, Internets?

More Ramblings About the Job Situation

In her comments about my previous post, Toni said:

I think you should weigh the pros & cons of the state job again - being employed by the government can be a huge plus.
It's funny you should say that about the pros/cons.

Shrike and I literally made a list of them tonight, for StateJob and TutoringCenter.

The primary pro for StateJob was that it would be more money. Of course, how much remains to be seen.

They are considering me for two different positions. The difference between the bottom of the range for the lower position and the top of the range for the higher position is $11K!

Even the lowest possible salary there would probably be about $3K higher than what I'd make at TutoringCenter, including bonuses, which aren't guaranteed.

(Of course, the commute and parking could eat up $2000 or more of that.)

Although this isn't what I was thinking before, now I'm pretty sure that, of the two StateJob options, I'd probably prefer the lower one.

I don't think it involves travel and doesn't involve some of the stuff that I just don't feel as comfortable with.

If they offer me either, I want to find out the following, before I make a decision:
  1. Salary (duh!)
  2. Schedule - any room for flexibility?
  3. Any way to telecommute on occassion (if I have a doctors appointment in the big middle of the day, for instance)?
  4. Parking costs (maybe there's a free employee lot)?
  5. Travel - how often and for how long?
If I were to get all the "right" answers to those questions, and the money were enough, I might still consider taking it.

With all the "wrong" answers, I just don't know that it would be worth any amount of money, especially because it would mean not having any awake-time with Shrike through-out the week.

I know the difference it makes in our relationship whether we have time together or not, and the idea of having so little really scares me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bad News - But Another Lead?

I heard back from OfficeMgr at OldJob today:

I wanted to get back to you and let you know our decision regarding your return to OldJob on a full-time basis. We made an offer to one of the people we interviewed and they accepted (will be starting on April 10th).
Shit.

Now what?

Actually, after I heard from her, I called the TutoringCenter, to let them know that I'm available to interview, and available for as many hours as they can give me for a while. Of course, if I were to get something full-time, I can't promise that my schedule would allow me to continue.

She wasn't real comfortable with that, but told me since we last spoke, she found out that there's a full-time opening at another location, for a Director of Education. Would I like to apply for that?

Yes - absolutely!

The biggest drawback to that job would be that the salary is way, way, way less that was I've been making - at most, it would only be a couple of bucks more per week than what I'm getting on unemployment.

On the other hand, it's 35 - 45 minutes away (Mapquest says 45, but she lives nearish us, and she said it takes her more like 35 - 40. It's pretty much all Interstate, and I would pass by Shrike's job on the way there.

The schedule would be 8:30 am - 5:30 pm three days per week, and 10:30 am - 7:30 pm th other two days. I and the Director would switch off the late nights, so one of us would always be there in the evenings when the kids are there. No late Fridays.

The position would involve working with the teachers and students, curriculum, etc. From what I remember, the curriculum is a pretty set program of lessons to cover whatever weaknesses the kid has, based on periodic testing.

The salary would be a big "minus" in comparison to StateJob (or, if StateJob offered me the minimum, maybe it wouldn't be so different), but the schedule would be better.

Especially if I could get my two late days on Wednesday and Thursday, that would be great, since Shrike's off Sunday and Monday, so I wouldn't have to wait up those nights anyway. Then, I could afford to wait up on Tuesday and Wednesday, and only Thursday night / Friday morning would be a pain in the ass.

Also, I'm thinking that I could try to schedule as many doctor's appointments at possible for very early on my late days and either not miss at all, or just get in a few minutes late.

And, on the early days, I'd be passing through the town where Shrike works right about the time she's on dinner break, so maybe I could stop and eat with her.

The woman is going to be that location on Thursday and will give them my resume, and should give me a call back on Friday.

In the meantime, if StateJob makes me an offer, I think I will tell them that I have some other possibilities, and want to make sure that I'm making an educated decision, and ask if there's any room for flexibility in the schedule, how much travel is involved, etc.

I figure it's not like they're going to withdraw the offer because I ask those questions. The worst they can do is say "no," in which case, I'm almost definitely going to turn it down. If those things are possible, I need to know about it rather than just assuming they're not.

I've also sent an email to pretty much everyone I know in the area, asking if they know of any possible openings for me. I hear that the best jobs aren't advertised and you just have to know some one, so I figure it can't hurt to ask.

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

We've let some bananas get away from us over the past few days, so I went a-googlin' for a banana bread recipe.

I ended up doing just a bit of combining, to come up with one recipe that only called for ingredients that we have on hand, but I didn't go too far out on a limb.

The recipe was for a loaf, but I decided to do muffins. This probably makes a dozen full-sized muffins, but I stretched it to 18, because I wanted them to be smaller.

This results in them being kind of cone-headed, rather than having that classic muffin-top thing going on.

I just pulled them out of the oven and havn't tried them yet, but if the batter that I tasted is any indication, they are going to be really good.

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins
Makes 1 dozen, or one loaf of bread.

4 extra-ripe medium bananas, peeled
(Ours hadn't quite gone 'round the bend yet, but were headed that way.)

1/3 c. chunky-style peanut butter
(I used smooth, because that's what we had, but chunky would probably be even better. Or add nuts. I had just finished off a can of honey-roasted peanuts, but if I'd had any left, I would have crunched some up and thrown them in.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

2 eggs
(As usual, I used the fake stuff.)

2 c. flour

1/2 c. sugar
(I used Splenda / brown sugar, because we don't have any of the regular stuff. Some of the recipes I looked at called for brown.)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt
(Oops. I forgot to put this in. I hope it's ok.)

Cinnamon, Allspice
(I added these on my own - a good shake of cinnamon, maybe 1/2 tsp and less allspice, maybe 1/4 tsp?)
  1. Slice bananas into blender or bowl. Puree or blend until smooth (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups).
  2. Beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Beat in eggs, then bananas until blended.
  3. Combine dry ingredients; gradually beat into banana mixture until blended.
  4. Pour into greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or 12-count muffin tin.
  5. I sprinkled brown sugar on top before baking. I used the wierd "granulated, pourable" stuff (that I thought was a sugar substitute the other day) because I figured it would sprinkle better, but I think I'd use the regular next time, because it would probably melt and crstalize better.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. (About 50 minutes for a loaf or 20 - 35 minutes for muffins.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn onto wire rack to complete cooling.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weekend Dog Blog #2: BigGaloot Lurrrves GirlCat

BigGaloot has an unnatural attraction to his adoptive sister, GirlCat.

The funny thing is that we suspect that GirlCat kind of might not completely hate him. Maybe.

She is the most animal-oriented, and least people-oriented of the cats. She almost never gets in our laps (although she loves to be petted and, especially, to be brushed) but she seems to tolerate the dogs better than the other cats.

BoyCat, on the other hand, is the most people-oriented, the most likely to get in our laps, the only one who'll stick around if we pick him up, and he hate, hate, hates the dogs. I think he's probably scared of them. There's always a lot of hissing and spitting when they get too close to him.

MamaCat is somewhere in the middle. She's all about the lap-sitting - if it's her idea, but gets offended if we dare to think we'll pick her up or put her on our laps. She doesn't seem to be afraid of the dogs, but isn't real fond of them either. There's hissing, but not spitting.

But, back to BigGaloot and GirlCat. As you can imagine, from the photos, GirlCat is a big fan of the couch. And Galoot is a big fan of trying to eat her while she's on the couch. She usually just kind of puts up with it, but will meow when he gets a little rough.

I think it probably hurt when he bites at her body, not so much from the bite, but because I think she just has aches and pains. (She doesn't much like it when we move her around, either.)

When he really gets rough, she'll fight back and bop him on the nose. Occasionally, she'll get a mouthful of doggy-jowl.

This evening, during the encounter documented here, she bit him hard enough to make him yelp.

PerfectPup came running in to see what the problem was, got right in his face and gave him a talking to.

When she does that, we never know if she's being protective of the cats, or possessive of them, or is just jealous that Galoot is playing with them instead of with her.

More Weekend Dog Blogs here.

But Wait - There's More!

Evidently the foreign guy with the 14 year old son was completely different from Mamma Italiano, because I got another email from him today:

From : (him)
Sent : Sunday, March 25, 2007 1:33 PM
To : (whozat)
Subject : RE: LESSON


Hello,
thyanks for the reply,i will want you to teach my
child on any assignment,my child is in ca now,but his
teacher called me that my child doesn't do is
assignment,so that why am looking for some one who
will take good care of my childs study because we
don't live together,so let me know the actual amount
of it for 3 weeks,hope to hear from you soon.
king
I am truly stumped.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Money Magic

As you know, we're trying really hard to cut back on our spending and save money right now.

Basically, my paycheck (unemployment benefits, for now) goes to the mortgage and we save the rest - a bit in a Christmas Club, a bit in a savings account that we are allowed to dip into, and the rest into a money market account that we aren't suppose to use except for really big stuff (like babies :-) ).

Despite our habit of using that savings - and sometimes the money market - on a regular basis, to make it to the end of the pay period, our day-to-day expenses supposedly come from Shrike's paycheck.

One major goal has been to get our spending down to within her check, and stop dipping into the savings every couple of weeks.

Another thing I've realized is that if we can squeeze an extra day or two of living out of each paycheck, we can pretend that she gets paid twice a month, rather than every two weeks.

If we budget our spending around two checks per month, we can save those two "extra" checks, when three paydays fall in the same month. (This year, it will be June and November.)

I came up with this plan about a week ago. Her last check had come on March 9, and the next was due March 23 (yesterday). I decided to stretch it to March 25, so that the paydays would be "round" numbers.

(Round, in the sense that a "5" is a round part with a couple of sticks attached.)

Today, though, I realized that Quicken won't give "half-month" reports for any periods other than 1-15 / 16-31, so I've decided that - what the hell - we'll squeeze a little more out, and run 16-day pay periods for a few months, until I can get the "paydays" shifted around to the 1st and 16th.

So, the check that actually went into the bank yesterday is just sitting there, being ignored, and we won't actually acknowledge that it's there and start spending it until Monday.

It's funny, because it seems like such a tiny thing to just wait one additional day, but it will make such a huge difference in the long run. The idea of putting two entire paychecks into savings before the end of the year is definitely worth the effort.

I'm really pleased with how we did this pay period. For the first time in a long time, I'm not seeing any "-" signs in the check register nor have we moved any money from saving to checking to cover our asses. (Usually, we do both.)

Granted, we don't have much left in the "regular checking" account, where the day-to-day expenses come from. (Less than $10, actually, and I'll probably put a bit of gas in my car tomorrow, so we'll be down to $2 or $3.)

But, the big difference is that $10 is what's left after we've pulled out:

  • A bit that we're each allowed to "blow" with no input or complaints from the other (and we each have a few bucks left there)
  • Money to set aside for those "unexpected" expenses that happen every damn year (used $17 of that so far, for a subscription renewal)
  • Half of our monthly utility costs, because almost all the bills come during the same pay period (minus the bill that came this week)
So, although having $10 left would a big improvement in itself, we really have more than $250 left - which is just huge, compared to our past record of spending it all, plus another $100 or $200 or more from savings, and still starting the next pay period in the hole.

It's taken a lot of diligence and alot of planning, especially on the groceries, and a lot of work, in terms of cooking rather than going out, but it's exciting to see the benefits so quickly and so concretely.

I am little nervous about how much time and energy I'll be able to put into maintaining our new, more frugal lifestyle once I'm working, and I'm also nervous about how long it will be "fun" and "a challenge" rather than feeling deprived.

But, it's great to know that we can do this, and if we can get our expenses down as low as possible now, we'll have more available when we've got a baby to feed and clothe and entertain!

Saturday Special #1: Spring Time

The Saturday Special Meme asks four questions each Saturday.

Today's theme is Spring Time:

  1. Favorite Spring Blossom
    Daffodils - We have lots in our backyard and they are the first flower to bloom each spring. They are several inches high right now, and you can just barely see the color in the buds. They should be blooming in time for Easter.
  2. Favorite Spring Chore
    Getting the "summer stuff" like the patio chairs, back out of the shed, assessing the damage from winter (snow, mud, dogs) and getting the yard and patio back in shape for us to spend time out there.
  3. Favorite Spring Outing
    Buying flowers for Easter. This will be he fourth year that we've hosted the family Easter egg hunt (every year since we bought the house), and we usually buy some potted flowering plants for decorations and prizes.
  4. Favorite Spring Dish
    If it's wrong to say chocolate Easter eggs, I don't want to be right.
Learn more about the Saturday Special.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Did I Miss Something Here?

What the hell is going on?

Another email, arrived moments ago:

From : (new person, different from before)
Sent : Friday, March 23, 2007 11:50 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject : AM INTRESTED IN YOUR LESSON/TUTOR


Hey,How re u doing?My name is HisName I'm Married to (Mrs WifeName) that's my wife with 2 children.One Girl and a Boy Lisa And John.I'm based in United Kingdom but a nationality of United state.I was born and brought up in Albany ny .
I saw your Advert of your lesson and tutorial on craigslist and wont mind having you as the teacher of my kids because i really want you to teach them and let them know more about your profession because they are coming to the state for some months to spend their holiday.
I really want you to please explain more about the part you are much better in teaching to me so that i can know the best part you can teach my kids so that they can catch up and know it within a little period of time.also i want you to tell me something about your payment,the terms,amount, and also let me know if you'll be receiving the payment monthly/weekly.Please try to get back to me Asap and get me updated to my private email(address)

A Moral Quandry

Would it be wrong to edit my earlier post, to conceal my crime more accurately reflect the number of cookies that will be remaining when Shrike gets home from work?

Oh. Fine.

But how do you know that I haven’t already? Hmmmm?

Lost in Translation

As I might have mentioned, I recently placed ads in the CountyShopper (our local free weekly classified ads rag) ad well as on the CapitalCity Craisglist, pimping my mad tutorin' skillz.

(Oh please, give it up. You are so nearly-40. And so white. You're just embarassing yourself. Really.)

Here's the gist of the ad:

capitalcity craigslist > lessons & tutoring

Tutor - All Levels
Experienced, certified teacher. Can tutor all levels, elementary through college, and most subjects, including most sciences and math through Algebra II or College Algebra. Evenings or weekends, in your home. $15 - $20/hour. Contact Whozat at (phone) or (email).
Seems simple enough, right?

One would think.

One would be mistaken.
From : (her)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:11 PM
To: (not my email address)
Subject: Need a Lesson Teacher


Hello ,

I am Mrs HerName. I am from the Italy,i have a male son that will be coming for holiday in the United State,and i wont to prepare a Lesson activities for him,so i just want to know maybe you can always come and teach him great things on Lessons every afternoon. i saw your advert on the listing site and i was so impressed,If this is possible,i will want you to get back to me with the cost of your teaching for two weeks in March and he is to come with his textbooks and ascessories,i will want you to calculate the cost of (I month) and get back to me with the schudule and
timetables,
Thanks




From: (whozat)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:25 PM
To: (her)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


How old is he and what subjects will he need help with?

Are you just looking for help with the assigments that he's bringing from home? Are his assignments / books in English? When is he coming?

I am hoping to have a full-time job soon, but might be able to help you out in the evenings. Or, if the fulltime job doesn't materialize before then, I might be available in the afternoons. How many hours per day are you interested in?

Thanks,
Whozat




From: (her)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:34 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


Hello,

Thanks for the email,he is 15yrs old and let me know the cost of 1month so that i can arrange on the payment..Thanks and God Bless




From: (whozat)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:25 PM
To: (her)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


Also, where do you live?
Whozat




From: (her)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:34 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


Hello,

I live at Italy but i am Now in West Africa.so let me know about you and the lesson




From: (whozat)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:38 PM
To: (her)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


I'm sorry, what I should have asked is where he will be while in the US.

Whozat




From: (a different email address)
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 12:14 PM
To: (yet another address, also not mine)
Subject: LESSON


Hello teacher,
how are you doing today ,i can read your description and i am very impress and interested in your lesson,my son is coming for an holiday pension in your area ,he is 14 years old,he know a little about this lesson, so i don't want him to be less busy in the time of the day , so i have decide to let him atending your lesson , so he will be coming 2 hours in A DAY(9 am to 11 am) or time that you will have chance,so i want you to calculate the cost for 1 week and send me the total cost ,i will be paying you with cashier check ,so get back to me with your cost . i will like to hear from you soon.
regard




From: (the other address)
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 12:20 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject: LESSON


I don't have the exact text of this one, but the gist was that I need to know where he will be, what lessons does he need help with, is it in English, I might be working full time, etc. Basically, everything I already said. I also explained that I just help students with their assignments from school, I don't present my own material, and that I don't know if I'm really what she's looking for.





From: (her - the first address)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:38 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


(This is in response to last night's question about where he will be while in the US)

Okay thanks for the email,i will love you to know that he will be staying with my Cousin who lives in the states Okay.so let me know from you.




From: (whozat)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:38 PM
To: (her)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


In what city and state does your cousin live?


Um . . . wow.

Just wow.

You really have to feel kind of sorry for this poor woman, who is in West Africa, so far from The Italy at which she lives.

And so far from her 15 - or perhaps 14 - year old male son.

(Although now it occurs to me that perhaps there are two boys traveling together, ages 14 and 15, and the random email from a different address was from the parent of the friend?)

All she wants is for him to not be less busy in the time of the day, while he's on a holiday pension for two weeks in March - or maybe 1 month - or I month (are they still using Roman numerals in The Italy?) - or 1 week.

Why, oh why, do I insist on asking such irrelevant questions as "Will he be holiday pensioning within a thousand miles of me?" and "Does he speaka the English?"

Why won't I just calculate the cost for the poor woman, so she can arrange on the payment?

Why won't I let him attending my lesson?

Why won't I always come and teach him great things on Lessons every afternoon?

For God's sake, she is liking to hear from me soon!

Update - This just in!
From: (her - the first address)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:38 PM
To: (whozat)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


Thanks for the email,He will be staying with my cousin and always come for the lesson every afternoon because i have someone who could always drive him down to you
location.My cousin live not far away Houston,Tx


From: (whozat)
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:38 PM
To: (her)
Subject: RE: Need a Lesson Teacher


I'm sorry, but I am very, very far away from Houston.

I'm afraid I won't be able to help your son.

Did you find my ad through www.craigslist.com?

Be sure that you are looking at the listings for Houston, Texas, so that you can find someone who is close to where he will be.

Best of luck to you and your son. I hope that he enjoys his visit to Texas.

Whozat


I considered mentioning that I used to live in Houston, like ten years ago, but thought better of it. I figured that would only be confusing, since I'm now like 2000 miles away from there.

(What is that in kilometers?)

Cookies???

I baked the rest of the peanut butter cookies this afternoon.

You like how I said that?

All nonchalant-like, as though there were nothing out of the ordinary about the whole affair?

Yeah, not so much.

To back up just a bit because, as usual, I am about 63.5 miles ahead of myself. . . .

Our nine-year-old nephew, GodzillaBoy, spent the day with us, because he's off school (recovering from a hernia repair on Tuesday, doing pretty well, going back to school Monday) and all his parents are working today.

He's rather a picky eater, and we have no "kid food" in the house, so I was a bit concerned about what we'd feed him.

(Although we were pretty sure it would involved a trip to McDonald's for McNuggets.)

Last night, I was thinking that he might enjoy some cookies (after all, who doesn't?) so I took the leftover peanut butter cookie dough out of the freezer to thaw.

His dad dropped him off around 8:15 am, and not long after, we had the following conversation,

Aunt Whozat: "Did you have breakfast already?" (Thinking this was sort of rhetorical, because of course his father would feed him before dropping him off, right? Wrong.)

GodzillaBoy: "No."

W: "Oh." (cautiously) "Are you hungry?"

G: "Not really."

W: (Whew!) "Well, for later, we have . . . . " at which point I proceeded to list pretty much everything that we have in the house.

G: "No thank you. . . . No thank you. . . . No thank you. . . . No thank you. . . . No thank you. . . . No thank you."
(He's nothing if not polite, while rejecting my every suggestion.)

W: "Ok, well, we'll think about it later when you get hungry."
About thirty minutes later:
G: "Aunt Whozat, would you have some kind of treats to eat, like something sugary?"

W: (Hopefuly) "How about peanut butter cookies?"

G: "No, the only kind of cookies I like are chocolate chip."

W: "Oh, well, we don't have any chocolate chip cookies."

G: "When you said you don't have any chocolate chip cookies, do you mean that you maybe just have a little bit of chocolate chip cookies?"
(What an optimist!)

W: "No honey, I'm sorry. How about, when Aunt Shrike gets up (she was sleeping in because she works tonight) one of us can go to the store and get you something."

G: "How about you could go now? I can handle myself."
So, I woke Shrike up to let her know she was "on duty" even if she was still asleepish, ran to the store and got him some Pop-Tarts, while he handled himself quite nicely.

On the way home, I zipped through the McDonald's drive-thru, only to find out that they don't sell McNuggets at 9:30 am.

Shrike went back later for the McNuggets, of which I think he might have eaten one.

He did, however, eat 6 Pop-Tarts before he left around 3:00 pm.

After he and Shrike were gone, I thought it best that I go ahead and make the cookies.

You know, since the dough was thawed and all.

It turns out that the recipe probably makes more like 1 1/2 dozen, not 2 dozen, but I figured I didn't need to be eating big cookies anyway, so I made up a dozen small ones, popped them in the oven, and set the timer for about five minutes (because they are very teeny).

When it went off, they were starting to look more like cookies than dough, but were still very soft, so I set it for another 2 - 3 minutes.

When the timer went off again, I walked into the kitchen and immediately saw the smoke coming up from the oven and out through the stove burners!

ACK!

I think there was a tiny dot of not-burntness right in the middle of each one, but other than that?

Totally fucked.

Dammit.

Since I hated to throw them out, I broke them up and added them to an existing bowl of frozen homemade doggie snacks.
Sidebar
The last two times that I've made pot roast (The most recent being last night, which was, thankfully, uneventful. Also, delicious.) after trimming off that big slab of fat that you often find on one side of a roast (plus a little meat that you can't avoid), I've cut it into bite-sized pieces and cooked them up for the dogs. Then I tossed them into a bowl and put them in the freezer. Frozen, meaty fat-chunks. What could be better if you're a dog?!
So, the burnt cookies are (sort of) salvaged, but what about my needs?

My tastebuds are all set for peanut butter cookies and they will. Not. Be. Denied.

Aha - we have more peanut butter and sugar and fake-eggs.

I shall start from the beginning!

I figured 18 cookies is probably a bit more than we need to eat tonight (Because? We I will eat them all tonight.) so I decided to make a half-recipe or so.

And, what the hell, let's try it with the Splenda this time.

(See above note, re eating them all tonight.)

Except? We have no Splenda.

Well, we do have a Splenda / brown sugar mix, which is "twice the sweetness of regular brown sugar."

Hmmm, so do I go with "twice as sweet" or "half as much volume of something-that's-not-peanut-butter-to-make-them-sort-of-cookie-like?"

I think we all know the answer to that question.

I ended up using about 2/3 cup each of peanut butter and brown sugar / Splenda, as well as a couple of splashes of not-an-egg (to equal, in theory, about 2/3 of an egg).

I'm not sure how this happened, but I still only got about 10 smallish cookies out of the deal.

(Ok, it's possible that I might have eaten a tiny bit of dough. But not half of it! Really.)

So, I put my sad little cookie-lets in the oven, set the timer for five minutes and went about my business.

I checked them when the buzzer went off, and they were still quite dough-like, so I set it for another two minutes (being very careful to go in tiny increments this time).

Two minutes later: still dough.

What the fu. . . oh.
Q: What's the first thing one does when one discovers a smoking oven?

A: Evidently, one turns it off.
Oops.

So, seven minutes in a sort-of-cooled-offish oven equals how long at 375 F?

I turned the damn thing back on, set the timer for five more minutes and crossed my fingers.

They were still soft but making progress at that point, and a couple more minutes (watching like a hawk the whole time) did the trick.

Of course, I had to test them once they were cool, to make sure that everything worked out ok.

I can't tell the difference from the ones with real brown sugar, so that's a good sign.

I've put the other nine away and hope that I can stay out of them til Shrike gets home.

If this post mysteriously disppears later this evening, you'll know it's because I couldn't, and this never happened.

(Cookies? I don't know what all those comments on my blog about cookies mean. Oh look, honey, a shiny-thing.)

Oh, and the first batch?

I gave a piece to each of the dogs.

PerfectPup spit it out.

Spit. It. Out.

It couldn't have been too awful, though, because BigGaloot gobbled up both his and her rejected one.

On the other hand, BigGaloot eats dead things.

And shit.

And the shit of dead things.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Job Update?

This isn't really news, but I got an email from OfficeMgr a little while ago:

"Sorry to keep you in limbo but OldBoss hasn’t given me his final decision. I will try to work on him and get you an answer by Monday."

So, do you think she means, "work on him to make up his mind" or "work on him to say yes?"

I'm going with the former latter. :-)

Edited to add:
I'm a dumbass. Everytime I use the word "former" or "latter" I have to think it through to make sure I'm saying the one I meant. I screwed it up.

He's obviously not made up his mind yet, and I meant that I hope she's encouraging him to say "yes," not just to "pick one, so I can give her an answer."

Does that make more sense?

Did I mention that I have a fucking Bachelor's degree in English? Yeah, let's pretend I didn't.

Thursday Thirteen #3


(Yes, that's me, circa 1988, age 20.)

One of the more popular ideas on my original Thursday Thirteen post, 13 Ideas for Future Thursday Thirteen Lists, was a list of music that I owned in the '80s.

This turned out to be a lot harder to come up with than I expected. I thought I'd just have to find my old tape case and start typing. Evidently, though, I purged my collection at some point in the late '90s.

(What the hell was I thinking?!?)

So, this list comes from mostly from memory, with a little help from the few tapes that I kept, and some tapes in Shrike's collection that I remember owning as well, but most of hers are a little newer than that.

(Hmm, now there's another possible future list: 13 Cassette Tapes That Shrike Owned in the '90s.)

So, after all that, here it is:

13 Cassette Tapes That I Owned in the '80s
  1. Extensive Collections: Jimmy Buffet, Amy Grant, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen
  2. Greatest Hits: Janis Joplin, Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel
  3. Purple Rain - Prince and the Revolution
  4. Pretty In Pink Soundtrack
  5. American Pie - Don McLean
  6. Dream of the Blue Turtles - Sting
  7. Synchronicity - The Police
  8. Chronicle - Credence Clearwater Revival
  9. Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
  10. Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits
  11. Favorite Jams (Mix Tape)
  12. Slow Favorites (Mix Tape)
  13. Songs To Get Stoned By (Mix Tape)
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Thursday Thirteen Blog Roll

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #1: Yin and Fang

Shrike and PerfectPup, 2006

Learn more about Wordless Wednesday.

No News . . .

I've not heard anything yet from OldJob about my request to go back to work there fulltime.

I'm hoping that means that he didn't automatically say "Hell no!" and that they are just discussing how to most diplomatically fire the other guy, so they can have me back as soon as possible.

I'm hoping.

In the meantime, no news on StateJob either, but that's good, because I'd rather know about OldJob first.

I did get a call from a tutoring center about a 1/2 hour away (and an hour from OldJob). I'd sent them (and the location that's about five minutes from my house) my resume a week or so ago.

I moonlighed the same chain of tutoring centers for one school year when I lived in Houston and it wasn't a bad gig. It's a fairly easy way to pick up some extra money.

However, if I am going back to OldJob, I don't know that I'll be able to work it out schedule-wise.

I have placed ads on Craigslist and the the CountyShopper (our local free classifieds weekly), for private tutoring. It's report card time here, so I'm hoping that lots of parents are suddenly realizing that they need to pay me $15 or $20 an hour to make sure their kid passes math (or just about anything else) this year!

Even working fulltime, if I could pick up a couple of hours a week of tutoring, that would help to pad the savings a bit, before we have a wee tot to worry about.

And if I'm still not working fulltime for a while, all the more reason to do it.

Dammit. Why didn't I think of this four months ago?!?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Grocery Report

As I mentioned last night, we made a couple of quick stops at the grocery yesterday, for some perishables and sale items.

Here's how we did (first the higlights, then the totals):

Weis
Tidy Cats Litter
Regular Price: $3.89 / 20 lbs
Weis Club Price: Buy One, Get One (Raincheck from last trip.)
Special Packaging: 25 lbs for price of 20 lbs
Paid: $7.78 / 100 lbs

And the most exciting part . . .
Cream Savers Candies
Regular Price: $1.69 / 6 oz
Weis Club Price: $1.00 / 6 oz
Coupons: $0.75 off - Doubled
Paid: - $0.50 / 6 oz
That's right. They store GAVE US FIFTY CENTS to take a bag of candy. If we gave it away or put it in the trash, we MADE MONEY. How fucking cool is that?

Also Bought
2 pair slipper socks (Reg $1.00/each - WC Buy one, Get one)
2 gal Skim Milk (Reg $3.02/each)
4 bags Shredded Cheese (Reg $4.00/2 - WC $3.00/2)
2 box Shredded Wheat (Reg $3.19/each - Coupon $1 off)
4 box Soy Sausage (Reg $3.15/each - Coupon $1.75 off)
1 bunch Bananas (Reg $0.49/lb)
2.76 lb Gala Apples (Reg $1.69/lb)
1.12 lb Broccoli Crowns (Reg $2.29/lb - WC $1.29/lb)
10 pack Gum (Reg $1.99 - WC $1.89 - HAD a Coupon, but lost it in the store!)

Total Bill
Original Total: $54.55
Weis Club Savings: $4.91
Coupon Savings: $5.25
Paid: $44.39

Food Lion
Shoulder Roast
Regular Price: $3.99 / lb
MVP Price: $1.99 / lb
Paid: $3.04 / 1.53 lb

Also Bought
Dry Milk (enough to make 4 gal) (Reg $9.29)
16 oz Honey Roast Peanuts (Reg $2.50)
Artificial Sweetenter (Reg $2.79)
Parmesan Cheese (Reg $2.99 - MVP $2.79 - Coupon $1 off)
3 Popcorn (Reg $3.83/10 pk, 2 x $2.29/2 ok - Coupon $1 off 3 packages)

Total Bill
Original Total: $35.34
MVP Savings: $3.26
Coupon Savings: $5.26
Paid: $26.82

Total for the Day: $71.21
Total Savings: $18.68 = 20.78%

Monday, March 19, 2007

Questions, Decisions and Announcements

So, I had that job interview on Wednesday, and spent the next day or two worrying about what I'd do if they didn't offer me one of the two positions for which they are considering me.

Then I started thinking about it more . . . and more . . . and more . . . and started having some real concerns.

One of the positions would definitely involve some travel, but I don't know how much. When they mentioned it in the interview, I wanted to find out more but, instead, what I said was "Oh, that's no problem!"

It could definitely be a problem both now and down the road. Now, if they want me to spend a week on the other side of the state conducting a training when I'm ovulating, and down the road if they want me to do it when I have a nursing four-month-old at home.

Also, a big issue is that the job is in CapitalCity, which is about an hour away - before you take into consideration traffic, parking, etc - and it starts at 8:30 am.

Now, part of me feels like I'm just being lazy to worry about the time factor but, as I might have mentioned before, Shrike works evenings and doesn't get home until around 1:30 am.

If she's getting in at 1:30 am and I'm leaving for work by 7:15 am, we basically have one of three choices:

  1. I don't wait up for her, and from bedtime Monday until we get up on Saturday, we have zero awake time together.
  2. I do wait up for her, and get about 3 - 4 hours of sleep per night.
  3. I wait up for her, oversleep and get to work late. On a regular basis.
I suspect that Choice #3 is the most likely.

And that's not even considering the $2000 - $2500 of my salary that I'd be spending on parking and additional gas.

So, starting around Friday and just building more and more, I've found myself thinking, instead of "Oh no, what will I do if I don't get this job?" more along the lines of "Oh my God, what will I do if I get this job?"

That ought to tell me something, I think.

But, I am not without options. I hope.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the office manager at my old job - the one I left to go to work for the BlueState Democratic Party, back in August.

She told me that, basically, they are getting ready to fire the guy who replaced me there. At first, I thought that she might be going to ask me to come back and, at that point, that's not what I wanted to do.

However, she was just asking me to fill-in if they didn't keep him around til they found a replacement, and to help train the new person.

But, as I've been thinking and talking about the ideal working conditions, in terms of a flexible schedule, being able to telecommute when needed, etc, I've repeatedly found myself saying "If I were still at OldJob . . . ."

So, I emailed them on Friday and said that, if they're open to the idea, I'd like to discuss the possibility of going back full-time, if StateJob didn't work out.

Over the weekend, I talked with Shrike about it a lot more, and talked to my mom on Saturday, which always helps, and discussed it with someone else today.

By the end of all that, I think I've decided that, no matter what OldJob says, I think I would probably turn down StateJob if they offer it to me.

Yikes.

So, after more talk, and rehearsing what I'd say with Shrike, I called OldJob and talked to the officer manager (who seems to be more of a decision-maker in the company that that title might indicate).

Well, to back-track just a moment - OldJob isn't exactly my old job. The company where I worked for 6.5 years was sold last summer, and the ownership changed hands on July 1.

Because of issues with moving all the equipment, etc, I was still actually at the old owner's location when I accepted the job for BS Dems. I left in mid-August, and they didn't move the stuff until I was gone.

So, I only actually worked for OfficeMgr and OldBoss for about six weeks, but we had talked about working conditions, etc, and I know that they are very flexible with scheduling, and are okay with telecommuting when necessary and are very family-friendly. Both OfficeMgr and NewOwner are single parents, and they are fine with employees working around their parenting responsibilities.

So, I called up OfficeMgr, and told her that I wanted to give her the whole story, because I would certainly understand if they had some questions about why I wanted to come back.

I told her that our priorities have changed because we're planning to start a family, and that I'm now looking for a job that's more conducive to that.

I also told her pretty much everything above, including that I will probably turn down StateJob, regardless of what OldJob's answer is.

She seemed pretty positive about it all and even told me that she'd left the company for a while and come back.

She said she'd talk to OldBoss about it this afternoon and, "He might need a couple of days to mull it over, but we'll call you back within the next few days, and we can talk about the details."

Or words to that effect. Now, OldBoss might veto it completely, but it sounded like she was okay with the idea, once I explained everything and assured her that I'm not just desperate or looking to go back til something better comes along.

I had to do a lot of thinking, and struggling with my ego, to get okay with the idea of going back, and to get past the feeling that I've tried to do something new and failed.

I just keep reminding myself that I didn't fail at getting a job in the political arena - I decided that's not what I want to do right now.

And, if I'd not been looking at the political stuff, I never would have been considering working in CapitalCity.

And, if my ego is the only thing stopping me, then that's a dumb reason.

And, I can always tell people that they begged me to come back, rather than the other way around. :-)

As my mom said, "If one changes one's destination, one may have to change the route to reach it."

There she goes again, with the great advice.

So, after talking with OfficeMgr, I feel like a huge weight is lifted from my shoulders. Not that I have any answers, but at least she didn't say "Hell no!" (or, "Sorry, we've already hired someone.").

I've done what I can for the moment and now I just have to wait and see what they say.

I should have an answer from them before I get an answer from StateJob, so at least I'll know what the situation is before I have to make a decision on that.

I'm seriously considering turning it down, even if OldJob won't take me, but that's awful scary, with only two months of unemployment left.

The other big announcement we made today is that we told Shrike's parents about our baby plans.

We had dinner with them, her sister and sister-if-there-was-a-law, niece and nephew.
I knew that they'd ask about my job search, so we talked about it before hand, and decided that if they did, we'd tell them the whole story.

(Minus some of the job decision angst.)

It went well, and they seem to be on board. Her mom did ask when we'd make this decision, and when Shrike had changed her mind about it all. I pointed out that a big part of the reason that she didn't want kids pre-me was that she doesn't want to actually HAVE one - and I'll be doing that part!

As we were leaving, her mom made a comment about "I wish you hadn't waited so long . . . ." because our kid will be so much younger that his/her cousins.

(They are 9.5 and 6.75. Which is nothing compared to his/her cousins on my side, who are 22.5 and 19.75!)

So, a couple of huge weights off our shoulders, but still in limbo about the job.

I'm hoping for a positive response from OldJob by the end of the week - and maybe I could even start back as early as Monday?!

So, after all that, lunch out (Chinese buffet), dinner out (mom and dad's treat) and two (quick) grocery trips, I'm exhausted and calling it a night soon.

I'll brag about my grocery accomplishments tomorrow, but will give this one hint now: Candy for less than free!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weekend Dog Blog #1: Snow Pups

I hear tell that one is supposed to blog about one's doggies on the weekend.

I don't have alot new to say about our little mutton-heads (just one of my many pet names* for them) but here are a couple of photos that I took of them on Friday.

Oh, and remember all those "Yea, it's Spring!" posts a few days ago?

Yeah, not so much anymore.

You can find more weekend dog blogs here.

*Sidebar
My nineteen-year-old niece got a kitten for her most recent birthday. It took her a while to decide on a name for him, and at one point, she told my sister,

"Since I've been calling him 'Pookie' maybe I'll just make that his name."

My sister said, "No, 'Pookie' is fine for a pet name but it can't be his real name."

To which my niece replied, "What do you think he is?"

Cookies!

I made Broccoli Surprise again this evening, and topped it off with an even bigger surprise for Shrike - peanut butter cookies!

You'll notice, from the photo, that she got hold of them before I got to my camera!

These are the world's easiest cookies, made from a recipe that I found (wait for it . . . ) online.

World's Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen. I made 1 dozen and froze the remaining dough. It remains to be seen how that turns out.

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter

1 cup brown sugar
(I've also seen versions that use regular sugar, or Splenda™)

1 egg
(I used 1/4 cup storebrand egg substitute - wannabe Eggbeaters™)
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Spoon teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto greased cookie sheet, and press down with a fork.
    (Because that's a law in peanut butter cookie land. After all, without the little forkprints, how will anyone ever know that they're peanut butter?)
  3. Bake at 350 F for 10 - 14 minutes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Top O' The - um - Afternoon!

And a Happy St. Paddy's Day to all!

Shrike's working today, so we're not actually doing anything to celebrate, but she did wear a green shirt to work, because I'm the only one allowed to pinch her!

I got motivated last night (by the 10 lb bag of potatoes in the fridge) to do a bit of Google cooking, in search of Potatoes O'Brien, which sounded sufficiently Irish for the occassion.

As I looked at various recipes, two distinctly different themes began to emerge. One was basically potatoes, onion and red & green bellpeppers. The other involved cream o'celery soup (or another cream o' soup) and cheese.

I decided to go with the best of both worlds, and use all that stuff at once!

I also made some distinctly not-Irish baby meatloaves, based on a recipe that I'd used before, but modified according to what I had on hand. As usual.

I think it all turned out pretty nicely and we had that for lunch today, plus we've got lots of leftovers.

Potatoes O'Brien-ish
Ingredients
Two largish potatoes, diced (very small)
(I left the skins on; that's your call.)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup green bellpepper, chopped

1/2 cup red bellpepper, chopped

1 Tbs butter or margarine

1 can cream o'celery soup

1/4 cup milk
(I probably used about 1/2 cup, but it was a bit runny.)

2 tsp chicken bullion granules

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp pepper
(I just gave it a few good shakes)

dash nutmeg
(I think I saw that in one of the recipes that I Googled.)

2 oz Velveeta™, diced

1 cup shredded cheese
  1. Saute onions and peppers in butter.
  2. Add potatoes, garlic, pepper and nutmeg, and saute until potatoes are cooked and browned.
  3. Add soup, milk and bullion, and mix well.
  4. Lower heat, add Velveeta™ and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Transfer to casserole and top with remaining cheese.
  6. Cook at 375 F for about 30 minutes, until it all looks done, browned and yummy.
Cornbread Meat-Muffs Mini Meatloaves
This can be seasoned and topped in a variety of ways - Mexican, Greek, Italian, barbecue. This time, I did half with spaghetti sauce and half with barbecue sauce, and 4-cheese Mexican blend on all, but kind of generic seasoning. Feel free to experiment!

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef

1 small package (8.5 oz) cornbread or corn muffin mix

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, beaten
(I used about 1/4 cup of egg substitute.)

1/2 tsp garlic

1/4 tsp pepper
(As usual, I'm guessing on the amounts of the seasonings. Put as much as you like, or substitute seasonings to match your sauce.)

1/2 - 1 cup sauce of your choice (spaghetti, barbecue, salsa, etc)

1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice, to go with the sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients, except for sauce and cheese.
  2. Put meat mixture into muffin tins, that have been greased, buttered or sprayed with Pam™. (This makes 1 dozen full-sized muffins. The cups won't look full enough, but it will puff up as it's cooking. Next time, I will probably make 18 from the same amount of meat, because one is a big much for my teeny-tiny-toddler-tummy, especially with a side dish. Two muffins, plus a side dish, is probably a good serving for a normal person.)
  3. Using a spoon, make a little "well" in the top of each muffin and fill with sauce (about a tablespoon or so; I just used a soup spoon and it was perfect)
  4. Bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes, top each muffin with cheese and then bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. If the pan was sufficiently non-stickified, you should be able to pop the muffins right out, using a large spoon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I've Been Tagged

Roro, the Goddess of the Creampuff Revolution, has tagged me to write about my five reasons for blogging. I am so honored!

So, here we go:

Whozat's Five Reasons for Blogging:
  1. Extroversion
    My motto is "If it's in my head, it must come out of my mouth." I think best when I think out loud, and between the job search and the baby plans and life in general, I've got a lot to think about these days. Shrike can't be around all the time, and she gets really tired of listening to me when she is, so it helps to write it all out.
  2. Exhibitionism
    I seem to suffer under the delusion that there is something about our lives that is so fascinating that other people might be interested in hearing about it.
  3. Hoppin' on the Bandwagon
    Everybody and their cat has a blog these days, and I was feeling left out.
  4. Bored as Hell
    Since I'm not working at the moment, I've got a lot of time on my hands, and I'm spending most of it sitting in front of the computer anyway, so I might as well do something semi-constructive with it.
  5. Ego
    Maybe this ties in with some of the above reasons, but when I write about something as mundane as what I cooked for dinner last night, and total strangers are moved to comment on it, that's pretty darn cool.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2


As promised:
13 Baby Things So Cute They Make My Ovaries Hurt

























Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!
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Thursday Thirteen Blog Roll

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Whew!

Well, my had my two job interviews today and I survived.

I think things went pretty well with the interview for the state position, and I liked the people who interviewed me.

(Executive Director and Deputy Director, who would be my bosses, of course. There was also an HR person there, and I liked her just fine, too, but I wouldn't be working with her, so that's not really relevant.)

They seemed to like me well enough, too. I hope. The ED seemed particularly interested in my combination of "people skills" and "technical skills" and how I might be able to help them out on the tech side, in addition to what's currently in the job description.

It will probably be at least a week or two before they make a decision, so I guess I'll just keep my fingers crossed for a while longer!

The second interview turned out to be something that I'm probably not interested in, but since it was a staffing agency, I went ahead and gave it my best shot, in case they've got something else that's more appropriate for me, or even some temp work until I've got a full-time position.

So, that's where that stands.

Physically, I'm a bit sleepy, since I got up earlier than usual, but mentally and emotionally, I'm wiped out and really wishing I didn't have a meeting to go to in an hour. Ack.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Special Guest Star!

Introducing my lovely wife, Shrike, and her list of books!

  1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)

  2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

  3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

  4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

  5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)

  6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

  7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

  10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

  17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) (but heard it was depressing)

  18. The Stand (Stephen King) (started and gave up)

  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

  20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

  21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

  23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

  26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

  27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

  28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

  31. Dune (Frank Herbert)

  32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

  33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

  34. 1984 (Orwell)

  35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

  36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

  37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

  40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

  41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

  42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

  43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

  44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

  45. The Bible (I really did)

  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

  48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

  49. The Grapes of Wrath(John Steinbeck)

  50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)

  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) (LOVED)

  53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

  54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

  56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

  57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

  59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

  60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

  62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

  63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

  64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

  65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

  66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

  67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)

  68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

  69. Les Miserables (Hugo) (LOVED)

  70. The Little Prince(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

  71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)

  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

  73. Shogun (James Clavell)

  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

  75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

  78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)

  79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

  80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

  81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

  82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

  83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

  84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

  85. Emma (Jane Austen)

  86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)

  87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) (Tried. Yawn.)

  88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

  89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

  90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

  91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

  92. Lord of the Flie>(Golding)

  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

  94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

  96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford) (the dirty parts)

  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

  100. Ulysses (James Joyce)
Thanks honey!

Tomorrow . . .

I now have not one, but TWO job interviews tomorrow!

At 11 am, I'll be interviewing for the state job that I've been waiting to hear about, which I've already mentioned.

Then, I got a call yesterday from a staffing company, wanting to interview me for an executive director position, at "we can't tell you where over the phone."

So, it could be bogus, or it could be for real.

I figure, what the hell, I'll be dressed up and in the neighborhood anyway (it's in the town nextdoor to CapitalCity, also about an hour from home) so I'll be interviewing with them at 2 pm.

Should be a real fun day :-)

Speaking of dressed up, on her way out the door to work today, Shrike told me that I really ought to go down to the consignment shop (love, love, LOVE the consignment shop!) and get a "new" blouse to go with my suit for the interview.

I bought the suit at a different consignment shop (which specializes in dressier clothes) for the Governor's Inaugural Ball for a whopping $18. I wore a blouse of Shrike's with it, but it's all shiny and dressy and more appropriate for a ball than an interview.

So, I headed over to the not-just-dressy-stuff consignment shop and, after trying a few that just didn't work quite right with the jacket, I found a nice red blouse to go under the dark grey suit. Mightly snappy, if I do say so myself.

It cost $4.

I also got a pair of Eddie Bauer jeans which fit great, for $3.

Did I mention that I LOVE LOVE LOVE consignment shopping?

I discovered this place while I was losing weight. I was able to "shop from the basement" for the first few sizes, and when I got really close to my goal weight, I had several articles of "skinny clothes" that had been waiting around for
"someday" (those are too big now!) but I had to do a lot of shopping in between.

I just couldn't stand the thought of paying full price for clothes that I'd only wear for a month or two.

My weight's been stable for almost ten months now, but I still can't stand the thought of going back to full-price clothes, so I'm sticking with the consignment shops for now.

You do have to dig through a lot of crap, and if you try something on and it doesn't fit, you can't just go grab a different size, but when you do find a "keeper" it will be cheap as hell.

I was actually kind of frustrated that it was the $4 blouse that worked for me, and not one of the $2 ones that I tried on.

So, my $22 outfit is all ready to go, my resume is printed, and I've been practicing.

Shrike googled "job interview questions" and asked me a bunch last night, and again today while we were walking the dogs.

There were also answers!

Well, hints on how to answer - like:

Q: What annoys you in a co-worker?
A: This is a trick question. Think really hard and then fail to come up with anything other than, "Well, I tend to get along with all types of people."
Good stuff to know - and it was very helpful to work out my answers to "tell me a bit about yourself" and "so, why should we hire you?"

So, now I just need to mapquest the directions, so I know where the hell I'm going, and then get a good night's sleep.

Ha.

Literary Line-Up

I've been seeing this meme around, and decided to finally do it. As much as I love to read, Shrike accuses me of having read "nothing" in high school or college, because I somehow (despite my English degree!) managed to miss some of what she considers to be "the classics."

Maybe I'll catch them in 15 or 20 years when our (hypothetical) kid has to read them?

So, with that, away we go . . .

Instructions
Look at the list of books below:

  • Bold the ones you’ve read
  • Italicize the ones you want to read
  • Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
  • If there are any books on this list that I didn't italicize or bold, but you think I should read them, let me know in comments!
Note: I'm counting a book as "read" if I had it read to me as a kid, or if I listened to it as an audiobook. But not if I only saw the movie!
  1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)

  2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

  3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

  4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

  5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)

  6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

  7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

  10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

  16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

  17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)

  18. The Stand (Stephen King)

  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

  20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

  21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

  23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

  26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

  27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

  28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

  31. Dune (Frank Herbert)

  32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

  33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

  34. 1984 (Orwell)

  35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

  36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

  37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

  40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

  41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

  42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

  43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

  44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

  45. The Bible

  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

  48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

  49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

  50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)

  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

  53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

  54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

  56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

  57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

  59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

  60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

  62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

  63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

  64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

  65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

  66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

  67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)

  68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

  69. Les Miserables (Hugo)

  70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

  71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)

  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

  73. Shogun (James Clavell)

  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

  75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

  78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)

  79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

  80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

  81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

  82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

  83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

  84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

  85. Emma (Jane Austen)

  86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)

  87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

  88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

  89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

  90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

  91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

  92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)

  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

  94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

  96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

  100. Ulysses (James Joyce)
Oh my, I'm afraid Shrike might be right. Maybe I can get her to post her list, and we'll compare.