Thursday, December 31, 2009

Four Month Review

I just had my four-month review this morning. Can you believe I have been working here for four months? I guess that is what happens when you have nearly three months of training.

Overall, it went well. My supervisor gave me lots of compliments. She said I am on pace or ahead of pace in the learning curve for the job, that I draft very well for four months with only minor adjustments needed, that I have closed the most cases in my unit, that I am good at catching all of the little technical things that tend to mess up cases for inexperienced adjudicators, and most importantly, that I seem to understand the correct approach to cases and think through to their conclusions from the get-go. I would hope I was able to write well, solve problems, and think things through to their conclusions after 3 years in graduate school :-)

Of course there was also the negative, only one actually. In these evaluations you either meet expectations on each item, or fail to meet expectations. I failed to meet expectations on one item only, "response to feedback." LOL. My supervisor said she was torn on whether or not to mark this against me, since she sees most of my "poor" response to feedback as the "why?" questioning that is necessary for learning. However, she said that there was one particular incedent that made her need to mark me off on it. I know exactly what incedent that was. It was very early in being in this unit and there is one helper in my unit that I have struggled to learn to communicate well in written form with. Here is how the event went (not exact words, but the same tone)

Me: I cannot get ahold of the clmt, I have spoke with her grandmother and she is out of state for Thanksgiving. How should I proceed?
Her: Send her a call in letter, and send her third party a call in letter.
Me: I sent her a call in letter. I did not send the third party letter because her grandmother is the third party, and I can reach her on the phone easily, and she is clearly reading the clmts mail.
Her: Its policy to send a third party letter, we must ask her to assist in this matter and it must include closeout language. It does not matter if she is reading the clmts mail because we cannot assume that is true. Send the third party call in letter. Note, we have to do a lot of things as a matter of procedure that you may not feel to be productive or that you may feel to be overkill and believe me, I wouldn't suggest that you do something extra that doesn't need to be done. Nobody likes extra work.
Me: I input a third party call in letter, please review.

Apparently this was bad. To me, it was part of the learning curve. What I learned from this interaction was the following:
(1) Send third party call in letters when you cannot get a hold of the clmt.
(2) Be careful in wording things.

The end. If I had worded this differently, for example, "is the third party letter necessary? I have had contact with her previously and she is reading the claimants mail" it would not even have been an issue. The question would have been answered (hopefully with less bolding and less underlining and less personal offense), and I would not be seen as "non responsive to feedback. Lesson taken.


But, as I said, overall, I am exceeding my supervisors expectations.

A Christmas Story (2009)

I never posted about my Christmas and I wanted to squeeze it in here before the holiday season ended (for me, that would be tomorrow).

The Christmas blizzard of 2009 started midnight on Christmas Eve (12am the 24th, just to be clear). By Christmas eve morning there was at least 8 inches of powdery fluff. It continuted snowing, and the temperature began to rise. We stayed home all day Christmas eve. My brother and his GF came over and hung out and then eventually made it home, we had a good time. The roads stayed clear enough for LEKT and her DH to arrive around midnight without too much issue.

The snow kept coming.

Christmas morning we woke up to at least another 8 inches, but this time there was nothing even remotely close to "powder" about it. I got up and headed straight out into it, wearing boots, jacket, gloves, hat, scarf, and pajama pants. It was some of the thickests, wettest snow I have ever have seen. This made it horrible to shovel (I helped Dad out by shoveling the stairs that could not be snow-blowed), but excellent for sculpting. I made a snowman, a snow horse, and a snow monster (named Snessie - like a Lochness monster). Back inside I was SOPPING wet, even under my jacket. I think by that time there was rain mixed in. My Dad remained outside snowblowing and shoveling our very long driveway (have a length estimate Dad?). He was afraid to use the plow because he did not want to tear up the ground. My brother meanwhile was over at his own house snowblowing a 1/8 of a mile of driveway. Around 10:30am his snowblower ran out of gas and he had to make a run for it - a driveway cleared 5-feet wide for a 6-ft wide truck, and an unplowed road. They did make it over without incedent!! Because all of the snow, we did not start opening presents until past 11:30, when normally this activity would begin before 9am, but it was loads of fun. We took a break in the middle to start cooking dinner. I think when all the presents were unwrapped, everyone was happy with their Christmas haul, and happy to all be together. Christmas dinner was excellent (Sauerbraten), and the snow just kept coming. It kept snowing until Sunday morning actually. My dad spent ALL DAY Saturday clearing snow both at our house and my brothers.

We had a second big dinner on Sunday, thanks to my request for my Mom's stuffing. It was tasty. My family has a slight food obsession, but I don't mind. I will, however, be working on portion control in the new year. :-)

Overall it was a great Christmas and a great visit to Duluth. I personally love blizzards, though, for the most part I am not the one spending entire days clearing snow, but that is the price of living in the country where driveways are so long. Columbus eased my return by having some snow of its own, which was nice.

Petty Vent

It appears by being gone for ten days I forfeit all rights to see my friends or host anything for New Years and Bowl games :-(

Thats not entirely true. I was going to host New Years Eve, then DH told me he wanted to host the game. I told my friends M&R this, so R decided to host New Years Eve so I was free to host the next night. Then I come to find out that there is already a get together that M new about, meaning no one is available. Why on earth M did not tell me that, I don't know. Probably because we are not officially invited to the get together. It still would have been nice to know, and I am not sure whether the lack of invitation is because they actually don't want to invite us or because they assume we will manage to get some people for our own party. Which we won't. Either way, I am feeling really petty and left out at the moment.

This too shall pass. I just needed to get it out of my system, but now its out, and thats good because pettiness is no way to end (or start) a year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old New Year's Resolutions

How did I do on my New Years Resolutions from last year? I promised you a post!

Here they are, and how I did:

(1) Menu Planning - Start using it! Stop eating out so much! Cook more! -- Mixed results - I did some menu planning but never consistently. I think we probably ate out even MORE.

(2) Work Out - I did this very well when I was still at OSU with the gym membership but completely failed once I was without a free state of the art gym.

(3) Read more for Pleasure I would say 100+ books is a bit more :-)

(4) Stop Chewing my Nails- Total success!!

(5) Figure Out what I am Doing with my Life-- I figured out what I was not doing!! And that is a big step forward.

End of the Decade (3)

1 minute ago... I was watching The Parent Trap
1 hour ago... I was reading a message board
1 day ago... I was settling back into Columbus after 10 days in Duluth
1 month ago... I was driving around Kansas for Thanksgiving
1 year ago... prepping for my first (and, as it turned out, only) quarter as a lecturer
1 decade ago... I was a sophomore in high school, convinced I had the world figured out.
1 lifetime ago... I think I was in revolutionary in Russia

5 minutes ago... I was finding a blanket to wrap up in.
5 hours ago... I was just getting off work, headed for the grocery store.
5 days ago... I was in a blizzard in Duluth, having Christmas eve with my family.
5 monthes ago... I was happily unemployed, enjoying my time.
5 years ago... I was a Junior in college getting prepared to leave for a semester to Austria.

End of the Decade (2)

I have several end of the year posts I always make, and here is the second.

The instructions are simple:
Post the first line sof the first entry of each month of the past year.

January
I intended to post my resolutions today, but I am not in the mood to do it today. New Years Eve was pleasant, a nice quite evening in. We watched the ball drop, said cheers to the New Year, and called my parents from the future (they were still way back their in 2008).


February
This weekend was of course one of my favorite weekends of the year- Super Bowl Weekend! There are four major reasons I LOVE the Super Bowl.

March
I walk into the classroom where my economics course is held five minutes before class starts, feeling late because the classroom fills up so far. Luckily there are two desks available around where I normally sit

April
So, I have been hinting that I have some important news, and here it finally is. I have decided after much thought that I do not want or need to get my PhD in Political Science (or anything else right now for that matter).

May
Well, I did indeed manage to get my transcript here on time, and I went and took a test this morning to see if I can move along to the next part of the process of becoming a Disabilities Claims Adjudicator. They evaluate people's claims for disability benefits.

June
I mentioned before I was doing a reading challenge. It ended yesterday. I read 22 books for a total of 245 points. Completing the challenge would have been 550 points... so I did not quite make it to that but I reached my goal of 200. Here is my official participation certificate!

July
I was going to be writing today about the fact I finally planted my garden, or the beautiful weather, or the Rock Band party last night. Instead I get to write about the fact that one of my friends from undergraduate, Ian Rucker, killed himself.

August
Well, its clear "tree" is the favorite and I can't say I blame you guys. They are all beautiful though, eh? But I was thinking, what I really envision eventually for the family room is three vertical pictures of China in black and white hung above the sofa. So, I played around and turned Tree into a vertical picture.

September
It is hard to believe that Summer is coming to an end. It was a really good summer. I got to travel and see my friends B&R get married in St Louis, spend two weeks in Duluth and be a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding, and see a wedding of a good friend here in Columbus.

October
I spend the bulk of this weekend up in Burton, Ohio with my older sister. She is there doing an internship in large-animal medicine

November
I am not quite sure how time passes so quickly and all my good intentions to post about things slip out the window with it. I had a nice long Halloween post in my head, and I almost just posted it last Sunday but decided to wait until I had time to get pictures on here, and guess what, that has not happened. Here,then, is a text version of my Halloween

December
I love shopping for other people. Even ridiculous little stuff.
The lights on all the little trees outside Target make me smile.
The lights in downtown Worthington make me smile more,
even laugh with joy!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

End of the Decade (1)

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
- left school
- held a real, full time job
- was a bridesmaid in my sisters wedding (never been a bridesmaid)
- cooked a turkey

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I will write a whole other post about this!!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousins had a pretty baby girl, and some of my new friends here in Columbus (nesties) gave birth!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Our friend from Undergraduate committed suicide.

5. What countries did you spend time in this year?
Just America, but I got to go to Arizona and spend some time in the desert, which was mostly new to me!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Both of us working the same job all year :-)

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 31st - Ben and Renee's wedding
June 12th - Laurelyn's wedding
Sept 14th - My first day at work!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Quitting graduate school. (especially considering my biggest failure last yr was not deciding what to do with my life)

9. What was your biggest failure?
I gained a lot of weight, and failed to maintain any vague sense of organization

10. Did you suffer any serious injury or illness?
I was diagnosed Hypothyroid, but its not that bad.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
PS3 to play Rock Band on :-) Plane tickets to come home for Christmas.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Both my older sister and SIL for graduating their programs

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed?
The main thing that depressed me this year was the (often ridiculous) resistance to providing some kind of health care for those who cannot afford insurance or are not lucky enough to have a job that provides it.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and savings, and lots of little luxuries

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Leaving grad school, our travels to Arizona, the three weddings we went to, coming home for the Holidays

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Pink's "So What" and anything from Rock Band

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had written more, spent more time keeping organized, and used our deck more.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At my parents house in the middle of a blizzard. It was Perfect.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I am totally in love, there is no more need for falling :-)

22. What are the main websites you used?
Gmail, Columbus Nesties message board, facebook, blogspot

23. Did you write anything worth reading this year?
Maybe a poem or two, thats about it though.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
My TV viewing was significantly cut. I never got back into any scripted shows since the writers strike and in general find that TV has not been keeping my interest. My favorite show is NFL Football!!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I try to avoid hating people, it never brings anything good.

26. What was the best book you read?
This question is VERY difficult since I read over 100 books this year. Lets go with The Unbearable Lightness of Being as my academic pick, The Help as my popular pick I would recommend to everyone, The Book Thief as my Young Adult Pick and House of Leaves as my creepy as heck pick.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Rock Band continuously introduces me to new artists, or artists I should know and do not. I don't really have one that stands out though.

28. What did you want and get?
Lots!! PS3, Nintendo DS, Everything I got for Christmas pretty much, lots of good parties, time in Duluth, time off (pleasantly unemployed!!)

29. What did you want and not get? Nothing comes to mind.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I feel like I saw lots of good movies this year. I have to admit I am obsessed with New Moon, The Princess and the Frog for kids movies, Zombieland for Comedy, but as a more serious pick lets say Inglorious Bastards

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Hmm. Ah yes! We were at Ben and Renee's wedding rehearsal and bachelorette party!!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More job security/stability for DH

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Presentable Casual

34. What kept you sane?
I feel like I did not need nearly as much help to stay sane this year, things were just easier out of graduate school.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
It does not really change. I like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt and Vin Diesel's voice. LOL. Maybe add the Twilight boys if that is not too creepy.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I already told you all, health care.

37. Who did you miss?
Everyone who does not live in Columbus!!

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Met some new Nesties who are pretty cool!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009 ?
You have to do what makes you happy. Patience is a virtue.

40. What word or phrase sums up this year?
Life is Good!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm dreaming of a snowed in Christmas...

Its snowing!! 6 inches and counting. My dad shoveled the sidewalk at 7:40am and then went out to feed the horses. I got bored about a half hour later and went to follow him and see what was up. His footprints out to the barn looked as if they had been there a long time and some were completely erased by the drifting snow. This weather is supposed to keep up until Saturday morning, making for a VERY white Christmas. I am excited, nothing like a good blizzard! Of course, I also hope that my sister and brother, who are currently actually closer in (or in) Duluth manage to make it out here for tonight/tomorrow!! I personally plan to stay warm and cozy inside, next to the Christmas tree, under the stockings :0) [that is, stay inside except when my sense of freedom and adventure having me wandering outside!]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There is no place like Home for the Holidays...

I am long over due for a post. Since last posting I spent a weekend up in Burton with Laurelyn, worked another week, had a Rock Band party, went to Trivia, and most significantly of course - flew home for the holidays!!

Last Friday we flew from Columbus to Minneapolis in a packed flight next to a man who was clearly very excited to be headed for Minnesota. At the Twin Cities Airport my mom and little sister met us and we headed north. The last five days have been wonderful. Its so fun being here and its amazing how being here makes things like work seem so irrelevant. It has been a whirlwind of eating and activities here, but also plenty of downtime for just chatting or reading. I have been shopping twice (I think everyone here has their shopping done now), ate chinese, greek, homemade sourdough cookies, and of course lots of cookies (including the most amazing soft ginger cookies dipped in coffee, my new favorite), decorated the Christmas tree, watched a few Christmas movies, made a Nutcracker puzzle, and smiled and laughed a lot. Last night we watched the movie Bolt at my brothers house, it is quite amusing. We are expecting a snow storm shortly, I am excited.

Hope everyone is having a nice Christmas season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mirth on Yule

I bought some alphabet magnets for the metal cabinet in my office. I only bought one set, meaning one of each letter. This limits what I can do with them greatly! To just write my own name I would need FOUR sets. So, anyways, I was trying to come up with a holiday message to write, which was quite difficult indeed. I ended up writing "Mirth on Yule"... note the lack of repeating letters! So, much Mirth on Yule to you!! I like the term Yule in general. After all, it is from Yule that we get Christmas trees, wreaths, holly, candles, misletoe, and carols for our holiday season! (there also is old Yule traditions concerning elves, peace, and charity!).

In other news, I was working on something today when I made this obvious but excellent observation: I would rather be doing this than doing what I did in Grad School (and therefore what I would be doing as a young professor, because really they are not that different). And that, my friends, is worth all the eggnog in the world!! :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Its the Hap-Happiest Season of All!!

I love shopping for other people. Even ridiculous little stuff.
The lights on all the little trees outside Target make me smile.
The lights in downtown Worthington make me smile more,
even laugh with joy!
Our Christmas tree is pretty as can be!
I am writing the annual Christmas poem.

Life is good.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving

I guess it is finally time or me to prioritize getting up a post about my Thanksgiving weekend! I spend all day at work on the computer, I don't want to spend all night on it as well. This means my internet time is limited and I have to prioritize. Well, I am super excited about the winter reading challenge (of course), so I have been spending my breaks and lunch planning what I am going to read instead of updating my blog. But, here we go finally :-)



Last Tuesday DH and I headed off to a Thanksgiving tour of the midwest. We got off to a late start because DH had to work late. Things are VERY busy at work for him right now, and very stressful. They are testing a new project that someone else put together and it is not working at all. Anyways, we did not get on the road until nearly 9pm. MIL totally did not believe DH when he called and told her we were just leaving! Anyways, we did eventually make it to St Louis, around 3am. We also reiterated the lesson that I should drive the last leg of the trip to St Louis. DH gets lost in St Louis EVERY TIME we are there. Its funny since he spent 3 years living there and I only spent 3 months, but I guess my sense of direction is just that much better.



Anyways, Wednesay it was more driving! This time a caravan headed for Kansas. St Louis to KC I drove with MIL and FIL drove with SIL and DH. Enough acronyms? It could get worse!! Anyways, it was uneventful - too bright of a day to be driving! After KC, DH joined our car. It was good company the entire way, and went surprisingly quick. We reached Witchita around 5:30pm, where we met up with UIL... LOL Uncle in Law? Lets call him Unkin and his wife Auntin. Anyways, they arrived just before us. We went out to TGIFridays and I ate a delicious steak while Unkin interrogated SIL about her boyfriend, which was both interesting and amusing. We wiled away the rest of the evening watching Survivorman and relaxing. We determing the Survivorman technique of survival is "find fresh water and starve yourself for seven days".



Thursday - Turkey Day!! - the morning was spent in the endless shower rotation, then some more cousins visited. We headed over to the designated Turkey house around 11:30 where DH's cousins served us an excellent meal and entertained us with their adorable, and extremely energetic kids (2 and 3 years old). We spent the afternoon watching football, harrasing the kids, and playing some game. In the evening we watched Night at the Museum and Love Actually on TV.

Friday morning it was off to discover just how flat Kansas is. I thought Eastern Kansas is flat, turns out the second you get West of Witchita it gets MUCH flatter. We went out about 15 miles west of the city to visit a Hawk rescue that one of DHs uncles is involved in. It was pretty neat, we got to see about 12 different birds up close. We then headed back to TGIFridays for lunch with a couple of family members we had missed. Once that was accomplished it was into the car again, heading for the other side of the IL family. (FILs relatives are in Witchita, MILs relatives in Southeast Kansas). It was a pleasant 2 hr drive with good conversation. Down in Independence, KS we enjoyed chili and each others company.

Saturday morning DH and I took off bright and early to meet a friend from college in Springfield MO for lunch. He actually is the guy who used to live with us here in Columbus. Things are going well for him, but he is very busy with working. We made the obligatory stop at GameStop where he, as tradition goes, bought us a game - Borderlands (for Aaron actually, I am not interested). We spend the rest of the day driving back to St Louis. Saturday night we went and visited our other best friends from college, B&R. I had my first concrete from Fritz's (northern St Louis stand by), pistachio with pretzel, delicious.

Sunday featured yummy french toast made by FIL (the only time I ever have french toast is when I visit the ILs, and it is always so good. I should learn to make it!), and then back in the car. We arrived in Columbus around 7:30pm. Grim and the cats were very happy to see us.

So... the conclusion?
5 Days we were gone
5 States we drove through
3 Cities we stayed in
18 Relatives visited
3 Friends visited
1300+ miles drives

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fall Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Since September 1st I have read (and reread) the following books (listed in the order I liked them). Any thoughts? Any you want me to say more about?

Five Stars
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
New Moon by Stephanie Meyers
Biedermann und die Brandstifter by Max Frisch
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Twilight by Stephanie Meyers
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
The Kweeks of Kookatumdee by Bill Peet (picture book)
The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer (picture book)

Four Stars
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov
Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone by JK Rowling
The Book of Sand by Jorge Luis Borges
The Bean Tree by Barbara Kingsolver
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
Ella by Bill Peet (Picture Book)

Three Stars
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (this potentially could be a great movie)
Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr
The Curious Incedent of the Dog at Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Two Stars
The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales Ed Claudia Carlson
Too Many Leprechauns by Stephen Krensky (Picture Book)
The Happiness Makeover by M.J. Ryan
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

One Star
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


430 Points (Good Reads Seasonal Challenge)
10834 Pages
41 Books

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving

As soon as DH gets home we leave for the ILs for Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a happy and a healthy one! Here are some things I am glad to have in my life. I was going to post a list of things I am thankful for, but I feel like its pretty standard. Thanks to my blog readers for bothering to keep up with my life!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Away for the Weekend?

It feels like I was away for the weekend when really I was only away for the first night. I think it largely comes from the fact I kept so busy, and spent a lot of the few hours I was home sleeping.

As I said in my prior post, I went Friday night up to Burton to watch New Moon with LEKT. It was really good. I tried to explain to DH why I like it so much, but its one of those things you either get or you don't. Saturday I arrived back in town, watched OSU beat Michigan (YAY!) and then went out to dinner with friends and watched the latest episode of Dr. Who. (Waters of Mars). It was a very good episode. Sunday morning I got up early and headed to the outlets with yet another friend. I got one sweater and one shirt, no pants unfortunately but I did not spend too much so that is good. Sunday afternoon DH and I joined friends to go see New Moon... yes... again. It was just as good the second time around.

Now I only have two days of work until I leave for Thanksgiving! I feel like there is so much to do!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

OBSESSED... Again

Last night I headed up to Burton with a friend and cousin to meet my sister for New Moon, the sequel to Twilight.

It was really good. I feel the obsession coming on again, I don't know exactly what it is about that series but I can't get it out of my head when I am into it. I am already planning when to see the movie next.

Eek!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back to the ... ?

I was going to title this post "back to the grind", but really its not the grind. I also considered "back to normal", but that implies that what I am returning from is bad, which is not the case. So... lets just say I am getting back.

My friend ended up spending almost two weeks here. It was sort of like being in suspended animation, in a good way. I did not worry about all the stuff I normally do, I did not plan for future stuff (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc), and likewise I did not worry about future stuff. What I did do was go to work everday, come home, figure out dinner, and hang out with an old friend. We haven't spent two weeks together in almost 10 years. It was nice.

Last night I dropped her off at the bus station so she could begin her 36 hour journey back to England. She originally did not plan to stay at my house for two weeks (she was hoping for more like 5 days), but that is how life is sometimes. The embassy sent her passport to the wrong address, and then UPS screwed up badly and failed to get it to the right address after she paid a lot to have it come a certain day. They also refused to refund any of her money, and made her go out of the way to make sure she got it the next day (a day late per their own policy). I am posting this because I would mind a negative buzz about UPS. What company won't refund a customer's money when the company utterly fails? A bad one!!

Over the past weekend we went out to drinks with friends, went hiking, tried to go to three resteraunts that had permanently shut down, went to coffee with friends, watched some football (go Vikings!) and went to my Grandma's house. Other than that, there have been more movies (Bogeyman, The Mist, StarTrek), more reading of Inkheart. Today is my last day of training at work, tomorrow we move. Wish me luck!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky!!

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!!



I love Friday the 13th. I am not sure why. It just seems special. I don't think its really unlucky or lucky, but I like it. Its like a mini holiday, and we all know how much I like holidays.



The week has passed quickly, thanks largely to having Wednesday off for Veterans day. Tuesday night we watched Wanted with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. It was OK, lots of action. Also on Tuesday my friend had her interview with the British consulate types, so hopefully her Visa comes soon. Otherwise she may need refugee status. LOL. On Wednesday I slept in, then we watched a couple of X-Files episodes (bad blood and chinga). We met DH for lunch, ate at Skully's, and then I went to get my hair cut. By the time we got home after running one or two more errands it was time for me to scrub down the house in preperation for my sister LEKTs arrival. She is allergic to cats. With the house clean, that left time for a little Rock Band, then Book club (for Rebecca), then LEKT showed up. We enjoyed the rest of the evening hanging out. Thursday was super busy at work!! I actually had 8 hours of work to do, sort of a miracle. I rushed home after work so we could go to dinner with my sister before she had to leave. We spent the evening relaxing and watching Project Runway - next week is the season finale! I may need to have a party.



Some further notes on Rebecca now that book club has passed. I should have known I would not like it the the second I heard someone label it the last gothic romance. I hate gothic romances. They are full of plot holes and pathetic characters. This book was particularly hard to like because it had a first person narrator who enjoyed waxing poetic about the tradgedy of her life, living out her entire life several times in her head, and in general over dramatizing everything. At book club we discovered the lead male is massively inconsistent in his behavior and values (in a non-realistic way). Then the supposed epicly tragic ending turns out to be something so insignificant to me as a reader that I wanted to throw the book out window. I hated Jane Eyre, I hated Tess of D'Urbervilles, I should have know I would hate Rebecca.



Onward to better things. I now am reading way too many books at once - I already mentioned Man in the Iron Mask, also Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Host, Inkheart, Lectures on Literature, and Biedermann und der Brandstifter. I also recently finished The Poets Grimm, which was sort of disapointing, of course there were one or two good poems in it, but not nearly enough to make the slog through the rest worth it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Football and American Food

This past weekend was very nice. I have a friend in town visiting, we go WAY back. We first met in 8th grade! She has since then become a world traveller - most recently teaching English in Korea and now going to Graduate School in Sheffield, England. She is here in the U.S. due to some ridiculous Visa laws that require her to interview at a British Consulate in her home country. I am the beneficiary of the ridiculous rules because I get to see her!

Friday night we just hung out, talked, watched some TV, and watched Tale of Desperaux. I thought it was an adorable movie, though it certainly did have its moments of confusion (it was clear they were condenscing a bigger story into limited time.

Saturday we took our time waking up and relaxed in the morning, then I took her down to Campus and showed her around. After that it was Five Guys for burgers (something they do not do well in Europe), football (Go OSU!!), and then some more guests came for Rock Band. It was really fun! I have not had a Rock Band party in a long time, my Rock Band drums had dust on them!!

Sunday we lounged around all morning and watched a bad sci fi movie and some football. I baked an apple pie, then some friends came over to watch Twilight. I had not watched it in a while and the upcoming new movie, New Moon, with all of its previews, made me want to see it again. It was a lot of fun! In the evening we went for Pizza (another thing that is very different here in the US than Europe) and then watched MORE football. I love football!! I also, in these three days, read my book club book - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I really disliked it.

M0nday I had to go back to work. It is VERY slow at work for me right now, but it is a temporary problem. We have a caseload (its called "a pending") of 10 cases right now, and we have to have all of our actions reviewed. With 51 of us and the equivelent of 6 trainers, the turn around time is very long. I literally have nothing to do. I put an audiobook - Man in the Iron Mask on my MP3 player and have been listening to that while doing pointless little things like surfing WebMD and reorganzing notes. My caseload will increase in time, and the reviewer to reviewee ratio will improve once we are out of training (Nov 20th). Keeping busy should not be a problem in two or three months. For dinner we went and got BBQ (ANOTHER thing that Europe does not do well, are you sensing a theme?). It was delicious. Then we watched Charlie Wilson's War, which was quite good. I was glad that they addressed the issue of the actions having mixed results, because it would have wrecked the movie if they had pretended it all turned out hunky dorry. Who knew that a movie about American involvement in the Soviet-Afghan war would be SO FUNNY. It was nice. Then, of course, more football (go steelers!!)

Thats all for now folks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween List

I am not quite sure how time passes so quickly and all my good intentions to post about things slip out the window with it. I had a nice long Halloween post in my head, and I almost just posted it last Sunday but decided to wait until I had time to get pictures on here, and guess what, that has not happened. Here,then, is a text version of my Halloween.

It was a great year for Halloween!
(1) I got my Halloween Decorations out nice and early in the month. They consist of pumpkin lights for out front, and some centerpieces and such.
(2) I had a great pumpkin carving party. People enjoyed it. We ate pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll and pumpkin seeds and drank apple cider. We watched football. We made twilight jokes. We all carved adorable or scary or unique pumpkins.
(3) I got to dress up as Agent Scully from the X-Files, one of my favorite shows of all time. I dressed up both for work and for a party on Halloween. A lot of people said I looked good with red hair, but I think it had more to do with the volume of my wig and the fact I actually wore makeup, which I never ever do.
(4) There was a really fun halloween party at my friends house with good conversation, good drinks, and good friends.
(5) We had plenty of trick-or-treaters and had just enough Candy to go around.

That is my halloween recap! Hopefully I will post more quickly on this weekends capers!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vaccines

There has been a lot of discussion lately on some of the internet sites I frequent concerning whether or not people should get the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine. Apparently there are a lot of women out there who think its unsafe, or at least that not having it is safer than having it.

This boggles my mind. I just can't wrap my head around the reasoning going into this. Here are some arguments I have heard, sometimes directly, sometimes implied:

"The mercury in vaccines is dangerous." OK. I know mercury is not good for you, but kids used to PLAY with mercury on table tops. The amount is so tiny, and it has been tested every which way with no replicable evidence showing any harm done by the amount of mercury in vaccines. (It's all in the science! Read the studies... I think there is one floating around saying it causes all sorts of issues and a million saying there is no effect).

"The swine flu vaccine hurt a lot of people 40 years ago". First - the definition of "a lot" needs to be considered, the vast majority of shots still had no negative effect. Second, do you know how much medicine has improved since then? 40 years ago birth control caused all sorts of potential complications including instant death from blood clots... so do these same women not use birth control because at one time it was unsafe?

"All vaccines carry a risk of serious side effect." True. But the risk is tiny. I would like to see someone showing with widely accepted data that the rate of death from the vaccine is higher than that from flu, particularly in high risk groups. I seriously doubt the evidence is there.

"Vaccines do not actually work, you still can get sick". True, but again, incredibly unlikely. In general, vaccines are offered to the public because they reduce the chance of infection significantly for each individual who has one and work at preventing the spread of the disease as a whole through society.

What bothers me the most about all of these reasons is that they all seem to rely on an underlying assumption that naturalists have some secret information or knowledge that the scientific and medical communities lack as a whole, or that the medical community does not have peoples best interest at heart (which frankly implies some conspiracy). I have said this before and I will say it again. The reason that doctors and the medical community recommend people have the flu vaccine is because on average statistically speaking it is better for a person to have it than not have it, and the more people get it, the better off society as a whole will be. To those people who disagree, especially those scientists and doctors who disagree, I want to say prove it! The medical community is a scientific community. Do the study that shows you are right, and publish it in a peer reviewed journal. It WILL get attention, if its scientific. I feel like the fear mongering by those against the vaccine is as bad (if not worse) than fear mongering done by the media.

Glad to have that out of my system.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Written Aug. 16th 2003

Life is perception.
I want to see flowers where others see weeds.
I want to see unique, adorable, sturdy, and stubby where others see ugly.
I want to see creative where others see clashing and colorful where others see mismatching.
I don't want to let society define my perspective.
I don't want to let society define my life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yes, it is 6:45am on Saturday morning and I am blogging. That is what happens when you get your body used to a set schedule, bed at 11pm, up at 6:30am. Ta da!

Fall is in full swing here! I thought it was in full swing a while ago, but as usual I forget things. I forget just how pretty it gets, how good it smells, and how good I feel when it is just starting out. Its like if you found out you one a $100 on Oct 1st and thought it was great, and then found out the $100 is just the start and you would get a thousand more the next week, and ten thousand more the week after that.

Last night we went to Raising Canes for dinner (I love that place) then to the Halloween shop. I still have one or two bits to work out for my costume but I mostly have it covered. It is a really easy costume to arrange. People who knew me in HS would be able to guess it easily, people at Truman might have a chance, and people now probably wouldn't know I would be inclined to have this costume. After dinner I walked the dog. We walked over to the high school and saw the homecoming parade, then meandered back through the lovely leaves. Back in the house it was time to watch my favorite Halloween movie - The Frighteners. I do not know why I like it, but its fun.

I had book club this week - it was a very small group (four of us). We were discussing One Year of Living Biblically which I actually read back in August. I thought it would comedy, but it was more self help - still not a bad book.

We also finished watching being human with our friends. It is a BBC series that had its first season over the summer. It is about a vampire, werewolf, and ghost that are trying to live normally. It is quite well written and I look forward to the next season.

There were more pictures I wanted to post to catch up but my picture host is being unhelpful, so none of that today.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Major Picture Catchup

I have pictures going as far back as early August that I meant to post and did not get around to it. I have SO many that they won't let me put them all in one post... so here we go!!

DH relaxes on the couch with our "lap dog"


On my drive up to Grandma's in September I noticed an entire field of yellow and had to stop and take pictures.

Then when I got out of the car I realized just how pretty the sky was, so I took pictures of it as well.

When we visited LEKT - pictures of her Amish neighbors (from a long distance, thank you digital zoom)

LEKT's clinic has two kittens they are raising to kill mice. They are adorable! If we are lucky LEKT will post their names, since one of their names was adorable but I can't remember it.





The main focus at LEKT's practice (where she is an intern) is Alpacas. Here is an alpaca with a broken neck. She's stylin'

I also took a lot of artsy pictures of things up there in Burton, so enjoy!





LEKT and DH dance their way back down the driveway towards the house.

The hitching post outside some shopping centers. This is serious Amish country.

We went mini golfing, here is me avoiding a water hazard...

LEKT was not very good, but she had "heart" ROFL

DH impersonating a Samurai or something... I don't really get it.

It may look like I am just stretching but really I am celebrating being all time champion.

Flower at the st Louis Zoo

On the drive from St Louis to Champaign IL the fall colors and sun and clouds were so pretty, so I took some pictures.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weekend Report, a Week Late!

I had such a wonderful weekend last weekend (10/9-10/12) and I simply have not had the time to post about it because things are so busy! (but really in a good way for the most part).

Friday night DH and I headed off to St Louis. It was not a very fun drive because it was raining. DH drove until it got dark, and then I took over because his vision in the dark rain is not so good. In this particular incedent I could not do much better than him. It really did not help that a large portion of the section between Dayton and Indianapolis lacked side lines on the road, meaning the pavement sort of faded into the ditch with no distinct separation. Luckily we got out of the rain about the time we hit Indianapolis. I finished my audio book - Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which was quite good, a book that I would have been obsessed with had I read it at the right moment in my life, but as it actually happened just found good. After I ran out of audiobook I started to get sleepy, so DH took over and made the rest of the drive. We arrived at the ILs house about 1am.


On Saturday morning we surprisingly did not sleep in that much. We got up, milled around, socialized, watched TV, and then FIL made a wonderful breakfast of french toast and bacon. I never make french toast at home, I really should learn! We decided to go to the zoo. I love the St. Louis zoo. First, its free. Second, its huge. Since it is free you never feel obligated to see every thing on one day, which would be way too much. We went to the insectarium. I freaked myself out in the spider section, DH freaked himself out with the cockroaches. We wandered through the butterfly house. We meandered through Africa - by far my favorite section. I love the capabaras, basically giant hamsters. The rhinos were actually out, which does not happen often, but the highlight of course was the hippos. They were SO active!! They had three or four (its hard to tell because the water is very cloudy), and they were swimming all over the place. This one kept doing laps that brought it right up close to the glass. It was really cool! We also went to see the sea lions and the gorillas, and meandered by the grizzly bears on the way out.

For lunch we went to Fitz's, which I have decided is my favorite restaurant in St. Louis. It is a soda company - they brew root beer and many other flavors, and bottle it on site in their restaurant. They also serve tasty food, drinks, and desserts. It was a lot of ufn. If we had planned things better perhaps we could have met some undergraduate friends there.

Stomach's full we headed home feeling very sleepy. MIL and I then went out shoe shopping - when we were in Burton last weekend, Grim decided my work shoes would make a tasty snack. I ended up with two pair of shoes. Back at the house we watched the Cardinals lose miserably and ordered pizza. After two nights of not enough sleep I crashed early.

On Sunday ILs headed off to the airport early in the morning - they were going to CA, one for work, the other for fun. We took our time waking up and eventually headed towards downtown St Louis. We were parked so close to Kiener Plaza, where we got married, that we decided to hop over there. We got quite the shock when we saw the fountain - it was dyed koolaid red because of the Cardinals being in the playoffs!! We took some pictures, then headed to the Edward Jones Dome. It was interesting just how much purple their was (i.e. how many Vikings fans were there), coming in there seemed to be more purple than blue!! It was great! We had good seats in about the 19th row (hey, if you are only going to do something once or infrequently, mine as well do it well!!). The game was SO much fun. Brett Favre is starting to win me over as a quarterback. His pwnage of the Packers helped a lot, and seeing him in person helped a lot.
After the game we headed to Champaign, IL to spend a night with our friends B&R who got married in May (I am sure there are pictures of it back in this blog somewhere). Anyways, it was really great seeing them. They also had B's dad and friend as visitors. R cooked us a great dinner on Sunday and then we chatted and watched Sunday night football. On Monday R has school. We all went out for breakfast, and then we went to the student rec center to play pool and bowling, it was a lot of fun. R rejoined us and we went for lunch at a yummy mexican place, and then played Blockus, which was fun. I am all time champion!!

That was the weekend! Grim was happy to see us get home. It was a bit hard to go back to work on Tuesday after such a fun relaxing weekend - getting to do all of my favorite St Louis things, seeing my first NFL game, and hanging out with good friends.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Impulsiveness

Gandalf is currently in the bathroom making gurgling noises. It sounds like he is drowning, but really he is trying to meow. I should go encourage his attempts by turning on the water for him, but I am pinned down by another purring wonder.

I know I said I would not be blogging again until next weekend, but things change. My training got out earlier than I expected tonight so I thought I would sign on.

We are rapidly discovering that one of the best things about me having a real job is our ability to be impulsive. Last week we decided during the week we were going to LEKY's for the weekend. We did not even arrange a dog sitter until Friday afternoon. Well, its Monday night and we are at the scheming again. I have long wanted to go to an NFL game (that is professional football by the way), but it always got put off due to money or time. This year we are making it a priority. We almost wento the Brown's game last weekend but our hearts were just not into it. But, we decided that this weekend we are going to go to St Louis to see the Minnesota Vikings play the St Louis Rams. So, we will be headed out Friday night, hanging out with the ILs on Saturday, going to the game Sunday, then spending Sunday night in Champaign with our friends from college (B&R). Thank you state of Ohio for giving me Columbus day off!!

Back when I was in school this would have taken major planning on two fronts- money, and managing to get my school work done around or during the trip. Now, its "why not! Lets go!" I love it!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Burton

I spend the bulk of this weekend up in Burton, Ohio with my older sister. She is there doing an internship in large-animal medicine.

It was good times! We got up their around 9:45pm on Friday night, in time to watch the end of Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest with her. We stayed up pretty late goofing off and talking. On Saturday morning we got up at our leisure. For breakfast we walked over to a Amish vegetable stand that had fresh baked goods and got a little over zealous (decisions were just too hard!!). We ended up with banana bread, mini fried pies, pumpkin pie, and two kinds of cookies. We went to the clinic for a little bit so LEKY could water and feed the patients (alpacas), and DH and I could play with the kittens, and then we all headed off in the car.

The countryside was so beautiful! The leaves are changing, and there was so much to look at. LEKY took us around the best thing, the biggest and weirdest houses, the pretty views. It was very nice. Eventually we made our way to Chagrin Falls where we ate Mexican food for lunch, followed by mini golfing. I am all time champion! I laid some serious smack down! Which is weird because normally I suck. We also went to a movie - Love Happens. It was quite good in my opinion - NOT a romantic comedy, a tear jerker. We then went for Pizza at Zeppo's, which was excellent, then headed back to the house where we ate junk food (both the Amish baked goods and some more commercial snacks), and laughed our way through Journey to the Center of the Earth (with Brendan Frasier) on HBO. We fell asleep to Horton Hears a Who.

This morning we woke up pretty early, laid around and talked, ate leftover pizza for breakfast, visited the Kittens and Alpacas once more, and then DH and I hit the road (not too hard though). Back at home we spent the afternoon sleeping and watching football. I am feeling a little sick - a raspy throat. Hopefully it does not turn into anything more.

This week is going to be VERY busy if everything pans out. The next three days I am supposed to have training all evening to tutor for the Columbus Literacy Council. This might fall through since I have yet to receive confirmation, but as of right now I am planning on it. Thursday night I am supposed to hang out with some friends - this all means virtually no free time between now and Friday night, so I guess I will talk to you all next weekend!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trainers

Monday and Tuesday of this week DRAGGED by, very slowly, but today was much better. I am not sure what makes the difference.

We have five different trainers that give us lectures and answer questions. It is surprising how quick and easy it is to pick up on personality differences and such when different people present similar styles of material day after day in such different ways. The head trainer is clearly the head trainer for a reason - very strong leadership, she controls the classroom and demands attention. She presents the material clearly and relies strongly on the handout to lead the lecture (which is good in my opinion). Our second female trainer, lets call her blue, is very people oriented. Her lectures try to be amusing but are cheesy. She likes power points, the material is relatively clear, but she indulges questions a bit much and this can lead to her getting way off track. The third female trainer, lets say Goldy, is the worst of the bunch. She does not use power points and her hand outs are useless. She reads off some notes she has that no one else gets to see, but she lectures as if we are all looking at them. She assumes things are self-explanatory that are not. She does not utilize examples during the lecture. She often cannot answer questions. Then there is the "computer" guy. He isn't actually IT or anything, but he seems to be in charge of all the computer based lectures, a fact I find to be comical since he is the oldest trainer and we often have to point out basic computer things to him (zB - how to zoom out so more of a word document fits on one screen, how to tell if an internet page is loading). The result is that many of his lectures tend to explain how to do things that are second nature to anyone who has had any other office job or simply grew up using computers - for example, how to use a search function in a database program (i.e. type in the search term in the box and click on "search"). In general, he repeats information A LOT during lectures and elaborates way to much on basic points, of course who am I to be the judge of that when some people still seem confused. The last trainer, "Orange", is my favorite. I think he is most people's favorite. He is very approachable, he follows handouts but also adds to them, he covers the material completely and answers questions concisely, and makes the class laugh.

I could also tell you that last night I had book club and it was fun (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), that I am going to a friends house tomorrow night, and that we have made plans to visit my sister in Burton this weekend. And now I did tell you. :-)

Last but not least, I am super psyched that tomorrow is the first day of October. Bring on the Halloween!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Priorities.

"Three days ago it smelled like hay season outside. (I noticed this on an evening walk with Grim).


Today is smells and feels undeniably like fall. I love it. Love Love Love it. I want to throw open the windows and go for a hike. These desires are probably partially due to a general over-sentimentality I am experiencing at the moment. When Vivaldi's Four Season's came on my MP3 player this morning I had the desire to play it loudly and frolic around the room. Not that I followed through with that, since I happened to be at work at the time.


Some of you are probably wondering what exactly Hay Season is. When you grow up on a Hobby Farm in Northern Minnesota there are four seasons. Autumn is September through October. Winter is November through March. Spring is April through June, and Hay Season is July and August."

I wrote the previous three paragraphs on Friday during a break at work, with the intention of finishing it Friday night, but I never got around to it.

Instead I went out to O'Shaunnesy's with friends and ate fried pickles and chatted. Saturday morning found me meeting friends at the farmer's market, and then picking up another friend to go to the art museum. It has been a busy weekend. Tonight I am going to my Grandma's. We will be celebrating my cousin's birthday.

I am starting to feel the crunch of working an 8 hour day - the weekend has become immensely more valuable to me. I am finding it hard to have time for a lot of the little internet things I used to keep up with, so my internet presense is going to drop (it already has). I am sure you have noticed I have become a weekend blogger. I can't keep up with facebook, which is a minor loss. The best way to get a hold of me is email.

I normally do not post about this sort of high school theorizing and nonsense here but I want to get it out of my system so you will all be my willing victims. The weekend also brought some illuminating things to my social life. I have a friend who I don't get a long with that well. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron or something, but it is true. In my opinion friendship is 1/4 convenience (i.e. it being easy to see them or talk to them), 1/4 familiarity (this could also be called history, its nice to talk to people who know us), 1/4 compatability (how well we get along, how similar tastes are), and 1/4 effort (choice that is). Well this particular friendship, I believe, was hinging largely on convenience and effort, and convenience is now out of the picture since I left OSU. Until this weekend I thought she wanted to try and keep it up, that I should continue with the effort. This weekend I realized she is surrendering to the pressures of life, at least to some degree, and there is no reason for me to pretend I don't want to do the same thing. Since all that was pretty convoluted - in other words - she cancelled going to the Museum with my on Saturday because she decided she had too much school work to do, but simultaneously invited me to a new get together on Sunday which she knew I probably could not come to due to previous conversations. This did not upset me. I had a good time at the museum on Saturday, and am not sad I cannot go today. What it did do is show that she is prioritizing spending time with other people and doing activities she knows she will enjoy.

It is such a logical thing to do. Prioritize time with people you get along with and for activities you know you will like. How did I not think of that? I think I will follow her lead.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Teenage Machine Angst Warfare

Tonight DH and I went to see Transformers II in the dollar theater. I had a strange desire to see it, despite having never seen the first one, and having no desire to see the first one. I also received a tip that if I was going to see it, best to do it on the big screen, so we went for it!!

It was entertaining - full of ridiculous plot wholes and shoddy logic, and a bit too long - but entertaining. The first half was teenage angst interspersed with machine warfare. The second half was machine warfare interspersed with teenage angst. It had some really funny jokes, I laughed hard. It was fun.

Afterwords we went to Half Price Books. I found Harry Potter 6 on tape! Now I only need 7 and I am set. I also found a ridiculously hilarious ugly panda journal. I may have to take a picture of it and post it on here just because it is so wonderful.

Work was fine today. We had a lot of reading time. Tomorrow we have a lot of policy lecture, which I expect to be mine-numbing. We got our first medical readings today though, which are more interesting than the policy stuff, and we got computers so I can check email a bit and such during breaks/lunch, and luckily none of my favorite sites are blocked!

That is all!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

After a Week

Today is an absolutely beautiful day. The temperature is lovely. The sun is shining. The air is refreshing. Its awesome.

I love the fall. Of course, this is more like a Duluth summer than fall, but the pattern is the same - cooler temperatures, leaves thinking about changing, its great.

My first week of work was good. We are just starting to move beyond the basic orientation stuff into more the meat of what we will be doing. They say there is A LOT of reading, and while I believe them, I also think I am a fast enough reader that it will not be too much, and perhaps even not enough to keep me busy. Of course keeping busy won't be a problem once we move beyond the readings and start working with claims. We get computers on Monday, but the usage is very limited and very monitored due to the fact we will be on the Social Security Administration network. But still, I will be able to do basic online things like email which will have me a whole lot more connected to what I am used to than this week has.

Outside of work, on Monday I had 'book club'. It was actually just me and my friend R, everyone else cancelled. We went to a tea shop, it was good times. I hated the book thought. I have finished three other books this week - Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which is about a boy being raised by ghosts, I enjoyed it. Red Prophet, which is the sequel to Seventh Son, both by Orson Scott Card, also very enjoyable, and then I finished a reread of Twilight.

I have no big plans for this weekend, but I want to make some! Or get out and do something at least, just so it really feels like I had a weekend when I go back on Monday. Last night we watched Sunshine Cleaners. It was a cute dramedy, quite good for the most part, but ultimately unsatisfying, which is unfortunate since it had so much promise and so many good bits. I wish they had tacked on 15 minutes and wrapped up better.

Yep, and that is my life at the moment :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day!

Today was my first day at the new job. I am a bit tired and tired of repeating the same things over and over, so this will be short.

First off, I am really happy the office is so close to my house. It took about 9 minutes to get there this morning.

Second, today was boring. An hour of ice breakers, 2 hours with HR, 3 Hrs waiting around while people got badges, an hour of policy stuff. I think things will get more interesting once we get through all of the paperwork (ethics, insurance, direct deposit, sexual harassment policies, etc etc etc) .

Third, I found out that we are a federally funded but state run organization that processes social security claims, just for those people who care exactly where in the bureaucracy I fit. This is why the bureau is hiring like mad despite state budget issues. There are too many disabilities claims for them to handle thanks to the baby boomers.

More updates as they come :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Game Day!

Its game day!!

8am - get up and walk grim
8:30 - make a grocery list for the party
9:00 - Head to the Farmer's Market to meet Aunt Karen and pick up some fresh produce for the week, including the corn for tonight.
10:30 - Giant Eagle for the rest of the goodies. Also stumble upon a really cheap lunch box for when I start work Monday. Watch a group of men in the parking lot dressed in red pour Kahlua into their star bucks coffee.
11:15 - Arrive home and put away groceries
11:30 - Start potato salad
12:30pm - Put potato salad in the fridge to marinade, harvest farmville crops, read the first 100 pages of The Alchemist. Its not bad but I am not a big fan.
1:55 - Call Mom
2:00 - Start the second step of the potato salad while chatting to Mom
2:30 - Accidentally answer my cell phone when I friend calls even though I am still talking on the land line to mom. Awkwardness ensues.
2:55 - Put potato salad back in the fridge
3:00 - Shower
3:30 - Write a blog about how the day is going

Projected:
3:45 - Read another few pages of The Alchemist
4:00 - Start cleaning the house
5:30 - Boil the Brats
5:45 - Light the Charcoal
6:00- People arrive, put the corn on the grill
6:30 - Grill Brats for the people who don't care about religion or animals (including myself of course), portobello mushrooms for the vegetarians, and kosher hot dogs for the Jewish guests
6:45 - Chow Down and hang out
8:00pm - Watch the big Game! OSU vs. USC!!!

O-H-I-O

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Short Week

The long weekend has lead to a short week, something that I normally would hardly notice, but seeing as it is my last week without commitment to a job, I definitely am noticing! I have a lot of stuff I wanted to get done before starting work and the shortened week combined with me basically throwing yesterday away is not helping. I will manage though :-) I think the biggest issue at this point is trying to get a hair appointment on such short notice. My hair has not been cut in ages and I really wanted to start the new job with a new do.

The week is also being shortened by big plans for Saturday. We are supposed to have people over for the OSU/USC game. I say supposed to because despite people showing interest in the planning phase so far I have about 8 responses of "not coming" and no responses of people coming. We will see if it actually happens. If it does happen, I will pretty much be spending Friday night and saturday during the day getting ready for it (there is potato salad to make, fixings to buy, a house to clean, etc).

Sunday, knowing me, will be spent doing a lot of stuff I swore I would take care of earlier in the week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Unexpected Diagnosis

I got a call from the doctor today saying my thyroid level came back high, indicating hypothyroidism. (I know... that seems backwards, doesn't it? Turns out they don't actually test the level of thyroid hormones, instead they test the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormones, if your level is high it means your body is trying to get your thyroid to produce more, meaning it is not producing enough, hence the hypo- prefix.)

This sort of sent my mood into a downward spiral - not so much because of the hypothyroidism - everyone and their brother is telling me its no big deal - but rather because it was unexpected. When I had my blood drawn last Thursday I expected no news, no diagnosis. So when I got a diagnosis of anything it came as a bit of a shock. Put into that the compounding factor of being home alone and today pretty much sucked.

So, when I went to take Grim for her evening walk I decided I needed to try and get out of this funk! (DH is still not home, work has been very busy lately). I made the walk extra long and tried to concentrate on thinking up what I could doto reverse my mood (cheer myself up). It wasn't easy. Many of things I thought of to do that would make me happy were not doable, either because they involved other people that are not available, places not reachable, or circumstances outside of my control (example: hang out with friend R, be in the wilderness, stand in the rain). So then I started trying to just think my way positive so to speak, which was undoubtedly an uphill battle. Eventually, nearly home, I seized briefly on the sunflowers now blooming my my backyard. There are two in full bloom and a few more on their way. They are my limited success story on gardening this summer. It was calming, though I would not say cheering.

When I got home from the walk, I picked up the mail and my October issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray has arrived. Its cover is black and orange and has a barrel-full of crisp fall leaves on it. That did the trick. Up until now, I have been hesitant for the arrival of fall. That is unusual for me, usually I love fall and can't wait for it to come. Now I am totally ready, I think fall is just the change I need. Bring on the colored leaves and football, the pumpkin carving and creepy decorations, the squash, maple syrup, and apples.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September

It is hard to believe that Summer is coming to an end. It was a really good summer. I got to travel and see my friends B&R get married in St Louis, spend two weeks in Duluth and be a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding, and see a wedding of a good friend here in Columbus. I got to spend the summer doing what I wanted - which was a LOT of reading and a lot of Rock Band. I spent nearly every Sunday with my extended family at my Grandma's house. I went hiking three or four times (although only once to a real destination, read not Metro Park). I had friends over all the time, watched the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Torchwood, ate lots of good food, and enjoyed time with the pets and DH. And in the end, right when I started to really get down about being unemployed, I found a job.

There are some things I did not get to do. I did not plant my garden until July and thus do not have my own fresh produce (though I still hope some of it will have enough time to develop). I did not go to very many farmer's markets. I did not have a BBQ and did not make potato salad. However, its nice to know that these things were skipped not because I did not have time, but because I chose to do other things with my time (I was busy with friends nearly every Saturday for example).

In light of this, I am now making the decision to try and take the time to squeeze in an end of the year BBQ next weekend. It will feature brats, corn on the cob, two kinds of potato salad, and the USC/OSU game. I am excited :-)

So what else have I been up to you might ask, besides reading and reminiscing? I have been enjoying the cool weather. I have been playing Rock Band again. On Monday DH and I went out and got sushi and then went to see Inglorious Bastards. I quite enjoyed it - different than any other movie I have seen. Tuesday I went out to girl's dinner at the Winking Lizard with my internet friends. Last night we went to Trivia night with our OSU friends.

Life is good.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Reading

As most everyone knows, I participated in an online reading challenge this summer hosted by Cynthia at The Next Best Book Club on Good Reads. Here are the books I read. Each fulfilled a task worth points. (Example: I read Strawberry Hill because it had a fruit or vegetable in the title in honor of summer farmer's markets). I earned 540 points overall. I have listed the books by how much I liked them

Five Star
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Book Thief by Mark Zastrus
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

Four Star
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collin
A Short Wait Between Trains (anthology)
A Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Spiderweb by Agatha Christie
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Soshentieyn
North and South by John Jakes
The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld
Blue Noon by Scott Westerfeld
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkin

Three Star
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
When the Emperor was Divine by Jule Otsuka
Dream of Peaceful Dragons by Katie Hickman
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman
Wife, No. 19 by Ann Eliza Young

Two Star
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
You Drive me Crazy: Love Poems for real life, edited by Mary D Esselman
The Single Hound by Emily Dickenson
Specials by Scott Westerfeld

One Star (actually all of these books deserve less than one star, but thats not an option!)
Away by Amy Bloom
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evonovich
Wild Animus by Rich Shapero
The Shack by William Young


Point Total: 540
Page Total: 14620


That's right, I read over fourteen-thousand pages this summer. That is an average of 158 per day. Go me!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ahh. Freedom.

In case it has not been clear, I am been spending my time since securing a job lazing about, reading, watching TV and movies, being social, and in general, being gloriously relaxed.

I took this relaxation party up to Cleveland last night. I made the two-hour drive to meet two of my cousins and my sister at a Mexican restaurant. We ate Mexican food, then saw my Cousin's new house. We discussed the bio-mechanics of arm circles, the differentiation between fruits and vegetables, the merits (and demerits) of pet skunks, and other important topics. I accidentally stayed an hour later than intended and thus did not make it home until 1am.

This morning was my fantasy football draft. DH has run a league for about seven years now. It has come to include people from all parts of our lives - family members (my in-laws), college friends, current Columbus friends, and parents of friends. This year we have 10 people in the league. My team's name this year is the Minnesota Man Bear Pigs. This is a South Park reference, I did not make it up. Anyways, I do like my team quite a bit.

After that I ran off for some Outlet shopping down in Jeffersonville with some friends. I was buying clothes for the new job. The place was packed, and the sales were huge. I have never seen such big discounts there. On top of the already outlet prices, there was things like 40% the entire Old Navy store, Black&White dresses starting at $29.99, and 40% the entire Puma store. I bought quite a bit, though no shoes and only one pair of pants.

DH and I finished off the exciting day by watching Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus on the SyFy channel (do not ask me why they decided to look like uneducated nincompoops and switch the spelling of Sci Fi to that ridiculousness, but alas they did). The movie was as gloriously bad as anticipated. For some of the most priceless scenes, you tube it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Random Happy Moments

I got a copy of X-Files season 5. I have watched two episodes and look forward to continuing. It makes me want season 4 and 6 as well.

Saturday night I made a cup of Raspberry Hot Chocolate and lay in bed watching Twilight.

Sunday I went to my Grandma's and chillaxed in good company.

Monday afternoon my friend R came over. We ate lunch, went on a beautiful walk in Sharon Woods metro park, and then hung out for a while.

Monday evening DH and I walked to DQ together with Grim puppy and got Ice Cream. I got a super big Moo-Latte. Grim had an ice cream cone too and loved it.

Monday night I lay in bed watching television and reading with a glass of wine. Super comfy.

Tuesday, after a junk food run, DH and I watched a movie together and ate way too many calories or Skittles, Raisonets, and Hershey's.

I could get used to this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Headache Rating System

In case you had not noticed, I get a LOT of headaches, and they come in all kinds. I was going to post about the headache I had yesterday (and other of yesterday's events), and I realized I need some sort of system to explain just how my headache was, comparatively. (OK, I don't actually intend to use this system but I thought it would be interesting enough)

1 - minor headache, not even enough to change my behavior or require sunglasses, can also be the "after aura" of a full blown migraine

2 - medium headache, one step up from a minor headache, it is bothering me, my shoulder has some tightness and may make me use sunglasses but it wouldn't be the end of the world if I did not have them and I might mention it to friends or DH, but its not dominating my attention. There are also non-migraine style headaches that might fall into this category.

3 - underling (of a migraine), my head hurts a lot, but its not enough for me to change plans, I need sunglasses, I keep rubbing my shoulder without realizing it, and a lot of my energy is spent thinking about the headache. It would be obvious to someone who knew me I had a headache.

4 - migraine, I wish I could just sit home and deal with the headache, but its not serious enough to warrant it. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I am pretty unhappy about doing it. I constantly rub my shoulder, cover my offending eye (whichever is on the same side as the migraine) and avoid light if possible. I have food aversions (seeing the wrong commercial on TV or someone bringing in the wrong kind of food makes my stomach turn over and/or my head pulse). The headache is the first thing on my mind.

5 - bad migraine, this headache is severe enough that I might cancel plans to stay home and nurse it, but I am still capable of some level of function if what I need to do is really important or cannot be rescheduled. It dominates nearly all of my attention. My shoulder is so stiff massaging it myself seems pointless. I fantasize about someone injecting the muscle with a relaxant or cutting off my arm. I wear sunglasses, maybe even at night or indoors, and I keep a hand over my offending eye if at all possible. I might also be caught holding a hot compress (often in the form of a coffee) up to my eye. It is clear to other people I am not well (though it might come off as tired). I get spells of being nauseous and cannot think about eating most things, I consider running to the bathroom at the low points of these spells. I may be dizzy or have blurred vision. If I am at home, I lie in bed or on the couch wishing it would stop, maybe watching TV (with my eyes open or closed depending on the moment).

6 - nightmare migraine, stop all activity, I am not getting out of bed with this one, I can't even have the TV on because even with my eyes closes/covered the moving light is too much. I also might start to be sound sensitive. I am constantly nauseous and might actually throw up. I toss and turn, unable to sleep, and wimper a lot without thinking about it. All I can think about is the headache, nothing else can distract me.

Yeah... so that is the reality of my headaches. Those ranking 5 or 6 are few and far between, but the other varieties are all too common.

Yesterday I a bad migraine. I went to my informational meeting for the Columbus Literacy Council anyways (partly because it was probably just a regular migraine before I left and partly because it would be a month before I could do this again), and spent the entire meeting miserable, making other people gawk as I wore sunglasses during the tour of the building and kept my hand over my right eye anytime we were sitting down. It got so bad at one point that I considered called DH and having him pick me up because I couldn't fathom driving home in the sunlight. Luckily by the time the meeting ended it had dissipated enough for me to get home. At home I used DH's neck as a hot compress (surprisingly effective), and waited it out on the couch in front of the television, considering the whole time hanging a blanket to block out more light. Around 2pm it started improving. By 3pm it had greatly improved so I could read and be on the computer, until by 4:30 it was nothing more than a level 1. I am very happy it was short lived.