Archive for the ‘work’ Category

My boss put a word in with a manager of an AcronymCo group over in Massachusetts, letting him know that I was interested in making the move back East, and to keep me in mind for any forthcoming openings. It barely registers as a preliminary step in our goal to move closer to my home state, but the thought of it generated in me a little bit of excitement nonetheless. I immediately hopped onto the internet and started researching towns close to the campus. Bedford caught my eye, but I pretty much immediately ruled it out entirely as a candidate for our future home. Holy hell, is that one exclusive little town. According to its Citi-Data, the median income for a family is $112,000, in a population of 13,800. The median family income for the town we live in now is $68,000, and we’ve got a population of 255,000.

Housing prices drop dramatically over the New Hampshire border (not to mention the non-existence of sales tax), and certain towns in and around Nashua are within a 50-minute drive to the AcronymCo plant, and a two-hour drive to Portland Maine/J’s Oysters/the Old Port/every place I hold dear in this life/HOMEHOMEHOME.

The upshot of all of this being that if I can’t actually be IN Maine, I’ll settle for being CLOSE TO Maine. 120 miles away beats 2,771 miles away, HANDS DOWN. Transferring to the Massachusetts AcronymCo has the added benefit of, you know, not having to JOB HUNT. Hello, tenure. Hello, sabbatical #3 in 2016.

Ih, we’ll see. It’s a long-ish shot. But stranger things, and longer shots, have happened.

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Bill and I are working on resurrecting our MojoVation (that’s mojo and motivation). Gradually over the last few years, we’ve let the upkeep of our home slide a little. And as that upkeep slid, so did our positive attitude about, well, pretty much everything. We’re always happier when we’re busy, when we’re productive, when we have projects that we can work on together. So in 2011 we’re going to address ALL THE THINGS. Painting things and drywall things and fixing things and maintenance things and whatnot things. Which will make us happier. Which will, in turn, motivate us. Which will, in turn, inspire us to do MORE WITH THE THINGS.

The upshot of all of that being that when we’re ready to make the Big Move, the house will be in good order to sell, or rent, or sit idle. And if the Big Move doesn’t happen (but OH it will!), we’ll still have a house that we’re happy with. And people can come over and we won’t relegate them to just a few rooms. And we’ll have a guest room in which to put up the people that we really like.

Like you.

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It’s January of the calendar, which means that I have begun considering vacation destinations for this year. August’s trip to MotoGP in Indianapolis is already arranged but for the flights, but that only covers a few days and I have a full 21 days to schedule. THAT is a happy lunchtime occupation, let me tell you. That we’re going to Maine is a given – I was going to try to go for my cousin’s baby shower, but my aunt just called me two days ago to say it was being held the last Sunday of THIS month, which is too short of a notice to give my boss. So! Bill and I are probably going to go in the first part of June, when the weather is nice but the tourists aren’t overwhelming and we can meet the baby in person. I have made it clear to my uncle that he has to sit down with me for a couple of solid days, while I scan all of our old family photographs. Someone has to be there to tell me who the hell all the people in them are.

And then I got to thinking… it’s only a five hour drive from Portland to Montreal, and Montreal has this little race that’s held in the first couple of weeks of June every year. You might have heard of it… Formula One? So I thought, how COOL would it be to fly into Portland, hang there for a day or two, drive up to Canada for three or four days for the race, then back down to Maine to finish our vacation? Fast on the heels of that tentative plan was a G-chat message to my good (and handily-located) friend Sherry, who not only LIVES in the Montreal area, but has also been to that F1 race and has all the inside deets!

I swear to God, I don’t know how any of us got anything done, let alone had any FRIENDS, before the Internet.

Anyway, no plans are set in stone yet, but usually once we have a thought like this, for a vacation that we can get very enthusiastic about, we tend to run with it. Case in point.

———-

So! I get to wrap this day up by going over to Discount Tire to get the two rear tires replaced on the truck. Bill had to rescue me from the AcronymCo parking lot a couple of days ago, when I discovered upon trying to leave for the day that the rear driver’s side tire was flat. I called him, he did his Man Thing involving jacks and cursing and whatnot, and I was on my way again in a little more than half an hour. Beat THAT, AAA! We took the tire to Discount Tire, where it was discovered that the hunk of metal was embedded to close to the sidewall to be able to fix. They placed an order for new tires, which came in today, and that’s what I’m doing after work instead of drinking BEER. THEN we have to drop the truck off early tomorrow morning at the dealership for some scheduled maintenance, which may interfere with our plans to go up to Prescott for the day. Though if we can secure a rental car we might be okay.

Ain’t it grand to be a grown-up? $450 bucks that we didn’t anticipate having to spend and there goes my new flash. Thanks a lot, LIFE.

So, you guys have any grandiose plans for the weekend? Dish!

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Hello, friends! Happy New Year!

A non-zero number of you have asked about my writing schedule for 2011. I think this was spurred by the fact that you (they) saw less of me over at UpTake and Beyond Megapixels in November and December. The special project I was working on at UpTake occupied my writing quota – if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen the “playlists” I was publishing for a while (like this one). Now that the project is wrapped up, I’ll be going back to my regular posting schedule of two vacation blog posts per week. As for Beyond Megapixels, I’ve decreased my writing quota over there a bit (7 per month at the moment, plus the contributions of a very excellent guest writer), but we’re hoping that will pick back up in the new year (oh, and I know I pimped it on Twitter and Facebook, but if you haven’t read my latest article, you should! I’m proud of it, and it’s been getting really positive feedback! Which was the point.). Finally, I’m still writing for Demand Studios, to the tune of about three or four articles a week.

It strikes me, as I peruse the job boards for more freelance work, that I’m much more optimistic about being able to one day support our family on my writing income. It also strikes me that, as much as I love photography, it is to my writing that I continue to turn to pursue my ambitions. I guess one’s first love is always one’s strongest love. Plus, of course, it’s easier to freelance in writing when one has a full-time job – I can write at night and on weekends and only have to contend with my own schedule. It’s harder to line up photography gigs around a full-time job.

Not that I plan on backing off on my photography goals. Quite the opposite is true – I am now a card carrying member of NAPP and I bought a subscription to Kelby Training just last week (both tax write-offs!). I’ve only watched a few training videos so far, but the very first one, a photo walk of New York City with Jay Maisel, was worth EVERY PENNY of that subscription. If you’re serious about learning photography, and you’re looking for a great alternative to formal education, consider signing up for Kelby Training! It’s a truly excellent resource. And I’m totally plugging them for free – I seriously doubt that anyone at Kelby Media Group even knows that I exist.

Bill continues to encourage me on the photography front – he got some overtime over the holidays and wants me to spend it on gear. That was a supremely generous gesture, wasn’t it? So I’m looking at a 580 EXII Speedlite. Further along on the gear-purchasing front, I still have plans to turn Amanda’s bedroom into a small studio eventually, and now that I have Kelby’s “10 Essential Studio Techniques Every Photographer Needs to Know” training under my belt, I know exactly what I need. A wide roll of white paper on a rod and stand to serve as a simple yet effective background, this Elinchrom strobe kit, this Elinchrom softbox, and this Westcott strip bank. For $1600 and an understanding of how lighting works, I can do professional work that rivals, well, the professionals! So, that’s my next big purchase to be worked for over the coming months.

Then I’m going to get this 70-300 telephoto (there’s a much more expensive L-series of the same focal range and speed, but I’m not convinced the extra GRAND is worth it, and reviewers agree with me). This macro lens and this wide angle lens will wrap up all the lens purchases I wish to make. I hold no expectation that I’ll be able to purchase all of these within the next year, or even within the next two years. A wish list is named thus for a reason.

When I worked with my friend Karen’s daughter and her friends back in October, I found that I really enjoyed the experience. I think my niche just might be that sort of assignment. I like going to client’s homes or working on location (as my work with Sandstone attests to). My friends have asked my why I don’t want to be a wedding photographer – to which I respond that I don’t want that kind responsibility. I don’t want the responsibility of capturing the details of the most important day of a person’s life. I work much better in a less formal atmosphere. Hence wanting to develop my own studio, and enjoying location work that doesn’t involve gowns and cake and nerves. I would much rather attend a wedding and gift the bride and groom with the shots that I took as a guest.

I also like shooting a variety of subjects – people, sure, but also products and architecture and landscapes and food and sports. I guess I liken it to being a General Practitioner, rather than specializing in a particular service. One of my goals for this year is to further formalize my portfolio, which demonstrates examples of all of these types of photography. I have a portfolio on my media site, but it needs to be updated and re-vamped. Plus, it provides access to ALL of my photos on Flickr, and, well, many of them are NOT portfolio-worthy.

Finally, there will be a total overhaul of Snerkology, its domain, and its off-shoots. Snerkology (including the original site), World Famous Nosh, Snerkology Media, and Photos by Tiffany will all finally be under one roof, and hosted on Dreamhost. I am very excited about this in particular, as the site redesign has been a long time coming. Details are just about finalized (yes, I’m hiring someone, and she comes highly recommended), so rest assured you guys will be receiving regular updates. For now, I’ve just finished my own About.me page which helps to summarize my Internet domination. I think it needs a better picture on it still, but for now that one will do.

I think that’s quite enough ambition for one year, don’t you? AcronymCo continues to find me employable for some unfathomable reason, we have a trip to Maine and a trip to Indy planned this year, I have grand plans for debt payoff and eventual solvency (mostly), tax season is upon us so I have to get all of THAT crap together in the next few weeks, I have a workout schedule that I think finally jives with my level of ambition (snort) and my schedule… and I don’t understand what it is within myself that disallows even one SECOND of laziness.

I’ve been reading everyone else’s blogs on the subject of the coming year, so I know I’m not alone.

BRING IT, 2011!

A Very! Stressful! Thing! happened first thing this morning, and didn’t get resolved immediately. So, I was

[—-this close—-]

to a heart attack, for about two hours. And that, my friends? Is a very uncomfortable feeling.

Once the Very! Stressful! Thing! resolved itself with no foul and no harm aside from the aforementioned heart-attack-on-deck, things… really didn’t get much better. The morning progressed along the lines of stupid people continuing to be stupid, and phone numbers that didn’t work, and an associate that e-mailed me seventeen times (I just counted) in the course of 45 minutes (I just calculated) about five differing topics. Which was so convoluted that I resorted to TAKING NOTES just so I wouldn’t lose my place.

So 11:15 rolled around, and I’d skipped breakfast because of the Very! Stressful! Thing!, so I wandered down to the cafeteria to grab a salad and a cup of bean soup. While ladling the soup into the container, it kind of BLOOPED, and splashed my hand a bit. So, no biggie. I grabbed a napkin, wiped my hands, strolled up to the counter, paid, grabbed some utensils, walked through the cafeteria, up the stairs, down the isle, and back to my desk.

THEN looked down, and saw about fifteen eraser-sized blurts covering my frontside.

Clearly today isn’t done fucking with me yet. And it’s not even noon. (*)

At least my food is good.

On this auspicious note, I hereby declare myself the WINNER OF NABLOPOMO. I didn’t miss a single day of posting in the entire month of November. Not sure how far up on my list of life’s accomplishments that should land, but hey. I did it.

So, there’s that.

(*) Updated at 2:00: I went out to the truck to run some errands (after I finished my lunch at my desk), and the battery was dead. So, Bill has to come give me a jump after work. Then I had to walk to another building across the AcronymCo campus. I figured I’d hit one of the THREE bathrooms I knew was along the way (having just ingested 16 ounces of Tea, Earl Grey, Hot). The first bathroom I came to? Closed for construction. The second bathroom? Closed for construction. The third bathroom? Closed for CLEANING. So I had to walk all the way there, talk with a co-worker for about ten minutes, and walk all the way back, trying my best not to break out into a pee-pee dance.

FUCK YOU, TUESDAY. FUCK YOU IN THE EYE.

When I get home? I’m going to smoke my stuff and drink ALL MY WINE.

I’m working on a new project for UpTake, which involves creating “playlists” for vacation destinations. It’s a really neat, really FUN concept. Check out my first one, “One Day in Portland, Maine“.

I’ll be on vacation next week… well, from AcronymCo, anyway. I’ll be working on these playlists throughout next week, as the editors would like as many as possible completed by early December. But they’re so fun to do that it doesn’t seem like work. Wish ALL of my gainful employment worked out that way.

Thanksgiving plans worked themselves out. Bill and I will be headed to his sister Karen’s, and I will only be obligated to provide supplementary food items. We haven’t hashed out the menu details yet, but I’m going to suggest that I bring Connoisseurs Vegetable Casserole, THE Pie(tm), and this recipe for Pumpkin Cream Pie provided by the lovely and talented Pioneer Woman.

I have something REALLY REALLY cool to share but it will have to wait until I can scan some pictures. In the meantime, I will amuse you by telling you that Bill got drunk the other night and ordered one of these. When queried, he retorted, “No, it does NOT light up.”

Oh, the humanity.

I finished up my Six Sigma green belt training today. That means my team is about halfway through the project completion and should get our certification in a few months’ time, after we’ve deployed and reached a sustainable point. After that, I need to decide if I want to pursue my black belt. I might. I haven’t decided. It IS quite a marketable skill to have, and if I want to leave AcronymCo at some point and pursue a job on the east coast, having this as a bullet on my resume wouldn’t hurt. So, we shall see.

If I did I’d get to hang out with the Stats geeks again. I love me some Stats geeks. The ones of my acquaintance are so very, very enthusiastic about their chosen bliss that it’s hard not to enjoy learning from them.

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We watched the Country Music Awards last night. Lady Antebellum represented very nicely among the categories. I never really liked country music, much, but it seems to be growing on me.

Look out, it’s a tearjerker. Country music seems to have more of those kinds of videos than other genres. Like this one, which KILLED ME when I watched it the first time, and kills me again every time I see it. So, don’t watch if you don’t want to cry. I’m not kidding. I just watched it, just now, for probably the tenth time, and it got me bawling all over again. Sometimes a good cry is good, though.

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Okay. Ha. On THAT cheerful note, I’m going to get a workout in before my 5:00 teleconference. Catch ya on the flip!

So last night my brother-in-law George (my sister Wendy’s husband) called. This is unique in the fact that he has never initiated a phone call to me, like, ever. It was 9:30 our time, 12:30 their time. I immediately thought something was wrong. But there was nothing wrong, he was just calling to brag on my sister, who was elected as Androscoggin County’s (that’s in Maine) Register of Probate in Tuesday’s elections. She’s already Chairman of the Board of Selectmen in her home town (Poland). She’s also something called an “AVCOG Commissioner”, whatever that is. (Okay, I just found it, it’s the “Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments”.)

The point being, my sister is knee deep in a grass roots campaign to take over the government in the State of Maine. She could pull it off, too.

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We have a marker board calendar on the wall in our kitchen, that we use to plan our dinner menus, write appointment reminders, and list birthdays and holidays. It has a space on the right-hand side to write memos and lists and whatnot, and we use this area to list the items that we need at the grocery store. It’s a common refrain, when someone tells me we’re out of this, that, or the other thing, for me to tell them to, “Put it on the list!” So, my husband does this funny little thing where he purposefully mis-spells the items and leaves it to me to figure out what the heck he means. “Kooking Spra” had me chuckling the other night. Other recent items have been “Kat Fud”, “Kofe” (Coffee), “Basco” (Tabasco), “Groni Chz” (Kraft Mac & Cheese), and “Pit Stop” (deodorant).

It’s just one of those silly little things that he does, that I’d miss if he stopped.

Yeah yeah, I’m having a warm fuzzy fit. What of it?

———-

Lord have mercy, I have been so flippin’ BUSY lately. We have a new project at work that is deploying in two weeks, which means this week I have four nights of meetings that go at least until 6:00 (tonight’s goes until 7:30, waaaaaaaaah). I have those same meetings scheduled for next week, too, but on top of that I have the second half of my Six Sigma Green Belt training next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, eight to five. Which translates to not getting any of my regular work done, AND having to sit in night meetings. Still not getting work done. Then I have to train my group, probably next Friday because the project coordinator wants everyone trained before deployment on 11/15. And then it’s stabilization meetings every night THAT week.

So, yes, deployment week is the week before Thanksgiving. Which is just in keeping with the mandate that AcronymCo seems to have, that All Major Projects Must Deploy The Week Before A Major U.S. Holiday. Every year. EVERY FRIGGIN’ YEAR they do this.

I’m a bit behind on my articles for BMP, UpTake, and Demand Studios this week, because I gave myself a break last weekend for Grandpa’s funeral. I’ve been doing them during lunch and in the evening, this week. But this weekend I HAVE TO get my articles done for the week following, because I’ll have ZERO time to do them during the week.

———-

Oh, fuck. Thanksgiving. When am I going to have time to plan that??? Thank God I have that whole week off from work, because I have a feeling I’m going to go into a menu-planning frenzy that Monday.

Hmm. I was perusing back through my archives for this past year, and I just came to a realization. I haven’t had a panic attack, or the need to pop a Xanax, in months. It seems to coincide with the first time that I stopped taking the pill as my method of birth control (I had to go back on it for a few months, and now I’m off it again). Does anyone know if there is a correlation between anxiety/panic attacks, and the pill? A brief Google search indicates that there may be.

Great. I tortured myself for YEARS, saw therapists, and tried various forms of medication, and all I had to do was go off the fucking pill. FIGURES.

———-

Do you suffer from little knots of pain right in the base of your shoulder blades? Do this – place your hands at chest level, palms together and elbows out, kind like you’re praying or are about to bow to your Sensei. Press your palms together as hard as is comfortable, hold for three seconds, and release. Repeat five to ten times. I don’t know WHY it works to relieve the pain in my middle back/shoulder blades, but it does.

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How many of you did that just now, as you were reading it?

———-

I just finished the annual enrollment tasks for my health and insurance benefits through AcronymCo. If I just plain ol’ die, my husband stands to be comfortably well off. If my death is a result of an accident while traveling on business, he’ll get over a million dollars. Like, $1.18 million.

Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him know that.

Note to self: Review Bill’s enrollment stuff. And sleep with one eye open.

(I KID! I kid.)

———-

And now we have a Democratic President, a Republican House, and a Democratic Congress. NOTHING is getting done in this country for the next two years, at least.

It figures.

Monday

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Food, Home, pets, work
Tags: , ,

I’m sitting on the bed with my laptop, working away. I have locked both bedroom doors to keep the cats out (they have been full of misbehavior lately and have been banned from the bedroom). Oz is currently hollering his fool head off at the hallway door, while Zoe is meowing politely at the bathroom door. And then they switch, with Oz banging at the bathroom door and Zoe sticking her nose under the hallway door. Their consolidated efforts to wear me down will FAIL. Dammit.

It’s 9:15 in the morning and I’m having a Trader Joe’s salad for breakfast. I could have had something more breakfasty, but I wanted this salad and there’s no law that states that you can’t have salad for breakfast. So tell me, what is the most non-traditional breakfast food you’ve ever indulged in? And don’t say cold pizza, because that is the MOST traditional of breakfast foods.

I have to compose a last-minute presentation to give to some muckety-mucks tomorrow. I can’t even remember the last time I had to use PowerPoint. It used to be a daily occurrence, but the program seems to have fallen out of vogue in our little corner of AcronymCo. We tend to be more fond of Excel, or JuMP. Numbers over words. Charts over verbiage.

I had to get a “rebuild” a couple of weeks ago, which entails turning in my work laptop so that they can transfer the data to a refurbished laptop of the same type. Something was wonky with my old laptop that they couldn’t easily figure out – I think they gave up to soon, but eh. I didn’t have a queue of fifteen annoyed AcronymCo employees glaring at me to hurry up. My new laptop is clearly NOT, in that the keys are quite worn, the screen is scratched, and the spacebar only works about half the time. I get to flying along, and notice that most of the words in the sentence havebeenruntogetherlikethis, so then I have to backspace like a mofo. Since I got one of the newer models of the last PC refresh, I’m at the bottom of the list for the next PC refresh. So I’m stuck with this thing until Q4 of 2011. Glory.

I keep looking out the french doors in my bedroom, out into the back yard. The weather here has been downright AWESOME, and the sun is shining, and I want to be Out In It. Alas, the aforementioned work requires that I stay (somewhat) dedicated to the task at hand. The lawn is quite dead – the landscaper killed in on purpose (i.e. turned off the sprinklers) in order to prepare for planting a winter lawn. Which seems kind of off-kilter to me, that you would kill off perfectly good grass in order to grow some other grass. Anyway. This will be the first year that we’ve planted a winter lawn, and I look forward to its startling emerald quality (winter grass is so much GREENER than summer grass) instead of dead-looking tan and brown. I cleaned off the patio like I said I would, and also drained and cleaned and re-filled the hot tub, which we took full advantage of both Saturday and Sunday night. Once the new grass starts growing, the back yard will be a lovely hang-out. If I could just convince Bill to let us get some new patio furniture. We have none at the moment, mostly because we can’t keep the dogs off of whatever we put out there. Ah, well, there’s always camp chairs. Throw a beer in there and we could be camping!

The nice weather is trying to trick me into thinking that I want to take up jogging. YEAH RIGHT. I’ll stick to the elliptical and open a window or something. Nobody wants to encounter my jiggly ass stumbling along the road.

Aaaand Oz is back at the hallway door. Freak. I’m going to go run him off, then take care of doodie duty before the landscaper gets here, and THEN (“No ‘and then’!”) get on that presentation. My Monday work-from-home days prevent me from loathing this first day of the work-week, as most traditional nine-to-fivers do. I may complain about my job – I’m only human – but I do love working for AcronymCo.

Monday Meta

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Arizona, Friends, photography, vacation, work

– I haven’t been writing here as much as I’d like. The reason? I’ve been busy. Verra, verra busy.

– We are officially OVER the 100+ degree temps in Arizona and are headed, finally, into autumn. Today’s high is 93 with a good chance of thunderstorms – one of which is brewing outside of my window as I type this. Tomorrow’s high is 88 with more storms. The highest it’s going to get over the next ten days is 92, which I am more than capable of dealing with. Thank you, October.

– I had a photography gig at the home of one of my co-workers on Saturday. She hired me to photograph her daughter and her daughter’s two best friends, for a full-page spread in their yearbook. I was a little nervous at first, but once we got going we had a great time. Two hours and four outfit changes later, I left with over two hundred photos to post-process. I was very pleased with a lot of them. I’ll share them with you on my Flickr account after my client has seen them, but for a Double Secret Probation Unauthorized Preview, go here.

– If you had to decide between a vacation to Washington DC to explore the Smithsonian, a long weekend in Monterey, or a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which one would you choose and why?

– Work this week is going to suck ass. Because I was off for a day and a half last week, and because I’ll be in training Tuesday through Thursday of this week, today’s workload was challenging to say the least. The aforementioned training is to acquire my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. We Must! We Must! We Must Increase Our Bust! Reduce Waste and Variation! I’ll be at the “other” AcronymCo campus, which of course throws off my routine. I HATE being thrown off my routine. We’ll also be required to shut down our laptops and pay attention (dammit), so blog reading and tweeting and e-mailing will be relegated to an hour-long frenzy at lunchtime.

Kim and her family suffered a horrible loss over the weekend. Dear Kim, when you get a chance to read this, please know that Bill and I extend our heartfelt sorrow and are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers.

My work colleagues "decorated" my cubicle in celebration of my return from sabbatical. Pictures courtesy of Jen. Hey, at least some of the books were keepers. Took me over an hour to get everything set to rights again. Makes a girl feel downright loved.