Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Having Some Fun With the Craig's List Scammers

This afternoon, an email arrived "Is your item still for sale?" The hinky-meter was going off, but I responded that it was. This was the email I got back:

Definitely a scammer. As I'm not in the mood to deal with scammers, this is what I fired back:

Ed likes the fact that I'm being extremely snarky to the scammer.

So much for a sale, but it feels good to cut down a guy trying to swindle people.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Beauty of Podcasts in Education

Last spring and summer semesters, I took online courses in which the professors (both from the St. Pete campus) created podcasts of their lectures, which were posted to Blackboard for students to view throughout the semester.

At the time, I ended up uploading them to iTunes and then to my iPod. Several times, I plugged it in to my car stereo and listened to lectures as I drove here and there. While the boys attended scout meetings, I was able to watch a lecture or three and it was great to have that resource, whether I had the laptop with me or not. Even better, by downloading these podcasts, I didn't have to deal with streaming hiccups that can happen with bandwidth.

This summer, my friend Jenn decided to take both of these classes. When I realized this, I first offered her my notes. (we became friends over the many study sessions needed to imprint the Psych stats coursework.) The other night, we talked on the phone and she mentioned having Internet issues that meant she'd have to drive down to campus to view the lectures.

I offered her my iPod.

At first, she said no, because sitting in the library really forces her to study, which I understand completely. Later, she thought better of the offer and I brought my iPod to her, explained how to access everything and left her to catch up on the week's lectures.

Today, she called me to let me know she was done, when I had no problems letting Jenn use it for a while (the iPhone has most of my favorite music, anyway). We chatted for a bit and I'd mentioned burning the remaining lectures down to a disc for her. She told me it wasn't needed, but thanked me profusely for sharing.

Five minutes later, my phone rings. "You said you could burn the lectures to disc. Does that mean I can download them to my computer, since I also have iTunes?" She was giddy at the idea that she didn't have to trek to campus or worry about her bandwidth being throttled as she's downloading. She had never realized that this was an option. Meanwhile, that's the first thing I check, so she thanked me for sharing my techie ways.

With the advances in technology, college students have so many more avenues of gaining information. Here we are, using podcasts to view lecture content and not one, but two students gain from it. I think it's pretty cool

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clothing Purchases Aren't As Simple Anymore

As I'd mentioned in a previous entry, I need work clothes. No one is enforcing a dress code, but it's a given that when I'm greeting VIP's, I should be dressed nicely. College student apparel isn't exactly dual purpose!

Yesterday, I went out to augment the few pieces I already have. The capris I'd mentioned that are considered dressy are Dockers, and I remembered where I'd purchased them. Subscribing to my philosophy of "buy it in multiple colors," I went back to Beall's in the hopes of finding the same ones in different colors.

I struck out on that front, but did find two pairs of dressy capris and another pair of Dockers. Due to the pain issues with the PF and RSD, I usually don't bother with store fitting rooms, preferring to try things on at home. Of course, I run through a checklist of sorts while still in the store. You probably do, too, but there's a few extras I have to think about now.

Are they my size?
Are they appropriate for work?
Will they wash up nicely?
Do I have to dry clean them?
Is the fabric soft? (if it's not, the RSD goes into over drive)
What kind of thread was used on the seams? (some use nylon floss and it irritates the heck out of the RSD, too)
Where does it fall on my leg? Is it at the most sensitive part, or does it fall above or below it?
Will they look okay without stockings? (all I can say is OWWWWW about wearing them)
Will they attract cat hair? (one I never thought I'd ask, honestly!)
Will I roast in these if I'm stuck outside?
Is it on sale?

Yes, believe it or not, sale has moved to the BOTTOM of my question list in favor of finding clothing that doesn't irritate my stupid leg. I'll skip the sale racks in favor of the full priced items that don't drive me nuts all day.

Another issue to consider is shoes. Again, no one is forcing me to wear certain footwear but my boss has known me for a few years-so she knows the leg situation. Hell, we've had quite a few conversations about it. Now that I'm sitting at a desk, I'm back to one EE foot and one A foot. I have one pair of Croc's ballet flats and figured I should look for more. There's a new Croc's outlet in Orlando, so I figured I would make my way over there.

On my way out of the store, though, I decided to look at their shoes, and in the Crocs display, I found a pair that are even more comfortable than the current pair. They had them in my size and in brown to match the new pants, too.

It was a little surprising that, even with the longer needs list in buying clothes, I walked out with more than I expected. Even better-it all fits.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Not a Girly Girl

That is a description that people who know me would not use if they were asked to describe me. It just isn't. If I find an article of clothing I like, I go back and buy it in multiple colors, I hardly wear makeup (allergies), stick to very light fragranced body splashes (again, allergies) and wear minimal jewelery.

If I ever had designs on being a shoe freak, my stupid leg cured that before it even happened. The only thing that is remotely girly about me is the love of those Vera Bradley bags.

For some reason, though, I love nail polish. It's ridiculous, because my nails are impossibly soft and break easily. When I knew Ed and I were getting engaged (because it would not be a surprise with a long-distance relationship), I got acrylic nails right before he got to Maryland, so that I'd have pretty hands to show off my ring.

I liked the look, but hated what it did to my already soft nails. A friend suggested gel nails a couple of years after that as a different option, but I had kids and it didn't seem practical.

Still, the idea of having decent nails is one girly thing that I coveted, but figured I was out of luck. When I was much younger, I was getting silk wraps on my nails and that did a great job in making them noticeably stronger, but they don't do well if they're in water a lot. Scratch those when there's a pool in the back yard.

Then I heard about Shellac and did some investigating. It's a gel based nail color, but your nails don't have to be prepped (read, dremeled down) first, you don't have to soak your whole hand in acetone every couple of weeks to remove the gel and the best part? It lasts two weeks.

So, I did some emailing and got in touch with a local salon that offers this product. Sometime next week, I'll have girly girl nails with a twist. They won't be dragon lady talons, they'll be my own nails, and my normal length, but with a pretty and durable polish on them.

Watch for some pictures soon, because I'm really curious how well this will work and if it will protect my nails to the point that they get stronger.

Time will tell.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When You Can't Find What You're Looking For

I was sent on a mission this week (no, not from God-I'm not Jake or Elwood). A relative needed to replace a little league hat and was having some difficulty in finding the appropriate item, so I was called to secure a Seminoles hat.

Mind you, this is for a kid, so the goal was to get a child sized hat. Here in the land of Sunshine, where the Gators are considered the end-all and be-all of college sports, it's hard for 'Noles fans to get an equivalent amount of gear for their team. Heck, outside of Tampa, there's my alma mater's gear, but the selection pales in comparison to the quantity of royal blue and orange items.

So, I went out in search of a burgundy and tan hat, preferably with the Seminole Indian on it, preferably kid sized. Instead, I found an incredible amount of stuff that says FSU with that school's colors, one with an arrowhead and even more that just were emblazoned "Florida State" in huge type, and "Seminoles" slightly smaller.

I thought my school's team didn't get much respect around here, but the little guy in all this (I think FSU's enrollment is about 1/3 either UF or USF) has an ego problem, if you were to base it merely on the way the name of the school has to be front and center!

Anyway, I bought the child a burgundy hat with an arrowhead, adult small, and I'm hoping it fits-but I'm still looking.

While I'm at it, I need to scare up a USF onsie for my new nephew. At least I know I'll find those on campus...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back In the Swing of Things

For a week and a half, I've been at work with no computer and no phone at my desk. This is because we had to wait for IT to provide me an access code and email address, but there were other things that took priority.

No worries, though, because I brought my laptop to work every day. I was able to do some work related items and the past couple of days, I've been immersed in a PowerPoint presentation for my boss.

The plan was to link to a YouTube video about upcoming plans for us, but I didn't want her to have to deal with the possible WiFi connectivity issues at the meeting, so I worked on embedding it with YouTube Downloader.

It's a Mac native product. One of my colleagues already has a little bit of Mac envy and was asking if I liked the machine, would she have a hard time adapting to it. Yes, I love it and no, it's much easier to use.

The three of us sat at a desk today and I navigated things to add to the presentation, took screen shots of the work website to add to it and got the embedded video to work and now TWO people are saying they want a Mac.

Too bad that embedding thing didn't work as smoothly when I sent it over to the Dell machines. (If I'd had one on my desk already, I could have tested it before emailing it.) I reconverted the file to various different formats, saved them all and handed my boss a zip drive with multiple versions (PPTX and PPT versions of each, just in case the computer she has to use isn't equipped with the latest version of Power Point.)

It felt pretty good to get something done and add all the bells and whistles needed, plus find the 'wish list' items and add them as we were hashing them out.

I could get used to this!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Benefit To This House

Is this:

We need to replace a part on the central air conditioner, so we've been living in a house without AC for about a month and a half. It hasn't been too bad, except for the past week. (Toughened up by growing up in houses without them as kids, I suppose). Those of you who do live in environs where central AC isn't really needed for a short period of time know what that's like.

Anyway, the house doesn't cool off very well. We live in a newer neighborhood with no mature growth trees. The nightly dip in the pool is the best way to cool off enough to get to sleep.

Waking up in the morning sweating like a pig, on the other hand, is getting old. The unit gets fixed this week.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I had to go over to our storage unit to get the items I'd sold on eBay to ship them out. That unit is STUFFED to the gills, mostly with Jane's crap from Move 1.0 and then the final clear out of the apartment.

I want to sell it all, but it probably won't net more than the $1500 that the Estate Sale people charge to do it. It's not a pleasant proposition, thinking about trying to eBay everything that is worthwhile, then trying to figure out a way to dump find suckers match it up with people who are interested in these items, too.

Then there's the stuff too big to eBay or too cumbersome to ship. I've got the Jazzy listed on Craig's list without a single contact. It *might* sell on eBay, but I have no clue. There are a bunch of Disney prints that could sell, too, but finding boxes to ship them may not be easy.

I wish there was an easy way to get it gone!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

With GameTeen's prom last night, I thought about how fast time flies. One day, you're bringing home a tiny infant and the next thing you know, they're in high school and going to proms. No, I'm not here thinking "My Baaahhhhbeeeeeeee", but realizing that as I get older, the time just flies by so fast.

So, of course, I thought of a few songs from my youth that touch on the subject of time. The first, probably one of the first Steely Dan songs I can recall hearing (Do It Again was released first, but it didn't make as much of an impact.) At the time it came out, it was in heavy rotation and the words didn't mean much. Now I appreciate the sarcasm.

A guy whose voice has always caught my attention is Al Stewart. In 1978, this one was all over the airwaves and for some reason, it seemed to be played every afternoon in the half hour drive between my junior high school and my bus stop, not that was a bad thing. Anything to cut down on Don Imus running at the mouth...

One from 1980 that really captivated me at the time was the Alan Parson's Project's Time. I heard it a lot in that spring and summer and well, it has good harmonies and is well constructed.

Each of these songs provides a snapshot of my youth to me, Reelin' in the Years to the weekend I spent at my best friend Nerissa's after she'd moved to Long Beach and we'd moved to Merrick. She lived a couple of blocks away from the boardwalk and we walked everywhere with her mom and sisters.

Time Passages reminds me of the daily bus ride and I can close my eyes and be transported back to the journey out of the school parking lot, down the main thoroughfares of my town to the bus stop right across the street from my house.

Time reminds me of (what else?) summers at the beach and riding my bicycle everywhere with my radio hooked into the rack on the back of my ten speed.

What about you? Songs about Time that are favorites? Memories they evoke?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Game Teen attended his school's prom tonight.

No, he didn't miraculously skip two years of school, rather, all the high school students are welcome to attend the event. About twenty of the 40 or so students in the program were there tonight.

I took pictures for the school, and hope that some parents enjoy the candids of their teens (one mom forgot her camera and offered to pay me.) Of course, I had to get some pictures of my handsome boy first.

As soon as I knew he was going, I had a mental image of what he'd wear. Black dress pants and a dark blue shirt. Ties and jackets were not required and honestly, with GameTeen's sensory issues, I wasn't going to even attempt them.

Even so, I think he looks mighty dapper. The shirt did exactly what I'd expected-made his eyes really stand out.

He had a fantastic time and even says he'll try a tie next year, but he's not guaranteeing that he'll keep it on. Post prom, I took him for a treat at Rita's and he is still smiles after arriving home.

Let's hope the rest of his high school dances and proms are as enjoyable.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Well, If Tomorrow Really is the Rapture...

Considering that it's past 6pm in Australia, Japan and New Zealand, I'd say the doomsday people are wrong. Just in case, I made a really good dinner of stuffed clams tonight.

(I wonder if the people who haven't paid for the auctions they won earlier today are hedging their bets before paying tomorrow-after 6pm)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Down Side of Cat Ownership

The lanai has new furniture.

The cat adores spending time on the lanai, running for the slider to go outside as soon as we awake in the morning, and anytime he's had to spend more than five minutes in the house. This, of course, is followed by him pawing to come in five minutes later if you haven't joined him out there.

He makes this chirping noise when he observes various creatures like anoles or bugs on the screen. If they make it into the enclosure, he's relentless in hunting them down.

The bad part: he's a long hair cat. He gets hairballs. In the past week, he's decided to deposit a couple of these hairballs.

On the brand new furniture.

Good thing it's Sunbrella fabric, but damn, it's annoying.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The eBay App

As the owner of an iPhone, I have quite a few free applications that I put on my phone because I was sure I'd use them, and I haven't really done so. One of those was the eBay app. To give you an idea, I've been a registered member of eBay for almost 10 years (in 2 weeks, I'll hit that mark), and I've only got 108 ratings. So, I'm not a hard core user, but it fills a need.

Last week, I put some items up for auction, Disney collectibles. I did a lot of research on the pieces to get an idea of their value, but eBay's website is helpful in showing you current auctions. Google might help you find recently closed sales and the biggest resources are a few Disneyana sites.

However, a friend mentioned the iPhone app will allow you to search closed auctions. Why don't they do that on the website? I launched the app on my phone today and was able to keep track of the items I'm selling AND look up some of the ones I'm about to list and closed auctions for items I have listed.

Apparently, I did some pretty good research, because none of my starting prices are higher than the successful closed auctions of the same collectibles. However, if I'd known sooner that I could do this on the phone, I probably could have saved a few hours searching.

So, if you're an eBay seller and trying to get a feel for what that item might sell for, grab yourself the eBay app for your smart phone and let the search engine do the legwork for you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunction

For just over two years, I've been in college student mode. I've got my casual capris, a couple of pairs of jeans and a boatload of USF t-shirts. Until I was on that committee, where I needed to look professional, it was usual to see me in casual attire.

A few months ago, Meghan went out and bought a new wardrobe thanks to her weight loss and inspired me to buy a handful of nicer tops. I'm loving the fact that peasant-style blouses are back in, so I grabbed a few of them in different colors. When I had the interview about a month ago for the GA position, I went and got a pair of dress capris.

Last week, another dress shirt that was more summery than the shirts I got for the committee interviews. It was paired with those dress capris. (In black, will I ever realize I have a cream-colored cat?) I wasn't looking at the big picture, because I'd had two previous interviews and didn't get the jobs-besides, they were campus jobs where it wouldn't matter if I wore casual pants.

I got the job.

Sunday night, as I'm figuring out what to wear, the realization that 'crap, I don't have enough appropriate attire that fits' came to the fore. Yesterday and today, I was fine. I've got another pair of pants for Thursday and need to go through my old dress attire to see if there's anything that fits.

I think the realization is setting in that for the first few paychecks, I'll have to go out and grab a new outfit (or at least a business appropriate top) to match the nature of the job. I guess I'd had myself in the mindset that I wasn't going to get a job that I didn't get to this part!

I've been told that as long as I don't show up in jeans, I'm fine. However, I know that I'll be greeting some VIPs on a regular basis, so it's important to be a little more polished than that. It would be bad to show up in casual wear and meet the new VP, know what I mean?

Monday, May 16, 2011


One of the cool things about living in Florida, less than 100 miles away from Cape Kennedy, is that when the shuttles are launched, we can see them. In the seven years here, I've probably seen a half dozen-and could have seen more if the work schedule or cloud cover cooperated.

The last launch, I was emptying out Jane's apartment and stopped what I was doing to watch and take pictures. She had a fifth floor apartment and the windows pointed in the proper direction. Unfortunately, the cloud deck prevented us from seeing Discovery's last journey into space.

If Endeavor had gone up on the original launch date, we would have been in like flint. Crystal clear blue skies with a few puffy clouds dotting the skies. Alas, that launch was scrubbed and rescheduled for this morning. At 8am, it looked like rain, but the launch was still on.

Crap. Clouds. Lots of them.

Just in case, I schlepped the camera and my bulky tripod to the field behind our house, hoping that either the clouds would burn off or the shuttle could be seen in between the layers.

It didn't happen.

One launch left, and I'm hoping for clear skies.

Godspeed, Endeavor.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I know, I know. Long time readers are scratching their heads, figuring I was done with the Sunday music posts. It's time to resurrect this topic, because I like being able to prepare what I'll write about. Especially now that there will be three classes and a job to occupy most of my time!

A friend started doing the 30 Day Song Challenge on Facebook last month and well, I had to do it. It was a meme with a twist, asking participants to name a song that reminded them of an event, a song that made them happy, guilty, or a song that they listened to when angry.

It inspired a lot of thought. Some of the selections were tough. I really couldn't come up with one for guilty until Ed told me what his was (he took the challenge, too). In this space, I'd mentioned that we had three songs with the designation "Our Song." I posted one, he posted another. (We selected the same song to be played at our funeral) Some of the choices might not have been so difficult, if only I'd thought to peruse the archives of SSS to see what musings I'd had on the topics.

The list:

day 01 - your favorite song
October Project, Take Me As I Am

day 02 - your least favorite song
Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On

day 03 - a song that makes you happy
Steve Harwell, Fun in the Sun

day 04 - a song that makes you sad
Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, Whiskey Lullabye

day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone
The Fifth Dimension, Wedding Bell Blues

day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere
Gary Wright, Dream Weaver

day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event
The Mavericks, All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down

day 08 - a song that you know all the words to
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, O Fortuna

day 09 - a song that you can dance to
The Chicken Dance. Yes, I really chose the Chicken Dance.

day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep
Lee Greenwood, God Bless the USA

day 11 - a song from your favorite band
Marillion, Kayleigh (Fish era) and Easter (Hogarth era)

day 12 - a song from a band you hate
Guns N Roses, November Rain

day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure
Abba, Take a Chance on Me

day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love
Deborah Gibson, I Love You

day 15 - a song that describes you
Space Ghost, I Love Almost Everybody

day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate
Styx, Mr. Roboto

day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio
Rush, Limelight

day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio
Squeeze, Misadventure

day 19 - a song from your favorite album
October Project, Always

day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry
Pink, So What

day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy
The Romantics, What I Like About You

day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad
Kellie Coffey, Dance With My Father

day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding
Marillion, Made Again

day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral
Echolyn, Never the Same

day 25 - a song that makes you laugh
Star Trek/Monty Python, Knights of the Round Table

day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument
Raymond Hannisian, Movin On

day 27 - a song that you wish you could play
Billy Joel, Angry Young Man

day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty
Shaun Cassidy, Da Doo Ron Ron

day 29 - a song from your childhood
Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now

day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year
Sara Bareilles, King of Anything

It is an eclectic list, as I'd pledged at the beginning of the challenge. Sometimes, there were three or four songs that would have fit the bill perfectly. The challenge asked that you post YouTube videos for the songs to share, but in the interests of space and loading times, I'm not placing them here.

However, if something interests you, I promise if you cut and paste a title in You Tube, you'll probably get the version that was posted to my wall. It's almost like having a Suzanne jukebox.

What about you? Did you or are you going to participate in the challenge?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's Time

We are sitting on a lot of stuff in this house. We downsized from a 2400 square foot house, to 1600 sf. When Jane moved into assisted living last year, she had items she wanted to keep, but they didn't fit into her ALF apartment. Into the garage and storage they went.

Then, when she broke her hip and it was clear she wouldn't be able to move back into her apartment, we packed the place up, planning to get rid of a bunch of it, but knowing we couldn't do that until she'd decided what to keep and sell. It got shoved into storage and the garage until both were busting at the seams, then some of it got put into our living room and family room.

Here we are, two months later, and it's just getting old, navigating around this stuff. Some of it is worth putting on eBay, some may be better off donated. I brought all of her clothes to Goodwill a while back, but there are movies out the wazoo, various collectibles, books and the like.

To start off, I just printed out the moratorium list of Disney movies. We have duplicates of most of our collection in Jane's stuff, so there's really no need to keep them. Heck, in some cases, there are three copies of movies (like Tron). Jane didn't believe in renting movies, so there are some movies in here that are head scratchers-she wanted to see them, and was willing to spend $25 to Walgreen's for a copy the day it came out.

At least this will get rid of four huge boxes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

After Nearly Three Years

I am returning to the workforce with a steady job.

It's part time and in my career field. No benefits, but I'll take the pay and the opportunity to learn things I need to know, all the while helping others as part of the job. Even better, I'll be working with people I know. (The interview was full of laughs because I knew all but one of the interviewers.)

It feels a little weird to not have to stalk my usual job-hunting sites...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Have You Ever?

**This post was written yesterday, but Blogger was down, so I'm adjusting the date to reflect the actual time it was written.**

Visited a website and are so jarred by the typographical errors and out of date information that it prevents you from absorbing the material you were seeking?

Tonight, on the advice of a professor in the course materials, visited a website for an association I will be expected to join when I finish my education. This professor has a quiz for us to see how much we delved into the site, so I took my time looking around and seeing what is offered.

However, the section for the graduate students (who comprise 1/3 of their membership) is chock full of misspellings and links to events that ‘you can attend’-only they happened two months ago. The greetings from the Chair and Chair-elect are nice, but the chair elect’s information stated he was to hold the role from 2010-2011. Oops.

I posted on Facebook how I probably should join the organization, but it’s hard to read a site that I want to fix. One of my favorite profs from my undergrad is a friend and suggested I offer to fix the site.

She knows me well. It’s something I do well, in fact, I enjoy the editing tasks my friends sometimes ask me to do for them and proof reading for them would further hone my skills and make their site more attractive to others. A half hour later, an email was sent, pointing out the more glaring errors on the site and offering to assist in proof reading if there isn’t already someone with that role.

We shall see what happens.

Between when I wrote this last night and posting it today, I got a nice message back from the Webmaster. She gave me contact info for the Graduate student side of their organization and suggested contacting them and offering up my services.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why Does This Woman Have a Cooking Show?

I'm not even Jewish, but this offends me! I'm going to put some food coloring in store bought frosting, put it on a store bought angel food cake, then I'm going to dump some jet puffed marshmallows in the middle.


At least if you want to honor your Jewish friends and you're too incompetent lazy busy to cook something from scratch, get a box of Streits Potato pancake mix and have at it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What a Difference a Semester Makes

Prior to this semester, I'd look at jobs in my intended field to see where they could be found, how much the going rate is for an instructional technologist and what skills are most commonly desired. All the while, as a member of the student association, our leader is kind enough to regularly transmit job postings he sees in academia.

If you'd asked two years ago, my hope was to find a corporate job with a Fortune 100 in HR developing training materials. Now, I definitely feel that I'm a better fit for academia and as a result, I look more closely at the job postings R. has submitted to the group.

At the beginning of the semester, it was fun to look at them and think "Someday, I'll know how to do those things," but now, just one semester later, I could actually apply for the jobs because I've worked with each program.

Just because I've done one assignment for a class doesn't make me an expert, so I will continue refining the skills I've gained. It still impresses me that one semester could give me the basics to get a job.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Dejá Vu

Tonight, I attended graduation, not as a staffer (which I'd done several times), nor as a graduate. This time, it was to cheer on some friends. At the 11th hour, though, one of the friends was able to get her application for graduation rescinded so that she could pursue a second major in foreign language.

Another graduated tonight and quite a few people I'd attended classes with were among the ranks, too-so I sat in the audience and took pictures and video of the ceremonies.

However, the President of the university gave his speech and it sounded familiar. Too familiar. Then he mentioned his fondness for the St. Crispin's Day speech in Henry V and extolled what it meant. Too bad I heard the same speech as I sat in the audience as a member of the December graduating class.

The student government president also spoke tonight, as she did in December. Back then, I commented to another friend how her body language and facial expression said she wanted to be anywhere but at that ceremony representing the student body that put her there, that the speech was lackluster and obviously had not been practiced. Tonight, she used the same speech, fumbled the same exact sections, but at least she was more animated. Perhaps because this was her graduation ceremony.

Ed laments my memory retention, especially when it is used to recall something he'd rather forget. Tonight, I was lamenting my ability to remember that I'd heard these speeches before. I would have thought that graduation would have merited an hour or two of reflection to write something new.

Guess I was wrong.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Netting Down to What's Important

As we get older, our world view changes. In my case, my world is expanding in one way, while the family ties are dwindling.

We've had losses over the past few years that really change perspectives on what is important. My mom. Ed's mom. Ed's sisters. My niece's son, born too early this past October. Family by proxy is encountering an end of life journey with Hospice. (Ironically, they came to our family via Jane, who severed ties with the person who is in his last days.)

Today is a day that has caused me to reflect. The moms no longer with us, the friends who want so desperately to be called 'Mom' that probably won't have that opportunity. I'm pretty darn fortunate that not just once, but twice, I was able to bring a baby to term. Healthy babies, though if they knew I wrote the word 'baby' to describe them, they'd each be annoyed, so fast they are traveling away from that moniker.

While I think of the sadness that the day can bring, I think of the happiness. My sister celebrates this day as the mother of three, as my new nephew decided that he'd had enough of the cramped quarters at 34 weeks. He's got a bit of a hospital stay in store, but he's healthy.

In all of it, I am fortunate to know a lot of love in my life. From my Mom, from Ed's mom. From Ed, to share that desire for children. And those two boys, playing, laughing and grubbing for food this Mother's day, they don't have to say a word for me to know that they love me probably as much as I love them.

That's the best gift a Mom could get.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

What Do You Want From Europe?

Meghan is here, enjoying the cool evening on the lanai. She asks us what she should bring us back from her trip.

Ed tells her Citroen CV. I laugh.

She has no idea what he asked for. I don't think it'll fit in her luggage.

And I was thinking a bottle of wine was too much to ask.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Estate Planning, Part Two

Oy, oy, headache.

I've mentioned before that despite the suggestions, Jane ignored any advice given about how to prepare for her eventual demise. When we did the pre-paid burial for Mom, we'd suggested the same for her and we only got as far as the fact that she wanted her ashes spread (or at least some of them) at Walt Disney World.

She never changed beneficiaries on things when Mom passed, in fact, she changed the beneficiaries TO Mom when she was 80 years old. Not wise thinking, and the topic was one she completely shut down on whenever it was brought up.

Today, I had a brief but productive conversation with a lawyer and the headache I envisioned in getting things through probate is actually what I'd expected, though it's not as bad as it could be. We have to have intestate probate filings for both Jane and Mom, though it doesn't matter which order we do them in.

That's good, because it's not going to be cheap.

Once again, people. If you haven't gotten your final wishes in order, do it now. If your assets are designated to be given to family members who have passed away, fix it. Today.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line

Early this morning, I turned in my last assignment for the semester. An hour later, the grade came back and I secured another A for the semester and did what I accomplished something I did not expect this semester: I got a 4.0.

Grad school is supposed to be more challenging. I suppose it is, but life was far more challenging than school has been this semester. It probably boils down to finally learning how to use programs that I had been exposed to for many years, but didn't have the money to invest in my own copies.

With all the stuff going on with Jane, in February, I was convinced that I'd probably end the semester with two B's and an A. Definitely respectable, but not what a grade junkie really wants. By the numbers, if you're wondering, a 99, 92.2 and 100.

Here and there, I run into friends who are finishing up their undergrad and they're curious. "Is grad school as hard as they make it out to be?" It definitely depends on what you're studying and how passionate you are about the subject. Last year sometime, a staffer on that campus told me that she found graduate studies easier, because she didn't have to take classes in things that didn't interest her. After a semester, I have to agree with that opinion.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Learning From Other People's Experiences

Today, I had a half dozen reasons to stay home. Gas prices are insane, I still have to finish my assignments for Interactive(though I'm wrapping that up right now), there's things to attend to dealing with Jane's affairs, I'm tired and want to sleep in. Instead, I thought it was more important to go, for it's not every day that you are provided a chance to glimpse into your future.

Last week, one of the professors emailed out an invitation to a dissertation proposal defense. As soon as I got the email, I said I have to go. Here's one of the all-too-rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the dissertation process. Believe me, I've asked my professors many questions about their experiences on the road to the PhD., but the nitty gritty of how they achieved it is one of those things that remained a mystery. Perhaps, like childbirth, it's something to block out?

In any event, at the appointed time, I found the conference room and filed in along with the candidate (David), the five members of his review committee and four other students. For a moment, I worried that my plan to take notes would not go over well, but it wasn't really a concern.

David started with his overview. As he gave the abstract, I thought to myself "Crap! I have such a narrow area of focus, will it pass this step?" It soon became clear that what he was proposing was way too big for one dissertation, it was originally slated to be worked on by three students and because it is a novel area of research, he'll only be doing the first phase to earn his PhD.


Then he got into the various steps of the research, what steps needed to be taken and how they'd be accomplish. Throughout this part, I had questions brewing in my head, ones that come from studying psychology and reading I don't know how many juried papers in the past two years. Questions about the validity of using Likert scales with the types of questions he was planning to ask his research participants, what is the dependent variable you're looking to prove and how are you going to refute the implications that the subject may have been influenced into participating because their superiors asked them to do so?

Yeah, I know, I am talking Greek. Just call me a research geek, because I am.

Anyway, the questions I had really are because David is using a methodology I haven't really had much experienced with, a descriptive study. It makes sense when you're embarking on a study topic that no one has broached before and David sees the benefit in what he's doing because future researchers can then have a dependent variable thanks to his work.

The two hours was very well spent because I just cut out a lot of potential wheel spinning before I've even entered that first 7000 level class. In addition, I met another PhD. candidate and got further insights into the process and what roadblocks sometimes come along.

Some might think it weird that I've just completed my first semester as a grad student and I took out two hours to witness a meeting that is at best, three or four years down the road for me. I look at it as putting a coordinate into the GPS to prevent getting lost along the way.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

When Cultures Collide

I don't expect my fortune from Chinesr takeout to be in Spanish, but it was.

Monday, May 02, 2011

May I Have a Tutorial for My Tutorial?

One quarter of my grade in this last class is to create a tutorial with five different software packages that are used to create presentations. The objective was to create the same educational tutorial, just modify it to use the bells and whistles of the various programs.

So, there were five. SoftChalk, Articulate, Camtasia, Captivate and Lectora. I started with the SoftChalk and the time to complete the task was not extremely long, but I probably put about an hour more work into this program due to the learning curve.

Then I played with Camtasia and Captivate, two programs that I had purchased for the Mac, but hadn't installed until this week. Camtasia was ridiculously easy to use and turned out a fantastic voiceover presentation that was synched with a Powerpoint slide. (If I created the project on PC, I would have been able to add a quiz.)

Now that I've used three other Adobe products, Captivate made a lot of sense and I really liked it. The learning curve was crazy fast, partly because I knew what I needed to do with the tutorials at this point and partly because the Adobe products just make a lot of sense in how they're laid out. Heck, I didn't even look at the training guides and dove right it.

The other two programs presented a little bit of a hassle, because they are PC based. Articulate not only is PC based, it requires PowerPoint to launch, which Ed does not have on his machine. Our disc for MS Office got misplaced when we moved and he's been using Open Office since.

So, when I dropped GameTeen at school today, I headed over to campus and loaded the trial copies of the two programs on one of the PCs on campus. I launched Articulate first and in less than an hour, had a great looking presentation with quiz questions and a voiceover. That left Lectora, which I thought would be just as easy and give me the chance to work on Dreamweaver for the rest of the night.

That would be a big no.

I've heard the program is really good, but I spent the better part of the day putting stuff together, trying to package or save it, only to get fatal errors. Have you ever used a website that had a table of contents on it, that you could link back to pages? That was one of the things I had to do, and a heck of a lot of digging around in the instructional videos occurred before I found out exactly how to make it work.

Lectora is billed as the presentation packaging program that doesn't require programming experience. I beg to differ. Even with cursory coding skills, many of the features didn't work as seamlessly as a beginner would expect.

I got error messages about the pictures I included, I found that if you don't save before packaging, the program returns error message after error message and won't allow you to save multiple copies of the same title, even if you are trying to save them in separate locations. (You know, the 'save as' feature?)

It ticks me off, and I had to walk away from it. I'll start from scratch tomorrow because I am beyond irritated. The thing is, for the expense of the program (a thousand dollars retail), it really doesn't deliver a product that is that much better than Captivate or Articulate. I'm basing that on the several classmates who do this work for a living and know what they're doing with Lectora.

Now I understand why there was so much grumbling in the class about this tutorial...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Pits Stop

I have allergies. Many allergies, and the majority of them are head scratchers, though this one leaves me scratching my pits (and other parts, too).

Behold, the antiperspirant. Life in Florida necessitates the use of this stuff. Prior to living here, I could go most of the year without it, because I didn't sweat very much, even when active. Yeah, I know, I'm weird. However, for those few months when I needed to swipe the underarms, it was a struggle finding something that didn't result in my pits being itchy and me trying in vain not to look like a monkey.

Until the stuff on the right came along. When I worked for Bath and Body Works (the first time), they introduced this product and I got one for free to test it out. Like many of their products at the time, I didn't have an issue with it, which we used in my store to great advantage (Suzanne is allergic to just about everything under the sun and has had no reactions to it!).

As is typical, I stocked up on it, like I did many of my favorite B&BW products. Fortunately, living in Maryland meant that the four sticks lasted almost ten years. Yes, the people on Extreme Couponing are correct-this stuff lasts forever. Right about the time we moved here, B&BW was having one of their semi annual sales, and I scooped up all of the Raspberry antiperspirant, probably another 8 sticks.

Now, I'm down to one.

This means that one bathroom has a stick and the other does not. It's been so long since I've used anything else that I didn't stop to consider what using a different brand would do to me. In a hurry to leave, I grabbed Chef's pit shit (what we call it) and applied to the pits and cleavage because it was going to be a 95〫day.

Twenty minutes later, I regretted not taking the extra few minutes to go get my stick, and three days later, I'm still covered in hives where the Right Guard was applied. It's irritating and frustrating, but the temporary problem makes me realize a bigger one: this is my LAST stick of the B&BW stuff. They don't make it anymore and probably haven't for years.

I'm worried at what I'll find out there!