Showing posts from 2014

Head Scratcher


I'm not the only one who finds this a little off, right?

MSC Cruising, Take 2

Back in April, Ed and I had a fantastic time on the MSC Divina, enjoying all the musical performances of progressive rock groups on Cruise to the Edge. While we dubbed it the 'cruise to sleep deprivation', there was no question that we'd return to CTTE and the Divina the next time that CTTE left port.

There was a bit of surprise in August. The promoter (On The Blue) was hosting another full ship charter on the MSC Divina, this time for Celtic music, but he hadn't hit the numbers needed to break even on the event, and sent out an announcement to the alums of his other charters that contained a deal too good to pass up. Put it this way: We could either eat, or pay for a hotel for 4 days for the rate we were offered.

The boys were asked 'Would you like to go on a' and we didn't even finish asking before we got excited affirmative replies, so I booked and looked forward to showing Chef and GameTeen all the things that Ed and I had talked about for six m…

Of Life, Cruises, and a Whole Bunch of Other Stuff

Seems that once you break a years-long blogging streak, you tend to think 'screw it', and don't really write very much. Not for a lack of anything to say, rather, just the habit has been broken.

Last month, we went on a trip that was a lot of fun. I uploaded the pictures to the laptop and then it wouldn't add them to my posts. There are some things kerflooey with the laptop, so I figured that I'd just upload the pictures to the iMac and I'd be good to go. Um, for some strange reason, the iMac is not recognizing the SD card slot or some of the USB plugs. So, the post still sits in draft. Next up, loading the pictures onto the OTHER laptop (the one I purchased last year and then got the older laptop fixed) and getting those pictures on that draft post and putting them up.

So yeah, trip. The promoter of the cruise Ed and I went on in April sent out a steal of a deal offer and I was of the mind that we would do whatever we could to be ON that ship. I m…

Inspired to Build a Community

Friday afternoon, lunch break. I had just sat down in the break room, laptop in front of me with plans of banging out another page on this literature review that has been all consuming lately. My phone rings, and strangely, it's my friend, Jenn. She honestly has NEVER called me in the middle of the day.

The reason for the call is one of her coworkers, whose son is, like GameTeen, on the Autism spectrum. Alas, the coworker has no local support network. To be honest, I don't, either, but I've cobbled a pretty good one on the Internet over the years. 'M' and her husband need help in finding an appropriate school for their son, as the local school district hasn't met the son's needs. They've mirrored our path through the educational system, with their son clearly needing a one to one aide. The school district keeps on stating that their son must stay in a school which triggers meltdowns. Not very logical.

They've contemplating moving, as …


One of my friends and fellow coworkers is a volunteer with a local cat rescue organization. Since she started with them, she has fostered a few kitties to keep them from being euthanized at the local high-kill shelter. Spay and neuter your animals, people!

Several weeks ago, she went to take pictures of the kitties after work and found that one of the little guys was slated for euthanization the next morning. She signed the papers to foster and posted a picture on the way home of the little guy, perched on her shoulder. She'd left her carrier at home, because she honestly was not expecting yet another foster to come back to her apartment.

That picture cracked me up, for the little guy looked like Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon". He came home with the name Toaster, and the next morning at work, we were talking about various names, and I suggested Java for the black as night kitten.

Then I heard stories about the little guy and was absolutely charmed.

Nails and More Nails

I've had quite a few trips to Mandi that I haven't blogged about, so a round up of all those trips is in order: First, today's manicure. She'd done some marbling on another client's nails and offered to do mine. I think we needed more contrast and she agreed, so we'll try it with the next visit.

I think I'd mentioned that she returned to being a nail tech after several years away, raising her daughters. In that gap is when gel nail polishes took off, which means her return involved trying out three different types of UV Gels-and having a large palette of colors to choose from. (Get ready for a fourth to appear soon, as Essie joins the market with UV Gel polish soon!).

Anyway, because she's a latecomer to it, she didn't know that CND's Shellac line really played up layering to make new colors. I shared my links and was a bit disappointed that Hillary at Solessence has really moved away from the color swatching she'd done a couple …


At my job, there are two of us working with our client university. That university, rather than use our very nice, in house recording studio, opts to tape lectures on site. While there are two of us, that means we swap off months in which we head to the northeast.

My coworker, a former classmate and friend, is scheduled to travel next week, as I went last month. In planning this trip, one of his questions was "Will the leaves be turning yet?" Normally, this early, not really. Last week, we started working with our next round of instructors and set two weeks of taping, one in mid-October, and one in November. The October one probably will be just past peak color, so I offered for my coworker to go. He moved to Florida as a teen, and it had been years since he'd seen fall foliage in all its glory.

This gives me the November sessions. It wasn't until I agreed to it that I realized, hey-I'm heading out of town for Election Day. For the second time in my…

The Different Path

My Facebook feed is full of pictures of freshmen arriving at college. I never realized how many people I know with kids the same age as GameTeen. This week, it is apparent that I know about two dozen friends and former classmates with 18 year olds of their own.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, mine starts 10th grade. Mainly because when we enrolled him back in public school last year, we placed him in 9th grade to catch up on the academics that weren't a focus at his private school. Still, he matured while there, so it isn't a total waste of three years.

It's kind of surreal, to observe this juncture and realize that this is where life is definitely different for our family. GameTeen might go to college someday, but the reality is that he will do so close to home if it happens. He has the intelligence to do it, but none of the other skills. Maybe he'll gain those in the next three years, but I'm not betting on it.

Pho Viet, Brandon

At my new job, there are a few traditions my department has that I've enjoyed partaking in, the payday happy hour and Friday lunch gathering. This past week, the suggestion came up for Vietnamese food, which I'd never had. Seriously, I've never had Pho, but have wanted to try for a while.

Even better, about half my dining companions were new to the cuisine, too, so I wasn't the weird one who knew nothing.

Looking over the menu, I didn't even have a clue which dish to get. I opted for an order of fried dumplings, then selected the pork Bun Bo Ga from the half dozen items that sounded appealing.

If you're the adventurous type, this menu has you ruling things out by the ingredients you don't like, rather than decide by the rare thing you do. If I was with my cube mates, I think I would have struck a deal for us to pick four things and share around.

A side note here: One of my coworkers is a veteran consumer of the cuisine and ordered an iced Vietn…

Is This Thing On?

After many years of non-stop daily blogging, it's kind of strange for me to not write for so long. The combination of the new job and a rather intense semester conspired to keep me from the documentation of my life within this space. There are six days left until a five week semester break, so the many blog topics, and several restaurant reviews will soon spring forth from my keyboard.

The job has been the perfect one to replace the prior one. It's a large company and I feel like it is home. My cube mates are fun people, including the former classmate that I encouraged my boss to consider-he started this week. When it comes to recommending people, my manager hat will always be on-there are very few people in my discipline that I'd put my name on a recommendation, but it was nice to be able to do so for one I think has what it takes and watch it come to fruition. I have plenty of work to keep me busy, and will be traveling to my client school in August and September …

My Eye...

Is jacked up.

I started feeling some tenderness Friday, but it wasn't really red. I was thinking it was a chalazion, which I've had a couple of times in the past (think stye, they're like that). No crusty stuff, so this isn't pink eye. It's sore like I strained my eye, but no clue what is going on.

At least my doctor is close to my new job, so if they can fit me in tomorrow afternoon, I'll get to the bottom of this.

Prior Engagements

When I interviewed for this job, I told them I would be unable to work the 19th and 20th as my family would be going out of town The ability to book such travel would be really narrow, so I told them before I knew for sure. Alas, the travel opportunity window isn't going to open for this week.

Last Friday, with three days on the job, my boss and I talked about the situation and how it was somewhat tenuous. She told me that she's selfish and hoped it wouldn't come through, mainly because all our client contacts wanted to have meetings on one of the days I would be out of the office. She's also rather snarky and funny, so when I shared the news that I wouldn't be going, and thus, would be there to have these meetings, she turned away, then turned back trying to hide the grin 'I'm so sorry you won't be going on your trip', failing miserably at a pout.

Informed her of plan B, she liked the alternative date I came up with to try again.


"Are You Watching..."

Game of Thrones. World Cup Soccer. Nascar. The baseball game.

Well, me, probably no. However, it seems that lately, there are more people crying foul over the immediacy of information, the fact that they cannot avoid finding out the results of something before they return home to the DVR to see what was being taped while out living or working.

Sometimes, there is a courteous 'spoiler alert', but other times, not so much. The person who texts 'Wow, can't believe the Rangers didn't win', or 'Hey, that Jimmy Johnson stunk up that race," or "they killed off the KING" doesn't get why the other might be upset. To them, I say put yourself in the other person's shoes.

So, if you're excited about the outcome of an event, and want to share, how about prefacing the news with 'Are you watching...?" and if the answer is no, hold your words. You just may save a friendship.

Starting Anew

The Friday before last, I accepted a new job as an instructional designer. While the interview left me guessing, the structured environment that they offered did not, so I accepted the offer and started Wednesday. My rationale is that Mondays are usually hectic, and it's best to give the new boss time to get a game plan together.

After the last job, where my coworkers in my immediate office rarely talked to me (only if they needed something, it seemed), the experience there left me very gun-shy on what to expect at a new job. However, it seems that I've landed in an environment that is a complete 180 of where I was. There is a project management timeline, there is an established protocol for how we develop content and there are defined roles for each member of the team. It seems my boss really likes some qualities I bring to the table, as they balance out with hers. This is good.

I came to find that my strategy for building knowledge about what I need to know about the…

For the First Time

I am just past the midway point of the semester and I am NOT behind on anything. Thank you, Strattera.

Mind you, the ADHD meds are good at helping me to focus and stop chasing squirrels, but it is NOT good at getting rid of all those pesky bad habits and coping strategies that were ineffective for dealing with ADHD. I'm slowly learning how to be a better student and manage my time better. Some days are good, but some are rife with procrastination. Part of that is due to thinking I had so much time to get things done because I wasn't working.

The irony is that now that I'm back to work, it's easier to budget time and get things done.

How NOT to Sell Your Item on eBay (and A Way to Sell More)

Ed has been compiling a rather massive database of auctions of musical instruments on eBay for nearly a year. He spends an hour or so every day adding items to the listings, indicating condition, list price, whether it sells, for how much and shipping costs.

It is this meticulousness that resulted in him scoring a six-keyboard lot last fall, vintage keyboards, he just had to drive a couple of hours to collect them. If he relisted the ones he didn't want of the six, he'd quickly recoup what he paid for all six. So, he's gotten very good at appraising keyboards and whether they'll sell.

However, he notices a couple of strange patterns:

1. Item is listed as a one day auction. When it doesn't sell, they relist it for a few more times, then stop, item does not sell. For a large purchase, people need time to mull it over, so a 5 to 10 day time frame is the shortest one should go to allow a person to do their research and make sure it is the item they want.

2. I…

Back to Work

Wednesday, I return to the world of the working. After several really good interviews, I actually went with the job where the interview started off with NO energy.

You know what I mean, right? The interviewers are not apathetic, they're engaged, they're just not extroverted, bubbly people. It doesn't happen very often, but when faced with that situation, I always assume the worst and think I'm the bench filler applicant, the one that helps them fulfill their quota to say that they interviewed 'people' instead of 1 person for a job. Still, I had been brought in after they gave me some flawed course materials and I had 48 hours to fix it. So, they liked my work enough to bring me in.

The last half of the interview was a lot more energetic than the first, and I left with an okay vibe, but the next interview at another company a few hours later really excited me-even though it isn't directly in my field. Still, the first company came back with an off…

Really, Facebook?

Facebook gives you ads targeted to your browsing experiences. For instance, I just got this one:

The problem?

It is my picture for an auction I had up for bid last week!

I couldn't buy it if I wanted, it went to North Carolina!

Favorite Graduation Speech

It's that time of year, and I've shared this commencement speech a few places, but not on the blog.

I adore Tim Minchin, and this speech articulates a few things I've agreed with for years. Now that I'm in a philosophy class, I keep thinking of a few statements from this address.

The Job Search

In the span of four days, I applied for twelve jobs. Two returned 'thanks, but no thanks' (otherwise known as TNTs) in the matter of hours from my application. That pretty much tells me they use keyword software to look for whatever terms the successful candidate must have. I'm of the mind that automatically disqualify that way, they're missing candidates that might be more well rounded.

However, there are three that I'm in the process of doing the dance, one with an interview Thursday morning. The recruiter asked me how much I made at my most recent job, or what was the minimum I would accept for this role. I named my minimum and her tone changed, she became very chipper.

I'm realistic. I only have a year's experience in the field. My minimum is low for the corporate sector, but not that low. I also don't have the usual expenses most applicants have, in that my student loans are still in deferment while I am in school, and we don't have …

Employment Searches and Linked In

Officially, I was hired for a part time job today, but the wheels were set in motion a couple of weeks ago for me to return to doing Instructional Design. It is completely flexible, and I will complete a lot of my work from home at the same hourly rate I'd been earning before. One of my coworkers (who does all the hiring paperwork) is a little miffed that they didn't carve out a place for me to work on site, but such is life.

However, I still have to fulfill my obligations to search for a job to receive unemployment for the past two weeks. In the state of Florida, that either means that I must make five contacts or I can pay one visit to the job services office. As I've been reading and working towards writing some 30 pages for school this week, I opted to take the time to go check in to the job services office, a place I have not been since 2011, prior to earning my masters degree and working in my profession.

So, I check in and am assigned a computer. Once I log …

Thai Red Curry Coconut Chicken

Last week, I threw together a Thai dinner because we both felt like having Thai food. In the past year, I've gotten a really good handle on the cuisine's flavor profiles, and decided to try to do something with some chicken breasts we had.

This was a fairly quick one pot meal, and I'm going to make it again in the crock pot tomorrow. Here's the thing: Ed asked me to make it again a couple of days later, as he and Chef both LOVED it. So I picked up some more chicken breasts to create this once more.

Originally, I simmered it on medium heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, then shredded the chicken. If you'd rather chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and do it that way, that would work well, too. I opted to shred to infuse the flavor more.

2 pounds chicken (it probably would work well with pork or shrimp, too)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 cup sweet chili sauce
1 can chunk pineapple in juice. (If you don…

End of Semester, Colds, and Lack of Motivation

The personal pressure to post every day was pretty much wiped out with the cruise. It's probably a good thing, because I've got ideas for things to post, once I have time.

For now though, there's the massive writing project hanging over my head. It probably would have been done Wednesday night, but the generous menfolk of this house decided to share it with me. It has zapped my energy, and my ability to think in prose. So, here I am, Saturday night, and I still have a bunch of writing to do. At least the literature review chapter should be done by tomorrow night. I can get the others banged out on Monday. For instance, my intro chapter was written last year, I just need to tweak it, and the methods completely changed, but that can be fixed as well.

It's probably just as well I wasn't working, though I find that when I have a cold and I go to work, I just plug away at things and don't think about it too much. Not sure if that would have happened wi…

New Moon Sushi, Lakeland

Yes, I've written about New Moon before, under their old name. This is our go-to for sushi in Lakeland and we tend to visit a couple of times a month. Now that they've completely changed over from Shingetsu since purchasing it from Kay last year, I noticed the Urban Spoon listing had one vote and no reviews. So, link to old review, more pictures and words about this sushi place that makes me worry about what we might find when we move away from Lakeland in a few years. This sushi is THAT good.

It's hard to believe, but it has been nearly a year since Kay sold Shingetsu, but I'm happy to say that she left her restaurant in capable hands. We've been at least a half dozen times since the change and would have been a few more (if they were open for Saturday lunch, that is). The sushi is fresh, with several new favorites for Ed and me, especially the Louisiana roll. For a while, the menu had all of the Shingetsu options, plus the additions from the new owners. …