Thursday, September 30, 2010

Panic and Job Rumors

Today I saw a news item saying the company I work for isn't being purchased.  Management says the company isn't for sale and these are unfounded rumors.

I find this less than reassuring.  Something had to prompt the rumor.

I've worked hard on this product for the past 7 years and part of me feels that a buyer would acknowledge that expertise and keep me on. They would invest lots of money into improving the product and have super benefits. This is my Disney view of the world.

But another part of me feels that a buyer would take the product in an entirely different direction and my services would no longer be required.  They would move the production to another town and I would be stuck here with my underwater house. This is the Brothers Grimm reality.

I don't want to look for a new job.  I like the one I have.  It took me a long time to get to do the specific kind of programming I like.   I like the people I've worked with for years.  And I like my recently hired team mate. 

Selling myself is one task at which I do not excel.  I mentioned that I thought my skills were too niche to make it easy to find another.  My team mate has worked contract jobs the past few years and assured me that I would have no difficulty.  (This is one of the reasons I like him.: )

I know it's premature to worry.  But I have been in the work force long enough to recognize the signs are there.   

When I grew up, the guys got out of high school, got jobs at the local plant, and worked there until retirement.

At the moment, that stability sounds really nice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm trying to be green - ish.

I grew up in the hippie era, where everyone was going to live in communes and live close to nature.  While that didn't happen, I have been trying to be more aware.

I've switched almost all of my light bulbs for CFL bulbs.  Although now I am hearing that the mercury content of the CFL bulbs may not make them quite as green as previously believed.

I've put most of my electronic equipment on a switch so I can prevent vampire energy.

I had my 13 year old air conditioner replaced with a more efficient unit.  And when the nights are cool, I use window fans to bring the cool air in and turn off the air conditioner entirely.

My thermostat is set at 88 during the day and 85 at night, supplemented with a couple of fans to circulate the air.  I am quite comfortable at those temperatures, but if I get warm, well, it is summer in the desert.

I had the insulation in my attic doubled.  That has really helped keep the hot air out of the house.  Does it count if I also benefit from lower electric bills?

I had the patio cover extended along the whole south of the house.  The sun stays out of the house and those rooms stay cooler.

I hang my laundry out to dry.  Why not take advantage of the extreme Arizona dryness?   And if that prolongs the life of my 13 year old dryer, even better.

I use cloth napkins, and cloth cleaning rags.  I gave up paper plates for real plates.

I use a push mower on my small patch of lawn and put the grass clippings on my flower garden.   That the push mower is so much quieter than the electric mower that preceded it is an additional benefit.

I've cut back on irrigation to most of my plants and discovered they do just fine with less water.  Maybe even better. 

I put leftover bread, fruit, and vegetables out for the wild birds and bunnies.

I sweep once for every time I vacuum.  I think it's quicker.  And it is definitely quieter. 

But still, I have far too many gadgets with batteries that must be recharged often.

And I drive alone to work every day.

I am hoping that everything else I do compensates for that.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two toenails clipped, 8 to go.

If I had written this post yesterday, the title would have been one toenail clipped.  But wonder of wonders, Angel let me clip one more toenail today.   (I am only counting the front paws.  The claws on the back don't seem to grow as fast.)

Why is this worthy of celebration?  Well, when I was given Angel I was told it was impossible to clip her toenails.  And as you can see, that girl's toenails are lethal - long, strong, and wielded when she wants your attention.  I have scratches on my upper arms from ignoring her desire to be petted.  

Shortly after I got her, I took her to the vet for her annual shots.  "While we are here," I asked, "can you clip her toenails?'  Sure, no problem.  They took her into the back.  Fifteen minutes later, they brought her back, the technician disheveled and flushed.  "We got one toenail clipped," she admitted glumly.  Apparently they tried sweetness to no avail.  And they had three people hold her down.  That was how they got the one toenail clipped.  "She will have to be sedated to have her toenails clipped."

 Yikes!  Sedation is not cheap.  However, she needed to have her teeth cleaned. They cut her toenails while she was unconscious for the teeth cleaning.

That was a year ago.

Those pesky toenails have continued growing since then.  So recently I started a campaign to get her to allow this procedure.  She has always been willing to have you handle her toes as long as your hand was empty.  One day I was filing my fingernails and quickly ran the file against one toe.  She looked at me, startled.  Was she startled that I did it, or startled that it didn't hurt? 

The next day, the same procedure, but for slightly longer.  Then I waited until she was standing in the kitchen and asked her for her paw.  Another quick swipe of the file.  She bounced around the family room, quite pleased with herself.  At that point, I put Peanut up on the counter and trimmed her toenails.  When I put her down, I asked Angel for her paw.  When she gave it to me, I quickly snipped one toenail.  Again she was thrilled.

But I couldn't get her to give me her paw again.  For the past week, I have been running the file against her toenails whenever she lays her head in my lap.  But until today, she wouldn't allow me near her with the clippers.

Two down.  Eight to go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Letting go of an elderly pet

For me, the hardest part about being a pet parent is deciding when to let go.  The actual letting go is difficult, of course, and the grief has to be dealt with.  But deciding when the time is right is a horrible decision to make.

None of my pet children have died on their own.  I have had to choose the time to have them put down.  Yet I know that I would have been more devastated had any of my beloved pets gone off into a corner and died alone.

Belker made the right time apparent.  He was blind and deaf and had what I now know was canine dementia.  When I found him lying with his tail in his water dish and not caring. I knew it was time.  But still, 15 years later, I wonder if there was more I could have or should have done.

Marlie didn't give me any indication that he was ready.  But he clearly had dementia and seemed disturbed by it, endlessly pacing the house. Again, there is doubt.  Was he ready?  Or was I?

Now Rags.  But his situation was different and, to me, more difficult.  His problem was illness, not age. 
I treated the Valley Fever and it got better.  But the damage to his kidneys was irreversible.  Cats, I am told, can live long and comfortably with kidney disease.  Not so, dogs.

So I did what I could, and more than I could really afford, trying to save my friend, my companion, my fur child. I spent the Labor Day weekend fussing over him, treating him with medicine, loving and holding him. 

And it became apparent that I was doing this for me, not for him.  He became more and more frail, more and more tired, but always willing to let me hold him and hug him.  At least for a little while.  Those times became briefer and briefer as he just wanted to be left alone to escape into sleep.

And I knew it was time, though I didn't want to admit it.  He had an evaluation at the vet this morning.  I held out one last hope that his lab numbers would be better, that he was actually improving.  He lost only four tenths pound in 3 days.  That was a small victory, wasn't it?

But the vet called and said he was wasting away, that there wasn't anything more that could be done.  That it was time.  So I cried and held my pet, my child, my friend until he took his last breath. 

The vet told me Rags was lucky to have me, that I took good care of him.

No.  I was the lucky one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No Pink Tools

I use my reciprocating saw a lot.  It is one of the few tools I have that I purchased brand new.  It's slim and light and easy to handle.  And it's orange.

It's orange because it was marketed as a one-handed saw.  For men.  If it been marketed as a light weight saw for women, it would have been pink.  I don't do pink tools.

I'm not sure where manufacturers got the idea that if they color it pink, women will flock to buy their product, regardless of what that product is.  Pink toasters, pink tools, pink food processors, pink frying pans, the list goes on and on.

For every woman who is thrilled to buy a pink something, there are women like me who are repulsed.  I know a woman who paid extra to have a man's bicycle modified to fit rather than buy the pink woman's version.
What is wrong with black, or silver, or blue?  Oh wait, somehow blue became associated with little boys.  Girls are associated with pink.  Pink has it's place.  I have pink shirts and a pink dress.  But keep pink out of the hardware store. 

I think my biggest objection here is the implication that 'every' woman wants the same things.  I get irritated at commercials that state every woman wants pearl earrings for her birthday.  Not all of us want to be given flowers and candy and jewelry.  My favorite gifts are electronics and tools and books. 

Not all women want the same things any more than all men want the same things.  Don't make assumptions about an entire gender.  You could be alienating some of your customer base.

No pink tools.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I don't mind Product Placement

I admit I skip the commercials every chance I get.  I occasionally miss out on a funny one, but I'm willing to take that risk.

So I don't mind that programs are resorting to product placements within the shows - if it is done organically.

It's not like this is a new practice.  It's been done since the days of radio.  For all I know, maybe the Shakespearean Globe players shilled products within their plays.  Somewhere along the line, it became accepted practice to use generics within the program.  No one wanted to alienate possible advertisers.  Disguising the brand of soda or bread, or turning products so the brands weren't visible made the programs less realistic.

In my circle, if you buy a new phone, the first question is, which one?  (Motorola Cliq)  Ditto for cars.  (Mazda Protege)  If I ask someone to grab me a can of pop, I don't leave the choice up to them.  I specify Diet Pepsi.  So discussing what we've bought, by brand, is natural and realistic.

Product placement can be natural or jarring, sometimes within the same program.  I find it endearing that Myka Bering on Warehouse 13 likes Twizzlers.  I only hope the actress, Joanne Kelly does too.  When Myka is nibbling on a Twizzler within the scene, or buying them at a convenience store, the actions seem genuine.  However, when she goes to her class reunion and there is a big container of Twizzlers on the sign-in desk, that screamed "Product Placement".

Ditto Covert Affairs.  The scene where Annie's sister, Danielle takes Bud Light out of the refrigerator was blatant product placement, but in a sly way I found amusing.  The scene where Jai was doing a stakeout by using the car's rear camera was awesome.  I was impressed at the new use of technology.  (Yes, he was too close to the house not to be seen. Different issue.)  But moments later he walks behind the car and instead of following the actor, the camera pans the rear of the car to show the model name.  Buzz!  Penalty for blatant promotion.  And it didn't work.  I don't know what kind of car it was.

If White Collar does product placement, it is so subtle as to be completely natural.  In this week's episode, Neil mentions Peter looks good in his Armani suit.  Was that a product placement or character development?  And the villain's propensity for a specific kind of liquor.  Product Placement or plot device?  Lastly, the frequent mentions of gourmet coffee blends.  Product Placement or plot device?  Or both?

Product placement can affect everything from which model cars the characters drive, the computers on their desk, and their favorite foods.  As long as it fits into the story, I don't mind.  I prefer that to the 20 minutes of commercials.