Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I don't like it when your web site lies to me.

Angel is particularly fond of small marrow treats that can only be purchased at Walmart.  They are a Walmart house brand, so I find it odd that I am having difficulty finding them.

I checked 3 different Walmart stores and was unable to find the treats in any of them.  (That's the advantage of living in a large metro area.  Lots of different stores in a reasonable distance. )

I thought that she would get used to alternative treats, but after a week of snubs and sad looks, I was glad to find the marrow treats in stock again.

And - now they're out of stock again.

Being an avid on-line shopper, I decided to check

Sadly, the small marrow treats are only available in store.  Happily, their web site indicated which stores had the treats in stock.

And that's why I'm ticked off.

Two of the stores that the web site claims have the treats in stock are the ones I've already checked.

The two stores that have no treats on the shelves.

The two stores that have not had any treats on the shelves for over a week.

I hate being lied to.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The short-lived doggy dish floor mat.

I was walking through Walmart today, fresh from buying more treats and toys for my dogs.  I passed a display of rubberized place mats to place under your dog's dishes.

Now, the dishes I use for the dry food are ceramic.  I was told that plastic makes both my dogs break out in pimples on their chins.   Who knew?

So, I use a couple of ceramic bowls.  One is in the family room and one is in the laundry room.  I have two so there isn't any fighting if they both want to eat at the same time.

Only, I have ceramic tile floors.  Bogie likes to drag the bowl across the floor.  He only moves it a few inches, but the sound of ceramic on ceramic gives me the crawlies.

I tried gluing cork to the bottom of the bowls, but that falls off when I wash the bowls.

The rubberized place mat seemed like the ideal solution.  I bought one to try, in a nice tan color to match my floor.

I put it under the bowl in the family room.  It looked kind of nice and I figured it would be easier to pick up the dropped pieces.

Angel eyed it suspiciously, left to go outside, came back and ate out of the bowl.  Success.  With one dog at least.

Bogie watched me put the mat down, but ignored the bowl and mat while we watched some morning television.

I went upstairs to check my job searches.  I heard a ceramic on ceramic scraping, louder than usual.  I assumed Bogie preferred the unmatted bowl in the laundry room.  I made a mental note to buy a second mat.

That's when he came loping up the stairs with the placement dangling from his mouth.  He came right over and proudly handed the mat to me.

Apparently, Bogie thinks he is a budding magician and pulled the mat out from under the bowl.  The dog food was dumped in a pile on the floor.

So, no tidy place mats for me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Job search crisis of confidence

I read in this morning's paper that in order to get a job, you need to have a job. Employers apparently look at the unemployed as damaged goods. (Unemployed complain they need a job to find a job)

Great!  That does good things to my confidence level.

It also didn't help that my mother, who talks before engaging her brain, asked me yesterday if I was too old to get another job.

Thanks, Mom.   And I'm not that old, thank you very much.

Nor did it help that the HR person from Company A who said Tuesday that he was going to schedule an interview for "this week", never got back to me.

There are several things preventing me from spiraling into a vortex of self-pity.

1) Wil Wheaton.  Yes, THE Wil Wheaton posted that he was having a crisis of confidence after not getting any response from an audition he thought went well.  If Wil Wheaton can have doubts, it's okay for me to have doubts. (living in a hallway that keeps growing)

2) I spoke to a recruiter on Thursday that did not mention my lack of employment as a problem.

3) I have a phone interview scheduled for Monday with Company B.

Still, that doesn't mean I don't lay awake nights, worrying.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2013

My friend, TJ and I went to the Renaissance Festival Monday, President's Day.  We totally miscalculated how many people would be off work and willing to drive to Gold Canyon for the day, even for a half price entrance fee.  It took 90 minutes to drive the 25 miles to the Festival site.

But it was worth it.

I've been to the Festival in other years.  They have it here every February and March.  No one in their right mind would dress up in period clothing for an entire day any later in the year.  It was already quite warm Monday.

Lots of dressed up people.  I couldn't always tell which were the festival participants and which were fair-goers playing along.  Well, the two guys dressed as Ghostbusters complete with proton packs were probably not part of the fair.

It's been three years since my last foray.  I swear every time I go the Festival is bigger.  There were artisan shops that I don't remember ever seeing.  It was really hard to resist buying this striking leather, ankle-length vest.  But seriously, no matter how cool it was, where would I wear it?  It wouldn't look right with my usual uniform of t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.

We watched an amazing demonstration of glass blowing.  I hadn't realized how little air is needed, nor how many layers of molten glass.  It's probably a good thing the equipment is so large and expensive, or I would have myself yet another hobby.  I also resisted buying any of the beautiful glass.  I know it's worth the price, but I would be devastated if I broke a piece that I spent that much money on.

The shows were awe-inspiring.  I had only ever been to the first of the three jousting matches.  This time we only made it to the second.  I hadn't realized each show was different.  We got ourselves a seat at the top of the bleachers where we could lean against the backboard.  Then I spent the entire joust leaned forward to watch the action. Beautiful horses.  Lots of cheering and yelling.

The Barely Balanced Acrobats (Barely Balanced) did tricks I had never seen before.  In one, a man laid flat along the feet of the bottom man, and the girl stood on top of him to juggle fire.  I can't imagine how strong his abdominal muscles must be to hold himself level.

Our favorite was The Tortuga Twins, a trio of three unrelated guys doing improvisational pirate comedy.  We made it to their second show, which is considered their PG show (or Loose Cannon in "medieval" parlance.) We enjoyed it so much that we went back for the final show, which is considered their R (or even XXX)  adult show.

They take people from the audience to participate.  I don't know if these people have been approached before hand or not.  I would expect so.  Not all women would appreciate being kissed by strange (very strange) men.  And they teased different audience members.  A couple times I think the comedians were taken aback by the enthusiasm of the people they approached.  If it was planned, it was well-played.

The humor was very raunchy with many gay references and so funny that TJ and I both laughed until we cried.  Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but we liked it.  (The Tortuga Twins)

That took us to the 6 pm closing time.  We wended our way back to the front gate.  There were drummers pounding out a beat while the King, some wenches, and some audience members were dancing.  Just as we stepped out of the gate, the closing cannon went off.  Very loud.

The drive back wasn't quite as bad.  Still it took an hour to get home.

All in all, a fun, hot, tiring day.  I can't wait until next year.

Renaissance Festival

Sunday, February 17, 2013

VNSA Book Sale 2013

Yesterday was the annual VNSA (Volunteer Non-profit Service Association) book sale.  If you read my post from last year, you know Sarah and I planned that day to go again this year.  (Book Sale 2012)

We met at the same nearby McDonald's for breakfast, only this time at 6:30 instead of 7. We arrived at the Fair Grounds by 7:30. The line was shorter than last year, but still 4 or 5 lengths of the exhibit building. 

Sarah and I stood in the winding line chatting.  That's the best thing about my friendship with Sarah.  We don't have to be doing anything.  We can just stand around and talk.  The line moved pretty fast this year.  Someone official told people they couldn't have chairs in line and the space taken up by the chairs filled quickly, shortening the line considerably.  This time we made it inside by 8:30. 

The layout was different than last year.  This was noteworthy enough to be mentioned over the intercom.  And there were only 2 tables of mystery paperbacks instead of three. I had donated all of the Cleo Coyle books I bought last year, plus the 6 I bought to fill out the series.  But I didn't see any Cleo Coyle on display.   Maybe someone snatched them up before we got inside?

I did, however, see a lot of J. A. Jance.  And that was one of my goals.  To buy more of the Sheriff Brady series.  And lots of Janet Evanovich.  She was on Sarah's list.  (I already own them all.)

I brought a cart, but we left it in the car.  It seemed too big, out there in the parking lot.  But we saw other carts the same size.  The VNSA has a sign-up for a handful of shopping carts and those were full-sized carts.  So next year, we will actually bring the cart inside. 

We did bring in cloth bags, so we didn't need to clutch our treasures in our arms.  This year we each came with a list of authors and titles we wanted to search out. I filled my first cloth bag with paperback mysteries, some the aforementioned Jances.  Plus I bought some new authors whose titles or descriptions spoke to me. 

I wanted hard covers of the first 3 Harry Potter novels, to complete my set.  My first three are paperback editions.  But the Children's section was crowded.  There were even two kids on their bellies examining the boxes furthest back on the floor under one of the tables. Book lovers after my own heart.  

By the time we made it to the opposite end of the building, to the Cookbook section, my two bags were full and my arms were being stretched from carrying them.  I saw a woman with one of the shopping carts piled high pass by.  With the bags, I bought twice as many books as I did last year.  What would I have done if I had brought the cart in?

As always, the checkout was quick and efficient. I walked out with five books in the Gregory Maguire Wicked series, a Reader's Digest home repair hard cover, a cookbook, and 27 paperbacks for only $58.50.  That's a little more than double the $28 from last year. 

Next year's even
t is already on my calendar.  I'm going to take the cart inside.  Will I spend twice as much as I did this year?   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Separate dog walks are going well

I recently decided I need to walk my two dogs separately. Walk the dogs separately

After a rocky start, this is actually working quite well.  I take Bogie first, figuring correctly that I would be tired by the time we came back.

The first day, Angel tried to get out the front door when I took Bogie and not her.  But by the third day, she waited patiently by the couch.  She seems to really enjoy her solo walk.  Some days she trots faster than she ever did when she shared the walk with Bogie. Other days, she meanders and sniffs as much as she wants.  The walk with her covers the same distance as the shared walk used to.

Bogie had a harder time making the transition.  Oh, he loved the solo walk.  We went a farther distance and we went faster, him trotting and me jogging behind.  I was happy to see he was panting almost as hard as I was when we reached the home stretch.

The difficulty was when I left him behind to take Angel on her solo walk.  The first day, Bogie ran upstairs to the window facing the street and bayed.  Loudly.  For several minutes.  I'm grateful my neighbors didn't complain.

I thought we were making progress.  On the third day, I had a talk with him explaining that he had his turn and he needed to wait here while Angel had her turn.  That day he only barked a couple times.  But the next day I could hear him still barking from half a block away.

Today - success.  Another heart to heart talk.  And this time no barking.  Not once.  And he seemed so proud of himself when Angel and I got back.

We'll see how tomorrow goes.

So despite the extra time it takes, I would consider this a success.  Bogie and I are getting our cardio exercise in and Angel isn't getting dragged behind her younger, bigger brother.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I miss my Peanut

I was looking for a picture on my computer and came across this photo of Angel and Peanut together.  Peanut is the one in front.

She died last May of a heart attack and I still miss her.  Yes, I adopted Bogie and he fills up my time and has a place in my heart.  As does Angel. I love them both dearly.

But there is a Peanut-sized hole in my heart where she used to be.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I discovered how many good friends I have since I was laid off

Okay, since I got my final paycheck today, I'm not sure I'm officially laid off until Monday.   But I did get the boot on Tuesday after 10 years with this division of the company.

And I have discovered that I have many more compassionate, helpful friends than I realized.

I've heard from two friends I'd lost touch with who offered concrete help in my job search.  I've gotten suggestions for companies to look into from several people.  One friend even sent me a list of ten companies that hire software developers in the Valley.

People have sent their best wishes via e-mail, text, Facebook, and phone.  People have called to make sure I'm not wallowing in depression or curled in a ball in a corner of my house.

I'm not, by the way.  Yes, it bothers me.  Yes, I am worried.  But I'm a realist.  And I have the funds to survive a while without work.

I have time to gather my wits.  I have time to look for a job I will like.  I can spend more time at the gym.  I can get chores done around the house.  I now have lots of time to spend with my dogs.

And I have learned I am truly blessed with good, loyal, helpful friends.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Layoff - Not as calm as I thought

So yesterday was a bit unexpected.  I thought my company was down to the bone on employees.  And I was arrogant enough to think that my skill set was necessary to the company.

Well, maybe it is.  But the people who made the decisions didn't think so.

There were several layoffs in the morning.  When nothing more seemed to be happening, a coworker and I went to lunch.

I knew I was in trouble when the facilities person was waiting for us when we got off the elevator.  For me, because my friend had already been told she was safe.

I think they expected histrionics, but I was calm all through the meeting.  I was calm telling my sister and mother.  I was calm.  Until night fall.

There is something about night time that brings out our worst fears.  Fears of never finding another job that pays enough to keep my house.  Fear of being unable to take care of my dogs.  Sleep eluded me for a long time.  Despite that I woke up at the regular time this morning.

I took each of the dogs out for longer than usual walks.  That helped burn off some of my nervous energy.  But now that is done and we've all eaten breakfast.

And I don't quite know what to do with myself today. Or for the next couple weeks.

I have some decent severance.  My dilemma is, do I take a little time to decompress?  Or do I start looking for a new job right away?

Can I even enjoy being off, knowing that I am unemployed?


Monday, February 4, 2013

Bogie checks out the kitchen

Having the doggy cams has been interesting.  I can watch what is going on while I'm at work.  And if something is amiss when I get home, I can identify the culprit.

Every morning Bogie makes the rounds of the kitchen to see if I forgot and left anything out that he might find interesting.

(There is no sound.)

Needless to say, my kitchen is now kept very clean and uncluttered. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I'm a big fan of PBS's Shakespeare Uncovered

I never really got Shakespeare when I was in school.  No English teacher I had could make those ancient stories interesting to a teenage mind.   I don't know if the fault lay in the teacher or the student.

The attitude persisted to my adulthood.  I was devastated by the 1968 movie Romeo and Juliet, sobbing uncontrollably when Juliet killed herself.  I loved the 1967 movie The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, although now I find its female subservience too dated.

But I didn't attribute my love of those films to Shakespeare.  I attributed it to the producers and the actors in the films.  And I cannot recall watching any other Shakespearean movies.  Nor have I read any of Shakespeare's plays that I wasn't forced to read.

I actually became more interested in Shakespeare based on an episode of Doctor Who, where the Tenth Doctor and Martha meet Will.  This predisposed me to watch Shakespeare Uncovered when it first appeared on PBS on Friday, 1/25.  I'm glad I did.

The producers of this program managed to do what all my English teachers could not - they made Shakespeare interesting, and relevant.

The show speaks of the historical context of the plays.  It shows snippets of some of the great actors playing the roles being discussed.  Hearing the words spoken so eloquently made me realize I have been missing some magnificent writing.

The show discusses the psychology of the plays with experts and the risks Shakespeare took when many of these lines were written.  It shows the host standing in the locations mentioned in the plays.  It correlates events in plays from hundreds of years ago with current news stories.

There is even a discussion of the controversy over whether Shakespeare wrote the Shakespeare plays.

The use of history in the plays was intriguing - the parts that Shakespeare kept accurate and the parts he changed for creative effect.  And the psychology.  Shakespeare's female characters are strong and independent people, with sharp tongues.  His heroes are flawed.

Because of this show, I've been motivated to try to read and understand Shakespeare.   I want to look up the history of British Royalty.  I want to understand the role of women in the 1600's.

Sadly, there are only 6 episodes of this series.  Episodes 5 and 6 air in the US on Friday, 2/8.

Happily, the 5th episode, where Hamlet is discussed, is hosted by the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant.

Seems fitting.

IMDB links:
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew