Tuesday, June 29, 2004

My first step toward becoming a famous photographer: I have a photo for auction on eBay!

Feel free to bid. ;o)

I have stories from last night's banquet, but I'm tired so the stories will have to wait. I'll get them written up ASAP. :o)

Monday, June 28, 2004

I came in to work this morning to find an e-mail from the person in charge of the department that H, the new employee in this departmnet, transferred from. She thanked me for my resume and informed me that they are hiring from within (to fill the position that H left open when she transferred here). She also offered to forward my resume to HR so that I can be considered in the future for jobs openings here.

So I e-mailed her an answer, thanking her for letting me know and saying I would greatly appreciate it if she did send my resume to HR. I guess there IS some valid stuff on it after all (per the requirements of this company) or she wouldn't have made that offer. But internal employees come first. As always.

I wonder when, or IF, the opening will be posted to replace the person who transferred into H's old job. Of course, if other internal employees apply for it, I
won't have a snowball's chance in you-know-where at THAT opening, either.

I look forward to scheduling that aptitude test. I really do want to work for that South Philly insurance agency, if I can't stay here.
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In other news, I think I can reduce the cost of posting a sale on ebay if I have the buyer pay by way of bidpay (Western Union auction payment) instead of PayPal. The difference is that PayPal charges the fee to the seller, but BidPay charges it to the person making the payment.

It's a nominal fee no matter which way I choose to receive payment. But if my auctions are only going to be for items that cost a few dollars, then the less money shaved off the amount I eventually receive, the better.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Phase II of my "a new look for Donna" is now in progress.

I used to have long fingernails, and I forget why I wound up giving them a trim a couple years ago. But there was a reason I trimmed them, whatever it was, and since then I have had short nails. Lately I have been trying to grow them again, but for the past few weeks, I have repeatedly run into problems. This one breaks, that one snags, etc, and the end result was that nothing was the same length as anything else. This was definitely no help to me, and as a result, the nails remained short.

Today, I decided to help them along. I picked up some plain nail tips from CVS, applied them, polished them, and I now have a nice set of purple fingernails just in time for the Slap Shot fundraising banquet tomorrow night. I figured that the secretary of the PPPC should have a nice Phantoms-colored manicure for the occasion. :o)

Now I am re-learning how to do some things the long-nailed way, such as retrieving things from my pocket and touch-typing. I have to say, this is the one drawback of the "instant nails" approach to a manicure. You go from short nails to long in a moment. The adjustment was easier the last time, when I grew the nails at Mother Nature's pace and they gradually went from short to long.

Fortunately, this is only a temporary solution. While I have the nail tips in place, the REAL nails will be growing. When they're long enough, I'll dispense with the nail tips, and shape/polish the REAL nails to look like this. By then, I'll be used to having non-short fingernails again.

In the meantime, I think I'll touch-type a whole lot. Just in case that aptitude test I'm supposed to be taking in the near future involves typing. I wouldn't want to impair my ability to score well on a typing test by not being able to type with a manicure, particularly since I DID have long nails as of a couple years ago or so and I was able to type just fine back then.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I'm watching the NHL draft, even though the Flyers haven't got a pick in the first two rounds.

I just have this feeling that there's going to be some kind of trade announced today, and that I would rather sit here and watch the draft and find out about it now than learn about it later.

As for yesterday's interview... since I wasn't told until the VERY end of the interview that there would be a second part, consisting of an aptitude test, I presume I "passed" the first part of the interview enough to warrant a second look. Otherwise, he could simply have shaken my hand and said no more about it.

He said I'd be contacted within a few days, but he also said on Monday (when I arranged the interview appointment) that he was going on vacation for ten days after this week. So either I won't hear from him for ten days at the least, or else someone else from the office will be calling to set up the aptitude test appointment.

One of the things we talked about during the interview is my customer service experience, including my time at the bank when I was on call, and my time in the routing department of Nameless Nationwide Department Store. I described how I had to keep my cool even when the person on the other end of the line was ranting and upset. This includes, not only having profanities screamed at me by the Harridan of the Day candidates from the routing department temp assignment, but also trying to extract usable information while talking to an upset computer user who's encountering system problems, when I was on call. I didn't HAVE to exaggerate while describing either situation to get my point across, believe me.

I talked about knowing ASL, and recalled one of my temp assignments as a receptionist for a social services agency, when a family with deaf kids came in and I was able to greet them all with both English and by signing.

Then I mentioned that if I worked for this agency, I would hand business cards to Deaf friends I have, because the Deaf Community is close-knit and they look for Deaf-friendly businesses. If they know that someone who can interpret is working at the agency, it's likely that they'll tell friends, who will tell THEIR friends, etc.

Obviously, I couldn't flat-out promise that would translate into new customers, and I'm sure he knows that too. But the chance does definitely exist that additional business would come their way, so I mentioned it.

I even talked about the fact that I know braille. I originally learned it because I wanted to be able to do things like sign birthday cards for blind friends, and send letters to people (because I got involved with the deaf-blind community well in advance of e-mail and braille computer equipment becoming widespread).

What I DIDN'T mention is that I have some wheels turning in my head about how the agency could pursue getting some of their advertising pamphlets done in braille and large print, for customers who have vision loss. I figured I'm not going to recommend ways for him to spend his money, not the first time I set eyes on the guy. (Well, the second time, if you count the fact that Mark and I have our insurance there.)

Now if he hires me and I put in enough time to make an impression as a dedicated worker, THEN I'll look for the opportunity to spring that suggestion on him about braille and large-print literature. :o) But first things first. If I don't get a job there, I'm not suggesting anything.

I can't believe I'm still so tired. I have felt worn out since I got home from the interview. Boy, if this is how I feel even when I think the session went WELL, I'd hate to think of how drained I would be if I'd thought it went poorly.

It's the stress. I know it is. I hate not knowing what's up with this job I applied for, I hate not knowing what's in store for the temp assignment I have now. I hate not knowing, period.

Oh, well. I need to take a phone call, so I'd better hit "send".

Friday, June 25, 2004

I'm home.

So far, so good. The interview has two parts -- one was the in-person part, which took place this morning. The second part is an aptitude test that all job candidates must take. The person who interviewed me, whose insurance agency it is, said he'd be in touch in a few days to schedule the test.

I absolutely think I would be a good fit for this job. I'm even moreso, IMO, because of the three years' worth of temp experience I've had.

We barely even touched on my work history as a programmer. This, I'm sure, is as it should be, since this job won't be relying directly on my ability to write and test code. It will, however, make use of my ability to analyze situations and PROOFREAD, as well as my experience working with people who are upset and trying to resolve a problem.

Even better, they are looking to hire TWO people, not just one. The job begins as an office support person, but it will eventually include becoming licensed to sell insurance products and selling products. FINE by me! Just send me for training, and off I'll go.

The fact that according to my odometer, this site is 0.9 miles from my home is a big plus in my book, too. I could WALK there. I'd be more than glad to walk two miles a day, believe me.

I honestly think the interview went as well as I could have hoped. Now it remains to be seen when I get called to take the aptitude test. (The person who interviewed me is going on vacation next week, so I won't panic if I don't hear from them until the week after that.)

I'm tired. REALLY tired. I think I need a nap.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Just as I was finishing lunch, lo and behold! I got about a dozen submissions to enter into the system. That's more than I had all day yesterday. It's more than I had on either Monday or Tuesday, too.

I wonder if there's a backlog developing already. My work levels didn't begin to rebound this quickly when they were trying to shift my data entry to other people before. Both times, it took a few WEEKS for them to figure out that the new workflow was less efficient.

Tomorrow should be interesting. My interview is in the morning, but I intend to go in and work during the afternoon. I'm curious to see how much or how little work finds its way to my inbox during that time span.

In other news... the phone connection to our house is HALF-fixed. The downstairs phones work; the upstairs ones are still dead. So the Verizon tech will be coming again on Monday afternoon. Mark will have to take half the day off.
Fatigue makes a person do things they wouldn't expect to be able to do.

Like just now. I set the alarm on my cell phone to go off in 30 minutes (it's on vibrate, so it wouldn't disturb everyone within earshot), put my head down on my desk, and fell sound asleep. Which I desperately needed to do, obviously, or I wouldn't have been able to sleep. But so help me, when the phone alarm woke me up, I was in the middle of a dream. That's how worn-out I am lately, and I *know* it's from stress.

I hope this interview is successful. That'll resolve a LOT of issues, starting with the stress of not knowing what's going to happen next with this assignment.
It's such a culture shock to come in here and have so much less data entry work to do now than I did a few days ago. Last week at this time, I was busting my tail trying to get 40 submissions into the system before the day ended. This week, it's been a lot quieter.

I know that's because they're trying to shift as much of what I do over to the person who transferred over here as they can. (I'll just call her "H". I'm not comfortable using her first name because it's an alternate spelling of a more-familiar first name; it might be unusual enough that if someone Googles it, this blog will show up. I recently found one of my own blog posts about migraines when I was Googling for information on migraine relief, so it can happen.)

Anyway, as I was saying, I know she's getting a lot of the data entry work that normally would have come to me. What I don't know, and what I probably won't find out for at least a couple of weeks, is whether the combination of her original responsibilities plus the parts of MY job that got moved over to her job description will be too much for one person to handle in a normal day's work.

Personally, *I* think it will be an overload. But the company will have to see that for itself. Last April, they tried giving my data entry to some other ladies who do the same type of thing for the Property department, and it failed. They were overloaded. Prior to that, they tried to give my data entry to the PREVIOUS person who was working in the job slot H is in now, the one who resigned a couple months ago. She just couldn't get to the data entry as soon as someone whose JOB revolves around getting the submisisons entered into the system could do it. As a result, time-sensitive info sat unentered, and the experiment was deemed a failure.

I'm not entirely sure what it's going to take for the upper-level decision makers to realize that THIS WORK CONSTITUTES A FULL TIME JOB ALL BY ITSELF. The entire reason that this department brought a temp on board to begin with was that they were too overworked to keep up with the data entry along with all their other responsibilities. And ever since I've been here, it's been a situation where every couple of months, they've tried to transfer work that I do to other people and it's been a failure. First it was the other person in this department, then it was the *TWO* people in the Property department (imagine that! TWO people combined couldn't find a timely way to squeeze this department's data entry work into their day), and now it's H.

If I was a gambling person, I'd be betting against H being able to keep up with the data entry as well as this department has become accustomed to, considering the amount of other work she also has on her plate. The only question is, will the upper-level decision makers realize this before or after they cut my job and/or I find work elsewhere?

Stay tuned. My interview is tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

OK, my HAIR is now ready for my interview. :o)

There was such a collection of hair clippings all over the floor, that when the hairdresser swept it all together into a pile, I took a picture of it with my camera phone and sent it to Mark with the title "Hair we go!" The pile was the size of a small throw pillow.

A side benefit of this is that not only will my shorter (not short, just shorter) hair be easier to care for, but I won't melt quite so much now that the summer has officially arrived. Thick hair is a good insulator that traps body heat, and DARK hair absorbs the sun's heat like you wouldn't believe. That's an unfortunate combination at this time of year, and it would have become even more of an issue once July and August rolled around.

Heck, I feel cooler already... for the first time in a while, I can sit in our computer room (aka the smallest of the three bedrooms in the house) and not feel like I'm about to melt. The computer throws a lot of heat, and the second floor of the house isn't as efficiently cooled by the A/C as the first floor is, so it can get pretty warm in here. But I feel OK, even though I'm sure this room is the warmest one in the house at the moment.

My hairdresser and I chatted as she cut my hair, and I found out that she's had a rough time of it so far this year. Her parents both passed away in January, and her little old cat that lived in the beauty shop died in March. I feel sorry for her. Any one of those losses would be heartbreaking enough on its own, but to have three major bereavements within a couple of months... OUCH. :o( Poor lady. She's really nice, and I hope things make a major turn for the better for her from here on out.
I can't believe I forgot my freaking glasses. This is the first time in my life I've driven without either glasses or contact lenses, and it's a little bit annoying.

Fortunately, my nearsightedness isn't all that bad. Thank God. But take it from me, this is good incentive not to make the same mistake a second time.

Verizon had to reschedule their repair appointment with us. Now they're supposed to come TONIGHT. I guess I'll find out when I get home from my hair appointment whether they actually made good on their promise or not.

God seems to be letting things fall into place with this interview -- it took me a few phone calls to Ruth, where we played telephone tag with one another's answering machines/voice mail. But she finally got through on my cell phone last night and we arranged a 5 PM appointment. So by this time tomorrow, I'll have had my hair done. This is good not only because of the impending interview, but because the hot weather is coming in FAST. The longer my mane is, the harder it is to stay cool when the weather starts to go into Three H Mode -- hazy, hot, and humid.

Yesterday, I found a letter on my job-search hotmail account that had the subject "Your Resume". I checked it out, and it was an offer to apply for work on a website called . Something about tone of the site itself reminded me of the "WORK AT HOME, BIG MONEY" sites I ran across when I was researching the possibility of earning extra income by working at home. I ran "" through a couple of search engines and sure enough, my suspicions had merit. There are TONS of complaints against that company. One site nicknamed them "Fire Bug" and described the experiences of people who had signed on with the company. Apparently, a person doesn't earn their commission and become "vested" until they have 50 open accounts, which I presume means that they have brought 50 people on board to work for . But the company fires them before they reach that magic number of 50, and so they basically have worked for free. As per the information I found, the principals of this company have also been investigated for fraud due to their involvement in prior internet hiring schemes.

I know that more than one of my friends is in a job search. I'm not always sure which friends are reading this blog at any given point. But for the record, if any of you get an email from , trying to recruit you to work for them, don't respond until you've done some research on the company. Run the company name through some search engines and get the most current information you can find on them. And if you are NOT in a job search, but know someone who is, pass that same information along to them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The un-decorating continues.

I had a blueprint mailer type box from Express Mail. I brought it in to work, and I was able to fit all the posters into it. I put them all flat on the desk, then carefully made one big roll with all the posters in it, and they fit just fine into the mailer.

Then I took down my magnets (including my Phantoms dry-erase board), my couple of stuffed animals, and some smaller pictures and things. They fit into an empty Office Basics box.

I still have my bobblehead committee and the things that were on my shelf. I'll keep those until I leave here for real, so at least I'll have SOMEthing to look at during the day. Oh, and I have my little electric fan and my radio. Those stay as long as I do, too.

As wilted as I feel, I'm surprised I managed to muster enough energy to do it.

I deliberately waited until everyone in the neighboring cubicles was gone, so they wouldn't see me taking the stuff down and ask questions.

It was hard.
Interesting. For some reason, the two posts earlier today I sent via e-mail have not arrived yet.

To make life easier on me, I'm just going to copy and paste their contents here. Then, when they eventually do appear, I'll just edit the blog to get rid of the duplicates.
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Gah. Remember when I wrote, a few days ago, that the Verizon tech was supposed to come out to our house on Monday?

Well, since the static issue had basically disappeared by Monday morning, Mark called to cancel the appointment. That should have been the end of it.

No such luck. We came home from Jean and Joe J's last night to find a note on our door from a Verizon tech, who had come to the house at 8 PM(!).

He checked the wires and found a bad one, which he apparently believes is the one leading "into a rear room" of the house. Unfortunately, we also have no more dial tone coming into the house. I don't know what in heck he did, but whatever it was, it coincides with the fact that we now have neither static nor anything ELSE on our home phone. At the moment, it's flat-out unusable.

Thank goodness for Answer Call and for cell phones. At least people who call our primary phone number will get our voice mail, which we can check periodically via the cell phones.

They're supposed to send another tech out today after 5 PM. They don't normally schedule a tech to come out at that hour, and they were resistant to the idea this
morning, but Mark made the point that the guy who came YESTERDAY wrote "8 PM" on the note he left in our door. So they're supposed to send us someone tonight to finish repairing this mess once and for all. Mark will make sure he's home by 5 tonight.

In the meantime, if you call our house at an hour when you truly expected someone to be there, but no one picks up, it's due to our phone being goofed up. Please be patient and leave a message. We'll return the call as soon as we can.

Freaking telephone Gremlins!
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I'm back. I HAVE to get this out of my system...

The person who transferred into the job in this department has arrived. I heard them talking to her and I heard my supervisor starting to train her on the kind of data entry that I do.

A little while ago, I asked my supervisor if the person's old job has been filled yet, and she doesn't know. She also can't give me a time frame for how long my temp assignment will continue.

But she DOES know that there are other employees looking to transfer into that position, the same way this person transferred here, and they get first consideration. (IMO, that probably means I can forget all about having a shot at that job. Good thing I didn't get my hopes up.)

So I let my supervisor know that I need Friday morning off for an interview, and she understands. I told her that I would rather stay working here, but if I can't be sure of being able to do that, then I have GOT to be working steadily somwhere. I can't afford to not work at all.

My supervisor will also be glad to let me use her for a reference, which is a Good Thing. Heck, if my hard work can't earn me a permanent job here, the least it can do is help me get a steady job somewhere else.

I know the polite thing would be to go up to the new person here and welcome her. But I haven't got the energy to do that. I certainly won't be UNwelcoming to her when we finally do talk -- I'll be as civil to her as to everyone else. But right about now I'm too emotionally drained to be a coherent conversation partner for just about any reason, never mind for greeting the person who already HAD a permanent job, but got between me and MY chance at a permanent job I specifically wanted a LOT.

I actually had a decent night's sleep last night, but you wouldn't know it from how I feel right now. I just feel so worn out.
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OK, so that's basically what my morning went like. Now I'm on a break for lunch and I thought I'd call my ex-supervisor at the Nameless Nationwide Department Store job for a reference. The day I left, he gave me his business card and told me what a great job I did, how sorry he was to see me leave, and that he would be happy to be a reference for me if I ever was looking for a job. He just wanted me to contact him first to let him know that someone would be calling.

Well, I sure am glad that I called. It turns out that my ex-supervisor no longer works there. Knowing what a stress factory that job at Nameless Nationwide Department Store was, I can't blame him for getting out. I had enough ulcers as it was, and I was in the job on the lowest rung of the ladder. I can only imagine the stress level that would've accompanied being in CHARGE of that circus.

The one thing that nobody in Customer Service was able to determine was if he has completely left the company, or if he has simply moved to a different position within the company. I did e-mail him yesterday, prior to trying to phone him today, so I guess I'll find out soon enough. Either he'll answer the note, which would mean that his e-mail address at NamelessNationwideDepartmentStore.com is still active, or else I'll get an error message that my note was undeliverable. Either way, I'll know.

His direct work number was a company-provided cell phone, however, and THAT is no longer in service. So I'm not particularly optimistic that his e-mail address will still be valid.

I was talking to Karla last night, and she reminded me that it took her two separate tries to get into this company permanently. Her first temp assignment here ended, and she wound up at a different long-term temp job for a while. After that finished, she returned to this company (because in the intervening time, they had determined that they needed someone doing that work and they really wanted her back). Only after another stint as a temp here did they finally make the position permanent.

Well, if that's what eventually happens in the future for me with the position I have now, fine. But in the meantime, I have got to be out there and working. If it's not here, it needs to be somewhere and I'm not going to let up until that's what happens.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Tonight as Mark, Joe M, and I were on our way to Jean J's house for dinner, we drove behind a car whose license plate read, "MY MISTY". I took it as a "hello" from my first cat, Misty, who went to the Rainbow Bridge in 1989. I presume she was wishing me luck on my interview on Friday. :o)
How do you like that... I did get a response from the South Philly insurance agent where I sent my resume. I have an interview on Friday morning. My intent is to go to the hairdresser one evening this week, then go in there and I hope to GOD wow the heck out of them. I really need the stability of a permanent position, and if I can't have it at the place where I'm temping now, I have to find it elsewhere. The stress of not knowing if I'm about to have my assignment ended is starting to give me physical problems... after having a migraine from Wednesday afternoon through Friday night, I was fine all weekend and then BINGO. I came in and the pain started to quietly creep in by about 10 AM. I'm having minor symptoms of it even as I type. It's GOT to be stress-related. I can't live like this anymore. Something has to change.

What can I say but pray for me, wish me luck, send good vibes,or whatever you think will work best. I need a job that's permanent, with a salary I can live on (as opposed to the one I have right now which is just barely enough to allow me to break even) and a nice atmosphere. Heck, I'll even accept a NEUTRAL atmosphere if the other two conditions are met; I'm not picky.

I should feel happy and/or excited right now, but instead I'm just sad. I kind of think the sadness is stemming from the fact that I officially have admitted to myself that I don't think I have a shot at being considered for a permanent position at the company where I'm temping, REGARDLESS of the fact that my work has been top-notch. I think this company is great and I'm disappointed to think that I won't have a chance to work here for real, instead of just on the fringes. But I don't know how many more positions will be opening, and so far I have never gotten so much as a word of acknowledgement from the people to whom I sent resumes. (I don't count my supervisor in that category, since I handed a copy of the resume to her.) But I've reached a point where being last on everyone's list... or more precisely, not even feeling like I'm ON anybody's list... isn't enough for me anymore. I'm working on coming to terms with that fact, but in the meantime I'm making a lot of effort to land something permanent. I need the stability and I think a lot of my stress will be alleviated if I can feel, for the first time in three years, that I can know what to expect from one day to the next.

I hate feeling sad like this, though. That feeling has really been dogging me all day, and I hope it lifts soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

It's been a great weekend. First of all, the weather's been PERFECT. It couldn't have been nicer if I'd ordered it out of a catalog. Which is ideal because we spent a lot of time over the weekend either travelling in vehicles or walking.

Yesterday, we had a deaf-blind group outing to Atlantic City. We all went in Jean J's van. KC, our deaf-blind friend from California, has been visiting Jean, and her deaf-blind son Joe J, since Friday and will be there until Tuesday. Jay, our deaf-blind friend from NE Philly, took a SEPTA train down to a station near Jean, who met him at the train station. Then they all drove to pick up Mark and me on the way to the Walt Whitman Bridge and NJ. We were a little bit concerned that we'd run into heavy traffic on the way to the shore, thanks to the time of year, but it really wasn't all that congested.

Normally, when we go, we park at the Trump Plaza because a few of us have the free membership cards there, and the parking only costs $4 if you present the card. But yesterday, for a change of pace, we tried the Taj Mahal (another Trump-owned casino). Surprise! They only charge $4, period, no matter if you have a membership card or not. So that was the first reason to make a mental note regarding making this casino a more regular destination when we go to AC.

Then there's the fact that some of us, especially me, can't tolerate smoke for long periods of time. (I'm not the only one in our extended group of friends who is affected badly by smoke, but out of the six people on yesterday's trip, I was the most sensitive to it.) So when we found out that the Taj Mahal not only has a decent-sized non-smoking slot machine area, but the non-smoking area actually has an entrance right onto the boardwalk(!), that was another major plus. The fact that we don't have to take two or three separate elevators and then make our way across the whoooooole building to a teeny weeny little non-smoking area hidden in some back corner, the way it is in some other casinos if they even have a non-smoking area at all, earns the Taj a ton of points in my book. It means that if you're entering the casino via the boardwalk, you don't have to walk through a smoking area AT ALL to get to the non-smoking area. Yay, hooray, someone with a brain actually planned this out and did a good job of it.

Third, and most important, there are some slot machines in the Taj's non-smoking area that actually dispense COINS when you cash out whatever credits you have in the machine. The cashless machines, the ones where you feed your paper money into the slot, the machine registers X number of credits, and when you cash out it prints you a little coupon that you have to take to the cashier in order to get actual money, are taking over. Cashless slots might be saving the casino a lot because the machines don't have to be refilled with quarters as often. It also might be earning the casinos more money because it's more tempting to regard those coupons printed by the slot machine as "not real money", which makes it easier to gamble it all back into the machines. (As opposed to, say, the psychological feeling of having a bunch of quarters, which patrons might be more inclined to view as Real Money and try to hang onto their winnings instead of gambling them away.) However, the cashless machines are the ultimate in "pointless" for our deaf-blind friends. Part of the attraction of using the slot machines in the first place, for our deaf-blind friends, is the FEEL of being able to drop quarters into the slot, as well as the FEEL of the coins dropping out of the machine when it's time to cash out any remaining credits.

With the cashless machines, you insert paper money into the slot and get credits in the machine. It's impossible for our blind friends to tell how many credits they have unless they have a sighted friend with them. The buttons on the front of the machine are FAR from being consistent from machine to machine... every one has the main buttons like "Bet Max", "Cash Out", "Call for Service", and "Spin" in different locations. The machines also lack consistency in the placement of their other, smaller buttons, like "1 Line", "2 Lines", etc (depending on the number of lines the machine allows you to bet on), and the "Bet 1 per Line", "Bet 2 per Line", etc. Not one slot machine anywhere has so much as one dot of braille anywhere on it, which means that a patron has to either be sighted, or have a sighted person on hand to help them navigate through the buttons and figure out which one is which.

Still, on the machines that dispense quarters, it's still possible for our deaf-blind friends to drop quarters into the slot, spin the reels, hit "Cash Out" and FEEL if quarters are coming out, meaning that they won something. The cashless ones, which print the little coupon with a dollar value on it when the "Cash Out" button is pressed, don't even allow for THAT much enjoyment. So there goes the last vestige of accessibility to blind patrons that the slot machines offer.

Actually, I can't really lump all the deaf-blind patrons together. Jay, who still has enough usable vision remaining that he can read most of the print on the slot machines, as well as the print on the coupons, is fine with using the cashless machines. But for people like Joe J, who hasn't got anywhere near enough residual vision to allow him to read print of any size, cashless machines are pointless. He finds them boring and I don't blame him.

So, when we found FOUR coin-dispensing quarter slot machines in the non-smoking area at the Taj, well, we were all delighted. (And praying that those machines won't be replaced by their cashless equivalents any time soon.) That's where Joe J and KC played, when we were in the casino. Jay went roaming around the non-smoking area, and since I was one of the two sighted people in our party who signs, I roamed with him to make sure that our group wouldn't get irretrievably separated. Plus, there were particular types of machine that he wanted to play on, and I was able to help him track them down. I was also able to help out by reading some of the smaller print on the machines, or print that wasn't very well contrasted with the background color. I cringed when we wound up roaming into the smoking part of the gambling floor, but fortunately we didn't wind up getting second-hand-smoked to death out there.

I don't think any of us won anything... Mark and I definitely didn't win, because neither of us gambled, period. I kind of think everyone else left some funds behind by the end of the day, but I'm not sure. Oh, well. We're all low-rollers anyway, so even the ones of us who lost didn't part with much.

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. That place gets an A+ for their food, and in my book they get a HUGE thumbs-up for having braille menus. However, it turned out to be a challenge to converse in there, because the music was so loud. Thank goodness, it was GOOD music, at least, but the volume of it made communicating difficult. Cochlear implants and hearing aids are super, but loud background noise is a real obstacle for anyone using them. At least Mark's new digital hearing aids have a setting that does a good job at reducing the interference from background noise, but KC's cochlear implants have no such setting, as far as I know. And when the background noise is as loud as that music was, there's only so much that current technology can do to overcome it.

So, I would gladly recommend the Hard Rock Cafe under ordinary circumstances, but with our particular group that went there yesterday, I'd have second thoughts. Unless, that is, we picked one of their outdoor tables, where the music wasn't anywhere near as loud. If only the area where the tables were hadn't been in the sun, and rather warm, at the time we were there! The TABLES had umbrellas shading them, but the boardwalk/concrete combo that the tables were ON did not, and the heat being radiated from those made the area too warm (in my book, anyway, and I don't normally overheat easily).

Besides gambling and eating :o), we also took a nice walk along the boardwalk, which was absolutely BEAUTIFUL in the weather we had yesterday. Who needs to gamble when you can be out there in what amounted to perfect spring weather? Heck, we could have spent the whole day walking along the boards and it would have suited me just fine.

Well, it's late, and I'm exhausted -- today is Father's Day and we had really nice visits with Mark's parents and with mine. However, this means that after spending yesterday travelling to/from Atlantic City, we spent today commuting between Philly and Willow Grove. I'm so worn out, I actually dozed off in the car on the way from my in-laws' house back to Philly. So, instead of posting about Father's Day right now, I'm turning in. I need sleep.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Mark came home with THREE boxes of catnip tea last night. :o) He went to a GNC close to his workplace, and they had it in stock.

Heck only knows what the guy in the GNC near here was talking about, with that "discontinuing some kinds of herbal tea" stuff. It doesn't appear that catnip tea is on the way out, in any case, which is a Good Thing.

Today should be good. There's going to be a deaf-blind group outing to Atlantic City. My friend KC is in the area from California, after having visited her son, who's in the Navy and is a commander on a submarine.

Unfortunately, her son is going to ship out to Afghanistan tomorrow (Father's Day). :o( That's why she's on the East Coast to visit him, so she can spend time with him before he goes.

Since she's got a lot of friends in this time zone, after being with Paul she's coming up here to the PA/NJ area to see them. She lived in PA for many years before moving out to California, so she knows a lot of people.

Unfortunately, she hasn't got her guide dog Gypsy with her for this go-round. I love that dog. At AADB last summer, I was giving her nicknames like "knee duster" and "toe warmer". That's because whenever I was walking next to KC, Gypsy would wag her tail and dust off our knees, and when we sat down, she'd find a way to position herself so she was on our toes. :o) If she was here, she'd probably sit on our toes all the way during the drive to AC, and then dust off our knees all day while we were walking. But I guess I'll have to have her dust my knees and warm my toes some other time, since she's back in California right now.

Right now the people I KNOW are going to AC are Jean J and Joe J, Jay, KC, Mark and me. That's actually a good distribution -- three deaf-blind and three sighted guides. Jean will pick up Jay at the SEPTA train station near where she lives. She has a van, which we will all be able to fit in, so fortunately we won't have to worry about following each other all the way to the shore. They'll pick up Mark and me at about 12:30.

This is something like the fifth or sixth Saturday in a row that I've been out doing stuff, walking around, getting sunshine, which is great. That's literally what the doctor ordered (to walk more and get sunlight, both of which are good for the serotonin levels). And considering that I've spent the past two weeks or so feeling like there's a gray cloud hovering over my head at all times, anything that boosts the serotonin levels would be a welcome thing.

OK, off to get ready... I hope I have nice stories about how one of us became a zillionaire at the casinos to post later! (Yeah, I know, and then I wake up. ;o) )

Friday, June 18, 2004

No sooner do the "Welcome" posts start to die down on the company's online bulletin board for the person who took the job opening I wanted in THIS department, than there's an announcement posted about the new hire who'll be reporting to Karla's department at the end of the month.

OK, I can officially forget about having anything resembling a shot at THAT opening, too.

I wonder how long it'll be before I can forget about having a shot at the opening in the department that the person who's transferring to this department will be leaving.
Again.

Today is a repeat of yesterday, when I woke up feeling better (not perfect, just better), and the migraine started creeping back into existence by the late morning.

Come to think of it, it's a repeat of Wednesday, too -- that's pretty much the way the freaking migraine started in the first place.

I've already e-mailed Mark at work to ask him to track down catnip tea today. That's only fair, since he's the one that used the last of the previous box we had.

I've also e-mailed Sr. K from the Archdiocese, to let her know that the other interpreter who works at my old parish has asked me to sub for her on the fourth Sunday of this month, and that I've agreed to do it. That way, Sister can keep the records straight as to who will be paid for which week.

There have been episodes in the past where I've agreed to fill in one person or another at church, but to my surprise, the other 'terp did NOT notify the Archdiocese. Ummm, we aren't supposed to get paid for weeks we miss. So when nobody calls to say there's been a change in the schedule, the Archdiocese ends up paying TWICE for the same Mass. They DO compensate the substitute interpreter once the sub calls and inquires after the payment they're still waiting for, after having already paid the person who didn't show up.

At any rate, I've learned not to rely on other people to call. Whether the people in the past flat-out forgot to call, or whether they were trying to sneak in an extra Mass's worth of payment, is not for me to judge. That's for them to decide. But either way, I decided a couple years ago to just save Sister the trouble, and the Archdiocese the money, and notify her in advance when I'm filling in on an extra Sunday.

BTW, I'm glad that I have some paperwork-type things to do this afternoon. If I can skew my time toward doing tasks that don't involve looking at the computer screen, maybe my eyes will feel better.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Well, there's no need to worry about any accidents related to catnip tea happening in here tonight.

GNC was not only out of it, but they told Mark that they're discontinuing some of their herbal teas. I'm not sure, from what he said, if catnip tea is among them.

And, of course, our telephone line is now fouled up. Thank God for Answer Call and for cell phones, because they won't be able to get a phone tech out here until Monday at the earliest.

That's four days from now.

See why I was afraid to ask what else could go wrong? Heck, I found out THAT answer even without asking!
I feel like every time I post these days, I'm in rant mode about something. So let me preface this by stating outright that I've had a migraine, varying in severity from mild to nasty, since yesterday afternoon.

Right now it's heading back toward nasty, RAPIDLY, so I'll make this brief.

Since yesterday, I've upgraded (so to speak) my office support resume and submitted it to four different job openings. One is at the company where I'm temping, two were on monster.com, and one was at an insurance agency in South Philly. I haven't heard back from any of them yet (beyond the automated form letter from the two monster.com submissions).

So when I came home and found a message on our voicemail, from an IT headhunter who downloaded my resume back in 2001, I was very surprised.

I returned her call, but when she found out that I haven't had an IT-related job since 2002 she practically threw me off the phone. She said that in the past few months, IT jobs have begun to pick up, but "all our companies are very strict about wanting candidates with RECENT experience".

By this point, my migraine-frayed temper had had enough. I blurted out, "How can a person get recent experience without recent experience?"

Needless to say, I'm out of the running for whatever the bleep THAT job was (which I realized from the moment she started trying to rush me off the phone). And I'm probably unlikely to be considered for any other IT jobs that come down the pike in the near future, if all the companies have a similar attitude.

I wish I hadn't even heard from that headhunter. Or maybe since my morale's already been in the tank for two weeks, and I already HAD a migraine, now was as good a time as any. That way, her call couldn't screw up my mood any worse than it already is.

I'm tired of this cycle where every time I THINK there's a door opening for me, I walk out through it and wind up getting hailed on.

At least if it was something I was DOING that was wrong, I could find out what it is and fix it. But I'm not even getting far enough along in the process to MAKE an error. Last year at this time, I was blogging about a call I got at home from a law firm whose enthusiasm cooled when they found out I hadn't used macros in Word Perfect. Freaking MACROS that my cat could learn to use were the obstacle that time. Now it's the fact that I lost my IT job EARLY in this economic depression (yes, let's call it what it is) and there were no IT jobs to be HAD for a long time. Pardon ME that my freaking IT experience got put on hold because I was finding OTHER jobs I was qualified for when the mainframe programming openings didn't exist.

I'm so fed up.

And to top it all off, a little while ago I decided that I couldn't take this headache anymore, but I've taken more than enough OTC meds for the day and I really didn't want to take more. So I thought, "I know what, I'll drink some catnip tea. That's good for headaches AND it helps you sleep", both of which effects would suit me just fine right about now.

The trouble is, said catnip tea was nowhere to be found. Mark, who is working late tonight, called me just as I was rummaging through the kitchen cabinets. I asked him where it was, and he said we've run out of it.

Oh, just great. The same person who originally didn't even want to TRY the catnip tea, when I first brought some home, used ALL of it and didn't replenish the supply. ARGH. I'm afraid to ask what ELSE could go wrong today?

Fortunately, Mark will stop at a GNC on the way home and pick up some more.

Which, given the way this day has gone, I'll probably spill it on myself anyway.

I'd better post this before something ELSE goes awry.
OK, so far I've submitted my new, improved (so to speak) resume to the opening in this company (that exists because someone else is transferring into this department), as well as to two jobs on monster.com and one potential opening South Philly.

We'll see if the new, improved (so to speak) resume gets me any farther than the old, non-dumbed-down version did.

Incidentally, the migraine I had yesterday, which was so bad that I did my resume-editing while wearing a pair of sunglasses because light hurt my eyes so much, has flared back up. I've had a sun visor on for most of the day. I've taken it off only when I have to go outside my cubicle for any reason.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Nuts. I just did something that, as much as I loathed doing it, was probably necessary.

Joe M's cousin Michelle has provided my resume to some departments at the University of Pennsylvania, but they all have told her "overqualified" so far.

Bob and Joe suggested that I "dumb down" the resume.

I really hated to do that, considering that I've worked my BUTT off for the past 19 years (yeah, I can't believe it's that long either!) and darn it, I've earned the right to declare every last syllable of what's on that resume.

But they were right. Even with the tweaks I made to the version of the resume that I have set up for Office Support/Administrative Assistant positions, it still read too much like "former techie who's been thrust into this line of work".

I've kept the IT version of my resume intact. That's where all the tons of techie stuff would be considered an asset, not something that would overqualify me for a job.

But for the Office Support version of the resume... well, I just edited it to make it look less like "ex-techie stuck in a new field" and more like "See? I have all the office support skills you need". And now a prospective employer will have an easier time FINDING the office support stuff because, on the first page, that's pretty much all that's left.

Words just can't describe how much I despised hitting that delete key on some of the skills that I worked so hard to acquire. But I've got to get my foot in the door SOMEHOW on some of these potential job openings. What's the point of having all these skills if my resume gets tossed aside, for having too much on it, after one brief glance?

I know it had to be done, and I did it. But I feel like that scene in 1776, where Benjamin Franklin and John Adams are lamenting the large number of changes that the Continental Congress has been proposing to Thomas Jefferson's original version of the Declaration of Independence. Adams complained, "They won't be satisfied until they remove one of the Fs from Jefferson's name!"

I'd like to tell the Declaration Committee that I feel their pain right about now.
The undecorating commences.

I just took down the seven rally towels that I collected from various Flyers and Phantoms games. I'll bring them home tonight. Ditto for the "Flyers Locker Room" sign, the Phantoms frisbee, and the plaque with the Brian Boucher hockey cards, my water bottle and my coffee mug.

With the rain that's been in the forecast lately, I figured towels were the safest thing to attempt to transport. Water won't hurt them. I removed the last couple of reams of printer paper from a nearly-empty box, and everything fits just fine. (Well, the sign's a bit too long, but it's plastic so it won't be damaged by rain.)

I saw the posting for Administrative Assistant on the company bulletin board today. I presume it's the opening that was/will be created when the person who is joining this department transfers out of her former department.

I'll be handing in a resume for consideration, but my hopes are not high that I'll even make the short list. I suspect I'll be stuck behind another logjam of other in-house employees looking to transfer.

For the record, I started undecorating prior to seeing the job opening. So I was already somewhat depressed BEFORE I read the post and wondered if I'd even have a shot at being considered for it.

As for the other opening I applied for a few weeks ago, Karla's department has received resumes from people with a lot more insurance-related experience than I've got. That's probably the direction they're going to go.

My morale could be a lot better right now. A LOT better.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In preparation for trying to sell some original photographs on eBay, I looked up the various fees that would be incurred if I used both eBay and PayPal to complete the transaction.

To make a long story short, I crunched a few numbers just to get an idea of what impact the fees would have on what could be earned. Two examples are that if I set a starting bid at $5.00 and a photo sold for that price, then once the fees were taken out, the remainder would be $3.93. If I set a starting bid at $10.00 and it sold at that price, after the fees I would be earning $8.28.

Boy, no wonder people tack on a bit extra to the shipping charges when they're selling an item. It helps them recoup some of the $ that gets subtracted from the selling price once the fees are paid.

Considering that I'm also going to have to invest in photo mailers or some other kind of protective packaging as well, I'll have to factor that in when I set the shipping charges and the minimum bid. Otherwise, I'll end up spending more than I earn, which of course is exactly the OPPOSITE of my intent.

I'm still reviewing the photos on sale on eBay to see what the going rates are. There's no sense in setting a starting price that's too high to attract any interest.

Right now, though, what I really need to do is hit the "post" key on this entry and log off. I've been staring at computer screens ALL day, including the time I spent taking minutes at the PPPC meeting tonight, and I have a colossal case of eyestrain. So, good night!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Regarding the Phillies: do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news: Jim Thome hit his 400th career home run, in front of the home crowd. Gotta love seeing the reaction of Mrs. Thome, jumping for joy (while holding their one-year-old daughter). :o)

The bad news: at about 8 PM, going into the bottom of the third inning, the skies opened up. The game has been in a rain delay for the past two hours.

If the game gets washed out, Jim Thome's landmark home run will be washed out with it.

They just reported on Comcast that the tarp is about to be removed from the field. I guess we'll know by tomorrow if Jim Thome's reached 400 career home runs, or if he's been bumped back down to 399.
Oh, and by the way, I made a wee discovery last night. You KNOW you've got a close rapport with your cat when both of you are lounging next to each other on the sofa, and at EXACTLY the same moment, you both yawn and stretch. :o)
I ran across a really interesting article over the weekend in a digital photography magazine. It had some tips for selling one's original photographs on eBay.

Obviously, anybody who looks at my photos will realize that the VAST majority of them were intended to record special events with family and friends. Either that or, in the case of the photos I take during hockey games, they're suitable for sharing with other fans, for giving a copy of the pics to the players themselves, or for the Scrapbook Committee so they can add the pics to the player's scrapbook for that season.

However... I also think that there are a few that might generate a bit of interest. For example, I went through the zillion shots I took at the Mummers Parade on New Year's Day, and I found, oh, maybe a half-dozen that I think might sell... either as they are, or after I do a little bit of tweaking to crop out excess along the edges.

I think I'm going to do some looking on eBay to find out what the "going rate" of photos are for artists who are selling copies of their own work. In particular, I want to have a look at what 8x10 and 5x7 pics are going for. If it's more than I'd have to spend for eBay fees plus having the prints made, then what the heck? It might be well worth trying an auction or two to see how much pocket money it might generate.

It sure beats spending $30 to get info about a work-at-home data processing job which might or might not be a scam.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Ugh. It's NEVER a good sign when you get a phone call from the receptionist, who asks, "Do you have a red car?" That's what happened to me at about 1 PM today.

"What's wrong?" I asked. That's when I was told that my car had a flat tire. People who were returning from their lunch break noticed the problem, and it didn't take too long for them to track down whose car it was. I went out to look, and sure enough, the right rear tire was just about as empty as it could get. Oh, great... just freakin' great! GRRRRRR

I had a spare tire in my trunk, so I figured, "Fine, I'll call AAA to come and change the tire".

But nothing is ever that easy and straightforward, is it?

AAA arrived about 90 minutes later. Naturally, it was raining when I got out there to retrieve said spare tire from my trunk for the AAA guy.

Unfortunately, my spare tire really is a spare TIRE. There's no rim; it's just the tire. He couldn't change it for me. Instead, he filled it with air so I'd be able to drive to a nearby gas station and have THEM fix the tire.

I went back to work so I could retrieve my handbag and explain that I needed a little while to get my car to the gas station. The AAA guy had told me to get the car there ASAP because we weren't sure how quickly the air would leak back out of the tire.

They told me that it was OK, and if it took too long for them to finish fixing the tire, to just go home and not worry about coming back to work.

So I wrapped up the submission that I was partway through entering when AAA arrived, got my things, headed for the car, and drove the couple of blocks to the nearest gas station. I took my time and had my hazard lights flashing the whole way, since I wasn't sure how the tire (which was already beginning to go flat again) would respond to being driven that distance. There are two gas stations across the street from each other at that intersection, but I pulled into the one that was closer to my workplace. The less driving I had to do on that tire, the better.

Did I mention that nothing is ever easy and straightforward? The gas station that I had pulled into was so backed up with work that they didn't think they could work on my car until tomorrow.

"Tomorrow?! But I live in Philadelphia! I won't be able to get home", I said. They suggested that I try the gas station across the street because they might be able to change my tire sooner.

Of course that meant trying to limp my car across a highway full of traffic. (What the heck were all those people doing driving at that hour of the afternoon, anyway?) But I agreed to try the other station, thanked the guy, and got back into the car. Windshield wipers on, headlights on, hazard lights on, get car to exit, wait two years for traffic to lighten up enough to navigate my car with its re-flattening tire across the street, and away we (slowly) go.

The third time was the charm, THANK GOD. I finally was able to get the tire changed. And, since it was less than an hour before the time I'd normally have left work, I figured "Oh, to heck with it" and went home.

Now I need to get a spare tire, though, because the punctured one was too damaged to salvage. Apparently, I drove over a piece of metal, which was imbedded in the tire. Gosh only knows when that happened.

Oh, well. So for my $12 misadventure, I got an extra hour added to my weekend. Harmony was thrilled. When I was between assignments, she used to love parking next to me on the sofa in the afternoons and getting doted on. Today she got lots of tummy skritches, so she's one happy feline right about now. :o)

Oh, and I nearly forgot. I had one more "nothing goes right on the first try" moment before I got home. I goofed up and went into a cash tollbooth instead of the EZ-Pass lane. There went $3 more out of my wallet that I wasn't expecting to spend. At least it's one LESS toll that was charged to my EZ-Pass account, so it all balances out in the end, I suppose.

Considering the way the rest of this day went, I think I'll retire for the night NOW. ;o)
Happy Anniversary to me. I still remember June 11, 1976, which was the day I brought home a 7-week-old gray-and-white powder puff and named her Misty.

She was my first cat ever; I raised her and grew up with her. To honor her memory, I resolved to continue to have cats in my life at any time it was humanly possible to have at least one. Oh, and also to spoil said cat(s) rotten, because of course that's what cats are for. Misty made sure to teach me THAT lesson earlyon. :o)

Anyway, I'm thinking about my first cat today. I was blessed to have her in my life.
When we log onto the e-mail system at work, there's an online bulletin board that displays the past 8 days' worth of posts. (Older posts are also available, but you have to click on a special link to see them.)

I think I'll be swearing off reading the current posts on the bulletin board for the next few days. There are multiple "Thanks for the 25th Anniversary Trip" posts to thank the planning committee that ran the event.

And now there is a long string of "Welcome aboard!" posts for the person who will soon be filling the job in my department that I was hoping to get.

I know she is already working for this company. I know that her move will create an opening at her OLD position which will have to be filled.

Still, seeing those posts welcoming her into my department... or should I say "the department where I work", since taking ownership of it and calling it my department seems presumptious at this point... I see the posts and I start to think, "Man, it sure is gonna be a bear to get all these decorations from my cubicle safely home". I'm glad I at least had the wisdom to keep all the boxes for the bobbleheads and a few other fragile items AT work, so they can be safely packed. But ooooo, transporting all those posters is going to be a challenge.

It took me days to bring everything IN. I wonder if I should start bringing things home gradually, too? That might be easier on me than having one massive "un-decorate the whole cube" day if I get told that my assignment is over without much advance notice.

Believe me, I know. That's what I had to do at the bank. Taking down all the stuff from THAT cubicle meant taking down twelve years' worth of what made my workspace MINE. I think that was the hardest task out of all the things I had to finish up before I left.

What the heck. I might as well start moving stuff out gradually. After all, even if I get hired by another department (fat chance of THAT happening as long as other employees keep going for jobs within the company! I'm not holding my breath), I'm still going to have to move out of this cubicle at some point. I'll take a look around tomorrow and decide where to begin.

At least I have my online photo album to show what the cube looked like at the height of the "March Madness" decorating contest.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lately I've been looking around online to see if there are any freelance telecommuting-type things that I could do for extra pocket change.

I ran across something on monster.com, of all places, that looked intriguing. Monster is a legitimate company, not some fly-by-night organization, so I wondered if the company offering the work was legit, as well. You pay a registration fee of $29.95, which to me is a red flag that something might be up, but supposedly you get the registration fee back once you send them 200 names. And that's what your job is: providing them lists of names and snail-mail addresses. You send them the info, they send you $1/name. All I could think was, "OK, that sounds way too simple. What's the catch?"

LOTS and LOTS of search-engine research later, I have come up with about fifty zillion sites bearing ads including this work-from-home company's name and "Send a long, self-addressed stamped envelope to...". What piqued my curiosity was that rarely were the snail-mail addresses alike. I wondered how in the heck many locations one company could HAVE. I also found several homepages with the same ad on them, but instead of requesting a SASE, they wanted the user to e-mail them with their name and snail-mail address for free information. "Just put [work-from-home company's name] in the subject line of your e-mail". Hmm. Interesting.

But I kept looking, and I hit on one website that, I think, explains everything.

The person who wrote was disgruntled because what the ads DON'T say is that this company only accepts their mailing-address info on a SASE. You're not just sending names and addresses, you're sending them a bunch of SASEs so they can mail out their ads to the people who wanted the work-at-home information.

THAT'S why I saw the same ad on so many websites with so many different mailing addresses! Those people all were in search of SASEs that they could forward back to the work-at-home company, and get their $1/name fee.

I guess the people who were requesting e-mailed names and addresses were going to fill out a SASE themselves and mail it in. That kind of cuts into the $1/name fee they'd be earning, since they're now supplying their own envelopes and stamps, but I suppose it's cost-effective in its own right.

I'm dying of curiosity to know how this company can stop someone from harvesting a ton of addresses from the internet, matching any old name to said addresses, and mailing it off to collect payment. How does the company prevent itself from being scammed? Or does the company even CARE, as long as they're getting their name out there to other potential subscribers?

What I'm not sure I am, though, is $29.95 worth of curious to see how they manage to keep from being shortchanged by people who are sending them anything they jolly well please.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Today I couldn't help but think back on how, in high school and college, the parents of whichever person I was dating loved me. LOVED. I never, ever had one problem getting along with the parents of a boyfriend. They always were great to me, particularly the boyfriends' moms, and I thought the world of them in return.

This is in direct contrast to the boyfriends themselves, most of whose behavior ran the gamut between not reciprocating my feelings (which, of itself, is no crime) to lying, cheating, and being verbally abusive.

To make a long story short, almost universally, the guys' parents held me in far higher esteem than the guys themselves. I used to joke with my friends that I wished I could meet someone who loved me as much as his parents did.

In the past three years since I entered the world of the temp workforce, I can't help but notice some parallels between my past experiences and now.

These days, it's the people I work directly with/for who love me. They think the world of my work and can't pay me enough compliments. Unfortunately, like the moms of the guys I dated, they're not the people who make the decisions. The higher-ups, with whom I have little or no contact, are the ones who see me as nothing more than an expense that needs to be trimmed as soon as humanly possible. They're also the ones who have the final say in how long I remain at a given assignment.

I won't be getting the job that opened up in this department. It was filled by someone else from another department in this company. I do, however, plan to apply for the opening that THAT person's transfer will create, as soon as they begin accepting resumes in a few days.

I also applied for that opening in Karla's department a few weeks ago. But as I understand they've already begun interviewing for it, and I haven't had so much as an acknowledgement that my resume was received, I have no illusions about how slim my chances are to get that job. I'm not holding my breath.

The way things stand now, I will definitely be here for a few more weeks, for at least as long as it takes for the new person to train her replacement in her old department, and to get trained in the new job here. I'm not sure how long the transition will last.

After that, MAYBE they'll be able to hang onto me by evaluating, on an every-two-weeks basis, whether my services are still required.

Otherwise, just call me "Dead Temp Walking". Because right now, that's how I feel.

God, I'm so, so tired of fighting this battle. When does it end?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

As I type, I'm at Belmont with Mark, during the break between the 6th and 7th races. It's brisk and cloudy, but not raining. At least, not anymore.

Getting here wasn't too hard -- the NJ Transit train even arrived about 10 minutes earlier than we expected it to, so we were able to catch the 12:01 LIRR train to Belmont. That got us here about an hour earlier than we arrived at this time last year.

I picked a standing spot just after the final turn, while Mark went to the Men's Room. Then I sent him a text messsage and a picture message on his phone, to show him just where I was. Pretty handy stuff, that technology. :o)

Unfortunately, I took my place just in time to see a horse break down just before the final turn, in the third race. It was the favorite, and it was wearing #9. The jockey pulled up and got off, and some people hurried to help take the saddle and whatnot off. The horse was lame in one of his front legs, but he was standing. I felt terrible for the poor horse. They came out with what looked like a big ambulance for the horse -- a white enclosed truck that they loaded the horse into. Then they drove back in the direction of the barn.

I was remembering some stories my former interpreting classmate, Bob A, told from his experience working at Philadelphia Park. He described a big blue screen or tent that they erect right on the track when a horse has to be put down, so that the spectators don't have to see the horse receive the final act of mercy. I hope that the fact they were trucking THIS horse back toward the barn area is a good sign. Either way, it was upsetting. Poor horse. I think his name is Grace Course, though I'll have to check the program to be sure. I hope he'll be OK.

Interesting tidbit: a few races later, I noticed that there was an ambulance driving several lengths behind the horses, keeping pace with them as they ran along. It literally drives the entire way around the track, following the pack. So now we know who comes in last for every race. It's not the final horse in the bunch; it's the ambulance driver.
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A few minutes before 5 PM, the track announcer pronounced, in a solemn tone, "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please". THAT quieted the huge crowd immediately, because not one of the myriad announcements during the entire day had begun with those words, nor were they uttered with such a somber inflection. As the passing of Ronald Reagan was announced, his picture was shown on the jumbotron, with the caption "Ronald Reagan 1911-2004" and a picture of an American Flag underneath. Everyone stood and there was a moment of silence. (I was pleased to note how many people had the presence of mind to remove their hats, without having to be reminded to do so.) When the moment of silence was finished, they showed a closeup on the jumbtron of the American Flag that flies over the Belmont track, and there were cheers and applause. The tone of their reaction gave me a momentary flashback to the way crowds at sporting events responded to theg image of the US Flag after 9/11. Then I remembered how very close Belmont is to New York City. As traumatic as September 11 was on everyone in this country, needless to say, the cities that literally lived through it also experienced an aftermath that the rest of us can't even begin to imagine. If they're still experiencing a rush of both pride and defiance when the Flag is spotlighted, it's understandable.
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Last year, Mark and I stood in the standing-room-only area near the finish line. a race or two before the Belmont Stakes race, the crowd started to really build up a lot. Then, just prior to the race, the crowd started to surge forward, shoving for better vantage points. This year, we were about 1/3 of the distance between the final turn and the finish line, and the crowd was tamer. It still started to build up quite noticeably a race or two before the big one, but there was no shoving match. Well, not one as bad as last year's anyhow.

This year, I came prepared. I brought a small folding ladder along; its one step is just tall enough to put me at eye-level with a tall person. I figure it's not cheating if I'm standing at the same height as Mother Nature has bestowed on some people. ;o) Thanks to the ladder, I could see over not only the people in front of me in the standing-room-only area, but the ones in front of us in the grandstand seating area. Let me forewarn you, if you plan to head to the standing-room-only area on the concourse, that the people seated in the grandstand all stand up when the race is in progress... if you're a short person like me, you're going to find it challenging to be able to see anything on the track.

That's why I felt sorry for the young lady who arrived, with two male companions, just before the 10th race (the race prior to the Belmont Stakes). I was already standing on my ladder by that time, and decided that the best bet was to stay there all the way through the end of the Belmont. Between other races, I would step down and sit on the little folding chair which I also had with me. But I knew from our experience last year that a LOT of people were going to start looking for a vantage point as the Belmont approached. I didn't want someone to think, "Oh, here we go, a good spot!", only to have their line of sight blocked by me once I got up. I figured that the best bet would be to get up and STAY up, so anyone who wasn't tall enough to see over or past me would know to stand elsewhere. (Did I mention that they would also have to see over the people in the grandstand seating area in front of us, who were sure to stand up once the race began? So with or without my having a ladder, the worst visual obstruction wouldn't have been me, anyway.) The young woman and her friends stood immediately to my right, and I could tell that she was at least as short as I am. She was quite petite and couldn't see over the (tall) people in front of her AT ALL.

She and her friends, and Mark and I, were behind the row of people who'd arrived first and had been standing right at the rail of the concourse all day. The three people in front of her and her friends were tall, and she couldn't see past them. The man and woman in front of Mark and me were of average height (still too tall for a short person to see over them, though) and they both had folding chairs set up behind them. The petite lady and her friends politely asked the couple in front of Mark and me if they could please fold their chairs.

The man 's response was rude, at best (and the woman said nothing at all). "Well, how much more do ya think you're gonna f-n see?", he snapped. "We've been here all f'n day! You shoulda f-n arrived earlier, then". As surly as he was, he and his female companion DID fold their chairs, but the petite woman made no move to take a place directly behind the couple.Who the heck would have wanted to stand directly behind someone who was that hostile? Which, I suspect, was the man's intent. Not that there was room, anyway; everyone was so crowded-together at this point that the moment the chairs were folded, the crowd just compacted itself to close off any available space.

So the next solution they tried was for one of her male companions to ask the tall guy in front of her if she could please stand in front of him (at the rail). Now, this SHOULD have caused no problem, since she was shorter than his shoulders. He would have been able to see over her with NO difficulty at all. But he refused to let her in front of him. That really irritated me, because I remember countless Mummers Parades in Philly where it's EXPECTED for people who are tall to let shorter people (especially kids, but shorter adults as well) stand in front of them. But this was the Belmont Stakes, not the Mummers Parade, and the etiquette on the concourse is an entirely different animal. The petite young lady and her two male companions stayed where they were.

Oh, speaking of entirely different animals... as we waited during the half-hour or so between the 10th race and the Belmont, I suddenly noticed that peeking out from the petite lady's half-zipped jacket was a teeny chihuahua(!). The dog was so minute, I wondered if it was a puppy, but even grown chihuahuas are so small, I wasn't sure. He was a quiet little fuzzball, though, and he let me pet his wee head and give him a brief chin skritch. :o) He sure was cute! (BTW, I thought it was a bad idea to smuggle such a tiny dog into a crowd of 120,000 spectators, but I kept my opinion to myself.)

So, finally, the big moment came. Smarty Jones and company had their post parade, which travelled noticeably farther than the post parades for other races. I presumed this was done to allow the many fans with cameras to get shots of the participants. BTW, this was when another visual obstruction made itself apparent... some of the now-standing people in the grandstand seating area were reaching their cameras waaaay above their heads, to get a better shot of the track. (Is anyone still wondering why I brought a stepladder this year? I knew all this would be going on after my experience last year.)

After a rendition of "New York, New York" :o), the race began. EVERYONE was cheering for Smarty Jones. So when Smarty took the lead, somewhat early in the race, the crowd just ROARED. He stayed ahead of the pack for nearly the whole way, too. As the horses rounded the final turn, suddenly one of the petite lady's male friends reached down and boosted her up, supporting her under the arms and raising her high enough to see over the crowd. At least, I hope she could see. I'm not sure she was expecting the sudden assist from her companion. (and it didn't occur to me until several hours later to wonder how she managed to keep hold of the chihuahua during all this. But she did.)

The crowd was deafeningly loud, cheering the sight of Smarty Jones in the lead and a few seconds away from winning the Triple Crown. But then, suddenly, a horse with a light-colored saddle cloth surged ahead. The volume of the crowd's noise remained the same, but the tone changed as people exclaimed with surprise and urged Smarty to retake the lead. I myself was grateful for the loud crowd, because I blurted out an "Oh, SH**!" when I saw the other horse move ahead. But with the crowd making so much noise that it was impossible to hear oneself think, I'm sure that nobody heard what I said.

As it turned out, the race lasted just a few seconds too long for Smarty Jones. The other horse, Birdstone, overtook him JUST before the finish line. There was not enough time, and Smarty didn't have one last burst of energy in him to outrun Birdstone before the race was over. For the third time in three years, the horse who'd won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness failed to win the Belmont Stakes and earn the Triple Crown. Just the fact that there have been 156 Belmont Stakes run, but there are only 11 Triple Crown winners, is a testament to how enormous of a challenge it is to win all three races.

In any event, Mark and I didn't get to witness a bit of history at Belmont Park. But I still had a terrific day yesterday, and I'm looking forward to seeing Smarty Jones run in the Pennslvania Derby on Labor Day. Team Smarty have done Philadelphia proud already, with their Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins. IMO, there was nothing left to prove to anybody, with or without a Triple Crown victory.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I know that one classic storyline on TV, in the movies, etc, is to describe how a kid feels when EVERY other classmate except him or her is invited to a party. I've even seen letters to Ann Landers, Dear Abby, etc, on the subject.

Of course, I could have told you that it happens in real life, because it actually did happen to me. Sort of. There was this kid who lived on the street where I grew up, and when we were in 6th grade, she invited the majority of our class to her birthday party one Saturday afternoon. The one difference is that she didn't invite ANY of the "out crowd" -- I guess that's what you'd call the people who are the total opposite of the "in crowd", wouldn't you? -- which meant that my few friends and I were left off the guest list.

Of course, I wasn't exactly traumatized by this. To put it politely, she really wasn't a nice person at all. Plus, she had as her guests the very people who went out of their way to make my friends' and my lives a living hell every day at school. So the idea of having to spend a few extra hours in that group of people's company wouldn't have been an appealing prospect, even if I HAD been invited.

At least she didn't make a point of letting me know, in advance, that I'd been snubbed. Of course, most likely this stemmed from a fear that I'd ask to be invited and she wouldn't have a good reason to refuse, rather than out of fear of hurting my feelings. But hey. Whatever. I didn't hear of the party until the following Monday at school, when everywhere I turned I was overhearing classmates talking about the party. After the fourth or fifth conversation that I heard in passing, I deduced who had thrown the party, and judging from the number of people talking about it, the gathering must have been huge. The only reason I'd managed to miss seeing any evidence of it was that I'd been out the entire day anyway. Therefore, I didn't witness any of my classmates passing through my street as they arrived or left.

For the rest of that day and into Tuesday, all I heard as I walked by people was "Ann G's party" this and "Ann G's party" that. So, more from a desire to tweak Ann G (for once! instead of the other way around) than anything, I went over to her and in an offhand way, said, "Must have been some party on Saturday. Everyone's talking about it". She got flustered but recovered herself and said, "It wasn't much. I only had a few people over".

I don't know how I didn't laugh in her face. If I'd heard one person discussing it, I'd heard thirty people. But I kept a straight face and said something to the effect of "That's OK, I wasn't home anyway". Which was true.

Given the circumstances, the only thing that annoyed me was that she lied right to my face. Mind you, that was neither the first nor the last time she lied to me -- did I mention she wasn't a nice person? -- but I hate dishonesty.

Anyway, as I said, given the choice between spending an afternoon with a nasty person and the people whose hazing I had to deal with every school day, or doing something else, I'd have preferred to do something else 10 out of 10 times.

However, if I didn't feel like the One Kid Who's Left Out that day, I made up for it today. This was the day when the majority of the employees, along with their spouses/kids in some cases, went on an overnight trip. It's the company's 25th anniversary, and this was the way they chose to reward their employees.

Don't get me wrong -- I think it's wonderful that this company actually cares enough about its employees to make concrete gestures like this.

It's just that as a temp, all I get to do is watch from the sidelines as everyone else, who I work just as hard as, gets recognized for their contributions to the company.

At least I got to have the catered breakfast that everyone else had (mini bagels, pastries, omelette cooked to order, etc). And as I posted yesterday, I made a point of wearing something comfortable (sneakers and a casual shirt) that I probably wouldn't have worn to work otherwise.

But it still was a bit depressing when I was asked by a few people, "Are you going?" and had to answer "No". I bit my tongue on finishing the sentence with, "I'm only a temp", though. THAT sentiment, I kept to myself.

And it was depressing when the mass exodus took place this morning, and just a skeleton crew of workers remained on the premises.

It's ironic. When I actually WAS a *kid* who was left out of a big event, I didn't mind being passed over. But now, as an adult, I have an empty, left-out feeling that has weighed on me all day. I'm so sick of being on the outside looking in.

BTW, I applied to two openings for permanent jobs that are going to be created at this company. One was for Karla's department, and the other one is a different job in the department where I am now. That was a few weeks ago, and since I provided my resume to the appropriate parties, I've heard nothing. Plus, I recently distributed some copies of my resume to a couple other friends who might... MIGHT... be able to submit it where they work. So it's not like I'm sitting around, doing nothing but moping and complaining. It's just that the freaking openings are hard to come by, and I'm frustrated.

When they fill the permanent position that was created in my department -- a different job than mine, but one that will take on duties that I now perform -- my temp assignment will be ended. That much, I found out a couple weeks ago. I also was informed that employees from other departments applied for this opening, and they will be considered ahead of me. So anyone's guess is as good as mine whether I'll be sent on my way, or whether I'll finally be a real employee again, instead of someone on the fringes who's regarded by higher-ups as an expense that needs to be cut ASAP.

Everyone I tell that I've applied for these openings is all happy for me. I wish I felt happy for me, too. But three years of disappointments have worn away my ability to expect good things to happen. I'll believe that good things happen when or if I see them, and not before.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Near the end of the workday, I started to go into "I feel like I'm on the outside looking in" mode.

Tomorrow (June 4) is the 25th anniversary of the company where I'm temping. The company is springing for a trip to a city a couple hours' drive from here, involving at least one overnight, for all employees and their spouses.

I'm not an employee, though. I'm just a temp. Usually I can set that knowledge aside and get through the workday with no difficulty. It's just times like the cubicle-decorating contest, or a day a few weeks ago when ALL the employees got a nice wheeled suitcase as a gift from the company, or company field trips like the one that's taking place this weekend when I have no choice but to remember where I really stand. On the outside looking in. A temp like me couldn't have won that decorating contest, I watched everyone around me wheeling their new luggage to their cars at the end of the workday, and I won't be joining the rest of the company on their field trip this weekend.

Which, of course, I was reminded of when the company president got on the loudspeaker to tell everyone that they were permitted to wear shorts or anything they felt comfortable in to work tomorrow, and that the weather forecast was for perfect weather for their trip.

And then, since some departments reported that they couldn't hear the announcement, two minutes later he got BACK on the PA system and made the same announcement AGAIN. Which was the emotional equivalent of getting whacked right on a spot that was already sore.

Well, at least I'll wear something comfortable to work tomorrow. But not shorts. Not with this really, REALLY awful-looking black-and-blue bruise that encompasses a palm-sized area of my left knee. Actually, it's black-and-blue and red-violet and just about every OTHER freakin' color of the rainbow, now that it's finally beginning to fade. I definitely will NOT be wearing shorts anywhere until this bruise is gone.

Speaking of which, time to go get some ice for the knee. Cold really makes it hurt less. Now all I need is something to relieve this bruise to my morale, and I'll be in good shape.
Ha ha! You know what a "song stuck in your head" is called?

An earworm!

LOL!

So in other words, I still have two "Smarty Jones" ballads competing to be my current earworm, any time that I'm not listening to a radio that's playing another tune.

I suppose it's my own fault. Maybe I shouldn't be singing those ballads to the cat, substituting "Harmony" in place of the horse's name and changing the rest of the lyrics on the fly to kitty-related words. But I can't help it. The pampered furball loves to be sung to and she purrs herself silly when I do it. :o)

All the same, maybe it's time I sing some other things to Harmony instead. She won't care which songs she's having sung to her, and I will shake off these two earworms once and for all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

How did it get to be JUNE all of a sudden?

I've updated the links over on the left-hand side of the page, for the first time in eons. I added a few blogs (notably Riverbend and Raed), plus I added a link to a blog directory called Blogarama. So do please click on the link to Blogarama, since it seems that generating traffic back to their site increases a blog's rating or coolness factor or something like that. :o)

Saturday is the Belmont Stakes, and Mark and I are going again. Donna H. is considering joining us there, since it's a bit less of a haul for her than driving all the way to Philly would be.

In the meantime, the entire city has gone stark raving bananas for Smarty Jones. :o) There are at least two "ballad of Smarty Jones"-type songs that I've heard so far... one is in a folk-music style, and the other one is bluesy. The trouble is that I have BOTH songs stuck in my head because I keep hearing them both several times per day.

I really hope we have nicer weather for this year's Belmont Stakes than we had last year. Of course, it'd be a real challenge to have WORSE weather than last year's all-day monsoon. But if there's one thing I don't want to do, it's issue Mother Nature a challenge to come up with weather even more rotten than last year's sloppy mess, so I'll just keep my mouth shut and hope for some sunshine.

BTW... crud! I had the Phillies game on TV as kind of an audio wallpaper while I surf the net, and the Phillies just lost to the Mets. It wouldn't be so bad except that we freakin' blew a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning and eventually lost, 5-3. Rats. I hate when that happens.

It's a good thing that baseball's seasons are about a zillion games long. One aggravating loss is likely to be forgotten by the season's end.

OK, time for me to ice this knee down again. I fell on the cellar stairs a week ago Monday, landing with my full weight on my left knee, and DANG, does it hurt! Fortunately, ice does help reduce the pain. I'm glad, because I take enough meds as it is. If I can find some relief that doesn't come in pill form, hip hip hooray for it. ;o)