Friday, July 31, 2009

"2 Truths and a Lie" July poll results

So, I told you 5 things about me in my poll this month. 4 were true, but 1 was a lie. You were charged with deciding which was the lie. Your choices?
  • One of my summer jobs was stuffing junk mail, and 1 summer wasn't enough: I did it for 2 summers in a row.
  • If I was offered a job making candles tomorrow, I would take it, and I would be excited about it.
  • Though marketing research has turned out to be my career field, I actually graduated with a B.A. in Advertising.
  • It has always been a secret dream of mine to live and work on a farm.
  • At one time, it was my ultimate goal to become a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.
  • I have been a telemarketer and a vacuum salesperson. I didn't sell anything in either line of work.
Many of you were incorrect! Hahaha, I've fooled you!
  • 2 of you thought that the lie was"If I was offered a job making candles tomorrow, I would take it, and I would be excited about it." Untrue, my friends! I actually applied to a candle-making position that I saw on Craigs List. (I believe part of my cover letter went something like this: "I would love to bring my skills, my desire to learn more about candle making, my work ethic, and my positive attitude to your company and to this position.") Didn't even get a response, though. Sad. I really would have been excited about candle making! In case you want to go back and check, there weren't any clues in past blog posts about this one. I couldn't make it THAT easy, now could I?
  • Another 2 of you thought it was "It has always been a secret dream of mine to live and work on a farm." Ennnnnnnht! I've always thought living on a farm would be cool, working with my hands in the outdoors with nature and animals and what not a tangible, rewarding experience. No clues about this one in past posts either, but you could have used the standardized test taking technique where you rule certain things out based on how similar they are. Ex. Candle making = working with my hands, a more hands-on job. Working on a farm = also a hands-on position. You know I love animals (at the very least, I love dogs - here are all the posts about my little doofuses), so you could have reasoned that the secret desire to work a farm gig wasn't a lie. By its similarity, you might have been able to rule out the candle-maker gig as a lie also. But did you? No. That's ok, though, I mean, don't feel bad or anything. This won't count on your permanent record, and it's not like the bar exam or anything. You're still walking out of here with what you came in with...I mean, unless you put money on it. Then I can't help you.
  • 1 of you said that "I have been a telemarketer and a vacuum salesperson. I didn't sell anything in either line of work." was the lie. Not the case, and I even have a post to back this one up. Here is my vacuum salesperson story. What you didn't get from that post was that I was a telemarketer earlier that same summer. I was sort of fundraising for this Police Athletic League event, and had to call local businesses to ask for their donation. None of them donated anything. Not a cent! Thinking I would be better at selling tangibles, I moved to the vacuum business. In neither position did I sell anything, though.
More than half of you (6/11), though, guessed correctly (ok, ok, or you knew the answer): Though marketing research has turned out to be my career field, I actually graduated with a B.A. in Advertising.
Nope! Got my B.A. in Psychology. Woo!

Thanks for voting-- Don't forget to vote in August!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Good luck to my fiancee and all the other zillions of folks (but mostly my fiancee) taking the Massachusetts bar today! And tomorrow! See you at the bar after the bar!

Speaking of the hardest test you've ever taken in your entire life, I am reminded of Mrs. Bachman, my high school chemistry teacher. She used to make up 3 or sometimes 4 different versions (color-coded and nicknamed after an element on the periodic table) of tests based on where you sat in the room. Those were the most extreme measures I think a teacher ever went to to see that there wasn't any cheating. Oh Mrs. Bachman.

Obviously, that's nothing compared to the measures the bar folks are taking. Each person is allowed a gallon size, clear plastic bag containing a short list of outlined items (like pencils, clear containers for your lunch if you're bringing one, tissues, your wallet, your house keys, and such). And ladies, if you're at that time of the month, that means your feminine products will be out there in plain sight for everyone to see -- and inspect, if necessary, since they go through your gallon bag upon entry to the test. Each test-taker has to have a completely clear water bottle, and they aren't allowed to bring their cell phones, wear hoods or bring umbrellas. What if it rains, bar testing people? What then? You'll have a bunch of unhappy, stressed out, and now wet test takers on your hands, that's what. Have fun grading 10 drippy essays from each person.

I'm not even taking the bar and I'm psyched for it to be over. Jess will be done with the hardest exam of her life, and that's quite an accomplishment! It'll be November before we know if she's passed, but that's alright.

I'm also excited because she'll start acting like normal Jess again in that she'll probably stop seeing everything through the Law Lens. I can't even imagine the volume of law crap that is in that head of hers. Some of it has spilled onto topics way outside the law - like our dogs. It was actually brought up recently that if Emma were to enter a contract and she was worried (within reason) that the other person wasn't going to go through with their end of the bargain, she could ask for further assurances. But then, Emma's a dog and not a person, so the contract isn't likely to be honored or valid in the first place. WOW. That was unprompted, and over breakfast.

Also, I hear after leaving the exam, everything just floats out of the test taker's head. They have been stuffing so much information from so many varied topics of law into their head, that after finally dumping it out on test day(s), it is flushed out of the system immediately. One person said they forgot 25% of what they learned for the exam right after they walked out the door. That's crazy! But good: Jess had expressed concern that her memories were being replaced one by one with law. Maybe after the exam, those memories will come back. I can see it now, we'll just be sitting there, staring into space after she detoxes from the exam (and from the post-bar bar Thursday night), and she'll say something like, "oh, I remember the 6th grade science fair again!"

Also, starting on Friday, Jess and I will be two unemployeds searching for jobs and doing funemployment stuff together! Wheeeee!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stages of Unemployment

I went to the dog park yesterday with Emma and we were both pleasantly surprised. It was the middle of a weekday, so most of the folks there with their K9 pals were unemployed, just like me! As Emma romped happily among her kind, I excitedly introduced myself to mine.

After a few minutes, a twinkling little insight began to grow as I realized I could tell what stage of unemployment each unemployed person was currently experiencing, and thus, how long they had been unemployed. Observe:

Stage one: unemployed for up to 2 weeks
Internal panic. Disbelief. Denial.
I introduced myself to a woman who, under normal circumstances I'm sure was actually quite confident and competent, but at the dog park and recently unemployed, she had crumbled. Feelings of shame and the worry that I would figure her out for what she was (unemployed) lit up her face like beacons in a storm. Our conversation was something like "Hi I'm Pam, I hear you're from JP also?" Her: "Yes." Then she just kind of shuffled her feet, agonizing over whether I'd ask her what she did for a living or not.

Stage two: unemployed for 2 weeks to 2 months or so
Acceptance of situation. Inevitable depression.
Obviously, these people were not at the dog park; they were too depressed about their situation that they couldn't even get out and enjoy a nice day yet. Maybe I'll see them in a month or so...

Stage three: unemployed for 2-6 months
Aggressive job hunting.
These folks go to the dog park to network. They bring business cards they have designed and printed themselves. They dress like they are professionals on their way to work. Their #1 goal right now is to get a job, and they believe (for their sanity's sake) that they will get one soon. Stage 3s are sometimes beneficial to unemployeds in stages 1, 2, or 4 in that they do so much networking and job searching that they find jobs that don't work for them, but might work for another unemployed. And, at places like the dog park, they pass those opportunities along as they eagerly collect your email and resume.

Stage four: unemployed for 6 months or more
Total acceptance. Completely able to be funemployed. Where I am now.
There were a few of these stage 4s at the park yesterday. They were the ones eagerly talking to other people (but not busting out business cards), smiling and laughing at their dog's playful tongue lolling out of its head at a 45 degree angle, throwing a tennis ball joyously for their dog and even for someone else's dog, etc. Stage 4s are in an ok place about being unemployed. They know they'll get a job eventually, but they're no longer putting all of their eggs in the job search basket. Stage 4s are easily confused with self-employed folks or contractors, as they also have a strong sense of identity and freedom. Also, stage 4s can go through relapses, back to stages 3 or even 2. So that can get tricky and may throw off your estimate of how long the unemployed in question has been unemployed.

Of course, time frames vary for each person as they go through the stages (of unemployment, which are remarkably similar to the stages of grief, I might add). But the general gist is the same. After stage 4, some people even reach a stage 5. Well, there's like a 5a and 5b. 5a is the people who no longer care and embrace unemployment, stop looking for jobs all together, totally give up, etc. This actually may happen directly after stage 2. Stage 5b is the people who say, you know what, I'm going to start my own business.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Memory Monday: Junk Mail

My very first job was my summer job at age 15. I count this as my first job because a) taxes were taken out of my paycheck, and b) the tasks for which I was held responsible included more than say, weeding, watering plants, doing dishes, dusting, arranging the curtains in the living room (it was a bigger task than you would think), and washing the cars. The tasks for which my 15 year old self was held responsible included inserting several different types of paper into the folding machine, then stuffing them into envelopes. And what was the result? Was I doing this to help some worthy company work toward some lofty goal? Was this mail serving a good purpose, assuming it had a purpose at all? The answer, sadly, is no. The result was heaping stacks of junk mail. Mail so worthless that its inevitable destiny is to be ripped in half on sight and immediately thrown away.

It was hard to get into this job. My other 15 and 16 year old friends (the latter having their licenses) worked at places like the Gap or Johnny's (ice cream and burgers and such) or at a summer camp. They didn't understand how I got stuck stuffing junk mail, and I didn't either. Their jobs provided friends with discounts, free food, or at least some outdoor fun. My job provided nothing to my friends. For me, it provided an intense dislike for "Light 100.5 WRCH New Britain - Hartford!" and required that I wear pants and a sweater to the office, where it was kept at approximately 58 degrees at all times.

My one silver lining? I got to look at several people's last names, and, making my own fun, I would always pick out the weirdest of the bunch. I wish I could remember some! All I can tell you is that the ultimate winner's last name was a complete mouthful and likely did not fit on standardized government forms. I think they made it up.

On a totally different note, this just proves the whole thing about archaeology being a cool job. Discovery even copied my "cool jobs" idea.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy birthday to one of my favorite coworkers


He's 15 in human years today! What a trooper! He could have retired by now, but he loves his job so much that he decided not to. Here he is getting one of his great ideas at his desk:Always the first to volunteer to drive on a business trip, he is the definitive team player.He's a wily old fellow, too, as we told him to lay off the coffee, but he always finds a way to get that half-full cup out of the garbage.

Happy birthday, buddy! And many more!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feeling Rainy/Frosty Paws Friday

It's raining AGAIN today. It's rained so much this summer that it's gotten to the point where I constantly feel rainy - meaning that I dress like it's going to rain, I act like it's going to rain, I plan my work out like it's going to rain, I never leave the house without an umbrella, and I always feel like staying in and reading or watching a movie with some popcorn are good ways to spend an evening. (Also remember I have limited choices because my fiancee is studying for the bar...countdown: 6.5 days). Don't take this to mean I'm a constant downer, because that's not it. It's just that I've adapted to all the rain. I walk outside and it's just a reflex to want to take cover. I even feel weird when it's sunny. This must be like what people in Mobile, Alabama (the rainiest place in the US with 67 inches on average per year - yeah, apparently, Seattle's not even in the top 10 in terms of amount of rain per year) or Bergen, Norway (where it rains 2 out of every 3 days) or Tutunendo, Colombia (464 inches of rain on average per year - are you KIDDING me?) feel like all the time. Huh.

On a totally different note, today could also be called "Frosty Paws Friday" because Sparki's 15th birthday is coming up and we just got him a pack of Frosty Paws- the peanut butter kind, because he loves peanut butter. It's the perfect treat for him because he's losing his teeth and isn't allowed anything really difficult to chew these days (like rawhide or anything like that). So, bless his little heart, he'll celebrate his old age with a half melted "ice cream like" treat on Sunday. And maybe a birthday hat. And a little extra glucosamin and chondroitin for that bad hip and arthritic front paw and old ACL injury (you think I'm kidding...). What a champ he is!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview self-esteem: A must-read

I've made some flubs in interviews. Who hasn't?

If YOU haven't, just read some other post, because this one is not for you.

But if you're human, welcome to the CNN article that will make you feel much better about yourself: "43 weird things said in job interviews." Before you get all huffy and start to think they are in response to bizarro questions (like "if you were a jungle animal, which one would you be and why?"), they were actually in response to questions that are fairly run-of-the-mill, such as "when have you demonstrated leadership skills?" and "what are your weaknesses?"

2 of my favorites include:

Random response: "[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport." -- Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR

Is there anything else I should know?: "You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends." - Venne

You've got to read this article.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cool Jobs: The archaeologist

There's that whole series on the Discovery Channel about Dirty Jobs. Why not a series (or a blogseries or bloggeries or some other made-up word) on COOL jobs? You know, jobs that some of us secretly (or openly) lust after and woulda coulda shoulda gone into had we just known what it took or how cool it was or some other key feature about ourselves or the job itself.

One such cool job that I would like to highlight today is that of the archaeologist. They get to study human cultures through the recovery, documentation, analysis, and interpretation of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, features, biofacts, and landscapes (thanks, Wikipedia!). That means they get to go on trips and survey the land for excavation sites that might have some kick butt remains. Then they classify and analyze said remains, drawing important conclusions that allow them (and us, and other scientists) to understand the history of human cultures just a little bit better. The possibilities for specialization are endless - you could study dinos and the KT boundary and stuff like that from one time period. That might be my first choice. Ooo, or ice age humans from the Pleistocene era. Or medieval cultures in Europe! Or where humans originated (they think it might be China now, not Africa)! Or Native American cultures of the northeast!

I can just hear the Indiana Jones theme song now...
deh deh det dehhhhh, deh deh dehhhh, deh deh det DEHHHHH! deh de-deh deh deh! deh deh det dehhhhh, deh deh dehhhhhh -- deh de-deh det! de-deh det! de-deh det! de-deh det de-dehhhh.......

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memory Monday: Waiting for the mail

Jess and I have started getting response cards for the wedding, and I can't remember the last time I was so excited about the mail. Around noon, I start to get itchy with an itch that only a full mailbox can scratch, but I know that it's still too early. Our mail usually gets here around 2 or I wait. And I wait. And the feeling that there are ants in my pants grows to an unmanageable level. Sometimes, to cope, I listen really hard to see if I can hear the mailman come up our steps. The apartment must be totally silent to allow for accurate listening, and between 1 and 3, most talking ceases. Loud breathers are kicked out (Sparki, I'm talking about your snoring, buddy). Finally, at 2, I take the doggies out and get the mail. Unable to wait until I take them back inside, I start opening response cards as the dogs do their business. Some have come very close to being dropped in poo, and I'm ok with that. Once we return inside, I enter everything into a sick Excel spreadsheet (complete with the percentage of response cards received, total count probabilities, actual counts, and intense formulas) and the process begins all over again.

The last time I was so excited about the mail was probably a few years ago, when I applied to a job that refused to call me or email me to let me know if I got the position. Instead, they snail mailed my forms and congratulations letter and such. The time before that, it was probably getting into grad schools, and the time before that was when I was waiting to hear from colleges. If you want to go way back, the first time I was excited about getting the mail was...well, when I started getting mail! My parents always had magazines and letters and junk mail and bills and newspapers...when I got the mail (one of my chores), I would sift through and hope that something - even one piece of junk mail - was for me. When my best friend started writing me from a summer camp that she attended one year, I was extremely excited. There was driveway dancing involved.

Snail mail is still the most exciting for me out of email, snail mail, and phone calls. I suppose because it's tangible, and also because it's not as common as a phone call or email. It's even exciting when you order something online for yourself and then it comes in 10-14 days later. It's WAY more exciting than buying it at the store. Maybe that part of it is the delayed gratification - during the time you're waiting for your purchase to come in, you're getting more and more psyched about it.

Wow, maybe I should be a postal worker.

OH I can't wait anymore...I'm going to check the mail...again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

From campFire Friday

Sparki looking rather excited about the marshmallows (that he would never get, but that doesn't mean he's not cute).

Happy weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2009

campFire Friday

Ok, so it's not so much a camp fire. It's one of those little portable grill guys. (Alliteration couldn't be found in my brain tonight). But tonight we're having a little s'mores action! It's a nice summer evening, and around 9, we'll be grillin' up some mallows. Yum! I recommend you do the same.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Legal terms that sound like delicious desserts

In all of Jess's studying for the bar, I have noticed something: There are several words that someone studying the law is likely to encounter that sound like delicious desserts.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

legal term

loose definition

(thank you, wikipedia,, and Jess)


applied example


(sersh-o-rar-ee)a legal term in Roman, English and American law referring to a type of writ seeking judicial review.

apple strudel pastry

I like to start the first day of fall with a certiorari at breakfast.

compos mentis

(com-pose-men-tis) Latin for "having a sound mind."

gormet mint ice cream, served with a mint leaf on the side

A bowl of your finest compos mentis, please


the recipient of a donation

donut (plural)

I'll take a dozen donee and a coffee to go. What? They're not all for me…


Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets, usually financial in nature, by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted.

Irish coffee

Nothing like a little embezzlement to go with my certiorari.


Estoppel is a legal doctrine at common law, where a party is barred from claiming or denying an argument on an equitable ground.

some sort of pancakey, crepe thing

what's great is that there's different kinds of estoppel (collateral and promissory) and those can be the different types of fruit fillings

I'll have the promissory (fresh strawberry) estoppel with whipped cream, please

ex delicto

Latin for "from a wrong" or "from a transgression," is a legal term that indicates a consequence of a tort, though the phrase can also refer to the consequence of a crime.

Spanish cappucino cake

it would have a catch phrase like, "ex delicto: es delicioso" or something

Uno ex delicto, por favor. Ahora! Mas rapido!


a legal relationship between two or more parties (most commonly a "fiduciary" or "trustee" and a "principal" or "beneficiary") that in English common law is arguably the most important concept within the portion of the legal system known as equity.

blueberry pie

A slice of fiduciary pie, please. And don't stick your thumb in it, wise guy.


a person or entity, quite often a bank or employer, which receives a court order to not release funds held for or owed to a customer or employee, pending further order of the court.

chocolate ganache

Oh Muriel, I'm just dying for a garnishee.

in absentia

Latin for "in the absence". In legal use it usually pertains to a defendant's right to be present in court proceedings in a criminal trial.

a flowery tea; no caffeine

How about a cup of in absentia while you read by the fire?

in limine

(Latin: "at the threshold") is a motion made before the start of a trial requesting that the judge rule that certain evidence may, or may not, be introduced to the jury in a trial.

key lime pie

In limine is so refreshing, don't you think?

ipso facto

Latin phrase, directly translated as "by the fact itself," which means that a certain effect is a direct consequence of the action in question, instead of being brought about by a subsequent action such as the verdict of a tribunal

tira misu

It's a fact: I don't like ipso facto (I really don't).


Legal liability is the legal bound obligation to pay debts.

those peanut butter cookies with the hershey's kiss on top

Did you make liables this year, Mom? They're my favorite! (They really are, too).


to read a Miranda warning

to cover something with hot chocolate fudge

Could you mirandize my compos mentis? Thanks.

nolle prosequi

(no-lay pro-say-kwee) n. Latin for "we shall no longer prosecute," which is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case (or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit) either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped.

monkey bread

Break me off another piece of that nolle prosequi, will ya?


of no force or effect; invalid

candy bar containing chocolate, caramel, and nougat (similar to a 100 grand)

I'll just take a nugatory bar to go.


a. A relation between parties that is held to be sufficiently close and direct to support a legal claim on behalf of or against another person with whom this relation exists.

b. A successive or mutual interest in or relationship to the same property.

a delicate pastry, such as a Sfogliatelle (aka, lobster tail)

I'll have one of your famous privities please

res ipsa loquitor

Latin meaning, "the thing itself speaks" but is more often translated "the thing speaks for itself." It signifies that further details are unnecessary; the facts of the case are self-evident.

cake. Just generally, cake.

I was at Jake's birthday party and they had the best res ipsa loquitor ever!

res judicata

[Latin, A thing adjudged.] A rule that a final judgment on the merits by a court having jurisdiction is conclusive between the parties to a suit as to all matters that were litigated or that could have been litigated in that suit.

cannoli (because they're filled with ricotta and what does that sound like? That's right, res judicata)

A chocolate-dipped res judicata please, and one with chocolate chips for the lady.


(sooh-purr-said-ee-uhs) Latin for "you shall desist"

tiny cookies

I'll take a few of those supersedeas too.


A woman who makes a will or testament, is so called.

devilsfood cake

I'd like to taste that testatrix for myself.


An organization of individuals who enter into an agreement to pool sums of money or something of value other than money, permitting the last survivor of the group to take everything.

the most fancy cheesecake you've ever had in your life, most likely covered with whipped cream and fresh fruit and mirandized. Also likely to be preceded or followed by nonsense words that don't have any meaning toward the dessert itself, such as "blanche" and "crema"

A slice of crema tontine blanche, if you please.


Tort law is a body of law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations.

Uhhh, a tort. Duh!

I'll have the chocolate and peanut butter tort, please

Twinkie defense

a derisive[1] label for a criminal defendant's claims that some unusual biological factor entered into the causes or motives of the alleged crime, and that due to this biological factor, either they should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law or the criminal liability should be mitigated to a lesser offense.

deep-fried Twinkie

Regardless of the fact that it'll go straight to my thighs, I'll have a Twinkie defense, please.

Officially, both Jess and I are excessively least until July 30th!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mid-month puzzle: Learning to swim

Did you know that because of the particles in the atmosphere that collect during the week (due to things like more people traveling in their cars and moving about and industry and what not), it's more likely to rain on the weekends? Just terrible! That's why I'm glad that I can do things like teach Emma to swim during the week when it's nice out!

Click to Mix and Solve

When I started skipping stones, she thought she was supposed to retrieve them and started really getting in deep. Just at the point she couldn't touch, there was a moment where she was like "ohh I'm still floating, cool" and then she started to sink and BOOM, swimming instinct took over. She was paddling like a champ!

Afterwards, there was the dreaded BATH to wash away all the smelly pond scum, and this was her reaction post-bath:

Have a lovely sunny summer day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I don't have a killer instinct 2: SHARK WEEK!

BUT just because I don't have a killer instinct doesn't mean that I don't enjoy observing beings that have a killer instinct. That is why I am SO excited that shark week is coming up on the Discovery Channel (starting August 2nd)!

If you're like me and you love shark week, here are some words to live by:
Live every week like it's shark week.

Memory Monday: I don't have a killer instinct

I remember the time in high school when I was trying out for the girls' basketball team, and my future coach, after observing me, pulled me aside and said, "You have the tools, fix it." What he meant was that I had the skills, smarts, and the composition of a good basketball player, but I wasn't aggressive enough. I needed to fix my attitude, because I didn't have that killer instinct that Geno talks about his team having (his team being the UCONN women's basketball team: I grew up in CT and am a big UCONN fan). They don't stop at a lead of 6, 15, 20, or 50. They'll keep playing at that high level regardless of the score. I, however, just wanted to play because playing, and not necessarily playing to win, was fun. I felt bad if my team was up by more than 20 because I knew what it felt like to be down by 20 (we were down by 20 more often than up by 20 because frankly, we weren't that good). I guess that's why I spent a lot of time warming the bench.

Earlier today, I met with a new recruiter. (By new, I mean this is now the 4th recruiting agency I've met with since I became unemployed. Hey, it's always good to have people looking out for you!) Towards the end of the interview, when it became clear that they did not usually place people in marketing research jobs, I asked to speak with their temping department thinking that it would at least be a good idea to find some temp work in marketing for the time being. I met with the temping department and they seemed positive and friendly; everything went well. Then I left the office and remembered one time I had temped for a day at a humongous company downtown. I was charged with organizing and updating the never ending list of the CEO's contacts in Outlook. Looking around at his office, I realized that I lacked the killer instinct to become a CEO. It just didn't seem important to me. Now, I'm not saying being a CEO is a bad thing or putting down the people who are (or want to be) CEOs - those people are fantastic in their own right. But it just wasn't something that was on my list of things to accomplish. And it's not that I'm lazy, afraid of competition on my way to the top, or anything else you might think it is. On the contrary, I'm actually quite hard-working and I like competition. But I don't want to be a giant success, at least not in the sense that a CEO is a giant success. I want to be able to have a job where I can work to live, not live to work.

I'll let you know how that works out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Follow up to unhappy math

As a follow up to unhappy math, I'm so glad that there are people out there like me having fun with their unemployment. Check out this video about FUNemployment -- and there's a funemployment blog, too! What a great send off to the weekend!

Free! Friday

Should you find yourself in the Boston area this summer and fall, here are a couple of free things (free= money saving!) to check out (the list focuses on stuff you'd normally have to pay for and also stuff that you might not be aware of):
  1. Like movies? Free Friday Flicks (they copied my alliteration idea...jerks) every Friday night (now through August) at the Hatch Shell. Shown at sundown in good weather, click here for schedule.
  2. Like Italian stuff/ the North End? Check out the Boston North End Italian Feasts (summer feasts, festivals, parades, etc., often complete with marching bands) now through August
  3. Like the night sky? Visit the Coit Observatory at BU: Wednesdays after 8:30pm = free stargazing (times differ by season)
  4. Like (or like to dislike) Shakespeare/ like to laugh? The complete works of William Shakespeare (abridged) to be presented OUTDOORS AT CHRISTIAN HERTER PARK (Home of The Publick Theatre) 1175A Soldiers Field Road, Brighton, MA. I can't wait to see it - apparently, it's real funny! Also, you can bring your own food to cook out! Now through August.
  5. Like lunch? Every Wednesday, restaurants in Quincy Market with the "Taste of Quincy Market" sign offer samples as a part of their International Food Festival.
  6. Like music and free samples? The WBOS Summer Concerts at Copley run on Thursdays from July 12 to August 16. Shows are free and begin at 5:30pm in front of historic Trinity Church in Copley Square Park. The August 16th one looks good: Jonatha Brooke and Matt Nathanson!
  7. Like the Temptations and/or the Beach Boys? Oldies 103.3 has a free concert series at the hatch shell featuring those two bands. I think it's just July.
  8. Like boats and free samples? Head of the Charles Regatta October 17th and 18th on the banks of the Charles. There's tons of vendors there, too, giving out free stuff.
  9. Like arts? The Boston Arts Festival is Sept 11-13 noon to 6 at Christopher Columbus Park
  10. Like wine? Best Cellars (745 Boylston St.) has free weeknight tastings from 5 to 8 p.m and on weekends 2 to 5 p.m. Oh and the Wine Gallery (375 Boylston St. in Brookline or 516 Comm Ave in Boston, or the one in Dedham) always has that cool tasting jukebox. Sometimes there's tasting events and stuff - check their website.
  11. Like beer? There's always the free tastings and tours at the Samuel Adams Brewery in JP and at the Harpoon Brewery on Northern Ave in Boston.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Unhappy math

An article in CNN Money yesterday ("Stuck in a crappy job - tough") highlighted what I've seen happen to my still-employed friends for quite some time now: That, because of the severely diminished ability to just find a job, the folks who haven't been laid off are hunkering down and staying put. Many of them are doing so in jobs they are starting to really dislike, where they have a huge increase in responsibility for just as much (or less) pay.

Apparently, according to this article, 54% of currently employed Americans plan to look for a new job as soon as the economy starts to rebound. What that tells me is that over half of the employed people are unhappy. If you're unemployed, you're likely not happy either. I wouldn't say it's all 100% of us, because there are good days and there are bad days, but in the end, our daily lives and activities are more enjoyable than actually working. Sure, it's clouded by the uncertainty of your entire future, but I, for one, have learned to accept that whatever happens will happen and that I'm doing my best to stay afloat (and even a little ahead) in this crappiest of times. So there's probably people out there like me who are making it work and doing what they can, but there are at least as many people out there who are still licking their wounds and not used to the idea, who really miss working and don't know what to do with all this time to themselves, who can't make ends meet with their unemployment checks alone, who don't even get unemployment checks anymore, who have lost everything, and more. I would say, actually, that there are more unhappy unemployeds than happy ones. My guess is 75% of unemployeds are unhappy, and that's probably a conservative estimate.

So where does that leave us? Well, if the national unemployment rate is at 9.7% (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2009) and the current American population is 304,059,724 (US Census Bureau, July 2008), let's do a little math:

9.7% of 304,059,724 is 29,493,794 (rounded up, because you can't have .228 of a person)
75% of 29,493,794 is 22,120,346 unhappy unemployeds

304,059,724 - 29,493,794 = 274,565,930 employeds
54% of 274,565,930 is 148,265,603 unhappy employeds

So there are 170,385,949 unhappy people in the US today? That's 56% overall!

Of course, this is highly estimated and varies on a day to day basis (and there are other factors screwing with it, like what about the chronically unhappy people who are technically one of the happy employed or unemployeds, and conversely what about the people who are just so bubbly and happy and adaptive even though they are unemployed - those people could of course mess with the math). Also, the fact that this is an emotional self-evaluation and report (someone saying "hey look, are you unhappy?" rather than standing back and observing you or giving you less direct questions that are facets of the unhappiness variable) does make it iffy. Which brings me to my worry for this country: What if there are more unhappy people, but they're not reporting that they are unhappy because they're so used to being unhappy? What if they don't see unhappiness and happiness as a dicotomy anymore becaus they have forgotten what it's like to be truly happy?

People, we deserve to be happy! Find something about yourself that makes you happy, something about your current situation that makes you happy, something fun to do that makes you happy, and run with it. That's all I'm going to say, because if I think about this anymore, it'll make me unhappy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stupid movies

Did you ever get stuck watching a stupid movie, but you just couldn't turn it off because you found that you were interested in how things turned out? You wanted to tear out your eyeballs because what you were watching was just a waste of an hour and 45 minutes, but you couldn't bear to look away because you wanted to see if the Inevitable Couple really did end up together. I've been there.

My mother has made this a prized past time, more valuable and frequent than say, knitting or decoupage would be to one of her peers. Growing up, every rainy weekend was accompanied by a stupid movie. Sometimes, such an afternoon included chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side. But that's besides the point. These movies were incredibly stupid, and yet we watched them to the end. My mother, who always watches TV with newspaper in hand, sometimes even put down the paper to watch the last 30 minutes. I was equally sucked in, and I could be found fighting back tears on the couch next to her as the orphan with one leg was reunited with her family that she thought she didn't have. In wartime. As they finally fled the country to their freedom. And then they got a puppy. The puppy was always the final straw, and my fight with the tears was lost. The stupid movie had won, and I found myself saying ridiculous things like "my God it's so beautiful!"

What were some of these movies? There were such gems as "Switched at Birth," "A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story," and "Flowers in the Attic," each containing hours and hours of entertainment. Neither of us is or was a really big fan of the overly dramatic lifetime movies, but we watched them nevertheless. Maybe it was meant to be, maybe it's in our nature. I don't know. But I've found myself sucked in to another stupid movie -- so sucked in that I rented it on Netflix.

I mean, in my defense, there are really good special effects. But that's where the excuses stop and I have to own up to what I'm watching: "Death Race." It's like action movie cotton candy, and there's no real substance whatsoever, but I can't wait to see if he wins his freedom and gets back to his daughter!

Also, I will leave you with a charming "P.S." -- these movies usually have winning lines in them that are supposed to be dramatic, but ALWAYS make you die laughing. Death Race's was this:
"Ok, c*** sucker, f*** with me and we'll see who sh**s on the sidewalk."
I mean, WHAT?!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Memory Monday: A launch into my vocal career?

It's funny how, even after you leave a job, little things remain as placeholders or proof that you once worked there. Not only things like certain files or ways of doing things or stress balls or life-size cardboards of Sean Connery -- those are obvious. What I'm talking about are things that face the outside world, to which you are still some sort of face for the company you have left.

For example, in my last position, when you called in to the company and got the outgoing message, you heard a highly Bostonian-accented voice of a woman who hadn't worked at the company for approximately six years. Similarly, I left something of the sort behind at my first major job.

During my interview for that job, it came up that I like to play trumpet and sing. After I got the job and had worked there for a few months, this very fact came up again. We had a telecommunications client who would call into our conferencing system and hear the brand of our system, which just so happened to be their direct competitor. What to do, what to do? My interviewer, who had turned out to be my higher-ranking boss (of which I had at least 3), told IT that I sang and had a great voice, and before I knew it, I was recording “Welcome to the [COMPANY] conference center. Enter your access code, then press pound.”

It was the most fun I had during my entire time at that company. I did on my company laptop in takes, by myself in the office that I usually shared with my direct boss (who was late that day, otherwise he would have been there to distract me with his breathing). I took the time to make sure my vocal inflections and emphases were just right. I put too much "e" in my "a" in one take, was too nasal in another...but when I finally had it just right, I had become the voice of the company. I think I took more pride in this fact than I did in the entire qualitative method and database I single-handedly developed for a major client. Looking back, I realize now that that probably should have told me something.

My voice, welcoming you to the company conference center, is probably still there, even though I haven't worked there for 3 or 4 years now. Even though I disliked working there for the most part, I hope my voice is still there as it will forever be my voice over claim to fame. Maybe I should be the voice mail lady (you know, on cell phones -- "enter your password, then press pound") or one of the readers for audiobooks? This very well may have launched my interest, if not my career, in that direction.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

It's really appropriate that we use fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July, a day when we declared our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Why? Because of the chemistry involved in fireworks.

Basically, without getting OVERLY nerdy (let's keep it to an "I'm interesting at cocktail parties" minimum, here, people), there's an oxidizer (stuff that acts as fuel and produces oxygen) and a reduction agent (something that eats up the oxygen). You might remember from chemistry that within an atom, there's a nucleus with some protons in it and the electrons in orbits around the nucleus. Well, a firework's color comes from those electrons becoming excited and unstable (due to the reaction between the oxidizer and reduction agent). When they're excited, then jump to a higher energy level and exhibit some sort of color. They're doing their own demonstration of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War that followed!

What color it is depends on what element or compound is used. Check out the chart below:
Color Compound
strontium salts, lithium salts
lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 = carmine red
strontium carbonate, SrCO3 = bright scarlet red
Orange calcium salts
calcium chloride, CaCl2
calcium sulfate, CaSO4·xH2O, where x = 0,2,3,5
Gold incandescence of iron (with carbon), charcoal, or lampblack
Yellow sodium compounds
sodium nitrate, NaNO3
cryolite, Na3AlF6
Electric White white-hot metal, such as magnesium or aluminum
barium oxide, BaO
Green barium compounds + chlorine producer
barium chloride, BaCl+ = bright green
Blue copper compounds + chlorine producer
copper acetoarsenite (Paris Green), Cu3As2O3Cu(C2H3O2)2 = blue
copper (I) chloride, CuCl = turquoise blue
Purple mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue) compounds
Silver burning aluminum, titanium, or magnesium powder or flakes

I only beg to differ (on behalf of my chemistry teacher, Mrs. Bachman) in a few areas, but thank you
copper = green
cobalt =blue
potassium = purple

So when you're watching the fireworks tonight (weather permitting of course) and you want to seem like a big nerd, yell out the names of the appropriate elements as their corresponding fireworks colors light up the sky. Happy 4th!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Foggy Friday

I woke up a little late today - 11:30 to be exact. I haven't done that since...well, last week, but before that, I hadn't done that since summers off from college. At first I thought, maybe it's raining AGAIN today and it was just a good day to sleep. I put my glasses on and looked out the window: Sun. Then I became very confused because today was my day to walk the dogs. They usually get up at 8ish - had I gotten up at 8ish and walked them? I didn't really remember that. I closed my eyes and listened for 8 paws shuffling around, and that was what I heard. I MUST have gotten up at 8ish, then, because Emma was out of her crate. Unless I forgot to lock her crate last night. I went over last night in my head and remembered locking her crate.

"Huh," I said. "Did you take the dogs out this morning?" I asked Jess from bed.
"No, you did," she said from the kitchen.
Huh, I said to myself. And then I reached for my glasses on the nightstand. I was bewildered when I saw that they weren't there -- and then amazed that I could see everything clearly! Oh, my glasses are already on my face.

And then I knew -- today was going to be a foggy Friday.

This became even clearer to me when my throat and nasal passages all together shouted "WE HATE ALLERGY SEASON!" and revolted. It's one thing to be sick in winter or when the weather is crappy in the summer. But when it's our first sunny day this summer (besides Pride) and tomorrow is the 4th of July, I mean that's just not fair.

Maybe I should have stayed in bed. I feel a case of the Debbie Downers coming on.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dentists...tell you not to pick your teeth...with any sharp...metal object. Then you sit in their chair...

I recently re-watched Bill Cosby's comedy routine, "Himself." I had these bits memorized when I was about eight (which is the age I give for every experience for which I cannot remember my exact age, so I could have been, like, 11...or 5). We used to listen to them in the car (on audio cassette, of course) as we drove the 45 minutes to the Danbury mall. I had never seen the video - the actual act - until I was in college and my girlfriend at the time taped it for me off of HBO. Having just had a tag sale, I came across the tape again, and being unemployed, I decided to watch it.

Isn't it funny how things just come back to you? I was afraid my memory of it had been lost - somehow squeezed out by time or US History facts or something. But I found that I could still recite the Dentist and Chocolate Cake parts of the skit as if I were still eight (or 11 or 5) and in the car on the way to the mall. Something about the rhythm of the words - it was like the way you remember things set to music better than you remember them without a melodic assistance. (Random memory: In my first Spanish class, we learned to conjugate the verb "decir" by a song my classmate, Jeff Tuohy made up: "Digo" *clap-clap, clap* "Dices" *clap-clap, clap* "Dice" *clap-clap, clap*...... and so on. Catchy little number.

Anyway, I was watching the dentist part:

And it's still funny. Man!

So I was watching, and -- have you ever been doing something kind of passive, like watching TV or doing the dishes or something, and you caught yourself thinking or wondering something that was either incredibly creative or crazy? And having caught yourself, you still can't decide which it is? Well, this time, when I was watching the dentist, he got to the "ya ever do any fishing?" part and I thought, "I wonder what language is the easiest to communicate with at the dentist's." Who wonders things like that?!