Saturday, January 27, 2007

A weird little thing

I picked my car up from the body shop today. The door panel looks good as new...oh wait! It is new! They replaced it. And the door opens from the outside again. No more leaning over from the back seat. Only there's this one weird little thing. I kind of smells like skunk inside the car. Not a lot, not enough to be really bothersome, just a little. But why? How? I don't get it. I hope it goes away. When I took it in, it still even had the tiniest bit of new car smell left in it. After a year and half, that's pretty good! So where did this skunky aroma come from? I'm at a loss.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I've got this kid...

He's one of those kids (and I use the term loosely now) about whom everyone always used to say, "He'll go far!" Well, he certainly did...about as far as you can go before you start getting closer again. All the way to the other side of the planet. My dear firstborn now resides in China. I won't go into the whole story of how he ended up there, but there he is, in Shanghai. Of course when I tell people that, they always say, "Oh how interesting! What does he do?" And that's where I go all mumbly. I don't know how to describe it.

He's sort of in partnership with some other guys he met over the last couple of years there. (By the way, he's all of 22.) They're trying to put together all these various development projects. Construction projects, financing projects, what have you. They're spending lots of time going to lots of meetings with lots of different Chinese officials and businessmen in lots of different cities trying to put these deals together. If any one of them works out, ka-ching! We're talking major bucks. But so far, he hasn't made a dime at it. I guess the short way to put it is, he's a wannabe player. Sometimes I tell people he's honing his world domination skills.

He's really, really smart. He's like a knowledge sponge. He didn't speak a word of Mandarin when he went to China, and now he's totally fluent. People who know him are all convinced that he's going to be wildly successful.

And yet, I still have this vision of him 20 or 30 years from now, a shady-looking middle aged guy with three-day-old stubble and frayed cuffs, scrounging drinks from some young yuppie types, feeding them all these stories about how he used to be somebody important.

It's a mother thing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Strange Day

This picture has nothing to do with my very strange and unsettling day. It just makes me happy to look at it. It's sort of an antidote.

12 people got laid off at work today. I was not one of them. I'm still not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Right now I'm leaning toward bad. It was not a total surprise, although I didn't know it would be that many. A few I am very happy to see gone. They made working there very difficult. Others I liked, some I didn't really know very well. But even so, it was weird. What it means for those of us who are left is that we will have a lot more work to do. A lot. And of course there's no more money in it for us. Financial problems are the reason all those people were let go.

Instead of feeling optimistic and psyched about the challenge, I am feeling a like a huge boulder is about to be dropped on me. Also, at the staff meeting after the deed was done, we were told that the board is considering merging our museum with another cultural institution in the city. When that happens, it probably means we'll be let go. That won't happen for many months, if it does. But I think it will. So I'm thinking I should probably start looking for another job now. Because even if we do a spectacular job at bringing in new funding, we're still going to probably lose our jobs. I could be wrong, but I think it's definitely time to start looking. I really don't feel like job hunting right now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mojitos strike again

I thought my head might explode today. I actually became distraught...over something totally not worth it. After slogging through some incredibly stressful days and swimming through some evil dren without breaking a sweat (or at least without creasing my brow too deeply), I finally blew a gasket over a stupid newsletter. But it was so bad, in so many ways, I couldn't wrap my head around it. Let me explain that I have in the course of my working life created and put together god knows how many newsletters. It's one of the things I do. And here was one that was so awful, I mean just so unbelieveably bad! It set my teeth on edge. And the person who did it had no idea how awful it was. She thought it was fine. That's part of what sent me over the edge.

I knew at noon that I was headed for mojitoville after work today. And that is exactly what I did. I met a colleague at the bar. My boss in fact. And she told me that half the staff is being laid off on Monday. I, sad to say, will not be one of them. But the perpetrator of that newsletter atrocity will be. And again sad to say. I'll probably be asked to take on that task. That's fine, but I already have enough to do. But since we're losing three people from our department, we'll all have to take on some new responsibilities. More money, did you say? Not a chance! That's one of the reasons we're losing all these problems.

Why stay, you ask? Inertia for starters. I'm already there. Also, even though the salary sucks, they do pay 100% of the health insurance. Which is not to be sneezed at these days.

Should be an interesting week coming up. More news as it becomes available.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More fungus

Inspired by fermicat's fungus picture, I searched out a shot I had taken about a year and a half ago at a cool little nature reserve not far from my house. This place is a great place to lose yourself, figuratively anyway. It's not really big enough to get seriously lost. But it has enough places where you can feel completely removed from everything. I grew up near an enormous wildlife sanctuary. Probably hundreds of acres. There were lots of hiking trails; one went up a (small) mountain to a fire ranger's watch tower. I loved the feeling of being completely surrounded by trees. Interesting though, because one of my favorite things is being able to see a long way. I love huge views. I loved the view from the fire ranger's tower. But back to the trees for a minute. I love the sensation of complete quietness. No other voices. Just tree noises and maybe birds. Nothing like it.

So why do I live and work in a huge city? What can I say, I'm very complex.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stupid Way To Start The Day

Some jerk in a Ford Bronco sideswiped me this morning. I was sitting at a red light, in the far right lane of a four-lane limited access sort-of-highway. The light had just turned green and I don't think I had even started moving when the aforementioned jerk comes up on my left and plows into my door. His excuse was that the woman in the car next to me wasn't going fast enough, so he swerved to go around her. Never mind that I was there. He was angry at her! Brilliant, huh? He also hit her but I think I got the worst of it.

So we all pulled over and traded information and called the police. They were very nice (and pretty cute, too) and told meI was in the clear as far as fault, which I already knew. I had a nasty dent and scrape on the driver's side door, which is ugly but is only cosmetic. Then I discovered that I couldn't open my door from the outside. The cops tried it and they had the same problem. So now, until I get it fixed, I have to get in the back and reach up to open the door from the inside. Put me in a rather cranky mood. And it also made me an hour late for my Italian class.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Router Issues Redux

So I went and got a new wireless router. I didn't get the Mac Airport router because of the price - about $189. I opted for the cheaper solution, another Linksys. Right away, things began to go south. No instructions, no user manual. Instead, a setup tutorial disk. Great! Except it's only for Windows. So I try the tech support route. I call Verizon. My experience with them is hit or miss. Either I get a knowledgeable person with real problem-solving skills or I get a moron. This time it was moron. They made a token effort, then told me to call Linksys. Of course Linksys tech support is only there until 9 PM and it was too late.

So I figure, I'll try their website. Gotta be something there. Bingo! Downloadable instructions. Which I do. Only problem is, it's only for Windows. So I poke around some more. A link! I try it. It gets me closer. It gives me the numerical IP address -- which I now remember from the last time -- that I need to go to to do the setup. Problem is, the page won't load. I try three different browsers. No luck.

So I just plug my ethernet cable into my computer for the time being. Works fine, but kind of blows the whole notion of a wireless laptop. I hustle home from work today so I can spend some time on the phone with tech support. I'm on hold for about five minutes and then there's Bangalore Bill. I can't hear him too well because that big earthquake off the coast of Taiwan had really caused havoc with the fiber optic cables to Asia. But anyway, we start trying stuff. He finally comes to the conclusion that the router is faulty. He says bring it back and get a new one. But that still doesn't answer the question of why the page won't load.

So...(feels like it never ends, right?) I check out the community forums on the Linksys page. I hit paydirt! Jackpot. Right there is a posting about the problem with the new WRT54G routers and how Macs can't load the setup page! Yippee! The guys posts a link to the download for the firmware that will fix the problem. I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it. I download the thing. I try and open the thing. It won't open. I update my Stuffit. The thing still won't open. All the air has gone out of my balloon.

I think I'm going to bite the bullet and get the Airport router. I've already spent more than the difference in aggravation.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tired of being the smartest kid in the room

Went for drinks after work to that place with the killer mojitos, which I'm sure I mentioned before. $5 during happy hour -- you can't beat it. Anyway...there were three of us; me, a co-worker and our boss. I got into a conversation with my co-worker about an art exhibit at one of the museums in the city. We were chatting away about American expressionists and our boss was trying gamely to keep up. But it was obvious she knows close to nothing about art. That's fine. She's a good sport and a very loyal boss.

But I got to thinking about when was the last time before this that I had a conversation of any substance with anyone I worked with. You know, about something besides movies, TV and food. No, even counting those things. It was probably several years. And I realized that I was tired of always having to dumb myself down to fit in.

I wonder where the smart people are. That's not to say that everyone at work is a moron. Okay, maybe a few of them are. But most are reasonably bright, or at least good at their jobs. But no one with real wit and intelligence. Or at least some intellectual curiosity. Well, now I know there's one at least. Can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sometimes the good guys actually win

Well, who'd a thought? The abysmally bad situation at work has taken a 360! The stupid, ineffectual president of the board of trustees resigned and the nasty, petty, incompetent executive director was fired. I'm very nearly speechless. This is very, very, very good news for me and my colleagues in my department. It means that the people who were trying to discredit us and force us out are gone. Of course it also means that now we have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to accomplish what we want to. But that's a good thing. I'm all for accountability.

But yipee! No more having to try and raise money for stupid programs that nobody wants. No more being stymied and undercut. Now we get to set the agenda. Or at the very least, our ideas will be listened to.

This year is starting out very interestingly.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Perfect way to welcome in the new year

So I went into New York and had dinner with some people in a lovely apartment on the 38th floor with a spectacular view of the city. Great dinner, fairly unexciting evening. We ate well, discussed deeply and were done by 11:00. I was home in time to watch the ball drop in Times Square. I was not in front of the TV though, because the phone range and I was in the other room. But I heard the countdown. Woo hoo.

Call me old and jaded but I really don't care about that part any more. I did the wild blowout New Year's Eve party. I don't feel the need to do it any more. I think the thing that really breaks you of the habit is having young children. They don't care that you've been up till 3 and drunk way too much. They still want to get up at 6:30 or 7:00. Ack. So when my guys were little like that, we started having New Year's Day open house parties. Soooo much more civilized. And I always thought New Year's Day was such a bringdown of a day anyway, after all the night-before partying. This was a mellow and very festive way to enjoy the holiday. So I just got into the mode of skipping the night before and doing the party thing on the day.

So I've got my champagne chilling for tomorrow. I'll start drinking mimosas around noon and just sail on through the rest of the afternoon like that. Great way to welcome in the New Year.

Oh. The other thing I like to do is (don't laff) clean my house. Give it a thorough going over. Move the furniture, vacuum under absolutely everything. Scrub the cabinets and the appliances. I put jazz on the stereo, get my mimosa buzz on and I'm good to go. It is a wonderful way to start the year.