Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

We went all out in the office this year. Black light bats, dancing ghosts,
lights, ghosts, spider webs and other decor on grey cubicals
spider webs galore,
spider web blocking cube entrance
and glass ornaments in orange and black.
orange and black glass ornaments

But the candy I left out in a bowl saying "share please" was all still there when I got back from dinner. Where are the trick or treaters? I should not be left alone with nestle crunch with carmel, fun size or no.

Good things:
  • Fun Decor
  • Vendor visit working out well
  • Tried new, closer Brophy Bros restaurant in Ventura and the beer boiled shrimp is just as good as in Santa Barbara.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Always Ain't Never

Well, it's moments to the witching hour, and I'm sitting here thinking of funny phrases. If you've been my friend for a while, you might have heard this before, but it remains one of my favorite combinations of words, which while perfectly understandable, makes one do a doubletake with the effrontery of the triple negative. I may have even blogged it before, but c'est la vie.

I once overheard a coworker telling the vending machine supplier that, "when I go upstairs to get me a Dr. Pepper, there always ain't never none there." WHOA! And yet I know exactly what she means - we're always out of Dr. Pepper. It's the thinking about it that hurts.

For whatever reason, I shared this with our visiting vendor while waiting for a tool to do something, and he wracked his brain and came up with an overheard comment (from Wales, FWIW), "Whose coat is that jacket hanging up on the floor". WHOA! Coat and Jacket used in the same sentence to reference the same object, and "hanging up" on the floor? And yet we know that someone wants to know who tossed their outer garment on the floor. Almost like when I moved from the midwest to the east coast and got my "pop" from the "soda fridge".

So while you're frantically sewing that last seam in your clown costume, take a moment to think about phrases you shouldn't understand, but do, and share them here. Meanwhile, back to my book.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Books

Suzanne Brockmann's book "All Through the Night" is coming out tomorrow, 30Oct07. All the author's profits are going to support the Mass Equality Education Fund. Mass Equality works to get and keep equal rights, particularly same sex marriage, for the citizens of Massachusetts. It's a good charity. Hopefully other states will see the sky not falling and follow suit.

The book itself is an "extended epilogue" to Force of Nature, as Suz describes it. Centering around Jules and Robin, two men in love who want to get married, it highlights many old series friends and shows them living their happily ever afters, or not so HEAs. I don't think there's any "on screen" sex, unlike most romance novels, so that it doesn't gross out the gay or the straight readers who aren't so interested in the other side's details. It focuses on relationships and feelings between friends and lovers, and issues around those things, most of all. It should be very fun.

I feel strongly about supporting equal rights for adults to choose a spouse, so you might wind up with a copy of this book, even if you don't read. Cheers!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not Rhoda

Just a quick update. The winds are slacking off, and the fires with them. The nearest one to me is the Ranch fire that is mostly confined to wilderness, although was approaching a little town on tuesday. It blows smoke our way in the afternoon, but is otherwise not threatening my physical space. (There was a closer fire, but it was stopped so fast we didn't hear about it until afterward.) I stopped wearing the respirator on tuesday morning. I did take pictures of the smoke in the sky, but haven't had a chance to post yet.

For those unfamiliar with the Gashlycrumb Tinies, it's an Edward Gorey alphabet poem. I use it to practice Cued Speech for speed. Rhoda was consumed by a fire; I was not. And thankfully don't appear to be in danger of it any time soon. Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Glass is a Go

Heya! I sell glass. I've turned a corner and decided to commit to it on a slightly bigger scale than just word of mouth. Now it's word of mouth pointing to my website:

I've been eating my dinner in front of "The Big Idea" with Donny Deutsch for the last few weeks. Thanks to friend Janet for pointing it out when Alden Mills of Perfect Pushup fame, and occasional blog commenter here. I love this show. I has everything I want in my news - what's going on now, what's coming up, and what good things are people doing in their lives. It showcases success stories large and small, smart and ridiculous. But everyone is moving forward with something they want to do. And I've been farting around with something I want to do.

I've got a collection of scattered thoughts that relate to this and me, personally, that I'm going to try to make coherent. I think I'm afraid of success. Either that, or I have some lingering depression and fear not having enough energy to sustain success. Probably a combination of the two. Also, I don't have a great example of making a business work for me. My parents in particular seem adamantly opposed to the idea of taking responsibility for a business. Any time they get a great idea they could totally run with and make successful, they crawl back to their nickel-and-dime paycheck jobs and say "oh, I couldn't". It's extremely frustrating for me to watch such capable people get passed by because they won't do things they are both capable of and enjoy doing. Fortunately, I learn better from bad examples than from good. As inspiring as the good examples are, I can't seem to deconstruct them for lessons as easily.

I'm still very much their child in that I prefer to pass up the million dollar risky deal to take the hundred thousand dollar mostly-sure thing that comes with a steady paycheck. (And true to form, my brother is their and my antithesis.) I can take risks, but not with financial security. But the thing I don't want to do is pass up the hundred thousand dollar deal because I'm not willing to put in a little investment. The trick is sorting out which things will be an investment which will pay off, and what are just expenses.

MIT was an investment. I was not willing to go to a cheaper school that would give me an education, no matter how great, because I had the choice to reach up to MIT and I felt at home there. I think both then investment factor and the feeling-at-home factor were equally important to me. And I worked like crazy (although my roommate will tell you what a slacker I was :) to make sure I graduated. I met plenty of people who didn't. I was a solid B+ MIT student and I learned a lot and I met a lot of friends and I graduated.

Thanks to the educational investment, I now I have my day job that gives me a regular paycheck. I can make ends meet even if I bitch about how hard it can be. But I'm getting tempted by the lure of being in control of my business. I'm a little stymied by how I could grow my glass art hobby as a business, but I think I'm going to focus on the here and now of making enough money to keep funding the hobby. Even making that decision was tough though. By committing to the glassblowing, I'm saying I won't be doing other things. And I had to dig deep and decide to go all out for this hobby because it's not a cheap one and I had to invest in both the hobby and commit myself to reaping the rewards of that investment.

I had to buy tools. I have to keep a supply of color. I have to raid the cardboard dumpster at work for gently used boxes for shipping. I have to schedule and rent studio time. For anything but ornaments, I need to find teammates to blow with. But I feel so good about doing it that I know it's the right choice. And I have some wonderful friends helping me out with the stuff I don't do as well - namely the website! and business cards/ graphical tags and spreading the word. So now, ready or not, I'm selling my glass to the great wide world, ready or not.

This totally didn't go the way I meant for it to go, but I think I said what I needed to say nonetheless. Ask me later how I was influenced by Stephanie Plum, fictional bounty hunter.

And speaking of ready or not, one of my new friends is evacuating San Diego to come here. Guess I get to clean the dining guest room up now.

Edited to add: Scratch that. Friend has cats and found a more cat friendly venue. I like cats, my immune system - not so much. At least I was able to give him a driving destination and hope of a bed while he scrambled to get in touch with other friends.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ashes, Ashes

Last night I could smell fire, but it smelled like a faint trace of fireplace fire so I didn't think much of it aside from wondering why people need a fire in 75F weather. After lots of sleep, I went outside around noon to cure some UV-setting glass glue and the sun was bright and the air was clear, although the wind is gusty enough to rip the dust cover off my patio bench for the first time in months. Around 3pm, I could smell more fireplace-smelling fire, and the quality of the light on my patio put me in mind of a solar eclipse - dim, reddish light. I went outside to check on the 'eclipse' and found the air full of orange smoke. I could stare right at the sun, which was a dark red to my eye, but a red corona for the camera.
air dark and orange from smoke

The pictures kind of show what I see, but don't quite capture the ash falling from the sky. I've pulled out my sandblasting respirator to take with me in the car, just in case, while I run errands. I keep mentioning the fireplace smell because the last time a local hill was on fire, it smelled Nasty, not cosy with an urge to roast marshmallows. Although this is starting to be very heavy smoke, none of it is coming out of my chimney, pictured here.
overhead air, dropping ash, dark and orange from smoke

From the pictures I just saw on the news, the fire is still over in Malibu and not likely to jump several mountain peaks and come eat my condo. There are several muliti-million dollar places and a mountain range between the fire and me, so I am hopeful that I don't have anything to worry about. I haven't heard any of our state bird (helicopters) flying overhead, which means it's too windy to fly, or the fire isn't that close. But the smoke certainly is. All the lights that turn on when it gets dark have turned on. Yet as I look outside, it's getting brighter, aka less smoky, as I write this.
air dark and orange from smoke

Friday, October 19, 2007

Veggie Burger with Bacon

One of my co-workers ordered this sandwich from Fud.ruck.ers yesterday during our group outing. The non-veggie-tolerant folk would start to look horrified when he said "veggie burger" until he tacked on "with Bacon", and the dichotomy made everyone giggle. Another co-worker went all out to make a salad from the condiment bar, and I had a little burger and chips with vinyl cheese to dip them in. And since we paid individually, I stuck with water instead of iced tea or soda.

Since I'm fighting those start of winter blahs, and it seems everyone else is too, here's more funny stuff - I added a friend's new blog "New Door Knobs" to my sidebar; Check out the funny shopping trip.

Hrm. Trying to come up with more funny and failing. I hope next week is less blah.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


After the previous long winded posts I had a couple discussions and realized I've been rambling not just in the blog but in life as well. So it's time to refocus on my goals. I call them mini-goals if they are going to take 6 months to a year. Having too many can make me lose focus, but I want to call out both the inherent goals and special effort goals.
  1. Do good/great engineering and art

    • It feels weird to say I want to be a great engineer for some reason, but I want to be good at my job and I need to make that a priority. For now, this is keeping the line running well and doing my projects on or ahead of time and delivering a little more than expected, but not so much more that they think I wasted my time on flourishes. (So far so good.)
    • Keep glassblowing. Sell enough ornaments and pumpkins to be able to fund some studio time that doesn't need to be used for saleable items and work on my exercise line of vases. Get my website and contact info to the people who will enable the website and business cards.

  2. Improve my heath
    This is multi-faceted.
    • Take up running again so I can do a 10K on the summer solstice.
    • Get at least 6-7 of hours of sleep on weeknights. In a row.
    • Find an acupuncturist that can help me with the previous 2 items.

  3. Get comfortable in my space
    • Rearrange my living room per the new space plan.
    • Pick a wall color and paint the LR.
    • Kitchen remodel - Design and start ordering stuff before the new year, start the demo in january, watch for appliance sales.
    • Declutter the paper files of old stuff I don't need and file the new stuff.
    • Get Geek Squad or a friend equivalent to make my computer setup work for me, not against me.

  4. Make new friends, Keep the old
    • Ditto the Geek Squad thing so I can keep blogging and emailing while not at work.
    • Make an effort to call people on the phone more.
    • Send out congrats cards for the new babies.
    • Visit friends and family as I am able (up to 1 distance visit per month)
    • Attend a Suz Brockmann fan event if there is one.
    • Fulfill my SWE role as secretary
    • Find a boyfriend
    • Find a local exercise partner

  5. Money management
    • Pay the bills. Trickier than one would expect - I need to set up a new bank account and an whatnot. I also need to rearrange some existing debt.
    • Try not to overspend - stay within my remodel budget, don't buy things that aren't in the plan. The closet overhaul will probably have to wait until next year, so no more clothes/shoes unless they are replacements.
    • Control food money. I've almost completely stopped eating out for dinner except for take out that I can use for 2+ meals. I've streamlined my farmer's market purchases. I'm not going to worry about it too much beyond this.

I'm going to try to assess opportunities that come up against this list. If it doesn't accomplish something on this list, the answer is no - not going, not spending, not buying it, not doing it. If I can't think of what to do some day, I should come look at this list. At some point, I'll turn this into a better list of achievable tasks rather than nebulous ideas. (Run 3X/week, place order for cabinets, etc...) which also helps.

So far, I'm so far off this wagon I can scarcely see it, except for visiting friends, keeping up the blog, and doing good engineering. Now that I write this out, it seems that I have an awful lot on my plate. And I need to work on the energy levels and sleep so I can do this. I also love reading, so I'll keep doing that but I don't know what category that goes in. Maybe that and glass go in a "hobby" category, but I need to get to bed, not reformat this blog. But mostly, I think if I do this stuff, and get the one-time items on this list accomplished in the next few months, I'll feel happier and more settled, and less tired. I could use a good hug too.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Good Old Days

During a marathon ornament making session today, I flipped through a book while in the loo. It was a hardcover treatment on William Morris and his works inspired by ancient Africa. I saw 2 of his canopic jars once and they're the only things I remember from the whole 5 room exhibit. His work is stunning.
William Morris Canopic JarIn the book, I skipped around and looked at the pictures of glass, then read a few bits of text. He was quoted as being inspired by times when people were "closer to nature". And my brain zoomed completely away from glass.

I think one of our great social fallacies is that at some point in our past, people lived more harmoniously with nature. Or that people were more laid back and restful. Or smarter or dumber or whathaveyou. To the best of my knowledge, people and human nature really haven't changed even the tiniest little bit in at least ten to twenty thousand years. If you took a baby born in ancient Egypt and time traveled them forward to today and raised them now, they'd wind up just like any other adopted kid. They will have their own personality and skill set, surely, but there won't be anything related to being human or fitting into a society that will throw them any more than it would throw us.

And for all the time that people have been recognizably human, we seem to fight tooth and nail against nature. Does that mean it's human nature to fight nature? I guess that's what I'm saying, yes. We take delight in molding, reforming, ignoring, or otherwise altering nature at every turn. Sex? "That's bad, don't do it!" we say - and the message is universally ignored when hormones kick in. Rainy day? Let's build a shelter. Want water somewhere else? Build a dam, ditch, or pipeline. Feel free to add more examples in the comments.

One of the big theses in anthropology is that women are often culturally seen as secondary to men because with the periods and birthing babies, they're seen as "closer to nature", aka ruled by nature, not by self, and this is somehow inferior. (Never mind the truth about all people being part of nature, this is a very strong perception.) The implication being that nature must be tamed and overruled and men can fake it better (or make rules that downplay the import of when they're ruled by nature.) This isn't meant to be a feminist rant, rather my point is that being "close to nature" is considered to be less good than striving to overcome nature.

I don't think people have ever been "closer to nature". It's just that when you have a smaller or less dense population, it doesn't do as much unrecoverable damage. It's the scale that tips the balance from harmony to damage. Although I wouldn't be surprised in the least to find the greatest civilization in history buried under the Sahara which they likely caused through deforestation, bad irrigation, and lack of attention to sustainable practices. A few tribes in the Amazon doing slash and burn agriculture over a couple acres which rotate every few years is reabsorbed into the cloud forest within a few years of the rotation can do this indefinitely. A civilization going in with bulldozers to slash and burn several thousands of acres which are never allowed to revert to forest, and don't have enough forest nearby to get the job done anyway, can do this for a couple years or a couple dozen years before the land has to be abandoned for decades or centuries to recover.

The analogy that comes to mind for me for the harmony/damage tipping point is acid-base titration. This is where you take an unknown substance in a solvent (often water), and you add a small amount of an indicator substance (like red cabbage juice). The cabbage juice will turn either red or blue depending on whether it's in an acid or a base. (I forget which color lemon juice turns it.) With the indicator, you now know whether or not you're dealing with an acid or a base. But you can also get more information! By taking a known substance of the opposite pH, you add it to the solution in measured amounts until the indicator switches colors, thereby figuring out how strong the original substance was.

The relevant part of the analogy is that when adding, lets say, the acid to the base, the solution can stay basic for a long time if it started out far from neutral. It's only when you get very close to neutral that adding one dose of the acid will turn a small portion of the solution long enough to watch it. And it can take as little as one drop to tip the pH from base to acid, and thus the indicator from blue to red. The difference between living in "harmony" with nature vs. destroying nature might be just this close and just this subtle - only seen by people looking for it. If you catch it early and make a few changes, this tipping point can be pushed out or returned from. Ignore it and the the magic 8 ball says "indications are unfavorable".

Without getting into a debate on whether we're causing global warming or just distributing CO2 and mercury over the surface of the earth, humans are doing our standard fight against nature thing by sucking oil from someplace that didn't use to be a factor in the energy balance of the atmosphere, and adding this energy to the atmosphere. We can do small amounts of this with impunity, like we can dump small amounts of waste overboard on a ship in the ocean. There are signs and portents, and the people watching the indicators are saying we're getting to the point that like a whole town dumping sewage into a pond, we're putting more combustion products in the air than the atmosphere can handle. Al Gore won half a Nobel Peace Prize this week for his work on global warming/ climate change because we're at the point where we need to take action and he's trying to get the word out.

The solution isn't to long for a simpler time when people were tree huggers by nature. The solution lies in evaluating what we can most easily change to drive us back from that tipping point. Once we know that we're doing damage, we should take steps to stop doing the same thing in the same way, to my way of thinking. But that involves convincing other people to vote for nature, which people view as anti-people, regardless of whether or not it's good for us, so naturally it's a hard sell. (My personal soap box is adding scrubbers to coal burning exhaust - they're relatively cheap at $500 million per money-making plant - and nearly eliminate acid rain and mercury contamination. But we've chosen to just poison all the fish in New England to the point they aren't safe to eat and let the polluters continue unchecked. No one can eat fish any they catch so a few suits can save a few bucks? Isn't that the kind of thing governments are supposed to correct? Anyhow.)

While I was trying to figure out how to get out of this quagmire of thought, my mom called and volunteered, "the more pristine the area, the more bugs there are!" She's read that the Androscoggin river, near where I was born, has areas which have been remediated after years of paper mill effluent now have trout again - and mosquitoes. Which through no fault of my own, reflects pretty much exactly what I'd spent the last hour thinking about - except for the bugs. Although what I meant to say was that people are, were, and will be just people. Just because they didn't have airplanes didn't mean the people of days gone by wreaked less havoc on their little corners of the world.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Space Plan - LR

After thinking about ways to move my furniture around, I finally realized I needed to set pencil to paper and make a space plan to see if my new ideas might work. And things look good. I've decided to put my desk in front of the non-moving side of the slider and move the glass display to the dining room, which has solved the major roadblock in my design. I can use the ugly desk until I get a nicer one so the re-org is no longer dependent on a new desk.

Here is where you can see why reorg is necessary - stuff is just piling up. This is the view when I walk in the front door. Not restful. Yet.
Far wall of living room before reorg

I managed to neaten up most of the fireplace wall a couple weekends ago. The yellow and orange thing taped to the wall is the new space plan. Orange is furniture. It looks unbalanced because the fireplace isn't colored. Use the sliders to place this relative to the pic above - it's on the right.
Near wall of living room before reorg
The cardboard boxes have glass and glass supplies, which will probably move to the dining room, aka the place where I put stuff when I'm figuring out what to do with it. This was a 180 turn from the previous picture looking back from the edge of the chaise section.
Dining room full of crap
The old orange loveseat is on its way out. The square looking 'ghost' is the blanket rack I've been using as a semi-adequate light box to take pumpkin pictures. The thing piled with kleenex is a bureau I got for craft stuff that is too big for the grid shelf, like the paper I used to do my space plan. When the couch goes out and the dresser fills up and the construction stuff moves out, there will be a lot of space. This is also my 'guest room' so it has to get cleared out!

And for good measure, the hall.
proto library hall with shoes and mess
It currently has bookshelves on the right, but the majority of them are at the entrance. The rest is pretty well filled with shoes. I would discuss moving the shoes, but that's a whole 'nother space plan.

This living room plan is dependent on moving the orange CD rack from the left to right of the sliders. (I might need to use a remote light switch to make that work if I want light on the patio.) Then I need to remove my non-fiction shelf to the dining room and move the secretary from the dining room to where the CD rack used to be. Then move the glass shelf to the dining room, the desk to in front of the slider, unstack my keeper fiction shelves and move the tall thin one the hall (future library) and use one along side the couch. At that point, the couch can be slid back to the wall.

I'll need to get a new, larger rug, figure out a non-broken window treatment, get some tan (dare I say beige?) paint instead of the icky yellow-white that isn't working out, and a new desk/filing cabinet, but all that can be done more easily with the new space plan. I'm still not totally sure where all the books will wind up. Or which wall the grid shelf will be against. But I will have space to move around while I figure it out. And possibly a more workable storage area in the dining room for when I start the kitchen remodel.

So, anyone want to come over and help me heave furniture around? I will buy food and beer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Babies Still Booming

The kiddos are popping out all over the place. Never fear, Social Security will be fully funded again in 30 years if my friends have anything to say about it, and raise their children into productive adults. During a relative lull in the procreation of people I know, there was an uptick in the people I work with but don't know that well (4 in 16 days about 4 months ago). The lull is over.

In the last 2 weeks, there has been a loud, booming explosion of babies bursting onto the scene. If we include Sarah F. which I do because I read her blog often enough to keep it in my sidebar, even if she doesn't know me from Eve... Then I have received 5 birth announcements and 1 pregnancy announcement in the last 10 days. And I thought 1 every two weeks for 18 months running was a lot... But one every 2 days or more? That's a LOT of babies.

A friend from my last job, my college & gardening pal who put me up in Genova Italy, my brother's goddaughter's new sister, another family friend, Sarah, and another good friend. All in TEN DAYS! Since one of those is still a pregnancy, and I have at least one other pregnant friend, more babies are still to come, never fear. I called my brother yesterday to discuss this situation and in his friend group of guys he's known for 20 years, apparently there are three (now two) kids on the way and three recent or imminent vasectomies. Heh heh. Edited to add that I just found out my online fitness coach is expecting a new child any moment now too.

Now is when I admit to being totally overwhelmed by the etiquette of the new baby. Parents seem not to appreciate glass rattles, so my primary source of gifting is cut off. I have one friend who got 32 baby blankets at her shower so I'm leery of blankets as a gift. I cannot afford something awesome for everyone, and the people I'd want to send awesomeness to already have everything I would think of. Sadly, I'm also behind on just sending a card. Maybe I should start there.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Living Wages

In an encounter with one of the office malcontents today, I wound up in a discussion that made me think about what I consider to be a reasonable life in this day and age, and what it costs to fund that life. Personally, I'm doing ok, but not so great that I can let loose on the budget with impunity on a saturday afternoon at the mall. I get by just fine, but by my way of thinking, I should be able to support more than just me on this salary. And while I'm sure I could swing it, it would involve a lot more compromise and nitpicking on my spending.

Sort of on the fly here, based on a whole afternoon of pondering this, I've made a list of what I think a decent living wage salary should buy. It's a bit above where I and most of my friends' experience, I think. Some of my friends are close to this, but most do it with two salaries. It's what I would expect a family of 4 to have, buy, and do when the parent(s) is/are in their 30s and 40s and at least one has a college degree.

  • Own a home in at least the 2nd quartile of the local market. (This means it's not a motor home and probably a townhome instead of a condo, if not a single family home.) This home is insured.
  • This home has a kitchen with refrigerator, freezer, sink, microwave, oven, range, dishwasher, toaster, blender, and coffee/tea maker.
  • This home also has a washer/dryer, vacuum cleaner, and small selection of power tools.
  • Finding money to pay for water, electricity, landline phone and heat is not a concern.
  • Household has 2 reliable cars, ages new through 8 years and can afford insurance on both.
  • Can afford daycare for 2 kids (although the cars might be in the 5-8 year age for this period.)
  • Able to put aside 10% pre-tax for retirement, and 5-15% post-tax for mid and long term savings like college funds, a new deck, updating furniture every 10 years, renovating outdated rooms, etc... (Although perhaps not while funding daycare for two.)
  • Has health insurance such that routine out of pocket medical expenses are unlikely to run more than $3K a year and are generally tax free due to the medical spending account.
  • Can afford 5 new outfits per person every new school year, and another 3 or so at the midwinter holiday, and a new swimsuit in the summer.
  • Eats decently from groceries without always buying expired produce, cheese ends and 40 pounds of frozen meat at a time, and can afford to eat out once a week, even if it's just pizza.
  • Can afford one big outing a month - renting a boat at the lake, heading to Disneyland, tickets to the local ball game, heading out of town for a ren-fair or to visit relatives, or inviting the extended family over for a BBQ. This might be by way of a yearly membership to a theater or science museum or zoo.
  • Can afford to take two weeks off a year to travel - to visit relatives or ski or go to the beach, or stay home and work on a hobby - but doesn't need to use all the vacation from the primary job to work at the second job.
  • Can afford time and money to have a hobby or two- reading, puttering on cars, building furniture, singing, dancing, soft/base/volley-ball, soccer, glassblowing, painting, scuba diving, scrapbooking, room-mother, coach assistant, band booster, etc...
  • Can afford a TV, a stereo, a computer and an internet connection. Has at least one cell phone, might have a family plan. Probably gets basic cable.
  • Can afford a med-lg toy every year (new TV, bicycles, X-box with games)
  • Everyone can get in enough exercise to stay healthy.
  • Everyone can get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, on average.
  • All of this can be afforded without going into debt.
I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to add up those costs. I've purposely left it flexible in some areas - upper middle class would have a home in the 3rd quartile (above average cost), and newer cars and maybe private schools. Their new outfits would be name brand, not from necessarily from Target or sale racks. They might own a boat and a lake house rather than go in on one with a dozen relatives and friends. The weekend outings might be to Disney rather than the state park. The hobby would be one with a different investment level. The family may or may not be able to afford someone to come in and clean once in a while, although it's something I'd really, really like.

What I'm interested in is if I've forgotten something that others would consider essential for a comfortable life that won't get the kids embarrassed in school when compared to the neighbors. Everyone has different ideas of what is and isn't negotiable. Since I don't have kids, I probably missed some huge kid related expense. But I'm thinking that in order to live this "ordinary" life, I'm going to have to budget hard for a while and figure out how to make more money. Especially if I want someone else to clean the place. Let me know what you think of my list. Fantasy? Or achievable goal?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Party on, Wayne

I took a day off on Friday to jump up to San Fransisco and help out with a friend's charity golf event, along with one other book club friend. It was a huge party in Napa and I got to wear a staff shirt. It was a good time and the golfers seemed mostly to like it, even though it rained for a couple of holes. The rest of the day was sunny and brilliant and chilly - I have charmingly chapped cheeks. My time was mostly spent taking money for a fundraising raffle at the registration tables, guarding the raffle items, moving silent auction items, moving tables, wiping tables off, driving beer around on a golf cart and suchlike. I did get some time when I just mingled and tried wine, and schmoozed with guests. It's very different work from what I usually do.

Oh, and the keyboardist from the blues band left me his number. Sweet. Too bad I'm not a local. Maybe he plays down in LA sometime.

Saturday I got my hair cut because I've found a decent hair dresser in San Fran, something I haven't yet found close to home. Then had some lunch with friends, and saw the Blue Angels fly. Their opening moves took them over the Golden Gate while we were driving across it. That part of the drive was super quick, but once we got to the Embarcadero, it took a hour and a half to go maybe 3 miles. One reason why I love sunroofs is that you can participate in what is going on outdoors even when you're trapped in a car. Later on, we had 4 of us and found a nice bar where we whiled away the lazy day until it was time for fleet week fireworks, which were sent up only a couple piers away from our hotel.

I flew home over lunch and left the NorCal ladies to their own devices. It was fun to have a girls-on-the-town weekend. Upon reflection, I think I talked more in the last 4 days than I have in the last 4 weeks. I really, really need to find a dinner companion who I can chat with so it doesn't all come out in one unstoppable flow. A vendor took me to lunch on thursday and it's a miracle I was able to eat around all my jabber. Well, this is getting incoherent, so I'm going to head to bed. Back to my regularly scheduled life tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hocus Focus

I read a blog entry from Hermetic this week (see sidebar) that made me remember why I started this blog. I could go on about the things I don't do well or things I screwed up, or situations that aren't pleasing to me, just in this week. And I will a little bit. A tool of mine has been down on and off for most of the week to the point where the general manager (my boss's boss's boss who reports to the CEO) is asking about it more than once a day. I didn't attend to my down tool fast enough when it came back up thinking someone else was on it - but I own it so I should have been more on top of it and not 'multi' tasking. I didn't really exercise, I slept wonky hours, I didn't pick up my stuff and stepped on a glass ornament making it explode over a several square foot area. But I really don't need help remembering . I can steep in that any old time.

While I plan to learn from my mistakes (maybe after making them again :) I felt genuine joy today that I would like to remember more. I don't mean to gloss over or ignore the suck - and I try to work it in if it's something that's lingering. I really am not Pollyanna. But given the choice to record fleeting joy or fleeting funk, I'm making the conscious decision to focus on the good stuff more often than not. Kind of like practicing something in advance so it doesn't feel weird when it's time to do it for real, I want to be able to find good things everywhere, even if I'd rather not not answer this incoming phone call from work right now. (Stupid tool ate 2 more wafers.)

At any rate, enough of that:
  1. I needed to update my boss on my projects, so I put the stuff in power point and we went over it and all my projects made progress and are on track. And the "incidental" followup got a positive reaction too. We discussed the timing of my projects determining one is fast and then another one faster, but she went back and revised the "fast" due date recognizing that "faster" has the higher priority. She's so positive and reasonable, I feel better after I talk to her.
  2. I sold most of my pumpkins.
  3. While I need another book like a hole in the head, I got my free copy of JC/BM's "Don't Look Down" in the mail today.
  4. The colleague who mother hens me about eating right and exercising thought I was looking trimmer despite the lack of exercise. I'm trying not to overeat, but with limited success. I got some free pie today.
  5. Once I get packed and sleep a bit, I have 8 hours of work then I'm off to the bay area for a long weekend.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Logic Puzzles

I can do a great job with logic puzzles like Sudouku and figuring out whether the guy in the green jacket and blue tie is to the right or left of the lady in the lemon dress. But the problems I need some work on are "if I don't do the laundry tonight, I won't have clean pants this weekend," or "I need to exercise or I will get fat. I need space for exercise, so I need to get the ornaments off the floor or I will get fat." Even "If I get enough sleep at night, I might not be exhausted after work." See, I can say it, but doing it is something else entirely. It's much easier to pencil in a 5.

And actually, I'm doing laundry and wrapping up glass so I don't destroy it when I exercise, or even walk around. I picked up my book fair books too. I'm just taking this break to print out the address for another pumpkin customer and marvel at my ability to get in my own way. I plan to be in bed by midnight which gives me approximately 7 hours of sleep and 40 minutes of snoozing. This, instead of last night's plan which was sleep from 8pm to 1:30am, box up glass for shipping, read a bit, and sleep from 5-7 and snooze just long enough to be late to work. gah!

But I've got another fitness goal - Run (maybe run/walk) a 10K on the Summer Solstice. In Alaska. You heard it here first. Or maybe second. And if I want to do this (I do) I need to run more, and I need to be strong. So, I'm clearing out my exercise space. And selling pumpkins. And doing laundry for a long weekend in NorCal so I don't stink out my friends.