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Down But Not Out

Wow. This has been a tough week or so. In addition to the cold and snow (off and on) and my usual headaches, etc., I was hit by a nasty UTI. And the struggling between my doctor’s office and the pharmacy to get the right medication prescribed was something straight out of a bad movie.

You see, I have a penicillin allergy and I have been taking pain medications for some time for the headaches, so the first called in Rx didn’t catch the penicillin allergy and so there was some phone tag between the pharmacy and the doc’s office.

When they did get a second prescription phoned in, the pharmacy was worried about its interaction with the pain meds… something about causing a depressed breathing issue. So, third time was a charm, but by then it was late Saturday and the pharmacy was closed with the doc’s office called and of course, the doc’s office was closed on Sunday.

Sigh. By this point my back was killing me (I had a kidney stone surgically removed a couple of years ago, so I know that pain) so I laid a little heavy into the pain meds to combat that. By the time I did get the Rx, it still took a couple of days to get things moving, so it wasn’t until about today that I started getting to feel like my old self.

Give me another day or two and I think I will be back. I hope this qualifies as my contribution to the country’s “flu” statistics. That is, I don’t plan on getting it, so I’ve done my sick thing.

I’ve actually been doing some job interviewing, first steps over the phone. I hope this means that things are picking up and perhaps I will soon be heading back to work. I like the idea of going to work full time for a company, one that I can perhaps retire from. At this point, although it isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t even consider the option of relocation would be out of the question. We’ll see, I guess… take it one step at a time.

MacCupcake

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This Is Turning Out to be a Rough Week…

I guess if I were to be absolutely honest, this has been a tough year so far. I kept the job hunting just far enough back in my head that all the failed interviews, telephone calls and a myriad of emails didn’t directly affect my day-to-day mood, but now that my unemployment has run out, everything seems to be right there. No getting around the fact that even though the unemployment check wasn’t bupkis in the grand scheme of things, the lack of it has been weighing heavily on my mind.

And having that hanging there has made my mood a bit darker and I get frustrated more easily. Not to mention that in the time that I have been off, I have gained like 30 pounds. And it wasn’t like I was skinny to begin with. This past year since the knee replacement surgeries, I seem to have become more and more sedentary. I think I have finally arrived at a place where I need to shit or get off the pot. The Kid and I walked around the neighborhood a little and I know I shouldn’t be, but was surprised to find that walking was stressing me. Not only were my knees screaming, I was winded making the final climb back to the house! This is so sad!

I made a promise on not starting any new projects until every project that I have started is completed. At the very least, I have to put a real dent in my unfinished projects. I have been working on the dollhouse that my Dad built me forever ago and am rounding the corner on completion. The Kid has been installing all the doors and their trim for me… its not joke, but working in such a small scale, is hard! The scale is 1:12, which mean for every foot in real life is equal to 1 inch for the dollhouse. So, if a room had a 9 foot ceiling, then in the dollhouse, the room would be 9 inches. And when you get down to things being six inches in real life – like a pencil – it is a half inch for the dollhouse. You gotta get crafty to make some of the stuff if you don’t want to buy it all done for you. Buying these miniatures can be costly too! The “leather” sofa and chair cost $75 and although you can’t actually by a real sofa and chair for that, it is a nice little spend when you know you’re never really going to be able to sit in it!

IMG_4081Anyway, while I wait for The Kid to do the doors, I can’t really start anything new, since I know if I do, the dollhouse will never get finished and it will sit quietly screaming that it is but one more unfinished project. I should have this thing done by the end of the week, I think. Of course I still have blog posts and pictures to do as well, but I am staying pretty much on top of that. Pretty much. ๐Ÿ™‚

I seem to be sleeping a lot lately too. Sometimes I think that sleeping is just about the greatest invention ever. I got a great custom mattress while I was working the last job, and it is like sleeping on a cloud! Sometimes I want to figure out how to sleep more… that’s how much I enjoy it.

I suppose that’s it for today. Its funny though, whenever I feel a little bit down and I come out here and write for this post (and the other) I do seem to feel a little bit better. At this point, it could be that I am just tired and I know soon I will be asleep, but who knows.

Thanks for stopping by,

MacCupcake

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Its Not All Gloom and Doom

Ever notice how easy it is to fall into a rut? Especially when that rut is lined with satisfaction and a sense of joy – or at the very least – a sense of contentment?

These last few weeks, as I contemplate going back to work, have been pretty easy going. Most of my big projects that I had defined for myself have been completed. A few are still in progress, but with just a little more time and effort, they too, will be done.

I know that my job search will not be a quick nor painless search. When you get to the point that I am, finding the ‘right’ fit isn’t easy. And it is funny, but being out of the workplace for the last six months have left me a bit out of the ‘loop’. I haven’t been talking to folks nor being privy to those conversations that take place about side projects or little upstarts. My networking, in fact, has pretty much been “un”networked.

It doesn’t help that for weeks now, the weather has been gloomy and overcast and rainy. I think we’ve finally gotten over the real wet part of the spring, but even though I wake up to sunshine streaming into my bedroom, by the time I am up and around, the sky has clouded over and the greyness has taken over. It is days like this that I tend to curl up on the couch and watch old movies. Getting almost nothing done and making no headway on the job search.

I have to say that my other blog is taking up copious amounts of time, though. My readership continues to go through the roof… well, not quite, but I am very satisfied where my the number of visitors that make their way there.

So, of course, my emphasis is there. Which, of course, means that I have to create content (it is a creative blog), so this isn’t just words. If only I could parlay that blog into some cash! Not really sure how one goes about getting a sponsor, and I do have to say that I like not having to be at the demands of a third party. I write what I want, say what I need and give accolades – and criticism – where appropriate.

I have finally taken the time to complete the passport applications and now I need to get photos of me and The Kid. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but that said, I know it will take a specific drive to get them taken. God I hate photos of myself.

Did I ever tell you why I took photography in college? Ostensibly it was to become a photojournalist, but deep down the real reason is that if you’re the person always behind the camera, you rarely end up in front of it. And that is important for someone who really hates photos of myself!

Did I ever share my theory of why, effectively, no one likes photos of themselves? I did a little more research the other day and now have some added information to defend this assertion.images-1Because people as a general rule do not have symmetrical faces, the reflection that one sees in a mirror is the image that we have of ourselves. Then, when we see a photo, we are in actuality not seeing what we normally see and therefore take the stance that photos ‘don’t look like me’. We don’t see what we have in our mind’s eye. And so very few people have symmetrical faces, so relatively few people like their photos.pXsV1KH

But I digress. Once I manage to take the photos necessary for the passport applications, it will just be a matter of time before we have the passports. And we will be ready to make that next leap. I don’t think it is as easy as just hopping on a plane towards a defined location, though, there are all sorts of things that will be necessary. Like visas and work permits. Including what to do with what we’re leaving behind. It is my goal to live and work in Europe for no longer than about two years… maybe a year is a better target, but that means leaving behind my house and all of our ‘stuff’. That is a long time to leave a house sitting empty (of people) but full of expensive toys and tools. Not too mention that I still need to keep paying for all of this that is left behind while also trying to eek out a living five thousand-ish miles away.

It is probably one of those dreams that won’t ever come to fruition, but it is good to have goals to work towards. But I dislike having dreams that have no realistic chance of actually happening. I am torn in this respect. So, often, I don’t think ten steps ahead, I make it more manageable by just taking it one step at a time.

Okay, I need to get moving and really get this day started. Thanks for dropping by.

MacCupcake

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Encountered Boredom for the First Time Since I’ve Been Away From Working

My contract ended the Friday before Thanksgiving week. It was pretty unexpected, but since I’ve done a lot contracting, sudden endings are not unusual. I made a definitive choice to not even look for another contract until after the new year, considering that many businesses don’t get much done – and don’t take on new work – from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Sometimes not until the end of the first week of January. In order to really enjoy the time off, I knew it would be important to make the declaration and not be distracted.

The more time that passed, the more time I was able to breathe. You know sometimes when you’re juggling multiple projects at work and a commute and traffic, and also managing a home and a child and budgets, you can become so stressed that sometimes you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. That’s when I knew I needed some more time.

I did sit and really think through the ideal situation for my next project – if it is contract or full time. And it is as much and as important – maybe more important – that the company and the environment has to be right. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked for some of the most amazing and exciting people in my career. People who have taken me under their wing and taught me. Showed me the underside of the belly. These were men and women who believed in what they were doing and took the time to share it with me. I have also worked for companies that are leaders in the industry and who many people wished they had the opportunity to work with. Its been a great ride.

So, what do I want next? Pretty much the same thing I have always wanted and which I mostly was given. New technology. Investment by these companies in the development of this technology. One that believes as much in their people as they do with their hardware and software. A company that invests in those that brave those daily commutes and time away from friends and family. That thinks that their people are the biggest assets, not numbers on a chart.

Secondly, the embrace of the technology. I had the opportunity once to work for a company that quickly turned out to be hesitant – maybe resistant – to new technology. The best way to describe it was that they were firmly entrenched in the technology that I used twenty five years ago. And almost everything that had to do with this particular contract was centered not only on keeping that old technology working, but to actively resist any updates to anything new.

Third, the company I work for must be open to ideas from the team. Sometimes the best idea is from someone who you would never guess had a suggestion. I have been lucky that I’ve been heard when offering ideas around an interface or process. Just because I work QA doesn’t mean that I can’t or don’t know about the users’ perspectives. After all, not only I do I work on technology, I am a user too.

So, today, I found myself without a project to work on. I made myself a vow a while back that I would start nothing new until I had completed everything already started. And other than waiting for some specific parts to arrive, I found myself sitting without a defined project to work on. Yes, today I was bored. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think that this is the point where I am ready to start looking for the next big project. I think it is going to be exciting!

MacCupcake

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Uh, So Much For New Year’s Resolutions

Ha! Here it is only the first week of March and already the vow of writing every day has been long booted. If I keep going at the pace I’ve been, I will be lucky if I write once a month!

Things have been kind of disjointed ever since we took off on vacation. Which, I guess, is really a good thing. But I have been loath to get my head back into whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing. Which is good. Mostly.

But, reality has a way of sticking its funny little nose into business. Again, maybe not so bad. For one thing, I have actually connected with a headhunter headquartered in London. We are going to speak on Monday morning (my morning, his afternoon). I am both nervous and excited that it might actually happen – you know, the whole moving and living in Europe thing.

I am also terrified that it might happen! Yikes! I have been in this safe place for so long now, I am not sure what this might do to me! But, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge and a journey into the unknown, so hopefully things go the way that they should. I don’t know what way they “should” go, but whatever way it happens to go, that’s they way it is meant to go.

At least financially, things are in a good spot and I can keep the house here in KC, should I fly off to Europe for a year or two and then decide that I want to come back. Or not. Or come back, but not to KC. One of the things that I credit for the successes that I have had in my life is to not have too many expectations, hence, whatever happens usually turns out to be really awesome.

One thing that has a downside is that I really, really miss having a dog. And just when I think I have the time to invest in a puppy – you know the routine of potty training and stuff – the chance of moving to Europe pops up. I don’t want to be one of those people who get a dog just to be getting rid of a dog a year later. That would be terrible. Mostly for the dog, but for me too. I couldn’t do that.

My baby is turning 20 soon. Can you believe it? I can’t. I swear, these past two decades have flown by in the time it takes to blink. I believe he is working on plans to go to school this fall, even if only to start working on taking his general education classes at the local community college. Its how I did it. But then we’re faced with me going to Europe and whether he wants to stay here or go with me. Again, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Been in an “watching old movies” sort of funk today. But I suppose that’s okay. I did sorting of my beads and jewelry pieces as I ready another type-drawer with little jars of organized colors. You know me, if I am faced with stress, I usually deal with it by cleaning and/or organizing. Oh, and eating. Whipped up an Oreo cookie trifle and O. M. G. that is heaven in a glass bowl!

Well, back to the old movie…

MacCupcake

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I Want to Believe

I’ve been out of work for about eight weeks now. I’ve been doing a shit-ton of work on projects for my other blog. I’ve finished over two dozen furniture projects, as well as finishing quilts, cooking new dishes and cleaning and organizing. Of course, it was across the end of the year holidays, so the days seemed to pass quickly as it seemed everyone was occupied with the season.

But the holidays have come and gone and now we’re squarely entranced in the new year. And of course, that has turned my attention to considering the possibility of going to work again. I stumbled across the answer of whether or not my last contract would call me back to work, the answer being no. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Of course, it did take some time to overcome the disappointment. I had really hoped that I could return. That position was almost everything that I had wanted in a job and almost without issue. The only “bad” aspect of it was that the company was on the other side of town from me, and that wasn’t really an issue at all. Let me tell you, after you’ve made an 75 mile (way one) for nearly a year, a 30 mile commute is a piece of cake.

So, now I get to do the ‘get to know me‘ dance. Again. I have a fairly definitive list of desires, but it becomes difficult to find the one position that delivers most of them. Its almost the story of the princess and the frog… I will talk to a lot of people and companies before there is a good fit. You know, kiss a lot of frogs before finding my prince.

I think I am going to wait to start looking until at least next week. Considering that I have been working for 40 years, I have become to really dread the whole searching and interviewing process. It is one of the things I have come to really dislike. No matter, I know that there will be the perfect fit for me for my next job.

I gotta believe. Right?

MacCupcake

 

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The Life of a Contractor

Today is another one of those days where someone might look at the situation and think: this is bad. But me? I try to see the positive. Although in this case, it is really, really, REALLY hard.

Yesterday, I got the news that my project has been postponed. I was hired specifically to work on this project, so what that really means (to me) is no more job. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

And more so, what that means to me is that I am NOT working but even more so, it means I am job hunting. THE. WORST. THING. EVER. (Okay, I get that this is probably one of those “first world problems” that don’t mean jack to the majority of the world. I get that.)

Even worse than that – for me anyway – is being newly hired and feeling totally dumb ’cause you have to ask where the bathrooms are and what’s the printer’s IP address and what was the name of that guy I just was introduced to? Because for me, this is what unnerves me, makes me uncomfortable and causes me to feel sick to my stomach. It takes just about 90 days to really get my feet on the ground and my head wrapped around a new language (just ask anyone what a TLA is) and who is who in the company. Huh! Guess where I magically was for about the last two week? Yep… finally feeling like I knew what I was doing. Just in time for the carpet to be pulled from under my feet.

You see (as the title indicates) I have been doing a lot of contract work lately. And although early in my career I did contract work as well, those contracts always seemed to be much longer. My very first contract? Almost 4 years. But in the last two years, I have had an 8-month, two 4-month, a two-month and one that last just 30 days (that was unusual even for me). But the all seemed to last just about enough time for me to get “comfortable” and then its back to the grind of interviewing.

Maybe I should hold out for a full time position?

MacCupcake

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Change is Good. Right?

Why is it so difficult to make this change in my life? I have never been the one to be shy of change, I embrace it! I jokingly call my family gypsies, as we moved a LOT when I was a kid. I think that by the time I started high school, I had been to at least ten different schools. I kind of thought that when I grew up that I would be more inclined to find a spot and plant deep roots, but nope, it seems that I have taken on the same travelin’ spirit that my Dad had.

I think I am waiting on something or someone to make this decision for me. It has seemed in the past, that there were always subtle circumstances that, if not downright required a change, at least hinted strongly at one. And whether it be a job (or the chance of a job at a specific company) or the end of a job or relationship, there was always something that got me moving. It was almost like something divine that got me moving.

I had blamed the lack of change on waiting for The Kid to finish high school. But that has been almost a year now and I am no further in making any significant change. I had hoped that I would stumble onto the perfect opportunity, something that would send me back across the continent to the west coast, but alas, there has been no sightings on the horizon. I would love to even get the opportunity to go to Europe, but it seems one of those catch-22 situations that I so often find myself. No job to move, but difficult to find a job if I am not already there. And using the word ‘difficult’ seems downright laughable, as what I am talking about is next to impossible.

But serendipity might have kicked in this morning, as I realized that I have blown through my unemployment benefits. No extensions. Now I have to get really serious.

On a more fun side… The Kid helped his buddy John (whom I refer to as my other son) build a new computer. In return, he brought back the iMac that we had given him a BUNCH of years ago. It was iconic in its day and will be given a place of honor in the office (AKA the Mac museum). It is affectionately known as the ‘iLamp’ in this house and I spent many a day in front of it.

DSCN2465Oh and we turned one more person onto Macintosh computers. He is a lifetime user of Macs now.

A few posts back I posted a photo of a surprise violet bloom in my kitchen window. As I was taking the photo of the computer sitting on my kitchen counter, I noticed several more blooms. I am taking this as a positive sign for my future.

VioletsThese purple flowers, along with two job interviews tomorrow, are keeping me going in a positive forward direction. Wish me luck that something good happens!

MacCupcake

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We Shouldn’t Celebrate Birthdays Once We’ve Passed 21

Blah. Bah humbug. Grrr. Sigh.

Definitely not a lover of birthdays. Well, not at least my own. I don’t recognize the person in the mirror staring back at me. I’ve not become my mother; not even a female version of my dad. Sometimes I think I look like my maternal grandmother Bertha… God love the woman. She was the only person in three generations that I was taller than. By about a half inch. Tough old lady, loved her like crazy.

So, where was I? Oh yeah… today marks another year gone. I don’t worry about death… rather I worry about being bored to death. Ha.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do in this stage of my life. I would still consider Europe, but it would have to be soon or my health isn’t gonna get me there and back. Knees are just about gone. And the more time I spend babying my knees, the less exercise to get and the heavier I get. Damned cycle of degeneration.

Weird thing about my career too. I am at a point of diminishing return. I mean, I have the skills and experience to do just about anything (and everything) but I’ve garnered a pay scale that most companies do not want to pay. I mean, what’s the difference between someone with 25 years of experience and someone with 10? And considering that computer technology changes so often and so drastically, that some of the technology I’ve worked with isn’t even around any more. So, how is that experience applicable?

q4001Although, I will let you in on a little secret… one of the skills and experience I have is with AS400 (that’s mainframe computing for the less technology experienced). And some companies – usually one that requires lots of computing power (like insurance or banking) – still use it. But God help me, that technology is so frustrating and aggravating that it hurts me physically. I really want to work on the new stuff, mobile platform stuff and the latest technologies. I just don’t seem to have an edge there.

Actually, as of late, I am thinking I would like to do something else. If I could only hit on the right idea or business model and just work for myself. I love messing around with the furniture, but there isn’t really enough there to be a business. Besides, if I turned it into a business, I know I wouldn’t like it as much. If at all.

It stands to reason for most things. One thing I thought about doing is long-arm quilting. Not only for others, but hell, for me too.DSC02435 I cleaned out the attic storage for the yard sale last weekend and found two large bins.ย  These weren’t any ordinary bins, but ones filled to the brim with quilt tops that need to be finished. And at the current rate of an average of fifty bucks apiece, I am looking at (at the very least) $5,000 to $6,000 and probably more like the $10,000 mark, which would more than pay for the price of the machine. And then I could actually start doing this as a service for other people. I still have to do some research to see if it is feasible as a business and if it would be something I would even like to do for the foreseeable future.

I’ve even just thought about taking a run of the mill retail job. Like at Jo-Ann’s. It wouldn’t pay as much as I am used to, but I would have the pressures and expectations of a technology sector job. But perhaps, maybe the rewards wouldn’t either.

The downside (?) of being a techno-geek. LOL

Either way, I am going to have to do something soon. I almost say this as a joke, but I think I have watched (and re-watched) everything worth watching on television, iTunes, Netflix and the cable movie channels. I really need something a little more structured in my life. But speaking of watching television, I am still investigating the possibility of being a closed caption transcriptionist. You know, one of those people who write the on-screen dialog for movies and television. This has a real potential, I think, as I could do this from home and maybe even do it on my own schedule.

So, today was a relatively nothing day, other than I got to spend the entire day with my most favorite person: The Kid. And we watched our favorite movie “John Carpenter’s The Thing” for like the three thousandth time. Several of our inside jokes revolve around this movie. It’s awesome. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If for no other reason than Kurt Russell in the 80’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

thing8And so ends another uneventful birthday. And tomorrow promises to be just like today.

MacCupcake

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What Was the Original Intent of This Blog? Oh yeah…

…it was to figure out what I was going to do with the second (third? fourth?) act of my life. Now that my son is out of high school and I am not tied to any specific area, or state, or even country or continent for that matter, the question is what to do with the rest of my life.

I guess I am back here writing, as the job hunt is now starting to depress me, discourage me and in general, all around bumming me out. If only I could take what I love and be able to actually make a living, I think I could be happy. But my “hobbies” tend to be just that, not really a money making scenario. Well, I do make a little money, but not the kind I need to keep up my current lifestyle.

So, what is it that I “do” (that I love so much)? A little of everything. I talk about this on my other blog in detail. I quilt, decorate, paint, build, stain glass, sew, cook, bake and more. And of course, if I could do QA testing of the development that I like to do, I’d be happy doing that at half the salary I now command.

I need to find something that is rewarding, something that keeps my attention and demands me to beย on my toes. The kind of work that excites me so that when I wake up on Monday morning, I am eager to get to work – not dreading the week ahead. But I also need to have something that stirs the creative juices and intrigues me, something that makes me leap out of the bed in the morning eager to get going. I haven’t felt that excitement in some time now.

I know that that perfect job is out there. It will just take time and a lot of looking. What’s that old saying? “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince”? I suppose it applies to finding the right job, too. Actually, it applies to anything that you’re looking for and want the right fit.

cc

One thing I’ve been thinking about is transcription. The ‘Closed Captioning’ kind of transcription. Or even review of others’ work… you know, like ‘Closed Caption’ QA. I’ve been watching quite a bit of european television and with the accents in northern Europe, it can be tricky to understand the conversations. So, we’ve turned on closed captioning on the Apple TV, so now we see it for all the programs. And it can be comical to see some of the mistakes. And like I’ve been known to say, a good QA engineer is born not trained, so I see allย of the mistakes. I wonder if there is such a position. I think I could do the transcription work too, after all I was a secretary in my life before QA and at one time even did medical transcription. I am more than set up here at home to do this type of work, and it might actually be fun. Just not sure how to get started… might have to do some sleuthing on this. If you’ve any ideas, please share?

Well, the weather has been amazingly crazy these last few days and I see that there are predicting a chance of snow! Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, the Kid and I spent working in the garage, and we had the garage doors up and the Kid even put on shorts. I think it hovered around the 80 degree mark. We started today with one hell of a thunderstorm – rain and thunder and wind. Wow! When we lived in Arizona and California, that was one of the few things I really missed. And there is a promise of more overnight. I sleep like the dead in this kind of weather.

Tomorrow is Monday and I need to put my shoulder to the grindstone and do some searching and networking and investigative work. Oh and I am very close to finishing some furniture, which will be detailed on my other blog (OnMyCreativeSide.wordpress.com).

‘Night!

MacCupcake

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