Friday, September 29, 2006

A Fun Blog in The Tradition of Found

I have been under a lot of stress the past few days. It is AMAZING how much damage a simple little command like "del /s *.*" can do to a server. The very best part was knowing who the idiot was who would do such a thing (slowly raises hand). Le Sigh

At any rate. I was in serious need of a laugh to day and decided that goofing off on the internet for a short break was probably going to save my company money since I cant do too much damage while reading blogs. And I came across just the medicine I needed. A blog written by someone with the sort of mean humor I love soooooo much. Yes, I am clearly not the only idiot in the world.

Left Behind at the Fishbowl

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Phone Company

There is one practice that seems to be very common these days that I particularly dislike. That is the practice of offering an "introductory price" for a period of six months to a year for a service and then jacking up the price at the end of the term. Especially since companies (and in particular, AT&T) dont always make it obvious either that they are doing that or what the actual full price is. I clearly is a practice designed to charge people who dont pay close attention to their bills extra. Or to charge people who dont know that they can get the introductory price back if they simply ask. Ok, it must be a practice that works for companies like AT&T or else they wouldnt keep doing it but it just smacks of "Let's SCREW the customer" to me.

Now, usually, because I am very much aware of this practice, I am good about calling them up before my term expires and demanding the introductory rate for another period of six months to a year so my only cost is the time I have to spend on the phone waiting to talk to someone (usually between 1/2 hour to an hour). But this year when my special introductory rate for my DSL expired, I forgot and got charged the full price.

That alone would have made me angry because I dont like paying money I dont have to plus it would have reminded me of how much I hate this practice in the first place. But this time I got especially angry because it appears the the full price is more than FOUR times the rate I was paying before!

I wasnt happy about that at all so I called AT&T and spoke to just about the rudest excuse for a customer service person in the world. She was so bad, she was almost comical. Now, it might be true that I just unlucky and got someone who isnt good at her job and who will soon be dealt with by a corporate culture that values both good employees *and* their customers. But honestly, I dont think I have *ever* gotten good service from AT&T. The really sad thing though is that as far as I can tell, the alternatives arent any better. *sigh* The practice of the intro rate followed by the jacked up regular rate is an industry standard.

Part of me wonders though what would happen if someone started a phone company with a decent pricing structure and good customer service. Would it change the world?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vacation - Part 2 (California)

I spent the fifth anniversary of 9/11 on a train that I boarded with no security checks. There is no hassle getting on a train and that is one of the many reasons I prefer to take the train. There are about a million other reasons too. The seats are bigger so one doesnt feel quite as smooshed even in coach. Interesting people take the train and I always enjoy talking to them. There are retired people who have the time to take the train (usually found in the sleeper cars). There are students who cant afford to fly (always found in coach). There are families who are taking the train in order to give their children a different experience. There are people like me who simply just like trains.

There is something isolating about being on the train. Unless one buys a newspaper at one of the stops, there is simply no news of the outside world. No radio. No TV. And certainly no internet. This turned out to be especially nice for me since I was able to spend all of 9/11 without hearing EVEN ONCE of a certain event that happened five years ago on that day. Later, on the 12th, I stopped to consider how lucky I was that I could do that. That no one I knew died that day so that now, 9/11/06 could be a day just like any other day to me.

I slept well on the train and arrived in Berkely in the morning of the 12th. Caleb came and picked me up and we called Nathaniel and met him for breakfast.

After breakfast, Caleb and I drove up to Sebastopol where I pretty much was a lazy slug for a couple of days although, when Caleb came home one day with some tomatoes from his Dad's garden with an interesting shape, I encouraged us all to play with our food.

In the mornings a couple of days a week, Sophie goes to school. Here she is with her lunch basket. No vinyl lunchboxes for kids in this part of the world!

Anja is going to school some days too. I am not sure exactly what she thinks of that.

Thursday night, Caleb's parents invited me to their house for dinner. This is a photo of Caleb's sister Nisha and her son, Liam, doing an art project with Anja. Anja is very talented I think. She certainly has an interest in art anyways. Which is good for me because I LOVE art and maybe I'll be able to get her to go to art museums with me when she is older.

On Friday night, Nathaniel came up and Shannon's friend Karen came over. Even though there were five of us, we tried to play euchre anyways with me and Karen being a team since she'd never played it before. Unfortunatly for Nathaniel, no one else but him stayed sober and everyone else started having trouble playing the game.

On Saturday, we went to the beach.

Then Nathaniel and I drove down to Berkeley so we could get up early on Sunday to go sailing with six of his friends. It was very fun. Nathaniel's friends were all very nice. The boat was nice. The weather was perfect. It was warm even out on the water so I didnt have to wear my sweater or anything. We sailed around Angel Island and went by Alcatraz and under the Bay Bridge (twice) as we went around Yerba Buena Island. This is a self portrait of me on the boat:

This is a pretty boat we saw on the water:

This is Nathaniel on the boat:

Unfortunately, my camera died while I was sailing so I didnt have any more photos. Which was too bad because after sailing, Shannon came down to pick me up and she and I headed over to San Francisco for Gary's birthday dinner.

Gary chose a restaurant on pier 39 which is a pretty touristy place. It would have been fun to walk around there but I was a jerk and didnt wear my boot because I was sick of it. But I still managed to do a little last minute shopping for a birthday present for Gary and was happy to find a fun little store with all kinds of SF tchotchkes where I *really* restrained myself from buying anything too tacky.

Dinner was nice and I sat on the end of the table with Beth and Mike (Gary's parents) so I could hear about their road trip to SF. I love road trips and those kinds of adventures so the conversation was great. We all ordered crab legs which is also a favorite dinner of mine and all in all, it was a nice evening.

The next day, Gary and Beth and Mike, came up north where Shannon and kids and I met them in Bodega Bay where we spent an entire afternoon sitting on the beach there talking and yacking. I love beaches and whenever I go to one, I always wonder why I dont spend more time going to beaches especially since I live in a state with so many really cool public beaches. Maybe I'll take the dogs on a road trip this fall to some beach on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan?

Ah well, that is pretty much the gist of the trip. I'll leave you all with one last picture of Anja being silly

Sunday, September 24, 2006


And here is another message brought to you by the Committee to Point Out the Fucking Obvious...

From this morning's NYT:

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

Published: September 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Click HERE to read the full story

Next, our government will spend money on studies that show that the grass is green, the sky is blue, roses are red, violets are blue, etc.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vacation - Part 1 (Seattle)

I somehow managed to limp my way onto the plane in Detroit. It was a totally full plane as I expected but the ativan did what it was supposed to do and I didnt freak out and actually had a pretty relaxing flight. My foot swelled up a LOT though on the plane since I couldnt elevate it.

So I pretty much spent the first few days in Seattle sitting around on my friend's couch visiting and watching TV.

I did go out for a nice birthday dinner though, with Chris and the three B's (Beth, Barry, and Bridget). Even though birthdays arent such a big deal for me anymore it was still fun to spend my 38th birthday with friends. I forgot to charge up my camera though so no photos.

I dont have any photos from my day spent with my friend Ali either because like a dork, I forgot my camera. We had a really great day though. Still, it is a pity that I forgot the old camera because Ali is looking really HOT these days and I would love to share her great beauty with everyone. We didnt do anything too touristy but, rather, hung out in a bar eating fried pickles that were made specially for us by the cook. Have we started a new trend in Belleville WA? I have a feeling from the cries of "Fried Pickles? How GROSS!!!" that we have not. But people, listen to me. Fried pickles are one of the world's greatest bar foods. No lie.

Ali was kind enough to take me to the local urgent care where I was able to get a nice brace/boot thing for my foot. It was funny because the doctor asked me, "What were you on when this happened?"

I replied, "Ativan"

She looked puzzled for a moment and then said, "No, I meant what kind of surface were you on, like concrete or carpet?"


Later on, the three year old of the house (who is cute as a button) decided that my special boot was just a whole mess of fun!

I spent a day with my friend Marc too. We drove all around the pretty countryside north of town and I pretty much admired the scenary and we talked and talked which I enjoyed quite a lot. We stopped a nice park where I picked wild blackberries and had a little mini-picnic. It was a nice day.

Barry and Beth and Bridget took me out for a nice dinner on Friday night (9/8) to a place with a nice view of the Seattle skyline and nice fish dinner and clam chowder type stuff.

On Saturday we went on a road trip to the beach. I love the beach! Here is a self portrait with Beth in the background.

And this is Bridget full of the kind of joy only a three year old can have. I often wish I could be as free as that. Well, maybe I can but it seems to take more of an effort in my old age ;)

Later, we all went to Westport which is an actual real live working fishing town.

Sunday 9/10's big adventure was to the dog park. Chris joined us again and here is a shot I liked of Chris and Barry enjoying watching the dogs.

Finally, on Monday, Barry kindly drove me to the Amtrak station where I boarded a train for San Francisco. I got lucky and was able to upgrade to a sleeper for about 1/3 of the price of getting one in advance. I love taking the train in a sleeper car! I didnt take a whole lot of pictures on the train but this one is pretty representative of the kind of view one can get when one is in a town. I would have taken photos of all the beautiful scenary we passed (Mt St Helens, Mt Hood, etc) but I was too busy enjoying it if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Before the Vacation Story

I dont like flying. I have gotten over most of my fear of actually dying in a plane crash and such but have found that I still suffer from quite a bit of anxiety when flying. A lot of this is a weight thing. I mean, I know I am going to be crammed into a really small space and the odds are good that I'll be crammed next to someone who resents my size. While on one level, I dont particularly care about what other people think, on some other level I must care an awful lot because the idea of it gives me fits of anxiety.

So, I decided to ask my aunt who is an MD for a Rx for some ativan. She recommended that I take it at home first to make sure that I dont have some unintended reaction and I did just that. It made me relaxed which I suppose is the point. I got so relaxed that my foot fell asleep and I didnt notice. The phone rang and I jumped up to get it and got half way across the room before I realized that I was dragging a dead weight of a foot behind me. I kept walking anyways and ended up stepping on it funny, twisting my ankle and falling on my ASS.

I spent the next week barely able to walk but still trying to get everything done before my trip. I took a photo of the bruise on my toes but forgot to take one of my ankle. It was the size of a baseball!

Looking back on it now, it is kind of amazing how very much in denial I was about that injury. I guess because I was afraid that if I admitted that I was in pain or actually injured, I would have to cancel my trip or something. I dont know. Maybe I just didnt want to admit that I could get hurt like that doing something dumb like going on a trial run with the ativan in my own living room. Later in the trip, I just started lying to people about it by telling them that I hurt myself trying to climb Mt Everest ;) I am *sure* folks bought that one!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Home Again

Well, my whirl wind tour of the northern part of the west coast is over and I am back home in not so sunny Michigan. I had a fabulous time and will, of course, bore everyone with lots of photos and accounts of the trip.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Work Sucks!

I am going on vacation for a while so I don’t know how often I will get to post to the blog. Check back in a couple of weeks dear readers!

I really need this time away from work too. I have been hating it more and more. I know that makes my work suffer but I still get pissed when I get a bad performance review. It is tough too because I think that most of the review was unfair although I also know that my work has suffered lately. I will own the bad attitude, that was a fair remark. I do have a bad attitude. Still, getting punished for a bad attitude always reminds me of that "The beatings will continue until morale improves" joke. But ok, whatever. I'll take the bad attitude comment. Some of the other ones though just seemed very off base. If there is one thing I hate, it is when someone writes in my review that I don’t have confidence to do things. I saw that written there: “Lynne doesnt have the confidence to try new things.”

I just had to ask, “what makes you say that? Up until a couple of months ago when I was specifically told to concentrate on the things I know and do well, I was trying all kinds of new things. I am capable of doing any job in this department and I am capable of learning any task”

Ah...frustration. This is the second review I have had with this particular supervisor and this is the second time this has been on my review and I cant really figure out why. I mean, do they *really* want me to swagger around the department telling everyone how awesome I am the way some of the guys do? Yeeeeah... I might just have to start swaggering around essentially telling everyone how big my dick is because that is the only thing I can think of that my co-workers do that I don’t that has anything to do with confidence. I mean actually doing tasks outside of my comfort zone apparently doesnt cut the mustard when it comes to confidence.

Anyhow, I am angry right now. Angry at them for being such bad managers but mostly angry at myself for not taking more initiative and for not kicking myself in the pants and for not lighting a fire under my butt to get the fuck out of there. I am not sure why I am being so lazy about that. Fear I guess. I don’t know. I just need to keep reminding myself it is a dead end to put energy into hating the place and into wishing it would change when it so obviously isnt going to change.

I wrote a letter to Cary Tennis about it though. That was very cathartic!