Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

MIL still in the hospital

I know I've been quiet this week. It has been a *very* long week. DH was home only about 48 hours before returning to his mother's. She had a very bad day and seemed to be backsliding, more than even is usual for 3-4 days post-op. Both he and his brother arrived Friday to make sure she was transferred to the larger hospital in Brunswick, where my parents live. That hospital literally has almost 10 times the number of beds, plus access to many local specialists that just don't live near the smaller hospital so many miles away. We are grateful the small hospital was there to provide her the urgent and immediate care she clearly needed, but with things still lingering and not improving as they should, it was time to go somewhere with a wider away of treatment options at the ready.

She is now settled in at the larger hospital and under the care of a doctor that my mom thinks the world of. As she said, "if there's something to find, he will find it." We're actually hoping he doesn't find anything but a woman who *was* very sick but is now on the mend, but we shall see. Only some more time, and a bunch of additional tests, will tell for sure. Hopefully DH will come home Sunday night (I don't know how all of you single parents do this every day!!), but that depends on how she is doing and what tests remain. Keep on sending any good thoughts, prayers, and healing vibes you have to spare. Thanks.

Currently feeling: just waiting

Friday, February 24, 2012

Job Update

It has not been a very good week on the job front, in any capacity. I had a ton of small, medium, and very large things go wrong every single day. (Thankfully, the large thing was in no way my fault, but I'm still the one who has to get it fixed.) It was just a miserable week. I also received the call I have both wanted (to end the suspense of "when will it be") and dreaded: my off payroll date, which is March 30.

I had one small lead on a job. A company I had contact with in my old job had left the business back in early 2011, but they had renegotiated things with the client and were coming back into the fold, meaning they would be needing a project manager. I was on the short list, as was one of my current coworkers. I had sent in my resume last week, and I called on Tuesday just to make sure they had received it and see if they had an idea of when interviews might start. Apparently, the answer was "right now," and I had a phone interview on the spot. They were going to contact the other candidate(s) to complete the interview process, and they hoped to make an offer to someone before the end of the week. He promised to let me know either way, and he did keep his word.

As you have probably already guessed, I didn't get it. They went with my coworker instead. She actually worked for them previously doing project management, before they shut down, so it was essentially rehiring her for her previous job and position. Not really a surprise, and I am genuinely happy for her. I'm not sad or upset or angry, just disappointed that I have to continue job hunting, which I detest. The hiring manager did say that he will keep my resume close and will definitely call me if something opens up with them. It is at least possible that they may need to hire another PM if they start getting sufficient volume assigned to them, but that would be several weeks or months from now, and I'd like to hope (fingers crossed) that I'll already have a new job by that time. As nice as it is to know it was a very tough decision for them, that doesn't get me any closer to continued employment. No choice but to keep looking.

P.S. MIL is still in the hospital. DH left this morning to ensure her transfer to a new doctor and a much larger hospital in Brunswick (where my parents live) went well. They're still struggling to figure out exactly what's going on. She's doing okay, certainly better than she was Saturday and Sunday, but still not nearly well enough to go home yet. I'll update Saturday or Sunday when we (hopefully) have more information on her condition.

Currently feeling: disappointed

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MIL update

Well, they think they have things under control now. Looks like it was a combination of two (what seem to be) unrelated things. It was pretty scary there for a while, but hopefully, she has turned the corner and can go home soon. How soon is yet to be determined. She did end up with a touch of pneumonia from being in the hospital and mostly immobile for 4 days, but it is responding well to treatment. As long as she continues to improve and respond to treatment for all her ills, it hopefully won't be too long.

DH is on his way home now; her older brother is coming to stay the next few days and hopefully help get her home, where her significant other can look after her. Her SO has done a great job taking care of her and keeping us informed, and for that, we are most grateful. Thank you all for the good thoughts and prayers, for all of us.

For the record, Luke went to school today and hasn't run a fever since late Sunday. His congestion is also much better, though it has morphed into a runny nose, which he finds much more frustrating. Hopefully he is on the mend as well.

We're certainly heading into March like a lion; sure hoping it will be more lamb-like here soon.

Currently feeling: like one tired little leo

Sunday, February 19, 2012

MIL in the hospital

Please keep my mother-in-law in your thoughts and prayers. We received a call yesterday afternoon that she had gone to the emergency room that morning and was being taken into surgery. She had been feeling bad for a couple of weeks and had been to the doctor, who thought it was some sort of virus. Things got a little better, but took a dramatic turn for the worse yesterday. After running several tests and being unhappy with the results, they ran some more tests and did some scans, which resulted in the surgery.

The good news is that the surgery showed it wasn't the bad thing they thought it was. They did find some less serious things while they were in there, but nothing that sufficiently explains her symptoms, particularly the massive infection she clearly has somewhere. So while it's good that it wasn't what they thought it was, it also unfortunately means we don't really know what the problem is. With as sick as she is, that is not a good thing.

DH is on his way down to see her. Hopefully they'll have some additional test results back by the time he gets there. Luke and I are staying at home. That is a hard trip to make under the best of circumstances (300 miles (483 km) one way; hopefully just down today, then back on Monday), plus Luke started running a fever of about 101F/38.3C yesterday. The last thing she needs is exposure to that kind of sickness, and Luke really doesn't need to be doing that much hard traveling while he's so sick, so he and I are home while DH makes that very long drive alone in the rain expected all day across the whole state of Georgia. He's supposed to text me when he gets there, and he'll call me later with an update. Until then, I'll try not to fret, but I make no promises.

Currently feeling: hoping we get an answer and effective treatment soon

Friday, February 17, 2012

Laser Pointer: A Conversation With Luke

Luke was dying to play with the new laser pointer cat toy.

Luke: When the kitties are fighting, we should point the laser pointer at them. That way, they would stop fighting and play.
DH: That is probably more effective than yelling at them.
Luke: Yeah, kitties don't follow directions, but they do follow the laser pointer!

Currently feeling: distracted

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day 2012

We had a very low key Valentine's Day this year. With the job situation, I sent only about half the number of cards that I usually do (and didn't mail them until Monday, so they won't arrive until Wednesday or Thursday, darn it!), DH and I agreed not to get each other anything including cards (though DH broke his half of the bargain; after 15+ years together, I should have known), and we ate dinner at home instead of out. Mom and Dad were kind enough to send Luke a small gift, so he got a package in the mail, which is way more exciting than anything we could have given him. Thank you for the LEGOs, Nana and Papa!

With this being such a lean year, I still wanted to do something special, so I made cupcakes for Luke. He's been asking for cake for a couple of weeks, so I indulged him. I wanted it to be Valentine's Day-ish, though, so I made pink cupcakes with white icing. I asked DH to pick up red sprinkles at Kroger, but they were out. He got red decorator sugar instead, which is fine, but Luke insisted he wanted green sugar on his. So, here they are, our Valentine's Day cupcakes with red or green decorator sugar! (The things we do for our children! LOL)

And apparently, while at Kroger, a couple of other things jumped into the basket. Luke asked if he could have one, and they were very inexpensive, so DH also got me one, though he let Luke pick it out. Luke chose the dog for me and the tiger for himself. The tiger's name is Love, since he's holding a heart. Awww! I also received a small bag of chocolate covered pretzels, one of my favorite treats. All in all, things actually turned out much better and more special than I anticipated, even if it was inexpensive. It really is the thought that counts!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Currently feeling: loved

Monday, February 13, 2012

11 Things

The Rules:
  • Post these rules.
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions set for you in their post.
  • Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
  • No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

11 Random Things About Me:
  1. I'm such a boring person, I'm not sure I can think of 11 random things that anyone cares to read about! LOL
  2. My favorite form of music is probably movie scores. John Williams is my favorite composer, but I also really like Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Michael Kamen, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, John Barry, James Newton Howard, and Randy Newman. Sometimes I can identify the composer of a score just by listening.
  3. I am also quite good at identifying people only by voice. I love watching animated films and trying to guess who is speaking.
  4. Despite having lived in The South my entire life, I do not care for country music at all.
  5. I played flute and piccolo in high school.
  6. I was invited to audition for a professional handbell group, but I turned them down since I was about to get married and I didn't want to do all that traveling.
  7. At one point during my childhood, my hair was long enough for me to sit on.
  8. Until age 9, my hair was all one length and had never been cut (other than to trim off the tangly baby hair from the ends).
  9. I still use my very first original email account that I've had since I was 18 or 19.
  10. I am a chronic list maker, though it does not fit at all with my Myers-Briggs personality type. Proof some "personality traits" can be learned!
  11. I am a very messy person. This seems to really surprise people. Everyone always seemed surprised that my work desk was a wreck; they just assumed I was a neat freak. I have no idea why!

My Answers to the 11 questions from Melissa:
  1. What’s the most memorable vacation you’ve ever taken? Probably our most recent trip to Boston with my family. We had a great time and did all sorts of fun stuff. Luke is still asking when we're going to go back. (Need to finish the blog write up on it before I forget more about it than I already have!)
  2. What’s your dream vacation? Which dream do you mean? I have several! LOL Place I've always wanted to go: Vatican City. Ideal form of a true "vacation" (vs "trip" like we usually take where we need a vacation when we get back): some place cool (not cold!) and calm and quiet, which likely means going without the child.
  3. What’s your favorite childhood memory? There are several, so it's hard to pick. I still remember our trip to Washington DC, though.
  4. What’s something you’re good at doing? Excellent question! Um, I'll get back to you. No, seriously, um... this is going to sound strange, but I am *really* good at untangling knotted necklaces.
  5. What’s your favorite hobby? My favorite general hobby is watching movies. Doesn't sound like a hobby to some people, I know, but I genuinely *love* movies and will watch them as often as I can, new ones and old favorites alike. In terms of crafty hobbies, I'd have to go with temari, even though you wouldn't know it from my lack of output. I find them so beautiful and fascinating, and they're really fun to stitch.
  6. Do you read recipe/cooking websites or blogs? If so, what’s your favorite? Yes, and I have a few too many favorites. For creativity and beautiful photography, I'd have to go with SmittenKitchen. Even if I wouldn't make a lot of her food (her tastes and mine are quite different), it is still a fascinating read, and the few things I have made were excellent. I've been following her blog since before her son was born, and he's about 2 and a half now. For posting lots of recipes that are right up my alley (quick and simple) and that I might actually try (and I have tried several), it's probably PlainChicken, which I discovered through Pinterest.
  7. Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it? I wrote down this quote probably 20 years ago, but I wasn't smart enough to record who said/wrote it. I still love it, though. "We live in a universe, not a multiverse. Among other things, this means that science, engineering, the search for justice, the search for beauty, and the search for holiness are interrelated."
  8. Are you afraid of anything? If so, what? Specifically, any sort of harm coming to my son. Just the thought of it terrifies me. I don't walk around all the time crippled by fear, but every time the phone rings and it's the school, my heart jumps up in my throat.
  9. What book are you currently reading? Um, uh, er... I'm supposed to be reading, too? LOL I do actually have a book on the go. It's easy to pick up and put down, perfect for the rash of doctor appointments I've had lately. It's called A Mystery of Errors, by Simon Hawke. It is a fanciful imagining of the early life of Shakespeare (before he's a famous playwright), where he and a compatriot become involved in a local mystery. I picked it up from the bargain table several years ago. It's quite cute, very light, and quite a bit of fun. I'm about 1/3 through it so far.
  10. What are you most grateful for? That I generally lead a very high quality and contented life. Even my stressful times (so far, knock wood) have been minor compared to what many people go through. Much of that happy and stable life comes from the world's most amazing husband, and my awesome parents and brother. I would truly be lost without them.
  11. What can make you happy when you’re feeling blue? Hearing my son laughing. I can't not smile when he's that happy. It's such a great sound!

The Eleven Bloggers I’m Tagging:
  1. Joy at A Joyus Place
  2. Heather at It's Geek to Me
  3. Fiona at Leaves From My Notebook
  4. Christine at Mtrl Girl's Material World
  5. Shalini at Shalini's Blog
  6. Leah at The Finn Family
  7. Christine at Coffee Cup Thoughts
  8. Craftyland
  9. Measi at Measi's Musings
  10. Belinda at View from an Alternate Dementia
  11. Stasha at Just So You Know

My Eleven Questions for the Bloggers I’ve Tagged:
  1. What is your favorite movie?
  2. What is the first movie you remember seeing at the movie theater?
  3. Is there a type of movie or an actor/director that you refuse to watch?
  4. What craft or hobby would you try if money and time were no obstacle?
  5. Name your favorite kitchen tool.
  6. What is your favorite type of trip/vacation? Active (like hiking), museums/history, beach, mountains, theme park, etc.
  7. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  8. Would you ever seriously consider living abroad? If the answer is no because you now have a family, do you think you would have considered it when you were "young and single"?
  9. If you could choose any profession other than your current one, what would it be?
  10. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
  11. When is the last time you felt really free (whatever that means to you)?

I hope you’ll all participate! Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know if you played along so I can check out your responses. :-)

Currently feeling: that was harder than I thought!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Journey of 1000 Miles

The first person I ever heard recommend taking 10,000 steps per day was Dr. Oz. It actually didn't sound like that big of a deal at the time. Then I started working from home. I thought I had some idea about how much I walk in a typical day (mostly) within the confines of my own home, and I knew it wasn't 10,000 steps; it likely wasn't even half that.

Then several weeks ago, I started prepping my Disney guide for a friend, and I started looking up some numbers on how much people walk at Disney. I've seen various range estimates. Some say 4-8 miles (6.4 to 12.9 km), some say 6-12 miles (9.6 to 19.3 km); depends on who you read and sometimes which park you're talking about. I would guess that you do the least walking at the Studios, but I can't really guess as to which park takes the most. (I also imagine that it depends on where you park your car! LOL) I wonder how much we walk the way we typically do Disney? By the time I was done researching, I was intensely curious.

So, I bought a pedometer. (For anyone interested, I got this one.) It actually was not as expensive as I anticipated (I did get it on sale). It is also well reviewed on Amazon, with about 4.5 stars out of nearly 3500 reviews. It doesn't track every single step I take; I suspect no (affordable) pedometer does. If it's only 1-2 steps, it might miss it. But for anything over about 6-8 steps, they're tracked. As I suspected, on a typical day at home, my number is... um, not very high. In fact, it's only about 60% of what I guessed it was, and that was an awfully low number to start with. YIKES!

I actually did fairly well in terms of step count when I had to go to the doctor (large medical complex) and on our visit to IKEA, though still not even up to 5000. Other than that, it was kind of sad. So, I shall redouble my efforts, and see how long it takes me to make it to that 10,000 mark. And I'm strangely excited to see what it reads when we go to Disney! Given that it usually doesn't count if you only take a step or two, the number will likely even be under-reported, since you only take 1-2 steps at a time in some of the slow but constantly moving lines (like Buzz). Guess we'll see.

The title of this post, by the way, is not just metaphorical. It made me wonder how long it should take someone to walk that far during the "normal course" of their life. A year? Two years? What is reasonable, and how does that fit with the 10,000 steps? Hang with me, I'm going to do some math. Divide 1000 miles (1609 km) by 365 days, and you get 2.7 miles per day. 2.7 miles = 171,072 inches (4.3 km). Divide that by my stride length of 20 inches (51 cm, conveniently the lowest the pedometer can handle), and you get 8553.6 steps per day, not all that far from the recommended 10,000. Thus, in any given year, I should have walked at least 1000 miles! That actually kind of blows my mind. I think I just might make that one of my goals, if not for this year then next. Here's to my 1000 mile journey!

Currently feeling: let's go!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sunglasses: A Conversation With Luke

Remember this picture from 2009? Luke's homework assignment asked him to write three sentences about a time when he was acting silly. We were trying to get him to add more detail to his sentences.

DH: What kind of glasses are they?
Luke: Dark glasses.
Me: What else are they called?
Luke: I don't know.
DH: What is the weather like when you need to wear them?
Luke: Cold? No, hot?
Me: I wear mine when it's cold or hot.
DH: Why else would you wear them?
Luke: If your eyes don't work.
Me: Well, yes, but you wear them for other reasons, too.
Luke: To look cool!

Currently feeling: cool

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pictures of What I Do

For everyone who has wondered, or very patiently sat through me trying to explain it, THIS is what I do! Meet the Nortel OME6500.

This is what it looks like once it's all done:

But when it is delivered to the site, it looks like this:

I am the project manager for the installation of these things. Everything you see in the pictures: the frame around the outside (bay), the slotted thingy on the left side (FMP: Fiber Management Panel), the "shelf" with the cards in it, the fibers (see below photo for cards and fibers), all of it. For "big sites," these shelves comes premounted in the bay (think of this as like a standard house door frame; see labels above), two shelves per bay, 2-3 bays per large site. There may also be some overhead racking and stuff that needs to be installed to hold the new fibers and cables we will be running to other parts of the building.

(Ignore the horizontal gray things at the top. These are actually for different types of equipment than what I manage, but it had a better example of racking.)

For small sites, there is only one shelf per bay, but it comes separate from the bay and has to be mounted once it arrives. Naturally, the shelves and bays come from separate manufacturers, so I have to make sure we have all the parts *and* that they arrive on site at the same time. Small sites can also have some racking, but it is much less significant, considering many of the offices are only about 20 feet x 20 feet. Large offices can have 30-40 floors or more, easily mistaken for a typical business skyscraper in a large city. (There are two that size in New York City!)

Once the bays are in place, we start slotting the cards to fill the shelf. Each of these plugs into little pins in the back of each slot. Only certain cards can go in certain slots, so reading the diagram is critical.

Once the specialized cards are loaded, they then have to be "fibered up" (have these yellow fiber optic cables attached) to actually carry the data traffic. As you can imagine, with two shelves per bay and 2-3 bays per site, the large sites can take quite some time. They also have to run power cables and connect them up (you can't just plug these things into a wall outlet), and they have to run some of the fibers over to the place where the bay fibers (these in the photos) connect up to the outside fibers so the traffic can get out of this office and on to the next one. Occasionally, that connection spot is on a different floor! You can imagine how fun it is running fibers made of glass that are hundreds of feet long between floors of a building. :-)

I don't do the actual physical install, I just coordinate the arrival of the equipment into the warehouse (multiple suppliers involved, several separate shipments), the delivery of the equipment to the office (including some so remote they literally do not have a street address; shipping companies just love that (not)), scheduling the installers to be there when the equipment arrives, and managing the replacement and return of any missing and/or damaged pieces. We install several of these in a row, and I also manage the part of the process that gets each of these "shelves" to talk to each other, both within the offices and between the offices. Installation of a string of large and small offices comprise a "route," so not only do I have to make sure all the sites get installed on time, I have to make sure they are successfully talking to each other with the expected readings at each location. Only when all of that is completed and working properly do we call it "done." Doing all of this is why your smartphones do all that nifty stuff! Fun, right? :-)

These are called "predeploys," which means we are just putting in the basic system so that it is ready when the capacity is needed. I do other types of installation project management as well. There is another system that is similar to this one but has less range. I also manage turning up actual service, which is when the "blank cards" (the ones in the above photos without lights or fibers) are swapped for functional cards and fibered up at a later date. Needless to say, those types of jobs are much quicker: pop out the blanks, put in the packs, run a couple of fibers, test, done. No drilling, no electrical work, no adding rack above the bays to hold these fibers and power cords that you're running all over the office.

I'm not the only one who does this. Here are some other members of the team. I've worked with some of these folks for 4+ years now. I hate the thought that this is probably the lasts time we will all be together! ::sniff sniff::

They were kind enough to humor me for a photo in front of our equipment. From left to right: Myira, Pam, Janet, Jason, David (my former manager), Terry, Phil, and me. So there you go! Now that I'm about to stop doing it, an explanation of what I do, complete with visual aid.

Currently feeling: illuminated

Monday, February 06, 2012

Cracker Pizza - Italian and Mexican

I saw the idea for Cracker Pizza over on Plain Chicken. I talked about it in my January Pinterest review. It really fell under "well, duh!" Make a pizza using a flour tortilla as the crust. I made it back in January with leftover Pizza Cup filling (1/2 lb ground turkey breast, 1/2 pound italian sausage, 1 jar pizza sauce; used to fill muffin tin cups lined with biscuit or pizza dough and topped with cheese). It was great! I can see it becoming a quick and easy meal in our rotation.

And then I remembered my friend Charisse talking about how she made quesadillas in the oven by smearing refried beans on them and adding toppings. ::ding:: Why not make a Mexican style cracker pizza? I had leftover taco meat, and I had both flour and corn tortillas in the refrigerator, so I tried both. We liked the flour better, but I think that's just personal preference. (I also used the smaller 6-inch tortillas, just because that's what I already had.) 1-2 Tablespoons refried beans, some taco meat, and some cheese. Bake. Done. YUM!

I think the only thing I'll do differently next time is preheat my pizza stone and bake them on that (italian or mexican version!) like Steph of PlainChicken did. I think that will help get the centers crisp in addition to the edges. Still, yummy, simple, quick, easy. My favorite!
Cracker Pizza

1 Large Tortilla
3 Tbsp pizza sauce
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
toppings of your choice - pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, peppers

Preheat your oven to 425F. (I preheat my pizza stone in the oven.)

Spread pizza sauce on the tortilla - spread to the edge of the tortilla. Top with cheese and toppings. Place on cookie sheet or preheated pizza stone. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Currently feeling: ready to pizza-fy everything!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Roasted Potatoes - Fifth Time's the Charm?

What do you NOT see on these potatoes? Burned spots! I've been trying to roast potatoes for over a year now, and they're either not crispy (sometimes not even brown, though done) or they're burned. The last four times I've made them, I've burned them. Apparently, I'm just not good at it. As you can see, these are brown but not burned, and they were quite yummy. They're still not crispy, though. No idea what I'm doing wrong. I made Ranch Roasted Potatoes, for the record, baked them at 375 for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, then baked at 425 for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. That's more babysitting than I generally care to do for a weeknight side dish.

I did read something interesting, though. I did a search for "crispy roast potatoes," and I wonder if I'm using the wrong kind of potatoes? I absolutely love red potatoes, so that's what I've been using for my roasting. But most of the recipes I found recommended russet and/or yukon gold. One recipe even specified to use red potatoes if you wanted "creamy, less crisp potatoes." So maybe that's the problem? I'll try again with either russets or yukon golds next time. My brother also recommended Alexia Oven Reds, which are apparently frozen; just bake and you're done! Might look into them (or might have to wait until I can afford a larger freezer! LOL).

Currently feeling: baffled

Wednesday, February 01, 2012