Sunday, April 24, 2011


As I spent the past week starting a new position, I found myself smiling and nodding a bunch. I had so many names and faces to learn (which is still in process), as well as tasks, acronyms, and preferences. You never know what people like in their documentation until you work with them for a while.

As my trainer was leaving this week, one of his co-workers told him that he needed to make sure to keep in touch. Mind you, he will still be working with our organization every so often, just in a different capacity. He made friendships while he was there. One of the women came over and told him that he needed to keep in touch. He said that he would, and also offered to give this woman a link to his family blog.

Since she is one of the older people on the floor, she took the time to ask a question: "What is a blog anyway? I just don't get it."

We tried to explain to her that it was a web log, but that many people were using them as personal journals these days. It offered you an opportunity to be a part of someone's life vicariously.

She seemed pleased with that answer, but it got me thinking why I blog. So here is part of my answer.

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to take a creative non fiction course. I had to write all about myself, and even though it was really hard for me to do at first, I really enjoyed it. I didn't mind the writing part of it, but I didn't really care for complete strangers reading these frank internal dialogues that I was penning down. They didn't expose any deep dark secrets, but I felt quite exposed telling people some of the inner workings of my mind.

One of our last assignments was to write an outline for a memoir, should we ever write one. She wanted us to consider using some of the work we had already created during the semester as some of the chapters for this work. We just had to create an outline with a rough sketch of what would be in the chapter to get us thinking about how easy it would be to write a book and hopefully encourage us to do so.

I did find it easy, although I didn't bother typing any of my plan out after that class. While I was doing it though, I thought how cool it would be to have a book from people I admire that was kind of a daily journal that would parallel my life. For example, how fun would it be to have a book written by my dad or father-in-law explaining their struggles when they were relatively new fathers trying to establish themselves in a career. I would welcome their insights and want to learn more about what they went through.

Often times when we meet people, we meet an end product. We know them as they are today, but not the story behind how they got there. If you ask that question, memory fuzzes that quite a bit. The nebula that is our brain is bright in some spots, and pretty dark in other spots. Even the most well-intentioned answer is clouded by years of time that sometimes cannot be brought into focus. And other times, we don't want to relive the answer.

In a world where teens think their parents are too old to understand, or where young parents are struggling with the responsibilities that come with adulthood, don't you think it would be nice to know that those who you look up to have already fought those battles? Instead of seeing just the finished product, you could see the roughly-hewn stone.

And this is why I blog. I want my kids to know that I was not always the curmudgeon that they see as teenagers. I want them to know why I make the choices I make, and I want them to see how I got there. In short, although I enjoy keeping this blog, it really isn't for me.

So Munchkin (et al), you better appreciate it someday, or else...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Madness for Munchkin

This weekend will be a pretty crazy one. This will be Munchkin's first Easter where she will truly understand what an Easter Egg Hunt will be. So today we are having two.

In about an hour and a half, Wifey's grandma is holding her traditional Easter egg hunt where she invites all her descendants over for a candy hunt. She only has 40 grandchildren, and many of them have families of their own (about 20 great-grandchildren). Most of them live in the valley, so it makes for quite a spectacle. As is prudent with most Easter egg hunts, the kids get released in waves. The littlest ones get help from their parents. This is fortuitous, as I get to hand-pick the candy that Munchkin brings home—I leave the stuff we don't like for the other kids.

Directly after that, we are headed over to my parent's house. My brother from Utah decided to trick his kids. They told them that they were going for doughnuts, but had the car all packed. He took off Friday and they drove up. We are having a turkey with all the fixin's and another Easter egg hunt. There are rumors of a hot dog roast as well. Needless to say, it will be a pretty fun day for Munchkin.

We were hoping that she would sleep in this morning, but she has a tree adjacent to her window where most birds in the neighborhood decide to call out an alarm when the sun comes up. Even though she was asleep a little bit late last night, she woke up right at 7:00 AM. We could tell she was tired, and got her down for an early nap around 10:15. Any sleep is good sleep for her today, especially because she is going to be playing so much.

Tomorrow we are having an Easter dinner with Wifey's family, followed by a community concert that I am singing in tomorrow night. Needless to say, Munchkin will be celebrating Easter all weekend long. A bit crazy, but such are holidays around here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Night Off!

Tonight I feel a bit guilty. There is no reason why I should. I just have a night off of the play, so I have time to do things that I want to do. Like visit the local farm store and look at the baby chicks and rabbits with Munchkin and Wifey.

Before I get any further, I fixed the video from the previous post. It is funny how I can see a video when I'm logged in, and YouTube doesn't want that to happen for anyone else. Scroll down and watch the video now if you would like.

Munchkin was loving the chicks. They had them in watering troughs that were staged on pallets underneath some heat lamps. She just kept making little bird noises, occasionally telling us when they were jumping, running away, or being cute.

I needed a night with the fam. It was good times.

Tomorrow is my trainer's last day. We have pretty much run through everything that I am supposed to do once (and in some cases, twice). After that, I'm on my own.

I learned a new program today, which brings the total up to four new pieces of software. It is kind of baffling to me, but I am really enjoying it. They asked me in the interview if I liked wearing lots of hats. And now I understand why.

One minute, I'm creating an online help manual. Then someone comes up to me and asks me to convert a PDF back to a Word document. Then I get an email asking me to inform the state that a system is down. Then I get to send out a bulletin that tells everyone that a position is opening up in one of the offices. Then I edit some icons to put into a PDF. Then I do some SharePoint administration. Then I start creating a training video.

And then I get a break for lunch and repeat.

And one of the good things is that the people there seem really great. I have only known them for a few days, but everyone has been quite welcoming and gone out of their way to make sure that they appreciate my meager contributions. It is fun to have people come up to me and ask me if I can solve their minor technical emergencies. Well, it is fun when I can solve those emergencies.

All in all, I feel really comfortable there. I feel like I have already come out of my shell a bit to most of my team members, and I feel relaxed, even though there is a lot going on. I'll be transitioning over to the big desk (the think is in an L shape and is about 7 feet both ways) on Monday, and I know I'll have big shoes to fill, but it will be good.

Now to give Wifey a foot massage. She informed me that I would be giving her one earlier tonight before we left to go look at the chicks. She deserves it for taking care of Munchkin all day and night while I've been off waiting for my turn to sing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Not Dead!

You might have thought that I was dead, as I haven't posted in a few days after being a religious blogger. I'm not dead, but consider the following picture of Munchkin from last summer:

Munchkin munching on the hose
Now for the metaphor.

If this picture could be likened to a time in my life, the date you would affix would be April 17, 2011. I was sitting patiently, waiting for a drink after a drought of joblessness. In fact, I was quite excited for it.

Then April 18th came along, and someone turned the hose on full blast.

Don't get me wrong, I am having a good time, but feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. At my new position I have one week to absorb everything that my trainer knows before he moves on to his next position. There are no other tech writers there, and so I'm the resident expert after one week. Yikes!

In the mean time, I have been relearning a software program that I haven't used in quite some time (about four years), as well as learning two new ones. I enjoy the challenge, and at times (like today in one of my trainings) I didn't really absorb as much as I would have liked to because my brain just kept shutting off. I persevered and kept my lips over the nozzle, but plenty of water leaked out through my cheeks, nostrils, and possibly tear ducts. Any available orifice in my head was gushing water.

I think I'll like the position. All in all, it seems like a good group of people to work with, and I think that I will enjoy the variety of work that will come my way. I just have to remember that I need to keep swallowing and keeping some of the water down.

On top of this, we had a fiasco last night at the Black Hole. We were told to come early to block our scene. We arrived a little bit late (because we had to eat before heading to rehearsal pretty much directly from work), but did not find the director there to block us. The music director decided to rehearse us anyway.

While we were rehearsing, I got to play the piano (instead of singing with the rest of the group) because the music director felt a bit sheepish about her piano skills after hearing the recording I made. It isn't anything special by any means, but evidently she just plays parts, not accompaniment.

(Here is the scratch track I created if you want to listen. I threw one picture of Munchkin on it for some visual interest, but don't expect a lot of fun audio or video here.)

After practicing about an hour, they told us that they were adding more people to the quartet because the director wanted them in the scene. They aren't particularly strong singers, so I'm not quite sure about the reason behind all this. Plus that makes our quartet have a few fifth wheels. That was all fine and dandy, and by this time we had been there about an hour and a half. The musical director told us that she was going to get the director to finally block us.

But evidently the director didn't want to be bothered. She ended up coming out in a huff and told us that she wanted us to stay (after we had stood around for fifteen minutes waiting for her to make an appearance) so that she could block us. One of the people had stepped away to get a drink, so when she didn't see the whole group of us there, she proceeded to curse at the top of her lungs. Munchkin doesn't throw tantrums like that. In fact, I haven't seen a kid throw that bad of a tantrum in a long time. I was astounded that a grown woman would be so childish.

After she had mostly stormed out of the room and returned at the behest of the musical director and assistant director, she begged us to stay for another ten minutes. We acquiesced, and then she started rambling. She said that she was planning to do this after the rehearsal, but since we were all there that she would have to go out of her way and do it. I didn't understand what the big huff was all about since we had told her that we were going to be there an hour and a half ago to take care of the blocking.

And after about two more minutes, I realized why she was so upset—she wasn't prepared. All this fuss was because she hadn't blocked this scene yet in her mind. She just told us to stand there around the bar and sing while the girl sat in the middle. No information on how to enter or exit, no thoughts on how to improve, no direction on where we should be focusing—she just wanted to push the play button. The scene is awkward enough because there is a guy on stage right who is singing to the girl who is in the bar with all of us. We chime in every once in a while to encourage her to talk to him.

If I was the bar going type and I was next to a girl in the bar, I doubt that I would be encouraging the girl to go back to her boyfriend. The scene doesn't make sense in my mind. But then again, I'm not the almighty director.

We left, not knowing when we were supposed to come back. After some prodding, she told me that call time was at 6:30. I told her that I couldn't just hang out all night waiting for my part to come up and asked her if she would be able to give me an estimate on when we might be doing this. She started into a tirade on how she couldn't accomodate an individual's schedule when she had a whole show to run. She had never run Act Two fully (even though the show opens in a little over a week), so she couldn't estimate how long it would take to get to our scene (scene four). So I asked her how long Act Two was supposed to be. She told me that it was 52 minutes.

That was all I needed.

Knowing that she had never run Act Two, and understanding how disorganized she was, I figured that I would come about fifteen minutes late tonight. That would give her time to run through some of the other scenes, and allow me time to get there without sacrificing my whole evening.

I should have waited a bit longer to leave though. After all, it only took 45 minutes to get to our scene tonight. And once again, we were directionless. We just did our part with the orchestra and were done with it.

There is a silver lining in all of this though. The orchestra director is a very stern man who doesn't particularly like working with vocalists. I worked with him in a previous show, and he, as a professional musician, acts as if it is below him to direct the amateur vocalists. After running our song once, he actually smiled. I think he was glad that we knew our parts, as well as sounded half decent. We were able to drag the tag-a-longs with us (or drown them out). I never thought I would see this guy smile in a rehearsal, but he did. And for me, that balanced out the hissy fits thrown by the director.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Secret Flattery

I ended up getting an email forwarded to me from my friend whose place I'm taking next week. It was from his boss. I was pretty surprised to see it, but even more surprised to read it. See for yourself.

Note that all the italics are things that I changed to protect identities and such.

Subject: Found: New Technical Writer

John Waite is the name, and technical writing is his game. That's right. Starting Monday, April 18th, John will hit the ground running, starting as SR's new technical writer. He will be filling some rather large shoes left by Friend of mine, as said Friend moves into his new position as a Super Great Promotion starting April 25th. John will be working closely with teams X and Y, as well as with group Z, providing critical documentation, presentation, and communication support for the entire Division. Friend and John will be working closely together for the first week, getting John up to speed in his new role.

John is a technical communication guru, with a Bachelors Degree in English, with a Technical Communication emphasis. His technical writing experience includes contracting or working for businesses such as Motive Power (documenting the process for building cabs on locomotives - cool, right?), Sapidyne Instruments, and most recently, Hewlett-Packard. I would go on, but I think you should really drop-in and meet him yourself! He'll be in the two-man mini-pod where Friend currently spends his working hours.

I'm excited to have John joining our team. Please help me welcome him aboard!

Welcome, John!

Did you know that people did this kind of stuff? I know that there is generally a buzz when someone new starts, but it is has been my experience that people often learn that someone has been hired, and that someone remains a nebulous cloud in everyone's head until they actually meet the person who was hired. You get a very vague outline of them that your mind creates, and you run with it until you can fill in the blanks.

After I got done reeling my tongue back into my mouth and affixing my jaw back into place, I realized that this says a lot about my future boss. Here are some things I can glean from this email:
  • He values tech writers. I already kind of knew this, as my boss graduated with a degree from the same college as a technical writer.
  • He expects a lot from me. This was hinted at in the interview, but there is a lot of volume that comes through this position. I have a week to learn everything from my predecessor. Good thing I know him so that I can bug him after he moves on to his next position...
  • He treats his employees well. If he is taking the time to introduce me to his staff, this tells me that he likes to have a great relationship with his minions. I'll take minion over indentured servant anyday.
  • He encourages friendships in the workplace. To me, this says that there is more to life than just work. He wants people who are a good fit both professionally and personally. I'm relatively private at work, so I'll be interested to see how this one plays out. 
  • He was impressed by my work history. He called me a guru. I almost laughed out loud at this point because I still feel like I have a ways to go, but couldn't because of my tongue and jaw that were busy doing other things (see the paragraph right before this list).
Armed with this knowledge, I am pretty excited to start work on Monday. Now to go grab my social security card and make sure that it is tucked safely in place before I head out to work Monday morning. It is hard to process your paperwork if they don't have that, I hear...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Munchkin + @MindyGledhill = Awesome

We love our Munchkin. We love our Mac. We also love an artist named Mindy Gledhill. Wifey decided to mix them all together and this is what she came up with:

If you are wondering how we found Mindy Gledhill, it was kind of an interesting story. Wifey likes reading a blog about a woman and a man who were burned in a plane crash. She tells her story about all her treatments and how she struggles with her appearance since most of her body was burned. Her husband wasn't burned nearly as badly (although they both still had major reconstructive surgeries, if memory serves me correctly).

Anyway, Mindy Gledhill wrote a song for this blogger that you can listen to on YouTube if you want. And then you can go buy her album because you like her music so much.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playing in the Dirt

Today I spent pretty much all day at my parent's house. They have needed to get some yard work done, and I am anxiously waiting to start my job on Monday, so they told me to come over and bide my time by doing yard work.

Today consisted of multiple tasks, the first of which was cleaning out the raspberry patch (that I pruned on Monday) of all the dead growth and the decapitated tops that didn't make it out of the patch. I don't think that it had been done as thoroughly as I did it in about five years or so. I was instructed to use the long-handled pruners before my parent headed off to a funeral, but quickly switched to hand pruners so I could get at the stuff I needed to as close to the ground as possible. There were plenty of stalk butts (like cigarette butts, but for the raspberry stalks. There is probably a better word for this, but my mind is ready for bed so this will have to suffice) from previous years that needed to be cut off.

I could tell that this was a favorite eating perch for birds, as I found a couple of starts that I believe were current bushes (my parents have a current bush up by the house), a couple other tree seedlings, some walnut stashes (which the squirrels probably dragged in and forgot about), and one mouse skull. I was most surprised about the skull, but I guess if you are a mouse, you might as well die happy while eating sweet sun-ripened raspberries. I know I would be fine going that way.

After the three hours that it took to clean that out, I started burning the dead growth. Dad was over sitting on a stump of an apple tree we cut down a few weeks ago burning some of those branches. He ended up getting burned on his lip with the wrong end of a hot stick, but I think it will heal pretty quickly. I don't think it even blistered. It just melted the skin a bit. Still not pleasant, but as burns go, probably pretty superficial.

Next we went to start the tractor to till up part of the garden. When I was a kid, Dad would always do the tilling with his hand tiller while the kids did other things like pull weeds where he couldn't till or get the ground ready to plant. Now that he is retired, he had moved to a disc that he pulls behind a small tractor. He still has yet to give in and buy a riding lawn mower, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he just might do it some day. Or maybe he'll just get an attachment for the tractor and mow the lawn that way. It might corrugate the yard, but it never was very level anyway. All my friends informed me of that one day when we were playing croquet. I told them that it added an extra challenge to the game.

After dinner, my in-laws came over to plant a few things in their garden. There wasn't a lot to be planted (they forgot some of their seeds), but on the way down I found some quail scratching at the spinach and lettuce that we had planted for my parents the day before. I fear for the sprouts this year for that reason. My parents have also seen pheasants roaming the garden, so unless my parents are quite vigilant, we might not have much produce this year.

After the in-laws took off, we ended up getting a bunch of starts for our yard from my parents. They gave us five raspberry starts (since all but one died from last year), three chrysanthemums, two lavender starts, some grape hyacinths, and a couple different types of ground cover, along with a bit of chives.

We drove home and got Munchkin to bed, followed by a twilight planting session of all the things we got. It was dark by the time I got the raspberries in, so I lost one of the starts to the darkness. I think it will become mulch for another one of the plants because I couldn't even find it when I brought the pot up onto the deck in the light. We're headed back tomorrow, so I'll just get another start. All that time cleaning out the patch gave me the opportunity to scope out where the really good starts were.

And don't think that Wifey was just twiddling her thumbs the whole time. She ended up completing her first dress made with a pattern for Munchkin. She had made one before with a friend, but they steered clear of the patterns. So my mom took it upon herself to get Wifey using a pattern. It turned out really well, and Munchkin thinks it is fun to get new clothes. When she tried it on, she grabbed the skirt and swished back and forth. In her book, that is a big thumbs up. I'll have to put up some pictures soon.

And Mom informed me that she was going to the store tomorrow with Wifey to look at more patterns. I think that Wifey's new-found love for sewing awoke Mom's long-time love for sewing, so they are feeding off each other right now. I'm just glad that I'm starting a job on Monday (did I mention that I got a job?) so that I can feed Wifey's new addiction. I don't know what it is, but women like to sew things for little girls. My mom did, and I know my sisters did. Now my wife does. I'm guessing that they like it almost as much as I like playing in the dirt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Black Hole Update

Last night I went to practice again. We got some stuff hammered out, but by the end of the practice, we some of the people will probably need some more help. I'm not trying to be snooty, but I have most of the song learned. I could probably go sing it now on stage with music and do it pretty well (with maybe one mess up where there is a tricky entrance that doesn't sit well to my ears).

Because I don't want to be required to come every night and practice for a couple of hours (like I had to last night), I offered to record the parts individually for everyone along with the accompaniment. And because I don't really want to play all the vocal parts on the piano, I think I'll sing them all.

With that being said, I think I'll probably post my finished product here for you to hear. I've never done a multi-track recording before, so I probably won't do very well with the levels, nor will it be ready to throw on iTuens and sell, but I figure it will give me something that would be fun for me to do. Plus it will help me learn all the parts so I know when people are off the next time we practice.

I also realized just how scared of technology some people are. One of the people in the quartet told me that he would like it on a CD. I told him that I would email it to him and he could put it on a CD so that I wouldn't have to go dig out our CDs and use them for two measley music tracks. He then proceeded to ask me how he would make a CD from files that I sent him.

Being the friendly tech writer that I am, I told him that I would provide instructions along with the files of how to burn it to a CD using iTunes.

It seems very foreign to me that people don't know how to do something as simple as burn a CD. It amazes me even more that people don't take the time to try it out. It isn't a difficult process. If you have used any kind of software before, you could probably figure it out pretty quickly. That is the way I had to learn.

But I'll just not say anything to this individual and write the instructions out for him. Hopefully the instructions won't be too different on a Windows machine...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Assorted Bulbs

 We were so excited when our hyacinths came up this year. They were very forgiving, even though they got into the ground in the early spring (instead of the late fall like they were supposed to).

Wifey got the assorted colors package, and we figured that we would get a smattering of colors. When I opened up the package, I found two packages of bulbs. This worried me a bit, because I was hoping that assorted colors was not the same as two colors. I planted them anyway, knowing that we wouldn't get an overpowering orange color from them (most of our flowers last year were orange, including, but not limited to, zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos).

So here is the final color tally for our bulbs:
  • 28 pink flowers
  • 3 white flowers
  • 1 yellow flower
I'm thinking that pink is the dominant color in this set, but I would assume that the bulb color would be dictated by the genes in the bulb, not by the pollination of the flower. I mean, you could tell the difference between the colors before the flowers bloomed. The white and yellow ones were distinctively more green than the soon-to-be pink blossoms.

With all that being said, my mother has some purple and dark pink ones at her house. She said that they started from one bulb and have since multiplied. She got a new color (pink).

So here is my question: Are my bulbs going to remain the same color that they are this year, or are they subject to change? Discussion in the comments.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Entering the Black Hole

A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to try my hand at some musical theater. I ended up trying out for a community play that the city of Boise puts on as part of Boise Music Week (I would link you to their site but there isn't much there). That year we did Brigadoon, and I landed the role of Charles McPherson Dalrymple.

This was my first time being in a show, but I could fake act, kind of dance, and sing pretty decently, so they gave me a semi-lead role. I was happy. Until it got close to the performances.

You see, the last month of rehearsals ran from 6:00 to 10:00 every weekday. You can only go through the motions of singing the same songs and practicing the same lines so many times in an empty warehouse that has tape on the floor for staging before it doesn't become fun. Having experienced this, I told myself that it was fun, but I really didn't want to spend that much time away from my family again. It was too much of a time black hole.

Music Week is coming up again in about three weeks. This year they are doing Bye Bye Birdie. One of Wifey's cousins is in the show, and happened to send me an email telling me that they were desperate for a quartet for a bar scene. If you want to view part of it featuring Uncle Jesse from Full House fame, take a peek at the video below.

I was a bit reluctant, but ended up agreeing because I knew they were in a pinch and I knew that I would be singing with family. I mean, how bad could it be with the show only three weeks away? I'm only doing one song, so I figured that I could get in and out pretty quickly.

And then I got more details from the director. She wanted us there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting at 6:00.

*audible gulp*

Tonight was my first night. I showed up fashionably late (because I figured that the first half hour would be vocal warmups like they had been previously). I found a general disarray, but saw my father-in-law and uncle-in-law huddled around the piano on the other side of the "stage" (which once again, was just a bunch of tape). I jumped in and grabbed a piece of music and started singing along.

I know that the musical lady was used to helping people learn their parts, but we worked on the song for about 25 minutes and she insisted on playing each of the parts individually. She missed one of my parts, and I just sang it (because I'm used to sight reading piano music which is much more complicated than sight reading a vocal line with one voice). She stopped herself and said, "Oh, we didn't go over that tenor part for you, did we?" I told her that we didn't need to and that we could pick it up along the way.

The good news was I was out of there in less than a half an hour. And I also learned that I won't be required to be there for as much as the director had originally suggested. I'm going back tomorrow and we are bringing our own keyboard (because they don't have two pianos), and then I won't have to go back until maybe Saturday. I'm hoping that if we have our own keyboard that we can skip out on the musical director trying to teach us our parts.

In short, tonight I entered the black hole yet again. I am hoping that it won't be as crazy as the past years (because I'm not doing as big of a commitment as previous years), but I'll let you know.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Munchkin the Big Girl

For the past week, we have been getting things ready to move Munchkin to a new room that is just a little farther away than her current one. With Baby #2 on the way, we need to keep the room with the crib available for the child that will need it. We have been painting, getting decor ready, as well as picking up items like a bed rail so that Munchkin won't fall out of the twin bed in there.

We have let Munchkin see the room quite a bit, and she loves it. I don't know if it is the novelty of having another space to roam in, or if she is just super gullible and believes that our excited tone every time we say, "new room" has worked like some form of endorphin-releasing trigger, but either way, we are happy that she is happy.

Saturday night we actually picked up the bed rail and decided to see if Munchkin would be game to sleep there. We asked her if she wanted to, and she gave us the customary answer (Uh-huh with a quick head nod). We were so a bit anxious to see if she would go through with it. I had thoughts of our little girl growing up.

And then we had one of those dinners.

If you don't know what I'm eluding to, either
  1. You have never had a toddler.
  2. You don't remember the mess your toddler can make at dinner.
  3. You have never heard the word toddler before.
Munchkin was eating some yogurt. We have been trying to teach her that yogurt isn't just a great tasting line of skincare products. She tends to get a large glob on her spoon and then place it on her left hand and start to rub it around. We looked away for one moment to go refill a water cup or take a bite. When we turned back, we both were amazed at what we saw.

From this silent little girl (things like this always happen when kids are silent if you fall into option 3 above), we saw a creature emerge. There was yogurt on her hands and in her hair. We made the mistake of saying that we don't put yogurt in our hair, which prompted a yogurt-laden hand to immediately travel up to her hair to point to it.

Needless to say, after dinner Munchkin was put into the tub for bath number two of the day.

After bathtime, she was right back to her big self. When bedtime came, we walked right up to her room, gave her a binky and her monkey, laid her down after saying our customary things to psych her up (like Sleep all night and such). We walked out the door after blowing kisses and waving, and she didn't make a peep.

I had to go back in a few hours later because her head and torso were hanging off the edge of the bed while her legs were preventing her from falling out of the bed. At least the rail works.

She slept until 5:00AM, when she started to wake up and, feeling a bit disoriented in her new surroundings, had her eyes wide open when I walked in. I laid with her and got her a drink, and she ended up falling asleep.

With that said, I think that she did pretty well. She took a good nap in the bed today, and went right down again tonight. There haven't been any more attempts to skydive from the mattress, which I consider a success. There are plenty creative sleeping angles going on (like perpendicular to her pillow), but that will probably work itself out in time. In the mean time, I am just hoping that she'll continue to do as well as she is doing and sleep all night tonight.

Keep your fingers crossed...

Friday, April 8, 2011

My New Hobby

Flipping through my Google Reader the other day, I ran across this site with some pretty darn cool photography. I like taking pictures just as much as the next amateur photographer, and some of these were pretty fun. How can you go wrong playing with toys and chronicling your journeys through pictures.

I can remember as a kid spending time creating elaborate stories based solely around my action figures. I guess if I had written them down, they would now be known as fan fiction. The Ninja Turtles were always spending time running around on the haystack. The G.I. Joe tiger boat was know to take infrequent rides down the canal (infrequent only because the boat didn't float all that well).

When there weren't action figures to be had, I spent my time climbing in trees and imagining myself and friends somewhere else, whether that was in space, on another continent, or just down the road at someone else's house.

I guess some of that continues today, but is driven more by the books I read and the movies I watch. Instead of an amazing space odyssey, I spend my time thinking of having endless hours to pour over books or take courses on things that interest me at the time.

I'm a bit of a dreamer, yes. But I'm working on being more of a doer than a dreamer. Dreams are great and all, but you need to have some action to back them up. So, while I might not actually pick up my new hobby, I will probably end up remembering it some time when Munchkin has her toys strewn across the back yard and snap some photos. If I remember, I'll put up some pics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Monitor Dillema

I got word yesterday from my (very) part time job that they finally got an update on the draft I submitted. They want to answer my questions.

Here is the rub: some of the information directly conflicts with what was previously written.

I understand that things change over time. Products become better. Software gets retired. Just because things are changing doesn't mean that you can forget about the old products (unless you push them out of your support window).

So I asked a colleague of mine what she would suggest. So now I'm waiting to hear back. What better thing to do than to blog?

You see, I would normally be doing other things, but I'm not at home. Because of some unfortunate features of Word (and the fact that it doesn't always play nicely between the Mac and Windows versions), I have to use a computer at my parent's place that still runs XP. I got over to their place and had to move it from their office into the family room so that the Ethernet cord would reach. While finding a plug in, I realized that they don't have many grounded outlets down here near the router. It is kind of hard to plug in a computer into a non-grounded outlet.

I found one adapter that converts an outlet into a grounded outlet, but I needed another one for the screen. I started looking around, and found that they had some of their sound system and TV connected to an outlet that was all grounded. So now I could use one outlet from by the TV and another one from a nearby wall that would allow me to plug in both the computer and the monitor.

The only problem was that the cords didn't reach each other because the outlets were too far away.

To remedy this, I got a spark of an idea. I set the spark down on a nest of pocket lint and pine needles in hopes that it would light a small fire. Hoping against hope, I approached my parent's TV and spun it around.

Sure enough, they had a jack on the back of their TV to hook a computer into. I was able to get my work done on their TV. I find a 40 inch monitor to be just about right. I would need to make some adjustments, but all in all, I could get used to the fact that I'm working on a screen this big. It would work quite well for extended watching as well because of the high refresh rate that I don't think many monitors have.

Well, it looks like I have another email, so I had better got finish up my work so that I can eat lunch with Wifey (if she hasn't already done so).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Don't you think that 4:11 is a good time? I do.

Are you wondering why that is such a good time? Well, it is because that is the time that I got a job offer today. All the waiting has paid off. I can say that I have a job. Well, I will have a job starting in a little under two weeks.

I guess the writing test worked out well. And so did the interviews. I wasn't expecting the planets to align yet, but today was the day, I guess. I'm not complaining!

It is kind of odd. I was unsure whether or not I would find a job that gave me perks like paid time off and benefits. Life as a contractor has become something that I have kind of accepted over the years. I just thought that jobs that had things like benefits and paid holidays were a thing of yesteryear when the dot com bubble hadn't yet burst. But the government is still around, so they still find it important to employ people.

I'll be starting a position with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare before too long. The job sounds interesting and full of variety. It lets me use all sorts of software that is a bit rusty (like RoboHelp, InDesign, and other things that I have yet to learn) and has a high volume of work (which is much better than the alternative).

The only downside is the pay. I will be taking a $3.50 pay cut per hour. That is going to hurt. I know that some of that will even out with benefits and paid time off, but it is still going to hurt. Now I just hope that I can get some other stuff on the side.

My dad offered me an interesting comment. He told me to ask if my previous employer had any part-time work. I had never considered that. It is a position that I could do from home (or in my free time), but might require some meetings that would be during normal business hours. I might propose it anyway to see if they have anything. The worst thing they can say is no.

In actuality, it feels a bit odd to know that I have a job. I have been looking for one for so long and kind of planning that I would be going back to my previous employer (through another contracting agency). I don't think it has officially sunk in yet.

But in the mean time, I am just going to act like it is 4:11 and keep on being pleasantly surprised that I am on the phone call when someone is telling me that they want me to work for them.

One Down, None to Go

After returning from a much-needed vacation this past weekend, I headed in to Boise to have a final interview. I was expecting to just have two people in the interview, but both of the previous interviewers had time to sneak in. That was a welcome surprise. It sure makes it easier to be relaxed in an interview (not that I was really nervous) when you already know a few faces that are going to be there.

I think it went well. I was asked to provide my references to the manager, and learned that the writing test that I recently took removed one more candidate from the running. That is one less person that I need to worry about. I know that there are three others that needed to be interviewed after me, but beyond that, I can't tell you anything. They told me that they would let me know either way by the end of this week (if all the planets align).  The decision must be harder than they anticipated to make sure that a cosmic event coincides with their decision to hire me. But if that is what it takes, so be it.

With that said, I felt quite comfortable in the interview. In fact, I caught myself thinking that the interviewer was really my boss. It just seemed natural that we were all coworkers and that we were talking about a project. It might be a sign. Or it might be wishful thinking.

Only time will tell. And when time tells (or a cosmic event), I'll let you all know.

Should I Add This to My Resume?

Last week I had a fellow blogger write to me and tell me that she was starting up a creative writing group with some of the teachers at her local high school. How cool is that? They have few rules, but have a general theme each month. You aren't required to participate, but of course, participation is encouraged...

I don't know much about all the authors (or what they teach, for that matter). I just know that they are in this writing club, and they are teachers.

The thing that was exciting was the fact that I was able to be an adjudicator for them. I received four manuscripts that had names removed from them. I didn't have many rules to follow, other than the fact that they were all based loosely on the same theme. As I read through them, I thought I had my friend nailed. There was one piece of writing that just screamed her name to me.

The funny thing was, it ended up that this piece was not by her at all. I guess it just goes to show you how well I know her. OR HOW WELL SHE CAN WRITE SO THAT SHE THREW ME OFF COMPLETELY! I choose option B.

Anyway, if you would like to go read the stories yourself, feel free to hop on over to the Write Club website. You can view everything they wrote, as well as see who this month's winner is.