Friday, June 27, 2008

Modern embarrassments

It occurred to me today that one of the somewhat questionable gifts of modern technology is that is has hugely increased the scope of ways you can embarrass yourself, often in front of previously unprecedented numbers of people, that simply weren't possible 30 years ago.

For example:

* Accidentally hitting "Reply to All" to reply to the sender of a group e-mail when your reply is meant to be confidential to the sender.
* Your cell phone going off in a situation where the ringtone is extremely inappropriate; e.g. "Stayin' Alive" when you're at a funeral.
* Putting the paper through the fax machine the wrong way and faxing a series of blank sheets from the wrong side of what you meant to send.
* Leaving a comment on the wrong entry of a blog, which causes it to make no sense. Or worse, the wrong blog.

What modern embarrassments can you think of?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gainful employment

The interview today ended early for the best possible reason: the interviewer thought I was so perfect for the job that she didn't feel the need to ask any more questions. They had had me fill out an assessment which included doing some samples of the sort of work I would be doing, and apparently I had the highest score of the applicant pool, an 8 out of 9. And I have the right experience, right computer setup and this job fits well into my schedule. So apparently she didn't need to know any more than that.
At the end of the phone call, the interviewer told me directly that she was planning to recommend me for hiring and told me to make sure I could clear my schedule to do training next week. And sure enough, right now in my e-mail inbox is a job offer. So huzzah!

What a relief. I've been progressively more and more sick of Ebay, and Ebay was returning the feelings by continually implementing new policies designed to drive me away.* It's like Ebay is turning into one of those passive-aggressive boyfriends that tries to break up with you by being a jerk so you'll break up with him. Well, I'm happy to oblige.

But now I can afford to give up Ebay, since this job will be offering a decent amount of hours for a decent rate of pay, enough to substantially boost our monthly bottom line. Plus, there are ways I can increase my pay rate, as well as the opportunity to do more work for this company, in addition to the current project. I'll be rating Internet search results, basically providing a human eye to look at what searches actually produce so search engines can be improved - pretty cool and right up my alley.** And it's like they designed this job for the mother of a small child in mind - it's 20 hours a week, and while I have to work four hours every day, they don't have to be consecutive and it doesn't matter when. I'm planning to put K in some sort of daycare three days a week, both to get her out of my hair and give her the chance to play with other kids, but even if she can't go to daycare for the day, I'll be able to work anyway.

So yes, we're pretty happy here tonight.

*The latest one? They'll keep track of what computer you usually use and if you log in and try to make listing from a different one, they'll make you verify youself. WITH A PHONE CALL. No, this won't be inconvenient for people who use public computers for their main internet access, particularly in places where phones aren't allowed. You know Ebay, all of my online banks have extra layers of protection that just involve extra passwords and special pictures. They're actually convenient in addition to being secure (and protect the user from spoofing, which your current plan doesn't). But of course, doing something that would actually be better for your users is something of an alien concept to you, isn't it?

**In the interview, the interviewer asked if I had a problem with potentially seeing porn sites, since I would be looking at a ton of websites every day and they coudln't guarantee what the content would be. I said I didn't have a problem with it, since I've been searching the web for 14 years now and I'm quite used to random porn encounters. But thinking about it later, it occurred to me that it's been literally years since I've regularly had an innocent web search turn up porn, something that used to be a necessary evil of Internet searches, even with search terms like "all day kindergarten" or "syphilis." Innocent searches used to turn up porn because porn sites would include lots of common terms in their metadata so they would come up on otherwise unrelated searches. But since the advent of Google's approach to searching (rating relevance of sites based on how much they're linked to as well as the terms they include), that doesn't work any more. All hail the power of Google.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


* Much to my surprise, I have a job interview on Thursday. It would be telecommuting, 20 hours a week (so I could keep my current job as well), evaluating Internet search results. At a decent rate of pay, even. And apparently while I would have to work four hours every day during the week, it doesn't matter when I do them, so while I would want to increase K's daycare hours, I would still be able to work if she couldn't go. It would even be a job I could keep no matter where we live. Needless to say, I would really like this interview to go well.

* It never ceases to amaze me the things people don't warn you about when you become a parent. Sure, I heard about the lack of sleep, explosive poopy diapers and temper tantrums. I was warned that three is a hard age (and so far, they were soooo right).

But nobody ever warned me that I might spend half an hour this evening when I was supposed to be finishing preparing dinner searching the house for a missing tub of margarine. Since I'm pretty sure it didn't grow chubby little plastic legs like some sort of Doctor Who alien and jump out of the fridge so it could hop a midnight train and see the world, I'm inclined to blame the three-year-old. She hasn't exhibited any suspicious greasiness, but I can't think of anyone else living here who might want to take margarine on walkabout.

We never did find it. I have a feeling that wherever it does turn up, it's going to be ugly.

So tell me about YOU

Edited: NCLMers, welcome! You can find a brief intro to who I am here. I'm sticking this survey at the top of my blog for the month to give people an easy way to comment without having to read half my blog. I'm always thrilled to have people read and comment on all of my entries, but I also know how time-consuming and overwhelming this challenge can get at times.


Something I've appreciated in other blogs during NCLM is when people put up a little survey so you can introduce yourself more easily. Because I readily admit that sometimes even when you're enjoying someone's writing, it gets really hard after a while to think up something new to say in response. So here you go: instead of blathering on endlessly about myself, I'll ask about you (one of the cardinal precepts of good conversation).

1. What do you do for a living?
2. Where do you live?
3. Who do you live with?
4. What's your favorite book (or movie, if you don't have a favorite book)?
5. Coffee or tea?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And now we are three

My baby turned three today. Who told her she was allowed to grow up? I blinked and now there's a child standing where my baby used to be. A talking, independent, cuddly, running, inquisitive, able-to-dismantle-just-about-anything child.

Obama rally2

Happy birthday kitten. I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


It's been a busy past few days. I made a bunch of Ebay sales, so I had that work. Then to make life more fun, I had jury duty today. I really lucked out - I got called for a panel, we marched over to the courtroom, waited a while and then were told to go back to the jury room.

At that point, my main hope was that since I had been called once, I could skate through the rest of the day without my name coming up again. Instead, an hour later, the same panel was called, which made me nervous. We were marched down to the lobby, where we were told we weren't going to be coming back to that building, which made me really nervous. Then we were taken outside...

and told we were dismissed for the day. Hooray! I went and hopped on the train and was home by 11:30. It was great! I had all the time in the world to be productive, or we could take advantage of the fact that B had taken the entire day off and the fantastic weather and go to the zoo!

Instead, about 10 minutes after I got home, the vague ickiness I had been feeling on the train and bus that I had chalked up to not enough sleep and being in motion escalated into rushing to the bathroom to puke. Soooo, not so much for the zoo. Instead, I spent the afternoon on the couch and K got to enjoy her wading pool instead. Still taking advantage of the fantastic weather, but not quite as exotic as the zoo.

Whatever caused my mid-day puke-tacular seems to be pretty mild, fortunately. I'm tired and headachy, but I successfully ate a very bland dinner. Hopefully a good night's sleep will take me back to normal. Then I can frantically work to make up for what I've felt too lousy to do tonight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why I'm wearing my husband's deodorant

(Disclaimer: not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach)

It's not because I didn't like mine (although I wasn't too sure about it - it was a scentless natural kinda thing from Trader Joe's and I wasn't convinced it was doing a great job).

It's not because I've decided to throw off the shackles of conventional societal mores on scent and hygiene and let my stink flag fly.

It does have quite a bit to do with the ticklish operation we had to perform tonight. You see, K has a new habit: taking off her diaper after we put her to bed. I wouldn't mind so much if this new compulsion were accompanied by an interest in potty training, but no such luck. Just a sudden desire for exhibitionism.

So tonight, we went into her room and found her asleep, without pants or a diaper. In her laundry basket. Incredibly cute, but not exactly an ideal sleeping situation. The ticklish operation was getting her into her bed and a diaper on her without waking her up, since the risk in waking her up is that she often can't go back to sleep for two hours. So we had to move her veeerrrrry carefully, but ultimately successfully, as she's now peacefully sawing logs in her bed, safely rediapered.

But back to the deodorant. A few days ago, I went upstairs and discovered K, holding out her poop-covered hands saying "Ewwww." I completely agree with you, kid.

She had woken up early from her nap, pooped and then taken her diaper off. This actually has happened more than once in the past (giving rise to a phrase you never want to have to say, "Where did you put the poop?"), but she's usually pretty neat about leaving everything in the diaper and putting it in a fairly logical place. This time, however, I found the offending diaper in my bedroom. And next to it, smeared with poop, was my deodorant.

I could understand why there was poop on the outside - she had poop on her hands, ergo, there was poop where she picked it up. But there was also some poop on the actual deodorant part as well. Did she try to rub deodorant on her butt?

So I threw that sucker right out, after putting the kid in the tub. I haven't had time to go to the store since to replace it, which is why I'm smelling rather manly these days (because I'm using men's deodorant, that is, not that I'm building up a sweatymanly odor by the end of the day).


We've been downloading Dr Who, so I saw tonight's episode a couple weeks ago. But I had to watch it again (actually, we've been rewatching all of them when they show on American tv, because we're just that geeky) because it was such a delightful episode. And what a joy to see Felicity Kendal, who starred in one of my favorite Britcoms of all time, Good Neighbors, the hilarious series about a couple who decide to quit the rat race and take up farming in their yard in suburbia.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bad attitude

Unlike many infertiles, Mother's Day never bothered me much when we were trying to conceive. I wanted a baby, but the concept of actually having one and being a mother was so abstract to me that things that trigger many infertiles didn't affect me that much.

But now I know exactly how they feel. Because if I see one more article today on how to honor your father on Father's Day, or great Father's Day gifts for Dad, or creative gifts to make for your completely alive, non-dead father, I think I might hurl. Or maybe just hurl my computer at the wall.

I had been doing better when Spring came. But then we went home and cleaned out my parents' house, and now we're coming up on one year since my father died. I keep finding myself looking at the pictures of him holding K, and thinking about how much he would appreciate that her developing sense of humor is so much like his. So yeah, Father's Day? Not the kick in the stomach I needed right now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I hate Veriz0n

On the plus side, a cold front is coming through, breaking the back of the horrible, brain-melting heat wave we've had since Friday. The downside is that every time we have a thunderstorm lately, our DSL goes on the blink. So probably no commenting tonight, and no substantial posts.

And now we get to see how many tries it takes to get this to post in between DSL yo-yoing up and down...

Monday, June 9, 2008

The darker side of the information age; or, high rent problems

One of my co-workers gave me a present for K today: a set of assemble-yourself balsa wood dollhouse furniture. I had been telling her earlier about a problem I've been trying to figure out lately. I brought my dollhouse back from my mother's house last month for K, but I don't have anything to put in it. The furniture I had used that was worth keeping was really nice Victorian-style furniture that's way too nice for a toddler to play with (and there's also only three rooms' worth, when the dollhouse has eight rooms - it's a gorgeous large dollhouse that my grandfather made for me). What I need to do is find some durable plastic furniture for her to use until she's old enough not to destroy what she plays with. The problem with this is that while there's plenty of dollhouse furniture, both durable wood and plastic, available for sale at the click of a mouse button, none of it is cheap, especially when you have to fill eight rooms. In one of life's more hair-pulling ironies, it would actually be considerably cheaper for me to buy an entire dollhouse that has furniture included than to buy the same furniture off the shelf. The only economically feasible solution I can see is to get some kits from a craft store and make some furniture myself, but I'm certainly not going to go to that sort of effort just to have it mauled by a three-year-old who wants to try and sit on a dollhouse-sized chair.

The furniture R gave me is unbelievably cheap and badly made, to the point that I accidentally snapped a piece in half trying to assemble it. But that's the point; she figured it wouldn't matter if K destroyed it because it was so cheap. Heck, it comes half-broken down already - the decrepitude is a built-in feature. The picture here unfortunately doesn't give a proper perspective on how drunkenly skewed the bed is, although you can see how I had to leave the tray off of the high chair because it wouldn't attach properly. But it's also clear that K doesn't care. Unfortunately, the only kit she could find was for nursery furniture, so this isn't a whole-house solution.

My current plan is that we found a Melissa and Doug wooden castle a while ago at an unbelievably fantastic, if we ever want to buy this we need to buy it now because we'll never see a price this low again sort of price. I think the current plan is to make it a Christmas present, and I think we'll get some figures and some rudimentary furniture (maybe some tables and chair, a bed and some nursery furniture) so it can fill the same play function as a dollhouse. Then when she's five or six, she can have the proper dollhouse with nicer furniture.

Of course, this is one of those occasions when the Internet contains things I would rather never have known. Because apparently a couple years ago, Ikea had a dollhouse and several rooms of dollhouse furniture, as well as dollhouse dolls. Exactly what I want. But now they're discontinued. I could look for them on Ebay, of course (and in fact I'm watching a few auctions right now), but the point of getting stuff from Ikea is that it's cheap. Paying $20 for five pieces of dollhouse furniture kind of misses the raison d'etre of going Ikea.

But it gets better. While I was surfing around, I found yet more discontinued Ikea toys that were either things I've been looking for, or things we have but were more expensive. A nice wooden garage with wood cars, a play kitchen, a toy barn that's so much better than their current toy barn that they're barely in the same phylum. Sigh. We've certainly bought more than our share of Ikea toys, so it's not like they don't still have plenty of good toys available. But the fact that if we had only had access to an Ikea a year earlier, I would have been able to get several of the toys I've spent a huge amount of time searching for the right cross-section of price and construction on, is something I would been just as happy not knowing.*

*Reading this over, I have to admit this is certainly a rather high-rent problem. But only in a sense, since part of the reason I have to search so hard for certain things is that we don't have much money, and therefore we need to find a bargain, or better yet, a dirt-cheap used version. The whole lead-paint, evil-plastic panic hasn't helped this either - handmade, non-toxic wood toys are wonderful, but expensive, which is one of the reasons I value Ikea so much. I spent a lot of time last Christmas reading blog entries on this that started out with "Goodness knows our children already have too many toys..." Except that if you subtract out the stuffed animals, K doesn't fall into that category. She's a first child, we don't have much disposable income and she lives far away from her grandparents, who aren't the type of grandparents to shower her with toys (which is fine by us, but it contributes to the not-having-too-many-toys factor). And right after we moved to Philadelphia, I realized that all of the toys she had were baby and young toddler toys, when what she really needed was preschool toys for her to grow into. So I started to make a concerted effort to start collecting them, with an eye towards toys that will have long-term appeal and be useable by multiple children. At this point, I can say that after her birthday, we'll be just about at "enough, " where "enough" is defined as "everything gets played with over the course of a month."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Things I found at work today:

1. That one of my childhood favorites, Ben and Me by Robert Lawson (of Ferdinand the Bull and Rabbit Hill fame), has a sequel called Mr Revere and I, told from the perspective of Paul Revere's horse. And in fact, the process of looking these books up on Amazon has revealed that they are but the first of an entire line of stories of famous people told by their pets, including Christopher Columbus's parrot and Captain Kidd's cat.

I remember Ben and Me was made into an animated short by Disney, which bore only a passing resemblance to the book. I liked it a lot as a kid anyway. I'm a little curious now how well it would hold up. I'm a little sorry now that I didn't know when I was younger that Robert Lawson had an entire line of pet-authored biographies, because I'm sure I would have liked them then. I may have to pick up Mr Revere and I sometime at work and see how good an author an 18th century horse can possibly be.

2. That we have quite a few origami books in the children's section. Some are good, some are so-so, but none are quite so mindblowingly frightening as this:

Yes, that is Shari Lewis of Lambchop fame, in her younger and if it's possible, even scarier days, when she apparently liked to put eye makeup on with a trowel. It's actually a pretty straightforward, basic origami book with good instructions, punctuated with moments of horror like this:

You WILL enjoy your paper airplane

Shari prepares to release her breath of fire upon the unsuspecting paper boat and its doomed inhabitants

A discerning reader expresses their editorial opinion

I know I complain a lot about the age and general decrepitude of the books in my library, but occasionally finding gems like this make it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June Books

The Sharing Knife : Beguilement
The Sharing Knife : Legacy
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Beguilement is a re-read, but while we've owned Legacy for months, I'm just now getting around to reading it because the next book has just come out. The delay in reading shouldn't be taken as a sign of not liking the series though. My love for Bujold is pure and true and I'm enjoying this new world a lot.

Death Masks
Blood Rites
by Jim Butcher
Books five and six of the Dresden Files books. They continue to be a fun series, combining the best of contemporary urban fantasy and noir detective mysteries. Not great literature, but fun.

Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
For a complete change of pace, the next book in the Betsy-Tacy series. Although it's clear that as Betsy gets older, she's moving away from Tacy and becoming the center of the story.

The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle
The sequel to Meet the Austins, which I didn't like as much. I think it was a combination of L'Engle being entirely too good at describing the hard aspects of being 14 and the fact that I couldn't stand one of Vicky's romantic foils. It was hard to have any sympathy for her attraction to him when I wanted her to push him off a cliff.