Tag: life

Help fix Jill’s car!

Help fix Jill’s car!

My sister has the worst luck.

She’s been ill and has been told by her doctors to minimize the time working and try to focus on getting better. But in October, something happened that has made her really upset. In the span of a few short weeks, the brakes went, the ball bearing decided to be on the verge of failing, the battery died and had to be replaced, the starter stopped, and then worst of all…the timing belt broke.

And when the timing belt broke, the car broke too.

My sister has next to no money. The cost to replace an engine is prohibitive, but the whole family needs that car running again. So we figured we’d see if the Internet wanted to help us out.

I know it’s a tight season, but anything you can donate will be a help.

You can find the donation widget in the sidebar (third down) or by going to https://www.youcaring.com/jillscar.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. And even if you can’t help, maybe you could pass it on.

The West is Big, y’all

The West is Big, y’all

There’s something Kevin Standlee​ said in a File 770 thread (it’s about halfway through the comment) that I wanted to do a little expounding on. Family and folks who know the area I grew up, bear with me, as none of this is going to be all that unusual to you. What I am about to quote came up in a discussion about whether Spokane was close to Seattle.

In my experience, a lot of people who haven’t actually lived on the US west coast think everything here is in the same place. Disneyland is just outside of San Francisco. You can see the Space Needle from Portland. And obviously everything in the same state is within a few miles’ of everything else.

Kevin knows what he’s talking about — he and I grew up in the same general geographic area, although that area is about 150 miles in diameter around my hometown. My hometown is a small Western city that has the distinction of being one of six control cities on Interstate 5 (the other five are all major cities you’ve probably heard of).

From my hometown, it is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes to the nearest state university. The next one is about two hours fifteen minutes. The other state university in our third of the state is about three hours away over a mountain pass. And my alma mater, in a major metro region that holds most of the sports teams we root for in my little city, is about three hours away, if you’re pushing it and not stopping.

And we’re big enough to be a control city — that’s the one the signs point to as the next destination — on the major north/south artery of the West Coast.

A couple other thoughts. I live in Sacramento now. A friend and I once drove from Portland to Sacto, getting out of the car once. It took us eight hours. Another time, I had to drive to pick up somebody in Los Angeles — the Hollywood area, to be precise. Mom and I left Sacto at 4:30 AM. We stopped for gas once and breakfast once, but we still didn’t make it to his place until 11:30 AM.

One last thought. California numbers its freeway exits by miles travelled, starting with 1 at the southern end for N/S roads and the western end for E/W roads.

The actual little town I grew up in, just south of the minor city I describe here, is exits 667 and 668 on Interstate 5. At that point, there’s still another hundred odd miles to the Oregon border.

The West Coast is *big*, y’all.

The latest entries in the WTF serving size competition

The latest entries in the WTF serving size competition

So I’ve been trying to be more interested in nutrition labels to get a better idea of what calorie counts and other stuff are in my food. This has now become a game, in which I attempt to find the most egregious and/or crazy entries on the nutritional label.

Today brings us two entries in the WTF serving size competition:

1) Apparently, a serving size of Tic Tacs is one Tic Tac, with the extremely precise value of 1.9 calories per serving. (Sorry the picture’s kinda blurry, was trying to take it fast.)

2) I’d like you to try and eat just one-third of a muffin at once. (The whole muffin is 600 calories. OMG.)
Muffin nutritionPhoto by retstak

I can’t be this old

I can’t be this old

image

A display in the Walmart near the house.

My sister said, “I don’t remember the first one.”

I said, “I’m sorry, Mario, but our princess is in another castle.”

chicky noodle

chicky noodle

On cold rainy days like today, I make soup or stew. My favorite to make is chicken noodle, mostly because it’s dead simple. It goes like this — cut carrots, celery, and chicken into bite sized pieces. Add a bit of thyme, some garlic powder, and a bit of lemon pepper. Cover in chicken broth, boil approximately an hour to an hour and a half (until chicken is tender), dump egg noodles in, cook until egg noodles are soft.

Yummy, filling, and good. It’s one of my favorites.

a light in the darkness

a light in the darkness

Candles at church, by me

I’ve been doing a lot of wheelspinning lately as I try to figure out something. I haven’t figured out much in the way of conclusions because I haven’t had the time to pursue threads all the way out, but there is one thing that comes to mind.

Ignore all that ‘must co-opt pagan holiday’ stuff that caused the birth of Jesus to be moved to the bleak midwinter as opposed to the more logical late spring that all the trappings of the story hint at, and look at it from a different perspective. As a storyteller, there is no better time of the year. The world is at its darkest in the days around the solstice, so much so that we light our homes with blazing electric lights to chase the darkness away. And metaphorically, isn’t that what the Christchild story is? Bringing light to a dark world?

The story demands the change.

Anyway, that’s one of the threads I’m still trying to follow to its conclusion; I may or may not continue to blog about it.

But for those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! And if you don’t, may you have a good day today as well.

embrace the suck

embrace the suck

Success, by Kevin Thoule as found on Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

So I got whacked between the eyes with an epiphany today.

It started yesterday, actually, but it didn’t quite completely come clear until today. I was reading a book on probability and how people are notoriously bad at it (The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow) and his last chapter is a bit about taking risks and why it’s sometimes important to do so — and one of the things he said was, yeah, random chance means you’re going to end up with a lot of failure, but just as streaks happen when you flip a coin, there’s always the random chance you’re going to succeed. If you don’t take the risks, you minimize your chance of failure, but you minimize your chance to succeed as well.

But it didn’t really hit me between the eyes until I was writing an email that I’ll send out to the region tomorrow. And in it, I was talking about the point of NaNoWriMo — it’s not so much about writing a novel as it is about throwing caution to the wind and doing something crazy. It’s about allowing yourself the right to suck and the right to fail, because both are hard. But if we fear failure, how can we find success? If we don’t do something because we’ll suck, how can we transcend to awesomeness?

It is that simple: in failure, we find success. In sucking, we lay the ground for becoming awesome.

I got a piece of this last Sunday when I went to the Night of Writing Dangerously. I said it myself in the post I wrote: I thought to myself that I was going to fail at reaching fifty thousand words that night. And I was going to feel miserable. But then I embraced the fear, embraced the suck, shoved the worry to the back of my mind. And what happened? I got my 50k and I rang that bell and it WAS AWESOME.

So, I’m going to stick my neck out a bit more. I have a final and a project due a week from Tuesday, and I’m going to use the time beyond that to (a) update my resume and start throwing it at jobs, (b) pick up a bit of C# with the goal of being able to contribute (even minimally) to projects at work by 1 Feb, and (c) get that fanzine together that I’ve been talking about.

Now it’s your turn: Tell me what you plan to do to embrace the suck and do something scary.

who’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes?

who’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes?

The Big Money, photo taken by David D. Muir // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’m pretty angry over what went down at my bank today. You see, I got a WaMu account back about four years ago, and I was pretty happy with them. They weren’t perfect, but there was something friendly about them and they made a point of mostly staying out of the way between me and my money, which I really appreciated.

But of course, WaMu was stupid during the whole real estate bubble, and when things got ugly, it collapsed and was bought up by JP Morgan Chase. And over the past year I’ve been watching the transition, and every bit of it has just seemed like the bank’s gotten colder and unfriendlier. To begin with, today was the first time I’d walked into my branch since the transition. WaMu used to have this open floorplan — the tellers had podiums in the middle of the room, and the banking operations were scattered around the edges. When I first walked into the bank today, they’d placed the tellers in a more traditional counter and gave the banking operations what appeared to be cubicles. Granted, I was already predisposed to disliking them, but the sterile feel just really bugged me. But okay, I can deal with it.

So I bring my checks up to the counter. Now every other time I’ve done this, they said “Sure, no problem, we can cash those.” Today, I get informed that they can cash the Chase check, but the Wells Fargo one? Nope, it’s going to have to take a day to clear; if I’d had the amount of the check in the account, they’d be able to give me the money, but it’s just not possible. Of course, with today being the day before Thanksgiving, what they really mean is that I won’t have that money until Friday. When did this change? I asked. Last month, I was told. Nnnnnnn. You might try Wells Fargo, they said, but they might charge you a fee.

Okay, I said, just out of curiosity, what happens if I close the account with you and then bring in a Chase check to be cashed? “Oh, we charge a $6 fee for that privilege.” Double you tee effing eff? SIX BUCKS? To cash a check written on your bank?

There’s a reason there’s a nasty mood involving bankers in this country, and it’s right there in the nickle and dime fees they throw at you. If I bring in a check written on your bank, WHETHER I HAVE AN ACCOUNT THERE OR NOT, you should cash it cheerfully and promptly, without demanding money from me for the privilege. If you have a problem, it’s your account holder that wrote the check, generally I’d assume you know where to find them.

If I have a working relationship with your bank, and I bring in a check from another bank, again, one would think you should cash that cheerfully and promptly too, although I can understand that a bit better. (Although I don’t understand why WaMu didn’t care and Chase is nasty about the policy.) But still, in this day and age of electronic funds transfer, I don’t know why things can’t go faster. :P

But seriously, it’s the tickytack fees and the appearance of living high on the hog when the rest of the country suffers from something you caused — yeah, it’s no fragging wonder bankers aren’t exactly the most popular of people right about now. And God help them if the lid gets blown of the pot of simmering resentment.

But no, consider this a straight recommendation that, if you have a choice, AVOID CHASE. They’re just….nnnnnnrgh. (Actually, at this point, I’d be avoiding any of the monolithic chains — Chase, BofA, Wells Fargo, Citi — as it just seems there’s too much of a potential for them to be assholes in the name of greed.)

Anyway, that ends this rant.

[EDIT: So at lunch, I walked the other check over to the Wells Fargo across the street, and they not only happily cashed it for me despite my not having an account (and they only asked me twice if I wanted to open an account there), but they didn’t charge me anything. So yeah, maybe Wells Fargo isn’t quite as evil. I still hate Chase, though.]

another year, another rotation around the sun…

another year, another rotation around the sun…

Today will be the 112th replaying of the Big Game. I’m hoping for an Axe for my birthday, but Cal has a 4-7-1 record against Stanford on November 21, and Stanford’s won the last three on that day. Also, Stanford’s in the Rose Bowl hunt, and all Cal can do is play spoiler. I can only hope it’s enough.

The last time I wanted an Axe for my birthday, Stanford won 10-3 when I was sure Cal would win that game. I’ve cried at very few football games, but I distinctly remember crying at that one. I’m attempting to temper my expectations this time — Stanford will probably win, but that won’t stop me from rooting for my Bears and hoping for the upset.

Anyway, for those of you who made it through my Big Game neepery, today is indeed the completion of my thirty-first rotation around the sun. In the common parlance, we call this a “birthday” and this year, it shall be prime. (Remember, we number completions when they’ve finished!)

There was cake at the office yesterday, there will be cake at a party tonight, and then Sunday is the Night of Writing Dangerously, which is what I wanted to do for my birthday when I realized Big Game was out.

And if I’ve worked it out right, this will post at precisely the time I was born.

Have an excellent day, everybody.

photo by Jessica N. Diamond on flickr

gray

gray

I’m sitting here at the computer trying to figure out something to tell you all. I figure I ought to post in the middle of the day because it might get more comments, but that’ll be for another time. Tonight, it nears midnight, and I have a deadline.

The biggest thing I want to talk about, I’ve promised somebody I would wait until the right time, and the right time is not now. It will take patience, and some waiting. Waiting is.

Got my H1N1 flu shot today. One less worry. Also dropped a class. Also, one less worry.

Things have gotten a bit better since the implosion that was earlier this month, but I still get shaky every time I look at my precarious financial situation. I guess I ought to be happy I have a job, even if it’s only part-time and doesn’t pay overly well. But it’s hard to reconcile that with sitting down with budget numbers and wondering just where you’re going to come up with spare money for things like regular maintenance of the car and clothing and replacing the laptop and saving to move out. Add in the really stupid mistake, and yeah…it’s no wonder I end up in a minor panic when I look at my finances.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that I have enough of a job to mostly afford my bills and wonderful and outstanding parents, but … as the clock ticks down to the thirty-first rotation around the sun, I can’t help but think that it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Halfway Point

Halfway Point

I finished my 11k challenge for the weekend, and now have somewhere just north of 35,000 words. I’m shooting to hit 50 next Sunday night, but I’m not entirely sure 15k in 7 days is entirely realistic. So we’ll leave that alone other than to open the betting pool for when I’m going to hit 50,000 words.

In the challenge to write a blog post every day, I’m on track (other than moving the one I posted to LJ over to the blog because my server was down for maintenance). The problem is that my life is boring and I’m stuck for things to write about.

So hey, if you’re reading this, say hey and give me some ideas for what you want to hear me say. I need help here.

But the news is, despite a bit of a rough start, the month’s on task. Now to just see if I can get some focus on my GIS project.

An Alexander day

An Alexander day

I swear, Mondays account for 53 and three-quarters percent of all my extensional crises. This was another bad Monday.

Anyway, to explain my topic, it comes from the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, in which the main character contemplates several times about moving to Australia. I’ve thought about it too, and so really shaky days are Alexander days. And today was just one of those days.

Part of it was triggered by getting money out of my bank account to pay for gas, and realizing I have ten dollars to get me through a week and a half after the gas was accounted for. That wasn’t happymaking at all. Of course, this is a common lament these days not just for me but for everybody. It means, at least for me, that once NaNoWriMo is over, I need to just start throwing resumes at anything that comes up that might even remotely have anything to do with what I do, even if it means relocating to a far away city. I’ve given up hope that the company I currently work for will offer me a full time job at all, and I’m just barely making it on what they pay me.

Of course, the long term cure for some of my big issues is to move out from my parents’ house, so I don’t have to justify half the stuff I do them. But that’s neither here nor there, and frankly, I’m just barely scraping by with the bills I have, and if I save anything, Social Security will crack down — they already have, which makes a tenuous situation that much worse. (It also makes it impossible for me to take on other part-time work to try and get a bit of spare change — health care. But I’ve been over that rant before.)

And then to top it off, Monday night is the night of my SQL class. Now, generally, computer classes don’t bug me, but this one for some reason does. And I think I figured it out. Not only do I shut down when faced with instructors I can’t stand, this guy’s teaching style and I don’t match well. He provides notes, but the notes aren’t helpful if you have trouble paying attention in lectures. And that’s how I learn — by seeing, and by doing. And well, really, we haven’t done much. So it puts me in a jam about studying for quizzes and tests. I think I’ve studied well enough and I get blown out of the water.

On today’s quiz, I guessed like heck and then spent the rest of the time doodling xkcd-esque stick figures all over my exam. When I handed it in, I offered a strange smile to the prof. Dunno what he’ll make of it.

Anyway, tomorrow’s gonna be a working day, so I’m trying to get some rest.

NaNo count holding steady at a bit over 18.5, but Monday and Tuesday != good writing days.

vroom?

vroom?

Another post just to have something up. I promise you all that I’ll try to write you a longer one tomorrow — well, after I do some other things I’ve been slacking on.

I’m feeling a little better emotionally, but I’ve got a bit of a cold, so my head hasn’t completely been in the game. I still remain two days ahead of where I need to be in NaNoWriMo land, so that’s good.

Yeah. And I’ll name a character after you if you donate some scratch here. C’mon, please?

[PS: Take a wild guess who forgot to change the timezone on her blog back after the timechange last weekend? Am going through and fixing all my November posts now.]

I hate Mondays.

I hate Mondays.

Mondays are hard days. Not only are they the start of the work week, but they seem to serve as a reminder of just what kind of failure I am. I mean, I get up, I go to work, and I work. But I know deep inside that I’m only working three days and not five, and that it’ll be another month of struggling to pay my bills, another month of living in my parents house, another month that I’m stuck with what appears to be no way out.

And then after work, I slog my way through the commute traffic to school. Let me get one thing straight. I hate my Monday night class. The only time I was happy tonight in that class was when I thought I might have a chance to slag the instructor in an evaluation. (Turns out, it was an eval for a different prof. When asked if we were doing it, he said something along the lines of ‘I’ve got tenure; I don’t have to do it.’) I’m seriously thinking of taking a withdraw in that class because (a) I don’t think I’m going to pass and (b) I really don’t want to take that class over. The teacher is disorganized and sometimes you’re lucky if you can find a hint to solving some of the labs in the notes. Today’s boiling point moment was when he decided that today we were going to have a quiz — on stuff he was introducing today. Somehow we talked him off that idea, but still. (And yes, for those who have been following my journal, this is my SQL class.)

But this adds into my feelings of inadequacy because I’m mainly taking classes as a way to keep from paying my student loans, because God knows I don’t have the money to cover that bill too. I’d really rather have a full time job where I’m paying down the loans and thus gain the ability to take a semester off. I could have really used it this year — my stress levels have been through the roof this fall. (And now it’s November and I must be completely frakking insane.)

Anyway, yeah, there’s this complete feeling of inadequacy that’s been eating at me and Mondays are just the night when it comes most to the forefront. I just keep slipping deeper and deeper into the hole, and I don’t know how to get out. This is not a happy feeling to deal with.

I mean, objectively, I know I’m not a failure. Emotionally, though, it’s hard to see beyond what appears to be crumbling ruins. There’s a bit of ‘I was supposed to be someone!’ in my head that plays into nights like this; Mondays just bring it a bit closer to the surface.

***

In happier news, the NaNo wordcount stands at 5564, and I wrote this paragraph, which I’m sorta proud of. It comes in the middle of a reporter’s puff-piece on my book’s major villain:

After some pleasantries, we sat down to business. The Congressman was pleasant but undeniably brusque about some parts of his life, such as the much-publicized divorce from his wife of thirty years during his first term in Congress. The mention of her brings an immediate frown to his face. “Rosalie and I had a difference of opinion,” he said. “That and the strains of my freshman year in the House led to an amicable split. There is no story here.” When pressed about comments his wife made about him ‘not being the man I married’, Breen just shrugs and says, “Well, isn’t that what most women say when they want a divorce? He’s not the man I married? What does that mean, anyway?”

fried

fried

So it’s November. November means it’s NaNoWriMo month, which means that I’m running around like a crazy person. Then I stupidly said, “Ah why not, I’ll update my blog every day this month. It’s not like I don’t have enough to do.” Since I’m sure there’s folks out there that want to keep me honest, guess I’d better get the month started.

Anyway, it was a good day. The kickoff was nicely attended, and I got a good chunk of writing done. I added another six hundred words at the write-in we did for TV. I haven’t watched the clip yet, so I don’t know how much of me made it in, but my highly awesome co-ML, , got interviewed and didn’t do so bad. (Ah, here’s the clip. I’m in the background a lot.)

But the combination of staying up way late for write-in, and then getting up way early for the morning write-in, alongside the timechange, is just making my brain go *splat*. And since that means I’m not coherent, that means it should be bedtime.

But I have nearly four thousand words, and I saw a nice sunset. It was a good day.

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