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Andrea

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Local: hang out and do crap the day after Thanksgiving [14 Nov 2007|08:50pm]
In honor of Buy Nothing Day, I'm going to sit around my apartment and do crap. Sewing, spinning, weaving, I don't know. You are invited to bring your crap and do the same. Friday November 23rd, noon-ish to dinner-ish, as I don't expect too many people will be vertical and mobile any earlier. (I'll mostly be home, let me know.)

I'll have snacks but bring what you like or get something at the taqueria next door. Near San Francisco General Hospital, RSVP for directions. Those of you who do know how to get here, RSVPs are appreciated. I have a sewing machine, a place to cut out patterns and various other textile implements including a spiffy front-loading washer.

Just a warning, parking is gonna suck and DPT is not taking the day off. Our street is a permit zone but others nearby are not. (Better yet, don't drive.)
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local sewers: plus-size patterns [02 Sep 2007|08:24am]
I'm culling the pattern collection, so I've got a stack of ones I will never use. They are all at least size 18. If you want one, let me know and either Dillo or I can get it to you next time we see you or you can stop by.

Burda 4520 swing coat 18-28 (old Burda, no seam/hem allowances)
Butterick 3378 long princess seam/pleated dress 20-24
Vogue 7334 Today's Fit princess seam jacket, double breasted or not, G-J
McCall's 3871 scrubs: tops and pants 26-32
McCall's 2233 kitchen uniforms unisex XXL (50-52 chest)
Burda 3009 straight skirt, blouse, jacket 18-28
McCall's 2538 Palmer/Pletsch 3 hour shirt 24-26
McCall's 2341 Palmer/Pletsch perfect jacket 24

Some of these are still current, you should be able to find info on most from Google.
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Discordians everywhere are snickering [13 Sep 2006|06:21pm]
Finally something I thought this bunch would appreciate and be worth posting...

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/09/13/state/n172804D30.DTL

(09-13) 17:28 PDT Los Angeles (AP) --

A distant, icy rock whose discovery shook up the solar system and led to Pluto's planetary demise has been given a name: Eris.
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I am so glad we are getting out of this dump [18 Dec 2005|11:24am]
So, the landlord bought a submersible pump, punched a hole through the concrete in the back hallway and dug a pit. One that I've been trying to avoid sticking my foot into for the past week. But didn't bother installing the pump, which has been sitting out in the hall. The pit has collected most of the rain the past two days.

But this morning we had some serious storms. I only happened to look. The front drain was overwhelmed by water running down the back stairs and was flooding the empty apartment next door and the utility closet. If my neighbor and I hadn't noticed when we did, ours would have been next.

All that water is seeping into the walls and the foundation. And, now that there is a hole, the sand underneath. I keep reminding myself that I don't own any of this and we are actively packing boxes for an imminent move. This is the only thing that keeps me from screaming.

Oh, and his cell phone voicemail is still full. At least his wife was home. If he sticks to his usual, I'm expecting him to stop by to investigate sometime around Tuesday.
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"Real" job? Maybe? [14 Dec 2005|07:55pm]
For the past few weeks I've been doing work for a new client, where a friend of mine works. They have Macs to set up and are seriously lacking the skills to do it so she brought me in to set up a room full of OS 9 computers. Way back, many months ago, I also submitted a resume in response to an open position. The organization is large and stable, and not prone to insane unpaid overtime. People have families and are allowed to enjoy them. My friend has her gripes but generally is happy. As expected in the job world these days, I didn't hear squat.

In the middle of this ongoing project, I get a phone call from HR. I was actually at lunch with my friend because she called me to do some things that day. So I scheduled a more convenient time to return the call, and we had a good giggle about it. I arranged to stop by to talk to the HR person (since I'm around the office anyway) and we talked about it.

The position I applied for was desktop support and although the announcement was a little vague it looked to be heavy Mac. Exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for. Turns out she was looking at a Solaris and SAN sort of thing, stuff I have little experience with. Ok, fine. But there was this other that she thought would be worth passing my resume on for, a different desktop support position. They really, really need a strong Mac person but since there are still mostly Windows machines they also want a Windows expert. I know people who do that, but bill at outrageous rates and are not exactly interested in dropping successful consulting businesses for a fairly mundane IT job. The manager recognizes this and there had been some talk about redesigning the position so some actual human might be found willing to talk to them.

I go see the manager, and we have a nice chat about Mac and Windows and other fun stuff. He has a few other people to talk to and he likes me a lot but wouldn't it be really spiffy if the perfect expert in everything might fall from the sky. Ok, whatever. This week I get a call from him, can I drop by sometime? We make arrangements. He calls back to ask if we can reschedule, because then the VP will be available. Up to now things had been rather casual, but this means it's serious. I dress up and head in for my interview.

I am paraded around various departments talking to managers and techies. I have a rather unexpected conversation about the details of Postscript with a manager who I think was just as surprised to find I actually knew something about it. I tinkered with it a bit in school, as a hobby. He even gave me one of my standard questions when I'm interviewing people, "what kinds of computers do you have at home?" (It being obvious at this point there had to be more than one.) I had to explain my answer, "pretty much everything except Windows" by naming some of the wide assortment of things lurking in dark corners. He asked just what we *do* with the Sparcs and everybody had a good laugh at my comment that at this point they are mostly space heaters. I have a long conversation with the VP, some of it really interesting and some of it me trying to not sound stupid in responding to open-ended "what do you think" kinds of interview questions.

It is important to note that this all comes in the middle of actual work, I took off from configuring machines for interviews. It wasn't planned, but I got a call to come in this morning for some last-minute stuff. And apparently one of the people I was working with came around asking the guy who would be my manager where I was and when I was going to be back.

So overall I think things went well. They like my skill with Macs and the broad general technology background. I am willing to support Windows and take some training classes. The fact that I cheerfully write documentation is met with astonishment.

All of this is leading up to the point of this post: "Desktop support? Are you mad?"

From the questions I got, I can see there are two major things to be answered. First, if they are willing to take someone who has little Windows experience but a very strong Unix and Mac background. That's an organizational thing. But I think the bigger question is if they are convinced that I really do want to work there, give up my high-flying software career for desktop support. Again and again I had to respond to that. It's actually an honest concern, as I'm overqualified in many respects and the culture of technology considers going from software development to desktop support a major step down. I could easily drop them like a rock and rush off to the next great startup, and I'm sure they have seen it happen many times.

I had to skirt around my specific reasons, there is a small internal development group I could possibly move into later. I don't hate writing code, I hate the culture of software development. Pure software shops are like some kind of macho proving ground. Every cowboy for himself (and I use "himself" on purpose.) I like to work with people, a group effort for a group success. Cowboys are all about how to make themselves happy and screw everybody else. Nobody cares what some user down the road will have to deal with, because the developer will have cashed in and moved on long before then. Maintenance? That's for sissies. Upgrade management? Well, just install it already! My experience in those kinds of environments have so soured me on development that I haven't wanted to look at it for years. And the Bay Area has plenty of startups full of cowboys. I'm good at solving problems and figuring out which problems need to be solved. I can differentiate between my personal interests and what it takes to make things work. I know that not everybody knows, or cares, what nifty techie thing is going on inside that box. Some people just want their email. That's ok.

We have had long conversations about this at home and it finally became obvious that I really do have what it takes to support users. The "Plays Well With Others" factor is just as important as technical skill. More, if the technical skill is so hampered by inability to communicate with humans that you aren't effective. I still don't think of myself as a "People Person" because it isn't a natural thing for me. I have to work at it. It's only the comparison with other techies that makes it seem that way. If I'm so burned out on software, IT is one way to use my experience and stay in the industry. For a while I wasn't even certain I wanted to do that, but the practical reality is that it's the best way to a reasonable professional career. Textiles are fun, but the economics of it is that as long as I must have some kind of income I have to look elsewhere.

I've spent the past several years working with Macs and Unix from an IT perspective and looking for a Mac-focused position. There aren't that many out there. If I know that this is a path to career sanity, it really doesn't matter to me if it's thought a "downgrade." I had to think about it a long time to be comfortable with that, because as much as it now drives me nuts I'm still the product of a software culture. It is better than sitting on my ass and more reliable than my feeble attempts at being self-employed. I did a lot of time in unpaid positions trying to get some experience outside of software development. At various times I thought they might more directly lead to paid employment but they have turned out to be a financial disappointment. Sometimes a personal disappointment, too. So now I'm looking at something where I can do Mac stuff and be taken seriously for it.

There is still that little twinge of regret, that I'm "throwing away a promising career." Doing what? Killing myself for some piece of crap software that is shoved out the door and forgotten as soon as possible? Organizations that burn up and blow away, only to be replaced by another almost indistinguishable except in name? Traveling for a pimp shop who doesn't understand the concept of sleep? Never seeing my home even if I'm still in the same city? I need a new game to play, one that respects that I am not and never will be a cowboy. Software organizations, like others, make much of the desire for "team players" but those are not the people who are rewarded. Yes, I got plenty of brownie points for putting out the fires. But nobody would listen to my questions about why there were fires in the first place. I don't want to be a superstar. I want to be part of a sustainable organization, not one that falls apart when the lead engineer gets hit by a bus. Superstars spend all their time maintaining their positions of self-imposed power and being the center of attention. I don't want to be the center of attention. I want to have a life. If this is a demotion, I'm all for it. Now I just have to convince everybody else.
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We're in! [05 Dec 2005|12:49pm]
After a month of paperwork and phone calls, we did it. I got a call today that the other buyer backed out and we now get the house. Well, an interest in a three unit Victorian anyway. We now are allowed to hand over almost as much as I paid for my old house as a downpayment and more than twice our current rent to own something in San Francisco.
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spinning [28 Sep 2005|03:15pm]
I don't normally post textile stuff to my regular journal, but Dillo reminded me that I should update the non-fiber folks. I finished the work for the big spinning program last month and I got the results this week. I passed. I'm still working on my article about the process.

COE certificate
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Expanding my horizons... or not. [21 Mar 2005|04:20pm]
There were various flavors of fake meat on sale at Whole Foods today. I basically hate this stuff, I have no particular political or social reason to be vegan or even vegetarian and I think of it as fake food. I'd rather have real tofu than something pasted together with bits of soy to look like something else. But, people tell me that it's really great, I should try it. After all, I regularly use soy cheese because the normal stuff gives me so much trouble. So I did. I came home with Now and Zen "steak" and "ribs," one for lunch and one for dinner.

I opened up and heated the mushroom gravy steak, that I think is wheat gluten or something. It looked like a malformed rubber dog toy, but it smelled ok. I cut off a bite (actually difficult to do with just a fork) and stuck it in my mouth. Almost immediately, back out it came. And the entire plate of ersatz food immediately chucked in the garbage. It not only looks and feels like a malformed rubber dog toy, it tastes like one too.

Ok, so much for that. The "ribs" promised tasty morsels in a savory sauce. At this point I wasn't counting on it being acceptable for dinner, so I opened it up. Better to find out now, I suppose. It is apparently the same stuff, in a different shape and with a different sauce. Same result.

I could take it back, because Whole Foods promises to refund my money for basically any reason. But I wasn't interested in keeping these vile objects in my fridge until the next time I go to Whole Foods to stand around waiting for someone to give me my five bucks back. What I have learned is that my original statement is in fact correct: fake food. And not even good fake food.

So we won't have our vegan friends over for dinner much, but when we do I will continue to cook real food that happens to be vegan. I'm pretty damn good at it, I might add. They may be willing to eat this dreck but I am unwilling to serve it in my home.

I have a potluck dinner meeting tomorrow and I've decided I'm making quinoa with leeks, green garlic and Napa cabbage. Everybody needs more whole grains and fresh vegetables. The event is not specifically vegetarian, but for my first time somewhere I like to bring food that as many people as possible should be able to eat. And, so far, I haven't gotten any complaints.
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Just another exciting night in my neighborhood [06 Mar 2005|07:38pm]
What is it about groups of drunk people?

I am somehow failing to understand why asking the cigarette-smoking drunks hanging around outside the bar to allow me to pass on the sidewalk is "pushing my way through." It took me two rounds of "Excuse me" to be able to get anybody's attention to get past, which was annoying already. But an hour later when I came back, the same people were there. I walk up and I get "Well EXCUSE ME!" from the cigarette-smoking drunk chick who then proceeds to lecture me about how rude I am for interrupting their party by having the nerve to want to actually use the sidewalk for transportation purposes.

This is why I hate people. People, generally and as a class, are assholes and can safely be assumed to be assholes unless proven otherwise.
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I think I hear an echo in here [21 Feb 2005|06:24pm]
So The Boyfriend is away for two weeks, off doing geek stuff. I couldn't go because the institute didn't get so much money this year and he had to buy his own ticket. We couldn't afford two. I stay home while he is off seeing Europe. Or something like that. Staying on campus is not actually all that much different than being here: there are people we know, everybody speaks passable English and there is high-speed Internet. There is even a mini-Exploratorium in the basement. Well, there is the bad cafeteria food. (Really bad. I didn't think Italy could create bad food until I went to the dorm cafeteria. Scary.)

On the plus side, I cleaned the kitchen and it is *still clean*. (As long as you don't look down. I'm getting to that.) I can cook large quantities of tomatoes with no complaints and at some point I'm ordering a pizza all for myself with soy cheese. There is never anyone hogging the bathroom. I'm working on cleaning the rest of the place, a common Dillo-Free activity, but mostly I'm doing other Feorlen-like things such as decorating the apartment with various kinds of fibers. (Vacuuming is high on the housekeeping list. I was sorting raw llama fiber on the floor over the weekend and now the place is covered in flax debris.)

We have not been able to get the video/audio thing working but there is always AIM. Strangely, we both think nothing of serious household discussions and cutesy chatter entirely by instant messages.

So here is what he is doing:

http://wireless.ictp.trieste.it/school_2005/index.html

All you fiber people already know where to find what I am doing:

http://www.spinnyspinny.com
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No! More! Ants! Die! Die! Die! [07 Jan 2005|01:36pm]
More rain, but there has not been an ant to be found since the bug guy was here. I'll be more certain tomorrow. They had mostly let up because it was dry for a few days, but if they haven't come in after two days of heavy rain, it's not going to happen. (This is my theory, anyway.)

The guy with the big spray can of toxic chemicals came yesterday and I had to move things away from the walls so he could apply it. That was no small task right there, the apartment was a complete disaster because I had to basically throw stuff everywhere as best I could and there were things that were just not going to move without a site plan and exploratory party. After a break to let it dry and air out, I spent the rest of the day reassembling the apartment. The wonderful and amazingly focused Boyfriend spent all evening cleaning up the clothing and other items that had been all over the floor before I unceremoniously dumped them on the bed. (Although, for the sake of full disclosure, I did have some unkind words for him while I was hauling everything out of the bottom of the closet. I found carpet I'd never seen, and more remnants of a previous rodent invasion.)

Dealing with this the past month has been miserable and it really seems like it should be such a minor thing what with all the various other world events going on. But it's right here, right now and in my face and I can't ignore it for a few minutes and do something else. I would walk around the apartment about every hour looking for ants to kill because if I didn't then by mid-afternoon there would be a huge ant party going on in the kitchen. By evening it would be wandering out into the rest of the place, inviting over all their ant-friends and having a grand old time. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and find ants everywhere. Every little dark spot or tiny movement started to look like an ant. I couldn't sleep and I even swiped a few of The Boyfriend's Valiums he got for his back trouble. I haven't had a problem this bad since Florida, when I would have nightmares about giant flying cockroaches. (They are, they do, and not just in bad dreams. Many of you already know that.)

Now the ants are gone and I don't miss them at all. I practically had a spontaneous ant wake and memorial blow-out party on the spot. The apartment now even looks better for the cleaning and reorganization that happened in the aftermath. As much as it is a Big Pain In The Ass, I have to say the state of the residence is vastly improved and it probably wouldn't have happened otherwise.
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Happy F'n New Year [01 Jan 2005|03:28pm]
If it is true, as some cultures believe, that what you do on the first day of the new year is what you will do all year, then I am in trouble.

I have spent the past month dealing with ants all over our apartment. When the rain starts, it drives them inside through the foundation. In previous years it has been a problem, but mostly one that could be dealt with by being reasonably tidy and a little boric acid here and there. Soapy water kills small ants well, and is completely safe to use. (I use very dilute Simple Green.)

Now not only can I not leave dirty dishes in the sink for a few hours, the ants just roam around looking for whatever they can get into. In the hour between making lunch and going back to finish cleaning, they had climbed into the shelf with my kitchen gear and gotten into the pots, pans, and basically everything I have that isn't for eating off of, including the flatware. (Plates and glasses are in the only two small cabinets I have.)

Already, every corner is covered in blue powder (Roach Prufe, 98% boric acid) and I've even pulled up the carpet in places. I've put the stuff everywhere I can get to, but the major problem is behind the sink cabinet where I can't get. There is also some trouble in the bedroom closet, which I have been attempting to get The Boyfriend to clean out for about three years now. I mentioned it to the owner a few weeks ago and he wasn't terribly concerned. I'd been trying to locate him around the building for a week or so to talk about it when finally I heard him out back yesterday morning when I woke up to thousands of ants covering the sink and stove.

He's going to get a professional to look at it and also treat the soil on the other side of the foundation wall because that is obviously where they are coming from. I know there is a problem back there because we've also had mice. The owner doesn't believe they come in under the sink, but I've blocked off the other major entry (*huge* gap under the front door) and now when I do find them it is always in the kitchen around the sink. A few bait blocks when I smell them and that takes care of it but the ants are out of control.

So, since I found ants crawling all over my kitchenware, I've spent today washing dishes. There will be no cooking until probably tomorrow evening while I do everything in batches and let it dry. The worst part is the bin of a zillion little kitchen gadgets that don't stack nicely and have fussy shapes.

And since we haven't had a day without heavy rain for a week and it is forecast to continue, I basically have limited use of my kitchen until something gets done. And is is possible that the soil treatment cannot be done until things dry out, I don't know.

We discussed this several days ago and decided we are not going to put up with another winter in this basement. It's drafty, there are serious pest problems and it's so small we are constantly bitching at each other just trying to deal with everyday living. And now we are seeing gang taggers on the street. I am still open to the possibility of buying this and the unit above, but not unless it's cheap enough to offset the cost of completely re-doing the kitchen and pulling up the carpet elsewhere to deal with the ants.
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Odds and kitchen ends [26 Dec 2004|05:47pm]
The past few days I've had more stuff around the kitchen than usual, getting ready for holiday parties. I did a few things I haven't in a while: zest oranges for flavored sugar and render bacon fat. They sound like fancy-tv-chef sorts of things but really they are both very old practices that are now often forgotten because there isn't a button on the microwave for it.

I got one of those fancy microplane graters a few months ago. It's really a shop tool repackaged for the kitchen but it works great. I had a whole box of oranges from Costco for us and others, so I dragged it out and went at it. The result was yummy orange-flavored sugar from what is normally tossed away. We never did get around to making the sugar cookies with it, but it's pretty nifty in tea.

One of the local holiday traditions is the Christmas Morning Bacon Orgy. I don't know how it came about, it just sort of happened one year and that was that. We usually bring the bacon, so I went and got three different kinds. Some went to the party and some stayed home. I cut a pound of it up into small pieces and slowly cooked it to get nice crispy bacon and rendered fat. I strained off the fat and still had this pot coated in it, so I thought I should use it to do something. Out came the previously cleaned and chopped vegetables (mei qing choi stems and green garlic) and into the pot it went with a spoonful more fat. One of the nice things about animal fats is the high smoke point -- they don't break down as quickly as vegetable oils. That means I get nice caramelized brown stuff around the edges. It doesn't taste like bacon, but it does give a nice flavor.

Normally I throw away both these things, citrus is fussy to zest and bacon is a saturated fat bomb already without keeping the rest of it too. But now, while it lasts, I'll enjoy them.
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On the matter of Gainful Employment [14 Dec 2004|08:16pm]
So now I have another potential job thing. I sent an email this morning in response to a mailing list item that sounded interesting and I got a phone call within an hour. A very good sign. I have some basic information from the recruiter, including a representative hourly rate, as this is a temporary position. It appears to be moderately senior with some specific skills, all of which I have. And it is something I can see myself being actually interested in doing. What I didn't get is if that rate is as an employee or as an independent contractor, and the taxes and expenses involved with being self-employed mean this is a serious issue.

As an employee, it's not dotcom spectacular but very acceptable and about what I would want. As an independent contractor it is very lukewarm, bordering on serious lowball. This particular recruiter is an employee of what is sometimes called a "body shop", a company who hires people only to farm them out at a much higher rate to clients. (They are sometimes, less charitably, called "pimps" for obvious reasons.) The position may be as an employee of the agency, not a direct 1099 from either them or the client but this is not clear.

There is still much to be determined about this particular position, and I hope I'll know more tomorrow. But it did bring up another discussion on the matter of rates and the value of one's labor.

Some background:

Both of us have turned down professional work, even in the depths of the tech implosion, because it was at an unacceptable rate. There were some positions offered around here for tech positions paying less than average clerical office work and occasionally barely more than minimum wage. (Some not even that much, as at the very bottom there was a rash of "internships" that required suspiciously professional-level experience.)

We had a discussion some time back about what we considered "demeaning" work. I applied for several positions in retail and light industrial all paying little more than minimum wage for low-skill work. I have done several small housekeeping jobs for not a lot more. If I were physically capable, I would have done more of this but I just can't. And financially it was generally more effective for me to stay home than to take a job that would only barely cover the cost of the services I would no longer have the time to do myself. Yet I do not consider it to be demeaning. It is honest work at market rate. What I do consider demeaning are the unscrupulous offers of professional programming work at similar rates that were to be found around here in 2002 and 2003.

I have not had regular full-time employment for several years. I have not been completely out of the market because I have been involved with substantial work for other projects but none of them full-time and always a little here and a little there. I have also kept up with professional events, training, personal projects and study. I do not consider myself to have been "out of the work force" in the sense of abandoning professional pursuits for other things, even if what I did hasn't actually paid any money. I have presented myself as a consultant for part-time non-profit projects and I do not feel that is unwarranted. I am quite clear that it was intermittent and that not everything was programming or even technical.

So I work on more-or-less what I please, for people I wish to associate with and not the highest bidder. The trade-off is that I have many non-professional tasks to support the household and I do many, many things that have a financial impact and would otherwise cost money. I see it as having two part-time jobs, one as a "consultant" and the other as a fairly traditional housewife. Simply cooking meals saves huge amounts of money over eating out and what I cook is vastly better that cheap fast food. Dillo may be unwilling to investigate what his cholesterol numbers are, but I can assure you that it has almost certainly improved since the time I took on the role of Domestic Goddess.

We are not broke. Not getting this, or any other job, would not mean we would be homeless or starving or even all that bad off. It means we get by and we don't save as much as we like or do certain things we'd prefer. Any income I bring in is a supplement and means we get ahead that much faster. That's important because we would like to buy a house in an extremely expensive market and generally have a moderately affluent middle-class lifestyle, but it's not critical to daily life.

Dillo says that he's happy to see me working towards a "normal" full-time professional job and that getting my resume together, interviewing and generally getting seen out in the market outside our circle of friends is a good thing right there whether or not I get an offer or accept a position. But when I press him on it, he gets twitchy about how he would feel if I were to turn down something that is appropriate professional work but at a below-market rate. I am willing to accept some discount below absolute market rate for a top-level senior professional, particularly if it is especially interesting, but not terribly much. I don't believe it is healthy to take a position at significantly less than what one considers reasonable, and only acceptable in the most dire of circumstances.

So the question is to you, dear readers: what would you do?
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Housekeeping rant [12 Dec 2004|11:27am]
Dillo and I often argue about housekeeping matters, I think it's because I'm a Female and he's a Dillo. But there are things I just don't understand and maybe somebody else has enlightening commentary.

Why is just putting the dirty clothes *in* the laundry hamper such a big deal?

I will say that Dillo has gotten much better about this, things do end up in the hamper quite a bit. That didn't used to happen at all and I attribute it mostly to my stubborn refusal to recognize dirty clothing anywhere else. (This has resulted in a few of his own emergencies.) But too often I ask "Is there anything else?" and out comes another almost full load basically out of nowhere. This becomes annoying when suddenly getting the laundry done takes an extra two hours I hadn't counted on. We have to share the washer and dryer too, so I may or may not be able to actually do an extra load on any given day.

The other effect of laundry on the floor is that it collects hairballs. We both have long hair and without constant maintenance this creates things that look like dust bunnies gone horribly wrong with a steroid accident. I try to vacuum regularly to keep it under control but there are just too many things on the floor to work around. So instead the dirty t-shirts and socks and underwear that are left to age pick them up and I have to remove great volumes of hair on laundry day.

I have argued that putting things in the hamper when they are dirty not only avoids collecting hairballs off the floor, it allows me to vacuum and avoid them in the first place. My words appear to vanish into thin air with no effect and rarely do I even get an acknowledgment that this might, just possibly, be worthy of consideration.

Is this just a Guy thing? Is there any hope?
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Amusing time-wasting meme [15 Nov 2004|12:33pm]
I don't normally give in to these things, but somebody sent it to me in email. And it wasn't even the usual huge spam thing, either. I replied to a few non-lj people there, but I'll post it here for everybody else. There isn't anything here that really needs to be private, as for the whole identity theft thing goes all I can say is "Been there, Done that."


Welcome to the new edition of getting to know your friends. Okay here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be lame and spoil the fun! Just copy (not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can send. Change all of the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, *INCLUDING* the person that sent it to you.

1. WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME? Andrea Therese Longo. I only use the whole thing if forced.

2. WHAT COLOR PANTS ARE YOU WEARING? None. But the filthy dress I've been doing housework in is supposed to be white.

3. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The disturbing number of computers sitting on the shelf next to me. And the landlord knocking on the window because he's locked himself out again.

4. WHAT'S THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Nuked pork fried rice from the cheap place that delivers. Leftover Chinese food, it's What's For Breakfast!

5. DO YOU WISH ON STARS? No.

6. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Charcoal. Traditional looking, but capable of many strange things.

7. THE WEATHER RIGHT NOW? It's overcast but not raining today.

8. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Yet another collections agency to attempt to get rid of the bad debt some criminal left on my credit report six years ago. Again.

9. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT YOU THIS? Yes.

10. WHAT DO YOU FIRST NOTICE ABOUT SOMEONE? If their clothes are well-made and fit correctly.

11. FAVORITE DRINK? A good tart lemonade.

12. HAIR COLOR? Brown

13. FAVORITE SPORT? Sport? HAHAHAHAHA. Very funny.

14. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No.

15. SIBLINGS? One sister.

16. FAVORITE MONTH? April. It has nice weather in all the places I'd like to be.

17. FAVORITE FOOD? Beef steak, very rare.

18. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Something somebody else had on the tv. Last movie I voluntarily watched from beginning to end: Shrek 2. This is what I get for being involved with an ex-PDI employee and graphics geek.

19. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR? None in particular, I'm not much a holiday person.

20. WHAT DO YOU DO TO VENT ANGER? Shout obscenities. I try not to break things or people. If I can't or shouldn't, I am prone to cry from frustration.

21. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AS A CHILD ? Tinker Toys, with the battery-operated motor.

22. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter. Florida is uninhabitable without air conditioning most of the year and that is still what I think of as "summer."

23. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs.

24. CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Vanilla. But only a good vanilla. Chocolate is nice, but not all the time.

25. DO YOU WANT YOUR FRIENDS TO WRITE/ E-MAIL BACK ? Yes.

26. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Not sure.

27. WHO IS LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? The Boyfriend will probably think about it but might not actually get around to finishing.

28. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS? With partner, in a tiny basement apartment. Two storage units so far, in two states.

29. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When I was so angry I wanted to hurt someone but I didn't want to shout at the person I was with.

30. WHAT IS UNDER YOUR BED? Shelves with all the stuff that didn't fit in the pantry, plus other random things I don't trust to the storage unit. And a travel alarm clock that I'd like back but am unwilling to disassemble the bed to retrieve.

31. WHO IS THE FRIEND YOU HAVE HAD THE LONGEST? High school pals I spent a good amount of time shuttling between each other's houses because I was the one with the car. They are now married to each other.

32. WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT? Entertain a friend who really needed to get out of his house and eat something.

33. FAVORITE SMELLS? Citrus trees in bloom, fresh key limes and grapefruit.

34. WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Texture.

35. WHAT FRIGHTENS YOU? Chaos and the unknown.

36. PLAIN, BUTTERED OR SALTED POPCORN? I had braces for seven years. No, thanks.

37. FAVORITE CAR? I'd like something small and electric but I'm rather fond of my truck if I can only have one. It also can't be stolen by four strong drunk guys.

38. FAVORITE FLOWER? Gardenias.

39. NUMBER OF KEYS ON YOUR KEY RING? Currently seven.

40. CAN YOU JUGGLE? No.

41. FAVORITE DAYS OF THE WEEK? Any day I can do my own projects without someone else's agenda.

42. WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR LAST BIRTHDAY? I don't remember but it probably involved hiding from people who wanted to sing at me.

43. IN HOW MANY STATES HAVE YOU LIVED? Six, if you count the three months with my sister.

44. IN HOW MANY CITIES HAVE YOU LIVED? 10: East Hartford CT, Tolland CT, North Palm Beach FL, Tampa FL, Jackson MS, Ridgeland MS, Atlanta GA, Decatur GA, Dover DE, San Francisco CA.

45. HOW MANY CARS HAVE YOU HAD & WHAT WAS THE FIRST CAR THAT YOU HAD? Four. The first was a rust-colored Plymouth Valiant, 1974 if I recall correctly. My father abruptly hauled it off to the junkyard one afternoon, right after I had just filled the tank. Only the current truck I bought myself.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Hartford, CT

47. Special Bonus Question: What were you supposed to be doing instead of answering this? Going to the courthouse to file some papers.
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That's it! Off to Canada! (But not the way you think.) [12 Nov 2004|07:43pm]
If you don't like long, boring trip reports, you probably want to skip to whatever your next LJ friend has to say. This is long and if you don't care anything about what goes on in Vancouver, likely boring.

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Mean people suck [27 Oct 2004|05:13pm]
I have been attempting to ignore the union protesters outside hotels around downtown. It's not working. Daily, sometimes several times, I walk past the Holiday Inn. I can't avoid it, unless I deliberately go out of my way by several blocks. I'm often near other hotels too, because I have business to do downtown. It's part of actually living there you know. For weeks now there have been union members protesting, first the strike and then the lockout. They are arguing over an expired contract. Ok, fine.

EVERY DAY it's the bullhorns. I don't mind the shouting, even the occasional horn-honking by passing motorists (some have gotten tickets for it.) I can't walk past there without at least two people shouting with bullhorns. I've said I don't appreciate being yelled at on my own street. All I get in response is a bunch of "Power To The People" crap. I generally support union issues. But they are pissing off their friends. They don't care.

Today I was walking home from Chinatown. At the Hyatt on Stockton, there were union protesters blocking the sidewalk. I tried to ask to be let by, and then I tried to press through. I asked to not be shouted at with the bullhorns. I said I was a pedestrian and this was a public sidewalk and they should not be blocking traffic.

I found myself surrounded by union protesters all shouting at me. Personally. With bullhorns. Admonishing me for being an evil bad management person, apparently. All I really got out of it was "Shame! Shame!" And they were all pointing at me. I asked one guy to stop shouting at me and what he would think if people came to his neighborhood with bullhorns blocking up the sidewalks and making such an infernal racket. He said he would only stop shouting at me if I went to the hotels and made them sign the union's contract. I pushed one woman's bullhorn away as she stood two feet from me, looking directly at me, shouting into the microphone. Here I am, trying to press through the crowd with my walking stick, being harassed like this.

I don't like it when people shout at me. I don't like shouting, generally, but I have a particularly difficult time when I am the object of loud verbal abuse, particularly for no good reason. I shout back. I use words not fit for print in family publications. I am not calm, or quiet, or polite.

A suit-clad management-looking man came to me and tried to get me to move along. He was obviously from the hotel because he had a name tag. I asked him to make these people stop shouting at me and blocking the sidewalk. All he could say to me is "You could call the police". I told him I would do precisely that.

And I did. When I finally got a dispatcher at the non-emergency number, she noted my complaint in that vaguely helpful "Thank you for calling" way. This is why I haven't bothered to call before. I've gotten the same dispassionate monotone from police dispatchers all over the country, to report noise complaints and gunfire and drug dealing and prostitution and it results in about the same kind of response: "Yeah, we'll get to that." I realize that this is not the most urgent of public safety issues but I have no other means of reporting the matter.

Yelling upsets me. I walked away, on the phone with Dillo and several blocks before I could hang up. I want all those union protesters to live in a neighborhood where *they* can't go out of the house without being faced with somebody with a bullhorn who doesn't give a crap about anything other than their own agenda.

I still had to face another set of protesters outside the hotel near us. Dillo wanted me to take the bus to avoid walking past the hotel. Why do I have to wait for a bus to go three blocks just to avoid being harassed on a public street? Why is this my responsibility?

I got to the bus stop and called to see how long it would be for the next bus. (Muni hasn't published a schedule in years, so the signs on the shelters are not even close to correct.) Ten minutes. I can walk in that time. Slowly. So I did. Past the bullhorns and the shouting and the waving of signs (one of which I thought was going to hit me in the head.)

And then I turned around. I went back and into the hotel and asked to speak to a manager. I said "Thank you" and then explained why. I told him about the incident in front of the Hyatt, and how we have to walk past his hotel every day and deal with the bullhorns. About how I have asked them to stop. I told him that I have zero respect for Local 2 because they clearly have zero respect for me or anybody else who has to live or work in the neighborhood.

He asked for my name, and I gave him my card. He seemed genuinely thankful that I stopped to comment, because they are apparently collecting reports of incidents.

I put up with a lot because I want to live downtown. I'm tired of everybody using my neighborhood as a dumping ground for whatever "political expression" somebody cares to think up. They are little better than the anti-war rioters I wrote about previously, and their arguments about why ruining my day is Right and Proper are nearly exactly the same.

I will come out and say it: Unions are Evil. The long history of labor and collective bargaining has been an important part of American society. I want to support union goals, because many of them are my own. But now most unions are no better than any other bureaucracy and only exist to support their own bulk, the people be damned. If the union cannot have respect for the people around them, who they need the support of, then they do not deserve either my support or my respect.

This entire thing makes me want to stay in hotels or eat at expensive and bad hotel restaurants. And I hate hotel food.
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Evil Animated GIFs Defeated! [14 Oct 2004|11:12pm]
I just installed Firefox for OS X, which is overall pretty spiffy, and set about to changing all the various config items to my liking. Then I went to my LJ Friends page. There were Animations! Evil Blinky Things! DIE DIE DIE!!!!!

If I recall, Mozilla has an item in the prefs to not animate images. I turned it on long ago and then didn't think about it again. I couldn't find one in in Firefox but I knew it had to be there somewhere.

Type "about:config" where you would normally put a URL and you get a list of configuration items. The one you want is image.animation_mode. Set it to "none". When you quit Firefox, the settings will be saved. I went looking and it appears they are all in the file prefs.js (not user.js as some people have mentioned online.)

Warning: Mac Geek Stuff Follows

I found the file buried in a weird randomly named directory:
/Users/feorlen/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/tyowo9yv.default

not in ~/Library/Preferences like I expected. Nor is it a plist like a "real" OS X application. I'm not going to recommend anybody edit this by hand but I know some of you will so just don't do it while the application is running. The syntax I will leave as an exercise for the reader, that should discourage idle mucking about.
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I'm a "Good Chinese wife?" [05 Oct 2004|10:08am]
There's this little dive of a place in Chinatown where we go for cheap meals of dim sum. I have this thing for pork buns, so we tend to be there pretty regularly. The staff all knows us and we now have "our" table in a back corner. We are there more often for dinner than lunch, although we avoid the serious lunch rush and the place is usually quiet.

This allows for some casual conversation and we've mentioned various bits of personal stuff: that we are thinking of buying our apartment, we will probably get married one of these days, Dillo works down the street, etc.

Usually we meet over there, I'm coming from home and Dillo from the office. I typically arrive first and order a few things in anticipation of his arrival and after lunch he heads back down the hill to the office. Our server commented yesterday that I was a "Good Chinese wife," making sure my guy has his lunch all ready so he can get back to his busy day. It was a little odd, because the traditional stay-at-home spouse isn't well regarded these days -- a woman is asked why she has no ambition and a man is just assumed to be a lazy bum.

Dillo has some trouble with resembling a 50s sitcom but for now it's been making the best of a bad situation. Things are looking up on the job front all around but for a very long time now I had not even the suggestion of a real prospect. Dillo has done much better and I've taken over the position of what is basically personal assistant. I'm a lot better at organization than he is and without money to burn somebody has to do the domestic crap.

So I cook and do the laundry and harass him about taking out the garbage. But also I'm advising on various goings-on with clients and potential clients and harassing him about coding habits or doing backups or aren't you supposed to save this receipt for taxes and stuff like that. It's all the traditional wife things but plenty more. So what does that make me? I'm sure using professional skills, one of my previous job titles was "Configuration Manager" and some of what I'm doing now is clearly in the realm of project management.

I don't think much of job titles, so I don't generally offer one unless asked. If I am forced to fill in some blank (generally for a conference badge) I've taken to using "Armadillo Wrangler." Some people look at me funny but I've decided that it's pretty accurate.
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