Friday, May 30, 2014


Also can be filed under: Are women EVER happy?

One of my primary tasks at work has been to run a certain report, research items on said report, sample items, test items and determine a disposition (can they be used or not). The testing and disposition-making are the things I should be doing; the running of the report through research is not; that belongs with our scheduling group. But for the past seven years I've been doing it all and have groused about it not being Quality's place to do the upfront work, just the evaluations. Fortunately (?) my boss agrees with me that too much of my time is taken up by doing the work another department should be doing thus preventing my from doing the real role of my job - developing our sensory evaluation capabilities and monitoring taste quality. He agrees so much so that he spearheaded a project/demand to move the upfront piece back where it belongs. Fine, I'm on board with this plan so I showed the scheduling group how to run the report, the decision-making processes I used in deciding what to sample and then for over a month now, nothing. So glad I put myself behind in my work to do that. That worked out splendidly.

Earlier this week, my boss informed me in our daily staff meeting that beginning next week, the scheduling group would be taking over responsibility for running the report and doing the research on the items. I was taken aback with how casually it was just dropped in the conversation, almost like an afterthought but okay, it's fine, this is what we've been working towards. Tally ho and onwards and all that. Well today when I ran the base reports for the *final* time, I noticed that they have already been run. I don't know if it was them practicing or 'going live' early but I found myself unaccountably lost. So much of my work life has been centered around this report that when it disappeared without warning, I struggled to focus myself. That which gave structure to my days, that I clung to for a sense of purpose, gone, like a snowflake against the windshield.

And now, I wait. Wait for a list to be provided to me to sample and test and check off. Remain on high alert at all times to respond to the whims of another department that I no longer have any control over. My work structure will change, how I organize my day will change and I didn't have time to plan this out. There will be a lot of floundering in the coming weeks, adjusting to the new world order. It's for the best. I firmly believe it and I'll be able to add real value to my department now. I'll be able to institute the sustainable training programs I've been wanting to for so long to develop our staff's capabilities so customers and the business take us seriously as a partner. I get all that and I welcome the opportunity to make it all happen.

But I really would have liked the chance to say goodbye.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An experiment by any other name

My day job is a food industry professional. Yeah, I work for one of those companies who pumps their products full of wholesome stuff life 'trimethyl amine', 'dodecalactone' and 'autolyzed yeast extract'. (You can judge, I won't mind.) Given my work-life, I tend to have a warped view of food - we put more stuff in our products so competitors can't figure out what our secrets are and reverse-engineer them for their own uses but I'm less and less comfortable with buying lots of processed foods. So when my niece started exhibiting some gluten-intolerance a few months ago; I was intrigued from an industry perspective and given that we are having a huge family reunion this year with other members who are gluten-intolerant, I decided last week to experiment with a gluten-free diet to 1) see what my family was dealing with and 2) what impact it would have on daily life. I didn't share what I was doing with anyone, maybe Dylan noticed it but maybe not and although a week isn't really long enough to draw any strong conclusions, I do have some observations to share.

Time. Planning gluten-free meals takes time. A lot of it. Because my plan was not to switch gluten-free products with regular ones but to see what other adjustments I would have to make. It required a lot of prep work to get fruits and vegetables cleaned and chopped, ready to add to salads or popped into a bag for a snack. It meant coming up with alternate breakfasts and lunches that wouldn't be complicated to prepare and as I've lived practically 40 years on a steady diet of cereal and PB&J sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, this flummoxed me. Pouring cereal in a bowl? Easy and thinking-free at 6 am. Slapping some peanut butter and jelly on a couple of slices of whole wheat bread? Piece of cake. But this experiment? It meant figuring out a new form of breakfast - obviously bagels were out as were pancakes and French toast. Eggs would be good but require too much time in the morning when I still had to make my lunch. So I ended up going with Greek yogurt and fruit. Three days I had a salad with strawberries, blueberries, Craisins, feta cheese, pecans, and grilled chicken which was delicious and incredibly filling. But still - so much prep work. (One day I didn't get to eat lunch (see: Revenge of the Giant Space Chicken) and the other was leftovers from the previous night's dinner.) I also ended up snacking on fruits and veggies with hummus and it was good but again, cutting up more each night when all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch and binge-watch Doctor Who.

Ease. For the most part, preparing dinner was easy as I kept it at a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. We ate a lot of potatoes and rice last week but it wasn't terribly far out of the ordinary. But it did remove two of the staples for the absolutely brain-dead days: pasta and pancakes. I could have scrambled myself some eggs to go with the bacon I suppose but that kind of defeats the purpose of not making multiple meals. They were simple but filling and I actually liked not having a lot of processed crap on my plate. Was it a placebo effect or smugness? I'm unsure but I liked the way it felt.

Cost. For a week, the costs of non-purchased gluten-free products and fresh fruits and vegetables seemed to pretty much cancel each other out so I don't think that I was spending anymore than usual but that was only for me - triple that for the kids and it may start to escalate out of comfortable reach. But I had to buy more chicken to grill for my salads then I usually would (only used the equivalent of half a breast on each one) and get the family sized packages of rice to ensure enough for leftovers. Same with any frozen veggies I steamed for dinner - cook more to have more leftovers leaving less for future meals. And when you are on a fairly tight budget, there are more pressing things that need attention.

The Intangibles. I alluded to this before but it's worth restating: I felt better eating 'cleaner' last week. Whether it was smugness from moving away from hyper-processed foods or the boost from getting more fruits and veggies in my body I don't know. All I know is that I did like it and as long as you have a budget and a plan, you can do it with very little difficulty. I didn't miss my morning cereal as much as I thought I would and the first sandwich I had on Saturday actually made me feel a bit bloated and crampy. Psychosomatic? Perhaps, but I also know that I wasn't as gassy (sorry but it's true: everybody farts). Of course this having been a holiday weekend that was all about the hamburgers and hot dogs means I'm feeling rather 'blargh' today but as soon as pay day rolls around again, I think I'm going to do this again.

After all, robust experiments require lots of trials. Because SCIENCE.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Revenge of the Giant Space Chicken

I fully cop to being a creature of habit. I like my routines, being able to plan my workday to manage the load for a week (weekends are much more free-flowing and as long as there is coffee involved, I don't worry about much). Missing the mark on even one day sends my entire week spiraling out of control as there is no one to pick up the slack but me so I have to work twice as hard to keep up which puts me in a grumpy mood which means Dylan is about to have an exceptionally bad evening. (We did promise to share everything in our marriage vows, I'm just not sure he understood what he was signing up for.) But a few frantic days and things settle back to normalcy and it's safe to approach me without holding out a giant glass of wine as a peace offering. This week though. Ho, ho, HO!

Lemme just put it out there: God and Loki? The same person. There is no other possible explanation for the Giant Space Chicken that dropped the Egg of Fail on my head. Shall we? Let's.

Monday started with the command performance at he annual Health and Safety day for the featured speaker. Now, the guy they got this year was interesting, he was in the unit that Hollywood made the movie 'Black Hawk Down' about. He shared his story, focusing on the themes of duty, teamwork, and looking out for one another always. Good speaker, interesting topic, awful time. He spoke from 1-3 pm. In a place that we had to leave work to travel to. So this meant that I wasn't able to get any of my evaluations done on Monday afternoon, typically a workhorse of a day. I generally prefer to do my evaluations in the afternoon when the lab is empty as the materials I have to test are rather nasty and we perform many sensitive screenings throughout the day that my materials would interfere with. (This is called me being a team player. Take note. It doesn't happen often.) Okay, fine. Monday is lost.

Tuesday all I had in the afternoon was one measly panel. One product. In and out. Easy peasy. Except that I got called out for having the giant box with my new printer on the floor of my office because GIANT ASS PRINTER BOX so I needed to get that set up and off the floor. Everything went fine until I couldn't install the software for the printer to actually work as only our IT group can do that. That involved contacting IT, making the help request, waiting for help, waiting for the gabazillion thingamabobs to load and testing which ate up the time used for report running since they had to take control of my computer to load the damn stuff meaning the morning work got pushed to the afternoon and just like *that* Tuesday went *poof*.

At this point I started to panic as I knew Wednesday would be a lost cause due to a business update meeting where we listened to a bunch of boring business updates and struggled to stay awake lest we be taken to task for not caring about anything, you selfish whore. Got the bare minimum done, weeping for my vanishing sanity knowing that Thursday was going to suck mightily because...

Oh HAI two hour meeting at the end of the afternoon. This one I didn't mind so much as it's for a good thing I'm not willing to jinx by talking about it yet (and thereby just torpedoed everything. Good job me!) In an act of desperate prioritization, slammed through the most pressing evaluations saving the bulk for today....

And half the department is out on vacation meaning I'm doing command screenings because THERE IS NO ONE ELSE AROUND TO DO SO. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday so I can finally get some work done in peace.

Wait. What?

Monday, May 19, 2014

A least it's not raining

Monday. Here we are again, trying to figure out exactly what happened. Where did the weekend go? Truly, how is this possible? I mean, it's not like we were busy doing stuff. Well, I guess there was dance class... 

With two weeks to go until the recital, I'm thinking more practice is in order.

And then there was soccer clinic.


Oh, yeah, and a visit to grandma where we planted kids,

But the results were a bit disappointing as the package promises this:

but instead you end up with this.

And tried on hats for the Preakness. 

But it was all good because I drank a shit-ton of wine then capped off the night with Godzilla versus Mothra which was its own very special kind of hell. 

Sunday stretched out interminably before us as Sunday School is over until September. We could do anything! Recreate Africa being destroyed by a race car, 

go shopping, enjoy ice cream, 

discover a secret path through the woods to a new neighborhood...the possibilities were endless. Alas, night fell and as a last hurrah we gorged ourselves on Doctor Who and the Overlander series.

Au revoir, weekend; until Friday then. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday sound off

No one wants to head into the weekend thinking surly thoughts with exasperated huffs of breath. So how better than to deal with them than to put them down and let them go?

1. All things politics.
Or more to the point, all things politics that include things like this.

I now loathe the name Craig

And this.
You can suck it, 'Cock'.

See, I get it. You need your name out there for recognition. Voters need to know the players etc. etc. and so forth. But do you get what this means? It means although your giant ass signs increase your exposure, they also hamper my sightlines. Significantly. Merging into end of day traffic is hard enough but playing peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek around your signs with the rest of the rush hour crazies is the best way to get me NOT to vote for you. But thanks for letting me know who to send any repair bills to; at least I can ready your names clearly.

2. Doing doctor's notes wrong
There are times that we have to taste things at work that we'd rather not. I'd rather not taste anything with bananas or mushrooms but sometimes I have to. That's called being an adult and doing your job. We have one person here who has informed me that she can no longer taste seasonings or participate in panels because of hypertension. I would be more inclined to be understanding if along with this she had also given up smoking (nope) and modified her diet (Burger King anyone?) Don't tell me you can't taste because of the sodium in the seasonings when your lungs are as black as your soul and your diet resembles that of a frat boy. Your argument is invalid and we are all dumber for having heard it.

Okay, I got it off my chest. Now come on y'all, let's go make this weekend our bitch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Judgy health assessment questionnaire is judgy

Every year my company offers us a chance to do a complete blood work up with health risk assessment in exchange for lowered insurance premiums. Because I'm historically bad about going to the doctor, I've always taken advantage of it (the whole two dollars off a pay period is not a huge selling point for me but whatever). Not everyone does it as they are convinced that the company is storing our health data for nefarious purposes, perhaps to sell us to the Soylent Green manufactures at an undetermined date in the future. The assessment pops up and just about the halfway point between annual check-ups so it's a good way to keep tabs on things. (Weight? Still need to lose some. Okay, a lot. Hearing? Still awful but now in possession of hearing aids that I may or may not remember to use. We'll call it a wash.)

This morning I jumped on registering for the health screening which consists of three parts: an on-line questionnaire/assessment, biometrics, and blood work. To get it out of the way and because I can't remember shit nowadays, I also completed the assessment. It asks you questions about sleep, handling stress, smoking, drinking, exercise, food intake, trying to give a holistic look at your health. Once you finish, you can opt to see the report. Since I am a glutton for punishment, I did just that.

Preventative Health - Apparently not seeing your OB/GYN for 3 years as he asked how the baby was after performing the D&C for your miscarriage a few weeks earlier means that you are high risk for everything under the sun, you selfish whore.

Blood Glucose - Well hallelujah, I'm only in the 'moderate risk' category for chronic health issues where moderate means the exact line of demarcation between low and moderate. My quest is balanced on the edge of a knife.

BMI - Just over the line at 25.2. I admit to needing to lose weight, let's not belabor the point. Moving on to...

Exercise - A totally backhanded compliment, 'Hey, you're exercising. Great! But you aren't doing enough and need to do different kinds. Get on that.' Ahem assessment-matons; I HAVE been varying it by going longer and harder. (TWSS)

Blood Pressure - Normal. Well, for the moment. No one has *really* pissed me off today. Yet. But there's still time.

Drugs & Alcohol - Low. Thank goodness that last family party fell outside the time range asked about.

Emotional Health - Low. Yay for managing stress with the exercise I'm apparently not doing enough of.

I think the reporting function just gave up on the whole sleep thing; you see, you need 7-8 hours of sleep a night but to get that, I would need to cut out the exercising and/or reading and/or writing that I use to address all the other stuff that apparently falls into the moderate risk category. Plus, you know, work to make the money to buy the good food and take care of my family and THEIR health needs.

I'm fairly certain that the people who write these questionnaires do so based on a 30 hour day where there is no work and minimally processed foods are both plentiful and inexpensive. It just serves to bring into stark relief that only the wealthy can afford to be healthy. In the meantime, saddle up y'all, it's time to Prancercise.

Friday, May 9, 2014


You know those days (weeks) where you are unsettled and distracted and flighty which leads to boneheaded moves leading to even more stupendously ridiculous derps? As I always say, go big or go home.

The overarching reason for distraction is money or more specifically, the lack thereof. Things will be tight until September when we lose the day care tuition but until then, the next four months are shaping up to be an extended exercise in restraint and patience, none of which is helped by coming upon our second biggest gift-giving season of the year (the birthday-Mother's Day-birthday-birthday-Father's Day-birthday spree of doom) but we have a plan and it's all just ducky. Couple that will low level car anxiety, roofing woes, and the tree of death and anyone would lose focus, amirite?

Wednesday evening I headed down to the basement to get my work out in as I seem to have dedicated my lunch hour to errand running. With ear buds firmly in place and the kindle set to go, I hopped up on the elliptical, punched in the program and got to work. About 10 minutes in I thought that the resistance was a bit low but maybe I'd gotten further into the program then I thought. After another 5 minutes, I finally pulled the kindle away from the screen to see that I hadn't actually ever STARTED the program and rather than just continue as-is, I of course started it from the beginning and all the resistance changes that came with it. It took a good 90 minutes from my legs to stop shaking.

That was pretty derptastic but Myrna was still outpacing me for the week. Yesterday I was coordinating with my sisters on a Mother's Day gift for our mom (she rarely reads my blog but just in case: Mom - SPOILER ALERT). I sent around some links to tea rooms and crafted a formal 'invitation' to present to her on Mother's Day which was in a separate email. After sending links and chats back and forth for, oh, ALL DAY, I managed to completely screw up Catherine's email address which I didn't discover until this morning all the while fretting why was there no feedback. (So Carrie, I know I don't know you but what did you think of the invitation? Lemme know.)

Okay but anyone can screw up an email address if you aren't careful, that doesn't mean anything. Well this morning I wanted to mail a Mother's Day card to my mother in law as she was the only one we weren't going to see this weekend.  I had found a pretty card and the kids each drew her a special picture which I included in the envelope. To be a good citizen, I even put two stamps on it as you never know when construction paper will put you over the weight limit. Signed, sealed....and not delivered as it's sitting on the hall table. At home. Not at the post office. Looks like we'll be journeying over there this weekend after all. Enjoy the free stamps Yvonne! Happy Mother's Day.

Sigh. It looks like I'm in the running for High Priestess of Derpitude after all.