Sunday, August 31, 2008

Expectations Schmexpectations

I used to live in Knoxville; I think I've mentioned that. I miss it. People talk about East TN like they talk about MS. What they fail to mention is that if they like nature and good ole friendly people, they'd love either, and when they get to know those places, they'd always long to go back.

Knoxville is (or used to be) home to HGTV. They put on the best Home Expos! They really rocked. You could get good knowledge and information. The Expo we went to today in the bustling hurricane dodging city of Tampa was more like a sales event. I expected some of that, but I also expected some good tips and to get some of my questions answered. Cause let's admit, living in a subtropical climate is a little different on your home than living elsewhere in the country, much as I'm sure living in the midwest or extreme north would be. So, we have these great "flintstone" look pavers around our pool. They were new and dry when we bought the house, sand grout looked great. Now, after a summer of humidity and rain and more humidity, I realize yet again that the previous owners skimped on yet another detail...sealing the stones and the surface of the sanding "void" between them. Needless to say, the rocks (or spaces between the rocks) are black. Gross, mold, mildew, yicky, sightsore. Ok, anyway, so there are tons of these dealers that sell and install these pavers and I ask about sealing them, and they're like call this guy. No info. So, I ask a cabinet dealer about the real re-sale value of a kitchen that's had the cabinets refaced. The outside looks great. The inside looks original (not that that's not great, but hey, if you're refacing them, obviously this is because you don't like the ones you have), and she's like oh, yes, they sell. That's all we do. Ok, why am I asking a person in the business of selling cabinet refacing about the re-sale value of a home whose cabinets have been refaced. All she wants to do is sell me some cabinets, whether it helps my home value or is a waste of my money.

There were some interesting green companies there, which made me happy. One guy tried to tell us about a box you wire into your circuit breakers that uses alternating current to cut energy consumption of your motorized appliances in your home, AC, fridge, etc. Still need to research it, but I'll bite for more info. Afterall, my DH thinks I'm naive, and I'm curious. Check it out if you want to for yourself, I'm going to. If it'll save me money and the planet one small step at a time...

The company is southern energy:

Interesting thing I read for this warranty is that it is not covered by: riots, civil disturbances, war, or other related acts of God. I know lots of warranties usually say this, but it's usually in print so fine you can't read it, but this one was pretty evident, guess that's for us hurricaners.

There were other greenies, but this one was of the most use to fellow readers. I was a little letdown that there are so many GREEN COALITION and LEED people out there (I'm a member of LEED) and there was such a poor representation there. There is a place for me and my green ideas in this growing area, I just have to find I have to find my gardening expertise offering niche.

So, somehow the last conversation of the day, well not the last, but last significant, was about the 5K my neighborhood is hosting to benefit a Kids Community College (sort of like pre-pre-school) and St. Jude. I suggested it to DH who needs to lose 20 pounds by Nov...yes, makes me sick, he can drop it too, I can't. So, he told me he'd run it if I would non-stop. The 5K is Oct. 18. That's 7 weeks away. 5K is 3 miles. I can do that. I just have to put my mind to it, train, and stretch and not get injured. I found a training schedule for a 5K in 9 weeks, but I only have 7. The only thing that worries me is I sometimes have this catch thing on the outside side of the back bend of my right knee. As long as it doesn't flare up, I should be fine. I've been so down and out about not working and can I do something other than chemistry should I need to that compensates me as well as my last job did or makes me happy. This is a good therapy I think, plus it's good training for Chance, and perhaps, it'll help me lose some of my 20 pounds I want to lose. Discipline. I used to be a highly disciplined person. I still am, just not in areas that once were, so, Flylady (yes, I am a flybaby) says it takes 45 days to make a habit or 28 or something. So, here we go: train the dog, clean the humidity and mold off the house, design new flower beds, learn to study again, exercise, and find a be unemployed, things are certainly starting to get cooking again. Oh, one last question for my readers, I need to make Christmas presents this year, save money, it's really smarter, I'm so over all the giving and exchanging of gift cards, well, not really, just need to save money, so got any ideas? Good ideas for gifts for men are the most sought after...but anyone will do.

Oh, one last thing, I must advertise, the booth that was the busiest and DH and I decided sold the most (qty) goods for the day at least was Wild Rooster Sauces: From the Finest of Southern Scratch. They use no preservatives, and no MSG, and if you like sauces and rubs, they are gooooooood. We bought a lot, didn't get a rain gauge though. Please, visit, and don't be afraid to buy, if you like sauces that are extremely low cal and GOOD for you:

The Great Home Expo Show Expectations

I'm sure most of my readers know that DH and I bought our first home in May. We were ecstatic. We plan to live here roughly 5 years, sell the house, then move on somewhere else. Me, I'd like to go home and build my dream home on the lake, but something tells me Uncle Sam is going to send me somewhere like remote N.C. or the ever expensive D.C. area. I would love to hang out in Savannah for awhile, but I've been entertaining that idea for the length of my marriage and DH hasn't bought into it yet.

Anyhoo, I've always had dreams...big ones. I'm a dreamer, yes, I'm also a realist...not optimistic, yet not pessimistic, just live in the real, but I LOVE to dream, as much as I love my VNFNWEH mocha from Starschmucks, or a Speedy Gonzales #1 with rice and beans and LOTS of salsa (thank you, Kay, I miss these Mexican Mondays), or my plants, or my poochies...Charlie tops the list in fond memory, and I learn from my mistakes with him in this new little ankle biter, or butt biter.

So, today, I am dreaming about retirement, kind of a hurdle for someone who is unemployed at the moment and doesn't have much of a prospect of a career right now. Have any of you ever pondered the new catch phrase "career path"?

However, the--well, I started to say more but I think more appropriate given the above conditions--less tangible desire is home improvement. I become emotionally attached to property. When I first looked at this house, I was floored. YES! This is it! Now, I'm like ok, I like it BUT.........

So, I want to do curbing around all of the flower beds, paint the house (yes, it needs it, I looked up close), re-do all the flower beds (which you all KNOW I will have my way with in the next 2 summers), paint and install cabinets in the garage--I hate that here, when everyone opens their garage doors, I see junk piled up. It kills me!!! Organization, cleanliness, come on, you are parking your overpriced rapidly depreciating stupid-purchase gas guzzling car in here. Scoff at this if you want, but I bet some part of that auto description fits everyone reading this. Unless you are driving my old blazer, Olivia, and then you got a deal, I fixed it for you. It is a gas guzzler, though, so screw that comment. Let's see, I want to gut the kitchen cabinets, build a window seat and cubby holes around our large bedroom windows, replace the bathroom vanities and countertops (with silestones or concrete!!:)--though DH thinks this is stupid--perhaps our outing today will change his mind)...I want to replace the flooring in the living room with bamboo and then, I think I will have covered the major stuff, oh, no, no, this florescent light in the kitchen that dates the house, has got to go. Don't get me wrong. We have a very nice house, I sometimes am like, what, how did I ever end up in a house this nice? But re-sale, re-sale, re-sale, it's all about what will be desirable in 5 years. I guess what will be desirable is for the market to settle down and re-equilibrate, I fear deeply and REALLY that those days are long gone.

So, we are off to the Home Expo Show...where all the newest trends and designs are highlighted. DH wants to wait until right before we move to do all of this, and I say, no why can't we do it and enjoy it while we live here? Opinions? The landscape, he has no say in, nor do I think he wants plans are in the making, and I am going to post them when I get them figured out. And then, before pics, and perhaps a new blog about transformation. As for today, while I am grounded from spending...I plan to at least purchase a rain gauge. Any gardener should have one or two. And I think now that I've thought it, I'll start it...stay tuned for a gardening blog. All about what I've learned by trial and error and I hope some of you learn from it. Since I used to see so many people at FTB stop and say how do you do this? Perhaps my journal will help you. Perhaps my readers will help me envision my gardening business I've always dreamt of. And yes, I will have it, when I settle in one place. Well, off to the shower for the Home Expo. Don't worry, I have the camera ready and a little notebook for notes, and a bag for goodies! Such a dork...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Automated Phone Systems

I have been trying to contact a government credit card issuer simply to get the web address to make a payment. First, I scoured each and every past statement for the card to find a URL to make a payment. No luck. So I GOOGLE every possible form of search terms...NO LUCK. So, begrudgingly I call the 1-800 number. First, I went through all the blasted menus, I counted 8 before I was stuck and forced to hang up. Back to GOOGLE. Why did I not write down the URL last time I did this for my darling hubby? You can bet your booties that this time I will. Still no luck. So, again, I dial the 1-800 number, anticipating a lengthy conversation which will get me nowhere because I am not the actual cardholder...don't you hate that? I'm his wife, I wash his underwear, cook his meals, and clean his stubble hairs out of the sink, aren't I privy to deal with his, not unless he emphatically states that I can handle his accounts; even then, some establishments require some stupid faxed signed, sealed, and notarized copy of permission, with attached marriage certificate. On a side, I often thought the only purpose of your stupid marriage certificate was to change your name on D.L., bank accounts, etc. No, you need it to pee in the great state of FL. I have officially used my marriage cert. now over 20 times since I moved here, and I have ALREADY established my name change PRIOR to residing here! So, tell me again, how is identity theft so easy?

So, upon dialing the 1-800 number, I do not enter the credit card number; angrily, the nice lady prompts me again. I sit in silence, secretly laughing and wondering how many times a day this nice lady gets upset because people do not do what she asks (and amazed that she did not say si habla espaniol?). She prompts me again stating that she can better serve me if I enter the number on the card. I sit, this goes on for 5 or 6 repeats.

Then, a customer service representative: How can I assist you today?
Me: I need the website to make a payment.
C.S.: I'll be happy to assist you with that. May I have your name please?
Me: Name.
C.S.: And your card number.
Me: I don't have a card. The card is my spouse's. I am making a payment for him. His name is ..., and the number is ....
C.S.: Ma'am, it is my obligation to inform you that I cannot give out information regarding the card to you, as you are not the cardholder.
Me: I just need the payment address. The card has a balance that needs to be paid. I am the family accountant.
C.S.: That website is.....
Me: Thank you very much.
C.S.: Certainly, is there anything else I can assist you with today.
Me: No, have a great day.
C.S.: And thank you for calling Bank of America.

What I really wanted to say, was do you know just where in the hell he ran up this bill? And see if I could get her going, or how can you assist me if you cannot share information with anyone but the cardholder. However, I didn't. Darn. Need to be more assertive about poking at people.

So, that automated experience wasn't the hardest, the hardest are cable providers, but still. When they were first invented, I loved them. No long waits, no annoying tele-person. Now, I despise them. Another evil/perk of the internet. No people to deal with. Just do your business and go on surfing/blogging.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How This All Got Started

So, I know most of you who know me think I am sitting home being a bored housewife who watches too much 24 and one day just decided to start blogging. I also know there are certain masses of you who are giving me the naughty finger (no, not the bird..the shame on you finger) for posting my life's daily activities on this blog for just any ole person to see. Well, perhaps you are all right. However, I must inform you that I've fallen subject to peer pressure (which is a subject I hope to address in yet another post today). You see, while I was a young, irresponsible grad student at UTK, I struggled to find friends whom I really liked. Most of them were way too into chemistry for me, most of them were single and all they did was go out at 2 a.m. and get plastered, or most of them were in a group with many English speaking friends. I was in a research group with several Chinese and several Indians and a few English natives (by natives I mean those who were somewhat local to the United States). Don't get me wrong, I fondly look back on my foreign friends. I have long been known to be intrigued by people from other continents and often make better friends with them than I do Americans. It's funny...I like to think that I am a minimalist and that I am VERY earth friendly. And to some extent I am, but then again, I'm not. I believe in saving the planet, and I believe in leaving no mark, but at the same time, I LOVE (you hear me LOVE), LOVE, LOVE my froo-froo VNFNWEH Mocha from Starschmucks! LOVE IT! And for those of you who don't join the mass of yuppies...venti non-fat no whip extra hot mocha. And I love my cell phone, in fact, I drive and talk on my cell phone, I walk my dog and talk on my cell phone, I am always doing something other than just sitting there talking when I am on my cell phone. Heck, it's easier to have a conversation on a cell phone because you can multi task than to just sit there in person and have to be still while talking to someone. I agree, that your hands should be free...and given my history with cell phones and toilets...I need a hands free device, but I've yet to own a phone that uses that technology. Why, you say, because I am too cheap to buy a new phone and somehow I ended up not getting a new one for 2 years and the last one....well, this is too another post. So, let's see where was I? Oh, yes, and I have recently admitted that I have a shopping habit. Yet another post. But I guess that's bad because most of it is made in China...why is this bad? Well, it's cheap, made with cheap poor working conditions for humanity, and it's imported (costs CO2 to import it here), and it's driving labor out of our country...and I could go on and on....but I can't find anything made in our country anymore and if I do, it costs more than the average American makes...did I mention I'm unemployed...ok, how did I get on this you know where my title of my blog page came from.

Anyhoo, along comes this new grad student from MSU to UTK. I was like, give me a break. Then I got to know her, and I'll forgive her for attending MSU (should've been Ole Miss at least if you're going to stay in the state OR you should have been a meteorologist then you could live closer to me and we could chase hurricanes together) ...and like Dr. Wifery says, we hit it off. It started out with we got along cause we were both from MS, something very uncommon at UT at least in the Chem Dept was to be from the South, let alone from MS. And then I helped her move, and then I started cat sitting, and then we started hanging out more, and then she took me in while I was a homeless UT Graduate Student with no job and no money trying desperately to finish my research and get the hell out of Knoxville (which I miss SOOOOOOO much). She was kind enough to help with my wedding, and all kinds of stuff. So, I left K-vegas (as I often call it) and left her behind. Whilst she was writing her dissertation, she found a creative way to procrastinate...hey, there are some people out there who can write, diligently and timely, but there are more realistic people like me and Dr. Wifey who choose to procrastinate and put it off and do other things. For instance, when I was writing my defense, my dog was one of the smartest, fittest dogs on the planet, and I had floors you could eat off of (all whilst puppy training)...let's just say when they say it takes months to write a dissertation, you can do it in a month. And behold, Dr. Wifey sends me this email on day saying I started a blog. Mind you, we used to sit around and cackle over things. So, I go to it, and sure enough within minutes, I'm rolling in the floor; tears are streaming down my eyes. I told this colleague at work about it and made her read it one day at lunch and she got a kick out of it. Now, I go to her blog for laughs. So, earlier this week, I was reading an article about creative ways to make money, and can't remember where blogs fit in, I just remembered that Dr. Wifey enjoyed hers, and I love to keep a journal, always wanted to publish it one day but knew no publisher would ever want to publish me. So, I'm not getting rich off of it, but Dr. Wifey has sucked me in and pressured me to post my blog. I know, I know, terror cells can read this, I will never be president after this, and I will never get another job, but it's nice to know that I can say what's on my mind and move on to more ramblings. Plus, maybe I'll affect someone. Maybe one day I'll be talking about smoking and someone I know and love who smokes will give it up. Maybe one day I'll talk about being green in your yard, and someone else I know will start composting. Maybe one day I'll talk about eating some humble pie (which I did today) and all those arrogant buttholes out there will have a slice. So, Dr. Wifey, here's to you. Yes, it's somewhat addictive, and I'm slow to decide to learn all the bling blings but I'll soon know them. And now that I do this, I find myself reading other people's diaries, and they are insightful. I'm not the only person out there with a mind full of stuff.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So My Blogs Hurt Your Eyes

Fellow readers, I have received both verbal and written comments from many of you that my blog hurts your eyes. Please forgive. Before long, I will have little Charlies jumping across the top of the screen when you log onto my blog. I am learning. Please, in the future, tell me if the blog is unpleasing to your vision, and at least by hurting your eyes, I know you are reading it! Time for the last of the cookies and milk. The puppy is worn out. Yes, pictures will come soon, but by the time I get them on here, the puppy will be grown. He's not Charlie. No doggies will ever be, and Charlie is sorely missed, but his memory lives on. Those of us who were lucky enough to be licked by him will never forget him. He's the reason I don't mind getting up and walking every morning. I remember that as his favorite part of the day. I am jealous of my two friends I left behind at FTB. They still get to walk those paths.

What Your Brain is Like on GMAT

Yesterday I began my studies for the GMAT. I ordered the GMAT Guide from my favorite Barnes and Noble store. The book came in the mail, and I decided that I would study an hour and a half a day until test time, which is not carved in stone yet but should occur somewhere around September 20. That means I have roughly 26 days of study time, at 1.5 hours a day, is 39 hours of study and practice test taking time. Should be enough, eh? I thought so, and then yesteday, I sat down with pencil in hand, wrote down the starting time, and began the assessment test. Whew! Fifteen minutes into the test, I was feleing rather, well, dumb. The first half of the test involves quantitative, or math. I have always been sharply skilled in math. Not anymore. What is an integer? And can you tell me what the highest integer is between 150 and 300? I'm sitting there thinking to myself, 'who really uses this crap in every day life, CEO or janitor?' I go on further, realizing that there are always useless questions in these standardized tests. Then I come to a section called DATA SUFFICIENCY. The directions follow:
A. Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) ALONE is not sufficient.
B. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) ALONE is not sufficient.
C. BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
D. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
E. Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.
Ok, first, my head is reeling from the last section on integers and their absolute uselessness to everyday life. Would someone please tell me you need to know about integers to do your job everyday, provided you are NOT a mathematician?!! Now, I have to decipher how to answer questions according to the above criteria. Gee, can you say headache? Some questions from this section:
Does the integer (integers again, can you see a pattern here?) k have at least three different positive prime factors?
(1) k/15 is an integer
(2) k/10 is an integer
Needless to say at this point, that I scored below average in the quant section. Oddly enough, verbal was never my strong point, despite how much I talk...and I scored above average in most scetions of it. Who knows? I guess what I have learned since grad school is that I know how to communicate, but I cannot quantitatively deduce anything. I find that quirky, given that my last career position involved quantitative analysis of various components of beverages on a daily basis. And to the best of my knowledge and George's, I was accurate and efficient. So, in a short two months out of work, I am now considered a MORON according to GMAT's standards. WOW! Well, I'm off to learn about integers and to be bitten on the toes whilst learning.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Well, it's Monday, Monday...most people dreaded getting out of bed this morning and dragging themselves off to work. Funny, I've been here before, only last time I was in Georgia. Waking up, going through the day of looking for a job and not finding what I want to do...what do I want to do? I am a chemist, did I mention an unemployed chemist, with apparently not enough experience? When I was working, all I wanted to do was not go to work, who doesn't? Now, I sit at home every day and creatively find ways to fulfill my days. We have a new puppy now, Chance, who takes some of the boredom out of the day. And we live in a CDD HOA community, where we have to plan what we plant, so that's a task on the list, and I surf around and network for possible positions every week, but aside from that, my days are largely filled with nothing. I registered for the GMAT. I'm going to pursue my MBA in January, yes, still chasing some degree after all these years. You'd think with an AA, BS and MS that I'd have a J.O.B. but not yet. Well, I'm off to organize and create a guest bedroom out of the middle bedroom in our house...which has become the storage pile for "what are we going to do with this?"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Surviving Fay and Mortgage Companies

It's now Sunday, a week from when Fay was first named. I was very excited this time one week ago. Chasing storms has always been a passion of mine, I continue to be fascinated with hurricanes. Yes, to those seasoned veterans out there, you might call me naive. I am totally new to coastal living, and I still don't live on the coast, just close enough to be glued to NOAA when a storm rolls into the Gulf waters. Here I am in Tampa, and the storm managed to plague the whole state of FL everywhere but Tampa.

Funny thing was, we live in the last evacuation zone for Florida, and our flood risk for this area is "minimal". And for that matter, when our insurance company gave me the quotes for the policy, they told me I needed the least amount of coverage. This is kind of funny to me. I lived on a mountain in TN on the edge of the Smokies. My house flooded. And from the experience I had there, floods start at the bottom and rise. Last time I checked, most people put their furniture on the floor, so the most damage would be done in 4" of water or 4'...I opted for as much coverage as we could possibly get.

During the time that the news was reporting 24" of rain in Melbourne and alligators coming into the streets, we received a letter from our mortgage company stating that they had determined we no longer needed a flood policy and that they would be adjusting our monthly payment amounts to reflect this in our escrow. HA! Now I can see why living in FL receives so many furrowed brows. Well, mighty home mortgagers, we will be saving the difference we are saving on our monthly payments in our savings so that we can make our own payments to our flood policy renewal. From what I've seen of a mere tropical storm, no zone is a No-Flood-Zone!