Monday, October 31, 2005

The Votes are In...

Now that Halloween has passed, I'm ready to put up a more permanent banner. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and there were two banners that tied for most votes. They were:

ocean 2 banner

and

shore banner

I have made my decision to take the second one, mainly because the first is too close to the previous banner. I'll leave it up for awhile (probably until the next holiday strikes me to change it or until I get my camera back and take a really cool picture). Thanks for everyone's input!

Sounds a bit like a personal ad...

DM has done the "[name] loves..." MEME and I figured I would give it a go. It is simple. Just go to Google and enter in your name and the word loves to see what comes up. I have combined some that were similar and just repeats.

Beth loves Bob, Miles, Carl, Sam (if I knew any of these men, I might love them. Who knows?)
Beth loves kittens (I like puppies a bit more)
Beth loves to work with clay
Beth loves photography (Duh.)
Beth loves England, the Black Hills, New Zealand (I've never been to any of these)
Beth loves Star Wars (You don't want to hear my Star Wars tale)
Beth loves the English language – especially grammar!
Beth loves horses (Watch out! They bite. And I had to go to horse camp as a kid)
Beth loves her cousin
Beth loves to travel to wild places to photograph and document the lives of animals (Sure, who is picking up the bill?)
Beth loves to run, dance and watch football (yea. football. joy.)
Beth loves swimming (Sure, when I don't end up needing to be saved by the lifeguard.)
Beth loves to entertain and feed her family and friends
Beth loves to ski but hates the cold (I can't ski. I tried once. It was bad.)
Beth loves to hear from her readers (YES!)
Beth loves the lord (no comment)
Beth loves to laugh
Beth loves erotica (this one is a website for "everyone loves a slut")
Beth loves Ozzie (Who doesn't?)
Beth loves living in the city (Yes, Mounds View is quite nice. Uh, what?)
Beth loves movies, theater, awards shows, The West Wing, and baking (Well, the movies part is right)
Beth loves to read, dance, travel
Beth loves Saddam Hussein (What?!?)
Beth loves dogs
Beth loves to sing (Hmmm, this might be slightly accurate)
Beth loves company
Beth loves cherry coke! (But prefers the original)
Beth loves any arts and crafts type projects
Beth loves spending time with her husband, children, pets, family and friends. (When did I get married and have children?)
Beth loves playing the guitar (If I only knew how)
Beth loves to collect bears (Live bears? Stuffed bears? I don't know)
Beth loves to read, write in her journal, shop, and hang out with her friends
Beth loves open spaces that connect with the natural world
Beth loves international travel, but says a trip on the subway is the next best thing (Um, the only time I've been on a subway was during international travel)
Beth loves small land mammals
Beth loves Laurie! (I hope so. She is my mother.)
Beth loves to collect additional sexual programming (You mean I can collect this? Who are these people?)
Beth loves taking long walks on the beaches of the Vineyard (Three things here: not a fan of long walks, somewhat like beaches but burn in the sun, and I've never been to a vineyard.)
Beth loves dirt (oh, yeah, that dirt)

Swimming with the Paranormal

The air outside is crisp, the warm autumn breeze has stilled for the night and fog has made an appearance. The streetlights radiate in the mist and the mood is perfect for the holiday. Tonight, the children will run from door to door, dressed as goblins, ghosts, and ghouls. Some may want to be a pumpkin; others may want to idolize Darth Vader. Some others may combine the costumes. And the doors will open and bowls of candy will empty as the kiddies follow tradition and yell, “Trick or Treat!”

Halloween is a holiday I do enjoy, even though I do not participate as much as I did when I was younger. I forget to get a costume every year and I have not gone Trick-or-Treating since 1991, the year of the Halloween blizzard. Something about three feet of snow turns one off from the experience.

To honor the holiday this year, I sat down to brainstorm ideas about Halloween. The images that come to my mind are snow, candy, kids’ costumes, and spook stories. Since I’ve written before about snow and the Darth Vader pumpkin kid, I was left with two choices. I could write my spook story or write about another set of costumes. I have decided a spooky story fits here today.

The tale I bring to you this evening is not a Halloween story, you will find it starts out on a hot summer day. The setting does not fit a classic tale of terror, rather would make people want to go to the beach, or the pool, for a swim.

I was only seven or eight years old when this happened. Our family was visiting my cousins and aunt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during July, staying at a hotel near to the townhouse my relatives had. The complex was large and graced with a swimming pool, yet the pool was kept off, away from the buildings. On a hot day as this was, the pool was normally filled with people who were all anxious to cool off a bit. Kids would be splashing the adults, but when we set off for the pool this day, we found it deserted, all the better for us, or maybe not.

The pool was a private place and had a large chain-link fence surrounding it. A magnetic key was needed to get in and out. Five of us were there that day. My cousins, Ellen and Brad, were both older and in charge. Two other children from the neighborhood were with us; they were both a few years older than I was. I do not recall the other kids’ names, only that they lived a couple of doors down from Ellen and Brad and Ellen used to watch them, as she watched me during the summers.

We were all in the pool; the card to leave tucked safely inside a bag Ellen brought. I was never a strong swimmer and my fear of water was only reinforced by this day. Four of us were in the shallow end of the pool, playing simple games like “Mermaid” (basically swimming with your legs touching all the way down to your toes) and having the Barbies I brought in the pool. Brad was swimming in the deep end. There was not a cloud in the sky that day or even so much of a light breeze.

Our group had been in and out of the pool a few times over the couple of hours we’d been there when an odd thing happened. Out of nowhere, a strong wind whipped through the area. Potted plants were pushed from their resting areas and the wet towels flew from one side of the pool and were caught by the fence. The papers on the table did not move an inch. We all saw the ripples in the water and each noticed how they ended as soon as the shallow end started. Brad was in the deep end and was forced under the water, feeling a hand on his head pushing him down. It was only a few moments, but it was enough to spook all of us. We wanted out of the pool, wanted out of the area, and wanted to be back inside a.s.a.p.

We grabbed our bags, gathered up the heavy towels, and we went to leave. Ellen reached in the bag for the key. The bag had not moved at all during the gust, but the key was missing.

Panicked, we started searching everything. Brad spotted the key. It was resting in plain view on the other side of the fence. It was too large to fit through the fence. The other strange part of where it was had to do with the fact it was on the side of the fence that the wind came from. We were now trapped inside.

Brad was able to pick the lock and get us outside of the pool area. He ran over and grabbed the key and we ran half of the way back to the house. On the way back, we joked and laughed nervously about those Time Life series commercials airing on television. The commercials would show four or five men walking through woods late at night and suddenly one of the men would be levitating.

Back at the house, no one believed us. Even now I doubt what happened. It was probably some sort of mini-twister or something, but it was spooky. I keep remembering how the ripples stopped when the deep end did and how Brad was forced under the water. I never swam in that pool again.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Possible Banners

Now that I've figured out how to make banners and deal with Blogger's need to put the title on top of them, I made a ton. Here's a time to vote a bit. Let me know which you like:

1. Monet 4 banner

2. River banner

3. Monet banner

4. dm and beth ocean banner

5. monet 3 banner

6. ocean 2 banner

7. ocean banner

8. oceanarrio2 banner

9. purple flowers banner

10. rocks banner

11. rooftops banner

12. seashell banner

13. shore banner

14. skulls banner

15. surf banner

16. tile 2 banner

Most of these pictures were taken in Portugal (except the rocks). I'll probably use the skulls one for Halloween. Let me know which you like.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Still playing with the template

I think I've finally figured out how to make banners much cooler than I originally thought. I may try out a few different banners. What does everyone think?

A Pretty Good Day (with pictures!)

Earlier tonight, I picked up DM and we headed into downtown Minneapolis to meet my mom and her boyfriend, Scott, at Manny's Steakhouse.
Downtown Minneapolis

Dinner was absolutely fantastic. I had a bit of a problem with a tooth that is bothering me (long story), but the taste of the steak was wonderful. My mom and I both ordered the prime rib, DM got a New York strip steak (I think), and Scott ordered the porterhouse. Yum! We had loaves after loaves of the bread they serve (a cinnamon-raisin and a rye bread). The salad, beefsteak tomatoes and Vildalia onions (to die for), was enjoyed by my mom, DM, and myself. They both enjoyed the blue cheese that arrives with it. I just adore the tomatoes with a bit of pepper on them.

To go with the steaks, we had a family size order of hashbrowns with onions. Dessert was brought to our table, a large piece of chocolate cake covered in ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and caramel. There were a few strawberries surrounding the cake. I'm not a big fan of chocolate, so I ordered some bread pudding and ended up taking it home.

I did not finish the 32-oz. prime rib, but I did give it a hearty effort. I have just a bit left over for lunch tomorrow, a small lunch. It always surprises DM and Scott how much I can eat of this steak. I tend to pick my food, never really enjoying anything other than steak. Prime rib is my absolute favorite food. I turn into a total carnivore whenever I have this wonderful cut of meat in front of me.

I got five birthday cards today. One from my mom, one from Scott, one from Chip, one from Pepper Jack, and one from Mac and Smoke (aka Tuna-Boy. He now answers to this). Yes, my mom gives me birthday cards signed by the pets. It is rather adorable. My mom signed her card, "You know, I still miss being around you every day! Love, Mom." I do miss living at home, even though I'm glad to be out on my own, enjoying a bit more freedom. The card from the cats has a kitten on the front with a mouse and the kitten looks just like Smoke.

The gray one is Smoke. The black and white cat is Mac. Mac is smaller now, losing weight at Mom's because of more exercise (two dogs and a baby brother kitten tends to make him move a bit more).

MandSonthechair

The card from Pepper Jack is cute, wishing a day full of favorite things to me. I don't have a great picture of Pepper uploaded yet and probably won't until I get my camera back from Sony. The card from Chip is signed in his usual large "paw-writing" and backwards letters. Chip is a really smart dog, but the joke was always that he was the baby of the family (now the oldest of the pets) and so of course, he should have the messiest writing. This picture of Chip is from 1993, the summer my cousin Susan lived with us, and he's grown a bit, but I do adore this picture.

Taco and Chip 013

The card from Scott is a funny card. It has the President (or troll by Johnny's vocabulary (and vocabulary I like)) stating, "Did you know my birthday is July 6th?" A person, who may or may not be the troll sr. next to him saying, "Really? What year?" Inside, the troll states, "Every year!"

Besides the fantastic dinner, cards (with too much money enclosed), my mom also gave me a DVD. It is "Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One." Rather cool! Tomorrow I will probably start watching some murder mysteries. There are 29 episodes and a few extras on the discs.

After the dinner, DM and I headed to my mom's place to play with the pets. My mom had a few other extras she wanted to give me, something she does at every birthday/Christmas. She gave me a bunch of basic necessities. There is this large bag full of things like Kleenex, toilet paper, and paper towels. Mom also made me some homemade goodies, applesauce and chicken salad. God, I love her.

Char called while I was at my mom's and we chatted for almost 20 minutes. DM and I both miss her terribly. Everyone keeps asking how she is and there's a whole lot of Minnesotans anxiously awaiting May/June 2006 for her and Tom to return.

I had a good time with DM, my mom, and Scott today. I'm happy to have another day off on my mini-vacation and I've gotten to relax quite a bit. It's been a nice, quite birthday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why I Love My Job

I'm going to admit that my job is not always lollipops and rainbows, but I do love it. There are times when I just smile and feel good and know that I am in the right career.

On Saturday, I was talking with one of the bankers. She's the one that has been there since the new team was formed. My Lost addiction has spread and others are starting to enjoy the show.

This banker was at the video store Thursday night with her son after work and decided to pick up the first disc of the show. By the time I arrived on Saturday, she had watched the first 6 episodes and had left me a note saying, "I'm on episode 7 of Lost! I'm addicted and I blame you!"

Later that afternoon, we were talking a bit, about banking and about the show. She told me about her son asking why she picked this show. This made me feel really good.

B (banker): My friend at work likes this show.
S (her son): Who?
B: Beth.
S: That's not your friend! That's your boss!
B: Well, she's my friend too.

I liked this.

This banker tried to rent the additional DVDs this weekend and was unable to find the third disc. So she bought the series. Just a bit ago, she called me at home to tell me that she bought the series and also give me some great news about an HR related thing from work.

It was really, really sweet to hear from her while I'm on my mini-vacation. Things like this make me happy about my job.

----

By the way, completely unrelated to the post, but I thought DM would get a kick out of this. I was watching Four Weddings and a Funeral and I had to laugh. One of the recurring songs in the movie is the "Love is All Around Us". I keep wanting to sing it, "Christmas is All Around Us."

Just a Note...

Over the next couple of days, you may notice my template changing. I'm playing around with a few things and I want to revamp this site. If things don't work, I'm probably still in the process of changing them.

Wires

For my birthday this year, my dad gave me a home theater/surround sound system. The system is complete with a 5-disc DVD changer and 6 speakers (one being a rather large subwoofer). He saw me look at a system similar to this about four years ago and remembered it being something I might be interested in.

The system is extremely fun and I'm enjoying watching a few movies on my days off. DM helped me bring the components into my apartment on Sunday night and watched me assemble the parts, getting the entire system hooked up amongst the array of random cords behind my television.

When I pulled the DVD player out of the box and unwrapped it, DM made a comment that it looked like it should be part of a spacecraft. It is shiny and silver and has a lot of buttons on the front of it. We kept joking that this system seems like it should do more than just enhance the movie watching experience, something more like warp beaming us somewhere.

The reason I write about the system has little to do with the system itself. I am a bit proud of the fact I can hook up a system like this without assistance and was able to configure it into the setup around my TV. I was able to get the two gaming systems working (so I can play Tetris. I adore Tetris. I could sit for hours on end and just keep playing. The game relaxes me.) The VCR still works after adding more components to the mix. I just find it rather strange to see how many pieces of electrical equipment I have attached to my TV.

Why? Because my TV is only an 18-inch television. The remote for it stopped working at some point while I lived with Adam and it is cable ready, but does not have the video/audio outlets on it. I've had this TV since I was eight. I guess nineteen years is not a bad run for a television these days. To hook anything beside the VCR (which I've only had for probably thirteen years), I need two separate adapters. Over time I've learned that adapters are much cheaper than replacing the television.

I know I should replace the TV soon, but it is good luck. Amazingly enough, this TV has made it through 10 moves (a few with my folks and a few trips back and forth to the dorms during my first stint of college - the time when I tried to go in person and not online). A different TV I owned didn't even make it one trip.

It just seems odd to me to have so much more recent technology attached to this old set. I made the analogy to Liz and James at karaoke on Sunday night that it was like putting personalized license plates and spinning rims on a Geo Metro. Sure, a Geo Metro runs, but does it need to be "pimped" out?

Someday I will buy a new TV. Right now I'll just enjoy surround sound (at a quieter level since I do live in an apartment and need to be courteous to my neighbors) while I watch my movies on a smaller screen.

---

The rest of the story, besides the fact I feel that the system is a bit of overkill, is the fact that once I hooked up the system, DM and I found the speakers to work, but the DVD-player itself was defective. We attempted to watch a movie during the afternoon and the machine would not load the DVD and shot it across the tray, scratching it. I am a bit disappointed that one of my favorite movies (because it is cheesy and not too serious) was damaged. The movie is Independence Day.

I called my dad and he was able to produce the receipt for the system. I contacted Best Buy and made sure it was okay to only return the player to the store (because packing up all the speakers after having set them up would have been quite annoying). DM and I went to one Best Buy and they did not have the item in stock. Then we traveled to another store and was able to leave with a different shiny new DVD player. Dealing with defective merchandise was not something I wanted to do on a day off, but it is done now. I have to say I was pleased with the service I received from Best Buy today.

Another stop that DM and I made while out getting the replacement DVD-player was to ship my camera back to Sony. I seem to be having a problem with defective merchandise recently and my digital camera won't power on. It is under warranty and I hope to have it back soon. It has been quite awhile since it has worked (frequent readers of this site may have noticed a lack of pictures) and I do not like not having it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pep Talks

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I was in a training class in downtown Minneapolis. During the training, I learned all about managing diversity (not to be confused with being politically correct) and I did enjoy the class.

One of the benefits to my working (or training) on Monday was the fact I was able to choose to take off Wednesday or Thursday (not allowed to take Friday or Saturday for some odd reason). I chose to have Thursday be my day off so that DM and I could go to the Chalet a bit earlier than normal for Thursday night karaoke.

With this pre-planned day set a month in advance, I found out my team's monthly meeting would be scheduled for today. So even with a day off, I went into work. I was only required to stay for two hours though. At our meeting, our team had a bit of fun with a getting to know you activity where we had to find people in the room that could answer yes to certain questions (ranging from birth order, travel history, and skills). It was quite interesting and I may use the set of questions for a blog post some day. The questions were all ones that Steve and I (plus a few from bankers) came up with on Wednesday night.

After the meeting, I called DM and drove out to her place to pick her up. We were in the car trying to decide what to do for a few hours before karaoke and ended up back in Mounds View, watching episode after episode of Lost on my computer. This show is way too addictive. We both blame James, jokingly, that he is evil for directing us towards this show. But it is really good. And I can't believe we have to wait until November 9th for the next new episode to air!

Once our Lost fix was satisfied, we headed out to the Chalet for some singing and talking. I normally do not sing on Thursdays (there is not much of a reason for this other than I get there late and I have usually just gotten off work and want to sit back and relax). I was in the restroom tonight and this woman whom I've never seen before started talking to me.

W (woman): Are you going to sing? I haven't seen you get up tonight.
Me: I don't know.
W: Oh, you should. Karaoke is fun. You can do it.
Me: Uh..
W: What's your favorite song?
Me: I don't know (I'm not about to go into this topic in the bathroom with some stranger).
W: Not just a karaoke song. I like "Natural Woman" by Carole King. But I can never find it at karaoke.
Me: "Natural Woman" is a good song.
W: I'm getting a keyboard for Christmas so I can know it. I also like "Sail Away" by Styx.
Me: Ooooo-kay. See you.

Bryan makes eye contact with me across the bar and does the signaling to ask if I want to sing tonight. I shrug and say, "Sure," and I'm in the rotation. When Bryan calls me up to sing, I hear the woman telling her whole table that she convinced me to sing karaoke in the bathroom. I didn't have the heart to tell her that this was not my first time ever singing at karaoke.

Liz and James were both there tonight. It was fun talking with them both, as always. James, DM, and I had a long conversation about Lost.

I am working Friday and Saturday, as usual, and then I have a five-day weekend. I took off Tuesday through Thursday next week to relax, get some things done, and also get a nice dinner with my mom and her boyfriend on Wednesday. I am looking forward to the long weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm Done With It [full stop]

At least once a week, people at work will ask me about someone I have not spoken to in what feels like forever. I've let go, I no longer care (which is a huge step for me), and I don't want to know what is going on in this person's life and I don't care if he knows about mine. The friendship (if it ever was one) is over. We are two separate people living on this planet and there is no connection.

At least there is no connection anymore. I know it. I would be willing to bet he knows it. Shouting it to the world defeats the purpose of letting go, not caring, and not letting it bother me. But people keep asking me about him! It is annoying.

"How is Adam?" "What's Adam up to?" "Have you talked with Adam lately?"

The answers are, "I don't care." "I don't know and don't want to." "No. Stop asking."

I went to training yesterday in Minneapolis. The training itself is interesting and I'm going again today, trying to pretend that I'm a day-walker and it is driving me a bit batty. I don't like downtown Minneapolis because of the traffic and parking situation, but that's another story. After the class yesterday, I was walking to my car with another supervisor from our center. He asked about Adam. I relayed the same thing I tell everyone who asks, "I don't know. We don't talk anymore." You would think that would make people stop asking. It doesn't.

Some people say, "But you were so close," or "I wouldn't have ever thought that." Some people say, "Oh, I was hoping you could tell me something." Here's the thing:

I spent a long time on a "friendship" where the outcome was a damaging blow to my self-esteem and thoughts on friendship. By the time we stopped living together, he dropped his fa├žade and I realize that I was just someone who he could use to get what he wanted. I've always been generous to my friends (not monetarily) and he used that to feel better about himself. He is selfish and doesn't really care about many people. He puts on a good act. It took me a long time to admit this because admitting it hurt more than denial.

I'm over it now. I don't want to see him again. I don't want to know about his life. Any thoughts of him wanting to know about where I am in life are gone, I don't care if he knows or not. I don't want to have any contact. I want to forget.

And people keep asking me. I'm not prepared to give up my life that I have now and I just have to deal with the questions. I'll just keep telling people, "I don't know. I don't care." And eventually, the questions will stop. The people who knew us back then will either figure it out or forget. Or they will leave the call center and I won't have that contact anymore.

He is just a former roommate. No emotional connection remains.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My first thought was, "They're remaking Gilligan's Island?"

Technology is flipping amazing.

This week, iTunes & iPod has released a new feature that allows users to purchase music videos and television shows. I, being the addict of new technology and all things electronic (I do adore stores like Best Buy). There are only five shows available on iTunes at this time and the only one that sounded interesting to me was, "Lost". So I bought the first season.

This show is really good. It's like a soap opera on an island. I don't like TV shows that often, but this one is pretty interesting. The cast of characters is diverse and I can't believe I've become addicted to this show.

Now if I could just figure out how to get the shows onto the iPod itself.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Time for the non-filler post of the night...

Today was another good day, even with the distractions and barriers being thrown up all over the place.

Our systems were having problems at work today. The bankers usually love this because they don't have the resources available to complete their jobs and get a bit of a break, but as a supervisor it is annoying. The numbers don't stop just because the computers did and I have to run around trying to get the systems working again. Oh well. By the end of the night we were back up and running and everyone's mood was happy.

Two people at work left early tonight because of illnesses. One is a friend of mine from the old team, a guy who started out pretty negative but turned around and is a joy to be around. He hurt himself at his day job. I felt so bad for him, watching him try to walk without sending shooting pains up his back. I always wish I had the ability to instantly heal people. Feeling bad is the worst thing in the world to me and I always want to take away pain.

The other person who left early was Steve. I felt so bad for him. He is still trying to recover fully from his surgery this past summer and today was not a great day for him. He is battling allergies (and I didn't say this to him, but he was sneezing today and he has the most un-guy-like sneeze I've ever heard! It's so quiet and polite.) He also thinks he ate something that wasn't top-notch and he was so pale. I told him to go lay down for awhile and he ended up leaving after regaining some composure. Our team is always over-protective of Steve (we're mostly women) and when he doesn't feel bad, I go into instant nurture mode.

One of the bankers on my team, a rock star performer if I've ever seen one in the banking industry, said some really nice compliments to me today. When I was telling her that Steve went home, she said, "I feel so lucky to be on this team. We all are because you're so different than most managers." I looked really confused here, I'm sure. She followed up with, "You actually care about how we are. When someone is sick, you don't force them to be on the phones. You ask them what we should do." Now, I do care about getting the business done, but to me it makes no sense to have someone working if they can't physically do the job. If they are sick and can't concentrate, it makes no sense to have them helping customers and making themselves sicker and providing less than perfect service for their customers. I don't want Steve to work himself so hard that he ends up in the hospital. And I do care how he (and the team) feels. I felt good about this compliment.

She also approached me at the end of the night and we were talking about what a great job Steve is doing as a team lead. She said to me, "You two get along great. You really compliment each other's styles and it helps us all feel like we're on a team."

As we were talking, she asked about how the team lead hiring process went. She was in training when I hired Steve but she knows that I worked without a lead for a few weeks. I told her about interviewing people and having to make a decision. I explained the approval process and how I was so anxious to offer the position to Steve. She said, "It must have been interesting to offer to someone you knew so well." This is where I was puzzled.

The banker thought Steve and I had worked together in our previous positions for a long time. I was explaining to her that I didn't really know Steve at all before he applied for the job. I remember, only because DM pointed it out, that there was a guy who had pink hair, but he was a daytime banker and I worked nights. I didn't even remember this until after I interviewed him. I actually thought the fact that she believed us to know each other longer is quite the compliment. That means it seems natural to work together and it shows. When a supervisor/team lead combination is not comfortable, the bankers feel it.

Tomorrow is Thursday and my busy day at work. I have a supervisor meeting with my boss (and other supervisors) when I first get to work. Then I have an hour of meetings with my boss. I also have an interview scheduled for right after my meeting with the boss. I'll probably take calls for a banker and try to help another supervisor with writing a review for a banker from the old team. I hope that Steve is feeling better and is back at work. That would make my day much easier. After work is the Thursday night karaoke at the Chalet with DM.

That's my day. I have a ton of MEMEs below if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

School Update

For anyone wondering, I received my grade from my economics class.

I received 300 points out of 300! That's right! I ended with 100% in the class. This helps make up for the poor learning team I had this class.

Yea for me!

SPAM

Haloscan and Word Verification for Blogger have helped eliminate the amount of spam found on blogs these days, but it does crack me up. Even though it is completely useless and sometimes annoying, I do laugh at the lack of relevance and the odd topics that manage to generate spam.

On my archives, I never get comments. I don't expect any. But every time I update a post with a couple of new links, I get spammed. My table of contents is up to 13 pieces of spam alone and the range of topics do seem quite random. Here are some of my favorite bits from spam.

Any links have been deleted and changed into italics and reddish font. Additional commentary is in italics behind each bullet point.

  • I skim a lot of blogs, and so far yours is in the Top 3 of my list of favorites. I'm going to dive in and try my hand at it, so wish me luck. It'll be in a totally different area than yours (mine is about penis enlargement, scrapbooking kit) I know, it sounds strange, but it's like anything, once you learn more about it, it's pretty cool. It's mostly about penis enlargement related articles and subjects. (Two separate spams but only the links are different)
  • You have a awesome blog! I've got a Adult Sex Toys site. It's about Adult Sex Toys related info. Come see when you can..
  • The Daily Show: September 13, 2005 Hey hey, the man's name is Jon Stewart and this is day two of The Daily Show's special report, Evolution Schmevolution. found your blog - good work Play poker card game the most popularity game anywhere (Internal commentary - does this one even make sense?)
  • Nice Blog!!! It looks like you've spent a fair amount of time setting it up and keeping the content fresh. I'll be sure to come back.I have a online dating blog. It pretty much covers dating tip related stuff.Thanks again and keep up the good work.
  • anyone looking to date a older woman ? online dating
  • dating profile (This one isn't even creative enough to add additional words!)

Irrational Fears

Confession time. What is your most irrational fear? I'm not talking about those things you are afraid of that the majority of humans may have a problem with, but those things that truly have no bearing on life and are in no way a reality.

I had a counselor at school one time tell a group that her irrational fear was to wake up and find a giant Energizer Bunny in her room banging on that drum.

While thinking of this topic, I did a search and found a website that lists out the technical terms for hundreds of phobias. You can check it out here: Phobialist

Some I found interesting:
Alektorophobia - the fear of chickens
Francophobia - the fear of France
Lyssophobia - the fear of dealing with insanity
Genuphobia - the fear of knees
Onomatophobia - the fear of hearing a certain name
Allodoxaphobia - the fear of opinions
Phobophobia - the fear of phobias
Phengophobia - the fear of sunshine or daylight
Automatonophobia - the fear of a ventriloquist's dummy

I did not find the technical term for my worst irrational fear. I am afraid to drink Gatorade. How did I discover this? Let me tell you...

A few weeks ago, my dad purchased grape Gatorade because he needed to increase the number of electolytes in his system as part of physical therapy he has to attend (he fell off a ladder at work about 5 years back and once in awhile he will pull muscles in his back and then hurt for a few weeks). The six pack of Gatorade that he purchased was not suitable to his tastes and he knew I liked grape, so he offered the remaining five bottles to me.

I did not want to let my fear show so I said, "Um, sure, I'll try them." The bottles proceeded to sit in my back seat for two weeks. You may at this point be wondering, 'Beth, why are you afraid of Gatorade?'

It all has to do with the advertising. They use this slogan, "Is it IN you?" and then show all these athletes sweating in neon colors. I'm afraid that I will sweat in neon blue, orange, and yellow if I drink Gatorade.

I did try Gatorade for the first time today. It doesn't taste bad and I have not started sweating neon blue, but I do keep looking.

I did manage to amuse a ton of people at work with my irrational fear today. Hey, at least I kept it light!

To prove what I mean (if you don't know Gatorade ads), this is what I was able to find:

passion3

Found here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Interviewing Tips

Our call center had an open house today in the hopes that we could recruit and hire more people. Unemployment is at a very low rate here in Minnesota and the employers are feeling the hit. Entry level positions are hard to fill with great candidates. Our recruitment staff decided an open house was the solution, bringing as many people through the door as possible. What this required of our management team was back-to-back interviewing.

This is what my schedule for the day looked like:

3:00 - Arrive, say hello to a couple of bankers and say hi to Steve
3:02 - Spend fifteen minutes consoling a banker who had a rough morning
3:17 - Have a banker from training stop by to say hello!
3:25 - Go with Steve to visit our other banker in training and do a dance to prove what a dork I am
3:40 - Start interview #1
4:30 - End interview #1
4:31 - Talk to other supervisors and the HR team in charge of the open house
4:40 - Take a quick break
4:55 - Get back to my desk and complete part of a review process due by the end of the day
5:15 - Start interview #2
7:30 - End interview #2
7:31 - Talk with our HR team
7:45 - Go to the recruitment room, waiting for the next interviewee, talk with Steve
8:05 - Give up, go back to my desk to see if I can complete the review process
8:15 - Start interview #3
9:30 - End interview #3
9:31 - Talk with other supervisors about the "success" of this open house
9:45 - Finally take my lunch
10:15 - Talk with a banker as she was going home - this was fun and full of bonding
10:40 - Get back to my desk to finish the review process paperwork
11:25 - Remember another email that I need to send to my boss
11:28 - Realize I forgot an entire part of the review process. Recall the email I just sent to our numbers guy, correct it.
11:35 - Walk out the door with Steve, wishing him a good long weekend (he gets a four-day weekend! Yea for Steve!)

I asked Steve tonight if it felt like he did nothing today. He laughed and said, "No, I felt busy all day. But I feel like I accomplished nothing today." That is what I feel like. I was running all day, but I never got to do the really fun stuff of spending time with our team.

Now the reason for this post was not to complain about my day but to give some pointers to those interviewing out there on what to do and what not to do while you are being interviewed.

  • Turn off your cellular phone. If you do happen to forget to turn it off, don't take the call. This happened TWICE today.
  • Bring in your identification card. If you are applying at a bank (read as BONDED company requiring background checks because you are handling people's financials), the bank will probably ask you for your ID number.
  • Speak clearly. Mumbling while interviewing for a phone job does not score you points.
  • Use complete sentences. This is a professional environment. Act like you are a professional.
  • After the interviewer has explained that employees are rated on how quickly they can help customers, do not proceed to take 10 minutes to answer every question. Repeating yourself over and over does not make you look better.
  • When you are the one making the interview last for over two hours because you can't shut up, do NOT complain about how long the interview is taking.
  • Answer the questions asked. Pulling random facts that do not relate into the answer does not help.
  • Researching the company you are interviewing is a good idea. When you only quote the website to the interviewer and offer no concrete examples of how you meet the company's vision, you do not sound like a fit for the job. Research is not the only thing we look at.
  • Telling an interviewer that your answer to every challenge is to give the call to a supervisor does not promote you as a competent individual.

I do not think I'm a harsh interviewer. I do look for specific skills and aptitudes, but I do not rule people out automatically. Today was just a hard day because I spent a lot of time with little results. Two of the applicants are already turn downs. One may be offered the job, but I will have to decide that tomorrow when I review the notes from the interview.

When I interview, I look for a few things. Does the person have experience in banking/sales/customer service/call centers? Does the person know how to use a computer (because our job requires a lot of computer usage)? Can the person learn? Is the person ethical, have integrity, or show signs of maturity? Will the person stay with the company? Would I want this person to be on my team?

The two questions that need a "yes" answer are "Can this person learn?" and "Would I want this person to be on my team?" If I do not feel confident enough that this person could learn the job with help, then the job is not the right fit. If I couldn't see this person fitting in with my team, the chances are they wouldn't fit in with the other teams. All the supervisors are looking for the same type of personalities and I don't want to hire someone for another supervisor if I don't think the person will give the job the respect having a job demands.

Tomorrow is another busy day for me. I have an early meeting (weekly supervisor meeting), a meeting with my boss (weekly), another interview (this one made it through a phone screening), and a full team of bankers. There may be a HR issue to resolve tomorrow with a banker (oh, joy. Can't you feel my excitement?) Steve is also gone and I know I'll be ready for some karaoke after work.

The Lengths One Goes for a Friend

This story is one I wrote in the notebook and have been meaning to share. I hope you enjoy.

Thirteen years ago, half of my lifetime ago, I was a student hanging out with my friends, not working, not making plans for career advancement or worrying about paying bills. My braces had just come off and I had a retainer, but I was not unfortunate enough to be forced to wear it to school. One of my friends was not so lucky and she had to deal with it each day during lunch at school.

On the day of the most disgusting meal know to a student, my friend managed to leave the retainer on her tray and discard it with the remains of a vile concoction known as the pizza burger. A pizza burger was a soggy bun covered in burnt cheese and bland marinara sauce. It looked like vomit and smelled just as bad.

When she realized what she had done, she appropriately freaked. My friend begged me to help her and our fourth period English teacher obliged with hall passes. The janitor fitted me with latex gloves and I spent the next fifty minutes not learning about Anne Frank but digging through garbage cans full of half-eaten pizza burgers and open milk cartons, starting to pick up the rotten milk smell. This was a bit against my will and completely against my better judgment.
Rummaging through this trash is seriously one of the most awful experiences of my life. I was never a fan of school lunches and I still adore my mom for preparing my meals each day. I do have a rather strong stomach, but there are a few smells that make me nauseous. A certain fast food chain's name can cause a gag reflex for me and the smell of sour milk will make me leave the room. Add slimy, squishy pizza burgers and you will find me to be a not-so-happy camper.

There were four garbage cans. I found the retainer resting in the second one I was assigned to shift through. My friend was ecstatic and thankful. She washed it off and her parents never knew her mistake. I know that I never want to be exposed to pizza burgers again.

Monday, October 03, 2005

"How did I lose March?"

A year ago, I wrote a post to summarize the previous 12 months and wanting to set my new year up at a different time than most. You can find that post here (if you're interested). I am happy to see that my date for a new start is the same as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year this year. That won't happen again next year. But here is my post to look back on all that has happened in the last 365 days.

October 3 - 31, 2005

I take a class on statistics. It is horrible.
I fall for a boy. This ends up being way over blown.
DM and I go to karaoke every Sunday night.
I have lunch with Liese.
Matt and I go to Perkins for card playing.
I turn 26 and go out to dinner with my mom and her boyfriend to Manny's, one of the top 10 steakhouses in the country.
Halloween karaoke is fun and I dressed up as a Go-Go Dancer just so I could wear my awesome boots.

November 1 - 30, 2004

DM and I go to karaoke every Sunday night.
The boy still drives me insane.
I bought a new car!
I finish the stats class and take a computer & information processing class.
I go to Perkins with the Sheepsheadians.
Thanksgiving is spent at my grandparents with my dad and my cousins.
I voted.
I tried to hold onto a futile friendship with my former roommate with no success and now hindsight shows me this is a good thing.
The enema pledge is made.

December 1 - 31, 2004

DM and I go to karaoke every Sunday.
I go to Perkins with the Sheepsheadians.
DM and I get stuck going out with Pete.
DM and I scrapbook.
I go to lunch with my dad and grandparents.
I spend Christmas with my parents, my mom's boyfriend, and DM joins me for scrapbooking.
I try to burst my bubble and make a move on a crush with no effect.
My mom gets a new cat that is added to the mix at my old home.
I went to an awesome Christmas party.
DM and I decide to take a trip to see Johnny in Portugal.
Char and I really start hanging out after work.
I spend New Year's Eve with Keem, DM, and Matt at Perkins.

January 1 - 31, 2005

I scrapbook with Keem and DM.
I spend time with my dad.
I go to Perkin's with the Sheepsheadians.
My remaining wisdom tooth needs to be pulled.
I go to IHOP with people from work.
Friday night pool starts up with people from work.
DM and I go to karaoke every Sunday.
The player starts calling me.
I take an employment law class.
I bought a new cell phone.
I got pulled over by a cop (no ticket).
I saw my former roommate for the last time.
The boy shows up at karaoke again, messing with my head.

February 1 - 28, 2005

I go to karaoke with DM every Sunday.
I play pool after work with all my friends.
I go to IHOP with the girls from work.
The Sheepsheadians have a gift exchange (belated Christmas).
I have lunch with Liese and change my hair.
I spend too much time at the dentist.
I go to Manny's with Keem and DM and we also go to see a Gilbert & Sullivan Light Opera.
Pete asks me out. I say no.
I ended up in a ditch after karaoke.
I finally wrote off a friendship that was no longer healthy. Purging the pain felt great.

March 1 - 31, 2005

Matt went M.I.A.
I spent a lot of time playing pool with Char and going to IHOP with Char.
DM turned 38. We had a fun weekend.
DM and I went to see Michael do his karaoke show.
DM and I went to karaoke every Sunday.
I went to the dentist (again).
I scrapbooked with Keem and DM.
DM and I went to get our passports!
Jesus sent me mail.
Johnny has a birthday!
I bought an iPod.
Char had her tires stolen at the Chalet.

April 1 - 30, 2005

DM and I go to karaoke 3 out of 4 Sundays.
I interview for a new job.
I play a lot of pool with Char.
I went to Taco's 18th birthday party.
DM and I go to Portugal to meet Johnny!
We see the ocean.
We see a beautiful museum.
We see a chapel made of human bones.
We get to meet Johnny and realize how truly wonderful she is, our impressions are confirmed.
Three of the bankers on my team leave the call center during the same two week period and I am saddened.
DM and I feel excited to be part of the IN crowd at karaoke.
The Pope died so I bought new clothes.

May 1 - 31, 2005

DM and I go to karaoke each Sunday.
We get invited over to Bryan and Liz's house!
I go to the dentist a lot.
I was promoted at work.
I play a lot of pool with Char.
My grandma passes away.
Taco passes away.
I have to start the process of hiring a team lead.
Matt has a birthday.
I spend time with my paternal grandparents for Mother's Day.
I spend a lot of time at my mom's.
This was one of the hardest times of my life. May was a mental roller-coaster.

June 1 - 30, 2005

I hit my one year in blogging.
I have my 8 year anniversary at NABABNA.
I hired a team lead - Steve. He rocks.
I spend time playing pool wih Char.
I go to karaoke with DM.
DM and I go to Tomah to meet Mark.
I spend time at my dad's.
I go to a farewell party for Donovan.
DM visits for a scrapping weekend.
DM and I start going to karaoke on Thursdays.
My camera was stolen at work.

July 1 - 31, 2005

I bought a new camera.
I played a lot of pool again with Char.
Tom moved to Texas. This is sad. (Tom is Char's husband.)
I go to a summer party.
I watch fireworks.
I go to karaoke a lot with DM on Sundays and Thursdays.
I go to Mom's a few times.
I scrapbook with DM.

August 1 - 31, 2005

I go to Manny's with Mom, Dad, Scott (Mom's boyfriend), and DM.
DM and I go to karaoke a lot.
I play a lot of pool with Char before she moves to Texas.
The player calls me again.
My dad has a birthday.
DM and I get to go to Bryan and Liz's again.
I go to work early for an all-managers meeting.
DM and I visit an old stomping ground of mine, aka Bugs.

September 1 - 30, 2005

Lots of karaoke.
Lots of Perkins with Steve.
I go back to school - economics. Ick.
I play some pool with a girl from work.
DM and I get to go to Bryan and Liz's again for karaoke.
I visit my mom's house and my dad's house.
Chip has a birthday!
I go to the dentist again.
My dating life starts getting odd.

October 1 - 3, 2005

I do a lot of school work.
DM and I go to karaoke.
I spent Sunday afternoon at my dad's.
I went to the dentist.
I wrote this post.

The last 365 days have been filled with a lot of karaoke, a lot of friendship, and a lot of changes. It has been a rough year, but I think I'm a stronger person for having gotten through it. I had a great time in Portugal with DM and Johnny and I'm happy in my career. My circle of friends changed a little and my family got a little smaller. I am in a very different place than I was last year at this time, even though my surroundings are not that different.

What do the next 365 days have in store?