the mouseyblog - V2.0

more rants, raves, and ruminations from the mind of mouseywerks

Thursday, March 31, 2011

With Apologies to Vincent Price... or not.
 
While driving home from work today, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" came on the radio.  I've always loved Vincent Price's voiceover at the end of the song.  But while listening to it today - and thinking about the current budget repair bill situation in Wisconsin - I realized that it was ripe for parody.
 
So, with no further ado, here is the end of "Thriller" - Wisconsin style.
 
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Bills debated in cold blood
While on the doors the people thud
 
The brave fourteen shall not be found
The Capitol's a camping ground
Fitzgerald loosed his hounds of hell
Democracy's a corpse's shell
 
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty-three young years
And grizzly ghouls in the back room
Are sealing poor Wisconsin's doom
 
And though they fight to stay alive
The unions get a shocker
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of Scott Walker
 
 
Now if only I could get Vincent Price could come back from the dead and record this.  It would be perfect.
 
3:50 pm pst

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote early, vote often... if you can.

Since I’m (still) unemployed, (and we are so not going into that today... trust me, it's better that way) I’ve been shuttling Dear J to work. This morning we were heading down Schroeder Road and saw this.

Road Work Ahead

Oh great. Not again.

“No big whoop,” we thought, since there’s been weird road construction projects all over our neighborhood this year. “I wonder what they’re digging up now?” I pondered aloud as we passed the sign. About a hundred yards later, we found out.

Road Closed to Through Traffic

(They’d moved it aside by the time I took this picture.)

Yup, a road-closed-to-through-traffic sign, on Forward Drive. There were flagwomen and giant construction machines, and a huge trench had been dug down the middle of the street. And you might think it’s no big whoop, since Forward Drive is a dead-end street that doesn’t see much traffic.

But it’s Election Day. And my neighborhood polling place? It’s in a building on Forward Drive.

Brilliant.

It’s so nice to see that the City of Madison Streets Department chose November 2nd to basically turn Forward Drive into a one-lane traffic nightmare.

And when we say one lane, we mean it.

One lane only.

Maybe it

Trench full of loose dirt.

They looked bigger in real life.

Ginormous construction machines.

We

You want to turn left? I don’t think so.

And this was at 10:15 am.

Jerks in cars, honking at the poor harassed flagwomen.

Sheesh. You’d think the Government would want to make it easy for people to vote, not shut down the one road that all the sweet little old men and women who live in my neighborhood (and there are a lot of them) have to drive down to get to our polling place. I mean, they get confused enough when they have to execute the complicated maneuver called “making a left turn”. I can’t imagine their consternation at seeing the road was closed.

It almost made me want to write in Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck. Really, they couldn’t do a worse job than the boneheads in city government that made this decision.

I just hope that no one was put off voting because the road was blocked. Because this election?

It is a big whoop.

10:07 am pst

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Whoo boy! What a Rush!

 

It all started on April 16th, when Dear Jay’s brother M posted on Facebook that he had two tickets to Rush at Summerfest that he was looking to sell. He and his wife P had decided to splurge on a package that included a pair in the pit (like row 2!  Alex’s sweat would spray on them!) so he wanted to sell the ones he’d originally bought. Now, I know how big a Rush fan Dear Jay is. And I’d just been abruptly laid off from my job only three days earlier. And we’d just done our taxes and I had some nice money coming back from my return. And my attitude was all WTF-my-life-has-been-knocked-ass-over-teakettle-again. So I said to Dear Jay, I said, “Hey. We should see if M will sell us those tickets.”

 

And he did.

 

Now those of you who have known me for donkey’s years will understand, but for those of you who haven’t, when I was younger I was not exactly the fest-going, concert-attending, party girl type. Au contraire, mes amis. In my family, a “big concert” was when my church’s choir would present an evening of Christmas hymns, or when all of the performing groups in the music department in my high school put on the three to four hour extravaganza we called the Pop Concert. You know the type: they would put up round tables in the gym with tablecloths and candles and folding chairs and free cookies and bars (oh, those free cookies and bars. It was all-you-could-eat heaven), and the grand finale would be the concert band blaring out the theme from Star Wars. The types of concerts where the most dangerous ingredient in the brownies was the vanilla extract.

 

Then I went off to college in Iowa and, c’mon, who tours Iowa? Pantera live at Pig-fest? Not exactly a wild party-fest-concert scene. After graduation came a succession of low-wage, crap hours jobs; buying concert tickets that cost a week’s wages or more wasn’t really an option. Friend C took me to Kenny Rogers, ex-BF E took me to Amy Grant, and date T took me to Sinéad O’Connor, and that was the extent of my concert-going youth. My parents definitely didn’t have anything to worry about.

 

So when the opportunity presented itself to go to a Real Rock Concert at a Real Music Festival, I decided to indulge my inner sixteen-year-old, and go for it.

 

But how to get from Madison to the Milwaukee lakefront? I really didn’t want to drive, especially through that snakes’ nest they call the Marquette Interchange. (Seriously, look at it. It’s enough to scare your knickers off.) But then we heard about Badger Bus’s Summerfest special: round trip for $25. Ride in air conditioned comfort and no parking fee? Sold.

 

Yesterday was the Big Day. We packed our money and our tickets and our sun block and our cell phones and off we went. We did not pack our cameras. The Summerfest website listed all kinds of dire consequences for taking photographs, stopping just short of having our cameras crushed under the heels of their jackboots, being banned from the festival for life, and then getting tossed out on our asses into the middle of a gang of drunken Hell’s Angels. We decided not to risk it, so that is why there are no photographs in this blog post, only links. Even though just about everyone else there was snapping photos with immunity. Dammit.

 

We left our car at the Park & Ride lot and got on the bus. (Imagine a red motor coach with a big Bucky on it, like this one, only a double decker!) We sat upstairs. We arrived in Milwaukee and walked the four blocks to the Summerfest grounds. We ate burritos. We drank beer (okay, Dear Jay drank beer; I had a Diet Pepsi). We hung out with M and P. We experienced three and one half hours of guitar, drum, and bass virtuosity. We held up our lighters during “Closer To The Heart”. We bought tour T-shirts and a program. We met so many people - in the line at the tour souvenir booth, in our seats at the concert, waiting for the bus to take us home – everyone was so nice! It was like we’d taken a mini-vacation with a group of good friends we just hadn’t met yet.

 

We got home at 2:30 am, sweaty, hoarse, half-deaf, and so pumped up that we didn’t go to bed until the sun was up.

 

For a day, I could forget that my life had been turned ass-over-teakettle.

 

It was totally, totally worth it.

 

5:42 pm pdt

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yes, I remembered I have a blog.
 
Okay, you're going to think I am crazy.  I bought some plants today and finally (!) started a very small container garden on my balcony.  I guess I'm jealous of my Mom, and sister K., and my friend KittyMommy; they are all so busy growing lovely things and here I am with only a half-dead cactus to my name.  So I went to Menards after dropping DH off at work this morning, and got some good deals, and then went home and played in the dirt, which also came in a bag from Menards.  I bought dirt.  Such a city-dweller am I.

Here is my final product. 
 
Green things!
(Look!  Twenty minutes and they haven't died yet!) 
 
On the left is some lavendar; on the right, spearmint, and in the big pot is a "hybrid salsa tomato" which (if it survives) will have 4" - 5" tomatoes that are bred to be "very meaty".  I made sure to get plants that like lots of direct sunlight, and the lavendar and mint are perennials so if I don't kill them this year I'll have another chance next year.  I'm really hoping the lavendar survives.  If it does, I'm going to dry some and knit little sachets from leftover sock yarn.  I might try cooking with the mint, too.

My other big news is about the WIA (Workforce Investment Act) Education Academy orientation I went to Monday.  I got signed up, and spoke with a very nice girl named Meghan who is going to help me organize everything I need to get into the Business Tech Academy.  Next week Monday (June 28th) I go to MATC - oops, Madison College - for a displaced worker seminar.  Then on Tuesday I take the COMPASS exam, which is a placement test that should allow me to test out of the basic classes (English comp, Math, etc.).  Then on Thursday (July 1st) I meet with Meghan again to arrange what to do next.  The Business Tech Academy is just starting up (the curriculum hasn't even been finalized yet) so I am getting in right at the beginning, which is really good.  I'll have the rest of the summer to get the funding (Meghan assured me it will be approved) and everything else I need.  The classes start in September and go about two months.

Then - deep breath - I think I'm going to continue at Madison College (MATC) in the spring 2011 semester and get at least an Associates in IT.  My work situation (which I can't predict right now) will determine if I go full time or part time.  I'm going to continue to apply for jobs, and if I get one, great.  But I'm convinced now that it's time for me to build my skills in a more formal way.  Work experience is all well and good, but I feel like I'm handicapped because I don't have extensive training in the fields where I excel.  Plus, everything is falling into place so effortlessly with this WIA program that I'd feel like a fool if I didn't take advantage of it.  Kind of like as if I were standing out in the pouring rain, and someone opened a door to shelter and said "Come on in, it's warm and dry and there's food and it's all free!" and I said "No, I'll just stand out here and catch my death."  Duh, Linda, go inside - what are you afraid of?  That someone will help you?

So next week is going to be a whirlwind of crazy, but it's the good kind of crazy where you come out the other side a stronger and better person. Have you ever felt that way?  Kind of scared and excited all at once?  Not sure if you'll be able to handle it, but eager to learn more about something you enjoy?
 
I keep telling myself, "I can do this!".  I look at the 43% anticipated job expansion in IT in the next 6 years and feel good about my decision.  And I look at my new "garden" and think that this is, indeed, a time for growth.
 
11:44 am pdt

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interview Butterflies? Mine Are More Like Rhinos!
 
What's worse than being nervous about a job interview? Sitting for a half hour waiting for interviewers who are running late. As if I wasn't already as jittery as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I had to do something to keep myself from hopping on the Express Train to Crazyland. It would have looked bad if they'd come out to find me eating my own hair.
 
So, in the best tradition of pessimistic optimists (of which I am a charter member), I started thinking What could possibly go wrong? That's when things got a bit silly, and I got out my pen, because nothing cures an anxiety attack like a Top Ten List!
 
So, without further ado, I share with you:
 
The Top Ten Worst Things That Could Happen During A Job Interview
 
10.) I barf on the interviewer(s). They say "Oh, so you had a Pop Tart for breakfast?"
 
9.) Rabid squirrel in my purse decides to make a break for it
 
8.) Global Thermonulear War begins. Interview is not interrupted.
 
7.) Refer to my former boss as "Captain Cranky-Pants"
 
6.) Instead of résumé, I accidentally hand interviewers some p0rn
 
5.) Say the only reason I want the job is for the free doughnuts
 
4.) Drop "F-bomb". Drop it again while apologizing
 
3.) When asked if I have any questions, say yes, and ask interviewer if he is wearing boxers or briefs
 
2.) Intend to chew fingernail, but actually bite off own thumb
 
1.) Apologize for coughing by saying "I really gotta cut back on the pot smoking"
 
And you know, it worked. The rhinos downgraded their activity from "rampage" to "line dance". I managed not to screw up too badly. Now I just have to wait, and hope that my competition are all carrying rabid squirrels in their purses.
 
Wish me luck!
 
1:47 pm pst

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some Things Never Change
 
From Forecasting Business Cycles, © 1931 by Warren M. Persons.
 
"The world of affairs in which we live is not a mechanistic world; it is a bewildering world of multiplicities, complexities, interactions, repercussions, and the vagaries of human wants, fears, and hopes. It is a world in which, at times, facts and logic become subordinated to human emotions. At such times individuals, who by themselves are rational, join with other rational individuals to form an unreasoning mob. The business world then suffers from an epidemic of optimism, with hope, recklessness, and indolence as its leading symptoms, or from an epidemic of pessimism, with fear, timidity, and inertia as its leading features. It is also a world of wars, droughts, floods, earthquakes, and monetary changes. In such a world there can be neither a 'sure-fire' system nor a reliable 'trick' method of forecasting business cycles."
 
Apply that to today's economy.  Kind of mind boggling, huh?
 
1:57 pm pst

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In Which I Try To Find The Silver Lining Without Getting Struck By Lightning

 

Okay, it’s only been one week. In December the average time it took an unemployed person to find a job was 19.7 weeks (thank you, Wall Street Journal / AP story, I hate you, why did I ever look at you); I should not be freaking here – this could take some time. I set up my meditation fountain (Christmas gift from Dear Jay’s Dad & Step-Mom) and lit a scented candle (and no, I am not going to regret spending eighty dollars on Partylite last November. My sister sells it. I am supporting her and her family, not some faceless corporation) and I got my first unemployment compensation check yesterday.

 

I have a résumé, and a cover letter, and references, and I even found an awesome interview suit that was 33% off and doesn’t make my butt look fat. (I know. I thought it was impossible, too.) I have searched on Yahoo Hot Jobs and Monster and Career Builder and my local newspaper and other want ads. I’m one of 522,000 that were laid off in January, so it’s a bit of a comfort to know I’m not alone. It’s just hard not to wish that karma would swiftly mete out justice in the form of a particularly virulent strain of Ebola that would wipe out everyone at That Stupid Company That Laid Me Off (everyone except the other 15% they laid off as well).  I’m just sayin’.

 

At least I’m doing everything right, according to all those how-to-get-a-job books at the library. (Library! Free! Yes!) Every morning, after I take Dear Jay to work, I fire up the old laptop and “go to work” myself. I check the dedicated email account I set up for my job search. I look for new entries on the job listing sites. I customize my cover letter and the plain-text version of my résumé and upload them into prospective employers’ databases. I sit and wait for the phone(s) to ring.

 

But, you know, it’s hard to stay upbeat. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not like the other times in my life when I was unemployed, when the wolf was at the door waiting as I came home from yet another job termination. (He’s a big wolf. I call him Boris.) As much as Oprah’s bourgeois spiritualism makes me grind my teeth, I try to use one of her practices: each day think of five things for which I am thankful. Okay, I call it my “Get a Grip, Things Are Not Going to Hell in a Handbasket Quite Yet” list. It’s corny, but it keeps me from eating my own hair.

 

Money is coming in, from Dear Jay and the government.

We have over six months income saved in case this would happen.

We have not totaled the car.

Our home has not burned down.

We are not in the hospital with Ebola, or any other life-threatening condition.

 

So those are the Big Five. There are more, and in coming days I may post them here. But right now I need to tell you about one more.

 

Those of you who know me well (like know-about-the-time-I-had-to-borrow-a-pair-of-tighty-whities-from-a-former-boyfriend well) know that I am painfully self-conscious in social situations. I always think that everyone else has it all together, and that I’m just a monumental eff-up, and the moment I open my mouth everyone will know. And then I open my mouth and some outrageous flaky statement comes flying out before my self-editor kicks in, and everyone laughs; which makes me think that they are laughing at me, not with me. (Ooh, now I’ve shared my big, scary secret. I have power over you, secret. I pwn you!)

 

But not everyone has it all together, no matter how they seem to. Inside every one of us (okay, not Leona Helmsley, but she’s dead; not Bernard Madoff, but he’s going to prison; or even Donald Trump, but he’s had a bad hair, um, life) – now, where was I? oh, yes – inside every one of us is a soul in constant fear that those around us will realize just how fragile our psyche really is. That we’re a bundle of nervousness and insecurity and that we really don’t know what the eff we’re doing 95% of the time.

 

So when someone I respect, someone who has overcome her own personal upheavals with grace and courage and a sense of humor that makes me spit out my latté, presents me with the Lemonade Stand Award, I tell you, I nearly cried. A kleenix may have been acquired; a sniffle may have been sniffed. I am honored. Really. I am reaching through the internet to give you hugs, Molly Bee. Thank you.

 

  lemonade stand award

 

Part of the award is passing it on.  The three I’m passing it to are blog-less, but no less deserving of it.  They are:

 

My Mom, who has dealt with uncertain health in the last four months, yet has kept her sense of humor, even through the fog of painkillers. Neck surgery, NSAID allergies, flu; and all on top of a wonky knee that is scheduled for a replacement next week – surgery that has been postponed twice already. Third time’s the charm, Mom? I’ll be there to drive you and Dad to the hospital (and promise not to drool on your sporty blue Jetta… too much) and take him home after your bionics have been installed. They can rebuild you. They have the technology. They have the erector set.

 

My youngest sister, who has MS. You are blessed with a loving husband and a precocious daughter, and despite fighting a scary-bad disease you still are there for them, and holding down a job, babysitting other’s little ones, selling Partylite, volunteering at church and just being an all-around awesome sister. I wish we could hang together more often.

 

And (saving the best for last) my Dear Jay. You have not gotten angry at me or criticized my decisions or second-guessed anything I’ve done since (and as a result of) this lay-off. You have stepped up to the plate at your work with energy and courage. Every day you call me to tell me that you love me, and believe in me, and that we will get through this. You’re the sugar in my lemonade.

 

And that, my friends, gives me the courage and the poise to run through these thunderstorms.

 

Though if you see me with a new, frizzy hairstyle?

 

Just call me Donald Trump.

 

12:32 pm pst

Friday, January 30, 2009

Attention Employment Recruiters -- Why You Might See "Knitter" on my Résumé

 

10.  Knitters are patient.  An average pair of socks is made up of over 22,000 stitches.  That’s a lot of loops to pull through loops.

 

9.  Knitters think outside the box.  If the item they are knitting needs to be a bit wider or longer in order to fit, a Knitter will stray from the pattern and improvise.

 

8.  Knitters are team players.  If a Knitter can’t knit an entire patchwork charity blanket, other Knitters will each knit a square and sew them together so the recipient will get it right away.

 

7.  Knitters are prepared.  They keep bins of yarn, containers of needles, and books of patterns.  When the call goes out for knitted items, they are ready to go.

 

6.  Knitters are industrious.  They don’t waste time playing video games or viewing sleaze on the web.  When they have spare time, like waiting at the doctor’s office or at the DMV, they knit, and when they are done they have a useful product to show for it.

 

5.  Knitters are helpful.  If a Knitter can’t figure out what an SKP is, a simple online query will result in 100 other Knitters offering to show how it’s done.

 

4.  Knitters are proactive.  A Knitter knows that eventually socks get holes in them.  A Knitter will carry a strand of woolly nylon along when knitting areas that will see wear to prevent that.

 

3.  Knitters are resourceful.  In a pinch, they will use chopsticks for needles, rubber bands for point protectors, and paper clips for stitch markers.  They will knit with anything; cut up T-shirts and plastic grocery bags, even old videotape.

 

2.  Knitters are innovative.  If a pattern for a hat can’t be found, a Knitter will grab a measuring tape and a stitch dictionary and write one.

 

1.  Knitters are thrifty.  Instead of spending ten dollars on a sweater from WalMart that will shrink, fade, and fall apart in one year, they will spend eighty dollars on the supplies and knit one that will last fifty years.  Cost savings: 84%, or $420 (not counting tax).

 

Now, if that isn’t an impressive skill set, I don’t know what is!

 

Hire a Knitter!

 

4:16 pm pst

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Snakes On A Blog -- 2008 Edition

 

I guess it is inevitable when the building where you work is near wetlands.  Add some balmy autumn days that let your co-workers leave all the doors open, measure out some cooling nighttime temperatures, and mix well.  The results of this recipe?  Not a casserole or a cookie or a canapé.  Nope.

 

It’s

 

a

 

warehouse

 

full

 

of

 

SNAKES.

 

Creepy slithery scary little snakes.  Not just outside, but inside.  Sliding over wooden pallets, secreting themselves under copiers, curling up in the middle of the floor where, if you aren’t looking where you are walking, you could very easily step on one. 

 

There was one less than fifteen feet from my desk.

 

This is not cool, my friends.  The sentence “I do not like snakes” doesn’t even begin to describe the utter terror that makes my heart leap into my throat and my skin crawl and my voice squeak up into the Mariah-Carey-stratosphere when I see a snake.  I do not even want to be in the same zip code as a snake.  I do not like the thought of there being a possibility of me opening a desk drawer or moving my computer keyboard or taking some toner off a shelf and discovering a snake.

 

I’m sure my vacationing boss would hear my screams all the way down in Missouri.

 

Apparently there have been snakes in the warehouse for the past two days.  I did not know that until this afternoon when I saw my first little interloper.  (I know.  I was shocked that I didn’t run shrieking out to my car the moment I found out.)  A wholesaler evicted that one for me.  Yeah, like I was going to pick it up and throw it out the door.  Hah!  Insects, spiders, those I can smack and kill and flick into a wastebasket.  Snakes – no way am I gonna do anything that alerts those little buggers to the fact that I am anywhere in the vicinity.

 

Especially since (if the Warehouse Manager is correct) some of them are baby rattlesnakes.  Baby rattlesnakes that do not have rattles on the end of their tails (who knew?), so they are slithering around looking like harmless cousins of garter snakes, until **CHOMP** they decide to find out if you have a flavor.  And then you can’t call 911 because your hands are going numb, and as you begin to feel lightheaded and the room starts spinning you realize you are wearing dingy old cotton undies and all of the doctors and nurses are going to laugh because whatever antivenin they give you for the snakebite will end up being delivered by a big hypodermic needle in your… end.

 

Who do you call when there are snakes in your workplace?  Human Resources?  OSHA?  Samuel L. Jackson?  And can you call in sick to work because you’re scared of snakes?  Is snake-o-phobia considered an authentic medical condition, like an emotional disorder, so I could take the day off?  Or maybe it’s a recognized handicap, and I could call in under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

 

Because I seriously do not want to go to work tomorrow.

 

Snakes.  **shiver**

 

Somebody get me a fang-proof bodysuit and a big bottle of wine.

 

6:57 pm pdt

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Location, location, location...

You know how sometimes you see a “For Rent” sign, and you get an irrational desire to move? Even though the place is smaller, in an older building, and upstairs of a busy retail/restaurant establishment that opens earlier than our alarm clock usually goes off? And I don’t know the landlord, or who would be our neighbors, or how many rooms there are and if utilities and water are included? And there would be no bus for Dear Jay to take to his work (because we only have one car), and the apartment is ten miles farther from my work, and gas is $4.00 a gallon? Even though we love where we live; it’s quiet, convenient, and has secure underground parking: all of which this apartment does not have? And we’d have to give up the new washers and driers and cool loft bedroom and newly paved driveway and charcoal grills in the backyard that anyone can use? Because the allure of this place is so strong that I, if only for a moment, considered breaking my lease and stuffing the prodigious amounts of crap that we own into boxes and bags and trucking it down three flights of stairs and out to this suburb and up another flight of stairs? Including a sofa sleeper that I think weighs more than our car? And Dear Jay would seriously flake if I told him we were moving without asking his opinion first? And I’d probably have to fight off dozens of my acquaintances who would all be competing with me for the right to sign the lease?

Oh, it may sound like I’ve lost my mind. Gone stark, raving bonkers. Taken up permanent residence in the land of loopy-loo. But you, my fiber friends; five little words and you will understand completely.

The apartment?

It’s above The Sow’s Ear.

9:18 pm pdt

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animated_mouse_with_paper.gif

Linda L.
 
I used up my 10MB
so I had to re-blog.
If I could only shut up,
this wouldn't have happened.
 
To read the old blog,

 
Contact Me
 
the_mousey_blog AT earthlink DOT net

a continuation of the original mouseyblog