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Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So...I'm browsing the web (wasting time), and found out that I have my own dress up doll. And true to life, the animated Tamara needs makeup help as well!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not Much to Say

But when has that ever stopped me?

We all had our annual performance reviews today. I have been a bit worried about this ever since my little eruption at work earlier this month. My faith has been somewhat restored in my manager (you know, up to the point where it was before...), as she didn't mention anything regarding that incident in my review. It was a lot more positive than I was expecting. What a relief! It did, however, mention my consistent tardiness. This has always been a problem for me, in all my past jobs. This is the first time it has shown up on one of my reviews though. I guess they are cracking down.

So, yet again, I am resolving to drag myself out of bed (this is really difficult for me, and I don't know if it has anything to do with my anxiety meds or not...but I had problems pre-meds too) early enough to get to work before my official start time, which is currently 9am. My new goal will be to get to work at 8:30am. That way, if I'm 15 minutes late, I'm still there before 9am. I've tried this before though, and slowly worked my way back up to 15 minutes (or so) past 9am. Ack!

And tomorrow, I'm in a training that starts at 9am. That means that if I want my tea before the class begins, I need to be there early! So, tonight I'm setting my cell phone alarm and placing the phone next to my bed. It's harder to ignore and/or snooze through than my regular alarm (which I have been known to sleep through...and hit snooze numerous times, even though it's across the room from the bed and I have to get up and walk to it to hit the button). Wish me luck with this all - I need the support!

And take a peek at my new horoscope avatar on my sidebar. Isn't it cute?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Party's Over

Well, it was a good weekend - lots of fun with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. (Though I didn't get to see one of the cousins, since her daughter had the flu and the rest of us preferred not to be exposed.)

Mom and I started out Thursday morning around 10:30am, and made it to Anderson's for some Split Pea soup and onion cheese bread. This stopping for a sit-down meal during a long car trip is kind of new for me. My memories of long trips with the family always include my father's determination to make it to our destination in record time and with a minimum of stops. Mom and I were more relaxed than that, stopping for food and bathroom breaks! (My father will be disappointed by this, I'm sure.) We made it to my Aunt and Uncle's house right before 6pm.

On Friday, my cousin Gabby came over with her youngest daughter (who was an infant the last time I saw her, and is almost 3 now, I think). It was good to see her, and for the first time, I really saw how much she looks like my older sister. My mother has always said that, but I'd never really seen it before. (I don't know why it struck me this time.) Must be the Alteri in her.

After Gabby left, the rest of us (Mom, Uncle Harry, Aunt Mary Lynn and I) headed out antique-ing (is that really a word?) in Ventura. We were checking out all of the cut crystal, trying to identify any Canastota glass (the actual company name is Ideal Glass Company), which was made in my mother's hometown. We were also on the lookout for cool old bottles, as my cousin Amy has started making crystal crosses with the bottles as the base. She's gotten Uncle Harry into this too. And they're really pretty neat - she's been selling them too. We had lunch at Savory before continuing the treasure hunt. I had an excellent turkey sandwich on focaccia (as shown below).
Later that night, we headed over to my cousin Kateri's house for dinner. My cousin Chris and his wife came up as well (they actually live very close to Kateri) - I haven't seen any of these cousins since Chris's wedding 2 years ago. I think we all had a good time. (If the noise level is any indication, it was quite a success!) Kateri made home-made pizza, antipasto and pasta e fagioli, which was all excellent. The spread is below.

It rained most of the day Sunday, but we decided to hit some garage sales anyway (you have never met my Aunt's equal in finding treasures at garage sales!). We headed out to an estate sale, and come to find out, it was Chris Penn's (supposedly) estate. All of the proceeds were to go to Doctors Without Borders. I did have an old appointment book in my hand that I was flipping through, which had phone numbers for "Sean & Eliz" (the seller, who said she was a friend of Penn's mother, said this was probably Sean Penn and Elizabeth McGovern, back when they were living together. She didn't realize the book had anything in it, and decided not to sell, but rather give it to his mother). There were also a few original screenplays, a whole gaggle of books and CDs, and some large leather jackets. I don't know if it all really belonged to Chris Penn or not - I'm guessing some of it may have been the belongings of the seller. I ended up buying Memoirs of a Geisha(which probably did not belong to Chris Penn, but I've been meaning to read it for a while now, and it was only $0.50).

After mass that night, we headed over to Chris & Jen's to see their dog, Bentley. He's a big old boxer (okay, not old at all). He is fascinated by reflections on the cieling and their laser pointer. Too cute! But, like a typical boxer, he seems to think he is much smaller than he is and keeps trying to put himself in people's laps. Their condo is beautiful - I am jealous (and poor!). After leaving their place, it was back to Aunt MaryLynn's for dinner. We relaxed in their living room and watched Firewall (and I crocheted a bit on my new, most ambitious project).

Then today, Mom and I headed back up North. I drove the first leg of the trip - and I don't know how I missed it (Mom didn't see it either), but somehow I ended up on 99 instead of 5. We cut over on 198, but added about 30 odd miles to the trip. I was SO mad at myself! But at least it was going the right direction, and we didn't end up in Mexico or anything. Mom and I were discussing how we need to do this more often. And we do!

So anyway, now I'm back, and have to face work again tomorrow. I am not really looking forward to it, as I've got some loans that will be showing up as expired, and don't know what kind of reaction I'll be getting from the boss. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On the Road

Well people, tomorrow morning I'm on the road to Southern CA to visit some family that I rarely get to see anymore. It should be a fun trip, and you can see how badly I need the vacation!

Before I go, I've been meaning to do this meme that I've seen on a few others' blogs...

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next 3 sentences.
Post the name of the book and the author.
Tag three people.

Here goes:
By the following week, he was too ill to even look at illustrations for a book that was about to be published. Harriet Otis Smith wrote to one of his editiors, "It is a question - as always in pneumonia - as to how long an already weakened heart can stand the strain." The answer turned out to be not very long at all.

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
by Melanie Rehak

Now, I'm going to tag Joie, Caitlin and Calamity Jen. Have fun guys! (And please forgive me!)

Now I'm off to bed so I can be ready for a long drive in the am...I wonder how long it will be before my mother is asleep in the passenger seat...(it never took long when we were on long trips during my childhood, only I wasn't driving). Oh yeah, and there will be some sort of caffeine involved!

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Stink (and I'm still employed)

Thank you to everyone who offered me your support. I really do appreciate it.

So, after getting in to the office this morning and checking the emails from the weekend, I went into the boss's office for a chat. And yes, I was dreading it. I apologized for my reaction from Friday. (That's how I put it too. Damned if I was going to apologize for what I actually said! Pardon my language Mom!) So we talked about how the stress levels have been building, and I know that her job is not easy and she's just as stressed out as the rest of us.

She mentioned how she thought that the way I spoke to her on Friday was not respectful (or however she put it). I mentioned that I felt like I was under attack, and went on the defense. She didn't seem to think she was being harsh with me (but Christyn - you heard it all, back me up here) and seems to think that I perceived it wrong. (No, I'm sorry, I know when it's an attack. And she has a history of coming out of her office in a raging mood and hollering at people, usually over nothing, before she's gotten the whole story straight. We are all sick of it, and at least one of my co-workers confessed to me afterwards that she'd almost reported the boss to HR for something that had happened a few days earlier.) So, she thought that I wasn't showing her the proper respect. I was completely straight with her and didn't back down on this issue. I told her that I responded to her in the same tone that she had been using with me. Her response? "But I'm the boss." I actually said, "Yeah, but you're not God." And went on to state that being the boss doesn't make it okay to treat people like crap. I said that the rest of us deserve to be treated with respect as well, and they way she speaks to us sometimes does not show that. (Yes, I said that to her. It's true, and she's been condescending and snippy and reactionary since she started in that position. I don't care who you are, you should treat others with respect and tact.) She blamed her attitude on a lot of the stress. I mentioned that we're all under stress and have been for a long time.

(Did I mention that I was saying most of this through a haze of tears? I was so mad at myself for all the crying, but I just couldn't stop! I hate crying in the office - it is SO unprofessional!)

I did tell her that we don't want her to leave the department, and I sympathised with her having to work under the big boss (the amazing 4-faced woman - no, I did not refer to her that way in the meeting). And that we are all so overwhelmed with the amount of work and the ridiculous deadlines (which I mentioned wouldn't be ridiculous if they weren't all on top of each other). And then she gave me a big hug (which just made me cry harder) and told me to hang in there and consider all this water under the bridge. She said she loves me as an employee and that I'm good at my job, and that she loves me as a friend as well.

That's all good and fine, and I am glad we talked it out. But, really...nothing was resolved. So, I'll continue to plug away and do my best, and go back to trying to let the crap roll off my back again. It's just a job, right?

Later, I told a few co-workers about what had happened (just 2 that I trust with it) and they gave me kudos to sticking to my guns about the way the boss talks to us. (I guess I am their new crusader. But, when I believe in something, I won't back down.) It's good to have support.

Anyway, all day I was smelling some sweet florally stink...and realized that it was ME!! When the boss hugged me, I was covered in her perfume, and my shirt STILL smells like it! (Thank God it's not as strong as it was this morning - I almost couldn't eat, it was so pervasive.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Yes Kristin, I do work too much

And it was proven this last Saturday, as I drove in to the office and toiled for 5 1/2 hours to attempt to make a dent in the huge list of loans that I have on my list to review. I felt like I got a lot done on 1 file, which is good. However, I wasn't able to get to any of the other files on my list (and there are a ton), so they continue to loom over me like a thunder cloud of doom. And the whole time I was there, I was completely resenting the fact that I was giving up a good chunk of my weekend for work.

Melodramatic? Maybe. But my workload (and the workload of all of my other co-workers) has been completely unmanageable for the last 10 months. Upper management only seems to be concerned with the numbers and pushing us to meet our deadlines. Unfortunately for us, there is way more work than time in the day. Especially in the past year, when so many new duties have been piled on us - we spend more time filling out reports and spreadsheets than actually reviewing our loans. And the volume of loans that come through our department for review has greatly increased over the last 2 years, with no additional staffing, and additional work duties to boot.

Then last Tuesday, when I asked for 2 days of vacation at the end of next week, the first response I got from the boss was to ask how my pipeline looked. That got to me, as I felt it was implied that I might have to give up my vacation time, which is part of my benefits plan, due to my ridiculous workload (and then at the end of the year the bosses complain that everyone has so much vacation time left!). I was almost in tears at that, because I didn't think that I would get my vacation - my mom and I had been planning to go down to Southern California to visit my aunt and uncle that I haven't seen in 2 years. The boss states she doesn't want us to ask for vacation at the last minute, but I really don't think that 2 weeks in advance (or rather, just under 2 weeks) is last minute. Ideally, our workload shouldn't be so heavy that we can't take a day or 2 once in a while. So, I'm resenting that as well. And since I have about 5 full weeks of vacation this year (since some rolled over from '05), I don't know how I'll be able to take that vacation either, since my pipeline will never be ideal, at this rate.

And if I was a less responsible person, I wouldn't care, and would have no problem letting my loans expire (we have to respond to the issues within a certain amount of time, per our contracts with the investors). But, I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish everything, and consequently I stay late a lot working. Over the past year, it has not been enough. Nothing we (me and my co-workers) is enough. We are working ourselves crazy and management just keeps pushing. So, when my boss starting whining on Friday about how we (me & co-workers) can't leave our loans until the last minute because it takes her a long time to read our recommendations and make the decisions, I had pretty much had it. I snapped at her in defense of us lowly schlepps. I don't even completely remember what I said, but I couldn't stop myself. She was making it sound like we were all sitting around doing nothing all day, when we're actually working ourselves to the bone. She didn't seem to understand why we can't meet our deadlines - when the deadlines aren't the problem. It's the amount of work we have leading up to them.

I am not one to shy away from hard work (physical labor aside). So don't think I'm complaining because I don't have a cushy job. I just can't always take the sneery bitchy attitude of the boss. And I know that she takes a lot of crap from the boss above her (who I used to work directly under, and know has more faces than a deck of cards), and does defend us and our position. But she has to know that when she's overwhelmed, so are the rest of us. If we didn't have so much work, she wouldn't either.

Anyway, she ended up almost in tears, and coming out of her office to tell everyone she's done and do it all without her. The big boss heard the commotion and came out they disappeared for about an hour. I still don't know what they talked about or what came of it, because my direct boss went home right after they came back in. (Her stuff is still in her office, so I don't think she quit.) The boss above her went into her office and continued with work as usual, and never said anything to me. So, I don't know if I'm in trouble or what's going on.

After the "altercation" (which makes it sound worse than it really was), I did get the thumbs up from one co-worker, and two very supporting emails when I got back to my desk. Everyone has been feeling this ridiculous pressure, and a few were happy I had said something and told me they would be 100% behind me if it came down to anything where that would be needed. But I am paranoid, and so I worry about what will happen now. I was in tears at my desk afterwards on Friday. I think the stress and the fact that I snapped like that got to me. It was bound to happen though. And I only spoke to her in the tone that she had been using with me.

One co-worker (who I made the mistake of asking if she thought I was out of line) thinks I should apologize. I don't think I will though. I am not sorry about what I said. I think I will go in to the boss's office tomorrow and talk with her about where I'm coming from, and maybe apologize for how it came about. But everything I said was the truth.

Anyway...wish me luck! (And continued employment!)

So, because of the blowout on Friday, I am a bit paranoid of going in to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reason #47 I'm going to hell

I lie. Yep, as honest as I am, it's true. (Would I lie to you? Well...)

So, today after work I went grocery shopping with good intentions. (And did I mention that along with Saturday's crab feed, there was also mass consumption at The Cheesecake Factory on Sunday night? Including white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which was awesome!) The intentions were to make the Weight Watcher's 0 point vegetable soup. The reality is that I bought all the ingredients, but was so overwhelmingly hungry by the time I got home that I ate crap instead of washing, chopping and cooking vegetables. (Tomorrow...yeah...tomorrow I'll make the soup...)

And when the collective "they" tell you it's a bad idea to shop while hungry, "they" are not kidding. Somehow, and I don't know how...some Hershey's Cacao Reserve ended up in my basket along with 2 little tiny containers (yeah, tell me how there are 4 servings in those things) of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. What a mystery!

Anyway, after I checked out and stupidly told the bag boy that I did not need assistance (that is always my reaction, though really, I could have used his help this time), I hauled my 4 heavy bags of produce (and frozen treats and chocolatey goodness) to my car in the rain. As I'm trying to balance the bags as I open the hatchback of my car (because I was determined that I didn't need the cart past the exit door of the supermarket), a car pulls up behind me and someone says, "Excuse me." I expect this to be someone from out of town looking for directions or something. Nope, it's some guy hitting on me. He said he'd noticed me in the store and thought I was cute, and wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. I had no attraction to this guy whatsoever (he did nothing for me physically, and I hate to sound shallow, but I believe there has to be some seed of attraction), and baldly lied to him without thinking, as "yes" just popped right out of my mouth.

And therefore I am going to hell. And hopefully have not doomed myself to continue my perpetual singlehood by lying about it. I am flattered that he approached me, though kind of wonder why he didn't say anything to me in the store, before I was struggling with my bags in the parking lot. Maybe he figured that if he was encased in the safety of his car, he could make a quick getaway without fear of running into me again? I don't know. I'm not one to talk, being the absolute wimp that I am.

Anyway, tomorrow is makeover night on Beauty and the Geek, which I have been completely sucked into. It's nothing like what I had expected, and I am pleasantly pleased. So, since I caught the premiere episode, I have been addicted. And that is my scheduled exitement for tomorrow. That, and I'm going to find something to crochet while I watch. (And hopefully have made the soup by then!)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

All Diets are Off!

So, remember how busy I said I was last week? It's because I'm too nice, and like to crochet. Yeah, don't worry, I'll explain that statement.

A friend of mine is on the board of director's for the Walnut Festival (annual festival in Walnut Creek, CA), and one of their newer fundraisers is the annual Crab Feed. I went last year and it was pretty fun, and they have raffles and a silent auction, and of course, all you can eat crab (and pasta, garlic bread, salad). This is the 2nd annual one.

I was hanging out with Kristin last weekend, when we went to the Titanic exhibition. She mentioned to me that they could use more donations for the silent auction and/or raffle, and asked if I could make a large afghan or something really quickly. I told her I would think about it and see what I could do. (Always willing to help, and I figured I could use some of the yarn from my stash...thinking I had enough of the heather blue Jiffy left over from an old afghan I never finished and then gave up on. Well, I found the free pattern for the 5 1/2 Hour Throw online, but then found that I only had 5 skeins of the old yarn. Not to be deterred, on Monday after work I found a pattern book for quick afghans (using a Q hook) at Micheal's that only called for 6 balls of Homespun, which I decided was within my spending limits (I had told myself I wouldn't do it if it was going to cost over $40). The pattern booklet stated that the afghans should take about 7 hours to complete.

So, each night this past week after work, armed with my giant crochet hook and 2 strands of Homespun (one each of Quartz and Deco), I crocheted furiously (no, I was not actually mad) until I had a full afghan completed. It ended up taking me about 7 1/2 hours to finish, since I screwed up a few times early on and had to rip out a few rows. But it came out pretty nicely, as a very warm, cushy, open blanket.

It sounds like it will be in the silent auction part, and I hope it gets a few bids. I'll let you know the final amount. Wish it luck!

And now, I'm off to the crab feed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I'm a Survivor (Edited)

Last Saturday, Kristin and I headed over to the Metreon for the Titanic artifact exhibit. When you get up to the entrance, everyone is issued a boarding pass with the name of an actual passenger and some facts about them. At the end of the exhibit, you find out if "you" survived or not. I was Lady Duff Gordon, the fashion designer who was traveling first class. Kristin was Mrs. James Warburton Martinez Cardeza, also traveling first class and staying in the most expensive suite on the ship.

I had a great time, and thought it was an excellent exhibit. I probably drove Kristin crazy with my need to examine each individual item and read each placard. But I was fascinated with it all. The elegance of the era is evident in the recreation of the grand staircase and the rooms and the hall you pass through. They don't make things like that anymore.

I thought the exhibition managed to display the enormity of the disaster while humanizing the victims. I think that's great, since so many people focus on the disaster aspect and how it happened, rather than on the individuals affected. There was really a lot of heroism involved that isn't always conveyed - like how the men in the boiler room of the ship continued working to keep the electricity and telegraph working until the last minute, knowing that they were sealing their own tombs. It's really amazing.

FYI - The San Francisco exhibition has been extended to January 28th. I highly recommend it.

I'll leave you here with a photo of Lady Lucile...and if you're curious, read the Wikipedia info on her. She was making headlines for quite some time. And there were originally rumors that she and her husband had bribed the others on their lifeboat not to turn around to take on others after the ship sank. They were cleared during the investigation, but you really never know...

Friday, January 05, 2007

DSL at Last

Okay - I've finally jumped into the 21st century! I ordered my new DSL account the day I set up my new computer. The router and activation materials arrived at my door yesterday with an activation date of today. So today, I finally was able to set it all up. And amazingly, it's working! (Yay me!) Of course, there are only 2 phone jacks in my apartment, and neither one is close to the computer, so the data cable is running directly across the entrance to the spare room and is definitely a hazard...for the time being. Because the data cable wasn't quite long enough, I had to drape the power cord across the spare room threshold and the router/modem is actually sitting on a folding stepstool in the middle of the room. Classy, huh?

And although I've noticed that the speed of my connection is faster, I've also noticed that I'm still not able to view some of the objects on certain pages (for example, my own photo in the profile section of my blog page!), which is annoying. But, I'm still messing around on here. Hopefully that will resolve itself.

My next move is to cancel AOL...which I have heard is nigh on impossible. That should be fun. (They roped my father into 3 free months, which he didn't even want, and then charged him after the 3 months was up, stating he hadn't cancelled. So, I'm wary about this.)

Tomorrow, I am going to the Titanic exhibit in San Francisco. I've wanted to do this for a while and have finally been able to coordinate it with a few friends. I think it will be neat.

And, since I may not be on here much during the weekend, I'll leave you all with this hilarious little video clip that I lifted from Dagny's blog. (The funny part of this is that I think my father will appreciate this perverse little clip the most!) I had to view this at work (and probably shouldn't have) because my old speakers do not work with my new computer. Watch and be amused. (It's "A Special Christmas Box.")

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Visions of Love

Surrounding me in cafes, supermarkets, department's enough to make one ill. (Oh sure, the victims are all blaming the novovirus, but I know the truth!) And I'm not talking about couples showing their affection. I'm talking about all of the Valentine's Day paraphernalia that's already fully stocked everywhere. It's barely even January. It's not even a "real" holiday. And basically, it boils down to a national reason for making all the single people feel like garbage. (Or perhaps I'm just a bitter old spinster?)

In any case, does the Valentine's day stuff need to be in stores a month and a half early? It's way too much. And yes, I'll admit, I have a seething hatred for this particular day...but I will also admit that deep down I am merely jealous of all those sharing their love while I am alone. And although I do have a romantic (read: totally sappy) side and harbor hope for my own romantic future, dismal as it may look at the moment, I think Valentine's displays appearing immediately after Christmas is crossing a line. Maybe even hurtling past it. Especially since I am one of those Catholics that leaves their Christmas decorations up until Epiphany (January 6th), so it's still Christmas in my house.

So...I can understand Christmas stuff in the stores in November. I can understand Halloween stuff in the stores at the tail end of September. But, am I unjustified in thinking this blatant over-marketing of VD (as I like to call it...appropriate that the acronym stands for something that is probably spread like wildfire on the day...but I digress...) is just too much?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I've lost my crown

That's right, Queen Nerdine has been de-throned. It has all been a grand farce...

Okay, so back in college, Caitlin started calling me "nerdine." (As in nerd.) I don't remember how this came about, but I'm sure it had something to do with my good grades and lack of study-time. (Something I was always rather proud of, myself.)

Anyway, from time to time, the nick-name resurfaces. So, when I found this nifty little online quiz, I figured it was destiny. . .

Lo and behold - I am not half as nerdy as I always thought! (Or, to turn that around, this quiz is not half as accurate as the creator thought.)

I am nerdier than 28% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out! nerdy are you? (Believe it or not, I really do want to know...Caitlin - you have to report your score, since you are Dorkaroo)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!!

Hello all! I hope everyone had a happy & safe New Year's celebration. I am quite happy that 2006 is finally over!! I don't know about everyone else, but last year was pretty much a major crapfest for me, and for many other people I know. So, here's to hoping that 2007 brings much health, wealth and happiness to all! (And if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I was lacking in all of these things at some time or another over the last year.)

This year, a friend of mine threw a little New Year's party at her home in San Ramon. She wasn't too happy about staying in this year, but I think we had a pretty good time, even though it was a small group. We played Apples to Apples, which I hadn't even heard of before. It was actually pretty funny. And I won, which always makes me enjoy a game a little more (what can I say? I'm a bit competitive.) Then we played a bit of Trivial Pursuit - Totally 80s Edition. It's harder than you'd think...even being a child of the 80's...of course, I was only 5 when the decade began. Maybe I'd do better with a 90's edition. Of course, I have to say, it doesn't matter what decade it's from, I am no good at news or sports all!

We took a break from the game to watch the ball drop, clink glasses, and then poop out on the comfy chairs around the living room. And then the break was an end to the game, as once we all got cozy, there was just no going back. And so, here's the first sight I had of 2007 (or rather, the first sight that made it onto my digital camera.) Jodie - I warned you this would show up here! :)