Tuesday, April 30, 2019

are you an expert at the unpredictable?

Today I learned what a locomotive firer is.  I won't spoil anyone's fun it by defining it here.

Why did I investigate locomotive firer job description?  I recently read a couple of articles about jobs most at risk of being replaced by automation.  Locomotive firer was at the top... in both articles.  Conclusion:  if you are a locomotive firer and still have a job, might want to update the old resume'.

For those who are not locomotive  firers, here's a chart of percent risk of automation replacement by job type.

Where do you land?

Some other jobs that were tops on the list of the chopping block include telephone operators (those are still around?) and fast food workers.

Occupational therapists were tops as far as job growth.  I'm guessing that's owed to "unpredictability" and "applying expertise".  Along those lines, I didn't see any stats for strippers or prostitutes, but they're probably safe too...

Bottom line:  be special.

In other news, here's what my outside looks like today

... and it's corollary, the inside

I can do the job of a locomotive firer, but a  Roomba can't do what I do.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

of men and dry erase markers

We sat there, chatting, wondering what the strange impromptu meeting was about as others of our kind filtered into the room.  Eventually, all were present and the mystery would unfold.

Years ago, after college and before kids, I was an engineer at a large corporation in upstate New York.  At the time of the mystery meeting, I was working at a site that was specifically built for our team that was developing a family of new products.  There were about 100 to 120 of us there. 

This new facility was a "showcase" for the time.  The layout and design of upper management offices, cubicle areas, laboratories, etc. were well thought out.  Technically, we had plenty of the latest tools at our disposal. 

Another nice feature was whiteboards whiteboards whiteboards.  Everyone had a whiteboard in his/her cubicle.  There were whiteboards in the break areas.  Conference rooms had floor-to-ceiling whiteboard walls.  There were even whiteboards in all of the bathrooms... *dun dun duuuuhhhhn*

It was a nice assignment, morale was high, we were getting stuff done.  So it was strange, that morning, to have been beckoned by the chief engineer to this meeting of unspecified topic. The strangest part was - it was a meeting of only the womenfolk of the facility. 

There we sat in the cafe area, about 30 or so of us.  Our chief engineer was a friendly, very approachable guy.  He didn't waste time with small talk and seemed rather somber as he began to speak. 

He'd called us together that morning because he'd received complaint.  Or rather, he'd received word from his boss about a complaint from within our team. 

One of the women complained to higher ups about whiteboards in the men's bathrooms, so he was going to have all bathroom whiteboards removed.

"The whiteboards in the men's bathrooms enable the men to have secret meetings where women aren't allowed".

In my mind...


OMG, what?

The looks on the other faces mirrored what I was thinking.  My friend Jill, an electrical engineer sitting next to me, began to snort/gag/choke/ laugh as she was sipping a coffee when the explanation for the meeting was revealed.  

Many began to protest and explain that we didn't feel that way at all.  I, for one, got along great with my male coworkers - many of whom I'm still in touch with today.  This was silly and absurd.  Plus... we kinda liked having whiteboards in the bathrooms.  For one, it was an easy way to let maintenance know when something wasn't working.

Besides, if some guys want to have a secret meeting in a men's bathroom, the non-presence of a whiteboard wasn't gonna stop it!

Chief engineer quelled our protestations.  In part, we realized, because the complainer was sitting there among us, whoever she was!  Even he didn't know who had lodged the complaint.  He went on to say that he hoped that, if any of us had an issue with anything regarding our team or facilities, etc., that we feel free to speak with him about it.  Like I say, he was a real laid back, approachable guy.  He wore Buddha beads for heaven sake!

And that's how we lost our bathroom whiteboards.  

And of course all the men learned of it quickly because obviously they asked us why there was a women-only meeting, and we straight up told them.  It became a sort of running joke at the place, but not too blatant, because she-who-remained-unnamed could be listening.

A few years later, when we'd decided I would "retire" and become a stay-at-home mom, many coworkers understood and wished me well.  However, one (single) woman (with no kids) came and asked why?  Why didn't  I just take an extended leave?  She subtly tried to talk me out of leaving for good.

She became my prime suspect for Whiteboard Woman.  But it remains a true mystery to this day.

Linking up with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. A memorable day at work

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

my fellow earthlings!

My old computer and Magnum's old non-working drill sit behind me, ready for the Earth Day haul.  Magnum's employer has a free electronics recycling haul each year around Earth Day, which was this past Monday. 

He reminded me of the Earth Day festivities with the "Endangered Animals Quiz" he brought home from the office.  Complete the quiz and be entered for a chance to win a prize  - gift card plus endangered species plush.  Oooh, I want the plush! 

How earth friendly are you?  I'd confidently guess that I'm well below the average American when it comes to carbon footprint.  It's not fully out of concentrated effort to be environmentally friendly, but mainly a by-product of a generally frugal, simple, and efficient lifestyle.  When I left my professional career, many years ago, to be a stay-at-home mom, we learned all kinds of ways to make that work for us. And frugality is typically good for the environment.

One small example is that I don't use my dryer.  When I was a kid, my parents didn't even own a dryer.  When I first started living on my own, I loved having a dryer.  As I got older, I just didn't see the point.  Colorado has a dry climate.  I have a drying rack that takes up little space, and we also have a clothesline out back.  Stuff dries in a few hours or less.  And I think it helps keep me from putting off doing laundry.

What about shopping?  What about supporting environmentally friendly companies?  Today I came across an article featuring environmentally sustainable brands, so thought I'd check out their offerings such as:

This sleep set is entirely vegan and will arrive in a recycled box, for a mere $180.

$89.50 for this lovely polo shirt made entirely of recycled water bottles.

This jewelry is made from mercury-free and recycled 14K gold.  The price of these earrings is not listed, probably because, if I have to ask, I can't afford them.

Okay, well despite my environmentally friendly lifestyle, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the target market for any of these brands *ahem

I will mention that I do support Patagonia and REI, both for their quality and environmental sustainability efforts - in case anyone wants to gift me something for earth day. 

In the meantime, I'm gonna go take that quiz.  I've got a plush to win!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

dead set on living

On  Friday,  I was in denial.  By Sunday, I'd given in to the fact that I was yet again another victim of the common cold.  Now it's Tuesday, and I'm coming around.

I'm reminded of the 2005 remake of "War of the Worlds".  Remember?  Tom Cruise?  In the movie, the aliens come to harvest us earthlings but end up *spoiler alert* 
dying from our earthly germs in rather dramatic fashion.

Martian with a cold

So I'm getting over a cold.  I'm grateful I'm not a Martian.

Friday, April 19, 2019

a quarter in

Here we are, into the second quarter of 2019.  I came across this chart recently, so how are your resolutions going?

No big surprises here, and actually, like myself, most people I talked to didn't make any resolutions.  But we still think about these things, right?  Of this list, I've worked on 4 and 7 this year.  The save-more-spend-less was more of a nice side effect of the decluttering.  Of course, I did fork over some cash to haul some of that crap away.

And I'd say I've been reading more - so much better than scrolling social media.

On that note, I've noticed things popping up in my Pinterest feed that have nothing to do with things I've searched or pinned on Pinterest, but have searched elsewhere.  For example, I'm suddenly getting things having to do with dental surgery and root canals on my Pinterest feed?  Sheesh, the big eyes are all watching and they're all in cahoots!

Merlin is proving to be the best doggie.  I always wonder about these shelter pets of questionable beginnings.  All of our dogs have been shelter dogs with unknown backgrounds.  If only they could talk.

Penny is playful and affectionate, but also cowers on occasion.  If I bring out a broom or such, she takes off and goes into hiding mode.  She still gets pensive if I take her somewhere in the car - like I'm taking her away to abandon her.  Maybe I need to take her for rides more often and to more fun places?

It's clear that Merlin has spent time with humans who taught him a few things.  He readily sits for treats or to put on a leash, and he seems to be housebroken. Here he is after I put on his new harness.  He looked so proud and happy to be wearing it, all, "take a pic!"

He's a bit awkward, though, going out for walks.  He's not quite sure what to do when we encounter others, but we're working on it.  The other day, we came across an older man pushing a couple of toddlers in a stroller.  Grandpa maybe?  I pulled over with Merlin and had him sit as they passed.  I could tell Merlin wanted to bark and investigate, but was working to stay put.  

Grandpa man looks at Merlin, and, "WOOF  WOOF!"

Dude, not helping.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

the pitter patter

Magnum took last Friday off of work.  Among some other things, he wanted to give our tax returns one last scrubbing before shipping.  I'd gone to a P.E.O. thing in the morning, and when I returned, he announced that he'd found a few more $$$. 

Yep, that's why I hired him.

I had one tutee lined up for later that afternoon, but other than that, the schedule was free.  He suggested we go to lunch, maybe look at some pooches...

We adopted Penny, our little whatever-mix, back around Christmas.  She is sweet and funny and full of energy.  We were thinking she could use a furry friend, she looks so lonely when we have to leave her by herself, and the cat will only put up with so much.

We'd been lackadaisically perusing local shelter sites, seeing if anything jumped out at us - a not-too-big dog, preferably male,  that would get along well with our other pets.  I'd spotted a prospective candidate on Thursday, so we decided to drive up to Castle Rock and check him out in person. 

We didn't make it to lunch. 

But, we also didn't get the dog we saw on the shelter's website.  Sadly, that sweet boy had pretty heavy fear issues, and it was apparent that we had neither the time nor available attention he would need.  Additionally, Penny I-want-to-play-all-the-time would not have been the right companion for him. 

"But since you're here..." the kindly shelter staff member pulled up a few other recent dogs that were not on the website or in the display area yet.  We scrolled a bit and then...

"HIM, can we see him??"

Male Australian Shepherd, about one year old with a BEA-U-tiful coat.  35 pounds.

He was brought to us, and I expected a shorter pooch given the 35 pounds.  It was clear from the get go, however, that 35 pounds is not his ideal weight.  He was SKINNY  skinny!  They didn't know much about how he'd ended up at a shelter and then transferred here, but it seems apparent from his skin-and-bones that he'd been on his own for quite a while.

And yet, he was just the sweetest boy.  Honestly, he was irresistible...

... and now he lives with us.  We named him Merlin.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

their favorite sister

Two days ago was National Siblings Day?  Did I miss the parades?  The TV specials?  The sales?  

I don't think Hallmark and the like make much revenue off of National Siblings Day.  It seems to get a fair amount of traffic on facebook, but I don't play facebook.

Still, it's hard to imagine a life without siblings since I have two older brothers.  And I think there is something to birth order and gender that shape us, but there are also many other factors.  As I ponder on the topic, I'm thankful I wasn't an only child.  

I've mentioned my brothers here a few times.  Oldest brother "Hagrid" is relatively older than my other brother "Guano" and me.  Here are the guys from when Hagrid was around 20 years old.

Hagrid is 15 years older, and Guano is 2 years older than me.

So growing up, I wasn't particularly close to Hagrid since he was older, and I only have very fuzzy memories of him even living with us.  He was more like a cool uncle that came to visit often, and I idolized him a bit for being all grown up and such a smarty pants science guy.  

Although my memories of Hagrid living with us are fuzzy, chief among them are quite vivid.  Hagrid had lots of radio and electronic equipment in his room.  I can still picture, from a very short vantage point, the many wires and meters and and other gear sitting atop his desk.  It's vivid in my brain because I knew absolutely that I was NOT to touch or even go near ANY of it.  Oh, the intrigue!  The mystery!  

Sometime in the 70s??

Other than the fear of messing up anything of Hagrid's when I was a toddler, one fond memory of him came later in life when I was still working toward my engineering degree.  I think I was considering options for summer internships, and someone mentioned that one of the companies would be good to get on full-time because they had "great benefits".

Hagrid chimed in then, "Nope, NOPE... don't choose a job because of the benefits package!" And then he expounded on how important it is to enjoy your job and respect your employer, but not because of the benefits package and such.  

Since I had been his "baby sister" for so long, that advice had much meaning for me.  Not only did he give a convincing argument, but he made me feel that he now saw me as an actual adult, worthy of professional advice.

And I ended up with a job I loved after graduating college.  Ironically, with pretty decent benefits to boot.

Guano and I grew up as more traditional siblings - fighting and envying and sticking up for each other.  We were quite close, and I can't imagine things being any different.  I remember once during high school years, I mentioned to a friend that I was meeting Guano for lunch, and the friend thought that was such a cool thing for me to meet my brother for lunch.  

When we were little, he carried much authority over me, probably because I was so gullible.

Our house had a detached garage at the rear of our back yard.  It was easy to climb upon the roof of the garage from the trash incinerator - another blast from the past.  Easy to climb upon, that is, for people more than three feet tall or so.

Guano reached garage-roof-scaling size and strength before I did.  Plus, my fear of heights was already ingrained in me by that time.  But I remember him climbing up there and noting all that he could see.

"I can see Grandma's house, and Dairy Queen..." and a whole list of other majestic sights that I don't remember because he had me at "Grandma's" and "Dairy Queen".  Oh, how I longed for the day I could see these things from up there too.

The day eventually arrived when I was tall enough and strong enough to hoist myself onto the garage roof.  I stood up ready for the eye feast and beheld... not much.

I could see the other houses and trees and stuff around our neighborhood.  In fact, I couldn't really see a whole lot more than I could see from atop the trash incinerator.  I  most certainly could not see either Grandma's or Dairy Queen. 

I had been duped.  For probably about two years.  

And it got me up on that roof.

Thanks, guys!!

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
7. Throwback Thursday: Share a childhood photo of yourself and let it inspire a blog post.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

round 2?

Yesterday, I was outside in shorts and short sleeves.  This morning, I took Penny out for her morning devotions.  The sun was warm, the birds all a-chirp.

But the weather forecast says blizzard.  Can I opt out?  I'm not really in the mood for another one of those just yet.

I snapped a pic of the sky to the south while enjoying the sun and birds a little while ago.

I've got some appointments later this afternoon, but thankfully, they're all online.  Yesterday, I took our Honda Civic in for an oil change.  It hasn't had a whole lot of activity lately.  We got it three years ago mainly for Meego to learn to drive a manual, and he uses it when he's home.

So I took it in yesterday to wake it up and get it ready for summer.  Not surprisingly, it needed a few other "tweaks" than just an oil change.  One of the tail light bulbs was out, and when the tech finished changing it out, he accidentally closed the trunk with the key inside.  Oops.

I'd walked down to pick the car up since the shop is about a mile away.  Another tech drove me home to grab my spare, and... it could not unlock the trunk.

The spare key is a valet key.  It can unlock the door and start the car, but can't open the trunk.  "Normally", we can pop the trunk from inside the car, but that lever is either inadvertently locked or just not working.  We only have one master key.

It's locked in the trunk.

It was close to closing time at the shop when all this went down, and the guys said they can get my key today if I bring the car back.  I did a little research online, and it seems like this is no small job.  So, I'm pondering:
  • (A)  Take the car back to the shop and trust that they can get my master key freed in a timely fashion, i.e. before full-on blizzard and before my tutor appointments.
  • (B)  Wait until tomorrow, with similar time constraints
  • (C)  Take it today, but leave it with them overnight if I don't wanna walk to the shop in a blizzard.

I will add that we've been using this shop for a while and really like and trust them.  This was a simple mistake - the tech was finishing up with the bulb replacement and knew I'd arrived to pick up  the car, so was hurrying to finish.

All this security for an '05 Civic.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

health too

A common practice that I find strange is people taking photos of themselves in a mirror and then posting the photos online.  Selfies are one thing, but, in general, I find the mirror selfies to be a bit off-putting unless there's some big story there.

Granted, this is something I see more from "young" people - teens and 20-somethings - so maybe it's just a generational gap thing.  It does seem to be uncommonly common among the young, so what do I know?

To add to my cringe, many take these mirror selfies in bathrooms or gym locker rooms - supposedly to show off  freshly worked-out bodies/ progress.  It's good to be proud of hard work paying off I suppose, but don't they realize there are often toilet stalls and urinals in the background?  Maybe they are so focused on the body, they don't think of their facial expression or the background of the photo.

The Illustration Friday prompt "health" has spilled into a second week.  Let me speak to a manager!

Well, it had me thinking about health again, but I didn't want to draw another body organ.

I wonder, is it healthy to feel a need to take and post mirror selfies?  Anthony Weiner aside, I guess it's not hurting anyone, and if it motivates to improve one's health, where's the harm?

As for me, I sat on my butt and did a drawing of a healthy, no faced, fully clothed mirror-selfie-taker.  I omitted the bathroom fixtures. 

I'm counting it as a healthy activity.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

eight things

I cleaned
and piled stuff for the junk haul I mentioned.  I'd hired these people once before and was very happy.  Same this time around.  I easily booked an appointment online, two nice guys showed up right on time, quoted me a fair price, then proceeded to load our discards and haul it away.  👍
Included in the pile of stuff was our old queen mattress, box spring, and frame.  I do NOT miss that bed at all because...

I slept
like a rock on our new futon.  Really, I know it's not for everyone, but I love the thing.  I'm waking up well rested and feeling good.  Plus, I used to often wake up with stiff upper back and shoulders or with a crick in my neck.  No more.  It's still very much cat approved too, which is good because...

I cleaned some more
when the mighty hunter cat plopped his first gopher trophy of spring on the backdoor mat.  Thank me for not taking and posting a pic because it was disgusting as always.  I think the cat was a little miffed that the junk haulers took his favorite old beat up table from our deck from where he used to sit to bask in the morning sunshine.  So he killed a rodent.  It's therapy for him, somewhat similar to how...

I healed
and went to the endodontist for my follow-up after dental surgery.  So far so good, and he removed all of my stitches.  He said they were supposed to dissolve and seemed perplexed that none of them did.  He asked me if they'd at least softened over time, and I honestly replied that, "no, it felt like a row of fishing line in my mouth the whole time".  He concluded that the wrong type of sutures were in his kit and he'd go investigate.  In the meantime, I'm so happy to have that fishing line out my mouth!  And speaking of pain...

I acquiesced
and met with that strange tutor student - the one who books appointments but then has nothing to work on when I show up.  She wanted to meet yesterday, so I reluctantly agreed.  I did ask what concepts we would work on, and she had a legitimate reply.  Lo and behold, she actually had questions and we had a near normal session, interspersed with her chattering about irrelevant things that I have since learned to ignore and redirect to more purposeful things like how...

I exercised
at the gym.  Another thing that we sent off with the haulers was our treadmill.  We used the thing quite a bit over the years, but it's sat collecting dust like many a treadmill for the past few months.  It was a great thing to have around when the kids were little, but they are now grown, and we belong to a gym.  If I'm banished to running on a treadmill instead of in the great outdoors, I'd rather do it in a big energetic gym than in our little room in the basement, which we have been clearing out in this big de-cluttering phase, which I actually enjoy doing along with...

I socialized
with Magnum's family a bit last weekend.  His brother was in town, and we don't see him much because he lives in another country.  As such, various gatherings happened around his visit.  Magnum enjoyed some family time with brother, Mom, and sister, and  a larger group of us got together for a brunch at the MIL's on Saturday.  Chaco, Wolfgang, and Meego also traveled to join us after we mentioned there would be food...

I cooked
very little, but Mama Kat says 8 things, not 7.

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:
4. List 8 things you accomplished this week!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

to your health

*EXHALE*  I needed that.

I don't know if anyone other than me noticed, but I did not post anything for Illustration Friday last week.  Not even a doodle.

Last week was busy, all good, but I missed my "therapy".  This week's prompt is "Health", so I tried to do something healthy?

Anyway, I feel better now.  I also feel better because it's a new month.  I was ready to say good-bye to March and its ice fall and tooth abscess and bomb cyclone.  Don't get me wrong, lots of good things happened in March, but now it's April, and it feels nice.

Yesterday some junk haulers came by and took away yet more of our clutter - things we couldn't just chuck in the trash or donate or easily sell.  I'm happy there are junk hauler services!

As I was going through some more stuff, I found an old notepad.  Apparently, I used to keep lists of things to do.  From the looks of items on the lists, the little notepad is over 10 years old.  I found various entries having to do with elementary school PTO responsibilities, as well as several entries for

  • Meego basketball (?)
  • Apples (and other things) for LeeAnn - who the heck is/was LeeAnn?? And why was I getting apples for her??
  • Wolfgang/ Chaco/ Meego haircut
  • Letter, Mom & Dad (they're both gone now)
  • Vet appointments for pets that no longer exist
  • Book titles to read
  • Random names with phone numbers - who the heck are/were these people?

It was kind of fun and also weird seeing those lists.  Questions do remain, though.

Who is LeeAnn?
Did Meego get his basketball?
Why was a basketball important enough for several list entries?
Whatever happened to that chiropractor?

Inquiring minds want to know but not really.