The Fair and Stuff

Well, I’ve decided for sure that I’m not going to the Bluecoats show on Sunday. I’m just too damn broke, and I’ve spent too many weekends in a row away from home. I’ve already seen my boys (and girls) once this season, and I can’t really complain about having no money when I spent it myself on a new brain for my computer.

I’m working 10am to 2pm on Sunday, after which I’m taking my four photography entries to the County Fair. I’ve got two of them already scanned to show you… hang on, and I’ll boot up Aaron’s computer and scan the other two.

[brief pause]

OK, here they are, in no particular order:

manual - black swamp arts festival, fall 2000 rose of sharon, spring 2002 cowtown, fort worth tx, summer 2003 wood county fair, summer 2002

Due to the fact that the fair’s categories are stoopid, I ended up entering in the Professional Division. I don’t think I’m going to win anything, and the best I could really do as far as prize money goes is break even on my entry fees, but I figured what the hell. The bike photo and the fair photo are classified as "photo journalism," while the flower and the building/skyscape are in the "landscape" category. Creative categorizing, I know… but I’d already decided which ones I wanted to enter before I knew what category options were open to me. Silly me assumed that it would be like any magazine photo contest, with a Portrait-Landscape-Humor-Digital-Blah-Blah-Blah entry system. But no. In the Professional Division, here are my choices:

  • Landscape
  • Children Portrait
  • Photo Journalism (colored)
  • "Ohio Pride" – Structures
  • Family Portrait
  • I chose the Pro Division because the Non-Pro Division had such categories as B/W Architecture, Digital Imaging – People, "Ohio Pride" – People, Digital Imaging – Nature, Panoramic, Children – Holiday, and Child – Special Event. So, yeah. They’ve got a pretty selective idea of what kinds of pictures they want displayed at Ye Olde County Faire. Maybe they try to mix it up each year so people will take pictures of different things during the year or something. Which would only make sense if you knew the categories a little more than one month beforehand, IMO.

    On a different topic, I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Aaron this weekend. Many recent breakups (and almost-divorces) amongst my friends and acquaintances have really made me appreciate the friend and partner I have in Aaron. We’ve been together for over seven years, and I still haven’t tired of him. I’m still excited to come home early and see him before he goes off to work. Thinking of him still makes me smile. Sure, I miss the early days of giddy butterflies and shaky caresses… but I love even more the sure, steady support and comfortable intimacy we share now.

    I had no idea in my angst-filled youth that there was something like this awaiting me…

    You Never Know When…

    BAM! …depression will strike.

    Yesterday was good, for the most part. Got to kiss Aaron before he left for work. Got my new 1.8GHz processor via UPS, and successfully installed it and its heatsink/fan onto my new motherboard. Played some Civ III. Found out that my current power supply should suffice for my new motherboard. Bid on some DDR RAM on eBay. Yes, I was OK yesterday, despite the fact that a.) Sky accidentally charged me for my free employee checks, and b.) neither Garza nor Paul nor Donna can accompany me to Canton for Sunday’s drumcorps show — so if I go, I go solo.

    Today is somehow a different story.

    I went to balance my checkbook today, and discovered a math error way back in May. So… after I spent an hour trying to figure this out, I’m still off $50 — but at least it’s an even amount this time. After almost-balancing my checkbook, I discovered that I really don’t have enough money to make my little daytrip on Sunday. (Hell, I barely have enough to pay rent.) I know Aaron would loan me money, but I just bought a new motherboard and processor with the extra money I had, and I need to teach myself to check my checkbook before I go willy-nilly on eBay. Sure, I haven’t heard the Bluecoats play Autumn Leaves in the parking lot after a show since I aged out. I can wait another year, then.

    This monetary problem also means no new RAM until I get paid one week from today.

    I’m also still waiting for my new checks to arrive. The ones I ordered (and got charged for) on the 15th. Since I ordered them at the banking center, they should have arrived sooner than the standard two weeks. As it is, I may have to have Aaron write a check for my half of the rent, anyway.

    And, as usual, this emotional tailspin I’ve sent myself into has bloomed into a full-blown depression. Not the clinical kind, the kind that lasts two weeks or more, the kind I seriously think I had in high school. Just the evening-long woe-is-me-fest. The kind where I look around at my living space and call myself a slob, but don’t manage to clean. The kind where I grab my fat rolls and call myself a lazy bastard, but don’t bother to exercise. The kind where I wonder if I’m really good enough to get a web design job, but don’t go looking for one. The kind where I don’t want to do anything but eat and laze around and feel sorry for myself. And probably play several hours of Civ III. And then feel guilty afterward.

    Oh, yeah… I’ve matured tons. Pshaw, right.

    P.S. – Somehow I can’t make myself be happy that Uday and Qusay are dead, despite the fact that they were undoubtedly corrupt individuals. My sense of justice would have been better sated to keep them as prisoners, or something along those lines. Death is too easy, and too final.

    Later…
    Sheryl just called and we talked for, like, 45 minutes. She read my entry and said it sounded like I needed to talk. I had been feeling particularly friendless, but I’m feeling better now. 🙂

    Alive

    A friend told me today, "I feel more alive than I have in years."

    Which leads me to wonder: Do I feel "alive"? When did I feel the most "alive"?

    I think I can safely say that this is not the most alive I have personally felt. Secure — sure. Grounded — you bet. Normal — strangely enough, yes. But "alive"? Not so much.

    I felt alive at the wedding, and during the honeymoon. I felt alive (to an extent) at graduation. I felt alive while marching drumcorps. I felt alive in the dorm for the most part, even (or especially?) by myself that last year at school. I felt alive the summer after high school. Hell, I felt alive the day I got my hair cut. 🙂

    So, what do I do to get that back? Buy a house? Get a new job? Have a kid? Lose weight? Redecorate? Something isn’t right, if I don’t feel "alive". These are supposed to be the best years of my life. Newlywed, no kids yet, stable job, stable finances, at the beginning of a wonderful lifelong journey. Doing things right. Not getting knocked up. Not working at McDonald’s.

    This leads me to believe that I need to seize something. Do something different. Change something. — Change myself? How?

    On the topic of changes: since both Sheryl and Eric have announced this on their respective pages, I’m safe to tell anyone who doesn’t frequent their blogs that they’ve broken up. Were this a private journal for my own edification only, like I used to have before this whole blog phenomenon, I’d have a lot of personal comments and gossip to blurt out here. But as it’s a public document, I’ll keep most of my musings to myself.

    All I’ll say is… wow. I didn’t see this coming. I know they were going to move off to Toledo, anyway, but now I know I’ll never get to hang out with Eric, and only very rarely with Sheryl, which is too bad. In the past couple of years, I’d grown fond of spontaneous visits either from them or to their place, and had really begun to appreciate both of them more, both individually and as a pair. I know they’re not really going far away (yet) or going to die or anything else incredibly final… and I know I didn’t really hang out with them a lot, anyway… it’s just that things won’t be the same anymore.

    I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing.

    I Did It

    I finally did it. I got my hair bobbed. It is now just a shade longer than chin-length. I feel like a new woman. And I look like one, too. I can’t stop shaking my head and running my fingers through my hair.

    Damn, now I’m going to have to break out the round brush and blow dryer on a regular basis.

    So, today at work I got yelled at by the IT guy. See, we’ve been having these problems with the new fax program scrunching numbers or just plain eliminating columns of numbers from reports. So, someone’s report will say $1,115.79 when it should really say $15,115.79. This is ungood. Our clients very irately reported this issue to us, and we reported it to Andrew, and Andrew reported it to the IT department. And the IT guy mainly in charge of the fax software had a little bit to say to us about it.

    He storms in while Loni’s on the phone, and starts ranting at me, since I’m closest to him. "I cannot be held responsible for every fax," he announces, and shows me what we already knew: that there was a column of digits missing. Yes, yes, we know. But then he claims that it’s the client’s fax machine at fault. It must glitch while feeding paper at that point. I politely explain that when we fax these same clients manually, it goes through fine. This steams him even more.

    At this point Loni is off the phone, and tries to jump in. Her normal, interruptive conversational style isn’t working for her in this instance. (It rarely does.) She chimes in and says what I just said, that manually faxing works fine. Larry says that we can manually fax every client, then, and he’ll just get rid of the software entirely. Loni shoots back that we’ll have clients pulling out for lack of service, then, and that will be bad for Sky. She also mentions that BitWare (our old, Windows 95 compatible fax software) worked just fine. Larry yells back — over his shoulder, since he’s already started to storm out — that we can find fax software on our own and tell him all about it, or he can just put us back on BitWare, then, and be done with it.

    Of course, the red-faced yelling and pissed-off attitude doesn’t really come through in my little transcription here, but I think you get the point. As much as I hate to admit it, I share my mother’s dislike of confrontation, and I try to defuse every volatile situation I find myself in. From my perspective, we were just pointing out a bug in the software, and asking them to look into it. From his perspective, though, I’m sure we were personally attacking this project he’d spent months working through and perfecting. I can understand where he’s coming from, though I don’t think I’d react nearly the same way.

    After he stalked out, we told Andrew how Larry had treated us and spoken to us, and I communicated to him that I found it unprofessional, ill-mannered, and uncalled-for. Andrew talked to his boss, Ruth, and I’m sure she talked to HR. So, we’ll see what happens.

    Oh, Loni told me later on that this Larry guy has a reputation for having a bad temper. He got a talking-to from HR once for throwing a printer across a room. Yikes.

    Backblogged

    I think that’s the term for when you’re backlogged with blog topics. Backblogged.

    Mom wants me to take a road trip with her to Denver next summer. She says it would be fun. I say we would probably kill each other halfway there. Although, now that I see that the 2004 DCI Finals will be held in Denver, I say maybe I could put up with Mom if she could put up with a weekend of drum corps.

    After going to the Dekalb drum corps show with corps alumni buddy Paul and his sister (who was my seat partner in ’95), I’m more seriously considering joining a senior corps before Aaron and I decide to have kids. Only thing is, I don’t think I’m ready to spend all of my summer weekends away from my honey-muffin, and I certainly don’t want to make a five-hour roadtrip one way just to march senior corps. (BTW, senior corps is like what I did in Northern Aurora and Bluecoats, except you can be any age from 15 to 60-something.)

    Of course, then Paul (who sings barbershop) suggested that I find a chapter of Sweet Adelines to join. Sweet Adelines are like barbershop quartets/choruses for women. I did discover that the Pride of Toledo is the best group in the region, and I fired them off an email about membership. They rehearse on Tuesdays at 7pm in Toledo, on Holland-Sylvania, which is doable as far as getting out of work goes. We’ll see what happens.

    I would also like to say that nothing quite compares with being berated for receiving accolades that were deserved by more people than just you.

    See, a couple weeks ago, we received a payment for someone’s water bill that was astronomically higher than what they owed. Like, $15,000.00 for a $150 bill. The person who was prepping the work caught it, and brought it to Loni, and asked if that could possibly be right. Loni knew that the client banked with Sky, and knew their personal banker, who then said maybe we should make sure that was correct. So, Loni called the phone number on the check and left a message. Of course, Loni left work before I did that day, so when the client returned the phone call, I took it. He was soooo grateful that we caught his accounting error — his software had printed the wrong amount on his check, and had it been processed, it would have bounced a lot.

    So, the next morning, Loni had me write him a note and mail the erroneous check back to him. I located some Sky Bank stationery on the intranet, typed the note on it, printed it out, and sent it off. I felt pretty good about myself, but mainly because I got to do something different. Something other than stomping a footpedal, typing in invoice numbers, and hitting return.

    A few days later, Andrew hands me a card he got out of an interoffice envelope. It’s a "Gotcha Card" — Sky’s version of RCC Performance Points, or any other company’s relatively meaningless rewards system. The client’s personal banker had heard from him, and she thanked me for providing such outstanding customer service to Mr. LaRoe. I felt all tingly in my bum until Loni shot me down with "And who was it that caught it in the first place?" Not only Loni, but the prepper who did catch it in the first place both gave me shit for being the one who got the credit.

    Hey, it’s not my fault that the last person to touch something is responsible for it. Take the credit or take the blame, but it’s always the fault of the last person to touch it.

    I grow progressively more disenchanted with my job — if, indeed, I was ever truly enchanted in the first place.

    Aftermath

    photo by Carley AugustineThings seem to be settling down around BG, finally. The city and university are working to clean up the storm damage, most people’s power is back on, and life is returning to normal.

    In case you missed the 11:00 news…

    Channel 13 has photos and RealVideo coverage of the carnage in BG.

    (Photo at right is of my street, two houses down from ours)

    BGSU’s website has a "Campus Storm Update" link off the main page.

    Got home from work today and all the clocks were blinking (except the VCR, because it rocks). Seems the power must have gone out today sometime between Aaron leaving for work and me coming home at 7:15pm. Probably had something to do with the nice city workers removing the tree from the power lines (photo above).

    As for how this affected others you might know… Beth’s blog indicates that even in Columbus, the proverbial shit hit the fan. Apparently, her power was out for a while, too, though she says that having the roof blown off a nearby gas station sounds a little more traumatic. Eric went out with his BG News posse and took some photos of the insanity. (Would that I hadn’t chosen these few weeks to have my camera serviced. I missed both the Fourth of July and the kickass storm of the decade. Though I’ll be looking forward to having a leak-free, recalibrated camera.)

    And if more people would update their blogs, I’d have more to report. Blah.

    Seems that campus got pretty fucked up. A wall was blown out of the Field House, a tree fell on the Death Center, the roof blew out of the Moore Musical Arts Center (right above Kobacker Hall, if I’ve heard correctly), giant trees have been uprooted… sounds like a damn mess. I’d been planning to walk around campus this evening to survey the damage, but I opted to stay home like the lazy-ass that I am.

    You know, I’ve been in BG for… shit, eight or nine years now… and this is the worst storm I’ve seen yet. I’ve been in a couple of tornado warnings, but nothing like this. And this one didn’t even qualify as an honest-to-god tornado.

    Shit, imagine that.

    One Helluva Storm

    It’s nice having window space in our little corner of the Sky Service Center. We get to see all the crazy storms as they come through. Today, we got to see the sky turn from normal and sunny to dark and brooding, got to watch the clouds swirl overhead, see the rain start up, visibility drop, trees bend, etc.

    Then we got to go with the rest of the employees to the interior area of the building, next to the restrooms, to wait out the storm.

    At the end of it all, trees were nearly uprooted, the roof was leaking, and the parking lot was flooded in places (the person trying to clean out the drainage pipe was up to her knees in water). Called home, made sure all was well, finished out the day and went home.

    Or tried to. The city had my road blocked off. I had to go around the block and just ignore one final roadblock to even get to my driveway. One house over, there’s still yellow "Do Not Cross" tape strung across the road to divert traffic away from the fallen tree limb there. I’m not exactly sure how we still have power, since half of a tree is hanging out on our power lines. Taking up the entire road, curb to curb. Almost fell on someone’s truck.

    Oh, and across the street from us, a giant tree fell in between the neighbors’ houses. Right in their shared yard, on the property line. When I got home, the two families were helping one another saw it up and haul it to the curb. The branches I gathered from our yard look like plain old branches; their side looks like a freaking rainforest.

    On a completely unrelated note, lookee what I made! I’m so proud of myself.

    Who Knew?

    You will all be pleased to know that, after a few days of wearing skirts exclusively, my previously moist and painful heat rash has now dried out and diminished to a strange dry flaky spot. Better that than the other, though.

    So I’m walking down the hall at work to get myself a Mountain Dew, and who do I see coming up the hall toward me? None other than Rob "Champion of the World" Wozniak, of RCC summer fame. I tip my head in my typical ‘huh?’ gesture, and approach him closer.

    "Rob?"

    "Di," he answers smoothly. "What are you doing here? — You work here. What am I doing here?" I kind of nod and say the words with him, and he answers that he’s been working in escrow for the past two weeks. Says the temp agency told him they had a clerical job for him, and here he is. I told him that’s how I got my start last year, and they hired me on after a few months. I also said that it sounds like they always need people in escrow, so they might hire him on… if that’s what he wants. He said that’s the plan, and he hopes it works out that way.

    So… the world gets smaller and smaller. How many RCC people have worked at the Sky Service Center? Me, Donna, A, and Rob, at least. It seems to be a starting point. One in which I’ve stagnated and from which I have failed to successfully emerge. The fly in amber? Hmm.

    FYI, next weekend is my long-awaited weekend trip to DeKalb, IL for the DCI Midwestern Championships — the midseason show-of-shows. I haven’t been to this show since I was *in* it back in 1996. This is going to be so cool.

    Click… Click… Click…

    …That’s the sound of My Life.

    Seriously. That’s the sound of the Zip disk labeled "My Life," from way back in 1997 or so, clicking in my built-in Zip drive.

    Luckily enough, the Zip disk parallelled my actual life in that very little of what was really, reeeeeally important to me then remains important to me now. I managed to use my old-school RCC skillz to Norton UnErase a couple important things, like "Sheryl Is Our ‘Puter Bitch" (sung to the tune of the Hall of the Mountain King), and my genealogy files (actually, I transferred those just a few days before it clicked). Unfortunately, the Saginaires and Northern Aurora alumni database just went poof. Thankfully, I had pdfs and HTML output of the last known version, so the transition to ASP should be a little less cumbersome than manually entering in all the info again. Go Dan. w00t.

    Today’s major gripe, though, is my heat rash.

    Now, I know that most of my regular audience is not overweight. You folks, just bear with me. I know there are a couple of you out there who will feel my pain, so I will forge on.

    See, my thighs touch at the top. No, truth be told, they just kind of moosh together these days. So, when I walk during the summertime, the friction, together with the unavoidable sweat, generates this amazing rash. Especially since I kind of adjust my pants downward so I don’t have an assfront (you know, when your front looks like your ass — kind of the fat version of a camel toe). Now, I know this is TMI, but my legs rub together right where the crotch of my pants ends up living. This makes for some amazing, sweaty, red and inflammed pain.

    What confuses me, though, is that I woke up with this rash this morning. Yesterday, when I went to sleep, I was perfectly fine. We even had our new A/C on in the bedroom all night. This confuses me.

    At any rate, I have to wonder if anyone noticed me adjusting my pants funny at work, and sitting a little more unladylike at my desk.

    Troubleshooting

    OMFG. New networking crap at work sucks. …Well, no, I actually find it pretty cool myself. Teaching my co-workers to use it (after I figured it out by myself yesterday) sucks.

    Before this week, we were using Groupwise for our e-mail client (never heard of it), BitWare to fax from our computers (that one looked homemade), and were happy in our own little domain on Sky’s Novell Network. However, at the end of last week, our fax program magically stopped sending faxes. Upon calling the helpdesk, we discovered that the rest of the company was migrating to a new system, and BitWare would no longer work because they had rerouted the faxserver to work out the bugs in the new fax program. Nice to know. So, for several days, we had to print out our reports and manually fax all of our fax clients — about 70 or so, I think — rather than sending them like attachments from our computer. That slowed us down a bit.

    But this week, the real fun began.

    Since I send the most faxes right now, I became the guinea pig in our department to migrate to the new system. Lucky me. Scott from the tech support side of things spent over an hour migrating my computer to the new domain and figuring out how we could still access our old server (since it has all of our reports and important stuff on it). That was over an hour during which I could do nothing. Good thing it was a light day, anyway. Actually, once everything was installed and set up, life was OK. I enjoy learning new programs and playing with computers, so using Outlook (yay! seriously, yay!) and the new fax program made me happy. Even troubleshooting how to transfer our old address book into the new was a fun challenge, though a little frustrating. But life was still… OK.

    Until today. When they migrated Rama and Loni.

    OMG. It must be the age difference. All the stuff I’d had to figure out on my own or with minimal instruction, they had to ask me about every five minutes. I barely got any work done today, because I was walking over to talk Rama through attaching an e-mail and finding a contact from the address book and blah blah blah. Not that I mind, I guess, but after explaining something twice, I expect not to have to babysit a person as they say, "Now I click OK, right?" or just plain forget steps altogether. I am so not cut out for tech support. Then, it made things so much better when Rama and Loni found out they weren’t added as users to the faxserver, so I had to fax (from my computer) all the accounts they had tried to fax before and just not noticed the error messages they were getting. Aargh! For God’s sake, people, read your e-mail when it comes in! It might save me having to fax, say, two dozen files!

    Ahem. I’m better now.

    At any rate, this was not one of my better weeks. And I’m not done yet — I have to work tomorrow, too. From 11:15am to 5:00pm. End of the half, you know, and we have to keep up so we get everything done on Monday in time. *sigh*

    I need to start looking for another job again. Sounds like we might be having an exodus of the temps soon, because they’re tired of barely getting 35 hours a week. I don’t want to be there when shit hits the fan, or whatnot. I think I could find a job with comparable benefits (besides the free checking). I still scope out the job postings on Sky Central (our intranet), but nothing comes up that is really in my field. There’s only a few jobs that I’d really jockey for, and Loan Support or Customer Service (aka bank teller) are not those.

    Plus, I must admit that I’m feeling a bit belittled by the fact that A got out of the same job I’m currently in, except she was a temp and I’m a Sky employee. Same thing, pretty much. I don’t know how much she’s currently making, though, and I don’t know anything about her benefits, so I’m sure I could still have the better job on that front… but still. Did I drop the ball? Did I ever actually take possession of the proverbial ball? I don’t know. All I know is that I keep playing "sour grapes" by maintaining that I get good benefits, and I never had to move back in with my parents, and that outweighs the fact that I don’t have the job I want.

    Eventually, pull factors and push factors will propel me to find a new job. Until then, the pull of a steady gig with vacation time outweighs the pull of another, more relevant and enjoyable job. And I’m willing to deal with that. For now.