My place smells so good right now.

First, I lit one of the amaretto candles when I got home from work — actually, it’s the candle with eggnog-scent leftovers in it, and Iadded the amaretto that wouldn’t fit in the sundae cups, plus a new wick. So, walking a few feet from it, you can smell amaretto… which, surprizingly, smells pretty good as candles go. Much better than I’d expected. Then, I started baking my low-carb-brownies-from-scratch again, in preparation for tomorrow’s monthly Birthday Treat Day at work. (I love my new department.) So, after you walk through the amaretto smell, toward the kitchen, you’re instantly barraged with the smell of chocolate. I’m loving it.

It’s a little early to make a prediction, since they’re still warm out of the oven, but I think the brownies are passable this time. I’m going to leave a couple home for Aaron, and take the rest to work. If everybody thinks they suck, well, that’s their prerogative, and I’ll get to take them back home after the day’s done. But I don’t think they suck. No more so than some people’s "regular" brownies do.

Oh, and did I mention that I made hazelnut eggnog this weekend? It’s surprizingly simple… as long as you don’t overcook it. Then the eggs start to cook, and it gets a little lumpy. Yes, I speak from experience. Over the past few days, it’s been sitting in a saucepan in the bottom of the fridge — "getting happy," as Emeril would put it. Tonight, I took it for a spin in the blender to smooth it out and whip it up, and am now drinking my last glass of eggnog with a dash of nutmeg. (Aaron’s glass is in the fridge with plastic wrap over it.)

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I had a moment of weakness today at work. All I brought for lunch was two string cheeses, and I didn’twant to go to Jimmy John’s again… so I succumbed to the snack machine and bought a pack of Soft Batch cookies. Again, as with my last cheat a couple months back, I wasn’t terribly satisfied, despite thinking long and hard about my choice. The chocolate tasted too sweet, and I got a brief but powerful blood sugar spike at my desk afterward. Not shaky, but lightheaded. I knew exactly what it was as soon as I felt it. Let that be a lesson to me… again. It’s just not worth it. Heaven forbid I ever decide to "treat" myself to Olive Garden.

Anyway, they’ve got me actually doing my real job at work now. At least, when there’s enough work to split between two people. I ended up actually reading the online instructions for the web forms I use, surfing the Sky intranet, e-mailing HR about my incorrect W4, anything I could do to stretch out my time at the end of the day. Especially being new to the position, once I figure out how to do something, I can’t force myself to do it s-l-o-w-l-y just to "milk the clock," because I feel the need to prove that I can do what they’ve given me with no problems.

So, today’s schedule was:

  • 8:00am – 8:30am: Turn on computer. Bullshit.
  • 8:30am – 10:00am: Highlight reports. Ask Judy what she does with them.
  • 10:00am – 10:30am: Training session in Tom’s office. Learn how to do my job.
  • 10:30am – 12:00pm: Correct missing birthdates in client information database.
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm: Look through reports, filtering out non-personal accounts.
    (A company or non-profit organization can’t have a birthdate, silly.)
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm: Research Cash Letters for Angie in Deposit Support.
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Look through reports again. Seem busy when boss comes by.
  • 3:30pm – 3:45pm: Break.
  • 3:45pm – 4:15pm: Staple reports for Angie in Deposit Support.
  • 4:15pm – 5:00pm: Read job instructions.
    Surf intranet. Look at payroll info.

And that was my day. Woo-hoo… exciting.

But, you know what? I’m OK with that. Especially since the Post Office has been fucking over Lockbox all this week, not getting them all their mail in the 9:30 mail run, so they don’t get their full work to start until 1:00pm. They stayed until 9:30pm on Monday, I’m not sure when on Tuesday, and 6:30pm last night. Loni comes in to my area every now and then, since I’m on her way to the other end of the building, where the restrooms, break room, kitchen, and all that are. She had an interview yesterday (incidentally, for one of the positions I’m helping cover for, the one where I hunt down Cash Letters), and she said it went well. I’m crossing my fingers for her and hoping for the best. She’s been with the company for something like seven years, with Lockbox for five (since its inception), and it’s about time she moved on from Lockbox.

Angie (the one in Lockbox) was hired in from temp to permanent, effective Monday. (This past Monday, I think.) I’m kind of glad for her, but then again, I kind of feel bad that she’s going to be stuck there with shitty hours. Just like I was when I was hired in, actually. I talked with her in the hallway the other day, and she said in no uncertain terms that she plans to stay in Lockbox only for the required six months, then post out of the department to another position. Seems to be all the rage lately… Mary did that earlier this year. (Remember Mary? The middle-aged woman who fell asleep and ran her car into a ditch after a particularly long night in Lockbox?) I’ve been trying to find an appropriate job to post into for the past six or seven months, ever since I was eligible to post out. Now Loni’s looking to post out, and has been for several months herself.

Remember those Ethnic Studies and Sociology classes we had to take in college? Remember the section about immigration? Push factors vs. pull factors? I think that almost every other department loses people to new jobs via pull factors—the other job has a draw to it, something that makes you want it. For Lockbox, though, people leave due to push factors — kind of an "anywhere but here" mentality. Yeah.

And in closing… as I write this entry, the BGSU/Miami game is 35-17 Miami in the 3rd. Sigh.

Candlemaking Attempt #2

I received my shipment from Bitter
today. Woo-hoo! Here’s an inventory:

  • "Shades of Brown" liquid dye, 2 oz bottle
  •  Hazelnut Fragrance Oil (FO), 1 oz sampler
  •  Rootbeer FO, 1 oz sampler
  •  Patchouli FO, 1 oz sampler
  •  Very Vanilla FO, 1 oz sampler
  •  Cola FO, 1 oz sampler
  •  Amaretto FO, 1 oz sampler

Add that to my Eggnog FO and French Vanilla color block from Brighter
, and I’ve got quite the beginning of a candle cornucopia.
(Please note that I chose scents that could easily be tinted with a
combination of the brown and the french vanilla.) I also ordered wick
stickies (to anchor wicks to their containers), more wicks, and cranberry
liquid dye from Brighter Scents, mainly because Bitter Creek didn’t
carry the stickies, and I had to round out my order to $10 to charge
it. (Darn those small businesses! Just like Hatter…)

So, tonight I tried a second run of candle fun, and it seems to have worked
out a little better this time. I guesstimated how much each of my containers
could hold (this time, I used the mini sundae cups), and I doled out
wax chips by weight instead of volume this time. The large glass measuring
cup was quite helpful for melting and pouring wax, and the small measuring
glass made much less guesswork of measuring FO amounts.

This time, I opted to use the Amaretto scent, and to add but a single
drop of brown to the vanilla dye. I need to remember that the wax will
cool lighter than the initial color when still melted—it started
out the color of a really strong Amaretto Sour, and ended up the color
of a really weak one. Ah, well. I wish I had a digital camera… I’d
show you.

After having the whole apartment smell like Amaretto, I’m not sure this
is a scent of candle I would normally burn… but we’ll see. I still
have to use my remaining half-ounce of Amaretto to mix with the Cola
to make an Amaretto-and-Coke candle. 🙂

I suppose you want to know more about how I’m liking my new job…?

This week so far, I’ve learned to do several things that I never even
knew existed before. First, there’s reports on suspected check kiting.
Check kiting, according to Dr. Damn at totse.com,
is "using the lag time between check cashing and clearing to generate
illegal revenue." Like, when you have two accounts at two different
banks, and write a check from one to deposit into the other, knowing
full well that you don’t have the money in the first account to cover
the check, but also knowing that it’ll take the bank two days to clear
it, and in that time you can write a check from your other
bank to deposit into the first bank to cover it. Follow?

I’ve also learned about Cash Letters. These are how the Federal Reserve
Bank keeps track of where a check has been — the paper trail, as
it were. If a check gets encoded for the wrong amount — say, you
wrote your check for $10.00 but your account gets debited $100.00 instead — sometimes
the bank needs to make a copy of the cash letter to send to the Fed
to say, "Hey! You debited us a hundred bucks here! See?
We want our ninety bucks back!"

So, what have I been doing with these things? Well, I highlight particular
suspects on the report for check kiting, for one. I look at the previous
day’s report, and highlight those account numbers on the current day’s
report, to make Judy’s job easier when she looks them up in the computer
all day. I also go out into the garage and delve into long boxes to
fetch Cash Reports to copy. They’re printed on that old-school greenbar
computer paper (you know, like in the basement of Hayes Hall on-campus?).
To figure out what reports to find and where to find them, I have to
look online in a couple different databases and jump through some hoops.
Overall, it’s relatively simple work, but necessary. My doing it frees
up the other workers to do the things I don’t have access to do… like…
well, come to think of it, I’m not sure what they do all day,
but I’m sure it’s important.

As for my job… it seems that my job for now is to fill in for
two other departments being short a person. I’m OK with that. I’m enjoying
learning more about how the bank works, and the more I learn, the more
marketable I become. Or something like that.

I also found out that the girl who had my position before me, who got
a better job offer elsewhere and quit, left after three weeks in the
position. So, I’m not going to feel bad if I happen to secure another
job in the near future, since I’d be about on a par with her, time-wise.
Of course, I haven’t heard from the companies I had phone interviews
with, so I’m not holding my breath. Although maybe I should check Sunday’s
paper for more jobs, anyway.

Typical New Job Day

I’d love to say that today was the best day ever, and that my
new job sounds like a joy… but, in fact, it sounds like I’m kind of everybody’s
flunky and general floater for now. I’m doing stuff that I don’t really know
how to do, like filling out peperwork to have the Federal Reserve Bank compensate
us for mis-encoded checks; and I’m doing stuff anyone could do, like highlighting
the account numbers on one report that were already highlighted on yesterday’s

However, I did get out of work at 5:00 today, which was nice,
despite having to clock in bright and early at 8am.

My right eye has been insanely dry and bloodshot all day, and
I’m hoping it gets better overnight. I don’t do the eyedrop thing, even if
we had any. It’s not overly painful, just distracting.

Called my credit card company and changed the name on my card,
finally. I’ll get a new one shipped to me next week. Slowly but surely, I’m
getting things changed from my maiden name to my married name.

I wouldn’t have even done that yet, but the Bitter
Creek Candle Company
said that my credit card was having trouble clearing,
so I figured that had to be it — I put the wrong name. Then I checked
my balance online, and I was also a touch low. 🙂 So, I also paid some more
on my credit card, to help fuel my soy candle obsession (and pay for Christmas

Oh, and I scanned in the photos of Loni’s family I took on Friday.
Just in case you were wondering what kind of insanity I had to endure. FYI,
Loni is sitting on the far right, holding the boy in the gray vest.

I dislike being so tired when I come home from work.
It makes me look forward to going to bed — but then the next thing I
know, I’ll be going to work again, and I hate feeling like work is all I
live for. Hopefully after a week or so of this early stuff, my body will
be used to it, and I won’t be this tired after work.

I’m also remembering what it was like to dread going
in to work every day. Not that I dread this job yet, not after one day, but
I can’t say I have a positive attitude about the unknown. Especially knowing
that I’m going to mess something up eventually, that it’s inevitable, and
wondering what day I’m going to come into work and be faced with fixing some
mistake I’ve made… which is usually twice as time-consuming.

Maybe while I’m getting used to getting up early
and having a new job, I’ll intensify my external job search. It sounds like
I’m general Deposit Support help right now, and they don’t even know if I’ll
really be doing the job I was hired in for, and they’ve already lost one
person in this position to another offer, so what can it hurt? *shrug*

Feeling Domesticated

Well, I’m certainly feeling artsy-craftsy. Yesterday, I thrifted some candle containers: two small sundae cups, two miniature mason jar drinking glasses (aka salt & pepper shakers), and a dark brown airtight container of some sort, maybe a sugar jar. Plus, I got a glass measuring cup with a spout for melting and pouring wax. Last night I ordered some sticky glue tabs (for anchoring wicks down while pouring wax), more wicks, half a dozen fragrance samples, and two more colors of dye. Today, I bought two more potential candle containers at Goodwill.

hey, beth! i grew this african violet from that one leaf you gave me!I also repotted a bunch of my plants today — I broke apart the remnants of the "dish garden" I got at Memaw’s funeral, since most of it was dead from lack of light and water. (Hey, I couldn’t find a good place to put it where it would get plenty of light and where I’d remember to water it.) So, I salvaged two plants from that. While I was at it, I potted the Christmas cactus that’s been living in a vase full of water for the past two years. Then I thought I was done, and started to rearrange pots and saucers on my one well-lighted shelf o’ plants… and discovered that my spider plant had roots growing out of its watering hole in the bottom of the pot. So, back outside to repot the spider in my only remaining sizable pot, which is a good full foot in diameter. It should have plenty of room to stretch out now.

So, I’m feeling quite wifely and domesticated today, despite the fact that I still have junk sitting on the floor of our computer room, waiting to be cleaned.


I got my Beginner’s Soy Candle Making Kit via UPS today. This, along with my recent rediscovery of baking chocolate in the cupboard, drove me to be experimental tonight.

Experiment #1: Quick and Easy Fudgey (Low-Carb) Brownies
I had previously looked at the recipe in the Hershey’s box and discovered that the only bad things in the brownie recipe were flour and sugar. So, this weekend, we purchased some almond flour and a pourable box of Splenda to take care of those naughty ingredients. Tonight, I took the plunge and baked the brownies, with the intention of bringing them to work tomorrow for a goodbye-to-Lockbox-early snack.

Experiment #1 Result: Marginal Success
Maybe I halved the recipe wrong. Maybe the almond flour was a poor idea. At any rate, the brownies were not fudgey, neither were they fluffy. In fact, they were rather dry, though moderately cakey. I’m not going to take them to work. At six carbs a brownie, though, they’re not a complete failure. Maybe they’d work well with some vanilla Atkins ice cream…

Experiment #2: Soy Candles
In my candlemaking kit was two pounds of soy wax, several ounces of fragrance, a small brick of dye, six wicks with metal clips/stands, and three warning labels. Oh, yes, and instructions, which I carefully followed. I melted about 16 oz of wax in a glass container in the microwave, then added some dye, then added (oops) twice as much fragrance as I should have. Ah, well. So far, so good. I attempted to stand the wicks in the containers I’d chosen (purchased from Goodwill this weekend), and finally glued them in place as suggested. Note to self: next time, either melt the wax in a container with a spout, or locate an appropriate funnel through which to pour the wax. It’s a good thing I put newspaper under the containers, otherwise I would have "waxed" our kitchen table. The wicks, of course, immediately heated and wilted off to the side; I had to wait until the wax cooled a little to ever-so-carefully balance and center them.

Experiment #2: Moderate Success
As mentioned, the wax got everywhere during the pouring process, which makes for a very unpretty container. The two candles are of different sizes, too, due to me freaking out about getting wax everywhere and not concentrating more on getting equal amounts of wax in each candle. And don’t forget that I added waaay too much eggnog fragrance. I actually guessed well about the amount of dye to melt in, though — but even so, they could have been just a little lighter.

Overall, I intend to try both of these experiments again, being better prepared and working on improving my techniques. I didn’t expect both of these to be stellar on the first try (certainly not the candles, though I had higher hopes for the brownies). I’ve already taste-tested the brownies; I think I’m going to go see if the candles have finished setting, and do a test burn. Mmm… eggnog.

Update: midnight
I don’t think I added an excessive amount of fragrance to my candle. In fact, I could have added more. I’m also a little unsure of the containers I chose — I think they’re a little wide for the burn pool. (That’s the area of melted wax.) Overall, though, still a successful experiment.

Babies Babies Everywhere

Seems everyone’s having babies these days. I guess we’re just that age ("we" being myself, Aaron, our friends, and my blog readership). A few years ago, it seemed everyone was getting married. It’s the next logical step.

I used to have a "thing" about pregnant people. Even when I was eight and my aunt (who lived with us) was pregnant with my cousin Michael, I was uneasy around her. It just makes me feel… weird. Like I’m witnessing something that should be more private and less obvious than hiding a watermelon under your shirt. Or like they might break. Or like something’s wrong with them. All of which I know is slightly ridiculous.

Since I’ve known more people who have become pregnant, had to work with them (half a dozen in my building), and socialize with them (mainly Kathy Fries), I’ve become less stand-off-ish about pregnant people.

Now it’s the baby thing that unnerves me.

Babies and I just do not get along. Especially little ones. It’s like they can feel my trepidation and awkwardness, and start to cry for Mom not two minutes after being plunked into my arms. Again, I feel like I’m going to break them. And I’m afraid to be too obviously taken in by the marvel that is Life. Someone might be watching, after all, and I can’t show that I’m a softie, now can I? Especially not around my Mom, who I’d like to think I have convinced that I am an emotional rock.

But at the same time, I’m getting this feeling… this knowledge that I’m going to do this someday. It’s akin to another feeling I’ve had, one that will require some backstory.

In the Mormon Church, the first Sunday of every month is set aside for the members to share personal experiences and bear testimony of the Gospel as they know it. It’s known as Fast and Testimony Meeting, because members are also encouraged to fast for two meals, and donate the money they would have spent on those meals to the Church welfare fund. (Mom and I made use of this fund several times — the Church has a Storehouse of food for the poor, funded by these donations).

Anyway, at this particular meeting, there’s no set agenda: after the standard opening song and prayer, and passing of the sacrament (This is My Body, This is My Blood… you Christian-types know the drill), the pulpit is open to all in attendance to come up and speak. It’s kind of funny, too, because so many people are poor public speakers, but they want to let everyone know they believe… so there’s kind of an unspoken ritual opening that all Primary children know, but all adults try to break away from: "I’d like to bear my testimony that I know this church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I know that God lives. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that [insert current Church President here] is the prophet today…" Then the child or stumbling adult stammers through why they felt the need to bear their testimony. Usually something happened that week to particularly affirm their faith, or something happened to them that they feel the need to share, in order to reaffirm someone else’s faith.

So, as a member of the congregation, you either sit and listen quietly and pensively (or not so pensively), or you start to wonder what you would say, if you got up there. If your case is the former, then Testimony Meeting is either entertaining and uplifting, or boring and tedious. Either way, no stress on you. If your case is the latter, though, the most interesting sensations come upon you. You can’t seem to listen to the testimonies, because your adrenaline starts up. A feeling of inevitability wrenches your gut. You know you’re going to have to get up there and say what’s on your mind. It reminds me of knowing you’re going to puke, except this feeling is supposed to be much more warm and fuzzy, coming from the Holy Spirit and all. (It usually isn’t, though.)

It’s that feeling of inevitability that I’m talking about. That knowledge that you’re not sure you want to do it, but you’re driven to it anyway. Something is compelling you to do this thing that you’re so apprehensive about. You know you’ll feel better afterwards, and you’ll regret it if you don’t.

That’s the feeling I have about procreating. Aaron and I are comfortable with the fact that we’re going to do it someday, so that’s a step in the right direction. But we’re also agreed upon not having kids for another few years, preferably until we have a house. It’s not like my internal clock’s a-ticking… though it kind of is, although I’m choosing to ignore it for now.

There are so many things to look forward to about having children, and so many things to be apprehensive about. For right now, though, I can’t even keep my fucking room clean, much less raise a child. But I’m inwardly jealous of all the new parents I know, while outwardly snickering at their sleepless nights and new responsibilities. Without waxing all emotional (I am a rock, after all), suffice to say that the bond between parents and child intrigues me, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it someday.

I’m 27 right now. OK, 27-and-a-half, but who’s counting? I used to think I should have kids by age 30, and I know that fertility becomes an issue at some point (right now, I do believe). I don’t know, though. I don’t know if we’ll be ready by then. I’d wager we’ll never feel totally ready… but Aaron’s too careful to have an oopsie, and I’m perfectly OK with that. 🙂 I’ve just got that feeling of inevitability, and it comes and goes. I want to, but I don’t, but I do… but my crotch tells me in no uncertain terms that it is not looking forward to pushing a watermelon through a straw.

Tonari no Totoro

totoros!So, how does this work: whenever I sit down with a sketchbook and the intention of drawing, I end up with crap. But, when I have the sudden urge to draw something in particular, I grab a handy piece of scrap paper and end up with something cool? Something I might actually want to keep?

I was sitting here at my desk, contemplating my Totoro desktop wallpaper, when it occurred to me to try to draw Totoro. After all, he’s not that complex. So, I grabbed the nearest piece of blank scrap paper (well, almost blank — one side had yesterday’s quotable from the men’s track team alumnus) and a handy pencil. And, after some scanning and coloring in Photoshop (I love my HyperPen stylus), I ended up with this loverly arrangement to your right.

I love Totoro. If I had my way, every child in America would be introduced to what Japanese children already know: Totoro plushies. The movie is fabulous, but the merch is even better. 🙂 I already have a Totoro on a chain (currently being used as a zipper pull on my purse), a Catbus [Nekobasu] on a chain (on a knick-knack shelf in the bathroom), and a metal wind-up Totoro with umbrella (on a knick-knack shelf in the living room, along with the Evas). When little Sam Fries gets old enough to appreciate it, I have every intention of buying him the Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) movie. And maybe a big plushie.

Oh, I didn’t mention that, did I? Kris and Kathy had their baby on Wednesday, November 19th at almost 7:00 in the morning. Labor for 22 hours… whee. Over 8 pounds. Part of me is really excited for them, and can’t wait to go up to Toledo and see their firstborn. Another part of me knows that we’ll rarely see them ever again, especially since they seem to have this attitude that their lives are over. Ah, well. Auntie Schnuth will be more than happy to spoil little Sam… for a while. 🙂

OK, and the job hunt thickens… I got a call today from another of the companies I sent a resume to. The exec, Steve, conducted a brief phone interview, with such highly laughable questions as, "What web page software have you used? Do you have experience with graphics programs, like Photoshop? How about flatbed scanning? What FTP programs have you used?" Holy shit. I feel smart again, highly akin to my recent Kinko’s experience. Seems this company, WorldStart, maintains an online catalog of closeout computer equipment, and the entry-level position would entail scanning product images, typing descriptions, and generally updating the catalog on a daily basis. Even though this would pay less than my new Patriot Act job with Sky, and would require a commute, I think I’d be OK with that. We’ll have to see. When it rains, it fuckin’ pours.

Today’s random news from CNN.com: When will teachers ever learn that inciting non-conformist acts is not necessarily the best idea amongst high schoolers?

And the random humor from Lockbox: Only in Salt Lake City, Utah would you find a bank named "Zions First National Bank."

More Random Bloggage

Lots of randomness to post today. I spent too long making a neato surprize to be posted on the page in a couple weeks… so I’d better get started.

[Again. After my computer locked up and lost half my entry while trying to download some damn fool midi on a webpage. Sheryl, why is my computer being wonky and freezing during startup and at weird random times lately? I scanned for viruses, and I should be clean. Arrgh.]

I ran into two people today who work in the department I’m moving to on December 1st. They’re both people who I’ve worked with/under before, so they know me and are glad I’ll be joining them. It seems, though, that my identifying characteristic is my frequent wearing of headbands. One of the ladies said someone was trying to explain who I was, and called me "the lady who works down in that corner in Lockbox who wears headbands all the time." Heh… I have now sworn not to wear any more headbands to work. Hopefully in a few months, I’ll be "that lady who lost all that weight," instead.

Speaking of losing weight, I figured out today that during the first three weeks of this diet, I lost an average of seven pounds a week. In contrast, during the past month, I’ve averaged one pound per week. But I’m OK with that. If my weight loss is slow and steady, I have a better chance of keeping it off, or so I hear. And, hell, I’m already down 26 pounds. I’m a third of the way to my ultimate goal, which is being on the way-upper end of the healthy range.

Segueing with the food bit: Next time you go to Chi-Chi’s, watch out for the tainted green onions.

Also in the news: If you’re walking down the street, and a guy flashes you, don’t be afraid to kick him in the jimmy.

One more, one more… Every college student worth his or her salt knows you have to pace yourself if you plan to drink a liter and a half of vodka. "Gibby…? Gibby! Oh my God, Gibby, you’re passed out in the hallway in your own vomit!"

My quotable for today — and this one nearly made Loni squirt pop out of her nose: While processing a large batch of health insurance payments from a local convent, I declared, "Stupid Sisters of St. Francis! Why do you need health care? You’ve got God to take care of you!"

One day this week, I came in to work and sat my purse on top of my desk, instead of plopping it right in the drawer as usual. And someone happened to notice my Totoro zipper pull. And, of course, I then had to explain what Totoro is: kind of a part cat / part raccoon / part owl / God of the Forest. That really confused them. The one newer temp asked, "Is that Pokemon?" NO. "Digimon?" No, it’s just a Japanese cartoon. "You know the square brown guy? Yeah. I like him." Sigh.

And, the wrap-up for today… *drumroll* Written on a BGSU Foundation donation coupon were the words: "I am an alumni of the Men’s Track Team. Your fund can kiss my ass."

Staying Current

While updating my online portfolio, I sifted through my old VCT projects and located my Director portfolio from 2001. What fun! I’d forgotten that I knew how to do cool things. Shit was changing color, flying around the screen, zooming in and out — and I’d made some cool-ass icon graphics to illustrate. I made them! I didn’t steal them. Sure, some of the stuff didn’t work, and you could tell where I started running out of time to complete the project, because objects on-screen didn’t do as many cool things anymore, and there were some flubbed links to movies and such… but, damn, I forgot that I knew something cool!

Pathetically enough, whenever I think of cool things I’ve managed to throw together, my thoughts usually turn to Tim Schavitz. Yeah, yeah, I know… I shouldn’t have to compare myself to anyone… but sometimes, you just need a yardstick to measure up with. Back in college, when I felt like academia was dragging me down, and my lack of creativity was dragging me down, Tim was one of the only design influences who pulled me up.

He and I had enough classes together during my last year at BGSU that we compared notes and fed off of each other. …OK, truth is, I fed off of him. He was everyone’s starchild, and rightly so, although he’d deny it if given the chance. Anyway, we’d look at other people’s projects, and critique them privately amongst ourselves, and wonder in amazement at how many of our classmates were sub-par designers (though, in retrospect, given the VCT curriculum and focus, it’s not surprizing).

Among what you would expect from design students — that is, lumping VCT students in with Graphic Design students — I’d have given most VCT students in our general age range at the time a 4 out of 10. Myself, I’d give a 7 out of 10. Tim, 9 out of 10. Most Intro Graphic Design students and Typography students I studied with, I’d give them a 6 or 7 out of 10. Some rated a 5, some rated an 8 or 9. Graphic Design students just seemed more immersed in design than VCT students, who were more immersed in the mechanics and process of “how” than the overall plan and scheme of “what.” Like Sean used to say, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. You need good ideas, good media, good footage, to produce a good product. Ideally, anyway.

Usually at this point in the “I suck and I should be destroyed” rant, Aaron (or whoever’s handy) will smack me around and say, “You don’t suck! Look at the shit I made! Now that sucks!” Very well. I will accept your compliments with thanks, and continue with my rant.

So, looking back on all this — my Director portfolio, my designs, my wares in general — I have decided that I need to find more foo-foo projects to embark upon, to sharpen my skills. Now, Tim used to do this all the time, making funky Flash stuff that didn’t really mean anything too deep, or do anything too amazing, but it was cool to look at and probably fun to make. With that in mind, I sought out a source of design inspiration… and came up frighteningly short. All the old, bleeding-edge style that used to make our entire group of self-proclaimed VCT Elite spontaneously mess in our drawers — that stuff just doesn’t do it for me anymore. 2advanced, meh. I’m having a hard time finding anything that takes my designer’s breath away these days. And if I can’t find it, if I can’t even identify what it would be, how am I to produce it?

Links I’ve found to mildly get my juices flowing:
+ Designs by Mark (great Photoshop tutorials)
+ THREE.OH: Digital Design Journal
+ We’re Here: Intelligent Design & Development
+ The Shodown Forum: Graphics & Web Dev

P.S. – I know I had another weird dream last night, but I forgot it before I could write it down.

Me and my f_¢k€d up dreams

OK, so this time I was at college. It was supposedly BGSU, but again, you know how dreams are. I had a room by myself for a while, then my old roommate Mary moved in with me. (Good christ, Mary teaches the Gifted class now?!) — Anyway, I was living in a poor excuse for a dorm — more like a shabby apartment complex that should have been demolished. But it was mine, and I had it all figured out. But Mary moved her stuff in, and blocked the doorway so people had to literally crawl into the room, and kept moving the beds around into weird and unsuitable places in the room. Then she found a room in the next building over where we could cook food, and proceeded to make four different dishes on the stoves in this dank, dark, unheated and really creepy place she’d discovered. Of the dishes, I only recall the cheesy potatoes. Then she went back to our room and left me to put the food in containers and store it… somewhere. When I finally got back, via back hallways and tunnels, she was asleep or studying or something.

Somehow, at the end of the dream, Mary magically became Amy — either Mary moved out and Amy moved in, or one of those weird dream-things happened, where people just randomly become different people and it’s perfectly OK… until you try to explain it later. Anyway, the end of the dream involved me trying to convince Amy that maybe we should move out of the dorm we were in and back into one of the dorms with larger rooms: Rodgers, or even Kohl. She was quite receptive.

I know I forgot a lot of the details, and there were plenty, but that’s the basic gist. Jeez, is this what I get for thinking, "You know, I haven’t remembered my dreams for quite a while now…"? Or maybe it’s from being regularly awakened by my alarm clock earlier than usual, to prepare myself for 8-to-5’s again.

Anyway, back to the real world…

I had my phone interview with HCR ManorCare today. Mr. Kevin Shoop sounded to be about my age or thereabouts — seems they had the guy call all the people he could potentially be working with, and tell them about the job to make sure they were still interested. He seriously sounded more nervous than I felt, and that really relaxed me a bit. So, I’m to be one of ten candidates eligible for an in-person interview for this Web Content position, slated to be filled by mid-December. I’m glad I don’t have all my proverbial eggs in one basket this time, though — even if I don’t get this HCR position, I still have a new job and a pay increase. And a $600 incentive check in January, and another raise in March, if I stick around that long. Either way it goes, I’m happy. I think.

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on the Saginaires Alumni Association website lately. Well, why not, when we have an alumni benefactor who’s donating 300MB of webspace indefinitely, plus covering our domain name (which was once my own "donation")? Oh, yeah, and the traffic on our Yahoo! Group has increased from a rare maximum of 19 messages a month between December 2000 and September 2003, spiking up to 233 messages this October and nearly 1000 this month so far. I attribute the growth to the success of the alumni reunions (which I had nothing to do with this time — I didn’t plan it, and I didn’t even go, because it’s on Black Swamp weekend). They all seem to love the site, so I’m going to continue to run with it. There were times when I’d considered shutting the whole damn thing down — but I didn’t, because it was my baby, my first website, the reason I learned HTML in the first place. And now, I’m glad I kept it around. Just goes to show, I guess.

Oh, and by the way: if you feel you must drink diet soda, check out Diet Rite. White Grape rocks my world.