Monday, August 31, 2009


My daughter finds the best videos for me!

This is from Ukraine's Got Talent, and some of the images have meaning for Ukranians and maybe Russians that don't quite resonate the same way with the American experience. Still, it's amazing what Kseniya Simonova can do with a little sand...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick Update (Updated Quickly)

I have successfully survived an entire week flying solo at my new job! I called my counterpart about a dozen times the first day, four times Monday, twice Tuesday, and only once Wednesday. Not too bad!

Yesterday afternoon was my job interview for a better-paying (but more demanding) job. I think it went well. They said they should get back to me today.

I worked at the shoe store for the final time last night, with the very high-strung girl I had a run-in with about a month ago. She was in high-stress mode when I got there, so I just stayed out of her way, and we both survived quite nicely.

This weekend I'll be away in the Sequoias. Gotta go get my car ready and start packing...

Update (4:00 pm):


It should pay noticeably better than my receptionist job. Much, much, MUCH better than the shoe store.

Life is good. God is even better!

Friday, August 21, 2009

House Sale Update

I just realized that I hadn't given an update on my house sale status.

It fell through, but in an interesting way.

The story starts two years ago, when I put my house up for sale before the big trip with my mom. I had already listed the house with a realtor but wasn't ready for the sign to go up. On one particular day I was outside pulling weeds from in front of the house, when this realtor asked me if I wanted to sell my house, because he would sell it without charging me a commission.

Now, I'm no spring chicken who was born yesterday by falling off the back of a turnip truck. I knew he would add his commission to my asking price and charge the buyer for both. The guy just struck me as being as slippery as the day is long. And I had already decided not to use his agency, because almost every house in the neighborhood that was for sale was through him. I figured he'd be dividing his time among everyone, rather than giving me great service.

I told him the house was already listed, and he left.

So last month, when my realtor told me she had talked to Mr. Slippery Realtor (SR), who was asking about why my house was priced so low (he had one listed for almost 3 times what I was asking and way over the market rates), I hoped that someone--anyone!--would come in with an offer so I wouldn't have to deal with the guy.

But the only one to come through with an offer was SR, whose buyer offered only half of what I was asking. I was insulted and refused.

Eventually, though, SR convinced his buyers that my house was a steal even at a higher price, and we settled on a price. He wrote up an offer, and when my realtor presented it, I noticed that SR had ignored the listing and included the washer, dryer, and refrigerator in the sale price. I had my realtor write up a counter-offer without those appliances. When she called him to present the counter, though, he didn't call her back.

She tried to reach him for a couple days, and then the buyer called her and said he couldn't reach his realtor, so she tried again and got hold of a woman at SR's office. The lady there said SR had an emergency in the family and wouldn't be able to check his messages until the following Wednesday.

We tried to figure out where SR could possibly go that he couldn't make any phone calls, and all we came up with was jail or the deepest, darkest jungles of Mexico (SR is hispanic). But I didn't want to assume bad things about even a slippery guy, in case I was wrong, so we waited patiently for Wednesday to come around.

By Thursday or Friday, the buyer called my realtor in desperation. He hadn't been able to reach SR, so he asked my realtor to put the deal together. She had a bit of scrambling to do in order to write things up so they matched what SR promised his buyer plus took care of what I needed out of the deal, but she got it figured out, written up, and signed by both parties on the same piece of paper.

I live in a mobilehome park, and any buyer has to apply to the park management to be allowed to move in and pay space rent. When I was hanging out at the mailbox, I told the assistant manager that I had a buyer, and SR's name got mentioned. The assistant manager said that SR was in jail and apparently hadn't been let out on Wednesday.

At about same time, my realtor heard from the buyer that SR was in jail, but we didn't get any details until a day or two later. SR was charged with embezzlement, including ripping off his clients. I was thankful that they threw him in the slammer before he could ruin my house sale. Within a couple days of my learning that, all of SR's For Sale signs in the neighborhood were replaced with other agencies.

When the buyers (one guy with cash and his brother) went to the park management to apply, they were upset at having the rent raised, and they came away angry at the way they were treated by the manager and assistant manager (both of whom, unfortunately, come across as a first impression as anywhere from angry to nasty). Even after I offered to pay for 9 months of rent increase and my realtor would pitch in another 3 months, the buyers said they refused to live anyplace run by those people. Their refusal happened this past Sunday, my first day on my new job.

So Wednesday, I went over to the office to talk to the manager and asked her to PLEASE be nice to any buyers I get. She didn't think she'd been rude and said it was like pulling teeth to get the buyer to even say who would be living in the house. First it was just him (the one with the cash). Then it was him and his brother. Then it was him and his brother and maybe his brother's wife and two kids. Then there was the chance that the one with the cash might return to his own wife and kids (his wife had thrown him out), leaving the brother and his family in the house. But according to a combination of park rules and state law, this last scenario wasn't allowed, because nobody living in the house was on the title or an immediate ancestor or descendant. That would be sub-letting, which isn't permitted.

When the manager started to cast aspersions on my realtor, who is also a friend, I explained the whole SR-related situation to her, and she relaxed. She said that every single buyer that SR brought into the park has been trouble.

She promised to smile and be friendly and even welcoming to any future buyer of mine, and she even promised NOT to raise the rent (which she's allowed to do), after I pointed out to her that our rents are among the highest in our area and that I'd already had people refuse to even look at the house because the rent was too high. Thank God for small miracles!

So now I'm back to needing the big miracle of a house sale in this market. Before I run out of money.

Another Job Update

Today was my last day of training at my new job before I go solo on Sunday.

I'm mostly getting the hang of it. My questions have changed from, "What do I do?" to, "I do this, right?" That's the kind of progress we like to see.

Yesterday, on my day off, I went to the shoe store to try on some shoes, because the dress code requires closed-toed shoes, and most of mine are open-toed. I found some good ones and put them on hold for today, when my boss would be there to ring me up at the employee discount. So today I went there at lunchtime and bought my shoes, and now even my feet are ready for settling in on the job.

This afternoon, however, I got a call on my cell phone from a lady I interviewed with a few months ago for a job I really wanted but didn't get. The clinic's HR person had told me a few weeks after the interview that they selected someone who had experience doing that kind of work (admin combined with data analysis), but they really liked me and wanted me to apply there again. I hadn't seen any openings there that I wanted, though.

So today the hiring manager said in a voicemail that they'd been having trouble getting someone to fill the opening, and would I be interested?

I was stunned, and walked into my boss's boss's office (the friend of my friend) and told her about the message.

She said, "Go! Call them! I want you to make more money!"

So I called them and told the manager what the situation was, and she said they couldn't interview me until Wednesday or Thursday, which works well with my schedule, since my days off are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So they'll try to have an interview on Thursday or Friday.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Job Update

I started my new job Sunday. My counterpart, whose normal schedule is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, is working overtime to train me. It's a daunting task for her.

My biggest challenge is the phone. Having only had my own extension to worry about on all my previous jobs (plus being able to transfer people who called me by mistake), I wasn't ready for four phone lines, the intercom, and whole-building paging. With my counterpart sitting by me, ready to answer my questions, I'm starting to get the hang of it.

The other challenge is knowing who to call for what. Marketing is for prospective residents or their families. Housekeeping is for clean-up. Assisted Living is for personal care of the residents. The Med Tech (part of the Assisted Living department) is for medications. The Kitchen is easy to figure out. And there are other people to call as well. Not to mention the random things that come up that don't quite fit into one tidy category.

It was starting to feel as though I'd never get the hang of it, but by yesterday (Day 3) I was kinda-sorta catching on.

The area where I added the most value was with the computer work. My friend's friend (who hired me) is also my boss's boss. She came in briefly Sunday, because she needed a report by Monday morning, and as she described what she needed (my counterpart was going to work on that while I started reading the important manuals), I said it really needed to be a spreadsheet.

My counterpart avoids the computer like the plague, and my boss's boss doesn't have much of a working relationship with Excel, so they were trying to build a report manually on a notepad. After a while spent beating her head against the wall, my counterpart said something, and that got me to volunteer to see what I could do in Excel. They had a spreadsheet started, so I worked from that, sorted it by resident name so it would match the order of the physical files, added a few columns that helped me get the calculations they needed, then finished by re-sorting it all by room number after I got everybody's information entered.

The two of them were thrilled, and my counterpart asked our Big Boss if she could keep me. She can. But the project took up most of Sunday, so my training really didn't start until Monday. And Tuesday I handled the phones on my own as much as I could. I called for help less and less, which was a big relief, because the plan is that the two of us will work together again Friday, and then I'll be on my own starting Sunday, though my counterpart says I can call her at home 20 times a day if I need to.

As for the residents, I'm enjoying most of the ones who come to the lobby to hang out. There are a couple cranky ones who like to be around people so they can spread their dissatisfaction with the way things are. I'm supposed to ignore them as much as possible while still being polite, because the workload will suffer if I allow myself to become too wrapped up in conversation with them. Actually, the same goes for the friendly ones too. If the phones are quiet, though, I enoy talking to the residents.

On Tuesday I received two gifts. One was a drawing with markers of a farm scene as a welcome to me. The other was a yellow and purple yarn trivet/hot pad that's very nice. But the maker of it let it slip that she had given all the other ones away and still had one left, and that's why I got it. I don't feel slighted, though.

The other employees are really nice and love the residents. I can see it in the way they interact.

In spite of the long workdays, I think I'm going to like it there.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Job

I have a new job, and I start tomorrow!

I'll be the receptionist at an assisted living facility, working 10-hour days four days a week (Sunday - Wednesday), though this week will have a slightly different schedule for my training.

The previous receptionist wasn't coping well with the demands of the job, and when she lost it with one of the residents this past week, they had to get a replacement in a hurry. The director of the facility is a friend of a friend, and I'd met her before. I had semi-interviewed for this position earlier, when the now-fired lady had expressed dissatisfaction with the job, but she wouldn't quit so I was left in limbo until now.

So far in my job search, every single interview I've had (except at the city, where your test score determines whether you get an interview) has happened because I knew somebody who knew somebody at the place with the opening.

I gave one day's notice at the shoe store, but the manager convinced me to make it two weeks so I get flagged as rehirable. She promised not to schedule me in the next two weeks except for my days off from my new job.

I remember many years ago, when I was attending Bible Study Fellowship, that the teaching leader announced at the end of my first year at BSF that she was stepping down. She said she felt the Lord leading her out of that position through a brand-new restlessness coupled with Scriptures related to leaving or going that were jumping out at her. She had no idea what she was supposed to do next, only that she must leave.

A year later, she took the position of a coach (not the official title for this job) for the leaders in the region, and she loved it.

This is the way I've felt at the shoe store the last month. I've had challenges with most of my co-workers (never the customers), to the point that I really wanted to quit the job, but I needed the meager income it was bringing in. Now my restlessness has an answer.

Since my church only has Sunday morning services, I'll have to attend another church on Saturday nights. I'll need to sign up for a weekday Bible study group to stay connected with my home church.

I'd better go to bed, so I can get up in the morning early enough to figure out how to get ready for work. No more sleeping in late whenever I want to...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some Great Music

Now, some time away from politics. Courtesy of my daughter...

Watch the band members have a little fun throughout the song.


Arlen Specter Gets an Earful in Town Hall

Sen. Arlen Specter (RINOD-PA) held a Town Hall, and this video highlights two attendees who had something to say (HT: John Hinderacker at Power Line). To his credit, Specter didn't take his ball and go home, like the AARP lady did.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Constitutional Rights

(Hat Tip: WordSmith at Flopping Aces)

Single Payer Health Strategy

Kevin McCullough posted this video today, refuting the White House's assertion that the Public Option is about insurance competition and not a move toward a single-payer plan (universal health coverage).

Do you like your health insurance plan? Do you want to keep it? Too stinkin' bad, because it won't be around for long if the White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress pass this Hurricane-Katrina-on-steroids disaster of a bill.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Key Changes Are Evil

They should not be allowed in the house of our Lord, especially not when His people are worshiping Him through song. That's neither the time nor place for the Godless wickedness of changing keys to one that's always higher and harder to sing.

And that's all I'm going to say about it.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

New DNC Ad

The Democratic National Committee is upset about all the people who are protesting Obamacare, because everyone knows that protests belong to Democrats and NOT Republicans or opponents of Democratic policies. So they've created an ad that they'll be airing during the Congressional recess month of August. Here it is:

OK, maybe that's not quite the same version the DNC made.

But it's what they meant.

(The audio track is from the original ad, but some of the images were... changed.)

Friday, August 07, 2009

New RNC Ad

Courtesy of Connie Hair at Human Events:

Town Hall with AARP

I got my first invitation from AARP around the time I turned 40, and I threw it away, insulted that they thought I was old enough to join.

Sometime after that I learned that AARP is a major supporter of Democrats and liberal causes. I have since refused to join that organization, even in my advanced old age, and even though I could get bargains (on insurance at least) through them. I will not knowingly put my money somewhere that it will work against what I believe in. So AARP (and Ben & Jerry's, too) is out until they change their Lefty ways.

Then I saw this video that Duane Patterson (Generalissimo) posted on Hugh Hewitt's blog. It's a town hall meeting held by AARP with the intent to have a discussion with the seniors in the audience. But the seniors weren't buying the AARP talking points.

The citizens of the country are upset, and the self-appointed ruling-class elites aren't accustomed to having their pronouncements contradicted, so they just take their ball and go home.

As long as Congress and their supporters keep trying to ram through the complete destruction of finest (though imperfect) medical system in the world, we must oppose them. And when efforts to pass the current "reform" plans fail, the radicals will simply try stealth tactics to achieve the same ends. We must not lose our vigilance as long as Democrats hold the majority in Congress.


Here's the audio of Hugh Hewitt's discussion of the video on his radio show. Classic!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Next Weight Loss Target Reached

This morning I stepped on the bathroom scale, as I do many mornings, and for the first time since I started my weight loss program, I am at -30 pounds. Time for a celebration!!!

A friend and I had agreed to come back to the new French bakery in town (I had just discovered it) when we hit our next target and celebrate over tea and (for the target-hitter) a pastry. Unfortunately, my friend is up north doing some cat-sitting, so I had to go alone to the bakery today. This chocolate pyramid was my treat:

They have a bigger one, and that's what I planned to get, have it cut in half, eat half there at the bakery, and take the rest home for my nighttime treat. But the guy at the counter (his sister is the baker, trained under a genuine French pastry chef) suggested I buy the two mini-pyramids so I could have one there and take the other one home with me.

The outside is a hard chocolate coating, and inside is chocolate truffle. Oh. My. Goodness!

Of course, tomorrow my weight will probably pop up a pound, but that's OK. It'll be back down, because I'll be behaving again until my next target, which I haven't quite decided on. I'm within striking distance of the weight that I can both a) look good at, and b) maintain. Another 10 pounds might be too much, but it might good. I'll have to see when I start getting close.

One concern, though, is what to treat myself with when I get to the next goal. With each successive goal so far, my treats have become bigger and bigger. The first one was a piece of chocolate not even an inch square. The second one was a See's dark chocolate chip truffle. And now this one is two mini-pyramid truffles, with consumption separated by several hours. I think I'll need to scale back some for the last one.

One of the ramifications of this victory is that it's ruining the fit of my pants. I mentioned earlier about the new Levi's 529 jeans for curvy women that I bought after I'd lost almost 20 pounds. Well, they're getting droopy now, except when I first pull them out of the dryer. But the website where I bought them is now out of stock in my new size and won't be stocking them anymore. I'll have to go hunting, maybe Sears, maybe Penney's...

But I bought a new pair of slacks to wear to interviews when I don't want to wear a dress (my dresses still fit, because they have full skirts that don't care what size my hips are), and the slacks look nice on me, at least they did when I was plateaued at -28 for several weeks.

Life is definitely looking awfully good these last couple days!

August Calendar Photos

August snuck up on me while I was paying attention to other things.

The family calendar this month is Seattle. You may recognize these pictures from when my mom and I were on our trip.

Also from our trip was this bin of gourds for sale in the Amish area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is the picture in my Patterns calendar.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My House is Sold!

Praise God from Whom all blessing flow!!!

It should close on the 28th of August. A realtor may be showing the house tomorrow (for a backup offer), and after that, I get busy messing up my house while I sort everything and do some serious down-sizing of my stuff.