Friday, April 25, 2008

Updates of the Household Variety

So I promised some shots of the house-re-arrangement, and now that I have a little bit of time to sit on my heiny and surf the net, I figured I'd post some pretty pitchers for ya'll to see.

A couple weeks back, during my vacation, I put together a plan using Better Homes & Gardens' Arrange-a-Room tool and over the course of my vacation I managed to schedule an appointment to have a new cable outlet installed, clean the house and rearrange the room. I was a bit skeptical that the plan would work - since BHG's room tool sometimes makes it look like there's more space than there really is - but as I was so tired of my apartment being arranged as it was, I decided to give the new arrangement a shot.

And you know what? It worked out!!

Continue reading "Updates of the Household Variety" »

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Evening in Pittsburgh: Revelations, of sorts

So. Tomorrow I get on a jet-plane and head back to my beloved Portland, to see my beloved doggie, and sleep between my beloved 300-thread-count sheets in my own beloved bed.

Can I tell you how happy I am to be going home?

It's not that I don't like Pittsburgh; I do. It's been lovely here, the weather has been great and it's been nice to be away from the majority of the day-to-day grind which my usual job entails. But, oddly enough, I like my job and I like my apartment (especially now that I've rearranged it - photos coming soon!!) and I like Portland. There's a reason I left Boston and went back home; and I miss my home and all the things about it.

Continue reading "Last Evening in Pittsburgh: Revelations, of sorts" »

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stupid-head

I've had a headache - on just the right side of my head, right at my temple - for going on three days now. Sleep hasn't seemed to help; today I took allergy medicine, Drixoral, Excedrin, Maxalt (a migraine medication) and Advil and NONE of these remedies has done anything. (Worry not: I took them at one point or another throughout the day, not all at once!)

I am not amused.

Anyone have any suggestions for getting rid of this stupid pain?? I'd stand on my head at this point if I thought it might help... :-P

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pittsburgh, Part II

So the first two days of training have been mind-boggling. We're learning all about how to use and configure a special search engine, and like all things that are exceptionally customizable and powerful, it is extremely complex.

Thinking about this stuff all day yesterday was especially trying because I was exhausted: I'd slept poorly on Sunday night (on account of being in a new bed with low-thread-count sheets. I am so spoilt...) and I'd gotten up at what felt like 4 a.m. to my body, so by the middle of the day I was falling asleep and at the end of the day I had such a pounding headache I couldn't even think straight. Even after taking four Advil Liqui-Caps! I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. (EDT!) and aside from a couple of brief wake-ups in the middle of the night I slept all the way through until about 7:30 this morning. Much-needed rest.

The people training us are friendly and pleasant and have treated us to lunches out the last two days (yesterday was a local deli, today Thai) in addition to feeding us pastries and bagels and coffee and snacks throughout the day. I did hit that proverbial wall this afternoon but I am definitely (mostly) acclimated to the time zone now!

We're learning a lot about how to write XPath strings as well as becoming a bit more familiar with XSL. My web design experience is coming in quite handy in these areas, too.

Continue reading "Pittsburgh, Part II" »

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pittsburgh!

So after a day of traveling and dealing with other people (ick!) I have arrived in the booming metropolis of Pittsburgh, checked into my hotel (where I received a "welcome packet" of Hershey's Cherry Kisses on account of my having signed up with the Marriott's rewards program a while back) and eaten dinner at P.F. Chang's with my colleagues. I'm too tired to write much (and I haven't seen much of Pittsburgh anyway) so I'll just say, "I'm here!" and sign off for now. Stay tuned for more adventures tomorrow.... assuming there are adventures to be had... :-)

(Oh, and I miss my puppy. There is no hope for me. Sigh... )

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Miracle of Modern Technology

I am now, as we speak... errr... read, typing this post from my T-Mobile Dash. Which means, dear reader, that should I ever find myself sans laptop and/or sans Wi-Fi connection, I can still post my innermost thoughts to my blog for your reading pleasure! I haven't ever attempted this before but as I am headed east on Sunday I figured I'd take it for a test-drive.

I also spent some time trying to figure out how to turn off the antennae on my phone so I can still listen to the music while on the plane. You'd think they would include explicit instructions for such a task in the 150 page booklet that comes with the phone, given the phone is likely to be used by air travelers, but no... I had to hunt for that info and ended up figuring it out by trial and error!

Anyway, I'm about 95% ready for the trip (read: I spent the day cleaning) and now I just get to put everything in the suitcase and then actually get up in time! Stay tuned for tales of Zee's Adventures in Pittsburgh... I haven't had this much excitement in years!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Things I Love: Moleskine Notebooks

moleskinepocket.jpg A few months ago, I finally got fed up enough with my non-existent organizational system that I went hunting around for a new approach. I'd previously used an HP iPAQ Pocket PC - until it died a sudden and unexpected death - and then I was without a handheld device other than my cell phone, which had my contacts in it but that's about it. So after finding the Blackberry Pearl (which I used until recently when I dropped it one too many times) I was set on the calendar and contacts fronts because I sync these features with my work Exchange server. The task manager was more of a problem. I absolutely abhor Outlook's task manager, and despite several attempts to use it in various ways, I've given up in exasperation.

My biggest challenge, in my work and my life, has always been remembering everything I need to do. I recently learned about David Allen's Getting Things Done approach and after reading (most of) his book (err, oops?), doing some research and poking around online I decided to try using a pocket-sized, squared Moleskine notebook together with padded (i.e. sticky, like post-its) blank 3x5 cards and some repositionable index tabs. My system looks sort of like this one. (I can't find the page for the actual system I've been using, alas, but I'm cruising through the Getting Things Done pool on Flickr and am getting more ideas!)

Anyway, after using this system for just a little while, I fell in love with these notebooks. I absolutely adore them. They are the perfect size, lay flat when you open them, the paper is soft and silky but not super-thin, and they come in such a wide variety of sizes and styles everyone is sure to find at least one to tickle their fancy! I currently am using the pocket-sized squared notebook for my personal To-Dos, a larger, journal-sized squared notebook for all work-related items, and a third, lined journal-size notebook as my regular journal - it stays by my bed and gets written in when the topic of my journaling is not blog-appropriate. :)

I've found these notebooks at a variety of places: Amazon.com seems to have them for the cheapest price, but I've found them at bookstores like Powell's Books (for those of you within driving distance of Portland, OR), Borders and other book stores. I imagine art supply stores might also carry them.

(And for what it's worth: I've found the Getting Things Done approach to be really helpful, when I use it. And the point is, you have to use it. The challenge for me, with my work and life in general, is that tasks seem to generate themselves and while I should be furiously writing them down as they come to me, I usually don't even have a spare second to do so because of deadlines and etc. So I'm still tweaking the system to best work for me and am trying to get into the habit of getting out the notebook as ideas come to me.)

Time to Read

So I'm on vacation this week, a well-earned, much-needed bit of time off to recover from the Week From Hell I had in early March. (Aside: I now believe that, had my thyroid been mostly normal, said week might have been much more easily dealt with. At a minimum, I'd have been able to function without getting snippy at my clients... But I digress...)

Anyway, so: I'm on vacation. And I'm not actually going anywhere because there are tons of things around the house I wanted to tackle.

But you know what? It turns out, when I don't have to work 40+ hours a week, I have time - and more importantly, energy - to do stuff! And read books! And play with the dog! And practice the piano!

It's shocking, really. Just think how much we'd all get done and how organized we'd all be if we only had to work part time?!

Continue reading "Time to Read" »

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Credit Card Nation

I haven't written much lately about my "get out of debt" project, but I've continued to hack away at those goals and stick closely to a budget. I've read a lot of books about money management and getting out of debt over the years, but the plan Dave Ramsey promotes is the only one I've ever found that has given me the tools I need for living within my means. I don't know why this concept was so foreign to me before, but I've now been working this plan for 7 months, have attended his 13-week Financial Peace University program, and am much the better for it. My whole outlook and approach to handling my money is completely different now.

Surprisingly, the hardest part of this process was just getting started, but once I made the commitment to myself to never use debt again it's been surprisingly easy to incorporate these concepts and approaches into my life. Getting out of debt hasn't been easy, but I'm enjoying the process of budgeting (yes, I am a nerd), of watching the debts shrink and my savings accounts grow.

More than anything, living on a budget reminds me daily that I do, in fact, have everything I need. And what's more, I'm learning a lot more about what my priorities truly are by where I throw my money; having to wait to buy things until I save up for them creates a built-in self-check mechanism for making sure I really want something enough to spend my money on it.

Continue reading "Credit Card Nation" »

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

At risk of angering the gods of health and well-being...

...people, I'll be damned if I don't feel BETTER!

I mean, yeah, it's early (it's only been 4 days) but since beginning the Synthroid I feel like myself again!

Myself, as in the person who can clean the house and STILL have energy to go out later.
Myself, who can work a 9 hour day and still feel energetic and clear-headed enough to write a blog post.
Myself, who can go out for a walk and not have to take a nap afterwards just to make it through the rest of the day!

I'm not counting those proverbial chickens, mind you: as I said, I've only been on the stuff for 4 days, but if it continues to work the way it has these last few days (or, dare I hope, better!?) I'm going to be in much better shape than I have been in a long, long time.

Continue reading "At risk of angering the gods of health and well-being..." »


"I could have me a million more friends, and all I'd have to lose is my point of view."

~John Prine

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