Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Great moments in my history

There were at least three other girls in my kindergarten class with this JC Penney pantsuit.

My dad started his job in Decorah before our whole house was finished, so he lived in the upstairs part that WAS done, and we lived in Manchester in our old house. But we would go see him on weekends. It was like a big slumber party and we got to eat Mabe's Pizza. I missed my dad, but it was great fun to go sleep in my sleeping bag. And I've always loved slumber parties.

And another thing...

I'm also weighing the merits of keeping versus stopping this blog during my job search. If you have my full name and you Google me, you get this site. And if I'm asking you to let me manage your ethical purchasing or in-store brand, will this help or hurt me?

Decisions, decisions. Frankly, I think my shelf-life in search engines will outlive me even if I DO down this site, so the choice may be already made for me.

Post-merger transition agent and other tales

I am currently going through the excruciating process of reworking my resume (or CV as the fancy folks call it) to reflect both my UK work experience and my soon to be completed MBA. This is simultaneously one of the most affirming and demoralising things I've ever done.

I've had versions of the same resume for almost 10 years now. My resume is cool. I did it in Quark XPress years ago, adding logos and funky fonts and colors to make it interesting. If you get an online version of it, the logos are even clickable to take you to my former employers' websites. It's got nice white space and I make abundant use of the semi-colon to separate accomplishments within each job role. I even have a handy little professional profile and skill set summary at the top for the exec who's too busy to read the whole thing. It's two pages, but there's good stuff in there and I'm old enough and experienced enough that one page is not relevant anymore. I even mention my fascination with Elvis and ukuleles at the bottom...most people who've done time in the PNW toss some personality in there to help get a live interview.

But now I have to give up my funky formatting and try to sell the skills I've gained into a totally different forum. I have to figure out how to change task accomplishments into future potential statements. This is not easy.

On the upside, the last three years have really fortified my CV. In addition to the degree, I can now talk about managing post-merger transition, leading and implementing changes in a change resistant culture, process innovation and financial turn-around statistics (which nicely compliment my standard success numbers from previous roles.) But how do I say it? How do I convey what I've done in punchy bullets? Which comes first...the skill set or the evidence?

I'm getting a headache thinking about it. But I've got to get it done this week, as I have three jobs for which I need a resume ASAP, two of which I hope to interview for when I am home.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happily ever after

Last night it was Lost in Translation. Tonight it's Garden State. Tomorrow is Napoleon Dynamite.

I love watching damaged people find love. It just seems purer. More real.

Watching people who are flawed and lonely and marginalized find love makes me happy. It makes me hope. It makes me feel that underneath it all the world is not as bad as it sometimes seems.

It makes me see possibility.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Functional retard

Today I had been to the gym and run home to shower and change and was grabbing my stuff for lectures when I noticed I had a message on my phone. It was a text from my friend Ash, who wanted to meet at 1pm to discuss our MMA project. It was 1250. I grabbed everything, ran out the door with phone in hand, and realised I'd left my keys inside.

FYI if you don't live in England, doors here tend to lock behind you.

Luckily, my spare was with my friend Kat, unlike the last time I did this when it was in the house, too. And with my phone preoccupation I did have my phone. So I called Kat, who got in the car and drove over to my house to let me back in.

Duh.

All Hail the UKE!



On Wednesday night, I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain with my friends Nadine and Talisha. They were playing at a restaurant/bar/club called Spitz in Old Spitalfields Market. The women on my team had given me two tickets for the show, and I was able to recruit a third to join me.

How, you may be asking, did you convince two people (bright, talented MBA students even) to accompany you to such an odd event? It sounds like a real sleeper, Mindy. I mean, how much George Formby can a person take?

Oh ye of little taste.

The show was positively brilliant. I've seen them twice now, and both times they ROCK THE HOUSE.

They took the stage around 8:30. They walked into the room in black-tie attire, carrying their array of ukes with them as they came. They started with a bit of a folksy 20's style tune, moved into a nice bolero, and then transitioned to more traditional folk tunes, such as Shaft and Anarchy in the UK. They played Psycho Killer. Teenage Dirtbag (which is one of the best pop songs ever, by the way). Some Nirvana. Some Aretha. Some fascinating nine-way rounds and some David Bowie. It was absolutely perfect.

And, true to form, the guy playing the bass uke was a stone cold fox who plucked out some complex rhythms and tossed a few flirtatious looks at his adoring fans. Even Talisha and Nadine agreed...it isn't just me and my bass player thing.

One of the best birthday gifts EVER! You are so going to see them with me if you're in town and they're playing. Trust me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's all my fault

I'm so sorry. I know a lot of you, my friends, have been getting thicker waistlines as you get older.

Now, AT LAST, you can blame me. Seems that having a friend who is fat makes you fat. You can live next door to, work with, even carpool with a fattie and not gain weight at all as long as you hate them, but if you like a fat person, even one who lives 500 miles away or more, you're going to pay for that friendship by putting on the pounds.

I understand that you might not want to see me when I'm home in August. It's okay. Save yourselves. Let me know if you need me to call you names or something to break the emotional connection. I'll do what I have to to help. This isn't good for any of us. If we keep up with all these good times and devotion, sure, we'll have each other, but there won't be furniture to hold our giant asses.

Oh. And it might help if you put down that pizza, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The miracle of the toothpaste

Twice a day for the last two weeks, I go to brush my teeth and I think, Sheesh! I gotta go buy some more toothpaste. But there is food in the house so I don't need to go grocery shopping and I have a whole list of things to buy at Boots the Chemist that I don't want to purchase until after payday, so I think, Please God, let there be enough for one more brushing.

And lo, the Lord has HEARD my silent prayer, and each time I squeeze the empty, flat tube I get just enough for a sparkling clean mouth.

Loaves. Fishes. Toothpaste.

He is a generous God.

Monday, July 23, 2007

birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. Yesterday was one month to the day since my dad's funeral.

It was a mixed day.

I spent it with my friends Patricia and Nadine. Saturday I'd gone down to P's house outside of London and we spent the day walking along the Thames, drinking martinis and eating the fabulous dinner she made. Sunday I drove home after breakfast and coffee, read Harry Potter for awhile and then had dinner at a thai restaurant with N. It was a great weekend. And thank you to all who sent emails and texts and phone messages. They made me smile.

I only cried a little bit in the morning and again when I went to bed. It's like there's this gaping hole, and as long as I don't look at it or listen to the echo I'm fine. But when I do, the sadness is overwhelming. It's probably why I don't sleep much anymore. You have to calm down to sleep. And calming down means silence.

I know it will get better. I know.

Accountability

If you're running for President of the United States, it's likely you've spent a bit of time in the public eye. It's likely that you know that you'll be under heavy media scrutiny, that your every move will be analyzed ad nauseum until well after the campaign ends.

So please act like it.

Read the eight inch letters on the giant sign before you stand by it with a big cheese-eating grin on your face. Think about how the cost of your haircut is going to be perceived by people listening to your next populist stump speech. Think about the words you choose before you speak into the microphone. Consider how your hair-brained ideas sound to people on the other side and think for a second how you might use actual facts and not just a bunch of hyperbole to support your position.

It's not like this is the first media circus campaign. It's not like people haven't been talking for decades about how television changed the face of the presidency (literally) with the Kennedy/Nixon battle in the 60s.

You want privacy? Run for city council or sheriff or something. Or go back to private industry. People don't write news stories about middle managers (unless they bring a gun to work or embezzle.)

Don't tell me to lighten up. Use your heads, you nitwits. We don't need another moron in the White House.

It's the old Eddie Vedder Conundrum of Celebrity...People like to see pictures of famous people. They like to read about your glamorous lives and imagine themselves in your position, or sometimes even imagine themselves as your friend. Taking part in this builds your fame, and your fame builds your marketability and your earning potential. If you don't want to live in the media spotlight, be a plumber, not a rock star/actor/model.

(FYI, this is not Eddie's rule. It was the advice I screamed at my TV back in the 90s when he was bitching about the publicity problem with Pearl Jam's meteoric rise to fame. Judging by the recent history of PJ, perhaps he could hear me. Can we adopt has-been rock stars, too?)

Using what's in the fridge, vol 5

I wanted a curry, but takeaways are notoriously bad for you and, though I am actually pretty good at Indian food, it can take a bit of time if you haven't planned ahead and I didn't much want to cook. So I decided to try to make a stew... healthier, but with all the flavours and no real prep time.

My Mulligatawny

I cut up a couple of chicken breasts and set them to marinate in some yogurt and lemon juice mixed with garam masala, cayenne and some medium curry powder. It sat for about 15 minutes while I did other stuff

Toasted some cumin seeds and some black mustard seeds. Ground them with some salt and chili flakes with a mortar and pestle. There were two or three tablespoons by the time I was done.

Grated some ginger (like a thumb's worth), minced two cloves of garlic and a fresh red chili, and then cut up an onion.

Cut up two potatoes and one carrot. Had some cauliflower cut up, too. And added a yellow pepper for good measure.

Heated some oil. Added the garlic/chili/ginger/onion, stirred it around, then added the chicken, trying to remove most of the yogurt as I added it. Cooked it until it was about half done.

Added the potatoes and the vegetables. Stirred some more. Added three cups or so of chicken broth.

Cut up about 12 cherry tomatoes. Added them, and then dove in the freezer for a handful of peas. Added that, too.

Put about half the crushed spices in, added the dregs of my V8 from the fridge. Let it bubble slowly until the vegetables were tender. I added a bit more of the spices, too, because I wanted a good kick to it.

Served it with a few toasted cashews as a garnish. Success!

If I'd been thinking, I would have added some red lentils, too, because that woulda de-brothified it. I bet some eggplant would be good in there, maybe even instead of the chicken for my veg friends. Oooo. Maybe a firm white fish would have worked, too, though you'd not want to add it too early.

Friday, July 20, 2007

History slights the supporting actors

Although I haven't adopted a supporting actor myself, I'm feeling pretty bad for a couple of them right now.

I'm watching Diner. The digi-tv synopsis says, "Barry Levinson's masterly tribute to his youthful years in Baltimore is an early showcase for future stars Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke and Ellen Barkin.

You kind of have to feel bad for Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser and Tim Daly. I mean sure...they may not have been doing a lot of exceptional work lately, but I wouldn't exactly call Ellen or Mickey the kings of the A list these days, either. Kevin Bacon's married to The Closer and he knows everyone, plus he's cool. So him I give a pass.

Sometimes I wish I had more love to give.

Alternative Dove Lifestyle

They say that doves mate for life. So how do you explain the THREE doves that live in the tree by the pond across the street?

Mormons, I tell you.

Such a thing as too concerned

I was just watching the television news, and they were interviewing a woman that represents a children's charity that offers emergency helpline assistance to children with problems of any sort. They are manning their lines with death counsellors to deal with all the calls from children who are going to be traumatized by the deaths of characters in the new Harry Potter book, possibly even of Harry himself.

Seriously. She was talking like this was some global crisis. She equated it to them losing their parents or their best friends.

Lighten up, lady. It's just a book. (That will be delivered to my house before noon tomorrow, but still.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Plate o' shrimp, vol 6

I was humming the Adam and the Ants song Ants Invasion when I wrote the same-named post below. In that song, the lyrics tell a narrative citing the times 1035, 1036 and 1038. In the first two, he's searching for the ants invasion. in the latter, he is hiding from it.

I clicked publish at 1037.

Pitting olives

I must have been living in a cave. I JUST figured out that one can pit olives by using the same technique often used for peeling garlic. Lay the flat side of your chef's knife on the little bastard and slam your hand on it. It releases the olive from the pip and VOILA! you have pitted kalamatas for about half the price.

I wish I were smarter. You have no idea how much money I could have saved if I'd know this 20 years ago.

Using what's in the fridge, vol 4

I came home thinking I'd thawed some chicken for dinner, but I must have dreamt that. SO I was left to scrounge the cupboards and fridge for something for dinner. Boy, was I happy with the result.

Salmon Cakes

Grab that can of salmon that you bought awhile ago with the best intentions. It's just sitting in there getting closer to its sell by date. Then find:

An egg
Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce
Lemon juice
Old Bay
Tabasco
Salt and Pepper
A yellow/red/green pepper
A green onion
Some saltines or bread crumbs (scrounge up 3/4 cup or so)

Preheat your oven to 180C/400F ish. Spray a baking tray with non-stick stuff.

Beat the egg, add 2 tsps of Dijon, a tsp of WS, juice from half the lemon, about 1/2 tsp of the Old Bay plus a little, and a couple of healthy dashes of tabasco. Dance that mess around.

Pulverdice half a pepper and the green onion. Mix it into the slop. Open the salmon and add it (with or without the bones and skin...most people have strong feelings on these parts of canned salmon, but I usually compromise, take out some of it and then say screw it and dump the rest in.) Add 1/4 cup of the cracker/bread crumbs and fold it all together.

Divide into 8. Take the little balls, roll them in the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, then smash into patty shape on the baking tray.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip, bake for 5 - 10.

Serve with whatever greenery you can find...I made some steamed broccoli and a tomato olive salad.

Yummy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Little Women

I've got the 1990's version of Little Women on right now. The one with Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kirstin Dunst, Claire Daines and some other woman who never got famous.

It's been a really long time since I read that book, and while I don't remember particularly liking it that doesn't mean much. But if this movie were the only thing to go by, then I'd declare it plastic, contrived and dumb. I don't think I've seen a movie with such wooden delivery of antiquated language in, oh, I don't know, ever. Winona Ryder is especially bad. The nobody isn't doing to bad, actually, but the rest pretty much suck. But I'd have to conclude that either Louisa May Alcott is a very bad writer who rode to fame merely by being a woman in a time of men, or most people involved with this movie entirely missed the point.


Big thumbs down for this one. Time to change the channel.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hud


Words aren't really necessary.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Oh no no the Ants Invasion

I came home from work tonight, went to the bathroom, and discovered a swam of ants, both giant winged and tiny little crawly ones all over my bathtub. I am not happy.

I immediately went to Tesco for death spray. I practically mopped with it. Those bastards are going DOWN.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Landmines

This just came up on shuffle. Thanks, apple.

Hidden secrets

I had to spend part of today at home because my boiler is acting up again and the repairman was dismantling it. And for some reason, I decided that it was time to start loading more of my CDs into iTunes. I'd gotten tired along the way, and over half of my music was still not in. Or perhaps I've been inspired by Grant Miller. God knows I often am.

But my point.

My, do I have some kinda taste. The Captain and Tennille's Greatest Hits? It's in there now. Uncle Tupelo? Gotcha. The Lead and How to Swing It? Yup.

I had forgotten my penchant for soundtracks and cover albums. I have quite a few. Let's see if you can guess this movie? (And googling for matches makes you a pansy.)

London Calling by the Clash, Half-Life by Duncan Sheik, and Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo by Rick Derringer

How about this one?

Jockey Full of Bourbon by Tom Waits, Bittersweet by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Mile High by Morphine

Between gems like these and Ruben Blades doing "The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul" my iPod shuffling just got a little more interesting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Uninspired Random 10

Since I am uninspired, I will use my iPod to give me blogging content.

1) Rehab - Amy Winehouse ... I downloaded Amy Winehouse because she looks like a brunette biker Barbie. And I like the horn section in this song. This would not be a good song for the ukulele.
2) Penitentiary Philosophy - Erykah Badu ... Mama's Gun is the second Erykah Badu album I bought, and it has some outstanding songs on it. This one has an ass-kicking feel about it and, you guessed it, funky bass. Always a hit with me, though not a good song for the ukulele.
3) Pablo Picasso - Jonathan Richman ... This song is a gift from God. Here's a post from when I was inspired. But as great as it is, this would be a difficult one to do well on the uke.
4) F**k and Run - Liz Phair ... When you feel kind of down because of your piss poor love life, this song is exceptional. And since it is composed of chord strumming you could do a perfectly serviceable version on a uke if you have a good sense of rhythm. Hmmm.
5) Tammy's Breeze - Gene Harris and the Three Sounds ... Gene Harris is excellent music for a martini and conversation kind of evening, and this song is especially good for a slow dance around the coffee table. But since it is a vibes kind of keyboarding song, it is not ukulele possible, unless you are much much more talented than I am.
6) Natural - Arrested Development ... I always want to skip when I hear this song. In fact, I want to skip when I hear this entire album. Too rhythmic and rappy for the uke. And skipping is too much while playing. There's a reason it's Tiptoe through the tulips.
7) Flathead - The Fratellis ... Headbangy goodness, this one. It's not perfect, but I think there is uke potential here.
8) SOS - The Meat Purveyors ... I'm smiling now. Nothing like bluegrass Abba to turn a frown around. Definitely uke-able if you fast strum the banjo chords. Yes. The banjo chords.
9) Trouble in the Fields - Nanci Griffith ... This is on One Fair Summer Evening, so you get the story about her great Aunt Nettie May who, by God, didn't want to LIVE in Oklahoma. It's one of my favourites, actually. And it's an obvious uke-er, what with the strummy acoustic guitar.
10) Lost in Space - Fountains of Wayne ... FoW write the perfect pop song. I adore them. This particular one has some really tight harmonies and some awfully mod chord progression, particularly in the bridge. I think you could create a good uke version, though it would be best with a few friends to do some counter chord strumming. Pam, get on that.

Uninspired

Yikes. I am completely uninspired.

I don't have anything exciting at work. I can't get focused on school work. I am not sleeping well. I try to read and I can't focus. I watch tv and I ignore it. I surf the internet and don't finish articles. I've taken to shopping on the internet except not actually purchasing the basket of things. This needs to stop.

My boiler is broken again, so I don't have hot water regularly. Usually I discover it as the tank starts to cool, and then I spend 15 minutes trying to relight the pilot. This is annoying me.

I don't feel like cooking so I'm eating cold things or crap. This is not like me.

I'm making myself leave the house for social things so I don't end up sitting on the couch staring into space.

Tomorrow my cleaner is coming, so I'm hoping a little tidy up of my space will make things better. I have to clean tonight, though, so I'd best start the picking up.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'm a Sap

How did I not know about Bright Eyes? They're exactly the sort of thing I like, and that Conor Oberst is a genius. I was obviously not paying attention.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Little known facts about the British

Brits do the Hokey Cokey, not the Hokey Pokey. When the Hokey Cokey is brought up in a room of them, they all say it with their regional accents. Northerners will be ridiculed mercilessly for their o's, but then they usually are. Some will demonstrate and sing. At least one person will make the joke about whether this is what it's all about.

I think it must be the circular queueing that excites them.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Getting caught up

I've been back a little over a week now, and am finally settling back into my groove.

Work has been manageable, which is nice since I had three weeks of emails to plow through and respond to. I have decided that email is the scourge of mankind, evidence that the Antichrist is nigh. My colleagues and supervisors have been very supportive and kind, except of course for the guy who got bent out of shape because I didn't greet him warmly and ask about his vacation on my first day back. That guy is a twat. But the rest of them have been great. The women on my team took my house key a few days before I returned to the UK and stocked my fridge with staple items and left flowers, chocolates and a card to welcome me home. May I also say that they told me, completely unsolicited, that when they arrived the first time the swans made a beeline for their car and refused to let them out. They went to lunch and came back later. I TOLD you those swans are evil.

I went to classes last weekend and my friends at school were incredible. They made me feel loved and supported, and we ended up with a big night out last Friday, first at a Thai restaurant where the nice waitress put orchids in our hair, and then at the student union bar for much Zorba dancing and plate breaking. Many of them have continued to call, text and email me this week to check on me, which I really appreciate even though I haven't had time to respond promptly. I think I worried one of them because it took me a few days to reply. I feel kind of bad.

I slept 15 hours on Saturday night. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee, and I ran bang into the bathroom door jamb in the dark, and am sporting a rather nasty bruise on my shoulder as a result. I also came close to missing the toilet, something that isn't that easy to do when you're a girl....toilet seats fundamentally help you find center. Luckily I saved myself before I peed on the floor.

Had a leadership retreat for a few days this week. A group of us go to a nearby conference center and do some strategy stuff and some personal development. These are always good fun, but many of my friends attend as well so they are social AND productive.

Tonight I went to TGIFriday's for dinner with my friend Kat because she wanted a burger. It was actually pretty good....they make a fine Manhattan there, which I did not know because I never go to TGIFriday's.

I have decided that the wide hip belt and the cargo pant are two of the worst things to happen to English women ever. These, combined with ballet flats or skimmers and a smock or mini-dress, can make even the most attractive, perfect-figured woman look like a dumpy fashion slave or a trashy extra on Eastenders. They're a good look on maybe five women in the entire country, yet it seems everyone is intent on wearing them. Not that I am some sort of style maven, but I have figured out that cargo pants are not my friend and I require a bit of a heel.

I really like the Arctic Monkeys, but tonight they appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross dressed as clowns. I may have to rethink this.

If you buy taramasalata and it goes past its date, it is best to keep it in the fridge until trash day and then bin it. Binning in on Thursday is a mistake by Friday.

I have decided to pick up an English accent. I've picked a few posh people on telly and I listen and repeat everything they say. If Berlitz can teach me French this way, I don't see why I can't learn to speak like Kirsty Allsopp.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tom Jones is well brilliant

I'm watching the Diana concert on telly while I catch up on blogging and newspaper reading and NY crossword puzzles and other things. We've seen Duran Duran, Lily Allen, Nelly Furtado, Orson, that guy from Supertramp, Elton John, and the Feeling to name a few, and Tom Jones blew them all out of the water. He looks great, he sounds amazing and he's dead sexy. He sang an Arctic Monkeys song and was funkaliciously unbelievable. He is did a duet with Joss Stone and was dripping with charisma.

How does he do that? He should bottle it, man.

Shameless Plea

Alas, they have anticipated me...the service fees for giving me miles will be more than the ticket. Pleh.

Hiya.

Ticket prices suck for my trip home in August. I CAN spend the money, but it's a lot more than I'd like to with my current expenses being what they are. I'm crabby. So I'm trying something.

Some of you are frequent fliers and you are regularly able to use your miles for mileage awards. Or you fly kind of often and you have an American Airlines credit card so you still can get award travel now and again. You should stop reading now.

But some of you have miles on American Airlines that are languishing in an account, and now with their new 18 month expiration policy you're unlikely to actually use them, but you've collected them just the same.

If you're THAT person, how much for a few of your miles? They'll let you gift them to me online. I'm willing to deal. Email me if you're interested. My address is in my profile.

FYI, I'm not expecting this to work and don't want to use the emotional tone of my blog lately to manipulate anyone. In fact, I don't want offers of sympathy. Think of it as a regift. A birthday present for my upcoming 41st. Or a way to cash in miles for PG Tips and chocolate biscuits mailed to your home, or to get a free room in England sometime soon or to get dinner at your favourite restaurant or even cooked by yours truly when I'm in your neck of the woods.

Tacky? Maybe. Sorry about that. You know this is unlike me. But I need to go home in August and I'm not made of money right now.