Friday, September 28, 2007

September....Remember

It has been a busy week and a half in my part of the world, leaving me with little time or energy to update my ramblings....

The school year is fully underway with regular exams, standardized exams, demerits, detention and the annual harangue by our Monsignor for being horrible, permissive, atheistic parents. Oh, joy. He just doesn't understand that the reason most of the parent population stays away from the church is because they want to stay away from HIM! This man actually put the kibosh on a lucrative event because my husband, a member of the executive board that does the planning, doesn't go to church. Let's not mention the fact that he is the most active member of the board, giving of his time and talents in a truly Christian way. He speaks ill of no one. His only faults are occasional stubbornness and, of course, the aforementioned atheistic (though really more agnostic) tendencies. My husband is incensed, and I share his indignation. I don't think I have ever known a more judgmental or bitter Catholic in all my life than our intrepid Pastor. (We won't mention some of the more conservative stances of the church that I just cannot get behind. My son is there because it is a small school.)

As mentioned in a previous post, I am unsure stability of my current employer: One source of our funding is becoming increasingly difficult to secure, reorganization is under serious consideration, and many mid to large capacity publication printers have added digital edition production and distribution to their back ends. This move makes a lot of sense. Publishers can take advantage of economy of scale, as well as save some valuable time. This piece of news came from a major client of ours who has their print contract out for bid right now. Every bid is coming in with digital edition pricing in addition to their print production and distribution pricing. Losing this client would put our company's viability in serious jeopardy.

With that in mind, I went to my favorite job boards, and submitted several resumes. Since I want to get back on the publishing side of the fence, I went after circulation director positions. On a lark, I submitted a resume to a Houston based company. That was a Wednesday the 12th. The following Monday I received a call from their CFO, with whom I met for lunch that Wednesday. Sunday, I took a call form their Director of Publishing Operations, and set up a lunch date with him for the following day, Monday. Both meetings went very well. Tuesday evening, while trying NOT to think about any of this, and just prepare supper and help my son study for 3 exams he had the following day, I received a phone call from said Director saying he wants to offer me the job. For those keeping score, submitted resume, had two interviews and a job offer within 12 days.

My head is absolutely spinning. Do we want to move to Houston? What is involved? Timing? Well, of course, they want me to start as soon as humanly possible. When to visit? How to negotiate such a huge thing? I think the only thing I know for sure is that I am prepared to refuse any offer that is not completely advantageous to my family. Hell, I don't have the means to pull up stakes and move down the block, much less to Houston! How will my husband adjust? My son? Well, his latest question was do they have rodeos? I said, "Duh, it's TEXAS!" He just laughed.

I sent an email to the Director of Publishing Operations outlining a few questions and concerns yesterday the 27th. I am literally sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a response. This man is a new hire at the company, recruited from Chicago. If anyone would understand the magnitude of the change, it would be him. His wife is high on the food chain for a major business to business publishing house with a toddler, and another on the way.

We are adjusting to being carless for the moment. The weather, thankfully, has held. We donated the carcass to a charity benefiting kids. My husband cried when they towed it away. Negotiations with the insurance company continue. Given the current situation, we haven't made any decisions on what to do about a car yet. We will probably wait until all the Texas dust settles. Then, I think I will get my driver's license, at long last.

r.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Baseball Home Run Record



Just one girl's opinion. I love baseball. I do not like Barry Bonds. I don't believe he didn't use any enhancement substances. He call the guy who purchased the ball an idiot. So, no honor, no grace, no class. Blech. The record should be asterisk just as Roger Maris' was for so long.

If you have an opinion on the matter, go vote!

r.

Requiem for the Little Green Machine

Total Loss. That is what the other driver's insurance adjuster said after visiting my crumpled little buggy. All I can do now is wait for the check, according to him. My husband never did follow up with our insurance company to see if that was the final word. I just left them a message telling them where the car is. Hopefully the adjuster will return the call. I doubt, however, that the verdict will be much different. The Kelly Blue Book value of a 1998 Ford Escort Wagon SE with nearly 95,000 miles on it is next to nothing, so my fear that the damage far exceeds the value of the car has been realized.

On the upside, my husband now has to walk EVERYWHERE! This is the most exercise he has gotten in a long while, and he needs it. He had his first heart attack at 46. Thankfully, it was minor and caught early. Since then, he has had several other blockages treated, the latest in May of this year. He was supposed to submit to a cardiac rehabilitation program, but never did citing time pressures. The lack of the car forces the issue.

While I am very happy that no one was hurt, and do recognize that that is the most important thing, I am still very angry and sad that my husband wrecked the car. She was a good buggy, that's for sure.

r.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Random Information About Me.

A few others in Blogland have done the exercise below. Since I have nothing particulaly interesting or creative to post today, I defaulted to this:

What were you doing 10 years ago?
10 years ago my son had just been walking for a couple of months, so now he was off to the races. I was a red head with long hair. My husband's aunt lived with us, so we had live in babysitting. Day care was still a year away.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
One year ago it was just past my 40th birthday. Weight loss was really beginning to show. I was dancing at a friend's wedding reception :)

Five snacks you enjoy:

Cashews
Dates
Chocolate
Ice cream
Cheese

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to: (You can't say I'm not well rounded!)
Mercedes Benz (Janis Joplin)
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
Evergreen (Theme song from the Streisand/Kristofferson version of A Star is Born)
Red Neck Woman (Gretchen Wilson)
Piano Man (Billy Joel)

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
Buy a house and serious acreage in Southern Illinois so the land stays in the family.
Put money aside for my son's education and our retirement
Make sure my brother's kids are taken care of
Pay my mother in law's heating bills and property taxes forever. Repair her pool and have central air installed!
Travel

Five bad habits:
Avoidance. If it is unpleasant, I'll avoid it like the plague.
I'm a wicked critic, especially of myself. Goes along side-by-side with my perfectionism.
Impatience with those who either a: should know better or b: are able to determine their own fate. I'm very patient with the elderly, babies and animals.
I can get stuck in ruts!
Boy, can I swear. Right up there with truckers and career NCOs

Five things you like doing:
Cooking
Walking in the woods (But, really, I'll walk anywhere)
Listening to music
Writing
Love a good debate!

Five things you would never wear again:
Bikini
Tube Top
Platform shoes
Pleated skirts
Anything with words running across my ass!

Five favorite toys:
iPod
Laptop
Teddy Bears (I still have a few)
Raggedy Ann type dolls
My son's light sabres. We have a great time dueling with them.


r.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Little Green Machine

By the beginning 1999, the company I was working for was in its death throes. Every employee knew it. By mid year, we all had our exit options and the financial ramifications of each spelled out. Being in no hurry, and seeing a larger payout if I stayed, I was one of the last employees to leave on 15 November 1999. I had secured a new job with a start date of 29 November.

In February of 2000, I took a chunk of my severance and put a large down payment on my first car, a certified pre-owned forest green 1998 Ford Escort wagon. The whole transaction was conducted online--selected, financed, insured, all of it. It was one of those autocratic decisions on my part, as I didn't (and still don't) have a drivers license. We went down to the dealership to sign the paperwork and pick up the vehicle. I envisioned road trips, vacations, trips to the grocery that didn't require delivery. Ahhhh, freedom.

The first time we dinged her up was during what can only described as a pissing contest between my husband and the driver of an SUV, while jockeying for position in a car-wash line. The car was in our possession for a month. We were all unhurt, but my son saw both of his parents at less than their finest. Since then, a friend riding in the backseat inadvertently opened up the car door into oncoming traffic, my husband misjudged a pickup on 21st Street in Astoria, we were rear ended on the Clearview expressway, and Brian dozed behind the wheel on the BQE. At no time was anyone hurt, but the front driver's side of the car has taken some damage!

My husband can be an impatient driver. He hates getting stuck at a red light when the car in front of him goes just slowly enough to make it through, but he can't. He is also convinced that those who drive larger vehicles hold his in contempt. While he is not reckless per se, he is adamant that he not be taken advantage of on the road. He will NOT cede the right of way unless other drivers are polite or he is in peril. He said that I should have his epitaph read "I was in my lane."

Yesterday, while driving from his job to pick up our son from school, my husband was proceeding through a fairly busy intersection. He crested a hill as the traffic light turned yellow. He still had the right of way. Already in the intersection was a 1978 Cadillac waiting to make a left turn. He was supposed to wait. He didn't. My husband hit the brakes, steered towards the right so as to not hit him head on. The Green Machine driver's side quarter panel, wheel well and tire are severely damaged. Thankfully my husband is fine. The driver of the Cadillac is fine. The Cadillac, aka a TANK, sustained a broken headlight. The drivers exchanged information, the Caddy drive off, our Escort was moved to the curb, where we were written a ticket for not feeding the meter enough.

Since the Caddy violated the right of way, the accident is his fault. His insurance company, Allstate, is in no hurry to settle the claim. In fact, they told Brian they want to settle, to which he responded, sure, for the price of repairing my car. I told him to go file a police report. Not sure there were any witnesses that will be any help. By the time people saw what was going on I am sure the light had changed to red, and people might very well say Brian ran the light.

I saw the car loaded up on a flat bed. From the running lights to the drivers side door, wheel to hood, the car is crunched. I held up traffic taking pictures with my camera phone. Now all I need is the cable to download them. In the meantime, we are without a car for at least a week, if not two. We may even be faced with the prospect of taking any insurance money we get and putting it down for a new car. With a new school year and increased tuition upon us, the last thing we need is a car payment and the higher insurance rates that go with it.

r.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Much Better, Now!

Ok. I've had my cup and half of coffee, and feel much better about life, the universe and everything. Especially since I was finally able to have a conversation with my coworker regarding the financial health of the company. Before I went on vacation, I heard the dreaded word 'reorg' and thought "uh-oh!" As suspected, it isn't good. However, from what we can gather, the danger isn't imminent. But enough for me to dust off my resume and send it to 3 potential employers within 15 minutes. The last thing I need is to be caught unawares like I was the last time.

October 26th, 2005 was a very pretty day. Leaves were changing color, the sun was shining, and it was day in the upper 60s, if I remember correctly. And it was also my 15th wedding anniversary. My husband and I could not linger over coffee and breakfast, as I had to be out of the house by 5am to make it to work by 7am for a 7:30 am meeting. By 7:35, I found out that my position had been eliminated, I had thirty minutes to empty my office, and a limousine was waiting downstairs to drive me home. I was unemployed for the first time in my life, and scared to death. It took until February 2006 to secure a new job. Not that long by most standards, but when you are responsible for supporting the family, it is an eternity.

I don't normally leave a job unless there is a very compelling reason. I am a security NUT. From the time I was 24 until now, I've had only 3 jobs. The first one I kept for nearly 10 years--the company was sold and shut down. The position that was eliminated I held for nearly 6 years. This one I have held for a little over a year and a half. Seems strange to actively seek new employment after so short a tenure. That said, I am no longer working in the suburbs, but in Manhattan. I can get around so much more easily. Seems silly not to take a long lunch or come home a little late in order to better secure my family's future.

r.

Starbucks PSA

Just a short rant to begin the day:

Note to Starbucks Employees, 35th Street and 7th Avenue:

It is inadvisable to install a completely new crew in one of your busiest locations during morning rush hour. If the guy taking money does not know the touch screen, or cannot count money, open up another register. It is not in any way, shape or form acceptable to wait over 10 minutes with only 2 people in front of you at 7:35am for a simple Grande Drip! Seriously, when the line starts creeping out the door, it is time to relieve the poor bastard! When your regular customers are having strokes, it is time to relieve THEM.

Rant over. More later.

r.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone is a folk song written by Pete Seeger around 1961. The inspiration for the song came from a Ukrainian folk song referenced in a novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, And Quiet Flows the Don. Seeger wrote three verses, and adapted it to a tune. Some time later, Joe Hickerson wrote two more verses. I remember hearing several versions of the song when I was a little kid: one by the incomparable Joan Baez, and one by Peter Paul and Mary. What I remember most, however, is my mother's virulent hatred of the song.

Joan Baez' rendition of Where Have All the Flowers Gone was released in 1967. My father was a 23 year old infantry Marine in Vietnam at the time. Given that Baez spent years and her considerable energy protesting that War, I can almost understand why my mother felt as she did. I also think she was fearful of the line "Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one," as so many Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Soldiers did.

Every year I go to my family reunion, one of my Aunts, Uncles, or Cousins bring me a piece of my father. These memories, artifacts and photos are treasures to me. They are also exquisitely painful. This year, Dad's next eldest and closest sister brought me photos taken when he was in the Marine Corps. The first was his recruit photo. It was taken in 1961 when he was just 17 years old. The Vietnam War was underway, but there were only about 3,200 military advisers on the ground. Kennedy was still alive, and commitment to American combat troops was still about 4 years away.

The other photo was taken in January of 1968. Dad was nearly 24 years old, serving in Vietnam. His wife was in New York ready to give birth to my brother. At the time, there were nearly half a million troops on the ground. The total would reach its peak of 543,000 by April of 1969.

On the reverse of this photo is a handwritten note to my Aunt. He was due to come home soon, and was understandably happy about it. I will always be grateful to my Aunt for giving me these pictures. She says next year she will bring the photo of Dad in his dress blues. I'm sure it is something to see!

The song, the photos and the Vietnam war bring to mind what is now going on in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. Not that the paths to war are similar or any of the politics, per se, but war and its aftermath in general. Just as in the '60s, our young men, boys really, go overseas in uniform to execute the policies created far from the front. The average age of a Vietnam soldier was 19. I am sure the age is similar for those going to Iraq, whereas in WWII, the average age was 26. That my mother, most likely in support of her husband, could not protest the war he fought, and also vilified those who did, is an attitude that is visible today. It is an attitude that frequently only changes once husbands, fathers, brothers, wives, sisters, and mothers come home to Arlington.

I have always been proud of my father's service. I have always opposed the war he was sent to fight. I have always mourned the damage to his soul. I have always wondered how our lives would have been different if he hadn't gone to Vietnam. I read an article recently that stated only 15% of Vietnam veterans suffered long term psychological problems as a result of their service. I think that number is grossly understated. Given the revisionist history witnessed by that remark, one can only shutter at what the reported long term effects on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will be.

r.