Massachusetts

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jay: Recruiter

So I spent $28 we don’t have for gas to go meet with a recruiter for 15 minutes yesterday, throwing in a stop for Sadie’s birth certificate on the way.  It was kind of an obligatory thing they do because they promise their client companies that they have personally met and screened the prospects.  It mainly consisted of a get to know you slightly better and discuss what want to do.  Which, as I told him, is part of my problem, but the obvious option of project management sounds good to me.  He could get me DBA (database administrator) work with SQL Server if I were more qualified.  That’s a case of probably could, but wouldn’t be what they really want.  Trouble with me is my tremulous “probably could” is probably more capable than half the people who assertively put themselves forth as such.

I have no idea whether he’ll really come up with anything for me, and it’s got to be just one basket.  Today I need to start invoking my plan weeks in the brewing for which now it may be too late, which includes begging for work here and to a mailing list of contacts*, begging for help with the gas & electric bill, and holding a fundraising CotC most of which would also go to the gas & electric so it doesn’t get turned off before I have more income.  All of this was supposed to go hand in hand and happen a while ago, though originally I hadn’t thought of having people send money straight to the utility and the emphasis was one fundraising CotC and hello, need work.

Today I also might want to run to storage for a while.  It’s paid through the 16th, so there are 3 more days on which I can go inventory it and remove stuff before it gets overlocked pending being able to pay for it.  Or clean it out completely and put the stuff somewhere else pending sale of whatever can and should be sold.

Anyway, if the recruiter gets me work, I can expect it to pay in the 60-100k range, sounds like most likely around 80k.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but it’d be nice to be in that kind of turnaround territory.

* I tend to assume most people already know my situation - needing work, if not the about to be homeless part - but recently one of the former colleagues I am closest to, to the point of being in the group of friends I get together with periodically, chastised me because he had no idea.  So apparently I have to advertise heavily.


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Monday, July 07, 2008

Jay: Not the Post I’d Planned

Have to go meet a recruiter today.  The kids are crazy.

Sadie woke crying in wee hours with apparently a sinus headache.  Which happened to Valerie 24 hours before, though she’s prone to headaches and it may not have been sinus.

Henry a little while ago drank a substantial amount of Valerie’s coffee and has gone all puffy and squinty-eyed and a little rashy, but he’s also been miserable, as has Deb. and for that matter me.  People burning?  No!  Something blooming around the corner, smells like maybe honeysuckle, so strong it can be hard to sleep.

So we’re not sure how much is the coffee and how much is that.  The coffee is about 1 part coffee, some sugar and dry creamer, and 5 parts cold water.  He’s had black coffee with sugar before and not blown up, but the non-dairy creamer has dairy in it, along with whatever else, so who knows.  At least it’s not almost pure milk as it would have been before we realized Val had a problem with the milk.

Anyway, I have to go get ready to go to the Stoughton town hall for Sadie’s birth certificate to sign up for RomneyCommunistCare and decriminalize ourselves in the eyes of the state, then the recruiter in Burlington.  And other errands.


01:53 PM | BloggingFood & CookingJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyNewsHealth CarePoliticsStupidity • (0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jay: On The Agenda

Herding kids per usual.

Making beans to supplement leftovers.  I love cooking two nights and then having two nights of the leftovers making it easier.

Dealing with bureaucracy.

(Pause for literally hours to do aforementioned herding and post a couple items that were easier or whatnot...)

Nursing my hand that’s too sore to want to use the mouse and isn’t so thrilled about typing.

Work on composing and preparing a bleg, of it can be called that, for work, in context of explaining what we have in mind and why, subject to possible change or serious traditional offers considered, depending how serious and what happens with Deb’s career.

Work on the same basic thing to mass quantities of contacts, some of whom may not know even peripherally about the situation, and many of whom would be well aware my abilities.

The usual dishes and cleaning and organizing.

Work on a more traditional bleg on the possibility there might be any additional sympathy when I explain the next major hurdle we have to get past in order not to be completely screwed.  The PayPal button is still here, in any event, and won’t stop being useful for a long time, or appreciated ever.

Look at the washing machine, which seems to be acting up, and try to find the info for the service plan we paid for, if needed.

Test our electric usage to see if something is draining excess power, including the possibility that something not in our apartment or on our cellar outlet might be tapping it.

Clean the office.  Still.  Again.

Clean the bedroom.

Go through our stuff to purge/segregate/organize for sale more of it.

Run the car before the battery has a chance to fade out again.

Find a plate holder for the front of the car without spending any money, since there is none to spend.  Don’t want to drive it too much with the front plate sitting in on the dashboard.

Backup some pictures.

Reorganize some site hosting stuff.

Post ad info regarding our sites, maybe try to sell more to existing accounts, and pimp that further in any event.

Put together a “back from hiatus” fundraising Carnival of the Capitalists edition, speaking of raising money and advertising.  A couple people donated to us a while back and mentioned it as a thanks or hoping for return of CotC, so it’s partly for them, but also both to let people put their money where their interest is, and help me determine whether that site should remain ad-free or ad-limited, or whether I should load it up or seek sponsorship more vigorously.  In any event, that’s been part of my plan for trying to raise about $3000 in the next six weeks, some of which would be needed no matter how much I can make conventionally.

Update my LinkedIn profile and my resume and extend some of that to other networking-oriented sites.  Update the business site to reflect what I actually intend, until such time as someone makes me a serious enough offer to back off of that.

Probably a slew of other things I’m forgetting or that are trivial or that are implicit.


04:58 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyTotally Random • (1) CommentsPermalink

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jay: Hey, Didn’t This Used to Be a Blog?

We’re kind of busy and distracted, so even with the modest availability things that I can still blog about without an oppressive sense of self-censorship, I just haven’t gotten to it lately.  Lack of birthdays has thus meant lack of posts, and the birthday posts are meant to be spice, not meat.  There are a couple others I may get to, one imperative and one landmark, despite over a week having passed since it came to mind.

That said, it’s relatively easy and of some interest to post about the baby and where he stands on the food front.  It seems these days the biggest problems are unidentified airborne or other environmental, with maybe a low grade effect from even some foods that are “safe.” To the degree we’re dealing with a salicylate sensitivity, almost everything is a source, and it’s difficult not to include a certain amount of high and moderate sources, even if you avoid the very high completely and the next ones down as much as possible.  There are also ambiguities, whereby a given item can be higher or lower depending on growing conditions.  At any rate, the chart we’ve found most useful notes that each level is ten times the prior.  Thus very high is 10x high is 10x moderate is 10x low.

There are two things that have been clear.  Three, if you count the big $2600 we can never afford to pay incident and the most probable cause.  Two, if you count dairy as singular.

He can’t have milk.  Period.  He breaks out in a rash almost instantly.  Not sure, but he may have gotten his hands on some during the Lactaid experiment, and reacted less badly, whatever that means - maybe ultrapasteurization breaking down proteins more being helpful.

The emergency room incident was almost certainly cheese.  It was also topical, never a breathing issue, but more a matter of looking so bad because of where it swelled.  The thing is, I seemed to react to that cheese, and as noted, cheddar particularly can apparently generate its own histamines.

Of the other candidates that night, well, he has put egg in his mouth and not reacted, and Deb’s test of eating eggs has shown she is free to have eggs and, by extension, mayonnaise again.  He can eat corn.  We’re skeptical of wheat being a problem, certainly not at that level.  The only thing that leaves from that night might be ham, which would have been a bit player and would mean an awfully extreme reaction to my having handled it.  Cheese is likely, especially given the milk thing and the histamine thing.

Of course, his own drool makes him rashy, and I believe he has a bit of a reflux problem, which may be recursion.  That is, stuff affects sinuses, sinuses encourage reflux, reflux makes sinuses worse and makes drool acidic.  Maybe stuff affects skin worse on contact due to the damage, for that matter.

Anyway, it’s not an item of concern for salicylates, but he had an extreme reaction to banana.  Now, that may have been interaction with other stuff, and may not have been as bad as it seemed, but he can wait to try again.

What I was planning to cover mainly is what he can eat.  With Valerie confirmed to be unable to have milk, even Lactaid, without losing bladder control, it’s made him less likely to have accidental drinks of it.  It makes him so happy, but the result isn’t fun.  We’ve been able to speed up trying new things.  It’s challenging to be operating on the cheap, but hey.

Beef
Chicken
Pork

The only meat of concern might be cured, spiced kinds of things, so I haven’t given him hot dogs when we’ve had them.  I thought he might be reacting mildly to pork at times, and when I did a series of “rub things on his skin” tests one day, grease that had primarily rendered from pork during frying was the only thing there might have been a reaction to, but it was ambiguous.  My antiperspirant, Irish Spring, some stuff like that all passed.  He gets plenty of meat.

Oats (oatmeal)
Rice (including puffs, cakes)

Some tastes of things that technically contained wheat.

Corn, as a vegetable.
Corn, in tortilla chips soaked in water or chicken broth to soften them.

Butternut
Carrots
Sweet potato

White potato in any form, though I’d avoid giving him skin even if he could chew it.

White sugar, avoid brown sugar as it charts and he may have reacted to it.

Green beans
Parsnip, probably - some ambiguity and small sample
Pinto beans
Chemicals that qualify to be called lemonade when mixed with water (seemed to react a little to the fruit punch mix).

Canned pears in heavy syrup.  Light syrup is pear juice, which is processed in a way that involves the skin.

I swear I’m forgetting something.

Soy seems not to bother him.  Usually that’s in the form of oil for cooking.  He’s also had stuff fried in Crisco, which would mean exposure to cottonseed oil.

He’ll get to try peas soon.  He had a too small to harm him taste of strawberry jello and seemed to be unaffected.

As far as seasonings or veggies used mainly for that purpose, he seems fine with onion and garlic.  Black pepper I avoid especially for him.  Red pepper and the like, and some of the other things I use routinely, all high, but the quantities in food can be minute.  We use caution, but he has or might have eaten food with red pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, ginger, celery, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, savory, rosemary, or whatever having participated in the making.  Not sure exactly which.  If it’s, say, chicken, it’s in the oil and on the outside of the meat, but I’ll emphasize giving him bits from the inside with minimal outer layer.

Cauliflower.  He tried cauliflower and that went fine.  We love that when it’s on sale.

Fruit is the biggest problem.  Especially in juice or uncooked.  Pear is the lowest of the fruits and he clearly reacted to pear juice.  Essentially he needs a caveman diet.

Overall he’s doing well.  A lot of the itching he does is emotional, a reaction of habit.  Getting sleepy equals uncomfortable.  Discomfort equals itchy.  Ithchy equals scratch yourself bloody.  He is helped a lot by pre-emptive doses of gas drops and Tylenol, assuming he doesn’t decide he does not need one or both, as he did today.  Absolutely refused gas drops, period.  Refused Tylenol one time, accepted it later.  As I always say, he’s little, not stupid.  In fact, he’s scary.

Now if he wants to eat he starts dragging his high chair across the kitchen.  He also seems to have learned that if food is left in the seat, he can shake the chair to get it where he can reach it.  He was mad at me for cleaning up right after he pigged out for supper, because after his bath he was foraging for more.  For supper he had chicken, a tiny bit of beef, potato, about 2/3 of a good sized sweet potato, corn, and plain pinto beans.  When I found him foraging, I gave him part of a rice cake, but that just wasn’t the same.

Looking at this decent food list, which I need to review in detail again to figure where we are going with trying other things, I was reminded that he seemed to react heavily to sucking on raisins the girls left on the floor for his benefit.  Ditto for a couple of the cranberry whatever juice combos.  We’ve gone almost exclusively into powdered drink mixes, mainly lemonade, but also fruit punch and - though the girls haven’t warmed to it - iced tea.  Lack of juice may also be helping Valerie, though if that was a factor, it was still at least 90% the milk.

I’m barely staying awake, so this is probably rambling and incoherent, and likely incomplete.  Oh well.  I had some pictures to post, and will have some stunning ones after the camera is next downloaded.  He really put on a show today.


03:36 AM | BloggingFood & CookingKidsControversiesMassachusettsMedicalMoneyNothing • (1) CommentsPermalink

Friday, May 02, 2008

Jay: Sunday

Was supposed to be the annual Easter egg hunt for the little kids, at my grandmother’s house, but I don’t even need to discuss it with anyone to know it’s off.  The weather is, well, the kind of weather that makes us do this well after actual Easter in the first place.  Cold.  Rainy.  Completely unsuited to scampering around the yard on a search and consume mission for plastic eggs and their contents.

My mother would be handy in a drought.  Pick a day, have her plan an outdoor event on it, and voila, rain.  It’s very nearly uncanny.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jay: Thinking Aloud

This is an exercise in helping me figure out what I am going to tackle today, and beyond, and wrap my head around what awaits my attention before I get all scattered.

I probably don’t need to mention the usual dishes to wash or load into dishwasher, of which there are relatively few because I’d caught up.  I’ll want to just almost from this post right to the shower, so Deb can do laundry if her back is up to it.  Poor back.  (Sounds like it’s not.) Going to the store simply is, without option to avoid it.  I could go to the bank while I’m out.

I have to take the registry thing to the town hall for an abatement on one of the excise tax bills, and pay the two of them.  That needs to precede any visit to the registry, which needs to be preceded by contact with the insurance company.  In Texas.  Which probably means simply not possible to register car this week, before the gathering Sunday.  Annoying.  Also annoying that said gathering is at the same time as something else we were invited to first, which worst case I could have gone to with Sadie alone, since she’s the one near Dale in age, and it’s his birthday party.

I have e-mails to answer.  Some are going on two weeks old.

We’re expecting my father to swing by late in the day, so I have to plan around that, even for a quick drop off of some stuff.  That influences the timing of errands.

Yesterday I discussed a web site update with the former big client, who has realized that my original preference on something was right.  I’d proposed to them a month to month flat fee for site maintenance and updates covering most anything short of a complete redo, since it’s not covered under the current support contract they have and I did the original based on their marketing/design person’s plan.  They managed to get me to do a one shot update for the monthly rate, which ended up working out to no more than $12 an hour and required a ton of waiting.  That’s long paid, but the last tiny bit is still not done, waiting for a photo.  Obviously I am not going to make another change, which could involve changing every page, without another modest fee.  I suggested an additional change to include and will hear back eventually.

I did site backups across the empire and was going to update WordPress on all the blogs that use it, starting with Dan’s, which I didn’t update last time.  I was falling asleep at my desk last night when about to do that, so figured I’d better wait.  I’ll want to do those before much time passes, so I don’t feel like I must do the backups over again.

I have some paying work I need to get cracking on, which among other things will require me to get more familiar with RSS.  I have dabbled with RSS readers myself, but none have “stuck” and I always revert to reading from links.  How 2003 of me!  I guess I need a reader I like enough, and then to be careful what I include, or to be able to categorize it well.  I could almost see an automated system being useful, so your daily reads would appear every day, keyworded stuff would appear daily even if it’s not a daily read, and a measured amount of “check weekly” and “check monthly” stuff would automatically be included in your daily reading, perhaps varied by day, so if you want to do more reading on the weekend, it can play catch up then.

That probably exists.

I also need to learn all there is to know about measuring RSS feeds subscribed/read for a given site.  Heck, I have no idea how many people read us that way.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Perhaps I can fit in some of that project today.

I also need to work with/learn more about Facebook and some of those.

I’m still on the office reorganization, which spills into the kitchen, where I still have stuff on the table that was once in the office.  That seems to work okay by pecking away at it, like when I crave physical work and need to get up from the computer.

Shoot, that about covers today, doesn’t it?  Not even getting into posts to write, my book/series of posts idea to work on while timely, CotC, the business site needing updating, etc. and so forth.

Well, off to it.  Don’t be alarmed it there’s a lack of posts or if I revert to drive-by commentary.


12:56 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMoneyTotally Random • (4) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jay: Crunch Time

This is going to be a different post from the one I started the night before last, with the same title.  That one started out on the topic of needing to locate the taxes I’d done, for the partnership and personal federal, and to do the state ones and get them mailed.  I since located the partnership ones and mailed them, along with two books from Deb’s book shop.  One was an advanced computer book from my collection, so went for $17.50 at about the cheapest price available.  For us that’s real money.  When it arrives in the twice a month payout.  I also rewrote the federal to be neater, and did the state, cursing Romney over RomneyCare.  There’s now a form HC, which at 3 pages if you need the whole thing is longer than the main Form 1 at 2 pages.  I had the urge to ignore it, but you are supposed to use it to determine your personal exemption.  By running too low on money to pay the last $1300 of insurance for Deb and the kids to cover October through December, and failing to apply for subsidized coverage, we paid a penalty of $220 in extra taxes.

Anyway, that’s all done.  I have to mail those today.

Looks like the interview last week was a bust, which is fascinating in that it was a temporary gig.  Which I suspect they planned to try to get someone permanent out of, and looked accordingly.  The interview the week before was obviously a bust as well.

I have a possible something in the works with an internet marketing business.  I have someone putting in my resume for a well-paid support job that just happens to be in Lowell, so it’d be on the $25 a day commuting plan.  If I can stop worrying about money and the household long enough to chase an income just slightly harder and keep the household, something - even something great - should come pretty fast.  It’s probably a matter of keeping the balls in the air a few more weeks.

Trouble is, we’re out of time, and while some awesome people have picked up distress, we haven’t been forthcoming on just where things stand.  I’ve threatened to have a fundraising edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, even though I’m too busy trying to raise money to try to raise money.  I’ve pointed out the resume, Deb’s Etsy shop and used book shop, and my availability for side work. 

I haven’t asked for donations, apart from whatever is implicit in making the PayPal button available.  And it feels wrong to do so, much as we get annoyed by unhelpful people who dwell on the fact history ought have been different, rather than acting on (or ignoring) what is.  I could say and rue much about how we got here, but that doesn’t keep us from getting evicted.

Then again, I’d rather ask individuals for help than use public assistance paid for with stolen money.  Or worse, stolen from the future, given the financing of so much of it through debt, creating a future need for inflation and/or higher taxes.  But what do I know.  I’m just a crackpot who saw the housing/credit bubble vividly starting years ago.

So yeah.  Pretty much asking now, as I prepare to mail the tax returns and then throw ourselves on the mercy of the gas & electric department to avoid having those shut off tomorrow.  When I gave them Henry’s birth certificate, which by itself should give us until August 20, they also wanted an income number.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what I’d made last year.  I would never have guessed it would be low enough for the EIC, or that rent, medical and health insurance technically took 2/3 of it.  There was enough in residual, undrawn funds that it carried us a long time in the shutdown of the business (in which mailing the tax returns yesterday is the last major act, though I’ll have stuff to handle for a while).

If blogging is a bit slow, or you see as much on other blogs as here to keep them up enough to justify their value to advertisers, it’ll be because we’re scrambling.  The ads, the selling things, the found money, the incredibly generous donations we already received, the Etsy sales - nothing to sneeze at but also in jeopardy because you have to have money for materials and shipping - and the bits of side work here and there only go so far.  The fact I tend to stock the pantry as if I’m expecting to ride out the end of civilization - or something like this bad stretch - only helps stretch things so long before real money needs to be spent on groceries and sundries again.

Of course, if we lose power, that’s the end game.  What money we do make is online.  That would trigger a total meltdown of our situation.  I don’t think that should be a problem, but we do have to start paying them Real Soon Now.  We’ve been managing to get $250 or $300 a week to the landlord, staying basically half a month to a month or so behind.  If we miss a week, game over, barring something like working with us because I just started a job and it’s all going to change.  This week we’re sketchy but should manage it.  Next week?  No idea.  I expect to do some small side work early in the week, but not likely enough.

Anyway, if you can hit the donate button, even in small amounts, that would be amazing.  Alternatively, use the address deb at neatlytangled dot com for PayPal, as hers doesn’t have a transfer limit (to get it from there to the bank) and is useful that way.  If we’ve ever entertained you through blogging, given you helpful advice, or even if you think I’m an idiot but want to keep the kids fed and off the street, perhaps it’s worth something.

Onward!  Time to take care of business.  Mail tax returns.  Deal with utility crisis.  Try to shake loose work.  Planning to add Deb’s resume to the ones online and put a “hire us” box in the sidebar where “donate” is now, soon as I get a chance.  So on.  So forth.

Thanks for helping, or even just reading and quietly not saying or doing something unhelpful, no matter what you really think.

Update:

You guys are amazing.  Not to replace individual thanks, but holy cow, we’re just blown away.


02:46 PM | BloggingBooksFor SaleBusinessFood & CookingGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyNewsHealth CareStupidityTotally Random • (10) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jay: Shopping List

Don’t mind me.  This is mostly composing aloud of my list of things I need to get at the store, following a quick run to the post office with another sold book.  The budget for the grocery run is $25.  Diapers should take $6.49 of it, unless I buy them elsewhere and juggle other money toward them, which is possible considering how ideal Market Basket is for buying food itself.  I can look at this list here from the store if needed. Hooray for technology!

Besides the errands, I’m still working on the office, and today playing with some web and database code, which may be significantly easier than I had anticipated.  Since working on code, be it that as a possible project, creating a portfolio of what I have done, or trying to dredge out stuff I can complete and make available, or fiddle with to learn more, means needing to hook up at least one additional computer and improve the lab environment, the office rearranging project goes hand in hand.

I still haven’t heard back on the contract I interviewed for.  I need to e-mail the guy there and others.  I did hear from the bank, where my online banking has never worked.  Before they escalated it, they had me try it live on the phone to capture a server log of the attempt.  It’ll be interesting to see what the problem is.  I have to wonder if it’s FiOS or my router the FiOS comes through.

Anyway, what do I need to remember?

Meat. Depends what is on sale. We have none, period, and can use chicken and ground beef, for starters.  Pork or unground beef are valid options.  I could easily buy $50 of meat to restock, before even getting to anything else.  With the dairy ban for Deb, we shoot for high fat more than we normally would.

Potatoes
Carrots (best price is there, or I might skip)
Beans, maybe lentils too (almost out of 64 oz bag of pintos, out of all else but split peas)
Frozen veggies (just a few cheap bags to interrupt the drought)
Cheese
Milk (not out, but cheapest place for it)
Pasta
Spaghetti sauce
Possibly some fresh veggies, sweet potatoes, butternut, or fruit depending on prices or sales
Bread
Yeast
Sugar
Maybe coffee creamer
Maybe coffee
Maybe tuna (goal of kids actually eating)
Maybe tomato soup (ditto)
Butter if still low there (ditto - Sadie can tell the difference, eats bread plain rather than with margarine)

I know I’m forgetting something and I’ll remember as soon as I walk out into the kitchen.  I hope.

There are things low, like ketchup and rice, that can wait.  I can do scratch rather than needing Bisquick.

Vegetable oil (using a lot where I’d put butter or margarine in pan to fry stuff, avoiding dairy)
Honey
Peanut butter, if they have a good price
Oatmeal, ditto

That may actually be it.  It’s just that the innocent entries for meats and veggies could easily overwhelm the whole thing.  Then if there’s a must have sale, that adds to it.  Since I lost the flier, I should see if it’s online the way most are…

Huh.  It appears Demoulas Market Basket supermarkets have no web presence.  Weird indeed.

Anyway, off to it before the day slips any further.

Update:

I found the paper flier for this week.  They have some nice sales, especially on beef and hamburger.  That helps.

The kids are having a trauma over who will go with me…


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Jay: No Birthdays Today

Well, not in my calendar.  Surely there are some, somewhere, for someone.

Today I am going to attempt to take Henry to my grandmother’s with me.  Valerie had a recent turn.  Sadie refuses to learn to use the big toilet, even though she’s getting too big for the potty, and we’re requiring her to do that before she goes visiting where that’ll be the only option.  He can eat regular food, for limited values of same, so it’s his turn.  This is the obligatory one for birthday cake for me and my mother, since ours were on Thursday.  I need to get moving soon, as it’s starting to be late.

Ah, I hear kids.

Speaking of which, Sadie thought not being able to drive our new car until we “pay tax on it” (registration) was about the craziest thing she’d ever heard.


12:56 PM | CarsFood & CookingKidsMassachusettsTotally Random • (2) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Jay: Birthday and Many Things

So yesterday was my birthday.  And that of a lot of other people, now up to a total of seven on that day in my calendar.  That may be the largest number on one day.  (Pauses to check, because he’s such a geek, finds that it’s tied with July 28, but no other day has more than five so far.)

It would have pretty much sucked - well, it did - apart from getting a car, and a substantial donation.

My left knee, and to some degree my thigh, have been killing me beyond all reason.  It may or may not be connected to gout, which had been quiet recently until today, when I seem to have a minor touch of it in my right foot.  Nothing like it was.  The knees have bothered me before, over the years, and can be sort of twisted easily, or hurt by kneeling on a hard surface, or standing in place too long (I tend to need to sit, or move around extensively, after sufficiently long food prep, for instance).  This has been unusual, and tough to keep away because of the kids and the need for activity that stresses it.

Ironically, sitting in this chair tends to bother it, while taking a walk tends to help it.  Stairs?  Excruciating, once it’s flared up, bordering on impossible.

That was making me extra cranky.  Part of today it was better, but we have kids and stuff.  They are pretty much a guarantee I can’t take it easy on the thing, and Valerie managed to add a bit of back to the mix yesterday by doing a backward somersault off my lap and being prevented from landing on her head.

Speaking of Valerie, she needs to learn to tell us when she’s bleeding, rather than being fascinated by the artistic possibilities.  Keeping a bandage on would be good, too, once Dr. Dad has ruined her fun.

So yeah, a car.  My aunt got this silver/gray 1994 Buick Century with 86k miles on it in 2003 at a good price.  She drove it to 174k miles, replaced it yesterday, and brought it to us.

She seriously downplayed its condition and overstated its degree of foibles, I think.  It’s beautiful, body looking at least as good as he one on the ill-fated van of the same model year.  The foibles are things like a fan blade on the AC being broken, so you have to turn it off and back on strategically.  I seldom use AC, even in a vehicle that has it.  The trunk apparently can leak some in heavy rain.  There can be a little trick to opening the rear doors.  There are rear doors!  And room for three carseats, of which they left an extra, a spare of my mother’s, in the car.  It uses a quart between oil changes, and she keeps it to 65 on the highway.  We’d mainly use it on local roads, very limited driving to places we’d need to go together.

The trick now is to be able to afford to register it.  That’s a tough one.  My aunt is getting the form to declare it a gift and save us the sales tax, so that will help.

I’ve always been particularly fond of my mother’s sister, who is only 17 years older than me, but this is just amazing and a huge surprise.

Anyway, I parked it where we’d been parking the truck, moving the truck up into the main part of the driveway.  We’d been using two spots deep in the driveway, then hogging a third, spare spot with the Sentra.  That wasn’t considered a favorable spot due to the mulberries, and really neither is at least one of the others.

Today I got home from dropping off a trickle of rent to the landlord, ran into the gal upstairs, and she had moved her car so we could have our other space back, having seen that we got a second car.  The very same day, they swapped his truck for something better, very nice.  Funny how things synchronize that way.

I was amazed, as I figured we’d lost that spot fair and square.  The spot we’d hogged with the old Sentra has a trailer in it now, which works out perfectly.  They can be funny sometimes, in their youthfulness, but once again, the people upstairs are great.

What else?

I ended up doing a lot of dishes and cleaning.  I took Valerie on errands with me, to the post office, Benny’s, the bank, and Stop & Shop, where her bladder almost made it through the entire lengthy trek.  I was threatening to make myself birthday brownies, with a mix on hand, but never did get around to it.

That would have been no fun for Deb.  On the off chance stuff bad for the baby translates into breast milk, she’s been off the likely suspects, bringing them back until it’s just eggs and dairy.  She ate a single egg, in a sandwich with ham.  He got rashy the next day.  It’s back off eggs long enough to let him clear up and test it again.  It could have been random environmental, or something stray he ate courtesy of the girls.  He also tried pear, and while there’s room to wonder, that’s one of the least likely problem foods.  I’ll give him more this weekend and see, maybe.

I did splurge on flour tortillas, so we had chicken burritos for supper.  That was popular.  He’s had seasoned chicken since we started reintroducing stuff, but I cooked a little chicken by itself for Henry, just salt and a little pepper.  He loves chicken.

For that I pulled out a tiny frying pan I never use, big enough to fry a single egg, and now I want to use it again and own more like it.  It’s stainless steel with a thick copper bottom.  Yeah, I needed more oil than I am used to using, because the second I turned on the burner, it seemed, the pan was sizzling hot and the meat wanted to stick to it.  But oh, it cooked so nice.  I think I’m in love.

And hey, the non-stick pans are starting to lose their mojo.  They end up with a spot in the center, where the heat focuses, that the coating loses its ungrip.  Once that gets serious, you may as well have a traditional pan.  The really bad one is Deb’s deep frying pan with a glass cover, which gets used constantly.  I wouldn’t mind having more than one of those, including a larger version, if I were outfitting the kitchen more completely.

What else?

Today was better.  Overnight was weird, in that I was up most of the night, but during that time the knee was better, after a couple hours of sleep.  The very best thing for it is to lay down a certain way on the bed.  I can coddle it some laying on, say, the floor, but the bed is better, and then sleeping while it rests is better still.  It got worse again as the day progressed, but it does that.  While it may be nauseating at times today, last night I experienced a revelation of understanding how someone can pass out in response to pain.

Ibuprofen is shooting up the “must buy some” list.

I have an interview Tuesday in Needham.  That’s a Good Thing.  Same former colleague who landed me the main interview Monday got me another, but this time it’s his own employer, for a 2 - 3 month contract supporting a new software rollout.  Beyond that there hasn’t been much activity, besides a ton of additions in LinkedIn and correspondence stemming from that, including with my last manager from VB support, who was awesome.

I did up the root of elhide.com to be a resume links and simple supporting text page, to give it the shortest possible URL without setting up a new domain.  Plus elhide.com is more memorable than, say, gphmo.com.  Which stems from when I was going to setup a new business as “Geek Practitioners.” The HMO in this case, besides a play on the medical theme, stood for “home, mobile, office.”

Still have to do a blogging-oriented resume.  Still have to retrofit the blogs with “hire me” sidebar sections prominent.  Still working on the odds and ends side work, but that’s going a little slower than expected.

Anyway, off to bed, I guess.  Wanted to do a post for the day and talk about the birthday and the car and such.  Got delayed and now it’s after midnight, but oh well.


03:23 AM | BirthdaysBloggingBusinessCarsFood & CookingGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyTotally Random • (4) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jay: Happy Birthday

To me!  An amazing 47 years ago, near this time, a modest walk from this place, I was born on my mother’s 26th birthday.

Apparently I was born hungry, because at 5 days old they were supplementing me with cereal.

At 17 days I went into the hospital in Boston with meningitis, for 11 days, and unexpectedly lived.

Henry is a mirror in more than appearance, as I apparently had a similar personality.  I also talked fast, walked fast, and was apparently way ahead until about four years old, when I slowed down to the point it seemed there was nerve damage.

Anyway, mostly to me it’s another day, though there’s a brownie mix I’ll probably make in lieu of cake.  I might try making a scratch cake, but we’re low on flour and it might have to wait for me to buy more, and someone gave us the brownie mix, which has been calling to me.

I am getting one big birthday present, the timing of which is coincidental.  My aunt is picking up a new car today, and is giving us her old one.  She says it’s big enough to fit three car seats in the back.  If I keep feeding Sadie like yesterday, perhaps she’ll get to 40 lbs soon and be able to get a booster instead.  A shame we lost one of our parking spots to the upstairs neighbor.  And that we can’t afford to register it until whenever.  Then again, the neighbor is using the two spots most directly in the line of fire of the mulberries, and the big car will be easier to get in and out of the driveway near the street.

That should be good enough to do what the van couldn’t even handle, simply getting us to my grandmother’s or brother’s or other local places as a whole group, without heavy driving in between.

Anyway, enough with the post.  I need coffee, and to work on the “how to pay some rent next week” project.


11:16 AM | BirthdaysCarsFood & CookingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoney • (3) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jay: Perhaps I Can Sneak In a Post

People are eating or occupied.  I managed to spill blood and have to bandage my foot last time I started actually doing something away from the computer or without a kid on me.  We need to resolve the kid on one of us problem, but I fear that’s a matter of waiting it out for a couple more months.

Or not.

Okay, done with Valerie and talking.

I was going to tell about the whole interview thing, in some detail, if not in a single post.  Let’s do the short version, even though I closed my door, since I closed the door to do work, and 2/3 of the kids can open it anyway.  (Okay, maybe not such a short version, ultimately.)

Train arrived on time.  I was hopelessly confused about where to go, even on foot, even with good directions, because it’s the city.  It was cold and sleeting, which didn’t help.  I managed to find the building and then had to call when I was on the right floor, because I had the wrong company name.  He’d never said, but I found him online under the name of the business before he merged with a larger firm.  I still almost made it by the tentative time of 11:00.

We talked apparently for close to an hour.  I figure it’s possible but not likely I will get the job.  If I do, it may start as a 1099 trial basis, or be because of what he hears from references.  He’s mulling it over a few days.  The biggest problem is lack of focus.  Ideally there’s a label he could apply, where I’d be the X expert - setting up servers, deploying desktops, programming, whatever.  That’s a matter both of my skills and my preferences, and my preferences, weak in the first place, don’t fit well with what there’d be demand for at their size.  On the other hand, my location is good for where they are starting to expand - most work being from home to clients, rarely involving the office (though many clients are in Boston).

Frankly, I could see being called in on a temp basis to help on projects, if I were continuing to otherwise freelance, and I might suggest keeping me in mind for that in any event.

It did go reasonably well and I liked the guy.  We had a fairly animated discussion.  I was embarrassed at how poorly we did focusing and marketing XTreme, and how little client base we had, but the whole thing was weird and I was there so long mainly out of stubborn inertia and sense of obligation to the one big client.  I tend to downplay myself, so it was interesting near the end when I talked about having setup SBS (Small Business Server) 2003 for a client, from scratch, with e-mail and so forth, and he was impressed because he considers that hard and requiring comprehensive knowledge.

Look for post(s) soon where I muse aloud about focus and what I want to be when I grow up.

When I left there, I was only mildly confused getting to my other destination.  I’d noticed funky cherry pickers with bright lights shining on a building at High and Oliver Streets, but thought nothing of it.  Even asked a couple of guys manning one of them for directions, thinking they were construction, and they pleaded having just come in from out of town.  On my way out, at that corner a crowd of people were watching the windows a few floors up, where the lights were directed, chattering about Sandra Bullock filming there.  I saw her on my first look up there, then once more after a while, but I saw a lot of an unfamiliar actor.  They were filming something called The Proposal, which is apparently shooting mainly in Gloucester, according to IMDB.

That gave me an excuse to stand around less obtrusively, pecking at the Blackberry and being amused by the crowd and the situation.  Having gotten my bearings, I headed off to the building where Rob Sama works.  I met a friend of Rob’s on one floor, to discuss a possible two week temp gig covering a vacation.  We immediately concluded that he needed someone more up on the latest stuff and able to hit the ground as an advanced admin, but it was great to meet him, and he went up with me to see Rob.  Then I hung out with Rob for a while, talking about this and that, until I thought I needed to move it to get the train.  It was great to meet Rob in person after “knowing” him since 2003, early in my blogging.

Turned out it was closer and faster than I thought, getting back to South Station, but that’s not a bad place to hang out.

I’d been thinking it’d be fun for the kids to ride the train sometime, but it made little sense without a destination.  Turns out the Children’s Museum is right near the station, so there you go.  Eventually.  If we can keep a roof over our heads and everyone fed in the meantime.

Other takeaways, besides the focus thing, included the need to do the blogging version of the resume ASAP, the need to push the side work, and a heightened perception of the side work as being potentially more than side work.  That and an appreciation of my former colleagues, and good turns apparently coming around.  The resume got to my interviewer via a guy I used to go out of my way to give rides to work, back in 1994.  Wow.

Okay, enough writing and resting the gouged foot, on with the day.


05:16 PM | BloggingBusinessGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMoneyMovies • (2) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Regarding Yesterday’s Adventure

I’m thinking it might work best as a series of posts on specific elements, observations, and so forth.  Like riding the commuter rail from Lakeville to South Station, and back.  Which was great, and I can see doing regularly, as well as taking the kids on sometime just because.

I confirmed you can indeed pay cash on the train, rather than going to an out of the way store and buying tickets from a bored clerk.  Apparently there is no surcharge, either.  There are bathrooms on the trains, though I didn’t check them out myself.

Parking seems to be adequate, at almost 900 spaces.

The trains are comfortable.  It was more so on the way in, and I am not sure how much of that was being on lower versus upper deck, versus any differences in the track or driving style.  It was less smooth farther north.

On the way in, they collected tickets and fares after each initial stop, and left a cardboard marker on the back of each seat for each person who’d paid.  Once they were north of a certain point, I think where it starts to double as part of the T, they took the markers and didn’t do any further collecting, etc.  On the way south, the only time they did any of that was at South Station, though I would presume in theory people could get on at, say, Montello and go south to, say, Lakeville or Bridgewater.  It struck me as relatively easy for someone to bypass paying a fare, at least selectively, but probably not worth the effort and schedule disruption it would take to avoid any free riders.

North ran precisely on time.  South rand a few minutes slow and you could tell it was happening, because it crawled what seemed painfully slow in places it shouldn’t have, apparently due to rail traffic flow.

I forgot to grab a book, but it worked out between the first timer looking out the window factor and the Blackberry, which had good reception every time I checked going in, and most of the way coming out.  I can see wanting a book or laptop or such if it were a regular thing.

The trains weren’t at all crowded.  It was one person to a seat except by choice, and many seats empty.

At South Station and especially Lakeville, there was plenty of time to board.  In the morning they seemed to go out of their way to wait for people to walk in from the parking.  At the other stops, if you weren’t by the track ready to step through a door, you might have been left behind.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Being early for parking insurance is fine, but if I do it again, I’ll sit in the car until it’s almost time for the train to arrive.  It was cold.

The view was cool, because it’s a completely different perspective.  You see everything from the roads all the time.

I guess that about covers it.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jay: I Once Had A Title In Mind

So today should be fun.  I need to take some rolled coin to the bank for more readily spendable and carryable currency, so I have enough to buy train tickets for Monday morning, and potentially a small bite to eat or whatever if I have to, entirely aside from the cash being useful in a couple days when we need more something like milk from Hannaford or Stop & Shop.  Maybe I’ll deposit $8 in change too, so I’ll have $10 available on the debit card.

Train?  That ought to be an adventure.  I have an interview in Boston Monday morning, which will probably be followed by meeting with someone nearby who has a potential temporary gig during part of this month.

I’ve never taken the commuter rail before, but it’s great it’s so handy.  I need to check out precisely where and how for getting into it and buying tickets and all that.

This also means having to dig out clothes that might be remotely appropriate for an interview.  I’ve spent too many years casual, and with clothes one of the last spending priorities on too little income.  A casualty of insane housing and even more insane medical insurance costs, you could say.

Shoes?  It’s going to have to be my almost formal looking black sneakers, because I last got new shoes 20 years ago, and if I can find them, I can’t wear them without them scraping my feet raw.  That’s if the gout is calm enough to get them on, which it may be, since it seems to be attacking my knee instead.  Or that might be something else, but it’s that kind of painful.

At least I’ve lost enough weight that I have pants that aren’t jeans that should fit me.

The last time I interviewed for a job at a company I wasn’t already part of was 1994.  Internal interview was 1997.  The closest I came since then was 1999, when my partner who was the face of the business to the big client left for a day job and I had to talk them into keeping us, pointing out that in reality they may have noticed I’d been doing most of the support for them for months.

I always had a hard time getting to an interview, and an easy time getting a job based on an interview.

Apparently my resume and the internet and my networking are taking car of the first part for me.  Besides those two, I have an e-mail about a WordPress development gig, which is intriguing, but I cautioned them I am far from a PHP expert, which is what they say in the description.

I need to find a bread recipe that doesn’t take milk, as Deb is going to try adding back wheat, but not milk.  I still haven’t found milk-free margarine in a store.  I can’t believe it all contains milk, when the point was that margarine is a sub for butter.  Also need to make banana bread today, or else accept throwing out some bananas at that stage of ripe.

I really hate taking the first two hours of the day to dash of a 15 minute this and that post.  Plus I should probably post to the other blogs instead, since this one lost Page Rank, those didn’t, and those could use a traffic/activity boost.

Let’s see…

Did I mention I need to setup a computer for Henry, on the living room floor, so he has that as a distraction?

Today I’d like to make significant progress in my office arranging and cleaning project, which stalloed yesterday and went backwards as Valerie trashed things, even stuff that had been in reach for months and not touched.

Off to it, I guess.  If there was anything else, I forget.  Oh, I stopped at my grandmother’s and picked up a special mattress cover my mother’s cousin bought for Henry.  It’s pretty astounding that a cousin I’d forgotten existed until a few years ago heard about his problems and did something like that.  Apparently she has major allergy problems herself, so knows all the places and stuff to get from them.  Even if all this means is he can nap in the crib for a couple hours at a stretch, that’ll help.  Previously he couldn’t go more than half an hour before he was awake, scratching himself frantically and complaining.  Poor kid.  But he still can’t be exempt from being put down sometimes.  We go entire days sometimes with him on one of us for all but a couple waking hours, tops.  And when he’s on one of us and awake, he wants to be active.  All your keyboard are belong to us.


01:18 PM | BloggingGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jay: Obligatory Post

Actually, I didn’t have a birthday until I saw one mentioned elsewhere, so I’d planned this to be something for a “no birthdays” morning post.

I was sad but not surprised Amanda Overmeyer was executed last night.  Kristy Lee Cook is one lucky country-twanged long-legged hot blond in a short dress.  I might prefer to see Amanda to her if I were attending one of the concerts, but I won’t be, it’s not that strong a preference, and this means, as I noted, Kristy needs the performance of her life next week.  Though a couple others flopping sufficiently might be enough, if she’s adequate and being cute.

I was shocked that Carly was in the bottom three.  She was too good for that, so there has to be some combination of the controversy sucking away votes, people thinking she’s safe, her support not being as strong as I might have thought, or David Archuletta’s lopsided vote totals sucking the oxygen out of the room and making funny things happen with the rest of the totals.  Face it, unless there’s enough controversy, backlash, or something, Achoo is the winner and this is a race for second through fourth now.

Today I have to call the nice lady at the hospital whose sole job is to line people up with insurance if they lack it.  Because this Republican Socialism thing, it won’t add bureaucracy at all.  Probably about the time we’re squared away with free insurance for the poor, I’ll land a job that includes it.

I’ve been meaning to do a giant fundraising edition of Carnival of the Capitalists.  It might be worth a few hours of that to fetch a little grocery money or even an additional week of rent and make me think people actually appreciated my efforts all these years.  Which I know they did, and not just the few who have expressed an interest in still seeing it or helping.  I’ve been told I should emphasize it and look for business development work, or something like that.  That may be gotten to soon, before it becomes moot.  I’ve been accumulating links for it.

And yeah, fundraiser notwithstanding, you are always welcome to use the PayPal tipjar button, now more than ever.  Or use the address for Deb’s, which is actually better, deb at neatlytangled dot com.

It’s so cute.  Valerie has taken to putting a mitten on a foot, like a very heavy sock.  She just had me put a shoe on the other foot.  She loves to change clothes and play dress-up.

Speaking of money, there’s nothing like going to the store with $16 available, needing diapers and groceries, and being focused on eliminating certain things from the diet.

Although we think we have a good idea what is going on with Henry, and what the allergic reaction was about.  That and the idea that food proteins consumed by the mother survice intact in breast milk appears to be bogus, if you research it sufficiently.

Still, the discovery that corn, usually corn syrup, is in almost everything was rather startling and something we’d like to start avoiding.  It’s also shocking that companies would put known likely allergens in some of the earliest foods one would feed a baby, thinks you buy because they are safe.  I’m also wondering about my own levels of food sensitivities, which are not the same as allergies, for which I once tested negative.

I am not only down 29 lbs from my high plateau and 39 lbs from my absolute high (and annoyed it hasn’t budged further for a few days), but also thinner than the current weight would imply.  I went from 42 required to falling off to 40 fitting comfortably to 40 wanting to fall off.  Which means some of the tighter pants in that size I have somewhere should fit.

This was supposed to be quick.

The job hunting proceeds apace, subject to excitement and interruption and confusion and mild sickness and such.  I have to make a list and follow it today.  I’ve been doing a lot of networking-related activity.

Okay, I can’t remember anything else I might have intended to say.  I need to get to the actual stuff to be done, starting with an announcement about CotC and link to the resume over at Bizosphere.


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