To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

9 days since my last post. During that time I had two more j. i.'s at that company. I just left the last one.

I think they are going to offer me the position.

I won't have to move out-of-state.

: )

Update: They just called! And offered me a position! At a pay increase! WHeeeee!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

OK, so I had my j. i. this morning. First of all, the careful selection of "business casual" clothes backfired on me. The plant manager took one look at my khaki pants and nice red top, and then he said that we would try to wrap up my interview pretty quick so I would not lose my job at Target. Well, I laughed my head off because that was pretty funny, but next time I am wearing my navy suit, dang it.

And there will be a next time. The interview went very well indeed, and he wants me to come back Thursday or Friday to meet with some corporate people and so forth. So we'll see what happens.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Got a call from a headhunter today ... and I have a j. i. IN THE MORNING. And he hadn't even seen my resume.

What happened was, someone had given him my boss's resume, and he called her last week, and wanted to know if she had manufacturing experience. She didn't, and the closest she knew about among people at our workplace was me. I used to work for an environmental lab that was owned by a chemical company. The lab was actually located at the plant for about 18 months.

The importance of this was hinted at by the fact that I am to wear, not my navy suit, but "business casual" to this interview. I have to not look like I will be scared to work at a plant. R and I found the place this evening so I won't be hunting for it tomorrow. It isn't very fancy looking, for sure, but you know, I really don't care about that.

I used to wear blue jeans and loose knit tops (T-shirts, really, but never with pictures or writing) to work every day. When you work in a lab, you don't want to dress up very much. My boss dressed the same. We had a meeting one day, though, with some men from corporate and a couple from our location, and it occurred to me at the meeting that my boss and I were the only people in jeans and with shirts not tucked in. On our way out, I told my boss that we really needed to upgrade our appearance. "I was thinking the same thing," she said. At my next opportunity, I bought some khaki pants and a nice belt, and started tucking my shirts in. There was some commentary at first. People seem to have my wardrobe memorized. Let me buy one new blouse, and I get comments all day long. It's kind of funny.

So when I told my boss that I have to wear "business casual" to my j. i., she said something about getting some new pants. "You don't like my khakis?" I said. "They're getting kind of roomy," she said. R is on a diet, and I have been so supportive of it that I have actually lost a little weight. So I was FORCED to go to the mall this evening and buy some clothes. Some new khaki pants (size 10; I never thought I'd see that again) and a red twin set in a pretty, bright fine-gauge knit whose sleeves push up nicely so it won't look dorky in a Memphis summer. I'll polish my walnut SAS loafers and there I'll be. And everyone at work will wonder about my new outfit, and about five people will ask if I have a j. i. I love my coworkers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I know the entire world is waiting with bated breath to see how my j. i. went.

I think mostly it went OK. They liked my lab experience and the approach I take to supervising, and to quality. I don't have the regulatory experience they would like to see.

And two different people asked me what I think about 9- or 10-hour days. I don't know if they liked my answer, which I didn't expound upon as thoroughly as I will here.

I used to work for an environmental company. We did a lot of lab work in support of our engineers, who were remediating hazardous waste sites. When there was a project going on, the supervisor would schedule us to work 10-hour days, 6 days a week, for the three or four weeks of the project. I told him that that was a mistake, and eventually he got it. Here's why: If you schedule a 40-hour work week, and things go wrong, which they inevitably will, you can stay late in the evenings and come in on the weekend and catch up. If you schedule all of your available time and base that on a best-case scenario, then when a run fails or you have a power outage or there were unexpected matrix problems, whatever, then you can never catch up. The domino effect knocks out your entire remaining schedule and even though you're working your butt off, you get a black eye because you didn't do what you said you would do. After that happened a couple of times he got the message and started scheduling 40-hour weeks for us. Of course we still had to work late quite a bit during those projects, but we started being successful in meeting our obligations.

It's the same way, I would guess, in any job.

So I told them that I do not mind working long hours. I work them now. I don't have little children at home, my husband usually works late, so I don't have pressure to leave work at a certain time. What I do mind is putting in those long hours and still not being able to get my job done. If you schedule that 50-hour workweek doing the routine stuff, when anything extra happens, the routine (but necessary) functions have to go. Then the routine stuff is what bites you on the butt when you get audited. Foolish and short-sighted.

Am I the only person who sees it that way?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Saturday I scoped out the site of my j. i. With no traffic, it's about a 20-minute drive from my house, so I figure I'll double that Wednesday morning and that ought to be OK. My references are just about ready and my suit still fits.

Took F back to school Sunday.

And on the way back home, R and I stopped at a fast-food place that caters to people on the highway, to take a break from driving and have a snack. I saw a little vignette that made little sense to me at the time, but when I thought about it this morning it kind of fell into place.

The people waiting for their food when we got there were all white folks. One man had a t-shirt with a picture on it, a skull and maybe a fist or something, that for some reason made me think of white supremacists. That coupled with the way they were looking at and talking to the black teenagers behind the counter raised the hair on my neck. It wasn't anything overt really, just a gut feeling I had. And I grew up in Mississippi, so I don't see racists behind every tree. When R and I sat down, I told him that I hoped those kids didn't see what I saw. "They're innocent children," he said.

But this morning for some reason I replayed a bit of the scene before we placed our order. One of the teenagers, a pretty girl with a charming smile, handed the t-shirt guy his order and said, "Here's your specially-made salad." He said suspiciously, "I just ordered a salad from the menu - nothing special." "Oh, we had to make yours special because we didn't have any made up ahead," she said, and she turned her back. He stood there a moment with the bag in his hand before he walked away.

When I remembered that this morning I laughed my head off. Maybe I don't have to feel bad about her having to deal with those people after all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Funeral yesterday. Short and sweet. This was my husband's brother's ex-wife, who had a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer recently and that was that.

I have to say that I have never heard Elvis played at a funeral before. It was "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" (not the MLK funeral version) but although the tape was cued up the preacher hit the wrong button and we heard the opening strains of "Man of Constant Sorrow" for a moment. Everyone laughed. Lynn would have loved that. She probably would have said he should go on and play that instead.

Friday, August 11, 2006

More etymological spelling help from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Define: c.1384, from O.Fr. definir "to end, terminate, determine," from L. definire "to limit, determine, explain," from de- "completely" + finire "to bound, limit," from finis "boundary." Definite (1553) means "defined, clear, precise, unmistakable;" definitive (c.1386) means "having the character of finality." Definition is recorded from 1645 as a term in logic; the "meaning of a word" sense is from 1551.

So "definite" and "definitely" have common roots with both "define" and "finite". Therefore it's never "definately".

Here's another.

Despair: c.1325, from O.Fr. desperer "lose hope, despair," from L. desperare "to despair," from de- "without" + sperare "to hope," from spes "hope" (see speed). Noun replaced native wanhope.

I like "wanhope" myself. It sounds pale and wistful.

Ran across the Spanish name "Esperanza", which is rendered "Hope" in English. This helps me remember that "desperate" means "without hope". "Desparate" is more like "disparate", meaning unequal (without parity).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Good news: I have a j. i. next Wednesday. I have to nail down some references and make sure the navy suit still fits. The person who called said that she saw good things in my resume. : )

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back to the old place this evening. I don't think I'm going to be able to help them. The equipment is too old and there's no prospect for replacing it, and I don't need the stress. So much for walking-around money.

On a happier note, I got an email yesterday from a company that I sent my resume to a few months ago, asking some questions about my qualifications. I answered it as thoroughly as possible. Hopefully I'll get a call for a j. i. soon. This happens to be a job that they interviewed my boss for a few weeks ago. She's actually better qualified for this job than I am, but we'll see. It occurs to me that I've gotten every job I've interviewed for since 1987. But it's not that I'm desperate to avoid going to Kalamazoo. We are still coming up with pro's and con's.

People ask me if F is dreading going back to college. Since she started packing about 3 weeks before dorm move-in, I'm guessing not. She's got her things in the living room floor so we can see how best to pack them for the move next Sunday.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Children's moment at church this morning: The minister had two branches, a dead one he'd picked up off the ground, and a still-green one that he had stripped off a tree this morning (and therefore will soon be dead, but we won't mention that.) He asked the kids to tell him the difference between the two branches, and they obliged. "One is dead, and one is ... not dead." Then he asked them how church members could be like those two branches. Answer: Because some are old and some are really, really young.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

So I spent the day at my previous workplace getting some things straightened out. It was interesting. Trying to remember how to use Windows 3.11 for instance, and there is a whole story about why that's necessary.

Funny thing - when I still worked there I dreamed that they had to let me go because the work had fallen off or something. They said they would help me find another job, so I wasn't worried about that. What worried me was leaving those instruments. I knew no one would love and care for them like I did. When I woke up I thought the dream was really funny but also probably true, at least as far as the instruments were concerned.

I was warned before I went today that the PNAs were gone. These are polynuclear aromatics, they elute at the end of the semivolatile chromatogram, and if you are having problems with your baseline, contamination, bad column, whatever, they just go away. I looked at the latest calibration check and it looked like crap. But I went back to the lab, with the boss's permission b/c this is out of the scope of my contract, and did a little maintenance on the GC. Just a little. The sensitivity shot up 100-fold (I'm not kidding) and those PNAs popped right out of the baseline and marched along like little soldiers. The problem now is that the chromatography is so much better than it was when the calibration curve was done that it really needs recalibration. I'll let the boss decide what to do about that.

So my dream was kind of true.



Cool, huh?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Interesting election we had yesterday.

Harold Ford, Sr. was elected and re-elected to Congress from the 9th district for many years. If memory serves, 1994 was his last election, the one in which the Republicans achieved a majority, and in his distress over losing chairmanship of the Ways and Means committee, he made his famous statement about East Memphis "devils" who voted for his opponent. But he passed the baton to his son, Harold Jr., who appears to have better self-control and has had lots of favorable attention, and who has held that seat ever since. Now Jr. has set his sights on the senate seat that Frist is vacating, so that left the 9th district seat open.

One of the contenders for the Democratic nomination in 1994 was Steve Cohen, a state senator who lives in Midtown. As I recall, Cohen expressed some hope that Republicans would cross party lines to vote for him in the primary. Since he certainly isn't any less liberal or less of a Democrat than Jr., the only reason a Republican would have to do that would be because Cohen is white. To his dismay, we white Republicans didn't turn out to have the racial solidarity he hoped we would have, and he was soundly defeated.

But Cohen has come out on top in this primary, to the distress of many local black politicians. There were lots of people running in the Democratic primary. The second-up, Nikki Tinker, came really close to beating him. Walter Bailey, county commissioner, wished that some of those also-rans would clear the field so that a black person would win the primary. Because white people can't understand the "unique" needs of the 9th district: unemployment, for instance. Here is Bailey's letter to the Commercial Appeal. Because you have to register (it's free) I'll copy a bit.

The challenges that confront African-Americans in the predominantly urban Ninth District are unique. They include unemployment, poverty, crime, income disparity, lack of educational opportunities and the realities of racial discrimination. These challenges demand a congressional voice that would be more inclined, by virtue of the personal experience of being black, to have the necessary commitment, passion, knowledge base and undivided loyalty.

(Yes, we have a certain amount of crime in the 9th district. Just last week somebody broke into our 6-ft privacy fence and stole our lawn mower. I don't know how many mowers we have had over the years. We've never had the opportunity to wear one out before it's liberated.)

Lack of educational opportunities? Every child has access to a free education in the public schools. Moreover, besides University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University, LeMoyne-Owen, and Rhodes College, Southwest Tennessee Community College is right there, as well as various trade and technical schools. I don't know what more he wants.

And I have to wonder about the "undivided loyalty" thing. Is this a dig at Sen. Cohen being a Jew? Surely not.

Well, anyway, so Steve Cohen won the primary. Congratulations, Sen. Cohen. But he'll face the Republican primary winner in the general election, who ordinarily I'd say doesn't have a snowball's chance, except that Jake Ford (how many Fords are there? don't ask) will be running as an independent. For those who who think that seat belongs to a black person and/or a Ford, he will be a strong candidate. It will be quite interesting to see how this one turns out.

Oh, and I like the new voting machines.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I added Cute Overload to my side bar. I need to look at some fuzzy kittens and bunnies every now and then. Things are kind of weird.

My coworker Libby from my previous job called me at work to say that she had moved on. While we were talking, my phone light came on. It was the previous boss wanting me to come back and do a little consulting work while they figured out what to do next. I don't want to go back to that job - I'll go to Kalamazoo first - but it won't be unwelcome to have a little extra walking-around money.

R actually said to me today that he wants to go to K. I think it's the traffic. Or maybe it's the weather. Our AC cut out yesterday. He was able to fix it this afternoon (my hero) but he had to spend a couple of hours with a hacksaw making tbe metal shaft he had to buy fit the structure. The temperature in the house is now down to 79F, a vast improvement over 90+.

There's some pretty strange stuff going on at work. Maybe it's inevitable with the decision to close the local facility. I don't like it very much. There's a nice severence package if I don't relocate but just stick it out here, but I think maybe I'd rather just say "so long and thanks for all the fish". R will support whatever. F's view of Kalamazoo is less dim since she was attacked by a palmetto bug the other night, in her bedroom, and I told her they don't have those in Michigan.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I am not the only one in a bad mood.

F said this: "I have a love/hate relationship with the fact that there are other human beings on this planet."

I countered with this: "My own thoughts irritated the crap out of me the other night. Every single one. Can you have an autoimmune thought disease?"

So how are things at your house?