Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Darn Fine Pi Day

Do not worry, I am in a MUCH better mood today than I was yesterday when I went all crazy on Google. 


I really should not be such a good mood, when you really think about it. 

This morning, I had a meeting scheduled to discuss a potential internship and I needed to be downtown Minneapolis by 8:30 a.m.  As I do not normally venture that far in my daily commute, I was uncertain how much more time to allow for driving and traffic congestion.  I estimated on the high side.  I was over by 30 minutes.

This meant that I arrived in the downtown parking garage at 7:45 a.m. with half an hour or so to kill before the meeting was to start.  Not to give away too much information about the location, but it is a semi-public place and a real hotspot for the homeless population of the city to chill in the morning hours.  Knowing this, I opted to remain in the parking ramp within my parked car for a considerable amount of time.  This is where having a smart phone came in handy.  I was able to check emails, update Facebook and text with my mother.

Around 8:15, I gathered my courage and went into the building hoping that the party I would be meeting would be early as well.  No such luck.  Fortunately, there was a nearby coffee shop, so I went in and ordered a latte.

Promptly at 8:30, my meeting started and I think that it went quite well. 

You are probably confused at this point as to why any of this could have had the potential to put me in a bad mood despite my avowed cheerfulness of the moment.  To explain, we must journey back in time... to last night.

In anticipation of my longer commute, I decided to set my alarm for 5 a.m.  As it was to turn out, I totally did not need the extra half hour of wakefulness, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

Due to the perceived ungodliness of the time I was to awake, I opted for a semi-early bedtime attempt last night.  So around 9:30 I started moving towards sleep preparations.  I took Lena out for her final bathroom break, washed my face, brushed my teeth and got into bed.  Lena followed me, as usual, and we snuggled in to bed.  When I turned off the bedside lamp, the clock read 10:15 p.m. 

For the next 45 minutes, I drifted towards sleep.  Then things got weird.

Suddenly, I felt Lena jump as if startled followed by her leaping over me and off of the bed.  As I have learned from past experience, this can lead to messy situations, so I dragged myself out of bed and took her back outside.

She took care of one kind of business and came back in with a bounce in her step.  I figured it would be OK to try to sleep again, so we returned to the bedroom.  Instead of leaping back up onto the bed with me, Lena cowered and tried to crawl under the bed in fear.  As there was no clear sign of what was freaking her out, I picked her up and put her on the bed.  This did not help.

After a stint in the bathroom waiting for the potential vomit that did not come, we went outside again where Lena took care of another kind of business.  At this point I was quite certain that Lena was not going to be sick and was experiencing some kind of emotional reaction, perhaps to a dream.

In the end, I had to rearrange my bed to allow Lena to sleep in a different area.  This worked, technically, but the net result was that I did not finally get to sleep until after midnight.  Did I mention that my alarm was set for 5 a.m.?  Uh huh.

So now it is Wednesday evening and I am crashing pretty hard.  I took Lena for a longer walk than normal in the hopes that it would wear us both out entirely and lead to a better night sleep.  We shall see if it works...

But before I go, I just have one thing to say:  Happy Pi Day!!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


If I was ever tempted to punch a computer software company representative, now would be the time. 

APPARENTLY, Internet Explorer no longer is supported by Blogger, the program through which I write this blog.  But wait, if you are having problems, try Google Chrome.  Why?  Because Google owns Blogger and wants you to use its stupid browser instead. 

Not that I am an ardent supporter of Microsoft, but seriously.  Come ON.  I see no need to download and then learn how to use a completely new web browser when the one I am presently using works just fine.  Yes, I do also know how to use Safari and Firefox, but I have NEVER found myself in a situation that has led me to use Google Chrome. 

Am I having problems in my Blogger interface?  You betcha.  Do I think that it is reasonable for Google to offer such a stupid solution or to deliberately redesign their interface so that it intentionally does not work well with others?  No way. 

What am I going to do about it?  After I test out other browsers to see if the same problems persist, I may have to contemplate migrating my blog to another host which really bums me out.  For now, I will just hope that the "Publish" button still works and that I can share my frustration with the world.  More later.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Calm down, Ma'am!

Holy schlamoley!  My pageviews have been on the rise as of late, but seriously thank you for reading my blog!  Hopefully I can manage to keep you entertained.

Today I am feeling... impatient.  Maybe it is due to the loss of an hour in my day yesterday or maybe it is because I am still a bit buzzy after my $2 drink special from Caribou this morning, but WHOA!  Someone needs to STOP checking her phone and email messages every five minutes or things will get crazy!

To explain myself a bit more, two jobs that I am VERY interested in closed on Friday.  This means that the employers are done accepting applications and will now start their review process.  If you are one of the lucky ones to move on to the interview round you should hear from them pretty quickly.  At least according to their postings. 

It is a bit difficult to gauge how soon is "pretty quickly" but in my estimation it should be this week.  Perhaps expecting something first thing Monday morning is a bit silly, but things in other areas of my life are starting to move and I would like to have an idea of my options (or lack of options as it may be) as soon as possible.

In other news, I heard on the radio that we are supposed to see 70 degrees by the end of the week!  This is INSANE.  How clearly do I remember last year at this time experiencing the winter that would not quit.  Seriously, March 2011 was a very disheartening month for many Minnesotans as we continued to get new snowfall with no sign of spring.

This year, by comparison, has been mild to the extreme.  Not to sound strange, but I sort of measure my winter extremity by the number of times that my snow removal service is called into action, no matter how late they arrive in the day.  This year, I estimate that they have had to work in my neighborhood a grand total of three times.  That's right, THREE.  Last year, they had to come out at least a dozen times or more.  For reals, yo.

There are some who would now lament how this type of winter wreaks havoc on the snow economy of Minnesota, but I am cool with it.  So is Lena, although I suspect that she would not have minded more extreme snow banks to climb if given the opportunity.  As it is now, our yard is a giant soggy sponge which cannot be pleasant to navigate for bathroom duties.  However, I did make an effort to clean up the poops yesterday, so she cannot complain too much.  As a dog, she really doesn't do too much complaining anyways, which is just one of the many ways that she outshines people. 

While we are on the subject of Lena, she seems to have overcome her forlorn attitude of yesterday that came upon her after watching her canine friends depart.  She is not used to being the one worth leaving (to semi-quote one of my favorite songs), but her resilient nature keeps her from getting too depressed.  Maybe someday we will have the means to bring a permanent buddy into our household, but not at this time.  As much as my parents love Lena, I am not sure they are ready to embrace another occasional canine visitor.

With that thought, I shall conclude.  I hope that everyone's spring cleaning is going as well as mine and that all you Minnesotans are ready for the upcoming heat wave.  Break out the shorts and flip flops!  Get ready for the Day-Glo skin colors!  Summer is almost here, baby!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Organizational Objectives

It is now Sunday evening, despite my brain's inability to accept that it has lost an hour.  My parents and their dogs have come and gone, Lena has finished her Dingo and is now staring at the front door expecting her friends to come charging back through it, and I am much much closer to having my house back into fighting shape.

You see, for the past few months, my second bedroom has been in a state of disarray.  I emptied the closet and set about a project of throwing out unnecessary items and repackaging the ones to be kept.  Due to the fact that I do not spend each and every weekend at my own house, this has been a slow moving process.

In anticipation of the possibility of having a weeknight house guest now that my father is starting his new job, I decided to kick things up a notch.  For YEARS I have lamented my lack of bookshelf space.  This weekend I solved that problem.

You see, I have a problem.  In the way that many women accumulate shoes, I accumulate books.  Yes, I know, it is strange that a person who has studied to become a librarian would not just borrow books for free from my local library.  My only excuse is that I wish to create my own personal library.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to keep up with enough shelf space to make this a reality.  Books get packed away in bins and forgotten.  Until I remember a specific book, decide that I must read it again NOW, and go digging through the catacombs.  Well, no more digging for me!

The event which truly made this possible was the removal of the double bed from my second bedroom to the farm.  This freed my second bedroom from the restriction of actually being a bedroom and allowed me the freedom to make of it what I wanted.  As I have not had a house guest in several years, it seemed ridiculous to maintain that much square footage of my home into such a useless purpose.

When I started to think about what I really need, I knew that I would eventually turn it into a reading room.  But where to begin?  Bookshelves, obviously.

Unfortunately, bookshelves do not come cheap.  At least not unless you are willing to look around for a bit.  I priced out the IKEA shelves, and figured that I could get what I wanted for $300 or less.  But IKEA is not near my house.

So I jumped on a few websites.  Menards had some promising prospects, so I hopped in my car yesterday to check out their supply.  If what I had found online was true, I could get away with three new shelves for under $100.  Unfortunately, the website lied.  The only shelves in stock were selling for at least $100 per unit.  I left empty-handed.

After a brief run-in at a few other places, I grudgingly turned to the hell mouth, AKA Walmart.  So yes, I realize that this makes me sound like a snob, but I avoid Walmart like the plague.  The disorder, the weird shoppers, the general sense of dirtiness.  I am definitely a Target girl.  But yesterday, Target was not an option.  Plus, Walmart is a mile from my house.

Luckily, I found what I needed quickly.  It was a bit cumbersome to load the three heavy boxes of shelves into my cart, but I was determined to get out of there as quickly as possible.  My three sets of shelves came to $89 total, which was a HECK of a deal.

I made it out with minimal damage despite bearing witness to a small child actively destroying a checkout line display while his parents bought two new large-screen television sets.  He had some sort of wooden stick and was running it over the shelves, knocking over displays of batteries and suckers.  Although I briefly considered telling him to knock it off, I rationalized that it was not my kid and not my concern.  One of the benefits of NOT being a parent.

I spent the greater part of yesterday evening putting together two of the shelves and got the last one up this morning.  Two shelves are almost completely filled, but there is still room on the third one even after I pulled in all of my previously stored books.  This is good as it means I have room to grow (translation:  buy more books).

To celebrate, I opened the shades in the room and then did the unthinkable:  I OPENED THE WINDOW.  To be clear, it was very nice outside today.  But also, I NEVER open windows.  In fact, I rarely open the shades.  To do both was symbolic of the sense of elation I felt in finally taking a step in a more organized direction.  Now if I could just get my closet sorted...

Friday, March 9, 2012

So I guess I am now a PinStar...

Today I am a mixture of emotions:  sad, nervous, excited and tired.  I wish that I could go into greater details about the root influences of these emotions, but it is a bit premature to do so.  Rest assured, when I know more, so will you.

In the meantime...

I have finally succumbed to peer pressure and joined Pinterest.  May God have mercy on my soul.

Honestly, I will probably not have nearly as many uses for this thing as other seem to do.  You see, I have no strong inclination to home decoration or organization.  Neither do I have children for whom I must collect ideas for educational or gift ideas.  On the other hand, I do like food, so the recipe sharing might be useful.  And I do love me some funny.

If I had to complain about anything, I would have to say that some of the "style" posts are really annoying.  Not so much the shots of cool shoes with links to the vendor website, but more those compilations of "complete" outfits that are put together on white backgrounds.  I do not know who makes these, but people sure like to repin them. 

As much as I think that taking care in your appearance is an acceptable practice to follow, I sincerely doubt that these silly outfit creations ever factor into the wardrobes of those who repin them.  Honestly, if we were to take daily photographs of the pinner or just go through their closet, are these the sort of items we would find?  Hm?

I will now descend from my soapbox to say that interestingly enough, my most "popular" pins to the world in general have been humor related.  I repinned a comic from one of my favorite bloggers (The Oatmeal), a tote bag bearing a funny saying that I found on another blogger's store (The Bloggess) and another comic regarding the sexiness of wearing glasses from a web comic (Hark! A Vagrant!).

Go figure.

This weekend looks to be epic.  I intend to spend the majority of it at home, with Lena, hopefully getting some serious work done on cleaning and organization.  I definitely intend to sleep as late as humanly (or caninely) possible.  It is supposed to get up to 60 degrees this weekend, which is practically tropical, so perhaps we shall be taking some longer walks?

In other news, I am done with my judging duties... for now.  Officially, I still have one more regional event left, but it is over a week away, so I can relax for a moment.  Truth be told, it has not been a bad experience and I would definitely do it again if given the opportunity.  At least that is my story for the moment.

I sincerely hope that everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


At this moment, I am experiencing what I can only simply describe as Total Mental Exhaustion.  This is a condition that not even gallons of coffee can remedy, so I will just have to bear through it. 

What brought me to this state?  It would be difficult to pin the blame on any one thing, so I will guess and say that it is a combination of several.

First, there is the fact that I have spent the past four nights sharing a bed with three canines of the terrier variety.  In all honesty, they have been rather well behaved compared to previous experience.  They assume their preferred positions in the bed and pretty much leave me with enough space of my own to sleep comfortably. 

It has also perhaps helped the situation that I have set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. for three of our mornings together; a practice that they all appreciate.  You see, the period of time immediately after awakening is a pretty awesome time for the dogs.  This is when they get their first trip outside to greet the day, their first official meal and of course, their first official Dingo treat.  Sometimes they even get a short walk (if my dad is around).  Within a space of approximately an hour, they receive all of their favorite things in life.

Dog reasons aside, let me move on to the other potential contributors to my present fatigue.

Last Saturday, I woke up at my normal work time of 5:30 a.m., but I did not go back to sleep.  I arose, ate and showered to prepare for my first day of judging for regional History Day events.  I spent the better part of the day interviewing students and evaluating exhibits.  On Sunday, I rested.  (As God intended, right?)

Monday it was back to the grind, albeit with an earlier quitting time on the job to allow for the fact that my parents dogs are NOT accustomed to being left alone for the equivalent of my full work day plus extra commuting time. 

Tuesday was another shortened day, but by 4 p.m. I had to report in for my second regional History Day judging assignment.  This one was a different as I found myself watching and judging group performances.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed this event, but it kept me out until 10 p.m.  By the time I arrived home, I was in a daze.  I tried to sit and chill with the pups for a bit, but I couldn't do it.  My body was shutting down.  

I gave in to my feelings and went to bed.  I slept soundly, but for some reason, I cannot shake the feeling of Total Mental Exhaustion.  It is shocking that I have even been able to articulate this blog entry. 

The good news is that my parents will arrive home today.  This means that my father can resume sleeping with their two dogs and I can go back to dealing with mine.  The less good news is that tomorrow evening I am judging my third event.  I will not know what kind of presentations I will be seeing, but I sincerely hope that my mental acuity has returned by that time.

This weekend, I intend to stay at home, relax and perhaps do some much needed housework.  Oh, and I definitely plan to sleep past 5:30 a.m.  Just you wait and see.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Canine digestive issues continue to rule my life

I hesitate to say that the past weekend was a bit surreal for me when it seems that most of what I experience as of late seems to occur in a bit of a haze.

First of all, I am on dog-duty.  My parents are off enjoying some mini-vacation time as my dad is presently "between jobs."  Honestly, dog-duty is pretty easy.  I just need to make sure that the pups are fed, watered and given ample opportunity to go outside and relieve themselves. 

On Saturday, I had my first experience with judging for a regional History Day event.  It was much longer and more arduous than I anticipated, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  Obviously, it is a little hard to dash the hopes of adolescents who do not make the cut for the state competition, but you just cannot advance everyone to be nice.

I did experience many flashback moments to my days as an exhibitor, but I was really impressed with the level of quality for supplies and decoration available to today's students.  Did you know that they now MAKE poster boards for this kind of thing?  That is, they manufacture cardboard tri-fold display boards for purchase.  Back in my day, we had to enlist the help of someone's father to help construct our board out of wood.  It weighed a TON and was extremely cumbersome to haul into competition.

But back to Saturday.  Every interview is given 15 minutes, and my team had nine exhibits to judge.  We have to take notes and copies of the papers they give us to assist in our decisions, but it all takes quite a while.  Once interviews are over, the pace really picks up as decisions must be made and comments must be completed. 

By the time all was said and done, I had been at the event from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  My hand was sore from writing and my head was spinning with more thoughts and suggestions I could have shared with the participants if only I had the time. 

The rest of my day was rather calm, but by 8 p.m. I could no longer keep my eyes open.  I believe the dogs may have been rather shocked my our early bedtime, but we were all snuggled in by 8:30 p.m.

Sunday was a day to relax.  No shower, no visitors.  All was well until the afternoon when the dogs had their second feeding of the day. 

About ten minutes after eating, Pippi threw up her entire dinner.  She otherwise seemed OK, but I had to utilize a good degree of cunning and trickery to keep all of the dogs from coming near and potentially consuming her vomit.  Do not ask me why this would be appealing to a dog, it just is. 

Next on their agenda was a mini rawhide treat known as a Dingo.  As Pippi's stomach was a bit of a wild card, I opted to leave her out of the fun.  Unfortunately, she was not cool with this idea.  I opted to give her a smaller and blander treat instead. 

I did not reckon with the possibility that Lena would notice this and temporarily abandon her Dingo to also receive a regular treat.  I also did not reckon with the fact that Thor is a greedy little dog. 

When Lena left her Dingo on the rug to check out the possibility of getting a treat as well, Thor quickly swallowed his entire Dingo whole and snatched up Lena's slightly soggy one.  He then went on the lam, but I found him and extracted the stolen item and returned it to its rightful owner. 

In his haste, Thor had not completely swallowed his first Dingo and began to gag.  At this point, I began to contemplate the possibility of bringing him into the emergency vet.  Or performing the doggy Heimlich.  To my relief, he managed to work through it and soon returned to his normal self.  I was not relishing the idea of taken my unclean pajama-clad self into the vet clinic, so I was happy to be able to continue my day of sloth.

After this drama, I returned my attention to the other dogs only to find that Lena had again been negligent and allowed Pippi to gain control of her Dingo.  Not wanting a repeat vomit performance, I chased Pippi down and retrieved the now completely soggy treat.  In order to save everyone from future problems, I disposed of the Dingo.

The rest of the evening was a bit less exciting, although we did stay up past 8:30 p.m.

Only two more nights of this before I can return to the relative peace of my own home with just one crazy dog to watch.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Movements and Hormones

As much as I hate to say it, my hormones are out of control today.  I truly wish that I had better control over the situation, but my mood swings seem to have a mind of their own.

This morning, it was set off by my dog and her stubborn unwillingness to have a bowel movement.  At this point, I realize that I sound a bit crazy, but she is on a very regular schedule.  I have found that deviations from normal patterns lead to messes and possible emergency vet visits if not taken seriously. 

The problem, it seems, is Lena's love of snow.  She gets so distracted by it that she cannot focus long enough to take care of business.  I wasted about 15 minutes of my morning standing outside, holding her leash and admonishing her in the nicest tones possible to "GO POOEY."  Instead of doing this, she chose to sniff, dig, sit, and eat in the snow. 

Finally, as my departure time for work starting to pass into the dangerously tardy zone, I had to bring her back in for her daily confinement.  She knew I was upset as she beelined it for her kennel once we were in the house.  Perhaps there was also something in my tone and body language. 

You see, it isn't just the bowel movement.  No, it is the fact that tonight I have to pack up and head down to my parents' house where we will be staying for the next six nights.  Five of which I will have to spend sharing my bed with three dogs.  I am not anticipating that I will be getting much sleep in the next week, but at least I am mentally prepared for it.

Hopefully, she will take care of business before we hit the road and I can avoid having to worry about it.  Certainly once we get to the large fenced yard she should have no trouble satisfying both her snow exploration fantasies and her basic bodily functions.  That is my hope.

The problem with hormonal influence is that the strangest things can set me off.  Once I am in the "rage state" it can be difficult to pull in the reins.  Fortunately, after my frustration with Lena, I had about 20 minutes to cool down in the car.  Or unfortunately as it turned out.  When one is already a bit irritated, any slight perceived misbehavior on the part of other drivers can send one into a new level of anger. 

Good news:  I made it to work in one piece.  By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was fine.  So far so good. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Speeding things up a bit

You know how some car advertise that their vehicle can go from zero to sixty in two seconds?  Like it is a good thing?

Well, that is how my life is feeling at the moment.  Things were pretty quiet for a while, but the pace is starting to pick up. 

A couple of months ago, I received a group email from a local archives-profession based club indication that the Minnesota Historical Society was seeking judges for National History Day events.  If you have no idea what this is, you can certainly look it up, but to put it plainly, it is like a science fair for social studies. 

It just so happens that THIS GIRL (points to self) is a former History Day participant.  Went to state with my group's exhibit.  Got an Honorable Mention.  Are you impressed?  Mind you, this all took place back in 1994, so it's been a while since I was part of the fun.

When I read the email about judging, my first reaction was interest followed immediately by the belief that there is no way they would want me to do this.  Then I stopped and thought about that assumption.  Not only am I a former participant, but I now hold a B.A. in History and a M.L.I.S.  Technically speaking, I am a nearly ideal candidate.

So I signed up.  As part of the application, I was asked to review the list of regional competition dates and mark down the ones for which I would be available and able to attend.  It was at this point that I made the mistake of not making note of the dates I chose.  But more on that later.

After I sent in my information, I heard nothing.  For quite a while.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, I received two letters from the MNHS organizers indicating that I was scheduled to judge at two metro area regional events for the junior level (6th through 8th graders).  Sweet.

Ever the diligent volunteer, I signed up to attend a short training session last weekend.  It was very helpful, but in the course of the training, we were asked if anyone would be willing to volunteer to work at another regional event as they were short by about 20 people.  So I said yes.

Cool, right?  I was feeling pretty good about myself at that point.  Then I picked up my mail on Tuesday to discover that I will also be judging an out-state regional on St. Patrick's Day.  Not a problem. 

But now I am worried.  You see, these competitions are spread out over the course of the next couple of months.  Apparently, they send out notifications a couple of weeks in advance for each event.  This means that there could be more. 

Not that I mind.  In fact, I think it will be something that I will really enjoy.  There is something about the eagerness and energy of kids who do this sort of thing that reaffirms my faith in society.

In the midst of all the growing chaos, I had a snow day yesterday.

Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a wimp.  We have had virtually NO snow all winter and on the first big day involving the stuff I call in to work.  Fortunately, I was not alone as almost half of my coworkers stayed home as well. 

To be fair, I did get up at my normal time (5:30 a.m.) and got ready as normal.  I was to the point of putting on my makeup (my last step before leaving the house) when I sat down to make an honest assessment of my situation.

First of all, snow was actively falling at this point and had been for quite some time.  This never bodes well for commuting. 

Second, my driveway and street were still pristinely unplowed.  True, I own a shovel and could have taken care of my driveway on my own, but I was holding out in the hope that my association's snow removal service would show up and do the job faster and more efficiently. 

Third, I knew that work would be a ghost town.  No one (customers included) would want to be out and about in this weather.  So I would have to white-knuckle drive into work for a journey that would likely have dragged my normal 20 minute drive into over an hour in length to sit and stare at the computer for 8 hours and then face a possible second white-knuckle extra long drive home. 

Not wanting to be a total jerk, I checked in with coworkers and my manager.  Everything was OK, so I changed out of my work clothes and into something more comfortable.  Lena was a bit confused, but it all worked out well for her in the end as she was able to spend a great deal of time leaping through the deep snow and burrowing her head into drifts.  Doggie heaven.

Perhaps these updates seem a bit insufficient to make up for my recent absence.  Too bad, I say. 

Before I conclude, I would like to send out a blogosphere congratulations to two of my readers and good friends who recently announced that they are expecting their first child.  In case you were curious, I am thrilled that my friends are all reproducing en masse as it gives me a great excuse to shop.  So, Rox and Bill, CONGRATULATIONS!  I could not be happier for you!