Thursday, August 27, 2009

I am slowly going crazy....

On Tuesday, I met a friend for lunch. On the way there, the fan and air conditioner in my car stopped getting along.

Specifically, what happened was that when I had the fan on speeds 1, 2, or 3, the a/c worked but the fan didn't. When I had the fan on speed 4, the a/c turned itself off, but the fan worked. (If the a/c was off, fan speeds 1-3 still didn't work.)

Obviously, this couldn't continue - it's not so bad when it's just hot out, but it is a problem when trying to defrost the winter, and would become a major problem when it gets cold out. I called the garage I usually take my car in to and made an appointment for today.

This morning, I got up early to take the car in. I got them to drop me off at ITO, and I started a computer-based Java course. The way this place works is you do the test first (so you know where you're starting from), then do the training, then you have to get 90% on the test 3 times in a row to get a certificate. I got 52% on the test before I did any of the training.

You'd think this would make the training easier, but it actually makes it harder, because many of the concepts are familiar to me. That means I start skimming the material, and I miss the stuff I don't already know.

However, I made it through 3/4 of the first module. At that point, I stopped to go and meet one-on-on with one of the consultants to get resume feedback. By the time my meeting was over, it was 11:30, so I walked to a fast-food place for lunch.

When lunch was over, I headed back to ITO and read a bit until I thought I was ready to do more training. I then finished the first module and went through the second module.

At that point, my brain was full, and I didn't want to do any more training, but my car wasn't yet ready, so I did the test for the third module, just to see where I was. I got 74%. On some of the subsections, I got 100%, on others 0%. It's pretty obvious which ones I have encountered before.

Anyway, before I was forced to start reading the course again, I got a call that my car was ready, so I walked back to the garage to pick it up. It was less than a mile, so it was certainly walking distance.

I got the car, and then decided to stop at the tire place on the way home to get them to fix the tire that has a slow leak in it. End result? I took my car to two different garages in one day - oh, and my tire had a screw in it.

Everything was fixed, but the day was filled with far more waiting around than I can handle in a reasonable manner. I also hadn't eaten properly (or enough), and I certainly hadn't had as much water as I normally do, so I wasn't feeling all that well.

I ate as soon as I got home and took a nap to decompress, then I headed to the gym for Combat. I felt pretty bad when I got there, but (as I knew I would) I felt much better when I left.

Tomorrow will hopefully be full of a lot less sitting around and waiting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I think I've mentioned before that I have a vegetable garden. It usually turns out poorly - only tomatoes and cucumbers grow well. My priority is the tomatoes, so I'm not too upset by that.

This year, the only thing that grew was the tomatoes. The last 3 weeks have been hot and sunny, and the tomatoes are going crazy. In order to use some of them (and hopefully dispose of some of the fruit flies that have again invaded my kitchen), today I canned tomatoes. I sterilized 4 pint jars. After that, I boiled water and put the tomatoes in the boiling water for a minute or so, then took them out and put them into cold water. This makes them easy to skin, so I skinned them and put them in the jars, pressing down on each one to remove the air from the jar. When the jars had about 1/2 an inch of space left in them, I put in 1/2 tsp of coarse salt. Next I put the lids on the jars and put them in the canner, then processed them for 20 minutes.

When they were done, I took them out, set them on the counter, and waited for them to seal. When they did, I tightened the lids and they were done.

I've made tomato juice before, and that is much better when it's homemade. Hopefully the canned tomatoes will be as good.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stop me if I'm babbling

You would think that since I'm unemployed, I'd be updating more. You would be wrong.

I started the week by attending a Business and Technology trends workshop at ITO. It is a three-day course - well, actually 2.5 days - that talks about different areas of high tech work in Ottawa, as well as different strategies for finding a job. One of the interesting things about the course was deconstructing company web sites to find out more about the company. For example, reading the news page might tell you more about their specific products (and thus the skills used to make their products, which might tell you whether you should apply or not). They also talked about reading all of the job postings, not just those you are qualified for. The purpose of this is, for example, if they are hiring an architect for a C++ product and you aren't qualified to be the architect (but an be a C++ developer), you can send in a resume and essentially beat the rush. Since companies often hire without posting jobs, your resume will be on file in case they decide to find a C++ developer without posting the job.

I'm not sure I'm explaining this well, but it was an interesting approach that complemented the approach that the last outplacement place I dealt with suggested (which was much heavier on face-to-face networking).

One of the other people in the workshop and I have been reviewing each other's resumes, and I think both of our resumes are much stronger as a result.

On Monday, I am signed up for the resume course, so hopefully that will be helpful as well.

This has also been a good week for talking with friends. Two of the people I worked with in my last job e-mailed or called me this week, I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and today I went in to my previous employer (i.e. the one I got laid off from 2 years ago) to have coffee with some friends there. The place is like a ghost town now. It's really sad (but coffee was fun). I brought in a plain cheesecake with brownie bits baked in to it. I called it an experimental cheesecake, but really all of them are experimental. I rarely make the same thing twice. It was good, though, and the guys appreciated it.

On a completely different topic, I'm glad today is my last day for the eyedrops for my eye infection, because for the last day I have gotten progressively worse at remembering to use them.

Changing topics yet again, Blogger has been acting weirdly for me lately. When I cut and paste web links, it treats them as text. Also, I am completely incapable of commenting on Sydney's blog. (I can comment on other blogs, and other people can comment on her blog, so I don't know what is going on.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My doctor gets lonely if I'm not there every week

When my mom was here, I started having problems with my right eye. It would feel like there was something in my eye except, of course, there wasn't. The feeling would last from 30 minutes to 2 hours, then it would go away.

Last Thursday, I went to the doctor and found out I had an eye infection. I got antibiotic drops to put in the eye. It started feeling better immediately.

I had to apply the drops for a week, so this Thursday morning was my last application.

Friday afternoon I got the same feeling in my left eye. My doctor's office was closed for the day, so I went to the after-hours clinic associated with my doctor. I could have gone to a walk-in clinic, but this way my doctor automatically gets the information about my visit.

The verdict? More eye drops, 4 times a day, for another week. The problem now is that I have to do both eyes, which means I have to spend a minute 4 times a day with both eyes closed. So far I haven't walked in to anything, but I suspect it's coming. (Sure, I could just sit still, but that's not usually how it works.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What to do?

(Edited to update the list)

I've been unemployed for a week now. It's interesting.

I was unemployed for 7 months 2 years ago. I don't recall really being bored for months. I suspect that was because I had been laid off from a company that had been going through layoffs every few months for 6 or 8 years (depending on how you count). By the time I was laid off, I was very burnt out. It took me several months before I was emotionally ready to look for a job. I was trying earlier, but I just couldn't get it together.

While I'm pretty optimistic that I will find a job more quickly this time, I also am getting bored far more quickly, so I've made a to-do list for non-job-hunting-related things.

Here it is:
Shred old papers
Clean out filing cabinet
Clean out furnace room
Clean off old computer
Dispose of old computer
Trim hedges by front walkway
Trim (other) hedges (OK, my sister did the trimming, but I nagged her. Still counts.)
Build a new composter
Wash windows (inside)
Wash windows (outside)
Make baby quilts
Get rid of old video tapes
Get rid of old cell phones
Patch hole by thermostat (which has been there for 2 years, since the thermostat was changed)

I'm trying to work towards one of these things most days, and so far it's going well. Today I dragged Wanda outside, and we started trimming the hedges by the front walkway. The hedge trimmer battery died, so we didn't finish, but we did make a good start at it.

Of course, there's the general gardening and house maintenance as well, but hopefully I will be able to make a good dent in this list before I go back to work - although I'd be OK with going back to work quickly, even if it meant I didn't finish the list.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Piecing it together

I know a couple of people who are pregnant, so this weekend I made two baby quilts.

I've done this before, but it has been a few years. It didn't take as long as I remember (possibly because I was motivated to get it done this weekend).

I'm not a perfectionist, so the resulting quilts are not perfect, but that's fine - they're intended to be used on a daily basis - to set on the floor for the baby to lie on, to cover up when reading a story, or whatever.

The unusual part of this project was that I didn't buy anything - not even thread. Everything I used was something I already had.

I'm happy with how they turned out. I would have liked to put a border of blue around the second quilt (to match the inner blue between the squares) but I didn't have enough blue, so that didn't happen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My niece's visit went well. I've already talked about our trip on the steam train. We also went swimming, blew bubbles in the back yard, and went downtown to see the Parliament buildings and the Busker Festival.

She left (early) yesterday morning. Luckily, I was able to go back to sleep, since I didn't have to go to work.

When I got up, I started my day by applying for Employment Insurance. I was able to complete the application on-line, but still had to drop off my Record of Employment. I decided to put that off until today.

I also sent an e-mail letting people know that I'd been laid off, and canceled my RRSP contributions for now. Another logistical issue - I had to find new classes at the gym. There's no point in driving out to where I used to work to go to the gym. Instead, I'll be going to one of the two locations close to the house.

After that, I went back to updating my resume. I had started doing that at the beginning of July, so it wasn't as onerous a task as it might have been otherwise. I'm letting it sit for a while, then I'll go back and revisit it.

Today I got up and went to Service Canada to drop off my Record of Employment. While I was there, I went down the hall to Northern Lights, and talked with someone there. Northern Lights is a service that helps Canadians looking for work. One of the questions was "what factors have kept you from finding a job". "I've only been unemployed for a day" wasn't an answer.

They recommended that I do a course on the job market for high tech, so I will hopefully be able to do that next week or the week after.

I was laid off in 2007. In that case, I had 2 months as a full-salaried employee, followed by a generous severance package and outplacement help.

This time I don't have any of that. However, I do have more marketable skills and more recent job hunting experience. I'm also not nearly as burnt out as I was the last time.

Right now, I'm busy. I'm setting up networking appointments, scheduling courses, and dealing with the logistics of not having a job.

I know that, as time goes on, a lot of the stuff I'm still busy with will be gone.

Last time I was laid off, I found I had to take an afternoon nap every day. I have been too busy to need that yet, but I know that job hunting forces me to organize my day differently. Time gets split between attending networking meetings, setting up networking meetings, reading job postings, and applying for jobs - but it's not a typical 9-5 day.

It will be interesting to see what happens.