Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Wanda!

It's Wanda's birthday, which means it's time for another mysterious project of mystery. As usual, I was more excited than she was.

This year, it was the skirt above - three layer of material (pink, blue sequins, blue pattern) with pointy ends.

Unfortunately, I left it far too late - I started Sunday night. Luckily, it wasn't too complicated, but still, it would have been nice to have a bit more time.

She liked it, though, so I guess all is well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

And it was

I did a first aid course on the weekend. Wanda, on the other hand, did hers yesterday and today.

Since her course was near where I work, I dropped her off. We both brought our gym stuff so that if she was done when I was, we could both go to the gym for the 5:30 class.

She was done on time, so I went to pick her up. Traffic was ... pretty much stopped. It took me a half an hour to get there.

As we sat on the Queensway, we had this conversation:
Me: Wouldn't it be sad if we didn't make it to the gym and just went to Quizno's instead?
Wanda: No, it would not be sad. It would be tasty and delicious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My "s" key doesn't work consistently. Let's talk about now.

It snowed last night. I know a lot of place have already had snow this year, but this was our first snowfall of the winter.

(Naturally, the zipper on my new winter coat broke last night, but that is a different story.)

The forecast had been for rain, freezing rain, or snow, which seemed to cover the bases. When I woke up way too early for physio, I looked out the window and was tentatively glad to see snow.

Of course, that didn't mean there wasn't freezing rain under the snow, so at 6:30 I went outside, shoveled the walk, and cleaned off the car. Luckily, the freezing rain hadn't happened. My appointment wasn't at 7, so I came back inside and got ready (brushed my teeth, turned on my work laptop so it would be ready for my 8:00 conference call, etc.).

At 6:45, I went out and cleaned off the car.

Physio went well, and at 7:45 I was done. I went outside, cleaned off the car, and drove home.

It's going to be a long winter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Procrastination at its finest

A couple of years ago, I complained that my foot wasn't going in the same direction as the rest of me. It wasn't until a month or two ago that I realized the the result of that injury was that I have no balance when I try to stand on that foot.

I started physio yesterday.

You know you've done a good job when the physiotherapist repeatedly says, "This is really interesting." Apparently, my joint was really stiff and my ankle wasn't bending properly. She worked her magic and gave me some exercises to do at home.

The interesting part to me is that my foot didn't hurt until I started physio. After physio, it hurt - well, more of an ache, actually. The exercises also make it ache.

But I can balance on that foot again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Doctor Is Trying To Kill Me

Last Wednesday, I had a checkup. I also had bloodwork done. Nothing unusual there.

So Tuesday when Wanda texted me to tell me to call my doctor's office, I knew they had the results in.

The thing is, my doctor only calls if something is wrong. If you don't hear from them, everything is fine. I immediately tried to call the office.

The line was busy.

I waited a couple of minutes and tried again.

Still busy.

I waited even longer and tried again. I got the standard greeting and listened until I was told to press 0 to speak to someone.

I pressed 0. It rang.

And rang.

And rang.

After a minute or so, I ended up back at the greeting. I pressed 0 again. It rang.

And rang.

And rang.

Greeting. Press 0. Ringing. Repeat about another three times.

By the time I got to talk to someone, I had come up with about 5 different things that could be wrong. I had mentally rearranged my week to accommodate a doctor's appointment (because they don't give you bad news over the phone).

The results? My iron is a little low (which I told the doctor, hence the blood test in the first place) but within normal range.

My imagination is also fine, apparently.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goodbye, My Love

I think this will be my last session of boxing.

As anyone who's ever made the mistake of asking me "How's boxing going" knows, I used to love it. It was the event I worked my schedule around. Boxing was the reason I went to the gym the rest of the week. It was the way I dealt with stress and the reason I was in such a good mood the day after class.

I'm in level four. I've been in level four for about a year and a half.

After the May/June session, my coach K offered me a choice - move up to level 5 or stay in level 4 one more time. I chose to stay - I didn't feel ready to move up.

I did the summer session. No one moves up in the summer, so I did level 4 again in September/October. I had a different coach, C, and with him it was a straight "not ready to move up yet, you need more intensity".

Up to that point, I had been going in and working as hard as I could. Once I found out I was not moving up, I stopped. I still showed up, but I just didn't try as hard. Now he says things like "good intensity" when in my mind I'm only working hard enough to stay awake.

Yes, I know I'm sulking. I'm also bored, and I'm not getting a good workout.

It's time for something else.

I'm picky, though. It has to be an intense workout. Classes work better for me than doing something on my own.

Roller derby still appeals to me, so that's a possibility (if you can start in January), but I'm not sure what else is out there.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Survive a Layoff (Even If You Lose Your Job)

Understand that it can happen to you.

You're not indispensable. If you don't own the company, you could be one of the ones shown the door. Plan accordingly. This means knowing what skills you have that you can apply to other jobs (or at least recognizing that you have skills that would apply to other jobs).

It also means knowing what your monthly expenses are, as well as having an emergency fund that will carry you for several months while you look. (You may not find a job in two weeks - and that's good, if it gives you time to figure out what you want to do.) Knowing what you actually spend also tells you if you can take a pay cut for a new job - and it shows you where you can cut if you need to. Cable? Not essential. Food? Essential.

If it happens to you, it's not personal.

Well, OK, maybe it is, but most likely you are a dedicated, productive employee who was in the wrong place at the right time. (And if it is personal, do you really want to work there anyway?)

If it doesn't happen to you, it's still not personal.
Keep that in mind. Wish the newly unemployed good luck, and help them if you can. Layoffs are not contagious.

If you're employed, understand that your former co-workers don't owe you anything.
Yes, they were the only one who knew how to make widgets. The company obviously decided that widgets weren't important any longer. Wish them well and let them go - their focus needs to be on what comes next.

You don't get to hold a grudge.
Grudges hurt you, not the company.

If you've been laid off, resenting the company that let you go will just hold you back. It's giving your past power over your future.

If you haven't been laid off, resenting your company for letting other people go will poison your work. It's OK to be sad. It's OK to disagree. But when it comes right down to it, it was a business decision, and the people who made it did the best they could with the information they had. There's no guarantee you would have made a better choice.

Open your eyes.
One of the fascinating things about job hunting is finding out what kinds of companies are out there. There are companies in Ottawa that make barcode readers, and interactive voice response systems, and electronic clipboards for doctors' offices, and HR software, and video production equipment. What have you missed while you were doing your job?

Connect with people.
Your neighbour, your former co-worker, a friend of a friend. Linked-In is a great resource for tracking down people you worked with years ago (as well as people you worked with days ago). Find out what they do and what the company they work for does. You're not asking for a job, you're asking for a their perspective. Maybe you'll end up employed, maybe you'll just end up knowing where you want to go.

And if you're still employed, this is one of the ways you can help people who aren't so lucky - "Sure, I know someone at company X, let me put you in touch with them".

Listen to advice (and then do what feels right to you).
Get someone you trust to look over your resume and give you feedback. Obviously, it would be good if that person were someone who has hired people before, but anyone with a good grasp of the English language can at least point out typos.

You don't have any perspective on your own resume, so consider any changes they suggest - but it's your document, so ultimately it's your decision.

Know yourself.
What will make you happy in a job? You can find a lot of information on the company's website before you even apply for the job.

All things being equal, if I have to pick between two jobs to apply to, I'll apply for the job closer to my house. I don't want to spend a couple of hours a day commuting and I would not be happy in a job that was on the other side of town.

Know yourself (part 2).
What are you good at? What have you done that was a huge success?

Now ... what skills did you use? And what jobs use those skills?

Exercise every day.
It's good for you, it helps you cope with stress, and it gives you a reason to shower and put on pants. (Sure, you should be networking and working on getting a job, but that may not be an every day thing.)

Tell people what you need (but understand if they can't provide it).
An introduction to someone who works at the widget factory? Meeting at a coffee shop instead of a restaurant? Proof-reading your resume? Most people want to be helpful, give them a chance.

Be thankful.
Sure, you don't have a job, but lots of other things are going right for you. Potable running water. Safe neighbourhoods. Lights that come on when you flick the switch. Friends. Family. Focus on what you do have instead of what you don't. No one likes to spend time with someone who's constantly telling you how hard life is.

(I'm still employed. How was your day?)

Friday, November 4, 2011

How I Failed Online Shopping

A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Air Miles Shops. Now, normally I ignore marketing e-mails, but this one offered a 5% -20% discount and bonus Air Miles at Chapters. I had been planning to buy a few things at Chapter, so I figured this was a good opportunity. The discount was available until Monday.

On the weekend, I went through the site and accumulated a shopping cart full of stuff - a Kobo cover, a DVD set, and some kids' books for Christmas gifts. I followed the instructions, put in the promo code, entered a gift card number and a credit card number for the balance, and got the message that the promo code wasn't valid on that order.

I went back to Air Miles Shops and checked the offer. There were no restrictions.

I sent off two e-mails - one to Air Miles Shops and one to Chapters. In both cases, I gave them the promo code and explained what I was trying to do. I asked how I could get the discount.

Both promised a response within 24 hours.

Chapters responded first - on Monday (the last day of the offer). Here's part of their answer: "If you were unable to redeem your coupon at the time you placed your order, we can certainly help. ... we can only adjust your order after it has shipped. Once you receive your shipping confirmation email, please let us know and we will apply the coupon to your order at that time. ... Please note: If the items on your order do not qualify for the discount, we will not be able to process the coupon to your order."

That was nice, but didn't actually help because I still didn't know what items on my order were disqualifying me for the discount. (In fact, I didn't know that it was an item on my order - it could have been the total cost of the order or my mailing address or the zodiac sign I was born under.)

Air Miles Shops took longer to get back to me - five business days, in fact - but they did have the answer. They gave me some Air Miles and blamed the restriction on Chapters, saying that Chapters didn't allow the discount to be applied to electronics and accessories. That's right, it was the Kobo cover that was disqualifying me. However, it was 4 days too late for me to get the discount anyway.

I gave up.

Fast forward to tonight, when I decided to go through the accumulated mail. As is usual for this time of year, I received a Lego catalog. This was on the cover. It was expensive - $79.99 - but I really liked it.

I started checking out that site. I picked a few specific bricks I know my niece will enjoy, then I added that set to my cart.

I wasn't planning to buy today, but before I left the site I decided to see what the price on that set was in US dollars. The answer? $59.99.

I checked out the current exchange rate. $79.99 CDN is $78.58 US.

I walked away.

And that's how I failed at online shopping.