Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

I got a phone call last night from the California school in search of a grounds manager.  If they can set it up, they want to do a video conference interview, so all their committee members can be present, and will I be available on Wednesday?

Whoa, Nelly!  That's a lot of horses to hold.

1) I have neither a camera nor a microphone, so the video interview (or even Skype, which the woman suggested as a backup, in case she couldn't get the video part coordinated on their end) isn't feasible for me.

2) Wednesday is the day I begin my move back to N.M., and I will be on the road from Wed. 10/31 through Fri. 11/2.

3) But, I do have a friend (Gimpy) in N.M., who has a camera and microphone on his computer, so I could do a video interview at some point after that.

4) Yes, that would work, but one of their committee members will be gone from 11/1 to 11/16.

The H.R. rep. said she'd see what she could work out and call me back.  (Since it was already after 5:30 p.m. her time when she phoned, I'm guessing she means today.)  I gave her my new cell. phone number, so she can still reach me after my landline is shut off tomorrow.

I hope to keep you updated, but I'm not sure when I'll have web access again after today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Timely but Unwise Metaphor

Yesterday, I asked Thing One over to judge the outfit I selected to carry with me in the car, in case I have an in-person interview scheduled before I get whatever job I'm going to get.  She did that and more.  She packed two boxes of my owl figurines (watch them be the only two without any getting broken) and other stuff (I still can't find the marking pen that I had set aside to label all my boxes).  She recruited two of my neighbors to help carry furniture to the POD I rented.*  (My computer desk and chair are still in place, but my TV is now on the floor, and the only thing I have left to sit on is my Adirondack-style loveseat I brought in from the front porch.  My bed in still intact, but that's because I can dismantle it and carry the pieces by myself.  (Plus, I kind of enjoy not sleeping on the floor.)

The rest of my apartment is a shambles.  Everything which I hadn't boxed up yet is now on the floor.  Some of the boxes I had put out are shoved around.  Things which I had put in specific places are no longer in those places, and I'll be darned if I can find them now.  Everything happened in under two hours.  I call the effect "Hurricane Thing One".

* In the interest of fairness, the Pack Rat company offers similar moving/storage opportunities.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hooray for Dollywood

I have lots to do before I move, so taking a day off from preparations probably will hurt me, but I applied Australia Rules and, besides, I needed a break.  I went with Elmer and Mrs. Fudd to Dollywood yesterday.  It was a nice break.

First off, I couldn't sleep in, as I've become accustomed to.  I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. so that I could leave at 6:00 to arrive at Elmer's house by 7:30.  (That included time for getting lost, naturally, as he lives in the middle of nowhere and, because we're at the far end of the time zone, it was pitch dark the whole drive, so I kept having to flash my brights to read the street signs, and I missed the road anyway, since it was a funky intersection where three roads converged, and the sign I was looking for was not the one closer to the intersection.)  Then it was to be another two hour drive from there to Dollywood.  The actual travel time was longer, as we had to stop for them to have breakfast (and a second, but small, breakfast for me) and to buy mushrooms.

Yes, I said mushrooms.  There's a factory called Monterey Mushrooms at exit 72 on Interstate 75 where they raise mushrooms, and any not selected for market are boxed or bagged up and put in a refrigerator at the guard shack for anyone to drive up and buy.  According to the friendly guard, the crops harvested vary, and so do the times, so you could even show up at 2 a.m. and get some, or they might have one species one day then not again for three weeks.  Yesterday, they had white, button mushrooms (5-lb. bag for $4.00), large portabellas (6-8 in a 10-lb. box for $12.50), and "baby bellas", which were small like the buttons but colored like the portabellas (5-lb. box for $10.00).  It's just as well I don't care for mushrooms, as I certainly couldn't eat that many before moving.  (If you want any of their leftover compost for your yard, it's $30 for a small pickup-load and $35 for a large one.)

First up at Dollywood was an 8-buck charge to park the car.  (All of a sudden, shelling out $3 to park all day in downtown Noog doesn't sound so steep.)  The tram ride to the entrance was a nice courtesy, but the lots should be restriped for ease of figuring the way in/out, not solely for squeezing the highest number of cars in the lot as possible.  (I presume all the surly teens or twenty-somethings were back at school and thus weren't available to direct cars.)  It's a good thing we showed up fairly early, so we made it to Lot C instead of D or E.  (There was a surprising number of patrons there.  Yes, it was a Saturday, but tourist season is over, and it was cold and cloudy and threatening rain all day, so why weren't we the only ones there?)

It's not just rides and overpriced gift shops and overpriced food outlets in Dollywood.  There also were booths with craftspeople demonstrating how they made the items, which you (naturally) could purchase.  People were making belts, wooden musical instruments, glass, various wooden knickknacks, etc.  Many of the music shows this month were of a gospel theme, so we listened to snippets of one of them, a bluegrass trio, and a 1950's-themed a cappella group (some of the missing twenty-somethings, but they weren't surly).  We browsed through the gift shops (couldn't even find a T-shirt I liked), and we weren't about to shell out big bucks for the overpriced food ($17 per adult for the country buffet, but $2 cheaper at the fried chicken buffet, and I'm not paying no $7 for no funnel cake!  We had lunch/dinner at a restaurant down the highway, after leaving the park.)  The show featuring injured or human-imprinted (and thus non-releaseable) birds of prey was nice – or maybe I'm saying that just because the show included a Great Horned Owl and an Eastern Screech Owl.  (They played the typical call of a Screech Owl, and I think that was the sound I heard for the only time during one of my walks earlier in the week.  I've heard a Great Horned Owl in the neighborhood several times.)

"But, Cap'n," you ask, "didn't you go on any rides?"

Well, yes, but only a couple.  I didn't go on any roller coasters because I won't go on any that take you upside down, and the only one that didn't would take you sideways, and I didn't think I would like doing that, either.  And, based on previous experience, I don't do well with rides which spin me rapidly in circles.  So, we went on the carousel (a much gentler circle), where some punk kid beat me to the dragon and some punk man beat me to the ostrich, so I had to settle for a horse, and we rode on the narrow gauge train (built in 1943 for use by a mining company in Skagway, Alaska) for a 5-mile loop through the park and surrounding area.  Some of the rides were designated on the park map as gentler, but Mrs. Fudd said they were intended for small children, so I probably wouldn't have fit in them in the first place.  One of the water rides had been shut down already for the season, and no one was on the other one (because it was so chilly), so they shouldn't have bothered having it running in the first place.  (If you don't want to walk around wet after that, you can stand inside a drying chamber afterward – for $3.00.)

We spent 5-6 hours at the park, and I could see spending all day there and not experiencing everything, if you wanted to.  On top of that, the entry price of $57.00 per adult suddenly becomes more affordable if you buy a season pass for $86.00 and go at least twice in a year.  (The Fudd's did that, as their young grandchildren visit them several times a year.)  So, if you want to go on every ride (i.e. if you're not a chicken like me) and listen to every show and watch/talk to every craftsperson, go for the season pass, and you can spend as much time there as you want.

The area around Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton's hometown (When she was growing up, do you think she imagined there ever would be a 6-lane, divided highway in her little town?  And it's paved!) is crammed with [places calling themselves] antique stores and outlet stores, so you could spend an awful lot of time and money in that community if you want to, and we didn't even make it to Gatlinburg yesterday, and....

Yes, I have pictures, but I want to fill up my disk first, and then I can post a couple here.  (I didn't take many in the first place, since you can imagine most of the cutesy, country-themed facades on your own -- or you can perform a Google image search.  Yeah, like that one.)  That is, if I have time before leaving the Noog.  I called to schedule the last day for my utilities, but I still have to get my mail forwarded (which involves a trip to the post office, because stingy old me isn't about to pay a dollar for the convenience of doing so online), and....

Sigh.  It was nice to have a day off, though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

May you live in interesting times.

My fortune cooky says, "You will take a chance in something in near future." Um, I'm already taking chances, thanks.

Speaking of chances, I saw the posting for "Parks Administrator" in Las Cruces, NM.  I don't want to get my hopes up, of course, but wouldn't it be nice to go back home and be paid and live in my condo again?

Naturally, this song comes to mind.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Are two birds in the hand worth one in the bush?

What if it's a really big bird in the bush?

I mentioned earlier that I have two upcoming first-round interviews.  Yesterday, I e-mailed my application for a job that, based on its description, would suit me very well:  grounds manager at a college in California.  So, then, what if one of the two interview companies wants me?  Do I accept because it's an offer and I need a job, or do I hold out in the hopes that the job that I like likes me as well?  And then if they don't want me, I'm stuck, right?

Friday, October 19, 2012

What's a conscientious recycler to do?

Are you familiar with "flats", those plastic trays which hold the flowering plants you buy at the nursery?  How about the "cell packs" or pots they come in?  What do you do with them after you're finished planting?

You can't exactly throw them away.  They're useful, after all; maybe you'll need them again some day.  You can't throw out plastic; it can be recycled.  Maybe the nursery will wash and reuse them.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Here in the Noog, nurseries won't accept them back.  (One of them claimed it was a state law which prohibited them from doing so.)  The "big box" hardware stores won't take them, either.  One of them said, if I live in the Noog, I can leave them out for curbside recycling, which accepts plastics #1 through 7.  That would be nice, but for I live in an apartment, so I'm not eligible for curbside pickup.  And, wouldn't you know it, but the drop-off recycling centers accept only #1 and #2 (plastics, that is).

So, those things still sit on my porch.  I don't want to move them with me... but they don't take up all that much room, do they?

This is what comes of being unable to throw things away.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two for Two

I received a second e-mail about a job interview.  This one is for a landscape company in San Antonio.  (That's Texas, not New Mexico.)

That opens up the possibility that I might have to choose a job.  Okay, that's not such a bad thing, especially after almost two months of searching, but decision making has never been one of my strong suits.

During my walk this morning, I brought up pro's and con's of the opportunities.  San Antonio is closer to my mom, but Baltimore would be more of an indoors job.  Both cities have ample places to live and interesting things to do and to explore.  Of course, I don't have an idea yet what either position will pay.  Last night, I started a spreadsheet of expenses vs. income for each city, for a practical way to compare living necessities, if not the jobs themselves.

My mind went on to other things, but just before I opened the door to my apartment, it popped into my head that San Antonio has the edge, if only because of its proximity to my mom, its similar cost of living to the Noog, and the lack of state income tax.

Monday, October 15, 2012

And you thought your local gym was a "meat market".

For some reason, it didn't occur to me to enter "horticulture" into the job site search engines, rather than "grounds" or "landscape".  It did narrow the field quite a bit, but it also presented some interesting results.

Apparently, having a degree in horticulture makes me eligible to be hired as a Meat Inspector.  Even better, Funeral Home Director popped up in a search.  "General knowledge of horticulture" was way down on the requirements.  I think I could do that job, though, once I get my certification in embalming.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Step in the Wrong Direction?

The good news is that I finally got pinged for a first-round interview phone call.  The bad news is that it's in Baltimore.

Well, there are plenty of good things about Baltimore, and I enjoyed my one trip there (to the Inner Harbor) in high school.  It's also close to the Noog (a long day's drive), so it shouldn't be much trouble for me to move there.  The negatives are that it's even farther from my mom than the Noog is, so visiting won't be any easier, and, even worse, I can't imagine how I've even made the first round of this job.  It was my shot in the dark.

The position is Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds Operations.  (I won't say where yet.)  I figured that I know plenty about grounds and I could learn about other facilities stuff.

The selected candidate will manage and provide planning and direction to support the strategic initiatives for the recycling and moving crews, lighting maintenance and re-lamping, pest control and grounds.

Well, when I look at it again, it's not so much of a stretch.  I've done recycling, pest control (outdoors, at least), and grounds, and how hard could it be to oversee someone who replaces burned out light bulbs?  The only thing I'm unfamiliar with is moving (but maybe I'll learn something as I – ahem – move there.)

My other doubt is if this will take me to my level of incompetence (read The Peter Principle).  Will I be promoted beyond my ability?  Can I do this job, at least until something more suitable comes along?  Will anything more suitable come along?  I've seen lots of job postings for general facilities and slim to none for grounds.  Do I need to bite the bullet and give up my precious plant care for something that will make me employable?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Three Down, Twenty to Go

I received an e-mail informing me that I am not being considered for one of the many positions to which I applied.  This one was generated just three days after I submitted my online application, so why don't other companies reply that quickly?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Maybe I'm driving the wagon.

Seriously, I need someone to restrain me when I go into thrift stores.  On the brighter side, I did get some more books that I can read during my move to wherever, along with the owl figurines and pictures.  Plus, even though I never look at clothes in thrift stores, that sportcoat at the end of the rack was calling to me.  It was charcoal gray and fuzzy, so I decided to try it on.  It didn't have a size or maker, but the label inside said 100% camel hair.  By some freak of luck, it was a perfect fit.  I bought it for $18.00.  After I got home, I did a web search.  Some stores sell camel sport coats for $150.00.  Some sell them for $500.00.  One (whose link I can't remember) sells them for over $1,000.00!  (I'm guessing that camel is hand-raised.)  In any event, it appears I got a deal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


You might recall this post, in which I described fixing my vacuum cleaner.  Well, it turns out that I hadn't done such a wonderful job as I thought.  Sure, it seemed to be vacuuming my bedroom rug okay, but I did have to run it back and forth more often than I thought I should have.

Yesterday, I tried using the hose-and-tube attachment to get the little bits of grass and whatnot that had collected at the base of my bed.  Surely they should've been sucked up, shouldn't they?  When I placed my hand over the tube, though, I felt nearly no suction at all.  I pulled off the tube and looked through it; no blockage.  I placed my hand over the hose; little suction.  After shutting off and unplugging the vacuum (safety note:  always disconnect your power source before you work on anything), I opened the compartment, and the bag fell out.  It was (for all intents and purposes) empty, and no debris came with it.  Where was all the stuff I had been vacuuming over the past several months?

I saw that dead leaves from my office plants clogged the exit of the suction hose, even though I (thought I) had cleaned them all out months ago.  After several attempts to get them all, I knew my fingers wouldn't reach far enough, so I looked at where the hose entered the other side of the vacuum and figured out that I could remove the hose.  I did so and removed more leaves.  Some dust fell out, too.  Finally, I had cleared the blockage.

Okay, then, why was the vacuum still not picking up the little bits of grass and whatnot?  I removed the hose again.  Naturally, it was too long and wiggly for me to look through, so I held my hand over one end and blew into the other.  Nothing.  Aha!  It must still be clogged.  I placed one end over the trash can and blew into the other end.  Nothing.  I blew harder; I might've felt something shift.  I took a deep breath and blew again -- and two sausage-like clumps of dust fell into the trash can.  (Eww.)  I blew again, and two more followed them; then I was blowing clear.

Okay, I really mean it this time.  I well and truly fixed my vacuum cleaner.  When I turned it on, it growled and clung to my rug like an animal.  It sucked up everything on the first go and didn't leave trails for me to revacuum.  It even sucked up the little bits of grass and whatnot.  Yay!

On top of that, I tried it on my vacuum storage bags (see also this post).  First off, the hose pulled itself onto the vents on the bags like a predator on prey.  Second, the air left the bags as quickly as intended.  You see?  The problem wasn't the bags; it was the vacuum cleaner.

Well, one of the bags was the problem.  After I finished and shut off the vacuum, I heard a hissing sound; it was air leaking into one of the bags.  I located the hole, covered it with a small piece of packing tape, and resuctioned.  It held.  That's two things fixed.  Am I a genius, or what?

The only thing I haven't figured out yet is why two bags slowly regained air by last night.  I think I'll open and reseal them before suctioning today.  If that doesn't solve the problem, I'll just cram them into moving boxes right away, so they won't have any room to expand with more air.  My brain is tired; I don't want to have to solve any more problems this week.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Don't call us; we'll call you.

Still waiting for that call!

Even though no one has told me that they do not want to hire me, I haven't been called for any first-round interviews, either.  It's very discouraging.  (Follow-up calls to verify they received my application haven't made any difference.)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

I apologize. I take it back.

I'm sorry for whining the other day about how "cold" it is getting.  I had the chance of hearing the Minneapolis-St. Paul weather forecast last night:  low in the 20's and high in the 50's.  Why should I complain about our temperature dipping below 50 last night?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Time to Unpack

It was over a month ago that I lost my job and had a flurry of "gotta get packed to leave" motivation.  Unfortunately, I didn't have to move yet, so all the winter clothes I packed because I wasn't using them will be needed this weekend.  Cooler temperatures have set in, so I need to open my vacuum storage bags and switch around my sweatshirts and shorts.  It could be worse; I could've sealed them all in cardboard boxes already.

Friday, October 05, 2012

New Drinking Game

I'm going through my season one DVD's of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, and I just thought of a great way to get plastered.

1) Every time one of the characters says, "I don't know," take a drink.

2) If Freddy says, in his often overemphasized tone, "I *don't* *know*," take two drinks.

3) See you under the table!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Oh, Nuts

One thing I won't miss when I leave the Noog is the walnut tree outside/above my apartment.  My first year here, before I learned it was nuts hitting the roof, I pondered what on earth the squirrels were doing up there.  In later years, I learned to think nothing more than, "There goes another walnut."  This year, though, they must be larger or something because there are tremendous thumps when they fall.  I'd hate to be beneath one!