December 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm (Uncategorized)

The post after this one might seem a bit strange.

I just spent a long time on a post.

But now it is gone.

When I added the photo it somehow deleted my post.



I found it!!!!  YAY!!!


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Coffee Makes Everything All Better

December 31, 2009 at 4:18 pm (A New Career, Job Satisfaction) (, , , , )

I try not to drink too much coffee.  I work late and early shifts a lot so it is easy to want to grab a cup and it is easy for me to get addicted again.  I have an addictive personality and so many times I become dependent on coffee even after I get to a point where the thought of drinking it makes me feel sick.

But it really does make everything better!¬† I have a couple of sips and I think that life really isn’t so bad!¬† If only I could convince Josh that this kind of self-medicating isn’t so bad.¬† ūüôā

Yesterday I went to Starbucks.¬† These are special trips reserved for something special, like a day I am going to work a really, really long overnight shift or it’s my day off and I’m running errands or it’s cold outside or I just need a pick-me-up.¬† No, really.¬† Coffee shop coffee really is reserved to once-in-a-great-while.¬† And I usually go to Starbucks because (aside from I know how the coffee is SUPPOSED to taste and can have it done right if it isn’t) last Christmas got me a $100 gift certificate (for $80 from Costco).¬† He knows I don’t like to spend that much for our gifts, but how could I refuse?!¬† And yes, I AM still using that same gift card.¬† I have enough on it for one more drink.

Anyways, yesterday I went to Starbucks.¬† Everytime¬†I am there, it doesn’t matter which one, every time¬†I am there I want to jump behind the counter and make my own drink.¬† They are so darned slow!¬† There are usually 4 or 5 or more behind the counter and they can’t keep up with 5 drinks!¬† Once I was the only person in the store and there was one car in the drive through and it took me 10 minutes to get my frapp.¬† And then it didn’t even taste right.

It makes me think back to my days behind the bar.  Aside from weekends and holidays there were only ever 2 of us behind the bar.  AND there were points in the day where there was only one.  And I got so good at my job that I could handle 5 customers all by myself.  I mean the whole transaction, from ordering to paying to making the drink.  When I was training green beans and the poor bloke at the machine had a line of cups that would no longer fit on top I would jump in and steam milk and start drinks while handling customers at the till.  And when I was behind the bar and I saw a regular in the queue I would start there drink and have it ready before they even ordered and without backing up the drinks that were already ordered. 

And it wasn’t just that I was fast.¬† I was GOOD!¬† Customers liked it when I was behind the bar because my drinks were reliable.¬† When I told one of my customers that I was leaving she exclaimed in her Scottish brogue, “Oh, no!¬† Where am I going to go?¬† You make the best cappuccino!”¬† And even though I was only a supervisor, I felt more like a manager because I ran¬†a lot of the workings of the store.¬† I was respected by those I supervised.¬† They enjoyed working for me.¬† They even told me that I should open up a deep-dish pizza shop and they would all come work for me.¬† I really enjoyed knowing my job inside and out and having the capability to be excellent in what I do.¬† I knew how to be diplomatic with the customers, too.¬† Even with blood boiling I could handle a problem with a smile on my face.¬† This is probably where I learned how to insult someone without them even realising it.¬† I never satisfied a customer at the expense of one of my teammates, though.

Since then I have not felt that way and I think it really affects my job satisfaction.¬† I know I have done good work in my recent jobs, but because there is so much regulation, too many to really learn, especially when the state really isn’t that clear on regs, and because we have so many people to answer to, each one of them having their own ideas about how things should be done, I don’t feel like I will ever know my job inside and out and be the best in my field.¬† I just hope that the new line of work I go into will be different and that I can excel, not just get the job done, but be really good at what I do.

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Jolly Good Fun

December 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Fun Videos) (, , )

I love the Irn Bru adverts and just have to post this one every year.  I have been to every one of the landmarks in this advert!

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December 24, 2009 at 1:21 am (Healthcare) (, )

I am a big advocate for doing SOMETHING about the sad state of our health care.  I enjoyed not having to pay out of pocket for my doctor visits, tests, prescriptions, etc.  And it makes me very sad to see so many people without insurance, the people that need it the most.

I am really tired of paying so much of my tiny income for insurance which we rarely use because we are pretty healthy, yet we can’t risk going without insurance because one hospital stay would really do us in.

I really haven’t read about what excatly it is they are voting on tomorrow, but I heard the President on NPR talking about the things that would come into effect immediately if it does pass.¬† Such as no more dropping people from insurance because they are sick and no more lifetime limits on coverage.¬† But I was incredibly disappointed when he was talking about how it would be nice if everyone could have the same affordable coverage as members of congress.¬† Their insurance costs $15,000 a year.¬† Really?¬† Am I understanding this right?¬† Is this the same ‘affordable’ rate we would all be paying?¬† Please correct me if I am wrong.

I should probably just take the time to go read up on it…

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December 23, 2009 at 5:01 pm (Uncategorized) ()

We have been on the receiving end of some very generous people through our marriage and even before.¬† The first significant act of generosity from friends that comes to mind is before we were married and friends from church let me live with them during breaks in college so I could work and do summer school.¬† It really meant so much to us (it would have cost a lot of money to stay on campus) and ever since then we really wanted to return the favour to someone.¬† The church we went to always had food after the¬†service.¬† Not just snacks but a whole meal!¬† And as the college students, we were always the recipients of any leftovers.¬† ¬†It also meant a lot to us when our friends did so much to support us for our wedding.¬† They constantly asked us if we needed anything and it didn’t matter what it was, they did it no questions asked.¬† College and wedding planning are two very stressful times and we had some very wonderful friends who eased a lot of the stress for us.

We have also been on the receiving end of generosity where the generous person was only concerned about how good they looked in other people’s eyes, held it over our heads in the future,¬†and acted like the martyr for being so “generous”.¬† I hope that I will NEVER be this kind of person.

Since we have been back it has been so much harder to practice generosity.¬† Finances were already strained and we just happened to move back just as the economy took a plunge.¬† I have to confess that I have felt very stingy with our resources and have a hard time loosening my grip when it comes to showing acts of kindness toward others in a monetary way.¬† We meet at a restaurant every Sunday with a small group from church.¬† The fact that we meet at a restaurant has been a sore spot for me because we didn’t really get to eat out much in the first place and now whatever money we had for that has to be spent at a restaurant I don’t even care to go to!¬† But we go and we just order soup or we share a sandwich.¬† A couple of weeks ago it was just Josh and I and 2 college students.¬† Josh leaned over and said, “Can we pay for their meal?”¬† My jaw immediately clenched and for a split second I thought, “Oh, no!¬† The budget!”¬† But after that split second I forced the thought away and said, “If you want.”¬† It was an embarrassingly difficult thing for me to do at this time.¬† Of course the guys fought against it but we won in the end, even though one of them only ordered coffee.

It has always been such a pleasure for us to pay for someone’s meal or entertain with great food or send over a wee gift, but I have been so tight-fisted lately and I really need to loosen up.¬† Now is a time like no other when we need to show generosity.

I was humbled and reminded of my stinginess recently when I opened a couple of Christmas cards and found gifts of cash from people completely unexpected.  I remembered also last year we were sent a $50 gift card anonymously.

When it comes to others I will have to try harder to be less focused on the budget and more focused on giving to others.

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Making Me Nervous

December 20, 2009 at 12:43 am (A New Career) ()

I have been looking at statistician jobs all over to get an idea of the demand, salary, job descriptions, and such.  I came across one description of what would go on in the interview for a job with the Scottish government.   I would be looking at a 3+ hour interview!

The Scottish Government Assistant Statistician Assessment Centre consists of the following elements:

  • Written exercise
    Lasting 1 hour 5 minutes and with a choice of questions
  • Presentation preparation
    You will be given 30 minutes to prepare a presentation based on given information
  • Presentation followed by a Competency Based and Technical Interview
    You will give your presentation and answer follow up questions on it, before moving on to the main interview which should last approximately 1 hour

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December 16, 2009 at 1:46 am (Fun Photos) ()

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Ready For Something New

December 15, 2009 at 6:54 am (back to school) (, , , , , , , , )

Typically a recession will hit social services much later than everywhere else. This happened when we worked in Chicago and it is happening now. We are now hearing news of the economy turning for the better, yet social services are devastated and there is no light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

As is the case with most agencies, there is a bit of fat that can be cut. And again, as is the case with most agencies, the ‘fat’ is cut from the areas that cannot absorb the cuts so well.

I am a DSP, Direct Support Professional. It is an entry-level, low-wage, high-stress, under-appreciated position. The work itself is rewarding. But obviously the bills still need to get paid. When I first started I signed up to participate in this thing called In Train. It is a well known fact that DSPs go not get paid well enough for the amount of work we do, so someone designed a curriculum to get DSPs certified, raising the level of training, and in turn raising wages. The state of Indiana was funding the classes at a community college and our agency was going to be given a grant for each graduate. When we graduated we were promised a $1 raise. It may not sound like a lot but that is more than a 10% increase. I signed right up!

Apparently, less that one year after this thing got started, Indiana decided they were not going to reimburse the agencies that were paying for our tuition and they certainly were not giving a grant for the graduates. Because of this our agency decided not to give us our raise. They told us this after just cutting most DSPs hours by 25%.

Those of us who had put hours into class time, homework, changing our schedules around, losing overtime, losing family time, and many more inconveniences, and REALLY, REALLY looking forward to the raise, were obviously upset. The reasoning we were given was that it was not fair to those whose hours were just cut if they turned around and gave us raises. That excuse didn’t seem very fair and logical for us.

So, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me (and many others). In the midst of all of this I decided that I was going to go back to school. I wanted a trade or something I could do that wasn’t entry level and near minimum wage pay. I had thought for a long time about doing accounting, so I revisited that idea. As I was looking around at schools and classes, I came across statistics and was very intrigued. I could not stop thinking about it. The idea of analyzing data got me very excited. I know, I’m such a nerd.

So I started looking around at statistics courses. I immediately knew that I wanted to get a certificate from a college with a good reputation. As one of my profs said in undergrad, PhDs are a dime a dozen. This is a pretty depressing thought, but it is becoming more and more true as colleges are pushing out degrees of low quality.

Anyways, I was looking at universities in Chicago and the only one I found to offer a certificate in statistics is Loyola. So I have been very excited to start the process of applying and such. To prepare for the math I will need I am registering at the community college to take Geometry/Trig.

This has given me hope to have something to look forward to. It has made things so much more positive for me and I can’t wait to embark on this new journey. It is going to be tough, though because there is no way I will be able to cut back on work and finances will be even more tight. I can’t imagine how we can tighten the belt even more! It will be a 2 hour commute for me as my classes will not be at the Chicago campus, but further north in Evanston.

Hear I am saying all of this and I haven’t even been accepted yet. But fortunately as a ‘mature’ student and as this is only for a certificate, the application process is much less rigorous.

I am so ready for this change!

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December 10, 2009 at 8:14 pm (News) (, )

I really appreciate NPR for their stories that are not really reported elsewhere.  I also enjoy hearing a full story rather than just a little blurp about the latest headline.

As I was driving they had a story about the rise in Down’s Syndrome births, attributing it to the later age that more and more women are having babies.¬†¬†Down’s Syndrome births have increase 50%, from 6% of births to 9% ¬†since 1979.¬†¬†

They interviewed a woman who was saying that Down’s Syndrome folks have also become more visible in the public as they are going to school, some to college, and holding jobs, rather than being put away in an institution or holed up in their house.¬† I thought this story had the possibility of being something positive.¬† I had arrived at my destination but I sat in the car to finish out the story.

Then they had someone in the medical field talking about the tests that are done while the baby is still in the womb that can detect birth defects.  And the last line of the whole segment was something like this:  These tests can now be done much earlier in the pregnancy, when it is easier to terminate it.


My mouth dropped open and I was speechless.

I thought about what the world would be like without the people I know who have Down’s Syndrome and it made me sad.

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December 7, 2009 at 10:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I was thinking about my passport the other day.¬† I think it is up for renewal soon.¬† I was thinking about how important it used to be.¬† I had to use it to show I was legal to work.¬† I had to use it to apply for my NI number (national insurance).¬† I think I needed it for ID at times.¬† It got to see the light of day.¬† It has stamps in it.¬† It has two visas in it.¬† The second one was so pretty and I just loved that it said “residence permit” and “limited leave to remain”¬†rather than just¬†“UK entry clearance”.

Now it sits in the safe.¬† We always did keep our passports locked up, but now it just sits there.¬† And I am not even sure when exactly it expires.¬† But I will get it renewed…just incase.

As I was telling Josh that my passport expires soon he was urging me to make sure to get it renewed right away.¬† I was questioning ‘why?’.¬† He said, “Maybe our friends in Canada will phone us up and ask us to come for a visit.”¬† Ok…¬† Then he said, “What if we win an all expense paid trip to Hawaii?!”¬† I had to laugh so hard.¬† He scolded me for laughing at him and I reminded him that if I would have said the same kind of thing he would never let me forget it.

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Close Up

December 7, 2009 at 10:04 pm (Fun Photos) ()

I love taking close-ups.  These were taken last summer at our agency picnic.  The second one is while Josh and Stevie were in a bouncy castle.

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Starting Over

December 5, 2009 at 11:38 pm (Uncategorized)

I have ditched my last blog. 

¬†I¬†received harrassment from¬†someone I could not ignore and I put the blog on a privacy setting hoping this person would just not visit anymore.¬† Each day when I thought about lifting the privacy setting I thought about the possibility of harrassment and false accusations and just… didn’t have the will.

Here I am again at the beginning of yet a new blog.¬† I do not promise to post any more frequenly than I have.¬† But here is a clean slate.¬† It will still be eclectic.¬† No themes or agendas.¬† I’ll just blether when I feel the need, share about things I cook, and maybe I will actually have something worth talking about (and reading)¬†once in a while.

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