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Archive for October, 2010

Would you give up on this guy?

October 30th, 2010 at 01:56 pm

I think I have a good reason to do so.

Here's the story....

I've had a business relationship with a freelance client that goes back 20 years. He gives me work sporadically, not regularly, but he always calls me when he's got something. He's my oldest freelance client.

Shortly after I started my full-time job, he came to me with a request to help him write a 40-page or so case study, which would likely earn him an educational designation in his field and be a feather in his cap, as only 200 others have this designation nationwide.

He started writing the case study a long time ago but other things get in the way. Like work and family.

So when he asked me to help, I explained that with my new job, the only time I could work on his project was on weekends, He was ok with that and said his goal was to have it done by end of the year. So I reluctantly said yes, becus I, too, feel incredibly stretched for time since starting the new job. It pays very well, and I don't need to freelance anymore, but my full-time job is temporary thru year's end and I may or may not get the perm job.

If I don't get the perm job, then my old freelance client's work would really come in handy. But if i get the perm job, i don't need it, and frankly, there are only so many hours in my weekend and i don't relish the thought of working every weekend thru year's end, which is likely what it would take to get this case study done.

But when I agreed, we scheduled a phone call to discuss the project. I spent a fair amount of time prior to the call reviewing all the emails, attachments and URLs he sent me. I was ready to go, and i'd blocked out part of my saturday to get started on this project. When he called me, he said he wasn't really prepared to talk in detail and could i wait til the following weekend.

Fine. Next weekend he called and again he wasn't ready. He said he had some handwritten notes he had to type up and then he'd email them to me. Never got them.

This was the 3rd weekend. We have a standing 8:30 a.m. Saturday date to discuss the project each week. He sent me an email Friday night saying he was meeting with a builder and couldn't make it at 8:30 a.m. and was there an alternate time We could talk? I emailed him back last night and said how about 4 pm. I never got a reply from him, but at 4 pm I was here at home, waiting for his call. It never came.

So we've had 3 weekends in a row when he's been a non-starter. I'm a little annoyed. He's procrastinating. I realize how hard it it to do this on your free time, but it's my free time too!

I think at this point I'm going to tell him very nicely that he'd probably be better off doing this himself. The problem is that i can't do any of the writing until i basically get a brain dump from him on what he wants me to say. And this requires we coordinate our time, which hasn't been working so well.

I feel I have a better than 50/50 chance of getting this perm job. No guarantee, but i i have such a full plate i really don't want this freelance job regardless. And if i do get the perm job, I'll immediately have to start studying for a securities license (FINRA Series 6) as passing it within 3 months of my start date is a prerequisite of keeping the job. So I'll have even less free time in early 2011 than i do now.

So whaddya think? I hate to leave someone high and dry, but he hasn't made much effort.

Do I have the "write stuff"?

October 30th, 2010 at 05:55 am

So, I've been at the new job for about 5 weeks now. Aside from the guy who's been giving me assignments (he's not my boss), I still haven't really gotten any feedback about my work from anyone in the company. I think becus everyone's so darn busy, and no one person has really taken ownership of me.

Instead, the positive feedback's been filtering back, not to me, but to the agency that found me. Nice, but I'd still like to hear it directly from the people who count.

So the agency guy told me I need to apply for my job (on a perm basis) on the company's website. He noted that the other writer hired when I was, already did so. (Funny, she didn't mention that to me.)

The agency guy said, I don't want to make you feel you're competing against so-and-so (the other new temporary writer). But of course, that's exactly the situation. He more or less confirmed there was just one job opening, exactly what I suspected...that they hired 3 temp writers and never planned to hire more than one of us.

The agency guy reiterated that they're very pleased with me, I've exceeded their expectations and that as far as competing for the perm job, "I'm ahead of the curve." He rattled off 5 or 6 things about me, he said, that were a good fit for them, the right work ethic, the right personality, the right this and that. He even thanked me for reflecting so positively on the agency. I still feel anxious. So much is riding on this job.(As for my "personality" at the office, I would have to describe it as "scared little rabbit."

If I get this job, I can pay off my mortgage in 3 more years, not 6, and it won't be much of a hardship. I don't have to freak about health insurance costs, which would exceed $500/month if I have to go back on COBRA, sans subsidy. I can also save a lot for retirement. I can ease up on the scrimping.

So now I know not only is the job being advertised internally, it's being advertised externally as well. To the world, in other words.

Funny, the agency never mentioned that. She just said if they like me, they will hire me on a perm basis. Guess that was the carrot. Shame on me for not questioning her more closely, but there's something about a lack of work for 12 months that makes you skip the hard questions.

Of course, I'm still racked with ambivalence. I tell my friends and family I'm the World's Most Reluctant Employee. Cus I'd really rather not be working at all (or at least full-time).

I guess half the population shares that sentiment, so I'm not alone. So I know, of course, that if I get the offer, I WILL take the job. It's just that I need to whine a little. Thanks for listening.

Another busy day (what else is new?)

October 23rd, 2010 at 01:58 pm

I REALLY wanted to go on the foliage train ride with my friends today, but I had a few obligations that made that difficult.

Namely, my oldest freelance client, who wants me to help write a case study for him. We had an 8:30 am conference call and he wasn't really ready to talk about the project (2nd consecutive week). It didn't really matter, as he'd also assigned me another blog post, so after I hung up from him I spent 2 hours writing that up. Mission accomplished.

I had about 30 minutes time to run to meet my friends, but I needed a break from the writing.

So after a light lunch of pea soup, and after waiting for the caffeine from a cup of tea to kick in, I decided to get started painting my office.

Several years ago I wallpapered 2 of the walls, and that's when I planned to paint the other 2 walls becus they no longer matched.

That's how long it's taken me to doing this, but I took advantage of some paint on sale at Ace Hardware and bought a gallon of paint that ended up costing just $8.

As usual, the blue on the swatch looks "different" than the blue on the walls, but I'm still fairly well satisfied with the results. Out with the dingy yellow, in with the sky blue. It only took me 3 hours, and all my furniture is back where it belongs. I turned the heat off and the opened the windows to ventilate, and I'll have to close the windows soon.

Tomorrow I may meet my friend for lunch and hit Costco in the morning. I saw a good Netflix movie last night called "Mostly Martha." If you like "foodie," feel good movies and don't mind sub-titles, you'll really like this one.

Autumn arrangements

October 17th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I was watching the morning news today and I got inspired by a piece on autumn window box arrangements. It seemed so easy.

I decided to make my own arrangement, mostly using plants from my yard. Here's the first one:



In this one, I've used Eastern White Pine branches, pinecones, sprigs of winterberry, dried hydrangea flowers, dried fern pods and miniature gourds I grew and purchased from the store. Following the advice of the guy on TV, I sprayed a clear lacquer on the gourds to preserve them til spring. I used pieces of bamboo garden stakes to stick into the bottom of the gourds after cutting a small hole through the bottom of the gourd. This way, the gourd can be propped up and not fall to the bottom of the display. You could do the same thing with those wooden chopsticks, if you have some on hand, or with straight but sturdy tree branches.

Here's another one I did in a basket which doesn't look quite as good.



And I really like my new shoes:



I've got a big pot of pea soup cooking on the stove. I love the flavors of diced celery, parsnip, carrot, potato and onion in it. I used to also love to add sliced kielbasa, but my life is nitrite-free now, so I bought some nitrite-free hot dogs which I'll throw in. I would've liked some Italian sweet sausage, but couldn't find nitrite-free there, so the hot dogs will do.

I mowed the back lawn and part of the front, collecting a whole bunch of leaves up in the process, some of which I dumped in my veggie garden.

I also did my best to pour concrete in the long, wide crack that developed last spring at the bottom step of my front stoop. I did a rather messy job, but it if keeps water from infiltrating, even for just 1 year, I guess it will do the job. I'd been bugging my builder guy all year to do it and he's told me umpteen times he'd be over to do that and some other stuff he started, but he hasn't come, and we're toward the very end of decent weather for concrete-curing.

This guy is perfect in every other way that's important in a contractor....reasonable rates, very good work and actually quite a nice guy I enjoy talking to, but when it comes to just doing the job within a reasonable timeframe, that just doesn't happen. It makes it worse when he says he'll show up and then he doesn't.

I had been hoping to get together with a friend today, but her daughter was coming to visit and well, if I had seen my friend, I surely wouldn't have gotten all this other stuff done.

The weekends go by so fast.

Miss this place!

October 16th, 2010 at 01:46 pm

Now that I'm working again, seems the only time I have to post is on the weekend.

I got my first full paycheck. Got paid $4,000 for 2 weeks, sounds great, right? Net of taxes it was just $2,724.

My weekends continue to be as busy as the weekdays. Not much time to stop and smell the roses! That should improve soon.

Today, I:

1. Waited for my freelance client to call me around 9:30 am and we just went over the basics of this big job he wants me to; we scheduled a weekly conference call for each Saturday at 8:30 am until this job is finished, which I'm guessing won't happen til end of year.

It's the last thing i want to be doing in my limited free time now, but this company is my oldest client and I want to keep them around.

2. Headed back to the mall for a haircut. I got bangs this time, and it's pretty short. I like it. $19 including tip.

3. Since i was at the mall and still feel i need to expand the wardrobe, I hit a shoe store where i picked up some good walking shoes that will look decent with dress slacks, Macy's and Sears. I had various coupons but didn't find anything at Macy's or Sears.

4. Then I hit Dress Barn, and bought 2 blouses and a corduroy jacket. Even with their coupons, I find them more expensive than other places, but they do have a good selection.

5. Filled up the gas tank.

6. Wal-Mart. Bought several cases of cat food, some insoles for my shoes and new wipers for the car.

7. Stopped at Xpect Discounts so i could buy their cheap suet for the birds. .59 a cake. Also got some other odds and ends there.

8. Stopped at the local craft fair. Bought a $12 set of pretty earrings.

9. Stopped at grocery story looking for organic apple cider but no one seems to have it this year. I have yet to try Stop & Shop.

Otherwise, work is fine. With my first full paycheck I transferred $500 to my online money market account,which had shrunk a great deal after I paid off a big chunk of my mortgage.

I will be throwing $500 into that account with each paycheck, so that'll be $1,000 a month toward savings, plus another $1,000 a month extra toward mortgage.

Here's some pix of where I work:



My company takes up most of the building. Yes, they are a well-known company.

In the image below, there's a large circle in front of the building where you can sit and eat your lunch, by that fountain. It's pretty nice.


Here's the new shoes i bought today:

I'm so pooped

October 10th, 2010 at 01:14 pm

Driving home from work Friday, I was so tired. The work week just catches up with you. I was looking forward to a quiet evening at home with my Netflix.

There was a message on my machine from my mother telling me she was in the hospital. I called the hospital but they had no record of anyone by that name being admitted. I learned later my mother had used her legal name, not the professional name she's used for years, and the one I identified her by.

So I sat around for about 45 minutes wondering where she was, and why. Then she called me and needed a ride home. She had a bad reaction to some meds the doctor gave her for some really bad arthritis in her hand.

I got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the highway heading down there, adding about 40 minutes to a 25-minute ride. I learned the next morning from the TV news that the cause of the traffic, and the cause of the eventual closing of the highway, was this: a state trooper pulled over a car that had been reported stolen. The driver shot at the trooper. The trooper shot and killed the driver, and 2 others in the car ran away.

Turns out the driver had been featured last month in America's Most Wanted. He had been serving prison time in VA for armed robbery but escaped.

Picked up my mother, dropped her off at home and then home again.

My mother told me today she ended up going BACK to the hospital later that night! OMG.

Saturday am I had the furnace guy come and adjust the fan so the banging noise I've been hearing each cycle has stopped. Seems the home energy audit, where they sealed the joints on the ductwork, did TOO good a job, and the banging noise was actually the ductwork being sucked in and out.

After that, headed to the podiatrist for an old problem causing a sore foot..back in summer of 09, a shard of glass or cat hair penetrated my foot. The podiatrist I saw back then said the original irritant was gone, but whatever penetrated my foot caused a small callus to form, which feels exactly as if a small pebble is embedded in my foot. He didn't really do anything about it, so podiatrist this time did some scraping at it and put some medicated lotion on it; I have to return for another round in 2 weeks. It's still sore.

Ran down to the mall to return a 2nd blouse I decided I didn't need. Stopped at Trader Joes, filled up the gas tank and picked up groceries elsewhere as well.

Had dinner at a friend's house last night..swordfish, asparagus and homemade (not from a box!) brownies.

Today was "supposed" to be my easy-going day, but I ended up mowing the lawn, cleaning up the garage so I could park my car in it again, setting more mousetraps, sweeping the driveway and walked out on the roof over the family room to clear the pine needles out of the gutter. Then I noticed a good-sized crevice along the top of the garage ceiling where it meets the shared wall between the garage and basement. THAT'S how the mice are getting in, I said to myself. One spot, anyway. After considering nailing a board/trim along there, or caulk, I realized expanding foam would work best, and lo, I had a can in the basement. I did a very messy job of it, but it will work. Now that it's dry, I can try to cut off excess foam with a razor blade to tidy it up, but I'm too tired right now.

How it's goin'

October 2nd, 2010 at 06:26 am

Got my first paycheck yesterday, It was a small one cus it was just for 3 days work. The next one will be a biggie. Smile

On day 6 at the new job, the other writer who started the same day I did was terminated! Don't know why, just told they were "having some problems" with him, which surprised me becus he seemed easy to get along with and competent as far as I knew.

I guess it takes someone getting fired to reassure me I'm doing ok. Because after working largely on my own with very little feedback on how I was doing for 6 days, I started feeling uneasy because I really didn't know what they thought of me. And as a brand new employee, that's an uncomfortable feeling.

But after they let the other person go, I was reassured by both a staff person at the job and the recruiter that I was doing fine. The recruiter said the company was "more than ecstatic about the level of your job performance" and the staff person said they were "so happy with the way I fit in so quickly."

Wow. I was really surprised, but relieved.

In other news, September was a very spendy month, to the tune of $4,200 in expenses, due to some really big bills that came all at once: $638 for my annual sewer loan payment, $410 for Waldo's vet visit and $700 spent on clothing and foot wear for the new job. I know that sounds terrible for the clothing, but with that money I bought:
1. 4 pairs of dress slacks
2. 3 pairs of corduroy pants
3. 1 pair of boots
4. 1 pair of shoes
5. 2 sweaters
6. 4 blouses
7. 1 suede jacket
8. 1 light rain jacket
9. Lowered the heel on 2 pairs of shoes at cobbler
10. 1 outer wear vest
11. 2 bras, 2 panties, 6 socks

Sounds like I completely re-outfitted my wardrobe, but I guess it was mainly for 2 reasons: 1. the new job is NOT business casual,and 2. I put on about 12 pounds over the past year, causing me to go up one size. While I was out of work I didn't care how I looked so much and I got by in my jeans and t-shirts.