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Archive for January, 2012

The Dying Gaul: A+

January 31st, 2012 at 11:21 am

Wow, what a great movie this was.

If you appreciate a great plot, well-developed characters, great acting and an unpredictable storyline, you'll really like this movie.

i had never heard of it before and didn't recognize any of the actors, so I wasn't expecting much.

I was so fascinated by it that i even watched the alternate ending on the DVD and deleted scenes, something I don't usually do.

I'd love to discuss parts of it with someone here as I missed some of the dialogue, but I hate to give away much of the plot.

OK, here's just the beginning storyline:

A beginner screenwriter has just written a story based on his relationship with his gay lover, who recently died of AIDS. A big Hollywood film executive tells him he wants to make it into a movie, and that he'll pay him $1 million for it. But there's one catch: he doesn't think the story, as written, will have mass appeal, and he wants the screenwriter to change it to a heterosexual love interest, not a gay one.

This poses a big dilemma for the screenwriter, becus the project was personally meaningful. He decides to do it, and he ends up spending more and more time not only with the film exec, but with his wife. The two gradually become fascinated with the screenwriter, for very different reasons.

What I liked so much about the movie is how each of the characters is only gradually revealed you you, layer by layer. So the movie starts off with three very bright, sophisticated individuals, and as certain secrets are themselves revealed, each of them acts in very unpredictable ways.

Turns out what i thought was worn rear brake pads was bits of rust and corrosion from a rusty wheel drum flaking off. Cost me $50 for it to all be cleaned, so i consider myself lucky there.

It happened again (shiver)

January 30th, 2012 at 02:57 pm

When I was about 22 years old, I had recently graduated from college and was living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One night my girlfriend and I (she had gone to the same school I had) were at a bar and met a really cute guy. My friend ended up dancing with him that night, but I ended up dating him for a while. He even lived with me for a short time when I was lonely after moving up to southern Vermont a few years later for a newspaper job.

At the time, I probably didn't exercise the best judgement about men. I liked him because 1. he was handsome and outdoorsy and 2. he drove the cutest little MG convertible, a stick shift, which he let me borrow or drive on occasion.

However, it was just a total mismatch. I was a young college grad, a bit brainy but adventurous and finding my way in the world, and he was a carpenter with a really pronounced Boston accent.

Things ended up badly after I decided to break things off with him and made the mistake of telling him I wanted to date other men. He twisted my arm up behind my back in a painful way while we argued in a restaurant parking lot. He said he wanted to hurt me the way I had hurt him. I thought my shoulder was going to pop out of the socket. Someone from inside the restaurant called the cops when they heard me scream, he took off, the cops arrested him for attempted battery with a deadly weapon (his car), yada yada yada. I've told this story here before.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. I'm in my 50s now. Around 5 or 6 years ago, he somehow tracked me down. My phone number, anyway. I don't think he knows where I live except that it's Connecticut. So every year since then, on Christmas, birthdays, sometimes Easter, I'd get a call from him all cheerful and wanting to talk about old times.

I really want nothing to do with this guy. I told him I was married just to get him off my back. Didn't work. I told him in no uncertain terms not to call back. I hung up on him several times, only to have him call back and act all hurt. One time, he happened to call when my then boyfriend was over, and I put him on the phone just to scare him off.

So this past year, when Christmas and then New year's went by with no call from him, I figured I was finally home free.

Wrong. He called today. The last person I expected in the middle of the day, as I was finishing up some freelance work. He says, hey, how ya doing, in a real friendly way. I said, Who is this? And when he said, "Mike," I said, I told you not to call me again, incredulous that, in fact, he had. He said, oh, I've been having dreams about you and I wanted to see if you were ok. I said I was fine and quickly ended the call.

I'd thought about reporting him to the police, but to do that, I'd need to have his phone number. He gave it to me before, but I never bothered to write it down becus I knew I would never want to call him back. Each time this happens, I say, well next time, just ask him straight out for his phone number and then once he gives it to you, tell him you'll give it to the police if he calls again. But he caught me by surprise today and so of course I forgot to do that.

I also considered that even if I did have his number, it might not be such a good idea to hand it over to the police, because if the police called him, they would have to identify themselves as "X-town Police Dept." Which would reveal the name of my hometown.

While it's easy enough these days to find someone's location online, I don't think he uses a computer. He's always worked as a carpenter and roofer, so it wasn't part of his vocabulary.

I need to look up how to block a given phone number. That's probably the best thing. Should have done it a long time ago, but the calls, while unsettling, are infrequent enough that I don't have that code you dial near the phone at any given point in time.

I sort of feel sorry for him becus often when he calls he sounds down and depressed, but gosh, if you want to dig out of a depression, the worst thing to do is reminisce about people who used to be in your life a good 30 years ago; better to find someone new!

He acts like it's perfectly fine to reconnect with someone from your past, but he seems to forget that's ONLY all right if the other person wants that too!

it gives me the creeps.

On a positive note, I'm feeling much better again today and finally getting rid of the cold. I also was able to knock off 2 of the 5 freelance jobs I got from my client: a blog summarizing all the positive housing news in the press of late, and a press release, probably the 5th one I've done for a new single family home subdivision that's been selling very well since they began construction early last year. They've been building it out in three phases, about 10 homes in each phase. Each time I do a press release, I need to come up with a new news hook for the release; otherwise, it'll just sound like an ad and the paper might not publish it.

Tomorrow I've got to bring my car in to get the back brake pads done. I usually go the dealer, but decided to try a mechanic my mother really likes. Could be cheaper than the dealer, but my experience last time I went elsewhere than the dealer was that the local car repair shop was just as pricey. But I'll give this guy my mother uses a shot. But to do so, I've got to drop it off, have my mom pick me up and then hang out at her place until the mechanic calls with his prognosis and price. I sure hope it doesn't take all day. At least at the dealer,there's a pretty comfortable lounge/waiting area where you can get some free coffee, watch TV or work on your laptop, if you have one. Perhaps that's what the dealer's high prices are paying for. We'll find out.

Tomorrow at my mother's, I hope to begin work on the 3 remaining assignments, 2 standalone bios for 2 execs and a write-up about the division as a whole, to be used both in-print and online. They're trying to go head to head in certain states where they're not just up against other real estate companies. In those cases, no big deal, they just gobble them up and take them over. But in certain cases, the competition works more like consulting companies, so my client, a real estate/mortgage/insurance/relocation company, needs to position itself as more of a marketing agency with the resources of the brokerage behind them.

I was having a little trouble conceptualizing everything so I'm glad I called to discuss all this with the marketing director there. They usually just give me stuff with not much direction, which is fine with me, and is only something I think I can do because I worked on staff for this company back in 1988-1990, and again for 2 years around 2000, so we have some history together. But every once in a while, I need to ask a few questions. Smile

Did I just ruin my chili?

January 28th, 2012 at 03:27 pm

I was in the mood for some turkey chili today, so I got the whole thing going this morning. It's been cooking on "Low," since 9 am and is supposed to be done at 8 pm, in another 2 hours.

I was feeling nervous about the beans, because I used dried beans. About 2 cups black beans and 1 cup red kidney beans. I know from past experience that you really need to cook them in WATER, not chicken broth or any other kind of liquid other than water, becus they just won't cook.

But that's exactly what I did, hoping it might work. The only liquid I had in the chili was about 2 cups of very watery tomatoes i had frozen from last summer's veggie garden, and I was hoping that would be enough.

So I decided to taste it now, and while the black beans are ok (I must have partially cooked them before freezing them) the red kidney beans, which I soaked overnight, are still pretty hard after 8 hours of cooking!

I read on the plastic bag for the kidney beans that you need 4 cups of water to cook them til soft. So I hated doing it, but I heated up 2 cups of water and added that to my lovely chili, making it very watery. I'm hoping the beans will absorb all that extra liquid.

I turned the temp to High and am hoping that will do the trick in another 2 hours. Either that, or I'll be eating dinner around midnight.

What do you think?

On the mend

January 28th, 2012 at 02:26 pm

Well, geez,this cold seems to be taking forever to run its course. I believe I have a little more energy today and am hoping by tomorrow I will really feel better. There are periods in the day I can breathe through my nose, which is a relief.

I ended up getting that p/t job as project editor at the publisher's. I start Feb. 6. Not really looking forward to it; it's all about the money, which is minimal, but better than nothing.

So I have one free week before I begin working 3 days a week for them. I've noticed a sound in the right rear of my car when i step on the brake, and I assume it's worn brake pads. So I want to get that fixed before I start this job. The Honda dealer said it would be $300. I also emailed a friend who works p/t at a service station. He had once told me he could get me a discount on common car repairs, so now we'll see what he can do.

I also have a few freelance jobs backed up that I haven't attended to due to being sick. Three or four assignments with one client. A blog, a press release and 3 bios. OK, that's five.

I've had some turkey chili going all day in the slow cooker. I used dried beans and I sure home they will cook. Most of the liquid is from some watery tomatoes from my summer garden, from the freezer. They were soaked overnight, but not cooked, but it's been going since 9 am so again, I sure HOPE they will be soft and cooked becus fishing them out of everything else would be a chore.

Unbelievable

January 26th, 2012 at 08:54 am

i had a job interview lined up for this Friday for a web copywriter....a "real" job with salary and benefits...really looking forward to it, but I was trying to get a hold of the woman who had called me just 2 days ago to set up the interview time to see if i could reschedule it for early next week, due to my cold.

I really wanted to be 100% when I present myself as a candidate for the job,and I knew I also needed several hours to prep for the interview and pull my portfolio together.

I can barely keep my eyes open and I'm breathing thru my mouth with dried up snots in my nose, hardly the image I want to present them.

She wasn't in when i called this morning a little after 9, and i was surprised i didn't get a call-back relatively quickly. So i called her back a little before noon. When I said, I'm really looking forward to this interview, but i've come down with a bad cold, could we possibly reschedule, she said oh, that's ok, i was going to call you anyway.We've decided not to hire for this position at this time. Something's come up and we've just decided not to hire right now. But I'll keep your resume on file, etc.

What is going on???? Every job I think I have keeps slipping from my grasp.

So looks like I'll have to settle for the p/t job grossing $375 a week. That is, IF I get it.

I got another job interview

January 24th, 2012 at 11:38 am

Just got a call from another company whose job posting I responded to last week.

It's a FULL-TIME SALARIED WITH BENEFITS job as a web copywriter with an Internet marketing company.

It may not be a perfect fit, but I'm pretty sure I'm at least a 75% fit. They want someone with diverse writing experience doing web content, press releases, blog posts and articles. That's definitely me, and just like what i did at my last f/t job at a personal finance consumer website.

They also want someone who knows both AP and Chicago style. I know AP.

They want someone who knows basic HTML for linking and keyword research and writing SEO copy. I can do this, although I guess we were spoiled at my last job becus there was a dedicated person who did all the keyword research for us writers.

But they also want someone with knowledge of Hoot Suite, Facebook, Twitter etc. Although I have accounts with Facebook and Twitter, I don't at all feel fluent in them and rarely use them.

So the interview's set up with 2 people for Friday afternoon. It's about a 50-minute drive. Of course, it would be far preferable to the publishing job.

And as I feel like the imminent end of unemployment benefits is looming overhead, along with an expected big jump in the cost of my COBRA in June, the timing, if I got the job, could not be more perfect.

How my interview went

January 24th, 2012 at 09:50 am

Just back from my interview at the publisher's this morning.

I think it went pretty well, better than expected. You have to remember that when I saw that, after the editor in chief had emailed me to ask if I'd still be interested in the job after they decided to change it from full-time to part-time, and then they posted the position on the job boards anyway, I actually felt a little betrayed by that.

Well, I'd forgotten to consider that they are looking to hire TWO p/t project editors, so even if they had decided in their heads they wanted me,they still needed to post the other position.

When I walked in there, the editor in chief was talking to another gal who works there, and the other person stayed there thruout my "interview," which was more like a friendly conversation and the editor showing me on her monitor what the files and filemaker docs looked like and how they updated them. It was a quick breeze-through, of course, and it would require some training.

While I certainly have learned not to count on ANYTHING, it did sound like they had sort of already decided before I arrived that they planned on having me fill one of the two openings.

I felt comfortable enough that toward the end of our talk, I decided to be very transparent about what I perceived to be my shortcomings as far as this job goes, and that is, my lack of knowledge about Quark and Filemaker. So I asked if it might make sense, if I knew I was going to get the job for instance, if I enrolled in an online tutorial for either or both programs. They basically said no, it's not that hard.

Then I said, gee, even if there was one of those Quark for Dummies books or another Quark or Filemaker manual lying around the office, if I knew I was getting the job, it would be great if I could take it home so i could study up on it before starting, just to try to get a leg up on it.

The editor swiveled around in her chair and picked up a Quark manual on her desk and waved it in the air. I felt comfortable enough saying in a kidding manner, Does that mean I have the job? They both laughed, and editor said she had to talk to her boss first.

When i left and was saying goodbye to both, the other gal said "See you soon." So I got pretty good vibes.

It may simply be becus, as the editor acknowledged at one point, it's hard to find good people when you're only paying them $15/hr. Yes, i confirmed that is still the rate of pay, but she pointed out that I will have more money in my pocket becus the company would be paying my FICA taxes and treating me as a regular employee, not a freelancer.

she said they're moving away from freelancers because there were some problems with availability. Some of the freelancers had small kids and not all were "invested" in the job the way they would like them to be, and some freelancers' work was inconsistent with others. So for all those reasons, they want to hire 2 p/t project editors who would be responsible for a total of 3 (not 2, as I thought) annual directories. the editor said she didn't feel that one person could do all 3 directories full-time becus it was just too much work. So that alone may have been the reason why they changed the job from f/t to p/t. I had assumed it was a purely money-saving move.

She wants to make a decision next week and have both positions start on Feb. 6.

So it looks fairly positive. It won't at all be an easy job. Learning new software always makes me feel a little apprehensive and it looks like it would be the ed in chief herself who would be training us; she tends to race through stuff very quickly, so this has me feeling even more nervous about it.

At least for the first month, they'd want us to work at least 2 full days in the office and then the third day could be at home. Sounds like down the road, it could be more work done at home, but it would require a lot of copying and updating the database on flash drives and bringing that back and forth, a little inconvenient. They have extra Macs so I could just bring one home and keep it there for when I worked at home.

So we're looking at $375 gross a week, 3 days a week, and of course that would supplement my existing freelance work. It won't be enough to live on once I lose my unemployment benefits in April but for now it will be ok. And of course if I start Feb. 6, it will further delay the end of my unemployment benefits I would think at least through May.

My monthly net after taxes would be about $1343. The bare minimum I need now to pay expenses is $2300, so once I exhausts unemployment benefits, I'll have a sizable shortfall of $957. Once my mortgage is paid off hopefully some time next year, my minimum monthly expenses would drop to $1740 and my monthly shortfall would then drop to just $400, which I can more realistically make up for at least partially with my other freelance work.

Put another way, it's certainly not a "cure," but it will slow the loss of blood.

In other news, I think I'm getting a cold. Hopefully will be rid of it prior to any work start date.

I also heard back from the husband of the husband/wife realtor team for whom i wrote that blog post. They only anticipate getting new blog posts once a month! It doesen't surprise me on the one hand, as the real estate market is still very slow. But no shot at this being anything other than a small $50 monthly injection into PatientSaver's household.

Keep on truckin'. That's all you can do.

Work as a tonic for what ails you

January 23rd, 2012 at 02:41 pm

There's nothing like work to perk me up if I'm feeling gloomy and pessimistic.

And now I have some.

Here's what's going on in the next 2 days:

* 2 phone interviews lined up with 2 guys with my oldest (real estate) client; i need to jazz up their bios as they're trying to emphasize their marketing prowess to builder clients.

* the interview with the publisher for the p/t job

* Also, I wrote a blog/article for a Century 21 husband/wife team on "pitfalls to avoid when applying for a mortgage." These were the people who offered the really miserly rate of pay and I was able to talk them into "trying me out" for 1 story at $50. They assigned it last week with a couple of keywords and I turned it around in a day; took just under 2 hours. I got word back today that he really liked it. Which allowed me to gracefully segue into my next question, which was ideally, how often would they like to get fresh content for their blog? I'd love to make it a regular thing. Even 1 a week would be great, at $50 a pop, = $200 extra a month. Fingers crossed. I don't know that they'd want to commit that much money to a blog, especially given that business is very slow, but you never know.

And my dad and SO are coming up Wednesday for the rest of my firewood, and then we'll go out to a nice dinner.

So a busy next two days. I'm in a better frame of mind now. Smile

I've spent a good part of today prepping for my interview; I also got out for a walk around the block and used my snow rake to get the snow off the lower few feet on the roof, having learned how damaging ice dams can be. There's not much snow up there now, but it will refreeze tonight, so just to be sure I have no problems, I got out there with an aluminum step ladder and it was pretty easy.

An interview tomorrow with the publisher

January 23rd, 2012 at 06:22 am

I pretty much mentally wrote off anything happening with the publisher after seeing that they reposted the job, in its latest reincarnation, on the job boards.

But she contacted me this morning to continue the email exchange from last week about my coming in to talk to her about it.

So it's set up for tomorrow at 11.

Based on the latest job description, I don't feel I will likely be the most qualified candidate, as I don't know Quark or FileMaker, the two programs they mentioned would be a plus. So the only edge I think I have is the fact that I did a portion of the work as a temporary worker and I'm a known quantity. I will have to convince them I can learn new software quickly (which I hope I can).

My old friend R. is still telling me not to accept $15/hr., if that's what the pay is, and to hold out for $25. I usually really hold his opinion in high regard, but in this case, I think he's a little removed from the work world and is a little off base here.

This is a small outfit, so she just may tell me the pay rate right at the interview, just as she did when I interviewed for the contract job. (I'm guessing it'll be $15/hr as a worst case scenario and will be pleasantly surprised if it's any better.)

My thinking is, if that's all they've decided to pay, they won't likely budge. It's not like they're a huge company. I'm guessing they have less than 25 employees. I think they might be a more inclined to adjust pay for a f/t position, but for p/t, I'm guessing not. So we'll have to see how it goes.

I will also need to assure her that 20 to 25 hours a week is "fine" with me, and that I'm content with that kind of arrangement for the long run. Obviously she won't hire me if she thinks I will bail for something better later on. My mindset is to take whatever I possibly can, even while knowing this won't be enough for me, especially at their low pay rate. So it's possible if, down the road I get the job that I will likely at some point have to leave for a better job and leave them in a lurch, but you know what? Not really my problem; employers do that to employees all the time, with no notice at all. It's how the game is played.

It's snowing

January 21st, 2012 at 11:10 am

We have about 4 inches on the ground and it seems like it's winding down. I see a snow shovel in my future.

Just wanted to say thanks again for the incredibly kind and encouraging words from all of you on my latest job-related disappointment.

It was odd that she never got back to me on Friday after I answered her email that yes, I was still interested in the scaled back (p/t) job and when next week would you like to meet?

This a.m., I saw that they had posted the job on CareerBuilder. I guess that means I'm not a shoo-in and that they will be going through the whole candidate selection process once again.

I toyed with the idea of reapplying on the job board just to reaffirm my interest, but heck, she knows I'm interested. It kind of would feel like groveling. Instead, I applied today for an editor job doing puzzles for a small publisher about 50 minutes away. This job is full-time and offers benefits, so though I sense it also would be low-paying, I applied due to the medical coverage and normal benefits.

As soon as I pay off the mortgage, money will be less important than medical coverage. Of course, I still want to make as much as I can because I will reach my financial goals more quickly, but in terms of getting by, I can do so with a very low salary IF they offer standard benefits.

I've been having these anxiety dreams, usually in the form of me driving in a car and losing control. Either I can't seem to find the brake pedal or, more often, the car is careening backwards off a cliff or rolling down a hill, and I know that in a few split seconds, the car will hit a tree or something and I'm scared out of my mind. Or sometimes, I dream that I've witnessed a crime or have another urgent need to call 911 but the phone won't connect the call or I wait and there's no connection or I get an interminable busy signal and I keep running to look for other phones to try or to spot a police officer and time is running out.

Last night I made a pretty good frittata with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, caramelized onions, fresh basil and I think it was about 5 eggs. It would have been even better with bacon or ham, but I've given up processed meats for health reasons. Asparagus might also be a nice addition. It was super easy to make and even fit in my toaster oven.

I am still feeling very negative about employers in general. I think what happened is the publisher didn't realize that by asking me if I'd be interested in a full-time job, it really, really got my hopes up. And then it was just sloppy of them to have done so, becus it then turned into a p-t job. I suppose they could care less how it might personally affect a job-seeker, and she probably doesn't realize how much I WANT and NEED a f/t job, but still. Get your act together first before putting out feelings to possible job candidates.

I'm trying not to dwell on it but it may take another day or two. I guess it hurt a little more becus I've already worked with these people and would hope they'd be a little more ... human about it. It's like dangling a carrot in front of a starving person and then saying, hmm, well, I don't know, how about a half a carrot? But you know what? Maybe I won't give you any carrot at all, I really have to think about it.