January 13 - November 13, 2010

January 13, 2010
» What has happened to Wal-Mart?

Dear Wal-Mart,

As a long-time shopper it pains me to write this... but it must be said. Things have changed between us, and not for the better, I'm sad to report.

Yes, you and I had it good there for a while. But for the last year -- or is it two? -- I can't help noticing that the spark has gone out of our relationship. And by "spark" I mean "pricing that used to save me money". Seriously, I'm trying to live better, but when I'm shopping at your store, it's harder and harder to save money.

Did you think that your reputation for low prices would blind me? Do you think I haven't noticed those games you're playing? I'm no longer falling for the old Rollback Trick, where you raise the price on a product significantly then drop it a little bit and tout the so-called lower price. In your brazenness, you frequently do all of this over the course of mere days: at least give me time to forget! And then there are those products that I purchased from you regularly -- until you inexplicably doubled their price. Why, Wal-Mart, why?

You've left me with no choice. I've started seeing other retailers. Oh, sure, I still darken your door, but more and more, I'm frequenting your competitors, comparing their prices to yours. And you know what I've found? Some have consistently better prices, at least on the things that I'm buying. Where you have failed, they're coming through for me.

So, thanks for the memories. I'll always(?) cherish the times we shared, but I'm moving on. I'm sorry, but it's not you. It's me.

On second thought, it IS you.

Love Sincerely,


February 7, 2010
» I'll fly away

Last week I took the second business trip of my new career -- the second of many, I'm told. Since that's pretty much all that's going on in my life, I'll recap the highlights... hmm, let me put that in quotes... "highlights" of the trips:

Trip #1 -- Seattle, Washington

Trip #2 -- Augusta, Georgia

Jeff said that some people he works with are impressed with my new traveling job, and my first thought was, "Obviously, they've never traveled like that, or they wouldn't be impressed at all." It's true that traveling is taking some adjusting to, but I'm trying to make the best of it. I just remind myself that I could stay at home all the time -- and still be unemployed.

February 13, 2010
» photoblogging, travel edition

I've started a photo essay to document my business travels. Alas, since it is business travel, I'm not getting to see many sites, so I look for those little things that are the "essence" of the trip. The first shots are posted at my fotki account:

March 11, 2010
» and that is why Chinese combos have numbers

Since I started my job late last year, I've been going to Bojangles for lunch about once a week, after learning that they serve breakfast all day. (I am *all* about getting eggs at a place where I don't have to tip.)

However, it soon became apparent that there is something about the way I say "egg biscuit." Something mysterious. Something... unrecognizable. On more than one occasion, in trying to call the order back to me, the cashier is all "Steak biscuit?" "Eight biscuits??" "Elk basket?!"

In an effort to be more clear, I decided to change the phrasing, maybe give the cashier a chance to get used to the sound of my voice. So I order my side item first, as in, "I'd like a side of the Cajun pintos and an egg biscuit." Yes, beans with breakfast food. Maybe that's what's throwing them off? Anyway, that worked a time or two, but then this week, after finishing my sentence I again notice the cashier studying my lips. And there's the slight delay as if their brain is working to compare the sounds I've just uttered with anything in their memory banks that would apply to their menu. (In my mind, I can picture Frankenstein having a similar problem: "Unk buhskit," he says. The cashier stares blankly. Frank repeats himself a bit louder: "Unk! Buh! Skit!") Finally, a look of recognition as the cashier says, "Oh, egg biscuit."

In relaying this story to the fam, I declared that next time I plan to try some sort of accent. If that fails, I may have to look into getting a voice coach.

Or maybe I'll just write my order down.

April 2, 2010
» tripping

I've been home for a few weeks, so I'm a bit late in recapping my last two business trips, but ... oh well! Work-wise, I feel like I'm slowly learning what I need to do, although the boss is still too busy or distracted (or maybe dismayed?) to offer much feedback at this point. :shrug: I carry on.

Anyway, trip "highlights":

Trip #3 -- (Small Town), Kentucky

Trip #4 -- Tucson, Arizona

Pictures are posted will be posted as soon as I move the photo gallery away from the ad-infestation that is fotki.com.

April 20, 2010
» please read the letter

"Please read the letter. I nailed it to your door. It's crazy how it all turned out; we needed so much more. Too late, too late -- a fool could read the signs. Maybe, baby, you'd better check between the lines." ~ Please Read the Letter by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

I suppose it's true that when you give someone a gift, it becomes theirs to do with as they please, and you shouldn't be angry with them for not using it the way you think they should. I mean, it's theirs. A gift with restrictions isn't much of a gift.

On the other hand, when you give someone a letter, don't you expect them to read it? Last August, I told my boyfriend about my websites. At that point, we'd been dating for four years, and it finally seemed like the right time. I saw it as inviting him to know more about me, a part that previously -- for whatever reason -- I'd felt like keeping to myself.

After sharing the link to my blog specifically, I cautioned him that sometimes I'd ranted, and though he seemed undeterred, I anticipated that his feelings might be a little hurt. Still, in my more optimistic moments, I'd pictured one of those so-called rants sparking a conversation between us to address the problem, thus improving our relationship. At the very least, I was hoping for some mention from him of some small comment I've made that he found funny or thought-provoking or just worth repeating. I'd even written that such a mention would make me feel great because I've told him how important it is for me to feel I'm being heard.

What I DIDN'T anticipate, was that he'd show no interest whatsoever in what I had written -- or am writing.

I kept waiting for feedback, but after a few weeks passed with no word from him, I'd broach the topic by citing some website project I was working on. To each comment, he had no response whatsoever. And for Jeff, who has an opinion on just about everything under the sun, this is significant. I finally asked him directly a few months ago, "Not to put you on the spot, but have you had a chance to look at my websites?" The reply was a curt, "No." (Doesn't that sound as if he's read it and it bothered him?) I said, trying to be casual, "Is there any particular reason why? I didn't scare you off with my warnings about ranting, did I?" "I just haven't had time."

And, although I think that's a pretty weak excuse -- is it not true that we make time for what we want to do, for what's important to us? -- I decided not to bring it up again. I've been trying to look at it as I wrote above, as a gift to him that he can use (or not!) as he sees fit. However, now any time he mentions doing anything computer-wise in his free time, *especially* some blog or fanfic he was "checking out", my feelings are a little hurt. "He's got time to read ALL of that stuff, but doesn't have time to read mine?" Right. I can't help feeling that it's not lack of time, but complete lack of interest in what I have to say that inspires him to avoid my sites.

I can picture any guys who are reading this rolling their eyes at my being such a girl about this, wondering why women want to overanalyze things. Well, news flash, fellas: we think about things that are important to us! And for relationships like girlfriend-boyfriend, right or wrong, we're looking for validation that it's worth pursuing, that the end result will be worth working past the rough spots. And news flash, Jeff: we've got some problems, and I know you know this, because in those two minutes we've talked about it in the past year, you admitted that things have "cooled" between us. If you did read the blog and are bothered by what you read, WHY are we not talking about it? And if you're really not reading it... do you care at all to know what I'm thinking? Are you content with just having someone to call a girlfriend? Apparently. Do I have commitment issues? You betcha. But ignoring the problems doesn't make them go away! Yet, as you may have also noticed, I bring them up less and less, not because they're not still problems, but because you don't want to hear it.

Which is sad, really. We can only go so far in neutral.

May 6, 2010
» new photoblog

After discovering that my old photo gallery host had started using those hyper-annoying pop-ups that try to take over one's computer, I made it my mission to relocate my photos ASAP. And I'm happy to report that it's done!


While I was moving, I also took the time to reorganize the pix, so now they're sorted (mostly) into years, from 2010 waaaaaaaaaay back to 2003 when I got my first "serious" digital camera. Check it out, and note that it allows visitors to comment on the pictures. Hint! Hint!

June 6, 2010
» just for a moment I was back at school

Once upon a time there was a girl. The girl went to school, and from sixth grade to eighth grade, she had a huge crush on a certain boy.

Alas, the girl moved to a new school after eighth grade. Time passed, and she graduated from high school and then from college. She went to work -- at more jobs than she cares to admit, actually -- and finally settled into something resembling a career.

And in the meantime, computers -- which the girl always loved -- saw huge advances in their capabilities and popularity. Someone invented the Internet... and other people *claimed* to have invented the Internet... and, anyway, the girl spent many, many happy hours on-line, connecting with people and sharing her thoughts.

And then one day the girl made her weekly visit to a certain social networking site and noticed that several of her friends were now friends with... Middle School Crush Boy! After a moment of debate (given that he had known about her crush, and she'd hate for him to think she was now some kind of stalker), she decided to go ahead and send a friend request. The girl's sister then scolded her, and the girl was all, "WHAT? I'm not trying to date him. It's just nice to reconnect and see what people have been up to."

And then two days passed, and she'd received no response, and she oh-so-briefly (and oh-so-irrationally) felt the sting of rejection once again.

And she marveled that technology has, apparently, advanced so far as to be able to transport her back in time.

June 30, 2010
» the birds

This morning, as I was about to leave the apartment complex parking lot, a big bird (a falcon?) and a normal-sized bird (didn't see what kind) swooped into view in front of my car before flying off straight ahead. Now, I've seen this kind of thing before, and I tend to think that the smaller bird is trying to distract the bigger one away from a nest. This time, however, they had gone maybe thirty feet when the falcon snatches the smaller bird right out of the air(!!) and goes to land in a nearby tree. Seriously, the smaller bird lost a few feathers.

I stared wide-eyed after him/them for several minutes. Then I thought, "This doesn't bode well" for the shift I was about to begin at work.

As it turned out, the small bird was the only one who had a really bad day. :moment of silence for the bird:

July 21, 2010
» work wah wahs

After last week ended on such a high note at work -- namely getting a compliment from one of the bosses on my performance in a meeting -- this week started out in a deep pit, as an error that our team collectively overlooked came to light.

They told me clearly at the start of these projects, "XYZ is your part of the effort." So I've been diligently working on the so-called My Part. Last week's mistake was in the part of the project that was supposed to come to me already done. I'm not trying to make excuses... or maybe I am, a little bit. I feel so defensive about this because, somehow, it seems like everything that goes wrong is made to be my fault.

For example, when I asked a question earlier this week about some work that was passed on to me, the first thing the boss says is, "Well, so-and-so isn't an expert in this." Okay, A) neither am I (even close to being) an expert, and they've been doing it longer than I, and B) My question wasn't intended to point out anyone's "lack of expertise." I was simply trying to learn what I'm supposed to do. See point A.

And on a teleconference yesterday, the boss said to me specifically, "Is there anything else we can do to help you... understand?" I felt like replying, "Am I somehow conveying that I DON'T understand?" Apparently the boss mistook my listening politely to the others rambling on as a sign that I was not following the conversation. (Note to self, next meeting say "AMEN!" whenever anyone else makes a point.) It seems like, while everyone else is supposed to be so much more experienced -- just ask them! -- when they make a mistake it gets excused. It also seems as if the advances I make, such as last week's good meeting, are not as important as my general (and rampant, in their eyes) lack of knowledge.

Compounding my frustration on this is that, except for last week's compliment and the occasional "good catch" after I bring up a point, I have no idea how my bosses think I'm doing. Despite my griping above, I really do like the work, at least most of the time. I'd like to ask for some feedback, but I'm afraid that if I try to bring up the points I just listed, it'll sound like whining... which it pretty much is. Sigh.

Or should I say, "Wah"?

July 25, 2010
» six billion people to choose from, and he calls me

I'm absolutely boggled: Ray, one of my exes tried to call me yesterday! :O

Since I haven't mentioned him in a long while, let me summarize the experience of seeing him by copying and pasting what I wrote back in October of 2002.

He's ten years older than I am, which actually didn't bother me so much. He's divorced and has four(!) kids, all teenagers or close to it. Without going into details, let me just say that he and I are *very* different personality wise.

Instead of making a clean break -- the honorable thing to do -- he'd just stop calling for months at a time. Then, just as I'd accept that it was over, he'd call again and swear that this time he wanted only me. I finally got fed up with that and grew a spine. In January of 2001, I left a voicemail message saying that I was going to start seeing other people and that I'd see him "around." Sure a voicemail is pretty cowardly, but it's still more respect than he showed me. I needed some type of closure; there was no way I'd spend Valentine's Day wondering whether or not he'd call.

In the nine years (!!!) since we parted, he has tried to call me several times, the last time being maybe 2005, to tell me that his 15-year-old daughter was going to have a baby. Then he was all, "Let's get some coffee and chat." And I was all, "Um, I haven't lost my mind, so that'll be a No."

The last I heard of him was a few years ago, when my sister saw him at the store where she works. He'd told her that he was getting married. But as she pointed out, "He did say then that he'd call you..."

And I wondered then as I'm wondering now: "WHY?" If he has good news, or bad news, or is just feeling nostalgic about the so-called Good Old Days, whether or not he's re-married by now, at this point it's positively PITIFUL for him to feel that he should try to reconnect with me. I've repeatedly shown -- and said! -- that I'm not interested. Maybe he calls himself just trying to be friendly; well, I certainly have no hard feelings for him (any more), but that's a *long* way from wanting to hang out and/or talk to him.

I doubt he'll ever read this, since I (am paranoid and) do not put my real last name anywhere on any of my websites. But just in case, if you're a pitiful guy named Ray who keeps calling an ex named Anne who dumped your disappearing, cowardly buh-utt with a voicemail message waaaaaaaaay back in 2001, do yourself everyone a favor and find a way to move on!

September 6, 2010
» by the numbers III

Recently, currently, or soon...

0 -- calls from my ex, since the last post :sigh of relief:
0 -- things happening at work that are worth mentioning
0 -- times I have seen, or plan to see, "Avatar"
0.5 -- inches to be cut off during my next hair appointment
$1 -- admission price for a ticket at the local cheap theatre, which I frequent
1 -- websites I've closed (or "downsized") this week
3 -- of my largest websites still on my To Do list for a layout overhaul
3 -- times I've seen "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"
4 -- movies recently borrowed from the library
5 -- August 5th, 5-year(!) anniversary of Jeff's and my first date
6 -- Christmas gifts already purchased
12 -- trips to the movie theatre so far this year
50 -- degrees, the low temp overnight
64 -- age of the movie star I've been obsessing over, since his movie "The Expendables" opened a few weeks ago
94 -- Facebook friends (2 requests pending)

October 15, 2010
» sarc(h)asm is no way to bridge the gap

As an update to a previous situation [see April 20, 2010 entry above], I present two snippets from my most recent email to Michele.

I have been waiting to vent since Saturday. As Jeff and I were sitting down to eat, he mentioned things he'd read at two different websites. So I took the chance to inquire, "In all of this website-reading, have you had the chance to look at mine?" "Not lately." I felt like pressing the matter with, "Um, exactly how long is lately?" But he then proceeded to say, "Oh, I might need for you to send me one of the addresses again, because I lost them. When I moved to a new computer..."

Okay, I'm really trying to appreciate his (FINALLY!!) being honest and to not be petty about this but there is SO MUCH about this that bothers me. First, again, I wanted to press the matter and ask when exactly he moved to a new computer, because he'd told me (when I previously asked about the websites a few months ago) that he'd have time to visit them during his vacation, which was in August. Second, he cares so little about it that he waits until I ask him point blank about them to mumble, "oh, yeah, could you resend that?" Along that line, he obviously doesn't care about them -- or ME -- at all to even remember ONE of them in the first place?! (This makes me especially peeved because as I've said, he prides himself on remembering tons of useless trivia -and yet! He can't remember what matters to me. Un-freakin'-believable. )

I'd suspected many months ago that the reason he wasn't emailing me is because he'd lost my email address, and I'd say that's all but confirmed, with him asking me to send them to him. At that I did get a little venom-y and replied, "We haven't emailed since 2008. Why break tradition?" And about re-acquainting him with the websites, I wanted to respond like a typical scorned woman and withdraw with a chilly, "Don't bother." Again, I know it's petty, but I have no intention of sending him the websites' link again. He didn't care to visit them in over a year, despite my repeatedly saying how much that would mean to me -- and him saying repeatedly that he WOULD visit them!

As I said, this really threw me for a loop, and I was quiet for a few minutes. Then I tried to get over it and finally responded to his attempts at making conversation, but now I kinda hate that I "gave up" so easily, because (as ever) he really, truly doesn't understand that he lost even more points there. When he talked about losing the address, he wasn't even apologetic; he was just stating facts, like he does.

A few days later, I finished the letter with the latest development.

About Jeff, I did see him yesterday, and I did manage to bring up the websites thing. I broached the subject by referring to an article I'd seen this week which said that women tend to apologize more than men. (That's sort of a "Well, duh!" but the article went on to say that it wasn't because men thought apologizing was weak (or whatever) but it was because they had a higher "threshold" of what they thought merited an apology.) Then I was like, "Along those lines..." and I simply explained that my feelings were hurt when he confessed that he lost the websites' addresses. I didn't want to beat a dead horse, but I did want him to understand why, and I pointed out how he prides himself on a good memory yet nothing about not even one name or one of the 20(!) topics of websites I have stood out to him...? And that I'd repeatedly said how important it was to me to be heard (esp. with the sites) and he'd repeatedly said that he'd visit them, even as recently as during his vacation, "yet that came and went without a word about them." He listened quietly, and I don't think he felt too beat up on, which was good. I wasn't trying to put him on the spot; I didn't really even expect him to say anything in response. I explained that I simply wanted to get that off my chest, "and maybe later, if I decide to share the sites with you again, you'll make a little more effort to visit them? Maybe." Then I let the subject drop and moved on to another article I read.

Will this little speech change anything? :shrug: Who knows. At least I'm trying! As with my previous efforts, I was pleased with having said something, and in a way that I didn't think was harsh.

I've very recently been thinking about that truth "you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." Like when I tried talking to Jeff about my hurt feelings, and I acknowledged that it might not change anything, but I'm trying. It's actually kind of unrealistic for me to think that I'd say a few sentences, and he'd understand them perfectly, and respond perfectly. 'Cause you know, I don't understand or respond to people perfectly either. I think that's why the Bible so often repeats itself on important matters: because we're all works in progress. Maybe when we understand that -- in ourselves, and in others, and in our relationships with each other -- we can find the patience it takes to stick with them and work on it.

November 13, 2010
» photo by number

Because I don't have much to report -- work is very slow, free time is very busy working on a certain website overhaul -- I'm posting the links and stats of my most popular photos, as ranked by flickr. (Note: since I filled up my free flickr account in 2008, I've been posting the newest pictures at my other photo gallery, and I'm not sure that the new site ranks views, alas.)

Without further ado, here are direct links to each picture, the description I wrote for the pic, the number of views as of minutes before this posting, and the date the pic was posted to flickr.

The pond and the skyline in downtown Huntsville, Alabama.
320 views since being posted on 3/23/2008

... and this is what I actually look like with chin length hair. I decided on this 'do after seeing a picture of Mariska Hargitay in next week's issue of TV guide (page 30, I think).
93 views since being posted on 4/20/2008

At work, I was finally given double monitors, and OOH, are they nice! (Hmm, you think the higher-ups will expect this to double my productivity?)
90 views since being posted on 4/20/2008

This is the back of my new haircut. (And there's my trademark for this type of shot: a closeup of my hair at one side.)
77 views since being posted on 4/20/2008

At one end of Bridge Street Town Center there is a Westin hotel.
70 views since being posted on 4/13/2008
[W Hotels Fan added this photo to their favorites. (31 months ago)]

The swank fountain mentioned in p032208a can be seen near the center of this shot. This swank canal runs into the fountain pool. (They pretty much tried to "swank" up the whole area.)
48 views since being posted on 3/23/2008

Watch out for the spurty fountains!
42 views since being posted on 4/13/2008
[Similar Bridge Street pix had about the same number of views.]

Of the 20 or so pictures I took of the Houston skyline -- most of them from a distance -- this one is my favorite.
32 views since being posted on 11/12/2007

This is my after-the-haircut shot. I got an inch trimmed off the bottom layer(s), and the dear beautician attempted to style my hair.
30 views since being posted on 3/11/2008
[Similar hair pix had about the same number of views.]

I took this shot the day I discovered that they'd painted the local Wal-Mart orange. o.0
29 views since being posted on 6/2/2008

This is my favorite picture so far of my latest haircut.
26 views since being posted on 8/5/2008


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