Monthly Archives: November 2005

Bah Humbug

Seriously. What is wrong with me?

I should be giddy that Thanksgiving day has come and gone, marking the start of the holiday season (OK, OK, the official start, since we all know that the stores have been pushing the shopping aspects of the holiday season since shortly after Independence Day!), and that my sweats and a steady stream of DVDs have been the focus of attention for the remainder of the long holiday weekend.

Better yet, the local middle-of-the-road radio station started playing Christmas songs a few days ago (OK, that’s when I happened to stumble upon the fine chords of Bing Crosby singing a duet with David Bowie). Christmas music. I have always loved Christmas music. Some of my most treasured memories are triggered by the notes of Christmas songs.

And still, here I sit, feeling very angsty about the fact that another year has gone by and I am still employed in a seemingly dead-end job (or sure, you can give me more duties and abuse my desire to always give 100%, but it’s still the same dead-end company), cash poor and single.

I guess I should turn that negativity around and say that I’m thankful to have a job, that the debt is a reminder that I live in a country that supports freedom of choice (hey, nobody forced me to use my credit cards) and I don’t have a daily battle with a significant other that drains me of my energy and patience.

Oh, and while I’m professing my thanks, I should state that I remain thankful for my family, my small yet much loved circle of friends, the shelter over my head, the car that gets me from point A to point B safely and the freedom and safety that continues to be mine thanks to the fine men and women in uniform who sacrifice their lives daily to ensure that democracy’s flame is never extinguished.

And I’m forever thankful to Amazon.com.

Anything to avoid the throngs of people at the mall.

Heroes Amongst Us

I don’t know about you, but whenever the pity party gets going a little too loudly in my head, I need a dose of reality to remind me just how freakin’ good I have it. And that my continued freedom is directly related to the fine men and women in our military (along with our allies) who selflessly sacrifice their lives daily.

The Project Hero campaign highlights “the heroism of some of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Give it a read. And be thankful that there are heroes amongst us.

Will She or Won’t She?

Still waiting to see if Mother Nature intends to dump her first significant snowfall on the Twin Cities area this evening. (To listen to the third rate news station in town, you might think that the sky is falling – no snow yet – but, dang, the sky is falling!)

Ah, snow.

When I was a kid, I loved snow. It was heavenly. The boys and I would play for hours in the frigid outdoors – creating snow forts that could withstand simultaneous attacks from rival neighborhood gangs, making plywood/snow/ice jumps that we would hurdle our nimble bodies down (one with our sled – who knew we were so Zen?), then retreating indoors to thaw for a bit while we enjoyed a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

There is no sweeter memory than having your eyes tear up when confronted with a minus 50 degree wind chill – the water coating your lashes, then promptly freezing.

Really. No. Sweeter. Memory.

Then I grew up and the reality of adulthood seeped in… Snow is cold. Snow is messy. Snow is a bitch to deal with. Starting in junior high, the daily walk to school changed from “fun” to “a five mile walk uphill both ways through four feet of snow.” Exaggerating? Me? Prove it.

As I got older, I got softer. Clearly, there is a direct correlation to my becoming a “busser” in high school, content to lazily ride the bus to and fro school. A few years later – 3, to be exact, since I took the normal route through high school, thank-you-very-much – I found myself being both a busser AND a walker as I would walk to the bus stop, catch a #19 bus into downtown, walk a block or two, transfer to a #16 and find my way to the University of Minnesota’s West Bank. There, I would de-bus and trudge across the campus. (The evil-scheduler’s-that-be had a near perfect record of offering major coursework on alternating ends of the campus… One hour I’d be in a modern classroom on the West Bank, the next hour would find me in a musty, asbestos coated classroom in one of the original ‘halls’ on the East Bank. Then back to the West Bank again.

Winter at the U was brutal. The campus was dissected by the mighty Mississippi River and the wind would whip down her spine, rise up sharply and slap us in the face. Several times.

Memories of the winter months have been (mercifully) erased from my memory.

Maybe the brain cells just got frostbite and died off.

Either way, I graduated with a degree that never amounted to anything other than a tremendous debt that was repaid within a decade. (In hindsight, I should have taken time off until I realized what it was I really wanted to do when I grew up… Majoring in an area of study that mirrored that of my brother and best friend might not have been the smartest idea. I should have gone for the Arts, but I digress….)

Now that I’ve been a member of the working class for almost two decades, trudging back and forth to work via the same antiquated highway day in, day out, 17 miles each way (still up hill), I dread rain, sleet and snow.

Where’s this global warming everybody is whining about, anyways?

Like Night and Day

Well, chalk one up for the folks over at the Weather Service.

Mother Nature DID roar in late last night – the howling wind whipping madly through the remaining leaves in the trees.

Thankfully, there was no snow (at least none that stayed around). However, the day had a decidely different look to it – the sun angle dramatically changing the lighting.

I ran to fill up the gas tank on the Explorer and regretted not having gloves with me. Brrr.

Here’s what’s awaiting us (potentially) over the next 24-48 hours:

Winter Storm Watch

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE –
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 237 PM CST SUN NOV 13 2005

…FIRST SIGNIFICANT SNOW POSSIBLE FOR MUCH OF MINNESOTA AND WISCONSIN… PERSONS ACROSS CENTRAL AND PARTS OF SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND INTO WESTERN WISCONSIN SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF A SIGNIFICANT SNOW EVENT LATE MONDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY NIGHT. SINCE THIS IS THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT SNOW EVENT OF THE SEASON…WINTER WEATHER PREPARATIONS SHOULD BE MADE…SUCH AS EQUIPPING VEHICLES WITH A SHOVEL…WIND SHIELD SCRAPER…AND A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT IF TRAVEL IS PLANNED IN RURAL AREAS.

A DEEPENING AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL CROSS THE DAKOTAS AND MOVE INTO WESTERN MINNESOTA MONDAY NIGHT. THE LOW SHOULD CONTINUE TO STRENGTHEN AS IT MOVES ACROSS SOUTHERN MINNESOTA ON TUESDAY AND INTO WISCONSIN TUESDAY EVENING. SNOW SHOULD BEGIN IN WESTERN MINNESOTA MONDAY NIGHT. THE PRECIPITATION MAY BEGIN AS RAIN IN PARTS OF SOUTHERN AND INTO CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND WESTERN WISCONSIN MONDAY NIGHT. HOWEVER…IT SHOULD CHANGE TO ALL SNOW ON TUESDAY…CONTINUING THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING. SNOW TOTALS MAY REACH 4 TO 8 INCHES.

THIS WEATHER SYSTEM SHOULD ALSO PACK STRONG WINDS WHICH MAY CAUSE FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN VISIBILITY IN BLOWING SNOW. THE WINDS SHOULD BEGIN TO CRANK UP TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND LAST INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS.

SNOW AND WINDS WILL DIMINISH IN WESTERN MINNESOTA LATE TUESDAY EVENING. STRONG NORTHWEST WINDS AND LIGHT SNOW SHOULD PERSIST THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT IN EASTERN MINNESOTA AND WESTERN WISCONSIN.

Crap.

Toying with Us

Mother Nature has been playing little mind games with us for the past couple of weeks. Being Minnesotans, we are fully aware of the fact that winter will be slamming in to us at any minute.

Yesterday, however, featured a balmy high in the 60’s. Because of my foul mood at work, I decided to run away over the lunch hour. In one sense it was a good move (I got away from the same people that were pushing me closer and closer to a melt-down), on the other hand, it was a bad mood since it made me painfully aware of the fact that it was probably one of the last nice days for the next six months.

Earlier this afternoon, a Tornado Watch was issued for a huge portion of the state. The metro area isn’t included, but it abuts us. And, frankly, “in and close to the watch area” always makes me a little nervous. Tell me – is a tornado or severe storm going to realize that it isn’t supposed to stay within the lines of the watch box?

This is Mother Nature’s climax – over night, gusty winds with bitter temps are going to be ushered in, and winter will be here just like that.

[Update: Tornado Watch was extended to include the metro area until 11pm. Hopefully it will be quiet throughout the state. Our neighbors to the south haven’t faired well today…]

In honor of the beautiful summer just past…

Until we meet again…

Foul of a Different Kind

I have been in such a foul mood for the past couple of days. (There are some who might wonder incredulously ‘days?!’ but they’d be very wise not to go there…)

Not that first-day-of-your-period, damn-I-need-chocolate-and-everything-will-be-OK foul. Oh, no, we’re talking a full-fledged, primal please-for-the-love-of-God-go-away-before-I-scratch-your eyes-out-and-cram-them-down-your-throat foul.

It hasn’t been pretty. And, sadly, I’ve really struggled to not wear my emotions on my sleeve.

I blame it on the stress of my recent job change (and related panic associated to maintaining my other job responsibilities), lack of decent sleep and a headache that becomes unbearable only when dealing with other people.

I.hate.people.

Especially people who make two or three or more times my salary and do absolutely nothing but sit on their big fat asses making decisions that are destroying the future of the company. People who are blind to reality. People who truly lack a lick of common sense. People who make the worker-bees jump through hoops to give them information that supports their latest idea, which is really a recycled idea that failed in the past, and is destined to fail yet again.

Thankfully (and my creditors will be relieved to know), I’ve been able to maintain a civil tongue (and, thus, retain my employment) despite the building stress and have managed to not snarl while biting back the following phrases to the truly irritating:

“Please tell someone who gives a damn.”

“Are you really as inane as you sound?”

“Who wrote your resume? Clearly they have a great talent at fiction.”

“Who did you sleep with to get your job? You’re an obnoxious twit who hasn’t done anything since you been here but make my life a living hell.”

“Let me guess – you want me to help – and by help you mean do all the work – so you can take the credit again? Um, no, but thanks for thinking of me.”

” No. Now go away.”

It’s probably a good thing it’s the weekend and I can hole up at home and avoid people. Did I mention that I hate people?

Seasonal Angst

Terror Alert Level

Ever feel like something bad is about to happen?

I have been experiencing an ever-growing sense of dread.

People who know me probably aren’t surprised by this statement since I’ve been waiting for the ‘other shoe’ to drop since 9/11…

Still, I wish I could say that world events are fueling this. Certainly the never-ending rioting by the “unnamed youths” throughout France (to clear the country of excess automobiles, apparently) and yesterday’s homicide bombings in Jordan should make the cheeriest Polly Anna cringe and think dark thoughts about humanity and our perilous plight. But I’m no Polly Anna. No, I’m more like her bi-polar twin, Molly Leanna. You know the one – the ever-pessimistic voice in the crowd.

Or even the sick sucking sound coming from my checking account as gas prices continue to fluctuate from ‘an arm and a leg’ range to ‘an arm and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick’ range… It might be the fact that Christmas ads are already polluting the airwaves – harkening yet another season of gift giving. (Yes, that is sarcasm.) Or perhaps it’s the pending onslaught of winter and the depressing realization that sub zero temps and wind chills are going to be the norm for the next six months.

SIX MONTHS.

While this thought is enough to send even the sanest individual into a spiral of discontent (if not a suicidal fog), it’s probably simpler than that.

I suspect it’s hormones running rampant.

Very rampant.

Time will tell.

The new job duties, now firmly in to month #2, are building – and the stress of managing $3-6M dollars daily is making me overly angsty. I blew through $1.4M in less than 20 minutes today. Actually, each transaction took less than 2 minutes. A click of a button and whoosh $1.2M on its way to Europe. Another click and whoosh $108,000 heading to Japan. Honestly, it’s a heady experience that I love. As I’ve been reminded – it’s always easier to play with Other Peoples Money. OPM. Ah, yes.

Yet, I find it somewhat disturbing, too. Am I the only person who sees the irony in moving ME to Treasury?!

If anyone were to monitor either my home use of Quicken, my review of my “finance” spreadsheet or my obsessive-compulsive checking of my both my online bank activity and credit card balances, I’m sure that I’d register in the “seriously demented and insecure” range… When the new login message asks incredulously, “You again? You just visited!”, I know I’ve been logging in too frequently. I am totally and utterly paranoid of missing a payment or over-drawing my account. The thought of incurring a late payment fee is a nightmare that I will go to great lengths to avoid. Once in a while, I feel like a member of the Wallenda family balancing the funds of my checking account versus the payments due to my creditors. And if that’s not ALL… I worry that some scumbag will steal my identity.

My ears perked up this morning when I overheard a co-worker telling another co-worker that he now has Identity Theft Insurance. Initially, I thought to myself, ‘Well, I should look in to that…’ then the more my co-worker talked about it (and his rampant paranoia was exposed), I realized that all the insurance in the world won’t help prevent me from becoming a victim. It still comes down to personal responsibility… And that leads me back to my almost compulsive review of my checking, savings and credit card accounts.

The scary thing is that I find myself checking the intra-day activity on the treasury account at work probably twice as often (if not more than) my predecessor.

I don’t like surprises.