"I want, I want, I want ... but that's crazy"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Working day

I'm going to be working all day today. I might be looking forward to it if I were getting any kind of financial benefit out of it, but the way unemployment is set up with them deducting 80 percent of your earnings from your benefit check, it seems to be to be a tremendous waste of time. The only advantage in this for me is that I know I will be the person called when a job finally opens on one of the papers. Of course, that might take so long that I'll already have another job by then.

One of the old reporters had to have a pacemaker put in on Friday, and I got a panicked phone call asking if I could do his work while he's off. Well, I can do some of it anyway. I'll be working the whole shift in the office tonight. Then I've got to cover the city council meeting for him tomorrow, but I already have another assignment to do tomorrow as well.

It's a busy couple of days, and I'll get next to nothing for it except the loss of my time. Perhaps if the old reporter decides that he's done working for good (he's in his 80s), the publisher will relent and decide that his position can be filled. After all, his loss would leave the paper with just one full-time reporter. They're not THAT stupid, are they?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flashback Friday - Every Time You Go Away

For this week's Flashback Friday, it's Paul Young singing Every Time You Go Away. I always loved this one, didn't you?


Flashback for my Friday

Tonight was a flashback for me. One of the old reporters at my old paper had to go in to have a pacemaker put in this morning, so I got a frantic phone call yesterday afternoon from the news editor asking if there'd be any way I could come in tonight and help out. She asked me to do the full 1-10 shift, but I told her that I couldn't. I said I'd come in 6-10 instead. So there I was back at the old office, typing in obits and paginating pages again. I haven't done pagination there in almost three years, I think. And there's been a redesign and a change in the story filing system since then. Still, I picked it all back up pretty quickly. I used the story filing system at my last job when I was paginating, and the redesign wasn't really all that complicated.

While I was there, the editor came and said, "Look at you! It's like you never left!" I know he wishes I hadn't. I do too.

I ended up only having to stay until a little after 9. I'm home having a glass of wine now and listening to my new young neighbors party next door. The girls are gone for the night, so other than the sounds coming through the wall, it's really pretty quiet at home. Maybe I'll catch up on some sleep. Doubtful, but one can hope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Keep baby safe on vacation

Parents traveling with babies have to take special considerations to make sure their babies are safe. To make baby travel safe and easier on parents, there's a website full of tips, as well as the means for baby-safe travel called, simply enough BabySafeTravel.com. Ease your mind and have fun with the kiddies on your next vacation by visiting, here first.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another birthday

Another lousy birthday's come and gone - or almost gone, anyway. Today consisted of making myself a cup of coffee, going to the BMV to renew my vehicle registrations (not one other person there, so I was in and out in under two minutes - that was the high point of my day), coming home and .... nothing.

That's it.

I got the usual slew of birthday greetings from a bunch of people on Facebook, thanks to those handy little reminders they post on your home page. Of course, I didn't even get an acknowledgement from several people who are actually supposed to be my "real" friends. D went so far as to actively ignore me. Enough of that one, I think. My mother did take the time to call me on her break at work. My son Pooh gave me his gift last night because he knew he'd be gone all day today at school and work.

Honestly, I think I should just stop all recognition of my birthday altogether. It manages to do nothing but bring me down. I couldn't care less about my age. That's not even the issue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nothing according to plan



I managed to make it to bed at the not-entirely-unreasonable hour of 11 p.m. last night, knowing that I would have to get up at 5 a.m. today in order to get to the office, finish the Troy paper upload to the web site and get back in time to watch the Manchster Derby.

All didn't exactly go according to plan. In fact, nothing did.

I went to bed at 11 but I was still up at 3 a.m. I was completely exhausted from my 4:30 a.m. day, and yet, I couldn't fall asleep for anything.

I did manage to get up and into the office, although I was a bit later than I'd intended. I got there at 6:15 a.m. Still, this would not have been a problem. I'd still have plenty of time to finish the work and get home for the game. Except.... I couldn't log in to the web site. Everything worked perfectly yesterday, and then suddenly this morning, I couldn't log in. I couldn't get past the box in which I had to enter the username and password. It just kept popping back up over and over. I tried logging in to one of the other paper's sites just to see what would happen. Same thing. I couldn't get in. There was nothing I could do. I sent off an e-mail to the editor and went back home, figuring I could try again later and see if the incompetents at the hosting service had managed to sort it all out.

So, I was home at 7 a.m. The game didn't start until 8:30 a.m., so I figured I'd catch a brief rest and get up to watch the game. I set my alarm for 8:20 a.m. After all, I didn't have to go any further than the end of my bed to my desk to start up the computer. The next thing I know, I wake up and it's 9:30 a.m. I'd already missed an hour of the game!

I managed to get my computer started up and fortunately got a good stream right away. The score was 2-2 at that point. Damn! That meant it was already a good, competitive game going, and I'd missed it! Fortunately, it kept going. It was nonstop amazing. Right after I got on, Man United scored and brought it up to 3-2. Woohoo! Then just about one second before the end of the 90 mins., City scored and it was tied again. So they go into four minutes of stoppage time, Fergie makes a substitution which gets them another 30 seconds. And somehow, SIX minutes in Owen scores for Man United, and we win it 4-3! Naturally, the City manager got all pissy about the extra time, but seriously, this happens ALL THE TIME. When they say "four minutes" it means "AT LEAST four minutes" - stoppage time is never, ever exactly what they call it. Sometimes it ends up being 30 seconds longer, sometimes it ends up being two minutes longer. But it's ALWAYS more. So stop whining already. I love Michael Owen, by the way - despite his Liverpool past. :) Not only is he gorgeous (that's him in the pic....), but he's Welsh (that's MY heritage) - and he's old enough that I can fantasize with a totally clear conscience. ;)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Find your bliss!

Lose the ugly and find your bliss! Upload your ugly for a chance to win an LG Bliss phone. Check out the gallery of ugly on the LG Bliss Facebook page.

We've all got something ugly in our lives we could do without, right? I'd upload a picture of my ex-husband, but I've destroyed most of those. :)

You can upload pictures or videos of your ugly stuff, be it old outdated electronics, that awful sweater your aunt gave you for Christmas or the neighbor's nasty dog, and enter for a chance to win a sleek and sexy new LG Bliss phone!

When you upload your ugly pic, you're automatically entered to win an LG Bliss, exclusively on the U.S. Cellular network, or a $50 gift card.

The contest runs through Nov. 6, 2009.

There will be five grand prize winners of a brand new LG Bliss phone and 50 second prize winners of a $50 gift card. You can enter only once per Facebook account, and you must be 18 to enter.

So take one last picture of those neon parachute pants before you burn them. Shoot a video of you taking a hammer to that collection of plaster of Paris gnomes that's always creeped you out a little bit. Scan that photo of you in the ninth grade that you've always hated before sending it through the paper shredder. Upload your ugly on the
LG Bliss Facebook Fan Page and find your Bliss instead. You deserve it, don't you?

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Indecent hour

As usual, I couldn't fall asleep last night. Normally, this wouldn't be much of an issue for a Saturday, but this week I was asked to come in at the weekend and do the web uploads for the three newspapers again. So, I was up at 4:30 a.m. I NEVER want to see 4:30 a.m. on Saturday unless I haven't gone to bed yet or I've just rolled over to say, "Let's go again." It's a truly indecent hour.

I actually managed to finish far earlier than I expected to, and I was back home by 9 a.m. in time to make myself a third cup of coffee and get Munch up and dressed. Gin came home from her overnight at her friend's house, and we went off to pick up Book for the day. Had lunch at Mom's, and she said her sister's home with hospice care. She said she's doing surprisingly well and has been lucid and receiving visitors. It's still just a matter of time - and a very short time too. Her biopsy came back revealing two kinds of cancer. Mom's just happy that her sister's been awake and aware and able to see people.

I came back home to watch the Liverpool game. I only watch to see them lose. But then I realized they're playing West Ham - the other team I hate. Is there any way both of them can lose? Am I such an addict that I'll watch two teams I hate play each other? Quite possibly. The Man United game this weekend is Sunday at 8:30 a.m. Ugh. I've got to do the web upload for Troy in the morning, that means I'll have to get up extra early to go into the office for that and then get home in time for the game. There are few I'll be able to watch this season, as they're almost all on at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and I always leave at 10:30 to go get Book. I'll lose sleep to watch them when I can.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday - Major Tom

I love this one! It's Peter Schilling's Major Tom for Flashback Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just for the sake of novelty...

Catching up on Top Chef this evening, I have one request: Can I have one of the Voltaggio brothers, please?

I haven't had cable in forever, so the few TV shows I watch, I watch online after they've aired. One of my favorites is Top Chef. I've been watching it since the first season, and I've been hooked ever since. Last season, I was a Fabio fan. I'll admit it. I have a weakness for Italians, even the slightly obnoxious and egotistical ones, although the quirky, sweet, romantic ones are better.

So I suppose I'm going for the novelty of Americans now. That is a novelty for me lately, it seems.

Of course, it's not a real thing. All my "real boy" crushes seem to be from far, far away. Puts a bit of a crimp on my social life. Meaning, it's nonexistent. It works out to some degree sometimes.

I did have a pretty good thing going for quite a while with P. He was a Jamaican residing in Canada.

And I'll be jetting off to see F again soon when comes back to the U.S. in a couple of weeks. He's an Italian residing in Switzerland. We met up in Las Vegas in February, so this will be the second trip for us.

I've had a number of near-misses with G. He's an Italian residing in England. Every time we work on trying to get together, it doesn't quite work out. The latest attempt apparently will have us missing each other by a matter of hours. He says we'll figure it out another time. I'm sort of doubting it.

I haven't quite managed to convince D to make the effort to come to the U.S. to see me yet. He's an Englishman residing in - gasp - England. Lol! He's just difficult. Fascinating mind, wicked wit, and just damn difficult.

I really need to find someone closer to home. At least on this side of the pond.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Perfect gift idea


My mother's birthday is coming up, and I would love to be able to get her one of the beautiful movado series 800 watches.

I never wear a watch myself. I've never seemed to be able to remember to put it on in the morning, but my mom wears hers all the time, and these are just her style.

Even though I don't wear watches myself, I have to admit that there were some at bluedial.com that were just the style I'd like to wear - if I could ever remember to put one on.

My mom's such a great person, and she deserves something special. But she doesn't like frills. These watches are sharp-looking and completely practical. That's my mom all around. Maybe next year...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Family ties

I just got a call from my mother. My aunt is dying. She's not expected to last more than a few days at most.

She's the youngest of my mother's biological sisters (she was one of five girls, but my grandparents adopted the two daughters of the second oldest when she was killed in a car accident 40 or so years ago). Mom was quite a wreck this weekend, but she's been dealing with this all now long enough that she's at least able to get through sometimes without breaking down.

I've said before what an amazing mom my mother is. She's the same with the rest of her family. Always the rock. The strong one. The one you can turn to no matter what. She's been doing that through this too.

She told me tonight that my cousin thanked her for always being there for them, and for being there for her through all of this as well. She told me that she told my cousin that she hopes that they will do the same for me when it's her time to go. She said out loud what I've recognized for a long time. "Rachel doesn't have anyone but me (mom). She's got her kids, and she's got me. That's it." That's true. Situations like this one make that even clearer, though it's never a thought that's far from my mind. I have my kids and I have my mother, and that's all I have. But she's got me too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Party like a rock star (or wish you could)!



The new season of truTV's Rehab Party at the Hard Rock Hotel has kicked off for another round of WILD, and this season promises that the hottest party in the world's sexiest city will get even hotter, with celebrity performances, more partiers and new Rehab staff members trying to get the hang of this whole crazy, chaotic spectacle!

The partying is intense, but the business is serious, as staff members have to work not only to keep some kind of control but also to keep Rehab as the biggest and best party on the strip to compete with neighboring pool parties in this tough economy.

I have to tell you, I went to Vegas this year, but I wasn't part of anything like this! No yard-long drinks, puking in the potted plants or waking up next to a stranger for me! (Although, I might admit that I miss that life .... just a little....)

I haven't been to a hot party in a long, long time, so TruTV's "Real life television" is a way to live vicariously. This is "real life television," not "reality television." They just point the cameras and watch it all happen! You get to experience the sex, the booze, the fights, the unfettered debauchery - and you don't have to wake up with the regrets in the morning.

However, if you do want to get in on the action (come on! you know you do!), you can enter the sweepstakes to party like a rock star at Rehab at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and Casino pool by clicking here.


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Impatient...with issues

I'm getting impatient for my upcoming trip. I've been making all the necessary preparations, and now that it appears everything is in place, I want it to happen - now! I know the prevailing wisdom is that half the fun (at least) is in the anticipation, but I've had a lot of anticipation about this for a long time. I'm done with the anticipation part. I want to BE there!

Besides, I keep thinking that something is going to happen that's going to mess this up for me. Something's going to come up and make it not happen. Oh, I really don't know if I could take that...

I suppose if I get a job, most employers would probably be understanding enough to let me have off the two days for a trip that's been in the planning for a long time now. I mean, I'm not asking for a week or anything. It's a couple of days, that's all.

Of course, I've got other issues that could throw a wrench in the works. I might need to be around to support my mother, for one. She's got five sisters, and of those, one currently has pneumonia, another has H1N1 and COPD, and a third - worst of all - has pneumonia and quite possibly lung cancer. Just yesterday, the family finally managed to talk her into going on a respirator for four days so that the doctors can take the tests and do the procedures that they need to do. She had to be convinced that it's not life support and that if something went wrong, she wouldn't be left hooked up to a machine sustaining her life. I'm not particularly close to my aunts, but my mother is a wreck right now. That is her baby sister and probably the one she's had the closest ties to her whole life, despite the fact that she profoundly disapproves with the way her younger sister has chosen to live her life. I have some ties there too, beyond the "just blood" ties, that is. Her daughter - my cousin - was probably the one of my many cousins I was closest to while I was growing up. We don't see each other very often now, but we still consider each other to be the closest among the cousins.

It probably sounds selfish of me that I'm putting this in terms of my upcoming trip. You must understand that, for me, my family has been my mother and me for almost my entire life. She was and is very close to her family, but I have never been. Now, my family is my mother and my children. Beyond that, it's fairly loose and incidental almost. I believe after the passing of my grandmother several years ago, that last real tie among the families of the sisters was lost for good. It's not just me. It's that way among all the cousins. My main concern in this is the well-being of my mother. She's the "rock" of her family and the one everyone turns to for help (which is often). She has a more motherly than sisterly relationship with her sisters most of the time, especially her three younger sisters.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flashback Friday - Sunday Bloody Sunday

This week's Flashback Friday is one of the greats of the 80s - U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pretty good day after all

It turned out to be a pretty good day for me. I've now got my flight booked for my trip to Florida. It will be wonderful to see F again. During the trip, I might even get to see a couple other really good friends, if everything works out ok. I'm so looking forward to it!

I had a story to do this evening for one of my newspapers. It was the kick-off for a traveling Smithsonian exhibit called "Between Fences." I have to admit that I didn't really get the concept at first, but it turned out to be quite interesting. Fun, too. The director of the historical society was disco dancing on the porch, and I got some good food too.

I got home much earlier than I expected, and I even got to have a chat with a couple of friends - even though one was up waaaay past his bedtime. My good friend D in England seems to be having trouble sleeping lately. I can relate.

I got no bills and two checks in the mail today too. I finally got my first payment from one of the newspapers I'm freelancing for. It was small, but I'll take it. The other one was bigger because it was two payments in one. I'll definitely take it. I need it badly right now.

Time for me to get to bed now. Not that I'll sleep right away. It was a good day, and I think I'll reflect on it for a while.

Busy weekend coming up.... starting now

I've got an unbelievably busy weekend ahead of me. My editor Jeff has asked me not only to pick up a feature story that one of his regular reporters didn't have time to do, he's also asked me to cover Applefest ALL WEEKEND LONG! I'm considerably less thrilled about it knowing that after the deductions for unemployment, I'll really only be making $8 per story for it. Not even worth the effort, really - except that it keeps me valuable to them and thus might turn out to be worthwhile down the road (whenever that mystical "revenue" goes up, and they can start hiring again.)

I suppose, at least, that it'll keep the kids moderately occupied - though I expect they'll not be all that interested.

It starts tonight with an event at the historical society. Then I have to attend the festival all day tomorrow, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Joy. I just love these things. Still - it's work. And somehow I can't just not work, even if I'm pretty much getting paid nothing for it. Karma should start paying off at some point, shouldn't it? I mean, I have built up a pretty hefty bank of it by now.

I told Jeff that I wouldn't be able to cover anything else next week because I can't earn too much. If the deductions go too high, my child support for Book won't be covered by my unemployment check. He sent me an e-mail this morning begging me to cover city council next week, so of course, I told him I would. That will cut me right to the edge and mean that my check will be almost nothing. I'll have to wait more than a month before I get paid for the freelance work.

I have applied for another job that looks like a really exciting opportunity, and I think I'd be well suited for it. It's really just the kind of thing I've been looking for to get out of journalism and into more of a PR/marketing kind of gig. I've been thinking about making that kind of move for a long, long time now. Journalism tends to make one cynical, while PR and marketing are all about the "positive spin." It's a morale thing. :) Fingers crossed (both to get the job AND that it doesn't end up costing me my upcoming long weekend in paradise ... that's a morale boost I REALLY need!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Useless

I've been trying to keep myself busy freelancing, and I've been quite successful at it. I'm getting all kinds of assignments that have me working almost every day. But mathematically, I'm finding that it's a tremendous waste of my time.

Everything I earn has to be declared as earnings with the unemployment office, and it has to be declared in the week that I do the work, even though I don't actually get paid for it until as much as two months afterward. Then, my weekly benefit check for unemployment - that's unemployment INSURANCE, btw, not welfare, but something I've contributed to during all my years working - is reduced by 80 percent of whatever I've earned in that week. (But the full amount of my "eligible benefits" is subtracted from the total I'm allowed every week.) Plus 15 percent is deducted for taxes. Plus 31 percent of the full benefit amount goes for child support. Plus I don't get reimbursement for mileage - and I'm often traveling an hour or more, one way, for a story. Plus I'll get taxed at a higher rate for my so-called "self-employment" income at the end of the year.

All told, it's costing me money to work. The system disincentivizes any attempt to be productive. I could be sitting at home getting my full benefits, but I'm out there freelancing instead - working every day - and they're taking it all away from me. It seems that I'm only doing it so that I can say I'm freelancing rather than saying, "I'm unemployed."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Softie


I'm just a big softie, apparently. The little neighborhood tramp who's been unofficially adopted by my daughters had herself a couple of kittens. She's since been displaced from her cozy little den in the bushes in front of the neighbor's house, thanks to some poorly timed landscaping work. So, of course, the little family is now residing in the bushes in front of my house instead. The neighbor boys were wandering around with them in a box, not knowing what to do with them, and I said, "Go ahead and put them there (by my house)." Now of course, they not only have their own little home, I also couldn't resist putting out food and water for them. The mama's a skinny, tiny little thing, and since she's got to feed her babies, I just had to do it. She's spending more time in the box with the babies feeding them (they're quite the little butterballs now) and far less time out hunting for mice in the field. How bad did I get? I was feeding her the regular cat food kibble we give our own cat, but when I went out to buy more cat food today, I bought a few cans of the soft stuff for her. I'm pathetic. Btw, OUR cat was neutered right after we got him, so no, he's not the daddy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Flashback Friday - Down Under

It's Flashback Friday, and who doesn't love Men at Work's Down Under? Exactly... :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A little time in paradise....

For a change, I've got something good coming up for me. It's nothing that's going to serve me any positive purpose long-term, but it's a much-needed bit of sunshine (quite literally) for me that has already done wonders for my morale, even though it hasn't happened yet.

I have a little vacation coming up. F is coming over to the U.S. on business, and he's flying me down to Tampa for a few days to see him. And to make it even nicer, we'll be staying in a beautiful private villa on Clearwater Beach. He sent me a link to the place today, so I could see the pictures, and it's just wonderful. I'm actually going to be able to get away to a little piece of paradise for a few days. I can't wait. I'll be watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Ahhhhhhh, how lovely!

I might even see if I can manage a lunch with my old friend from college who lives very near there. We haven't seen each other in about 15 years now, and I believe his exact words were, "you damn well better!" We were part of a very tight-knit group in college, and ever since we found each other again online, we've been trying to sort out a way to get together again. He was supposed to come up to Ohio for his brother's wedding in July, but the wedding was called off, so he didn't make the trip.

I won't be going until October, but it gives me something to look forward to. I've already figured out most of the details here. Pooh's taken the days off work already, so he'll be home to watch the girls. F is ordering my plane ticket tomorrow.

I can't wait! Oh, I said that already. Oh well... I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Who Killed Summer? Episode 9



It's time for episode 9 of Who Killed Summer? and in this episode, the crew hits the Relentless Boardmasters festival! (Warning: contains mature content that may not be suitable for children)

Check out the Video for a sneak peak, and if you're not familiar with the show, visit the official Web site to see previous episodes and b-roll video clips. You can also use the map on the site to follow the course of the crew and check out the pictures they take as they go.

The contestants are six young music lovers with one dream - to spend a summer on the road around Europe touring the festivals that include Benicassim, Global Gathering, Relentless Boardmasters and Bloom Festival. The show has a reality show feel, with the contestants thrown together for the first time for their first festival. But there's a twist - one of them will be killed. That's right. It's a reality TV murder mystery.

Better still - this "reality" show is driven in a whole new way using social media to keep it exciting. Each of the contestants has a blog on the site. You're also encouraged to follow the crew on Twitter (follow their every move!), Facebook (interact with the contestants!), Flickr (check out the pictures taken on their nine-week-long whirlwind of music festivals!) and YouTube (watch all the episodes and extras!) to keep up with every bit of the action. Users in the UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Denmark can even download a mobile app for their phone to receive each episode and more.

If you're into reality shows, this new, multi-platform online reality drama takes the concept to a whole new level!


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