Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Mondays are supposed to be the day for catching up at the office, because we don't publish a paper on Tuesdays. It never seems to turn out that way. I only had one item on my schedule, so I thought I would be able to get some of the assignments done that I have coming up and then leave a bit early to try to get rid of some of those "vacation hours" I have remaining. No such luck.
I came in to find an assignment to attend a meeting at 8:30 tomorrow morning. But my boss didn't know where the thing was supposed to be. Well, more precisely, he thought he knew, but he was wrong, and I knew he was wrong. I also had no contact information. So I called the location where the meeting was held six months ago - the latest agenda we had. They didn't know a thing. So I called the local police chief, who would certainly be attending the meeting. Got his voicemail. So I called the city offices. The mayor's number goes straight to the clerk of courts voicemail - she's out for the day. The administrator's number goes to the assistant city manager's voicemail - he's also out for the day. So I call the mayor himself at his "day job." I get, "He's out of his office at the moment. Let me put you through to his voicemail."
In the meantime, there was a suicide at the jail this morning. We have two reporters on duty, but for some reason, it's given to me to follow up on. So that means I spent the rest of the day trying to get answers out of the sheriff - who is NOT friendly with our office - and the coroner, and the assistant coroner.
I didn't have time to take lunch, because I was waiting for a bunch of return phone calls. I also didn't have time to tackle that one item on my schedule until 10 minutes till 5. Yes, you can assume that my day is supposed to end by 5. It didn't.
So no "vacation hours" were taken today. Tomorrow starts at that 8:30 meeting with a full day's schedule to follow. And still catching up to do. Wednesday our lifestyles editor starts a week of vacation. Guess who gets to do her job.
When I come home, do you suppose anything's been done by the kids who have been home from school for three hours? Of course not.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
This year, the school assigned an intervention team. We've met to try to resolve her issues, which are taking a terrible toll on her grades. The ability is there. The intelligence is there, but she's starting to miss out on important basic skills because she can't pay enough attention to learn them.
Her evaluation - not a medical diagnosis, I'm reminded - points to ADD. I can't say I'm at all surprised.
Considering she has no personality issues and no hyperactivity - and frankly, even if those were issues too - I don't want to medicate her with the typical pharmaceuticals. We've all seen the stories, and we know the side effects can be and often are very, very bad.
To put it shortly, I did my research and studied the alternatives. Last week, I started her on an Omega fish oil complex and a moderate exercise program. I also have her using a binaural beats focus program that she listens to on her mp3 !player while doing her homework. And Saturday, her homeopathic remedy arrived. I started her on that immediately, and she's been using it twice a day.
Today is Tuesday. When I came home, I asked if she'd taken her omega pill yet. She hadn't, but did so right away without another reminder. She started her homework while I made dinner, then when she finished dinner she cleared her plate (which she never does), put her plate in the sink (which she never does) and went right back upstairs to her room, put on her headphones and started back on her homework (which she definitely never does!) - all without being reminded. Then she finished her homework in a timely manner (it normally takes many hours). After that, she did her 20 minutes on the stair climber - I only told her once. Then she did her regular chores of putting away the dishes from the dishwasher and cleaning out the cat's litter box - each she was told to do ONE time.
A day like this has never happened before. Is it actually working?
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I start out in November the same as everyone else - with piles of unused vacation time that has to be used up before the end of the year. It's a "use it or lose it" policy. The problem is that there's no time for everyone to take their time. So the calendar fills up with a week here and two weeks there for everyone else in the office, while I'm left scrambling to take an hour here and there just to use it up. That's how it is every year. Everyone else gets weeks of vacation - I get an hour at a time. Why? Because I'm the one who knows how to do everyone else's job.
I've spent two weeks picking up extra work for one reporter on vacation for two weeks, then I get the next week picking up the work for the other reporter on vacation. The news editor goes and I don't have to do her job, because she works night shifts and with my kids at home, at least they don't put me on that. BUT the other desk person who takes over her jobs does ONLY her job, so I do HIS and MINE.
Then we have a reporter back from vacation but in a bit of a scrape with the law. It's not a big thing, but the county prosecutor's decided she can't access his records anymore. Guess who that duty goes to. Yep, that's right. Me.
And all the while, the editor's taking off whole days and afternoons to use up his vacation time.
I can't get a day off because it takes two people to make up for the absence, but I make up for the absence of two people - while doing my own work as well. And in all that, I can manage to pull it off in under 40 hours so I can squeeze out one or two more "vacation" hours on my check.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Exhaustion breeds weird dreams. In mine, I went downstairs to look at my aquarium for a while, as I often do, and I discovered that my son had put a six-inch shark in it, which was quickly making a meal of all of my fish. When he walked downstairs, he told me that he didn't understand why I was getting so mad, as it was only temporary, and he'd be taking it out of my tank as soon as he got his new tank set up. Then I was torn between screaming at him about killing my fish and pointing out to him that he couldn't just set up an aquarium and throw a fish in it and expect it to live.
I need to get more sleep. I did mention to my son today that, by the way, it would NOT be acceptable if he should put a shark in my fish tank. He said, "That wouldn't happen. I'm terrified of sharks. I wouldn't want one in my car that long."
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I was in NYC on business three weeks after the towers fell. I still remember how different the city was from the last time I'd been there. Everything seemed so much quieter, everyone so much more polite and subdued. They weren't back to "normal" and no one really seemed to know what "normal" was anymore.
I skipped the last day of the convention and took a cab down to lower Manhattan. I felt an overwhelming need to be there, to see it, to feel it.
When I told my cab driver where I wanted to go, he told me that he'd worked in the towers. He would have been there that day, but he'd taken the morning off work to take his son to the doctor.
I'll never forget the smell in the air as I opened the door of the cab and stepped out. The rubble was still smouldering at that time and that smell filled the air.
The merchants in lower Manhattan were in crisis as they'd lost so much business, so they were having a big sidewalk sale that day. Tables were set up all along the streets to sell their wares at discount prices. The tactic worked, as there were lots of people wandering around buying, but the mood of the people was undeniable and palpable. I made some purchases at the stands to support them.
I looked around to determine exactly where I was (my only instruction to the cabbie to take me to Tribeca), and I began to walk in the direction of the site. Everything was covered with a layer of soft, white dust. There'd been no rain yet, to wash it away. The large plant containers along the streets had a thick layer across the surface of the soil. I took out a film canister and filled it with the dust and put it into my bag.
As I walked along, I noted that every surface, every building, every light pole was covered with "missing" posters bearing pictures of loved ones up to a height as far as hands could reach. I paused to look at many of them - the smiling faces, the mothers holding their children, the fathers playing with their dogs, the friends with their arms around each other posing for the camera. I looked at those faces, knowing that their friends and families would never see those smiles in person again.
I walked as far as I could toward the site until I reached a barrier, then I turned to follow the perimeter, which stretched a couple of blocks from the actual site. There were police officers at every street intersection. A few people had there cameras out and were trying to take pictures down the street. The police officers told them "no pictures." I did take my camera out and hold it up to snap a few when the officers turned away.
I passed the little church that's become such an iconic reminder of the day, the place where people gathered for comfort and refuge during the rescue operations.
I continued all the way around the perimeter, straining to see at every corner anything I could see. This was before they built observation areas for the people to view it. I guess the authorities finally realized that it was not a sign of disrespect that some people NEEDED to see.
I turned a corner and saw a stack of I-beams taken from the site. It seemed so odd they were there. They were thick and massive and impossibly twisted out of their normal shape. I placed my hand against one and just stood there for a moment.
After walking the full perimeter, I finally tore myself away to return to my hotel for my bags. I had a plane to catch to go back home to my quiet little town in Ohio.
The memory of that day is seared into my mind as no other. I never did have those pictures developed. I don't need them.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Fair week was the usual hectic nightmare, but with extra pages.
Went to a friend's wedding with the girls.
Saw the new Harry Potter movie with bf. Not in 3D though.
Went to the state fair with my mother and the kids.
Started in the aquarium hobby and developed an obsession already. First batch of fry (baby fishies) now 2 1/2 days old.
Constantly frustrated with work.
Working on building a special section this week while coworker is on vacation, so extra pages on top of extra pages = looooooong days.
The girls are dogsitting at the moment.
Watched the Community Shield online and cheered the 3-2 win by my boys.
Waiting for the EPL season to begin.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I had to work the Sunday night desk at the office, so I got Monday off. But starting Tuesday, I was assigned to cover a trial - I was to be there from start to finish. We don't get good criminal trials around here very often. Nearly every one is settled for a reduced charge. This one, though, the prosecutor wasn't letting go. And it was a doozy. Attempted murder, three counts of kidnapping and felonious assault.
On Day 1 (Tuesday) I arrived in the court room at the scheduled start time of 9 a.m. only to find that jury selection was under way. Yep, apparently they do that at the last possible moment. One of the people from our IT department was there as a prospective juror. She dropped a bombshell to get out of it. Said our company was changing hands at midnight and she'd be spending all night all week switching servers, etc. and would be too exhausted to pay attention. Well, that's certainly a way to find out that your company's been sold.
The trial finally got started at 10:30 a.m. with testimony from the victim - a 28-year-old blonde waitress. We got to see lots of pictures of her shortly after she'd gotten the crap beaten out of her, and she told the convoluted tale.
In as brief a version as possible:
She's having an affair with her married boss. They go on a catering job together. Go out drinking after. She gets mad because he's texted his wife. He gets mad because she's texted her other married boyfriends. They go to the little love nest they've rented - furnished with just an air mattress and a TV. He proceeds to beat the living crap out of her for several hours. She attempts to get away by breaking the toilet tank lid over his head. He beats her some more. Chokes her to unconsciousness once. When he thinks she's unconscious again, he texts his OTHER girlfriend - 256 times. Saying he's beaten this girl - he needs to kill her - he needs to hide the body - he needs to run - he needs to hide ... then oh, by the way, erase these texts. (No good there - prosecution just got the phone records from the phone company.)
So, slimebag calls his wife (yes, his WIFE) and tells her he's bringing the battered girlfriend home for her to take care of. (Which she DOES - taking beaten girl to buy a new cell phone too, after her husband smashed her other one when she tried to call for help).
Meanwhile, slimebag hooks up with OTHER girlfriend. They decide the knot on his head doesn't look bad enough, so they agree she's going to hit him in the forehead with a 2X4 piece of wood. So she does that...once Saturday....then again Sunday....then again Monday. (That whole "but she hit me first" with the toilet tank lid argument didn't work for the defense, btw - so he got a big headache for nothing.)
Beaten girl meets up with a friend from work who convinces her to take pics of her injuries and finally go to the hospital. She'd been driving around with her eyes almost completely swollen shut, after all.
So the trial went on through Day 1, and I was at the office until 7:30 writing the 43-inch story. Then on Day 2 I got to sit in court all day again, and slimebag actually HIT ON ME during a recess - yep, right after I've spent two hours looking at pics of the girl he beat up. Was in the office until 6:45 writing the 30-inch story.
Day 3, slimebag hit on me AGAIN, this time in front of my boyfriend (he was there to take pics for the paper), doing a brush up against my shoulder then actually putting his arm around me FFS! Needless to say, PB (my bf) was NOT happy. He happened to be standing right behind at the time, and he came up and told me, "If he touches you again, I'm punching him in the face."
On Day 3, the defense rested its case - surprisingly, since they had a list of "witnesses" a mile long, consisting mainly of local police officers who might or might not have had affairs with the victim. Guess they were deemed inadmissible or something, because it all wrapped up rather suddenly. Jury was deliberating for a few hours, and during the entire time, I got to sit outside the court room with the defendant and his attorneys. (At one point, his lead attorney asked me what I thought, since I'd been there through the whole thing. I replied, "I'm a reporter. I don't have opinions." :) )
The jury came back with a verdict of guilty on all five counts. Slimebag is looking at 10-44 years in prison. AND he's still got three counts of rape and one count of extortion over the same victim in a separate case coming up later.
I was in the office until 8 p.m. writing that one up. You should take a look at my hours for this week.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I've contacted her by email and will be sending her prize out as soon as I hear back from her.
I want to thank those who entered and hope to do this again soon!
Monday, April 25, 2011
I'd been thinking of doing a giveaway on my blog for quite a while now, and the good folks at Freschetta have given me the perfect opportunity. They gave me a chance to try their FRESCHETTA® By the Slice pizza and tell you all about, so you can have a chance to win a coupon to try it for yourself, as well as a six-piece locking round storage container set.
The By the Slice pizza is a single-slice serving of Freschetta pizza available in BBQ Recipe Chicken, Vegetable Medley, Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom and Six Cheese Medley flavors. It's microwavable with a crisping tray included - so it's an easy lunch for the office - but it can also be prepared in the oven. The box promises a perfect slice of pizza in six minutes.
I prepared my Six Cheese Medley FRESCHETTA By the Slice pizza in the office microwave for lunch. While it might not have been the "perfect" pizza, it certainly was good.
The crust couldn't quite achieve perfection with microwave preparation, but it was far better than many microwaveable pizzas I've tried and was still quite tasty. Oven preparation would almost certainly improve it, though I'm not sure I would take the time or use the household energy to heat the oven for a single slice of pizza - maybe if I prepared a variety for the family, I might try out the oven method.
The toppings, however, were simply outstanding. The cheese was delicious and perfectly "melty" without becoming rubbery. And the sauce? Mmmm! Just that right touch of spicy and hint of sweet with a trace of tang. For me, the sauce makes the pizza, and this sauce passes the test for me.
Get a coupon to try a FRESCHETTA By the Slice pizza for yourself for FREE. It's available in your grocer's freezer section. You will also receive a LaCuisine six-piece locking round storage container set, which includes three containers - 34 oz., 18.7 oz. and 12 oz. sizes - with locking lids.
* Get one entry for commenting on this post (one time).
* Get one entry for following @FreschettaPizza on Twitter and posting a comment here to let me know you've done so.
* Get another entry if you "Like" FRESCHETTA Pizza on Facebook and comment here to let me know.
Entries will be accepted until 12:01 a.m. EDT May 1. Good Luck!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Watch this space for the contest, which should be posted within a few hours. Enter and tell me what you think! Experienced blog contest people, let me know your suggestions for what I can do better next time. I hope to get into more of these contests, both sponsored and on my own! Any ideas?
Saturday, April 9, 2011
My ex-husband and I haven't the most cordial of relationships. For the past nine years, since I left him, he's constantly begged for me to come back to him. Let me tell you right now, there's no chance whatsoever that will EVER happen. He was physically and mentally abusive throughout our relationship, as well as constantly lying and completely neglectful of his family. Since we've been apart, he's contributed NOTHING to help take care of his daughters and continues to be completely useless - while still asking me to come back and swearing he's changed.
Well, about 4 1/2 months ago, I started seeing someone. It was the first relationship of any kind that I'd had since my previously long-distance relationship that ended in May 2008. Apparently, the asshole ex-husband found this one more threatening.
A couple of weeks after I'd started seeing this person - whom I shall affectionately refer to as PB (short for "Photo Boy." He's a photographer, and this is what I dubbed him during my initial pining, which was frequently related on Twitter) - I went to my ex-husband's to pick up the girls. (Him I shall refer to as "the asshole," with no affection whatsoever.) He decided to start accusing me of all kinds of ridiculousness - including such things as neglecting the girls for my boyfriend by leaving them at night to go see him, which NEVER happened. He did a lot of shouting at me. I did a lot of shouting back, "No, that's not true!" Knowing how vindictive he is and how much he likes to make trouble for me, I feared that he might decide to call in authorities to check out his claims and just make my life hell.
At one point, he was screaming in my face with his nose less than an inch from mine. I slapped him. It was a reflex really. I pulled it. I didn't even slap him hard enough to leave a mark. He said himself it didn't even hurt. And it was one single slap only.
He immediately backed off and shouted to his mother in the back bedroom, "Mom, call the police! Rachel just hit me!" (He lives in a trailer with his mother, as he is unable to remain gainfully employed. He hasn't lived on his own other than for one year since we've been divorced, or in the four years prior to our getting married, for that matter. And he's 45 years old.)
He had no need to call the police at all, of course. And he had no need to scream that accusation out either. He was holding his cell phone in his hand at the time. He called the police himself and told them I hit him.
They arrived and I admitted that I did slap him, that it wasn't hard and that it didn't even leave a mark. I told them that he was screaming in my face. My daughters backed that up. Still, by law, they were required to cite me for domestic violence.
aWell, the city prosecutor refused to drop the charge (no idea what kind of lies he told) and I decided to fight it. I pled not guilty to the initial charge. The prosecutor offered disorderly conduct instead. I refused that as well. I've seen men who beat their wives get the same charge. What I did was nowhere near the same thing. I asked for a full trial by jury.
Well, that case was finally set to come up April 21. My lawyer got the prosecutor to finally drop the charge down to a minor misdemeanor, which he told me was about the equivalent of a traffic ticket or a noise violation. I was tired of having to be moderately polite to the asshole every time he called - which is often five or six times a day or more - because of the power he had in being up to testify against me. I finally took the deal just to end it all.
And by the way, PB did not allow himself to be intimidated by the asshole's making trouble for me. He stuck by me through it all. And we are four and a half months into what has been a surprisingly fantastic relationship, stronger than I ever thought possible.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
When I can finally say all that I need to say, I think I might have to serialize it. After all, four months is a pretty long time, and quite a bit has happened. If anyone's still around, it might keep you interested for a little while. Not much interesting has happened to me since the days of P and the dark period after that end. Happy tales might be a welcome change, no?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
It wasn't so bad around my house, but I knew I'd better take an alternate route to work. My usual scenic drive along the river was sure to be flooded. I wasn't wrong about that. This is my usual route to work. I took the afternoon off Wednesday and decided to check it out.
Shortly after I arrived at work, we got word on the scanner of a guy trapped on top of his car in the flood waters. I stopped by that site in the afternoon as well. His car was still there. It stayed there for a couple of days before they were able to pull it out.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
For the past couple of years, I haven't had the breathing room I would have liked. Year before last, my whole tax refund check went toward paying my student loan, which had been in default so it was automatically taken. Last year, about 2/3 of my refund went to paying off the rest of it. At least that's now gone forever. Yeah, must say I'm really cherishing that education considering the crap living it's afforded me so far...
This year, I'm looking at buying a new TV - the old one's been barely hanging on, even though it's only used for DVD viewing and the occasional plug-n-play video game. The power button doesn't even work on it, so I had to buy a new remote (the old one died) just to turn it on and off. I also am in need of a new mattress to replace my 12-year-old one. I'm seriously considering a new washer and dryer as well, though I really hate to spend the money on them. I've had them since I moved into this place nine years ago, and the dryer is making some very unpleasant noises - then again, that might just be when Pooh overloads it, as he usually does. Maybe I'll set aside the money in a savings account for a "just in case" purchase later and wait for them to actually die.
I'll also be having some dental work done. I've got a few cavities that need filling, and there's no reason to put them off any longer. I'll have an exam and find out what else I might need there.
Here's the TMI bit - stop reading now if you want.
I'll also be having my IUD removed soon. That was a ten-year birth control device that proved to be mostly wasted, as the vast majority of the last ten years I've been completely alone. Oh well, at least I did get a little use out of it along the way. Of course, now I'm actually seeing someone, I'll have to figure out what I'm going to next.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I was hoping for a bit of a catch-up on my sleep last night, but naturally, the kids decided not to cooperate this morning. Normally, they'll get up on a Sunday morning and go downstairs, have a bite to eat and watch a DVD quietly while the morning passes away. This morning, they decided to sit in their room (right next to mine) and squirt each other with water from a spray bottle while screaming and giggling.
Well, the best-laid plans, eh? Still my own fault. I should sleep when I get the chance at night. Maybe next week.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I was about to say that it's contributing to a loss in productivity on my part, but upon thinking about it, I realize that it's probably not. I spent as much time sitting behind my computer when I was having to connect via ultra-slow mobile connection as I am with my much faster home connection.
Before, however, much of my time online was spent sitting idly staring at a gauge telling me that my video was buffering.....slowly. A half-hour TV show I watched on my mobile tether usually took about an hour or more to watch - and that's keeping in mind that a half-hour show is actually only about 21 minutes.
Now, I can actually start up a show and watch it straight through without having to stop and let it buffer even once!
So I should be watching my shows and getting off the computer more quickly, right? Wrong. I just watch more stuff now. I can watch the Netflix Watch Instantly movies and TV shows again. Oh yeah. That's a highly effective time-waster. I'm all over it.
Of course, much better and far more importantly, I CAN WATCH FOOTIE AGAIN! I cannot begin to tell you the withdrawal I went through not being able to watch my Man United boys in all their glory. I had only the occasional highlights - in terrible quality - and score updates and text commentary. WHAT HELL THAT WAS! Thank goodness I'm back!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Well, all that's happened that's within the stuff I *can* talk about is that I've had a crappy cold that's kept me from some of the stuff I *can't* talk about..... Oh, and I lost a glove.
I did make a really kick-ass French onion soup too. Want the recipe?
French Onion Soup
Thinly slice three large sweet yellow onions. Place in a large, heavy pot with 6 tablespoons of butter. Slow saute over medium-low heat until lightly golden brown (this involves letting them sweat then reduce then begin to caramelize, so it takes around 45 minutes or so). Stir frequently.
When the onions are ready, stir in about two tablespoons of flour until well mixed. Add about 3/4 cup of a nice, sweet red wine. Stir again. Stir in two 32-ounce boxes of beef broth, about 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and about 1 tablespoon of beef flavor Better Than Buillon (use a couple beef buillon cubes if you can't find it, but this stuff's better - hence the name). Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally. Stir in a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
When ready to serve, shred mountains of gruyere cheese and toast a few thick slices of a good, dense French bread (I used a baguette and used three or four slices per bowl).
Spoon the hot soup into an oven-safe bowl or ramekin - the 6 oz. size is good for a serving, unless you want a really big serving, like I do. Float a piece or two of the toasted bread on top - enough to cover most of the top of the soup. Then pile on a generous handful of the shredded gruyere. Put the bowl on a pan and pop it under a low broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
This recipe is my own, and I guarantee, it rocks. :)
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Let's throw this one out there: How about I make a resolution to post at least once a week this year REGARDLESS of anything? I'll give it a shot. Here's the first one.....
My nonsmoking effort has been a rousing success. I've been using the Blu e-cig since about a week before Thanksgiving, and since I started, I haven't had a single cigarette. Beyond that, I haven't even wanted one. Considering the relative hell that's been occurring in one area of my life, that's a bit of a shocker. (One of those things I can't talk about right now.) Stress/depression/life difficulties have always been the one thing that set me back in any attempt to stop smoking. I'd quit for five months once, but then after getting dumped by P, I went right back - hard. This time, far more "real" stresses apply, but I'm not even tempted. Honestly, they're not marketed as a stop-smoking aid, but the e-cigs really are wondrous in that function, if that's your desire.
Another area of my life has been quite heavenly - a total departure from the life I'd resigned myself to for these past seven or eight years at least. This, unfortunately, will also remain quiet a bit longer...but I have a feeling it will be going public eventually as well.
Moving on to a totally different subject now.... (you'll have to forgive that catching up means patchwork posts)....
I got a bit of a shock today as I found that Pooh's ex-girlfriend (who's still among my Facebook friends) is engaged. Apparently, Pooh found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and he didn't mention it to me. He's taking it well though. The timing couldn't have worked out better, as he had a difficult time getting over her, but he's recently started another relationship which seems to be working out to be a much better fit for him. In his reflection, he's realized - as I eventually managed to do after splitting up with P - that all was not moonlight and roses in the relationship, and looking back, it was better that it ended. Continuing on - in both of our cases - would have led to more bad than good. Our recoveries are working a surprising parallel as well - with P still involved in his rediscovered love of old and me finally finding a far better fit. (Ok, really must not let any more of THAT slip until the "all-clear" is given. ... So, shoot me. I'm happy. :) )
That'll do for now. Let's see if I can keep this "once a week" thing up, shall we? There's gotta be something I CAN talk about..... :)