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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breakup Blog, 2 months/Reorg Blog, Day 1

On not getting laid, and possibly getting laid off...
It's been exactly two months since T broke up with me.  I've been distracted, first in good ways (painting my house), then in not so good ways (see below) so it was sort of a non-event. 
Yesterday we had group meeting.  The weasely HR guy and CEO were at the meeting - not a good sign.  First they told us they were reorganizing and getting out of doing research.  I must've gotten pale because G (former officemate, now VP of the group) leaned over and told me it was going to be ok.  Then they told us that they were in negotiation to sell our group to another company, who wanted to set up a research center here.  But since it wasn't 100% a done deal, the HR guy still had to give us the 'what to expect if you do get laid off' talk.  They told us to keep quiet until other groups had been told.  They didn't really tell us who all would be affected. It was very strange and surreal. 
It put me in a strange mood, and it was weird not being able to talk about it.  I ended up IM'ing with T for a long time that afternoon, although since I was still at work I didn't mention it to him.
Today a lot of people in other groups got told that they would be laid off when their project ends, or at the end of the year.  I didn't realize that they got told right before lunch, so I walked into a minefield.  They asked if I was affected.  I had to say that I didn't know.   I've witnessed two layoffs now and lunch is always weird, sort of like being at a funeral.
Once I realized how many people were affected, I got mad.  While I was babysitting my experiment, I spent the afternoon looking at job postings online.  Hey, they told us one reason they were giving us advance notice was so that we could make arrangements, so that's what I was doing. Later in the afternoon, a VP of the company who wants to buy the group came and talked to us for more than two hours.  Hopefully, the deal will go through and we will still be employed. 
I did wish that I could call T and talk about it.  There's probably no reason that I couldn't, but I didn't.
Tonight I skipped going to the gym.  I came home, played a lot of video games, baked cookies, and blogged.  I'm going to go pour myself a stiff drink and take a bath now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Painting Boondoggle, day 3: Reflections on my weekend fling

I had a weekend fling with my paint sprayer. We had a volatile yet satisfying relationship.  It got the job done but in the end it couldn't keep up with me and started leaking at inopportune moments and making weird noises.  I should've just rented a professional grade one for my fling.  Live and learn. It will still be useful for painting the fence.
Anyway, it behaved a lot better today.  It didn't clog once. I had only about 50 square feet left to spray and the valve started acting up.  I was able to finish that section and put an extra coat on the back of the garage. I would've liked to put two coats everywhere, but it didn't really need it and it was getting late.  So I acheived my goal of getting the walls painted this weekend.  I still have to do some sections under the eaves, but those are fairly easy.  I'll do them when I do the trim.
It was dark by the time I got the sprayer cleaned out and some of the masking removed.   Now I'm exhausted but still wired.  I'll take some pictures tomorrow now that the windows are unmasked.
I like the color. Somehow, it looks less green in bulk than it did in the small test sections.  In some lights it looks taupe or grey.  When I paint the trim, I'll see how I like it with just the primer. If it looks good I may use white for the trim instead of dark green.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paint boondoggle, day 2: my tumultuous relationship with the paint sprayer

I had a hard time falling asleep last night.  My brain was going a mile a minute running through all the things I needed to do today, as well as fretting about the water heater.
This morning I continued masking and doing last minute stuff. So much for having it all ready to go.  My dad came over around 10:30, and we continued doing last minute stuff until noon.  Then I tried to run the paint sprayer.  I connected up all the hoses and set it to run water through to flush out the tubes. I plugged it in, turned it on, and nothing happened. The motor never came on.  I fiddled with it, and my dad fiddled with it, but there was a bad connection or faulty motor. So I took it back and exchanged it.  This required me to go to a Home Depot that was further away, since the one near me didn't have any more in stock.  I then had to wait in line behind a bunch of people returning small stuff like tape or caulk.
About 45 minutes later, I was home again with paint sprayer #2.  The motor worked on this one.  Unfortunately, it still didn't prime properly.  It didn't help matters that  the manual was probably the worst example of technical writing I've ever seen.  My dad and I messed with it for a while, and then finally I gave up and started painting under the eaves while he continued playing with it.  It has an adapter that lets you connect it to a garden hose. Apparently the slight pressure from the water in the hose was enough to unseize the valve, and then it started working.  It was probably 3 PM by the time I actually started spraying paint.  I got three walls of the house painted, and much of that time was spent on the paint sprayer learning curve. The actual painting took very little time.  I was very impressed and relieved that I was able to paint all the way to the top of the front of my house with only the 8-foot ladder rather than the extension ladder.  That was what I worried about more than any other aspect of the painting.
The paint sprayer will spray up to 1 quart per minute. That's a lot of paint.  In some areas I overdid it and laid down a pretty thick coat. I'll be more careful tomorrow. 
It looks pretty nice so far.  I am pleased with the color.  Tomorrow I'd like to finish up the exterior walls.  I think it's manageable provided that the paint sprayer doesn't act up to much...knock on wood!
Oh yeah, the water heater.  It just needed to be rebooted.  Unfortunately it doesn't like being partially covered either, so it turned itself off again after a while.  D'ohh!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paint boondoggle, day 1: don't try this at home

Armed with my new paint sprayer, I'm painting my house this weekend with help from my dad. Everyone, including complete strangers, is telling me that I am crazy to do it. So of course it's a good topic for this blog.
I pressure washed and did a bunch of other prep work last weekend. My dad did miscellaneous prep work this week. Today we masked everything and did a lot of last minute stuff. I worked until it got dark and then headed off to Home Depot.
When I said we masked everything, I meant it. I did the windows and chimney. My dad did the other stuff, including the tankless water heater. I didn't really think about it until later, when I realized that might not be such a good idea. Sure enough, water had condensed and the ignitor didn't work. D'ohhh! We are pretty dumb sometimes, considering that he has a PhD in physics and I have one in chemistry.
Tomorrow we will be painting.  I'll be wielding the spray gun and my dad will be helping out, holding the ladder, doing all the last minute prep work that we forgot about today, etc.  Hopefully we can get a lot done.  Ideally, I'd like to at least get one coat of paint on everything with two coats in the areas that require me to climb up to the top vertex of my house (about 16 feet). That way, on Sunday when my dad isn't around, I can finish up the areas that are easy to reach.

Friday LOLcats

Monday, October 19, 2009

Knee update: seven months/1 year

I was on the treadmill at the gym tonight watching a Mexican League soccer game. I felt pure nostalgia for how it feels to play soccer, to run at full speed down the field with the ball, or to make those perfect passes or shots on goal, or even those workman-like defensive moves which aren't pretty but get the job done.  I also realized that this was probably the first soccer game that I have watched without cringing in sympathy for all those knee-busting moves, and then I realized that not only has it been seven months since my surgery, it has been 52 weeks since I injured my knee.  (See, I keep track of all sorts of random anniversaries in my head, not just the ones pertaining to T.)
Anyway, it's a lot better now.  My knees are probably healthier than immediately before my injury.   I've been strengthening up my core, glutes, and legs with a class at the gym.  We do a lot of lunges, etc.  My legs have gotten a lot stronger from it.  It was a catch 22 for a while because while the knee was healing I couldn't even think to do a lot of the exercises that we do in the class. 
I miss soccer, but I'm not going to go back.  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Windows remodel=all done. Now it's my turn to work.

John finished up the windows last week.  A massive storm blew in and he had to switch into high gear to get everything zipped up in time.  Anyway, they look great and I am pleased with them.  I could've went with somewhat wider windows and it would've looked even better, but I'm happy nonetheless.
Now I need to paint the windowsills and wall, figure out a window treatment, and decide if I'm going to do something about the fireplace this year.  I'm going to see if I can hire Janet for an hour or two and pick her brain. Janet's the designer who did my kitchen and bath.  She is really great at coming up with creative, workable solutions very quickly where other people can't.
More urgent than the living room decoration is getting the house painted.  I'm doing it myself.  This is my big crazy project to take my mind of T.  Except I had already decided to do it before we broke up, and now I'm less in need of distractions.  If John had been a bit more speedy, it would've been a good distraction. I don't have a huge house, and the siding and paint are in good condition on the house, and so-so condition on the garage. 
This weekend I did prep work.  I really should've allotted two weekends for that.  I scraped and sanded and chopped back all my shrubs yesterday.  Today I did more cleanup around the perimeter, more sanding, and washed down the house and garage with my fancy new pressure washer.  If I had known how useful it would be, I would've bought one sooner.  As it was, I was going to borrow my dad's, but the hose adapter broke again and he couldn't find or jerry-rig a replacement.  Mine is a lot bigger and more powerful.
I was going to paint the windowsills tonight, but I'm exhausted.  They can wait until tomorrow.
My dad is going to help with some sanding and miscellaneous stuff this week.  My plan is to take Friday off to do all the last minute prep work, and then rent a paint sprayer for the weekend.  I am alternately excited and scared of the paint sprayer.  I'm excited because it will save me a lot of time and sounds damn fun, but I'm scared because I have heard some horror stories about it being a giant pain in the ass.  It's a much larger version of the bane of my existence, the spray station.  The spray station is the apparatus we use to spray slurries of catalyst onto ceramic rods prior to testing.  Same idea - a slurry gets sprayed.  Sometimes it works great, other times it's a pain in the ass when things get clogged.  My hope is that both the paint sprayer and the paint are more optimized for that specific purpose, as opposed to a first generation research instrument that sees a wide variety of materials.
I'm painting the house a light grayish green, with a darker green on the trim.  The windows themselves, gutters, and roof trim are white. If I have a last minute change of heart, I may paint all the trim white. I'm not planning on doing the trim next weekend, though.  I hate doing trim.. 
Stay tuned for the full paint sprayer report!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday LOLcat

Friday LOLcats are a new feature.  Feel free to add a different caption.
(No, this isn't Max, although it does look like him)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recipe Geek: Key Lime Pie

Even though my recipe geek record is pretty dismal when it comes to pies, I was not to be deterred. In honor of the fact that I'm going to Sacramento tomorrow, I made a key lime pie to bring with me.
Key lime pie is pretty simple. You beat some egg yolks, add a can of condensed milk and some lime juice and mix. The acid from the limes causes the milk proteins to crosslink and the filling gels. You then put it in the a prebaked graham cracker crust and chill it, then top with whipped cream. Although I've made key lime cheesecake, and key lime bars, I've never made the pie.
I used a recipe from "Cook's Illustrated." They're pretty obsessive, which is fine with me since pies are not my strongest point They messed around with the recipe a bit and made some changes. First, they add lime zest to the filling, and once the filling has been put into the crust, they bake the pie for 15 minutes. Supposedly it was too gloppy when it wasn't baked. I prepared the graham cracker crust and baked it for about 15 minutes, then let it cool while I made the filling. Once all the ingredients are mixed, you're supposed to let it set for half an hour. I distracted myself with an episode of "The Tudors" so that I wouldn't be tempted to play with it or sample it. It worked pretty much as described. I filled the crust and baked it, and now it's in the fridge. I'll pack it in a cooler for the drive and top it with whipped cream once we're ready to eat it. I'll put the taste test results in the comments section once we've tasted it.