Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, January 29, 2010

Last day

Today was my last day at work.  The VP of HR sent out the following message this morning.  The timing couldn't have been better.

We want XYZ Technologies, Inc. to be a fun, challenging and rewarding place to work. Help us realize our vision of a world-class work environment by completing the 2010 XYZ Technologies Employee Engagement Survey. This survey is your opportunity to help shape the future of XYZ and improve your own work experience in the process.
Your feedback will be compiled and used to guide further positive changes across the company.

An independent firm, Useless Workplace is conducting the survey and tabulating results. Useless staff members will communicate the findings in a summary report to XYZ Technologies, Inc.. Useless does not release individual data to our firm or anyone else. Your honesty is critical and appreciated.

The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. If possible, try to finish in one session.

To access the online survey, click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser:
Please complete by March 2. If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you in advance for your participation.


Evil Vice President, Human Resources
XYZ Technologies
Sunnyvale, CA 94085

Needless to say, my responses were not positive.
Anyway, I went to work, I finished packing up my office, I said goodbye to everyone, I sent out a bunch of emails pertaining to the Cornell thing, I picked up my last paycheck with unused vacation pay and took it to the bank.  I took a few more books but resisted the urge to steal my office chair.  Then I turned in my badge and went to happy hour.

It still hasn't really sunk in yet.  There were moments when it did, but then it would pass.   It did hit me later as I was driving home from happy hour.  I'm sure the reality will sink in more next week, or after my trips.
Unfortunately, it did sensitize me enough so that it made me mope about T.  That seems to be my automatic reflexive response.  I'm not sure if it's a pressure relief mechanism or merely an indicator of deeper stress, or if it's just coincidental.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


There's a car insurance ad on the radio right now.  In it, people are confessing their deepest darkest secrets, only instead of talking about things like having sex with unwilling sheep or about laying off the hundreds of employees and then taking a multi-million dollar bonus, they are talking about being cheap.  "My son asked me why we were in the cheap seats.  He actually said 'cheap seats'!"  "I used to go out to eat several times a week. Now I never do"  OH NO!!! THE HORRORS!!! 
Anyway, for me, walletitis is a chronic genetic condition that I inherited from my parents.  I have no shame about it, and saving a hundred dollars on my car insurance isn't going to be a miracle cure. 
It's getting worse, now, as you might expect.  I just assumed everyone did this when facing a layoff, but that's not the case.  I'm trying to still spend money on things that I enjoy and mean a lot to me, like doing stuff with friends or that occasional 'must have' purchase.  I'm just trying to cut back on the mindless stuff, like all those random things I pick up when I got to Target or Costco. 
I once read an article that suggested that a good way to save money is to watch out for those $30 purchases that slip under the radar several times a week.  If you do this four times a week, as many people do, you'll shell out more than $6000 in a year on random stuff.  With that, you could take a vacation and put some money away or even go on a major shopping spree. I can relate to this.  I'm cheap on the big stuff but lots of little stuff slips by.  Since I've had walletitis all my life, little stuff is my big weakness.  Last week I was over at the career planning office for some classes.  Since I was there all day, I decided to go grab some lunch.  Lunch: $10.  My sense of smell was all jacked up that day, and my sandwich tasted weird, so I didn't eat it all.  I was still hungry, so I went into the Whole Foods next door to get a carton of milk.  I walked out of there $10 poorer since I also bought cheese and 5 lbs of tangerines.  Then, since I was right next to CVS, I popped in to get this caffeine-infused eye serum that I saw advertised on tv.  That was another $13.  Ooops, there's my $30 and I didn't even notice it, and yet I agonized over whether I should get the $50 sale boots at REI.  (I did get them.)
Walletitis...I HAZ IT!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday LOLcat

Random trivia of the day

I don't know why I find this so funny, but I do.  The Large Hadron Collider, which is the world's largest particle accelerator, has a Facebook page.  I kid you not.  Go look it up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Deja vu all over again, or, what I learned from "Mad Men"

Last night I recieved an email from the professor that I've been talking to about setting up a lab using equipment from my current company.  He basically reiterated that he thinks the best way to do this is to hire someone experienced to run it, and he doesn't want to do it unless he can get me or someone else from here to run it.  It sounds like this job is mine if I want it.
When I got the email I had a weird reaction.  I got nervous, closed my email and went back to watching "Mad Men" on DVD.  Yes, I am hooked on that show, but normally I multitask while watching it.  I didn't go re-read the email until later.  In any case, it was useful to watch "Mad Men" since the episodes involved the ad agency getting bought by another agency, and the machinations and positioning surrounding the merger.  It reminded me a lot of what we went through just a few months ago.  Of course, I'm left with a cliff-hanger, since the season finale left it unclear whether the merger would go through or not.
I had trouble sleeping last night, since I was thinking about the university thing and how to approach the situation.  When I woke up, I realized that a lot of my unease is due to the fact, like the proposed aquisition last fall, it can be derailed easily at any time if my current company gets too greedy about pricing the equipment.  The lesson that I learned from that is not to stop my job search, even if things look certain.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


At the networking and job search strategies class I went to, they suggested using your blog and your Facebook account as a means of finding a job. Uh no, I don't think so, unless I decide to start doing a chemistry blog or directing everyone to the food blog.  I love the LOLcats and the randomness but that's NOT the image I want to convey to anyone other than y'all.  So even when I do blog about my job search, identifying details get left out. 
With that disclaimer, I did get some good news on the job front.  A prof whom I know wants to get some equipment from my company and hire someone to run the lab, work with the grad students, etc.  He's trying to copy Caltech's model - they've been pretty successful since they worked closely with us and also hired a very good person to run it.  (Other universities have done the same thing but have had less success, largely because they didn't hire the right person to run it)  I think this sounds like a pretty fun job - the only reason I didn't apply for the Caltech job was that at the time I was dating T and didn't want to leave him-a lot of good that did me.  Also, I didn't want to move to SoCal.  Anyway, the T issue is obviously no longer a problem, and I like the location a lot better than SoCal, so this is kind of a dream job, mid-life crisis old biddy version.  (Former dream job = prof at MIT)  I could be in an academic setting and do fun chemistry without a lot of the headaches of being a prof.
Anyway, I talked to the prof and am in the process of putting together a proposal for him.  It would be ideal to get as much gently used equipment as possible, but the timing will make this difficult.  The garage sale has already begun and  I don't know how much of the really prime stuff will be left once the prof gets his funding, but you can't apply for funding without a budget and a plan.  So my current plan is to propose buying a new instrument as the workhorse for the program, and then try to get additional used equipment at low cost or as a donation.
Nothing is guaranteed, of course.  A lot depends on my proposal, as well as the prof's proposal to the university.  But it's worth a try.
Anyway, it's been a good distraction and I feel positive for the first time since they announced the reorg back in late October.  It feels good.  I've had too few truly good things happen in the last six months.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Windows, epilogue

I finally put up my window treatments today.  It only took me a few months, during which time my neighbors had a good view of me being a couch potato, blogging, playing bejeweled blitz, and cyberstalking T.   Normally, I procrastinate if I don't know how to do something.  This was different.  At first I procrastinated since I needed to paint the exterior before it got too cold/rainy.  Then I procrastinated because I was working on the paper.  Then I procrastinated since I didn't know my budget.  Then I procrastinated bcause my brother was here.  All along I procrastinated because my life was shitty and I had limited motivation.  Meanwhile, I'm sure my neighbors were wondering what was up.  The lady across street is an interior decorator.  She sewed the old drapes some 40 years ago and left me a Christmas card offering her services. Not that I really liked the old drapes, but I did want to get Janet's advice on the living room instead.  Janet's the designer who did the kitchen and bath. 
I finally got to the point where I didn't have any more excuses, so I hauled my ass over to Lowe's.  It would've cost about $700 to get custom cellular shades like I have in the bedroom.  Off-the shelf miniblinds looked pretty crappy. Fortunately, my new windows are standard width, and I was able to get off-the-shelf cellular shades.  They didn't have these a few years ago when I did the bedrooms.  There are a few standard colors, and depending what brand you get, they can either be cut to the proper width, or not.  The cheaper ones were offered in two widths for each common window size (e.g. 34" and 35" for a three foot window).  Both kinds only came in one length, since it doesn't matter so much if it's just accordion folded at the bottom.  I decided to try the cheaper kind since they had my size, and bought one to test.  The sales guy told me to just bring them back if they didn't fit or if I didn't like the bunchiness at the bottom.  One of the color options was a very nice shade of moss green.  It matched my living room perfectly, but it was just a bit too dark, especially since the shades couldn't extend fully.  I took it back and got a set of white ones instead.  I'm planning on painting the living room anyway, so it will easier to pick a color. 
I installed them this afternoon.  It took about an hour and a half.  The material isn't as soft as the custom ones, but I like the no-string feature.  All in all, they are pretty comparable to the custom ones, but cost about a quarter of what the custom ones did.  I may go back and get some for the back bedroom.
So now I'm completely done with the window project and all of its supplementary projects.  I'm glad to be done with it - my experience is interwined with the breakup with T and then later with the troubles at work.
 For my next project, I am planning on painting the living room a shade of butter yellow and either tiling the fireplace or painting it white as a temporary solution.

Sunday LOLcat

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I don't normally make traditional New Year resolutions.  This is not because I am a paragon of self-acceptance.  Quite the opposite, in fact, but I am not a big anniversary person.  I am continually making and sometimes breaking resolutions throughout the year.  My useful resolutions tend to come at odd times, and sometimes I forget about them for a while.  For instance, one year I ran a 5k which was held at the same time as a half-marathon.  I decided that I wanted to run that half-marathon the next year.  But then I got on a big weightlifting kick for a while, so it wasn't until I got carpal tunnel from the weight lifting and even swimming was painful that I actually revisited my resolution and ran the half marathon.
But anyway, 2009 was a damned crappy year.  I am hoping for a better 2010.  Like it or not, change will happen, so I am making resolutions, sort of.  My vague, all-encompassing resolutions are that I'm going to try to love myself as best I can, not fear change, and have more fun. Hopefully, those resolutions will have the added side-benefit of me having more sex, although that's not why I chose them.
Sometimes I do a vague job-related one.  I have no choice this year.  I will try to find a job, and while I am looking I will keep myself busy in a myriad of ways.  This may include writing  proposals, either as a potential business plan/grant application or research proposals in case I end up doing an academic job search in the fall.  I may also help out some friends when they need some help for their fledgling business, do inexpensive house projects, or volunteer.
Sometimes I do a vague diet or exercise resolution, but I'm not going to do that this year.  I'm still on my body-acceptance/health at any size kick and will blog about it in a future post.  My only exercise resolution is to try to do my back/leg stretches every day.  They take about 5 minutes - that's only 5 games of Bejeweled Blitz. They make a huge difference, but I just hate to stretch. 
Anyway, happy New Year, everyone!  Here's hoping that 2010 is a good year for all of us!