Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Uh gee thanks, I guess....

Every year the county department the county department of agriculture puts some insect/fruit fly traps in my orange and lemon trees.  If I'm not there when they put them up or take them down, they leave a note.  Anyway, they took them down today and left me a note. It was preprinted, but the inspector had signed her name and written, "Nice Flies!"
Uh gee thanks, I guess.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blogging from the airport, Phoenix edition/Salsa festival

I'm at the Phoenix airport now.  Yes, I do spend a lot of time at airports nowadays.  I did the math and realized that in the 3 months that I've been unemployed, I've been out of town for approximately 1/3 of the time.  This will be the last trip that requires flying for a while.
I visited my brother.  We went to the salsa festival on Saturday and Sedona yesterday.  He got hit with a last minute deadline atwork, so we didn't go to Flagstaff on Saturday like we had planned.  Oh well.  Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of Phoenix, but Sedona was very nice, with high desert . I'll blog more about it later, when I've uploaded the pics from my camera.
Spring and fall are festival season in the Phoenix area.  This weekend it was the salsa festival.  (I'd post a link but it seems to not be working at the moment)  It raised money for the hemophilia society.  It cost $10 to enter and then it was all the salsa and chips you could eat. There were at least 100 types. You could 'vote' for your favorite by contributing money for the fan favorite competition.  There were also judges who tested everything.
It's kind of hard to judge that much salsa.  Some tasted better than others.  I would've liked to have had more salsa verde, but I only found one type. My taste buds are still sort of fried, and I had some sort of weird allergic reaction yesterday, where I broke out in hives and one side of my throat swelled up back to normal.  My throat is back to normal but I've still got hives I have no clue what that was about.
Anyway, there was a type called 'Colon Blow'  There was a lot of toilet humor associated with that, of course.  They had a toilet that they'd filled up with dry ice, so it did look like it was going to blow. They also festooned the porta-potties with signs that said stuff like "She tried colon blow', etc  I was amused.  I tried Colon Blow.  It didn't taste hot at first, but then you got hit with habeneros.  My brother and his friend managed to find the salsa that beat Colon Blow on the Scofield hotness scale, but you had to know to ask for it.  They were both in pain for about 15 minutes and it did induce a colon blow/ring of fire the next morning.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday LOLcat

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging from the airport, SJC again

I'm back at the airport.  This time I'm at the San Jose airport sitting in the comfy Southwest section.  There's free wifi and comfy chairs with power and USB charger outlets.  I'm sitting here blogging and people watching
I'm visiting my brother in Phoenix this weekend.  We're going to hit the salsa festival tomorrow and then go to Sedona on Sunday.  I'll take lots of pictures and post them here and/or in Facebook.
The water got turned back on at the monster house yesterday, so the inspector was able to finish the inspection.  Everything was fine.  I sent in the mortgage application today, so now things are officially out of the waiting period phase.  Reality is starting to hit.
This was a weird short week, sandwiched between trips. I was sick, it was raining, I didn't get much done, and yet I didn't have much fun.  I had a couple of movers come by and give me quotes, I tried to find a better rate for my mortgage, I ran errands, I worked out, I had dinner with my parents, and I went to an alumni get-together with Mitra.  That was about it.  Next week I'm going to make a point to get out and do some interesting stuff.  I am glad to be going out of town this weekend.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

20 Year College Reunion

My 20-year college reunion for fancy big-name University  is coming up.  I probably won't go, since I'll be living in Ithaca at the time.  As usual, they put out requests for us to send in a page with updates, pictures etc.  Like the dreaded Christmas card bragging letters of yesteryear, these usually end up full of people's successes in life (jobs, marriage, kids, promotions, more kids, etc) rather than failures or hardships.  For past reunions, I didn't bother to send one in.  As you might expect,  I'm even more curmudgeonly this time than in the past. 
Here's what it should say...
"Old biddy has had a crappy year.  Her long-time boyfriend broke up with her last summer, and just as she was starting to get over that, she got a layoff notice at work.  She is currently collecting unemployment and getting ready to move across the country for a new job.  Her hobbies include surfing the internet, blogging, playing Bejeweled Blitz, cooking and eating up the contents of her freezer, cupboards, and liquor cabinet,  being a crazy cat lady, and brooding about her evil ex.  She is looking forward to watching the World Cup this summer and meeting hot guys in Ithaca and being a cougar"
Well, that's a bit extreme, of course.  At first I used the excuse that I didn't officially know where I'd end up. But they extended the deadline and kept bugging me to send one in, and gave the option of just a short update rather than the one page.  I thought about the fact that if people only sent in the bragging letters it makes everyone else even less likely to send stuff in. In a class of 1500 people, there's got to be more than one person who's had a crappy year.  Many people have undoubtedly had a much worse year than me.  Eventually, I sent in a short description about how I had a good run at my former company (IPO, 45 patents, etc) but they reorganized and I got laid off, that I have accepted a job at Cornell, and am getting ready to relocate.  I listed my official hobbies (hiking, gardening, cooking, soccer) and said I was sad to leave the Bay Area but was looking forward to having a bigger house and exploring upstate New York.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monster House: Scary old witchy cat lady edition

Sometimes Missy tells her students stories about her family and friends.  She told them that I was buying a big house.  One of the kids asked if I'd be living in it by myself, and said that was sort of scary. I assumed he meant it was scary to live by yourself, but no, it was more along the lines of me scaring other people.  Yes, it's official, I am now a scary old crazy cat lady, and I haven't even gotten another cat yet. Just a crazy old witch and her cats living on the edge of the forest.. in a monster house with a jacuzzi tub.   From the neighbors' perspective, I'm sure that's still preferable to multiple foreclosure family (who apparently didn't fit in very well, according to Beth) or an empty house.
Houses are bigger and prices are lower out there, and incomes are still pretty high, so it's not uncommon for people without kids to buy large houses.  Beth pointed out some 2500 sq foot houses that she'd sold to single people, who then traded up for something bigger once they got married/had kids.  So me in the monster house is apparently not too unusual.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blogging from the airport, JFK edition complete with 80's music

I'm at the JFK airport now.  I've about halfway through a four hour layover.  I bought a paperback, ate lunch, and talked on the phone with Judy. She's also here at JFK, but she's at another terminal and one of us would have to go through security.  She got stuck in Europe due to the volcanic ash cloud.
Judy was amused when I told her about the monster house.  She did the same thing when she moved to Delaware.  Less than a year later she moved back to California.  Unfortunately, house prices went up a lot that year, and she was priced out of her old area.  Her experience is one reason I'm not selling my CA house.
I have a cold. I'm keeping myself well-drugged with Sudafed to get through the flights.
It's weird.  I've been so busy and preoccupied during this trip that I haven't been thinking abut T as much as usual.  That's a good thing, of course.  But when I do think about him, it hurts more.  I guess I'm just storing it up.
Finding a place to live wasn't the only reason for my visit.  My future boss and I were putting together an equipment proposal.  I think we made a strong case, but of course I am biased.  We sent it out this morning. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get it. 
I had a strange realization as I was driving back to my motel last night.  I felt a little bit sad about leaving Ithaca.  I think that's a good sign. Not that I won't be sad to leave CA, of course, but I've never once had that 'OMG I don't want to live here!" feeling like I did about the other places I interviewed.
Time to go get coffee.  I'll blog more when I get back to California.

Blogging from the airport, Syracuse edition

I'm at the Syracuse airport now.  After getting the house stuff wrapped up on Friday, I worked on the proposal on Saturday and did touristy stuff yesterday.  It was nice to have some time to go explore.
Sunday started off cold and rainy. It was about 40F. I had brunch at a motel nearby.  The grad students had recommended it.  I could understand why - all you can eat for $6.95.  Then I drove up the east side of Cayuga Lake to Taughannock State Park.  The park abuts Cayuga Lake, and there is a nice picnic area and boat launch at the main entrance.  The main attraction is Taughanock Falls, however.  It's one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, and is actually higher than Niagara Falls, although a lot less water falls through. Eons and eons ago, the waterfalf was right by the lake, but over time the rock got eroded so that now it's about 3/4 mile inland.
The trail stays open all year, so that's sort of unusual.  It's wide and flat.  If you want a better workout you can do the upper rim trail, but it was cold and I hadn't packed enough warm clothes, so I stuck with the easy walk.  The falls are pretty dramatic.  The amount of water varies greatly throughout the year.  After I finished my walk, I continued driving north towards the Cayuga Lakes Wine Trail.  There is a cluster of wineries in the area, as well as a place that makes hard cider. I'll come back sometime and try it.

After driving for a while, I turned around and headed back towards Ithaca.  I stopped off at Eastern Mountain Sports and bought a T-shirt and some long underwear (it was on sale).  I drove past my future house, just because it makes me happy to do that, and then I headed over to Cornell and walked around the campus and the surrounding areas for a while.  Then I drove over to to the Cornell Botanical Gardens. It's free and is open all year round.  I liked the herb garden.  All the plants are marked and are divided by category, e.g. herbs that the indians used, herbs for cooking, herbs for tea, herbs for dying fabric, etc..  I liked that everything was labelled, because I'm always looking at plants and wondering what they are. Most of the plants were still dormant, but I'm sure it will be really nice in a month or two.
There were also other sorts of themed gardens and wooded areas, but there was construction going on and I didn't see everything.  I couldn't find the poisonous plant garden, but I guess they would keep that sort of hidden away. 
The plane is about to board, so I'll blog more from the next airport.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday LOLcat

Friday, April 16, 2010

Monster House: Foreclosure story

My real estate agent, Beth, sold the monster house to the first owners.  She knew the gossip behind the foreclosure.  It's a classic case of greed and poor planning on the part of the first owners and stupidity on the part of the banks.  The dude had already been foreclosed on twice in other states. He moved to Ithaca and tried to get financing from a local bank to buy brand new monster house with 5% down payment.  They turned him down.  He went through an internet bank, who then sold his mortgage to the same bank that turned him down.  D'ohhh!  They moved into the house, his wife had twins, he lost his job, and then lost the house.  Somewhere along the line they filled up the house with a ton of fancy stuff, as evidenced by the pictures.
I'm sympathetic about him losing his job, but the rest is so out of whack that I don't even need to snark

Monster House: Intro

Short version: I'm in Ithaca now.  I put down an offer on a house. It was accepted.  This is what it looks like. The end. 
Long Version: I did everything I said I wouldn't do, except for one thing.  Buy a foreclosure house-check.  Buy something a little bit further out instead of something close to campus- check.  Buy a big house - check. Buy a newish house - check.  Buy a house that my real estate agent was listing - check.  Buy a house up on a hill so I will have to clear snow off my driveway -well, that one wasn't on my list but I added it for good measure.  Go outside my price range - well, that was actually the one thing I didn't do, but that part comes later in the story..
I'll spare you all of the play by play on the houses I didn't like, which were many.  Big ones, small ones, new ones, old ones.  The ones with a nice yard looked weird inside, and the cute older homes backed up to a really busy road or were in poor condition. The purple house next to campus was just weird.  The other purple house had floors that sagged badly and, I kid you not, a bathroom that was 6 inches higher than the rest of the hall.(There was a step). Clearly, my price range was a bit too low to get me something with more pluses than minuses near campus.  There were two that I did like - a cute remodeled house near campus, and the monster house.  The cute remodeled older house had only two problems - the bathtub sucked, and it was already in contract, which means a 3 day free for all where competing offers can still be presented.  The monster house had problems, but they were all related to my preconceived notions of what I wanted, rather than the house itself.  The house itself is great.  I have this image of myself as preferring small, older houses in convenient locations, because that's what I had in CA.  But I have a not-so-secret fondness for modern luxuries such as fancy kitchens and bathrooms. After I looked at the house the first time, I spent a sleepless night fretting about what to do.  I looked at it again the next day, along with a lot of other houses.  I still liked it the best.  The real estate agent had called the bank and they told her they would give a fast response to any offer.  I put in an offer that was $35k lower than the asking price, and $10k lower than one the bank turned down a few months ago. They accepted it within a few hours.  I can't believe it.  I'm not sure, but my real estate agent may've twisted a few arms on my behalf, and, of course on her own behalf. The inspection was today.  The city had turned off the water, but the bank thought it was on, so the inspector couldn't check that today.  He'll do it next week.  He found a few really minor things but nothing big.
So anyway, I'm getting a house on a hill that backs up onto a forest.  How f^%$ng cool is that?!?!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Junk in the Trunk

I've never had a disproportionately big butt, at least not compared to the rest of me.  When wardrobe malfunctions befall me, they generally consist of me wearing out the inner thighs of my pants or busting buttons off waistbands.  In fact, I've always wished my butt would bust out a bit more and my waist a bit less.  Therefore, the possibility of a major malfunction just did not cross my mind when I packed for my trip.
I split the ass of my jeans when I got into my real estate agent's car.  D'ohh.  I don't know if she noticed - it was kind of low.  As far as I could tell they'd gotten stretched out from 36 hours of continual wear and slipped lower down my hips like I was a teenage dude, and then they got pulled on at a non-optimal angle when I climbed into the car. So anyway, I'd only packed one pair of pants that would match the tops I brought, and had packed a dress rather than a skirt, and a pair of hiking pants but only one top that matched those and I already wore it for 36 hours straight.  So, on a grand total of zero hours of sleep I had to go jeans shopping in a strange town a few days before my period.  Not good.  When the 14's were too big I couldn't find a 12, and vice versa, and when they did fit they were too long.  I almost bought a pair at the Gap - they looked good and made my jeans-busting ass look nice, but in light of recent events I decided to err on the safe side and get the next size up, which apparently is not carried in the short length.  Sigh. I bought a black stretchy skirt at Target instead.  There is no way that my butt can bust out of that.
So, dear readers, the moral of the story is don't be a minimalist when you pack for a trip, otherwise you'll have to go shopping.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blogging from the airport, again

I'm waiting at the San Jose airport for my red eye flight to NYC.  It's not as cushy in this section of the terminal as it was over at the Southwest gates.  On the other hand, I didn't have to wait in line at all at security, so now I've got time to kill.  There's a very loud colicky baby nearby.  I really hope I'm not sitting near her on the flight.  Fortunately, it doesn't look like it will be a very full flight.
I'm going out to Ithaca to look for a place to live.  The reality is starting to sink in.  Someone from a moving company came by to give me an estimate today. 
Sometimes I go through phases where I freak out about it.  It's not a major freak out, just me fretting about all the tiny details.  Will I get financing for a mortgage, will I find a house I like and if not, will I find something cool to rent, will the road trip with the cats be ok, etc etc????
For those of you who were wondering, I did the smart thing and did not go to T's birthday party. But yes, I did stew and fret. That's one of the problems with being unemployed with too much time on my hands.  As predicted, he did not send me the details, and I did not ask, even though we did IM later in the week.  I'm going to leave it at that, but will open up the can of whupass if  he ever pulls this kind of bullshit again.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A drunken thanks to some of my former bosses and coworkers

We had our reunion for my former company tonight.  Now I'm drunk and sentimental, and for once I'm not whining about T.  Nope, I'd like to do a blog thanks the some of my former bosses, both official and unofficial.
 H: H had the same grad school advisor as I did.  Grad school boss kept telling me I should go work for H.  I didn't pay too much attention to his suggestion, but now, 15 years later, H hired me once, saved my ass in a major way once, and his extensive networking skills helped create the Cornell job and hook me up with it. I hate to admit it, but grad school advisor was right. I've already thanked H in person, but am going to do so again in blog format.
B: B was never officially my boss.  We still had the horizontal organization when I worked with him, so he was my project coordinator for a few months, and then we were both on another project, with J as project leader.  He was more of a mentor than the others.  It was refreshing to work for someone older than me who actually took an interest in people's career development other than his own.  He was always on my case to look for new jobs, since he viewed our former company as going down the tubes and was looking for jobs himself.  I wasn't interested in the time, but it did make it easier once it came time to jump in with both feet.  Also, he took the time to teach me abut zeolite synthesis, and he is a true master of it.  I learned a lot from B. Incidentally, I indirectly helped him get hooked up with his current job, since I set him up with a recruiter. So yeah, networking really is a two way street.
G:  G was my officemate and coworker for many years before he became my boss.  Even though he was tight with the in crowd in my old group, he managed to stay out of the witch hunt that took place when they decided to make me the scapegoat, and once he was promoted to VP I got promoted quickly.  He also played a major role in me getting the Cornell job, and was so unabashedly enthusiastic about it that I have to thank him in this blog, even though I've already done so in person.
J: J was my direct supervisor the last year and a half that I was there.  I thank him for being an all-around normal, good person.  He was very easy to work for and shielded us from a lot of the politics from above without expecting us to play our own brand of politics.  He also was the hottest boss I've ever had.  Think of a cross between Mr Big and Aiden from Sex and the City, and add a French accent.  Yeah, J is dead sexy, but this was never an issue.  I appreciated that he was good to work for, and I enjoyed the eye candy aspect, but the two things were never in conflict because he was a very good boss.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Elegy for Max

For those of you who don't know, Max was my yard cat.  He was a large, sleek black tomcat with the sweetest and calmest disposition of any cat I've known.
I first met Max almost three years ago.  I had just started my kitchen remodel and had relocated my eating area to the back bedroom.  I noticed a teenaged kitten sitting on the fence.  I talked to him, and he meowed at me, and eventually came over and let me pet him.  It was love at first sight.  At first I thought that Max was a stray, since he was at my house so often that even my contractor thought he was my cat. I wanted to adopt him. Eventually I realized he was just a very sociable cat who liked to make the rounds of the neighborhood and tended to hang out anywhere there was a lot of activity.
My cats liked Max too.  They never seemed to be bothered when he came by, wandered in the house and ate their food.  I'm not sure if it was because they met him when he was still a kitten, or if he had very good cat social skills and charmed them.  They had a bit of a love triangle going on.  Rugrat loved Max and wanted to play with him all the time, but once he was grown he was not interested in her antics.  Meanwhile he wanted to hang out with Luna, who would generally just meow at him and then ignore him.  She did like him, in her own way.  If she didn't like him she would've chased him off.  She certainly got less annoyed with him than she does with Rugrat.
Max had one bad habit.  His owners never go him neutered, and peeing on walls was one of his favorite activities. I first discovered it one day when he came in and peed on my contractor's work shirt that was lying on a pile of tools.  My garage and the front door were the favorite tagging sites.  Most of the time I kept my back door shut, but nonetheless he'd manage to sneak in quite often and pee.  But he was such a sweet kitty that all I ever did was chase him out and then pet him.
I haven't seen Max in a few weeks.  At first I wasn't worried, but now I am. I haven't seen the pee spot on my front door, and the garage is slowly losing its odor of cat pee.  I hope that Max is ok, but I don't think he is.

Cranky old biddy, mortgage edition

I'm going out to Ithaca to look for a place to live.  As in, I am going to look at houses for sale and put down an offer on one if I find one I really like.  My parents were somewhat unclear on the concept.  They thought I was looking for a place to rent.  My mom gave me a lot of grief when she figured out I was thinking about buying a plce.  She shut up when I reminded her that there's a $6500 tax credit but to get that I have to be in contract by April 30.  I didn't bother to tell her I may not qualify for the full amount because my income is too high. 
Anyway, I'd like to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. I've got perfect credit, lots of money in the bank, and a job offer in hand.  Additionally, I've paid off half my mortgage on my current house in the 9 years I've had it.  Do the math - this corresponds to lots of extra payments and general fiscal responsibility. My real estate sent me the names of a couple of her contacts at the local banks.  The person from the Cornell credit union was very helpful.  I'll be meeting with her when I'm out there next week. She wanted to see my offer letter and bank and brokerage statements.  That's all.  The person from 1st Weasel Bank was nice, but I do not like their lending rules.  I don't mind providing documentation about everything from 3 years of W-2's, a letter stating why and when I was laid off, etc, so I did that.  Then she called back and told me "oh, by the way, you'll need to be in your new job at least 30 days before you close on your house."  WTF???  Yep, new FHA rule, and apparently 1st Weasel Bank doesn't make exceptions.  It's apparently not a well known new rule, either, since neither my financial advisor nor real estate agent knew about it. It probably won't be a problem at the credit union, since they have more flexibility.  (As in, they can wait a whole month or two before my mortgage becomes FHA eligible, or they can keep it in house)
Anyway, I don't think it will be a problem but it made me cranky.  This is partly because the T situation is still getting under my skin, of course, but also because I'm a geek and don't like it when I have anything other than perfect grades/SAT/GRE/credit scores.  That's not to say that it never happens, just that I get cranky when it does.  My financial advisor pointed this out to me.  He's the same way, as are a lot of his clients. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday LOLcat