Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Better days ahead!

A couple of months ago I started working at a new place, in a position I'd left YEARS ago and came back to because I was corporate-woo'ed.  Not like "WOO!" but more like, 'come here shugah, we NEED you.'

That bit felt nice not gonna lie.

Concerned, in a sexy way
Then the party started.

As is to be expected, the first several weeks were loaded down like a middle-Eastern donkey cart with training.  Module after module, with scintillating titles like 

"How to apply paint properly so you can thence set about watching it dry (and how to document the process for the later inevitable audit" and 
"You, management, and the company.  A threesome designed to succeed."  

Like many companies, my new/old one offers training in four basic flavors.  They are 

  • 1) modules that involve mere reading of SOPs and clicking 'DONE' at the end (my favorite), 
  • 2) some with animations and no audio (an OK presentation, but lacks pizzazz), 
  • 3) shows with animation and sound with intermittent quizzes to trip you up (I happen to excel at this type of module, having learning long ago that if someone's going to put all that work into the training they're damned sure going to want to you pay attention and not feel complete fool in the midst of it because you can't answer a simple question like 'in what country can you NOT take a contact out to dinner but you can offer them sporting tickets?'), and 
  • 4) my most hated type of training: the 'Marci.'

The Marci is a type of training that involves animation, sound, intermittent quizzes, and the ultimate turn-off: stock photos of 'colleagues' in 'conversations' about the driest of the dry materials.  Think compliance, and audit readiness, and document retention.  THAT dry.

((DISCLAIMER!!!  I am of the opinion that compliance, and audit readiness, and records retention are important topics, but they do not need the Marci.  Nobody needs to hear conversations (also captured in speech bubbles on-screen) between two people pretending to be corporate employees but who are really only doing it for 50 bucks a shoot and access to the craft table carrying on this chat (see below) while being featured in a static display of one of four poses:

  1. stern
  2. curious
  3. concerned

The chat goes like this:


Marci, curious (dressed in a polyester suit that would make an Eskimo sweat at -20F):  So James, I see you've completed the corporate training for 'How to keep fish from rotting at your desk, SOP-FSHSTNK101.'

James, curious (in Dockers, an Oxford, and a tie): Yes, Marci, I finished it two days ago, as per the requirements in our training system.

Marcie, concerned: I also noticed that you had to take the assessment three times in order to pass.

James, stern: Yes, I did.  Some asshole in marketing kept pinging me on IM wanting those figures you said I'd give him two days before the deadline, and I had to split my attention between the tasks.  At 8 p.m, on a Friday.  DURING my wedding rehearsal.

Marci, stern: Pat of being a good employee, JAMES, is learning to budget your time.  Didn't you take that 3-hour training on organizational systems and using the e-mail janitor like you were supposed to (TRN-IMSKRWD-203)?

James, concerned and stern and curious (now THIS is acting!):  Marci, you know I've been here for only two weeks and that it normally takes the average employee 4 weeks to dive so deep into the prescribed training that they get to those flabby stupid CYA modules that even Satan himself has avoided assigning Hell's occupants.  I simply haven't budgeted the time on a daily basis to get the modules done much faster than I am right now what with the shit-ton of work you're throwing at me and trying to learn all the systems that go along with the crap work I have to do which is NOTHING like you said it would be, BEE TEE DOUBLE-YEW.  I TOOK A ONE-DAY HONEYMOON BECAUSE OF THIS COMPANY AND YOU, YOU HARRIDAN, SO BY GOD IF YOU ASK ME ONE MORE TIME ABOUT FRIKKING TRAINING YOU'RE GETTING MY RESIGNATION AND A CALL TO THE 'ACTION LINE' (which I learned about on Day 1 and haven't yet forgotten about because I figured I'd need it sooner than later).  Back off, 'mentor,' because once I'm DONE with training I am your BOSS and you will have to suck it up so hard your head might juuuuust cave in.

Marci, fully aware: OK James, that sounds like a plan.  Please ask me anything about any other training module in which I appear, as I'm so bland yet flatly passive aggressive in a shiny lip gloss and sensible haircut kind of way I might have fooled you into thinking I'm a powerless automaton in a skin suit but I think I might just be able to TAKE YOU DOWN, PUSSY with my robot powers and THEN who's the boss, HUH?!?!

James, fully aware: Touche, Marci.  But remember, I approve your paychecks.

Marci, concerned: Touche, James.


That's the Marci.  

Kind of.  The corporate version involves less swearing, surprisingly.

Next up?  Let's talk about do-it-yourself 'onboarding.'  It's the fun thing none of the kids are doing!

Tiff out.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Been a while

When I log in to Blogger to update this site-lette, if helpfully tells me when I last posted.

This time?  It's been since 30 September.

More than 2 months ago.

Oh, I've had things to say, but so much of that ilk of drivel gets spilled in Facebook, leaving me semi-top(ic)less for any real bloggery.

EXCEPT, I don't put nearly as much on FB as I'd like, because I practice impulse control on occasion.  So, in case you're interested, here are some of the things I WAS going to put on Facebook that I decided not to because I am selective about where I overshare:


I don't think I am anybody's best friend at the moment.

I don't think I've been anybody's best friend for many years.

Not having or being a best friend doesn't bother me as much as it probably ought to, but it does get lonely around holiday time.  A nice big circle of friends to celebrate with is great for the holidays.

All too often I have songs from the '70's on the mental jukebox.  Olivia Newton-John, anyone?  No?  How about some Carpenters, or BTO?  Or would you like a slice of 'Afternoon Delight' to quench your hunger?

I too am shocked by all the gun violence, and think owning a semi-automatic weapon is senseless.

I do not believe that quote you've attributed to the Muslim in Chief is accurate.  Perhaps you should do a little fact-checking before posting lies.

Just because I am of a certain political bent does not mean I hate Jesus and want to give all your money away to people who refuse to work.

Just because I'm a Christian doesn't mean I think you have to be too.  I don't even think that some CHRISTIANS should call themselves that.

I love bacon.  Yes, I know it's made from animal flesh.  I like chicken too, and beef.  Lamb, goat, fish, shellfish too!  I do not believe that milk is poison, and cheese is one of my favorite foods.  You have every right to feel proud of yourself if you do not eat those foods, but that is your choice.  Please do not try to convince me on Facebook that  I need to completely overhaul my (delicious) eating style.

Global warming / climate change is a real thing.

It's possible that GMOs are as safe to have in this world as a dachshund, a creature also created by modifying genetics.


Do you happen to see a pattern in my holdbacks?  Possibly that they are attention-seeking and/or provocative?  Maybe that they would tick someone off, or come across as self-pitying?  This is not the profile I want on social media like FB, I like most of my FB buddies and want to, at the core, not piss anybody off.

Even when I have something to say.

There's enough trauma in the world.  Nobody needs to get in a shouting match because they disagree with someone else's opinion.

Though I do offer up the occasional Snopes page if I think someone can handle it.  Not everyone wants their assumptions and warm cozy rut to be disturbed.

Even me.

So I will leave these things to my dim and dusty corner of the internet, hoping to expunge my wee rages here instead of fanning any flames on a huge social media site that should be nothing more than shares of cute animal videos and photos of people at parties.  We'd all be so much happier that way, wouldn't we?

Shaking my tiny passive/aggressive fists of rage,
Tiff out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fuc- you, Neil Kramer

We still blog.

It's not always nice.

It's not always what you want your mom to see.

Or you pastor.

Or your friends.

We hide stuff here, expecting that those who find it are looking for what in some odd way we crafted to appear.

We do not SEO.

We wrench, sob, filter, wipe, stretch, galvanize, sip, dip, ache, sweat, doubt, grind, celebrate, wonder, curse, pray, believe, accept.

We do this.

No apologies.

No need to kite the message.

(except of course, to my My FB close friends, who I've posted this to, but if you're not then then hello,  I am sometime offensive)

And to Neil, who prompted this.  Thanks  for reminding me why I still do this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Weird hobbies and one thing I won't do

This is my admission:  I have a couple of weird hobbies.  Can you call 'watching offbeat YouTube videos' a hobby? 

I could help her with this.
If so, then yes, I have some weird hobbies.  I like watching videos of weave installs (I'm getting familiar with the industry lingo and have seen some great and some terrible results), makeup tutorials, and 18-century cooking (both in battlefield situations and in a regular Germanic-style kitchen).  I can make up your face, sew in a closure, and make vermicelli pudding for you if you want!  I'm practically an expert!

One other little thing I like to do is peruse the Wake County arrest photos on the local teevee station's website.  It pays to be able to know who the local miscreants are!  While scrolling through the mugshots, I'll try to guess their age and crime.  It's surprising how often I'm wrong on the age things, esp. for arrestees who are older than about 25.  There are some rough-looking folks out there who, it appears, have been knocked around by life. 

Just a little while ago, I was doing the weekly scroll, and noting that it was mostly drug stuff, or breaking and entering (popular with the under-20 crowd), or DWI stuff.  Then I came upon a mug shot of this slim, sort of sad-looking young man with bleached dreads and I thought 'Oh my goodness, whatever could he have done wrong?  He looks kind of sweet.' which is why I would make a horrible detective, because this kid had one word in his arrest notation: murder.  MURDER!  You just don't see that every day around here. 

I have had some murderous thoughts in my past, I will say that much.  The thought of actually DOING it though would give me much pause.  Crafting a back-story and a good alibi would take a lot of work, don't you think?  By that I mean that if I was going to commit murder, I'd want to be able to get out of it if arrested.  Innocence is a pretty high hurdle to get over if you're going to become homicidal, which is why I've never done so.

Clearly this kid didn't think his cunning plan all the way through.  Murder.  That's pretty harsh, dude.

He should have maybe stuck with 'AWDW' and 'posses SCH1' or something a little less...desperate, maybe.  Get in a little trouble, go away for a while, come out and maybe your problem person would have been 'taken care of' by someone else.  But wow.  Murder.

Perhaps I dwell on this too much, but one can't help but wonder what leads people to such actions.  The father that drowned his children, the person who commits murder then suicide, the person who kills to get into a gang - did they at some point stop to think 'man, this is messed up, I need to get help'?  When does killing someone become the BEST option?

That also goes for the death penalty, BTW.  I really think prisoners who are jailed for terrible crimes should fester away in prison for the rest of their lives, no hope of parole.  Just stick 'em in the can and leave 'em.  With books.  And a job to do.  And one jar of Nutella a year, to show them what they're missing, because on the outside, you can have Nutella pretty much whenever you want.

So, I guess this is to say that even IF you make me really really mad, I probably won't kill you.  I'll probably just get all thoughty and metaphysical and introspective, THEN maybe clang you in the head with a pot to show you how mad I am. 

My gift to you.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ayy dee aich dee and why I can't complain too much longer about the cafeteria at work.

Many years ago, and it's nearly twenty years now, I gave birth to a wonderful, healthy, gorgeous, baby boy.

I was overwhelmed with love.

He has been an amazement to me ever since, with an open heart, curious mind, beautiful spirit, and love for all.

As he grew, he became an amazement in many other ways.  Walking into walls, for example.  Or having no regard, really, for his corporeal shell.  Or his curiosity that got in the way of more practical and mundane things.  Inability to turn in homework while simultaneously learning all he could about computer games and objects of interest.

Today, perhaps 14 years too late, we got a reason for his continued struggle with All Things Onerous:  ADHD, of the inattentive type.

Boy scores off the charts in verbal and language skills, is competent in maths and abstract thinking, and jumps off the ledge of average into an abyss of 'oh dear' for organization and task ordering.

That's his brain.  We should have figured it out long ago, but his ability to rally against his shortcomings gave us annual hope that somehow, some way, he'd 'gotten it' and would become as self-motivated as any 'regular' person and not stuggle with generating the 'want to' that both his Dad and I seem to also lack when it comes to Stuff We Don't Want To Do, Necessarily.

Yeah,  we might be smart people, but we're also really really stupid, it seems.  Parental blindness might be a real thing.

So, now he's gotten an ID, has a plan, and in addition to learining more about his condition through education will likely be going on some meds soon (after consult with his physician and using the lovely 16-page testing report as a guide) to attack this issue and therefore ensure that he has the success in his future he deserves.

Breaks my heart to have waited this long.  Some problems don't fix themselves. But now?  Maybe we can help him truly realize the potential in his big beautiful noggin and soul.

Then use those lessons learned to evaluate my issues.  For they are legion.


Also, I got a new job.  First day is 12 October. 

I have 2.5 weeks to complain about the foodservice at my current job site.

Today's gripe: pasta salad that looks like it ought to taste good, but instead tastes like soap.  Second time in 2 weeks.  I didn't believe it could happen a second time.  Fooled me!  Haha!

I think I'll just eat boiled eggs and yogurt from this point on.

Until 12 Oct, that is.  Then it's grazing from the 'fridge for me, because my new job takes place at my kitchen table, where I can look at the birdies at the feeder and watch the sun glaze the room in many hues and moods as it traverses the blue arc above.


Tiff out.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

There's no sense quitting now

A couple of nice things have happened to me lately that I'd like to share with you, because now, instead of being a tired-out old crust of a woman with a soul as bitter as a cup of Starbucks extra-dark, I'm all about sweetness and light and scraping the saucy savory bits of life from the bottom of a love-deglazed cast-iron life, baby.

Thing the first:  As every lady of a certain age should do as often as her personal physician tells her to, I recently went for my yearly mammmmmmogrammy.  Oh, yeah, having those cold cold plates of....plastic (not so cold) press the boobage into impressively wide and long extra-large pancakes is an annual rite I would NOT miss, though mostly because the radiology office is relentless in reminding me of the obligation and I'd hate to disappoint them because they are so eager.

I don't mind the squooshing so much, my gals are not so very sensitive that I feel close to crying out in pain at the ultimate smooshery levels, and in fact I like looking at the pics when the schmashing is done.  There's all MANNER of stuff in there, like fat and muscle and fibrous tissue - it's weirdly pretty and fascinating to be able to take a peek into what's below the dermis.

OK, so that's not the 'nice' thing I'm talking about; the nice thing is the letter I got in the mail a few days later, letting me know that there is no sign of breast cancer in either Lefty or Righty.  Hooray!!  Even though there's no history of breast cancer in my family (that I'm aware of), it's still a reason to celebrate.  Any woman can relate to this: you don't really have a reason to worry, but when you're told you don't HAVE to it can take a load off. 

Then there was Thing the Second:  I got a very nice note from a colleague praising me and thanking me for the hard work I put in rewriting a couple of reports in his area of expertise.  Not MY area, mind you, but his.  It was like walking into a dense forest and aiming for the occasional clearings at first, trying to understand what his works take-home messages were, but after a while I was stumbling around in more shade than in shadow, and eventually into the light, which I could then shine on his bottom line (hee!), for which he was much appreciative.

Getting a 'thank you' note at work is really truly meaningful.  I should send more of them.  It made me happy for a whole day.  Especially when the writer includes the target's boss on the message.  It's like sending an extra-special gift, that is.

I've been rather more sunny since those things happened.  Which is good, because I've sort of been in a rut lately, and maybe so overwhelmed with things that I do nearly none of them.  Getting a bit of good news is like handing a kid a kite on a windy day - you can't feel bad about something like that.

Hope your days are looking up as we head into the blessed cooler days of Fall,

Tiff out.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The hazards of working from home, and why I might just be the most boring person ever

My job involves a computer and access to data and templates and sometimes people and a calendar and all the modern trappings of a corporate paper-shuffler's dream.

Read:  I can work at home when I want.

If I have meetings and such, I will go in to the office to put in some 'face time,' and to escape from the loving clutches of the Tiny House, if only so I can return at the end of the day with a sigh of happiness to be free of the world.  I don't MIND going in so much as I LOVE being home.

Isolation isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just make you much less apt to:
  • Change out of PJs until it's either time to go run errands or a family member is due to come home
  • Shower
  • Want to go, anywhere
  • Talk to people

Pretty much a terrific, wouldn't you agree?  Sit around at home stewing in my own juices until I have to go out, at which time I may or may not shower, then put on some of my favorite ratty clothes, venture out for necessaries, then run home quick to the hospitable quiet environs of home.  Wherein I complete whatever tasks I have on hand with a minimum of noise, fuss, or bother.

On days I have to go into the office?  Oh, Lordy.  It's a process.  I have to shower, COMB MY HAIR, put on office- acceptable clothing, brush my dang teeth (OK, I do that anyhow, but sometimes not until after lunch if I'm at home.  I know,  EWW), and then drive 45 minutes to the building in which my cubicle is planted.  Then I have to talk to people, listen to them talk to one another, smell their lunches and coffee, pray the 'good stall' in the bathroom is open when I need to use it, and manage to sit at my desk doing stuff for at least 5 hours until I can spring myself from society and drive the 45 minutes back home, avec happy sigh on pulling into the driveway.

I may have problems with social stuff.  IT'S WHO I AM.  No judging from you.

The question is: is the job (ie, working at home a lot) making me more boring and unsocial, or was I that way already and the tendency is just now manifesting itself like a genie released from a cubicle-shaped bottle?

This, along with the previously mentioned life stage of Not Being Busy People, is causing me to question whether or not I truly AM the most boring person ever, of if I should just embrace my love of all things solitary and recommence trying to memorize all the episodes of Star Trek TOS in order and coming up with new ways to cook with chicken.

Near-future career options have me believing that come the end of this year, I'll be moving on to ground beef and Dr. Who, but more on that later.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

We are not busy people, right now

There are two questions that are asked at the Tiny House nearly every night, lately:

1) What do you want to do with the evening? and

2) What do you want for dinner?

Y'all? Busy people do NOT ask those questions.

For example, parents of young children know PRECISELY what they are going to be doing in the evening, from the moment they wake up in the morning. It rarely varies from:

Person A) get home, dump the kid's stuff, feed them dinner (choices are chicken nuggets, fish sticks, mac n' cheese, or PB&Js), bathe them, read to them, tuck them in, eat dinner, collapse; or

Person B) dig stuff out of daycare bags, wash what needs washing from that bag, empty dishwasher, do general kitchen chores (including maybe starting dinner for the adults), dry kids off, kiss their widdle heads, eat dinner, collapse.

I get tired just thinking about it, and that's the 2-person list! Imagine what single moms of very young children go through!!

As another example, parents of kids on sports teams or similar activities. They're not lounging around at home wondering what to pull out of the freezer to thaw and eat, oh no. They are carting kids to and fro and fro and to, helping to coach or serving on a committee, picking up fast food for dinner because practice ran long (again), researching the best equipment to buy or private teacher to engage, handing out uniforms or riding the bus to the game, raising money and hustling the behind-the-scenes action to ensure that everything goes off without hitch when it's 'go' time.

(Now, I've been these people. Most nights, at least early on, the notion of an idle evening with 'Nothing on the Program' was just a faraway dream. But that is the role of those days. Busy-ness is the norm.)

I must point out that there is another class of Busy People. These folks find busy-ness outside of the kid-intense days of parenting! They are signed up for book clubs and yoga classes and arts and crafts sessions and gym classes and plan out when they're going to entertainment venues and fill their days and nights with action, action, action. These people (confession time!!!) I do NOT understand, but will admit they exist. Like unicorns, or old white convertible VW bugs (the legendary '4 pow!'), they are rare, but enough evidence exists to know they are real. They do not have time to ask the two questions, because they have to be at the gym in 26 minutes so will just grab a smoothie on the way, thanks and let's do lunch.

But we, we former busy people of the Tiny House, have hit a moment of doldrum in life's waters, it would appear. We ask the questions every night and come up, on a regular basis, with the same plan - cook something long and involved and then go watch Star Trek. Now, it's not a BAD plan, mind you, but it is the kind of thing that Not Busy People would do as a fall-back plan. Busy People, on the other hand, grab Chipotle and meet their buds for a Appletini before going home to download four podcasts to listen to on their commute. Start Trek? Please. Busy folks are so over that, unless it's ironic or they are researching a Halloween costume that none of their friends will recognize, which is also kind of ironic.

The point of all this is to say that mentioning this 2-question reiterative lifestyle is not a complaint. It is an observation only, and one I'd like to be reminded of in the near future, because Life is about to git us up and going again. Biff's band is going to start regular practices again, the new site for church is going to need a lot of attention (and, once again, I'm leading a team for the launch and beyond while Biff will be rocking out on stage), we're going to be leading a small group discussion for 'seekers and questioners,' and there is some kind of strange plan to initiate a workout program (that's my idea, I've not yet discussed it with Biff). Rather than moping about our doldrums, then, I am planning to relish them, because as sure as poop goes through a goose, our days are going to start a faster and furious-er pace into which these long evenings of summer will rapidly recede into distant memory. We shall be Busy People once more, but probably with way fewer Appletinis (make mine a bourbon on the rocks!) and way more Star Trek.

And look! It's nearly 6 p.m. as I write this. Better go pull something out of the freezer and find a complicated recipe before it gets too late to work in Start Trek.

Tiff out.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Home for the weekend

Fetch me my tricorn hat!  I need a meal!
I picked up Thing 2 from school today; he's been at UNC for two weeks and needed a laundry trip home.  Naturally, as mentioned, I said yes to this request, as I actually miss the kid. Who'd-a thunk it?

He entertained me nearly the whole ride with a recitation of what he's been up to for those 2 weeks, aided by the journal he's been keeping of his daily activities.  Wonder where he got THAT from? (my Mom, I think.  Seriously.  She writes down a short encapsulation of what goes on day to day on a desktop calendar.  It's a good idea.)  The school handed out some pocket-sized notebooks and it appears that they are just the right size for noting 'things' in during the day and through the night.  So, he read through the book, adding bits and pieces throughout his narrative, until we reached today.

The LONGEST part?

Describing everything you can get to eat in the cafeteria.  Holy  moly!  I thought that my college eating experience was good (and it was! Thanks JMU!), but his is yards and yards better.  SO glad we got the super-sized swiper plan so that I can go try this whole thing out sometime.  Because, hey, when your kid tells you he's eating stuffed flounder of roast beef and mashed potatoes, you KNOW he's eating better than you most times.

Also, there's something about a double-chocolate macademia nut cookie that I hear is to die for.


I also like that he took himself for a walk to the Arboreturm, 'just for something to do,'
 and was enthusiastic about it.  That's my boy.


 I think it's going to all work out, friends.  I really think it will.

Tiff out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Well howdy!

I have not posted anything in almost 2 months?   What the heck is going on?  It's not like I've been:

  • Travelling the world (the farthest I've gone is Virginia.  No wait!  Michigan!)
  • Being all tied up inventing something the whole entire world needs (but I did finalize an SOP)
  • Learning a new skill (though does 'renting cars' count?)
  • Holed up writing the next great American novel (not even YA stuff)
  • Reinvigorating my health with vigorous daily exercise (and why is it spelled that way, 'exercise'?  It should be exersize, right?)

My life has been kind of boring, if you want to know the truth.  I gave up on both the vegetable and flower gardens, even.  I think the only thing I've been doing a real good job on lately is spending money.  Like, to the point that I'm having to move it out of savings (ouch) to pay for the stuff that needs buying.  I suppose when one is purchasing a good deal of items not on the budget (plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, new brakes, anyone?), when one doesn't use credit cards the ol' bank account will be taking a hit.  But hey, tomorrow comes with a paycheck, so that's a silver lining.  AND, all that travel stuff was for a good cause, because it's not every day that a family member gets married AND decides to spend the first week of their honeymoon in little old Raleigh, NC.  It was nice having Biff's daughter and her new husband around for the week - we just don't get to see them all that much (Michigan is kind of far away.  I just looked at the map to confirm).

Dang, the last time I posted we hadn't even gone to Lake Week yet, and now it seems so far away.  Side note regarding the top news of yesterday: I was shocked at the senseless murders of a TV reported and her cameraman by a disgruntled former colleague, even MORE shocked to find out that it happened right at the Lake.  The same lake my family has been gong to for vacation for over 30 years!!  Bridgewater Plaza is as familiar to us as anything, and next year when we are there something will have changed about it, because murder in broad daylight is so horribly sad and such a waste of life that something will, in some way, have necessarily to be different.  It's terrible and wrong and disappointing that those two were killed by someone who subsequently took the coward's way out and shot himself.  Why didn't he just shoot himself first and let those two young people live?  Why did that selfish waste of skin feel like killing someone is just recompense for the slights it seems that he imagined she flung at him?  What kind of lunatic believe that murder is justifies because someone (perhaps) called you a bad word?  Right, a LUNATIC.  Way to ruin their lives, their families lives, and my vacation, you dickhead.

Changing topic now.

Thing 2 has been away at college now for nearly 2 weeks.  He has asked to come home for the weekend tomorrow, which I am happy to have him do.  At first I was going to stand firm that he should hang out there for at least a month, but as soon as he asked to come home I was all like 'ABSOLUTELY!!!' and so I will be picking him up tomorrow at 4:45 and try to not suffocate him with that first hug.  He's in near-constant contact with his brother, but does he call his mother?  Well, yes.  He does.  He also sent his brother a picture of 'The Pit' outside the student union last Saturday, and apparently everyone left campus because what is normally a very bustling area on campus was EMPTY (see picture above of what it looked like on move-in day this year).  Like, nobody there.  Can it be true that kids want to go home after their first WEEK in school?  Seems way too soon to me.  Of course my experience was different, because of Ye Olde Marschiernekapelle, which started a week before school did and kept us occupied many weekends.  I guess everyone needs to find their own way.

I'll leave it there, so as to retain some kind of material for the next time I feel like posting.  Until then, please keep us in your thoughts because we are likely going to be hosting Tiffowe'en this year and that's always a ton of planning and preparation.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Need a playmate

Hi, I'm a very handsome (so I'm told) young adult male with sleek black hair, a noble nose, good taste in the finer things in life (like snacks and naps), and a love of all living creatures.

I have 2 cats, but only one of them likes me.  The other one gets mad when I'm around, but I've been working on her slowly and she now lets me kiss her, gently, from time to time.  She's touchy though, so I prefer to hang out with the other one, who can sleep anyplace or time, and often does.  He's sort of like a big orange rug, which is a lifestyle I can get behind, totally.

My house is solid and smells good most of the time.  Wednesday nights are the best nights because they're trash night.  However, because most dinners are home-cooked (wink!) pretty much every day there's something new going on that is pleasant and homey.

I am sort of sporty too, if you like that kind of thing.  Not like marathon sporty, more like 'playing catch in the backyard' sporty, or 'taking long walks in the woods' sporty.  I'm not picky, really, as long as there's about 30 minutes a day of running around.  Young males like me need to get their ya-yas out, you know.  I hope that doesn't offend anyone, because it's the truth and I only tell the truth..

ANYHOW, what I'm looking for is a friend.  A buddy to hang out with, you know?  I'm pretty new here and feel like it's time to branch out, maybe, to find some new faces to hang out with.  It's OK if it's just online or whatever, but if you live close by and want to hang out that'd be cool to.

This just feels like the right thing to do, so if you're interested, leave a comment below with your contact info and I'll get back to you.  Or my Mom will.  She's typing this for me, for reasons that will now appear obvious.

My name is Wernstrom, but you can call me Wern.  Or Buddy.  Or Budder.

So, yeah!  Hit me up with the digits ('cuz I ain't got any!  Hee!)!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Please stop doing this

Folks, we need to talk about a few things. 

Things you need to stop doing.  Like, NOW.


Using these two phrases, for starters:

'Took a turn for the worst'

'All the sudden'

Because, really, it's presumed that (unless you're a non-native English speaker) you have come into contact with a variant of these turns of phrase before, and at that contact it's likely the phrase was being used correctly.  Perhaps I am wrong in this, but I'll bet not.  The use of these phrases MUST be stopped.

They are, in correct form, as follows:

'Took a turn for the worse'

'All of a sudden'

Please take note and endeavor to use them in their proper form from this point on.

Thanks much!


Also, if you would be so good as to cease being exclusionary, purposely ignorant, hateful, judgemental, violent, manipulative, and/or close-minded.

Instead, try being these things:


It might seem weird at first, but once you get some practice in I'll bet you find that you're a lot less angry and defensive.

Good luck!


One last thing (this is for anyone who works in a cube farm): if you are having a conversation in your cube with someone, either on the phone or in person, please, for the sanity of all around you, do NOT drop your voice to a whisper just as you're getting to the juicy parts of what you're sharing.  It's really super-annoying and makes some of us get a little stabby. 

If you KNOW you're going to 'go there' in a conversation, either take it to a meeting room or save it  for instant messaging.  Because that would be the kind and least distracting thing to do, and might save you from being impaled by a plastic cafeteria knife.


These message brought to you by someone who clearly has some 'issues' with people lately.

What are yours?

Tiff out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thanks for that

Part of why I don't love my job is that there's a LOT of training involved.  Like, a lot.

I also don't like having to follow the rules, like ever, but must adhere to The System where training is concerned or the folks in the Upper Offices get notified and I would get called on the carpet, which I like even less than following the rules, so follow them I do.

Therefore, I do the damned training.

This morning's offering was along the lines of 'How we made your job easier by introducing new steps in the process and multiple new forms to fill out, plus make you do more of the work other people should be doing.  Amen.'

What, that doesn't make sense to you?  Welcome to Corporate America, my friend.

Oh sure, it's padded with little items like 'we now provide a fully hyperlinked document for you to check, so now YOU check it instead of that dude in India,' which isn't as fun as it sounds (!) because the type of document we're talking about can have thousands of pages and multiple thousands of links to check, and did I mention I'm not all that hot on detail work either?  Of all the things I don't care for at my job though, detail work, especially QC work, is my least least favorite, and sometimes I enjoy it, but THIS kind of detail work is mind-numbing.  Oh, and then we need to complete a form that says 'I checked it, it's FINE,' which if it turns out things are NOT actually fine when it comes time to submit the thing, will bounce back at the sign-ee like an angry toddler on a trampoline.

But I digress.  Back to the training - -

Normally, intructor-led training is more entertaining than the canned slide decks or recorded sessions in which the same smiling lady is used to present a wide variety of topics (eg, 'Marcy' in one training is 'Lucy' in another and she wears the same clothes and holds the same poses, because why pay for another set of stock photos when you already have The World's Stiffest Spokesmodel on hand?).  Instructors can do that little interaction thing, and sometimes can inject a little humor, right?

Well, notsomuch today.  Sure, there were humorous things that happened, like that long space of dead air while the nice fellow swooped around a long document looking for his one example of a broken link (so he could show us what one looks like), a time during which I may have hoped that the connection to the meeting was irretrievably broken, and that awkward giggle when the other instructor fished around for a way to say "I don't know" to a good question, but otherwise this one was pretty dry.

It had to be, because they rip-raced through absolute PILES of material, barely mentioning stuff that's pretty important. THEN they had the nerve to tell us that the meeting would end 25 minutes short of the scheduled hour, and I had to wonder why they glossed over so much if they KNEW the presentation only goes 35 minutes.  Seriously.  If  I'm going to not do actual work and instead go to a training, I want that training to last the full allotment of time instead of 'giving me back' 25 minutes of my day to, ostensibly, DO WORK. That's just a terrible trick to play on someone, wouldn't you agree.

So, yes.  Thanks for that trainers for all that "time back" hooey, but I played a trick on you.  I didn't work at all.  I wrote this post instead.


Oh, and my kid graduated on 06 June.  GPA of 4.875, 18th in his class of 500+ kids.  He seems to think that's pretty normal.  I seem to think it's pretty awesome.  He worked HARD for those grades, but didn't want to celebrate it.  Weirdo.

So I'm putting his picture on the internet instead.

Yes, he's still in braces.  We got started late...
One proud mama, out. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Oh for F*(&s sake

Years from now it is likely that the furore being experienced in the hearts and (I guess they are) minds of some folks is going to seem quaint and adorable by most of the people who are still around to remember this one earth-shattering thing that has happened that can now never unhappen:


OMGOMGOMGOMG!  Where's the bomb shelter?  How do I protect my children?  What has this world come to that a man's man like Bruce is now a lady named Caitlyn?  It's an outrage!!  He can't be a she!  He's a he and he needs to be a he because if he is now a she then all my teenage broodings over how great a 'he' he was are now in vain because he was living a lie and liars are sinners and sinners go to hell and in my Heaven Bruce Jenner should be there gleaming like the god he is, medals around his burly neck and his glorious hair blowing in the celestial breeze!  Damn! 

Who wants to be a LADY, for crying out loud?

Well, me.

I am a lady, who never really felt all that 'girly.'  Don't think that makes me less of a lady because I tend to not think like one.  Does that make me a boy?  No.

I have a sound mind, a strong one, even, and while I don't tip around in girly acroutrements and preen over hair and makeup or get tall worked up over the newest fashions and manicure styles and Who Has The Biggest Diamond, I can be as much of a lady as the next man.  Or female.  I don't think it's about the outside as much as the inside, in other words.

I am a lady, who often feels much more like a guy.  I'm basic, simple, and now that I'm old I have much less drama and hormones to flood my physical being with what was chromosomally determined at conception, I have pared back to what I believe I really am, which is a PERSON.


Imagine.  Wanting to be the person you are.  What nerve.

Well, Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner has been trying to be what she isn't for well over 30 years.  THIRTY.  Let her have a moment when she feels just right in who she is, even if the plumbing might not match the rest of the remodel.  Who gives a tiny crap about something as insignificant as that, when someone can finally say something as banal (to me) as 'hey, I like jeans and a tee just fine, no need for pantyhose and perfume here,' or, more likely, 'I like me in a dress and heels and big hair like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias.' 

Word: It's not the end of the world.  This transitioning doesn't reflect on YOUR gender situation (unless it does, and then I hope in some way what is happening right now helps you).  It's not as though this sort of thing has never happened before.  This is not the first time.  It's HER first time, though, and I think that while it might be confusing and strange and really uncomfortable for some folks, in the end it's about finding what make a person comfortable and at  peace that matters, and not what they wear or who they are becoming, or have become.

It's just not that huge a deal, except for him.  A little support would be great instead of a heaping helping of obnoxious bullying and creepy innuendo (Mike Huckablech!).

God.  Give me a spirit of graciousness and understanding in this moment.  Remind me to be civil and not fan flames of hatred and discomfort.  Let me be the open arms, the understanding heart, the sought-for peace.

Rant over.

Friday, May 22, 2015


It's been almost a month since I last posted, if the Blogger list is to be believed.  Clearly, things have been happening around here.


A) Thing the Younger is graduating high school this year, and so naturally I have to set aside some 'fret' time each and every day about this momentous life passage that was too quick to arrive.  OK, I don't really do that, but could if I was that sort of person, which I am not, and likely should be more of because things would get done around here, most likely.  We were involved, however, in discussions regarding enrollment and housing choices, both of which have occurred and are paid for.  It's going to be Tarheel country up at our house!

B) There were some birthdays and that whole Mother's Day raft of shenanigans really took the wind out of my sails for several days.  Plus which I got chocolate, so that took priority over writing anything here.

C) I also had to pay rapt attention to the Internet, as it's been a little dicey lately and needs to be monitored.  Closely.  Every day.  Did you know the average Facebook user spends 40 minutes a DAY there?  Slackers.

D) I started to write more than once, but each and every time a puff of wind blew in my face, or a cat wanted in (or out, or both, because, catS), or nobody else was making dinner, or I just coulld expend the energy to open up Blogger and just start in.

E) Also, I spent a fair bit of time working out the plan for my novel, and managed to whittle way some of the really bad ideas to arrive at what I think might be workable, and so got all skittish about writing anything else for fear that activity might push the good ideas out, which as it turns out happened quite naturally over time and it seems at this point like I'm going to have to go re-think my previous thoughts to see if they're still in the 'winning' column of Stuff I Would Like to Read (and therefore write).

F) Oh, and getting Thing 1's cosplay outfits ready for Animazement, which started yesterday, took some time.  I spent a LOT of time avoiding it, because it was going to be hard and I wasn't sure I could do it at all so didn't start because then, in a twisted way, I couldn't eff it up.  It was only when I noticed that HE wasn't starting anything either that we had a little chat about our shared procrastination issues and we dove in.  Things were going pretty well for me until yesterday, when I put the jacket (like, an actual SUIT JACKET!) together all wrong and it was too late to fix it so I wound up PAINTING another jacket approximately the right color and sheen to match what would have been the Perfect Jacket if I hadn't messed it up.  See today's pic above for what was supposed to happen.  I didn't make it that far, though it would have been awesome to have it come together, because we started working on it in January and the pattern and material set me back 80 bucks and C put a LOT of time into fusing the shiny stuff to some beefier material to make suitable (!) suiting fabric.  Oh well.  There are about a hundred ways to interpret this character (as I just found out (INTERNET!)), so I hope that the cosplay will be recognizable and enjoyed.

We DID successfully style the wig and make a Worbla mask and heart for the other cosplay character he's doing, so that's a win.  This is what we were going for:

He also did the whole suit and gloves and tie and shirt thing.  It came together nicely and I cannot WAIT to see pictures.

So, yes, it's been a while and I have NO good reasons why I haven't continued the frenetic pace of blogging I have set thus far this year.   Please accept the above neatly-listed Maytime activities as proof of my continued existence and interest in reaching out to you, the good people of the internet (and sometimes real life).

Happy long weekend!

Tiff out.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wern-in-natin' the countryside

Ask anyone around these parts why we got a dog last year and most if not all of them would say “we have no idea.  Both Tiff and Biff have stated bluntly that they were never going to get another dog because cats are so much easier and they can just leave for longer periods of time and gallivant and frolic and such without having to worry about some dumb ol’ canine needing to be walked and fed and loved and stuff.

And it would be true.  Every single syllable.  Once Skeeter Thee Dog passed on, we were freed up significantly to do whatever we wanted to, when we wanted to, for periods of up to 3 whole days at a time without having to call in the kitty-sitter to come refill the food bowls and check for carcasses.  We were footloose and fancy-free, and it was great.  GREAT!!  No dog hair to sweep up, no toys to throw and throw and throw, no schedule to be aware of, just loosey-goosey life, livin’ la vida lazy!

I didn’t realize how good we had it, until we got a puppy.

The most unexpected puppy ever, a puppy that really probably ought to be living with someone else right now.  Someone else who understands dogs, who forgives them their stupidity and messes, who adores their goofy flabbergasting ways.  Who might be able to make sense of what happened yesterday afternoon in the 5 hours or so he was home alone.  Picture it:

I walk in the door at about 4:15, greeted as usual by Wern, who is standing on the couch in the usual position, happy as all get–out to see me, or so it would have appeared if I was utterly blind and had no sense of touch or smell.

The happiness was not FOR me, though, it was for the ‘work’ he’d been up to while on his own.  Work that included jumping ON the kitchen table (he’s never done that before) and eating 2 packets of ketchup, 15-20 Hershey’s kisses (wrapped in festive pastel foil, which I expect to start seeing again any day now), a tube of lip gloss, a tub of tuning slide grease, a (small) bottle of rotor oil, 2 ziploc bags, and a work glove.  In the carnage, he managed to dislodge 10+ CDs from the Ziploc they had been stored in and scatter them all over the floor, knock the (small) pile of mail to the floor, possibly eat some of the mail (can’t be sure, it’s either that or he snacked on some cash-register receipts), and knock a box of sewing pins all.over.the.floor (and carpet, and couch, and under the recliners).

It looked, quite literally, like someone had chucked a lit stick of dynamite into just the right spot to maximize ‘stuff spread’ on the BOOM.

I didn’t react well.

To put it mildly.

Oh sure, I put him outdoors (after slamming the door in his face and without checking his feet or mouth for PINS) so he wouldn’t get in my way (‘stay safe’) while I was cleaning up, and once done cleaning up I called the vet to get their recommendation on what to do (they said ‘go to the emergency room’ and I laughed and laughed).  Sure, I made sure he was safe and secured the incident zone, sure I did, and then I called Biff and asked him where the shotgun was.

I did.

Because #1 – I’d had it with this wild beast and #2 - I do not have, at this time, any money to give to ER vets for our dog.  Not even for an X-ray, because here’s why: there was some mix-up in the HR system at work and mysteriously my withholding allowances went from 0-80 (sort of) sometime in the latter third of the year and as such I owed several thousands of dollars to the Feds which I THOUGHT I was going to use to buy siding for the house after we get the foundation work done in May.  Put it another way: foundation work + tax payout (the former siding!) = almost my entire savings account, with purt’ near no room left over for stupid dog tricks like maybe SWALLOWING PINS and having to pay out mucho dollars to assess the situation.

Well, calling Biff was the right thing to do, because he couldn’t put his fingers right smack on where the shells were for the shotgun.  Not only was he totally non-helpful in my bloodlust, Biff talked me back off the ledge from which I was planning to jumpstart my murderous career and suggested I call our buddy Jen, who knows Things About Animals and is good about putting the tops of upset people’s heads back on when their idiot pets caused it to nearly blow right off.  So, I texted Jen, and Jen said ‘call me,’ so I called, and she talked me down from the radiator next to the ledge back to a reasonably comfortable wing chair in the parlor, advising us to take a path that sounded sensible and level-headed and cheap.  Gosh Jen, I’m glad we crossed paths at a company that shall not be named many years ago – and not only for your ‘don’t be daft about the dog’ attitude.

So, Wern was fed well throughout the evening.  We watched for signs of distress but none came.  No GI effects throughout the night.  This morning he was pacing a bit but I think that’s because I was up at 4:30 a.m. for NO REASON AT ALL and he didn’t get his customary lie-in until 8 a.m. with me and was confused about how to be in the morning, in the dark.  I asked Mason to take him out at lunchtime, and I’m leaving soon to go check on him/let him out/feed him some more/ensure he’s not eaten through the back door and into the garden like some canine Lawnmower Man. 

Because even though he was in mega-jerk dog mode yesterday afternoon and evening, I’d still hate for the big galoot to feel sad or sick or ‘off’ without someone there to help him through what ails him.

Which does NOT mean I’m a ‘dog person,’ yet, but I think it’s one more step down the road to crazytown.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lacking temper-ance

The harsh truth is that all too frequently, boredom can be mistaken for contentment, and the urge to move on with can life can be mistaken for complacency.  It is possible to be content and satisfied with what makes up life as you might know it, but not be happy in it or challenged at all by it.  

Take the person who gets in their 8 hours a day at work but never really has anything to say about it.  They go, day in and out, and do what they do, content that they have something to do that doesn't challenge them too awfully much, and come home to the paper and slippers and a hot dinner bubbling in the crock.  They are complacent, content, bland as typing paper. Let them lose their position, and oh my, watch the fireworks start.  At once they are consumed with a fire to find something new, better, bigger, more FUN, perhaps, more of 'something' and much much less of what they had been doing that they thought they were happy with.  This is a dangerous person, for to take away the dulling blankets of contentment and complacency, they can now see the brightness of the world and want to burn in it.  Brilliant opportunities lie scattered all around where once there were nothing but dead ends and a beige sitting room at the end of the day.  Too see what is possible enrages and enchants them, pulls at them until finding their passion becomes the One True Thing, and many will lament at the long years spent believing that chasing after their dreams a folly and a lie.

The barmaid at the Lemon and Stick was such a person.  Only she was different from the blanketed dullard who requires a life shakeup to see clearly.  No, she saw plenty clearly enough what she was missing.  Excitement, for one.  New prospects, for a second.  Someone to listen to her crazy dreams, for a significant third.  The barmaid's current problem was that she was employed in the same small town in which she'd grown up, had never left, and where, it appeared, she would die and moulder.  Once upon a time she had confided in her cousin that she longed to leave Banner Bank, but was nearly instantly rebuffed as a fool to want such a thing as to leave paradise on Earth itself.  Why would she do a thing like that? her cousin asked, as though she's just said she'd wanted to kill her infant brother.  It's so fine here, so perfect, no war, no hate, no fears!  Ugh, and no challenges either, the young barmaid (though she wasn't so at the time, a barmaid that is) had replied, and challenge is what I want.  Some people are just like that, keeping challenge in heart and mind even when circumstances don't permit such a thing.

Years had passed since that conversation, and since that time the barmaid had learned to keep such things to herself.   Nobody wanted to buy a pint from a crazy dreamer, this much is true, and because she needed to earn her own keep now, pulling pints for the folk in town was the best way to at least be close to a chance that she might encounter a stranger who would come and drink at the tavern, or might overhear fishermen had talk of an odd new beast they'd pulled from the sea, or that possibly she'd serve an Escort, if they really existed.

Challenge or not, it was time to open.  She had stocked the clean glasses, checked the kegs, sliced the bread and cubed the cheese, then lastly ran to the kitchen to fetch the cider from the inglenook, where it was almost always cool this time of year.  In a rush, she bumped the table on which the small cow sat (though he knew he was an Ox, with a name besides that!), and rattled it good.

"Sorry," she said to the cow, though naturally she didn't think it would reply.  "I nearly got you that time, did not I?" then ran back to the front, where her regular customers were already assembling.

'Indeed you did, though not nearly enough to unseat me fully.' thought the ox. 'Didn't even wake me up, though that sunbeam certainly done.'  Sunbeams are notorious for awakening slumbering oxen.  Sunbeams are one of the few really good reasons an ox has to wake up, really, so he had to assess blame where it was, in this case, due. 

Despite his reply, though, she couldn't hear him.  Hardly anyone can hear such an ox as him.  She'd need insight and a few more years of training to do that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Breathe deep the gathering bloom

In North Carolina, there is a fifth season.  It is the shortest of all seasons, but it has significant impact on each and every person within the central and eastern regions in particular.

This, is pollen season.  Pine pollen, to be precise.  And it’s happening right now.

The first time I experienced it was right after I moved to NC (10 YEARS AGO!).  I was just staring out a window at the office and noticed that the air seemed…thick.  Translucent, even.  As though there was a pall of smoke drifting, perhaps a small forest fire was happening, but no, this was different.  And why was my car green at the end of the day rather than its usual white?  That was pollen, all pollen.  Amazing.

Today, as I was driving in to work, I saw an AMAZING manifestation of just how hot for it the pine trees are right now.  The tree circled in the below pic was the hottest of them all, for as I passed it a puff of wind caught its branches and a thick CLOUD of pollen was released into the wild.  It was really very impressive, and I’m sure the sticky tips of all nearby cones are ripening with new life even as I type this.  Just that one outburst alone could likely have populated hundreds of acres of pines if it had been more precisely applied!

Nature is messy.

I now regret leaving the house windows open this morning. 


We finally waved the green flag at a foundation company to come shore up the underpinnings of our saggy ol’ house.  Apparently, foundation business is really great right now, as the earliest they could get us on the schedule is 11 May.

One more month of fun-house bouncy floors!  Whee!!


I think that because I came in late today I should leave early, don’t you?  There are bad storms coming into the area and I’d like to be home before they start.  A man was killed last night when a storm front came through.  He was struck by lightning in the parking lot of a Michael’s craft store and died later at the hospital.  Scary stuff.  Nobody ever really expects to get struck by lightning and killed, you know?

Also what nobody really expects, but  I saw yesterday:  a car wreck that tore the front off one car and completely bashed in the side of another, in a WALMART PARKING LOT.

Parking. Lot.

How recklessly do you have to drive to get into THAT kind of an accident in a PARKING LOT?

So yes, two things to not expect, both of which can kill you nearly dead (or, all the way, as the unfortunate young man at Michael’s discovered (or didn’t, depending on his state of consciousness.)).  PLENTY of reason for me to go home and hunker down with some HP Lovecraft, wouldn’t you agree?

Tiff out.