Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow, Cold, Stalled

There are not many times, and only one that I can really remember, that I've owned up to where I live.  Done partially to protect the very guilty (you know who you are) and partially to protect the others (ala me!).  But tonight, I am giving a very healthy and warranted "SHOUT OUT" to:

Inver Grove Ford-Lincoln-Mercury in Minnesota.

Website is here:  http://invergrove.dealerconnection.com/?lang=en

Specifically, I want to mention the service department and Jerry, the "runner" for their help.  I owe them more, I hope they find the cookies I drop off tasty enough!

It is about 19 degrees here in Minneapolis.  The wind coming out of the west dips the windchill (that is what the air temp feels like for those of you in sunnier/warmer climates) to about -10 below zero.  It is bone chilling out, especially in the wind.  With the light snow blowing in, being stranded in a broken down vehicle was absolutely miserable.

The Minnesota Highway patrol passed me leading a semi tractor the opposite direction.  I hoped it would not be long until help arrived.  I was getting cold.  My blue satin pumps with strappy heals not quite keeping my feet warm, the black wool coat barely keeping my body heat in as the temperature sank in my truck.  Ten minutes passed.  I listened the radio, without heat, and watched the time.

6:12 PM

Another 10 minutes passed and the truck was getting colder.  I was a little nervous.  The cell phone not working, no heat in the car, no other blankets or mittens or boots to put on, I considered walking up the hill, on the interstate, crossing the interstate during rush house, walking another 1/2 mile to the gas station at the top of hill except that my gas gauge before the truck died said 1/4 tank... and then also realized, in dark blue pants, dark coat I would be a walking dead woman.

So, I waited.

6:25 PM a truck with flashing yellow lights showed up.  MN DoT supervisor on patrol, monitoring our highways during the ice "event" making sure traffic was moving and roads were driveable.

He couldn't help.  He called a first helper.

Sitting in my cold truck, now without radio, I wondered how much longer I'd be cold.

6:45 the first helper showed up.  That's what they call the helpers on the road here in Minnesota.

Getting out of his truck he looked at my gas portal and said without the funnel supplied with the vehicle, he could not help me either.  He looked in the back area, opened the hatch, and it was gone.  He asked what he could do to help at that point, I asked if we could call a dealership and ask them for a funnel.  The one I purchased my BRAND NEW vehicle from (actually Dad did for me), was 30 miles north.

First Helper gave me the State cell phone to call Inver Grove Ford-Lincoln-Mercury.  I was not optimistic, yet I was hopeful.  Maybe on this very cold night in the snow, they'd understand my plight and offer to help.  He let me stay warm in the truck.  I never told him my feet were numb and not warming up, I was thankful I was inside something with heat!

My shock when the dealership said they'd send Jerry.

I did not buy my truck there.

I do not service my truck there.

But you can believe, anyone and everyone that I know looking for a vehicle will get sent there now.

If they go that far out of their way to help someone who is not a customer, I cannot imagine how much they will do for one that is.

Too bad, I'm not able to buy one right now, or you know where I'd be...


And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story!

Make yours a great day and a finer tomorrow!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Dad

Thanksgiving was kind of fun this year at my parents' house in the small village along the meandering river.  Mom did a bang-up job of cooking, the chocolate pie that I stab my son to stay away from (I know, I should not admit that on a public forum but it is no longer considered child abuse to stab him when he leers at my slice), and of course, I'm completely stuffed.

Conversation roamed from Oprah (who cares) and how much money she gives away all the time (yeah, so what, I appreciate those who have less and give away more with NO PR), and then onto my dad's life.

Apparently, my dad needs new glasses and they cannot afford them or the visit to the eye doctor.  My dad is 80.

Apparently, my dad is also not hearing well and they cannot afford the hearing aid either altho, knowing my dad's stubbornness, he probably would not wear it anyway.

His doctor left the clinic last summer (same one I shadow) and while he doesn't know it, that doctor is not keen on elderly patients because he feels so helpless to help them.  Part of aging is losing the memory, is having shaky hands, is the loss of hearing and obviously, loss of sight.  I want to get him to a geriatric specialist and while I know of one, the word, "AWKWARD" does not sum it up quite well enough if I were to send my dad there ... despite that he is a phenomenal physician and specializes in the elderly.

But I think, my Christmas gift to my dad is going to be a vision certificate to somewhere I can get him new glasses and new sight.  He LOVES to read so I'm going to buy him a new book or two to use with those new glasses.  My contract starts soon and while I have no idea of its length, I know the warmth I will feel providing something so necessary for my dad who would do anything for me.  Glasses seem to pale in that light, eh?

This year I'm thankful I still have my dad.  If you scroll back to some of my first posts, I talk openly about this daughter's affection for the best father ever.  My dad is amazing... and maybe with a little help from me, he'll be able to see me better!  Of course, then maybe he'll wish he could go back to his other glasses and see me in more blurry haze.

Make it a great day - hope your Thanksgiving was just as filling and fulfilling as mine!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Cave

I often refer to the house in which we live as "The Cave" even when giving people directions to it... fourth house on the right, reminds you of a cave.

Well, not really but in many ways yes: the drafty windows, the doors that don't shut tight to the outdoors, leaking basement replete with centipedes (house centipedes are very different far more disgusting than those you find in the garden; trust me on that). Yes, I wrote an email asking for repairs... won't go there.

Anyway, following a People story on David Arquette's drinking over the last weekend (and wondering why he is soooo stupid; seriously, married to Courtney and you act like "THAT?"), which brought me to his Twitter account and the pictures (seriously, he should engage Skankalina's PR reps NOW!!!), which brought me to a company that wants to build houses of the future.

Upscale. Ermm...


Yes, you can read about it here,   http://blogs.forbes.com/kymmcnicholas/2010/11/19/names-you-need-to-know-in-2010-binishells/

and see the other conceptual designs for our future.

Won't you join me?  In the cave???

haha ~ Make it a great day, chase your dream!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Night Delight

While my son played his video game, I watched old FRIENDS episodes on DVD. Had forgotten how really, really funny they are... gut busting, hilarity; enormously compassionate, and yes, I still love Rachel.

As the episodes went from one to the next, my son quit paying attention to his video game... and started watching. He was howling with me as Ross turned into a tanomaniac, or Joey tried to undo Rachel's bra, or ...

What great fun that show was! I'm reminded all the time how great television can be, and how great some of those actors are.

Jennifer Aniston does not get the credit she deserves. I read stories about her and can't help but think that inside Rachel was Jennifer's own heart and soul. As I watched last night in lines said to Joey (Matt LeBlanc), I wondered if she already knew what was going on during the filming of Mr. & Mrs. Smith... if she was method acting herself at that moment.

She, Jennifer, also carried herself with such high regard. No matter what smattering of lies came out in the press, or presumably behind closed doors, she moved ahead and said nothing. Her actions said it all... she would not get sucked into the mire that was created by those with big PR machines. She would be true to herself, and to her friends.

Back to the DVDs tonight (yes, I am THAT boring right now...)

Make it a great night and a better tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Unemployment Rate & Misperceptions

Interesting reading these days, actually over the past 2 years as the unemployment rate has risen, fallen, risen, and stagnated a sufficiently high level. Recently, my own state disclosed that the rate had fallen last month and were celebrating, only to be amazed that it rose again this month.

I'm not surprised. I'm appalled, however, at the posts and comments left on other forums about those of us on unemployment (getting UI or not).

One, I did not ask to be unemployed. Reality of the situation is, I loved my last full time, permanent job and did everything I could to keep it, to hire the best, to build a team of skilled personnel across the globe. I cut costs by hiring INTERNALLY and getting rid of the bloated costs of 3rd party vendors. Where I needed their help, I trimmed their profit margins while still employing them as well. I knew their game as well as they did; I'd lived their life.

Then, I kept a watchful eye on the financial reporting issues that arose... again, and again... and again. While in the Philippines, I got yet another call: there was another issue and I should think about how the company might broach rectifying the problem(s). The plurality there, is my perception.

Arriving back at home, I was called into the CFO's office, asked what I thought we should do ... my thoughts. I thought, stupidly, he wanted what I really thought. In my naivety, I gave him my entire team's thoughts: restate. Too much, for too long, over too many quarters, through too many subs. Restate.

I was fired. Then the rumors started... really, really bad rumors. Lies. But given I was the one without a job, they were the ones with fancy titles, their lies and deceit were believed. I was blackballed. I believe I still am... and have had conversations where that belief has been upheld.

Over 500 resumes have been sent out. ALL of which I'm either well qualified or over qualified for.

500. If that was one resume a week, that's almost 6 years sending out resumes. At 2 a week, that is 3 years... and when the reality of it all really sunk in, that my name was crap... I went back to school so that I could do something to contribute back to society. And subsequently, chase a dream.

I know I am not alone. There are many who maybe did not face equally as horrid situations but have nonetheless tried for the past few years to get a decent job.

I was making $220,000 a year. Yep, almost $20,000 a month gross with my tax off set and everything else, I was at about $13k net.

I'm trying to get jobs making less than I paid in taxes during those years. BTW, that's about $70k a year. I paid on a general note, about $85,000 in taxes. Each year. My ongoing joke is that I wanted to know which bombs sent to Iraq had my name on them. But I digress.

Two. I did not over leverage my now-gone house. I did not spend wildly on stupid stuff (for the most part, my son went without a lot of "crap" only to be taken around the world and shown how others live in 3rd world countries, in middle class Italy, and poorer countries like Mexico). My money was spent on a portfolio so should the worst ever happen, I'd have money to fall back upon.

Enter: Lehman.

Just like a bad boyfriend, my stock portfolio went to crap too. $120,000 down the drain; my 401k was emptied to try and save my house, the stock I had in the company unnamed above was sold, I held a garage sale... and I prayed. Not sure why. God doesn't seem to care much about the Ad2b's of the world, he has bigger issues to solve.

So, I kept chugging along in school; getting almost a 4.0. You've followed my stories of chemistry and physics on here; I still maintain a 3.8... despite my house, the bk, my son's issues (now resolved and he is AWESOME! tyvm)...

And I'm told by posts that I'm lazy. That I should just "Get a job" and that it can't be that hard. That I don't deserve unemployment because I'm a slacker... because I'm worthless... because I pose no value.

For those of us who live on that trying to get a job or a future going for us again, who hear you complain and bellyache that we are living off the government, I say this:

The government lived off me for 10 years while I paid my taxes, in full. $85,000 x 5, + , $48,000 x 5 = $665,000 in taxes paid. I never complained. It was part of having the salary I did, the lifestyle I did.

So, I don't worry too much now that the government is having to help me through. Especially when the same government enacts legislation (Sarbanes-Oxley) and then doesn't give the courts the ability to act upon it.

And, by the way, I'd love to have a job again. I'd love to wake up in the morning with a purpose and a goal, rather than another day trying to fill out online applications for the 1 spot in the 2 companies that are hiring with 1,000 other applicants.

I'd love to have health insurance so the back ache (kidney infection of which I'm sure) could be treated. As is, I can't so I suffer the pain in my back and the bloody urine...as I have for 2 months now.

I'd love to be able to put food in my refrigerator and not worry about how to portion it out so that my son and I could eat regularly and routinely.

That little bit of UI that I was getting? It paid the rent, put gas in my car for interviews, and food in my house. Nothing else.

And when I worked my little contract here and there? I did NOT claim UI... nor did those weeks get added onto the end of the term. They are just lost weeks. So, I worked (and got excellent references), and hoped that maybe that company would hire me full time.

So, for those of you who read and bash those of us who are still getting unemployment insurance, please stop. There will always be those who abuse the system... many more who will not.

There will always be more of us really trying to get a job, make a living, and contribute back to society again...

I'm one of them. Med school and/or working.

Make it a great day ~ I have yet another resume to prepare, and another online application to fill out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Card & Writing

This was an exercise in compassion beyond what I've normally had to work with.

Generally, when I've sent "Think of you" cards they have been to an elderly person that I've known all my life, or friends of my parents... I've never had to send one to someone nearer my own age.

What does one say when the only information gleaned is from a post on another site, very divergent from a normal reading spot? What if the information is false? Or it is just blatantly wrong? What if he really is okay? What if the poster just wanted to create drama when there really is none?

What if, I never wrote and it was all true?

So, I happened to have a card, with a great dane on it, looking in a door asking how things were... poetic, I suppose. And I wrote. And to make sure I did not waste another chance, I stamped it and sent it.

I hope that the poster was wrong. But in my heart, I know it is true.

And today, it felt good to take the high road and leave the past behind... which I generally do anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oh, What To Do

For some reason, in my boredom tonight, I wondered what ever happened to one of my oldest and best friends. We had a falling out a few years ago; my then boyfriend didn't think much of her, she hated him; I broke up with him, whined about it (yes, some of you do know that story), and she dumped me as a friend.

Hung up on me, in fact. When I called back thinking my line had just gone dead, she did it again. Now, mind you, this is the same friend that would ask me to come to her parties, drive 200 miles to be there for her, only to have her ignore me the whole night. Same friend that also asked me to be her maid of honor, and then asked someone else after I moved away.

I digress.

Anyway, I do not know why I Googled her husband's name tonight, but I did. A fellow trapper says he has terminal cancer; post was in April of this year.

Do I call? Do I write? I always really really liked him and I feel just sick.

Guess that's my answer.

Homemade Apple Pie

Fresh Granny Smith apples, ground cinnamon, nutmeg dash, crumble topping with butter, maple sugar, more cinnamon, and brown sugar, held together with flour and the apple's own juices... I'm being domestic tonight.

Roast in the oven, garlic roasted basil strewn Yukon gold potatoes to boot; my son is going to have a feast tonight.

With 10" of snow on the ground, the roads are still slick and while I'm not entirely uncomfortable driving in it, I am in the little Mariner that has no traction, no weight, and no steering... So, we're staying home. Putting a puzzle together, and figuring out what classes HE is going to take in the spring.

One thing for sure is going right in my life, and that is the direction and hope my son has been showing.

Finally! Something to be very positive about!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not Fallen Off Earth

Life gives me speed bumps that I don't see... so traveling at warp speed 4, tends to hurt a little bit when I hit one.

I'm good. Classes start in a few months. Am trying to figure out a way to take a night class to finish up pre-reqs and apply.

Storm's video is coming along. I can finally talk about that night without succumbing to a puddle of tears and goo.

The school of public health has an open house upcoming that I am attending; nothing wrong with MD, MPH - in fact, for what I'd really like to do, it might be the perfect combo for rural med.

Hope ya'll are well!