Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year New Job and a Goodie Bag!

Up until November I was getting severance pay from GM, and when that stopped I applied for unemployment benefits, since I'm eligible. Part of that process is to fill in a resume-type questionnaire in the Michigan Works job database. Shortly after I did that I started getting calls from recruiters who were looking for Instructional Designers, which is the title of the job I was doing for the last year and a half that I was with GM.

I went on an interview, and I thought that it went well but then didn't hear back about it for over 2 weeks. Then the recruiter called and said they were doing some shuffling and wanted to interview me again, with different people. So I put on my black suit and drove all the way to Troy for the second time. This one went well also. The recruiter called the next day to let me know they were offering me the job.

I had to take a drug test (they mailed my pee to Idaho!) and fill out a bunch of paperwork but now everything is a go to start on January 5. I like it that I've had a nice long time of knowing that I have a job but not needing to go and do it yet. The pressure was off, what a Christmas present!

I feel like I am lucky to have this all happen so easily. I have many engineering colleagues who have been out of a job and searching hard for a long time. The word is that there aren't very many jobs in that field right now in this area, and that the competition for them is fierce. So my recent, kind of random foray into the field of Training Development might be the very best thing that could have happened.

If I want to torture myself I could second guess what it would have been like if I'd stayed at GM. I heard they are going to be getting raises soon, and I had a lot of vacation days and other perks built up after all my time there. But I knew that I really wanted to leave and I just got paid to have the most wonderful spring, summer and fall, and the opportunities for that don't come along very often either.

So this new job is temporary (6 months) and the pay is much less than I had worked up to at GM. I will be a "contractor" to the company I will be working at, and get paid for overtime but not for holidays or vacations.

If I were to do a straight comparison with where I would like to be in my career at this point in my life, this job offer would seem like a major disappointment. But given the circumstances, and the economy, maybe it is more like a blessing.

Also, I was really feeling like I wanted to go to work. Once the kids got launched back in school, I liked being at home but I started to realize that I wasn't learning new things or meeting new people anymore. As much as I enjoy the low stress of not commuting and having enough time to keep up with things around the house, I started to feel like I should be going somewhere. I started noticing that everyone else seemed to be going someplace and doing something important, and I was just making the beds and filling up the dishwasher every day. I was ready.

So on January 5 I will start this new assignment. I get to go someplace. Learn new things and meet new people. And...today when I went to the consulting company to fill out the paperwork, they gave me a goodie bag! I LOVE goodie bags!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time Out

A few months ago both of my two watches stopped working. Or, more accurately, their batteries ran out. In the past I have had a heckuva time trying to get new watch batteries, so I put it on my to-do list and then started living a life of not always knowing what time it is.

Since I left work, I have found that I don't really need to know. I'm no longer rushing to meetings or stressing to get things done, or wondering how long until I get to go home. And I went through the summer without getting that obnoxious tan line on my wrist that is impossible to cover up when I want to dress up without the watch as part of the ensemble. Thick bracelets?

Well I've finally been off long enough to reach the lower echelons of my to-do list, so I plopped the watches into a plastic baggie and put it in my purse.

Since I live out here at the edges of civilization, the most frequent place I go is our local Meijers. They sell watches, and batteries, but refuse to open the watches up to replace them. They are afraid of getting blamed for damaging them.

I have tried, and I cannot get the backs of the watches open myself. Maybe there is some magic secret trick to this but I don't know it. Please share if you do.

Once I ventured further from home I also asked at Target and some jewelry places at the local mall. Wouldn't touch it.

I stared to do mental calculations. How many people in the world own watches that have batteries that die after two years or less, and where are they all going to get them replaced? Do they just give up and buy new ones, giving the watch-making industry incentive to continue to design inpenetrable backplates?

Then last week I was at the Somerset Collection (mall) to meet some friends for lunch. I got there early and went to Macy's, where they would typically sell the kinds of watches I have. (Anne Klein) The man at the sprawling watch counter told me that they don't do that, but he did offer the name of some place that they go, some jeweler out in Rochester. Not helpful.

As I continued to browse and shop around the mall (collection) I had to keep digging my cell phone out to check the time, so I wouldn't miss our meeting time for lunch. Somehow it always ended up underneath the baggie of watches.

I made it over to PF Chengs a little early, so I walked on past and encountered a store with a giant watch-face on the front of it. Since the battery issue was now on the top of my mind, I ventured inside. The place was gleaming with a sort of reverent hush. It was a little like walking into a grand church. There was an image of a watch face projected onto the ground from some unseen source, and many rows of glass cabinets with glittering watches artfully displayed.

One of the very polite salespersons asked if he could help me, and, feeling lucky, I asked if they replaced watch batteries there.

"Yes, we do." he told me and I think I jolted a little in surprise. "It costs $15 each." I calculated that the $30 probably exceeded the current value of my two watches, but not the cost to replace them. I pulled the baggie out of my purse and handed it over.

After lunch I went back in there to pick them up. The man pulled out this velvet folder and gracefully laid out the two crumply old watches for me to inspect. I leaned over and peered at them. Yes, the second hands were moving around once again.

I paid the man and asked for something to put them in, since I didn't know where that baggie went. As he looked for an envelope, I suddenly tuned in to the conversation going on between another salesperson and a customer standing nearby.

"That's an extra thousand with the diamonds." The customer was holding two watches, trying to decide. This isn't my usual kind of store.

So now I have the time of day ready on my wrist whenever I should desire to look at it. But there was still something I was wondering about.

I looked up the name of the store on that envelope, TOURNEAU. The website shows the prices for those fancy watches I was in the presence of, you can search them by price in ranges of up to $10,000+.

Then I saw it: "Free Lifetime Battery Replacement." It's true that you get what you pay for.

Wreck the Halls

FOTF (friend of the family) artist Tom Allen is doing his hilarious 12 days of Christmas where he posts photos of Christmas trinkets found at the thrift store. Hard to explain, you'll just have to see for yourself.

Go here:


Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Day

In the mornings I send the boys off to the bus stop together. Skinny little Jeffrey will be zipped up into his winter coat with his enormous backpack stacked with books weighing down over both shoulders and buckled around his waist, and his large trombone case slung on top of all that. He staggers along like an ant carrying a load that quite possibly exceeds his own body weight. Tim, meanwhile, saunters along with his arms swinging by his sides, hands empty and free.

Yes, I have tried to get Tim to help out his little brother, and he did, once.

What gets me is how their appearance is such an accurate analogy for their school experiences.

Jeffrey has a lot of homework every night and has to work hard to get it all done. Tim almost never has any work to do at home. Tim happened to have what appeared to be an easy schedule the first semester. I was pleased when he requested a more difficult set of social studies classes for the second and third terms. I want him to have to work hard in school because I think that is a good quality to learn. And it would help justify my explanations to Jeff that his efforts in Middle School will pay off when he gets to High School and the classes get really challenging.

Well now Tim is a week into the new semester with his challenging schedule and still isn't bringing any work home. I quizzed Tim about what he did in each class today, and here is what he said:

Biology - colored. (something about filling in a diagram of an eye)

Band - went through Christmas music for the concert.

Economics - played a game

Spanish II - did a crossword puzzle (the words were Spanish)

Language Arts - watched a movie

Jeff complained that Tim's day sounded a lot like Kindergarten. I had to agree.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's for lunch?

Today the boys have the day off from school. Since this is a good opportunity to diverge from the usual lunch choices, I made tuna fish sandwiches, something we hardly ever have.

We were sitting at the kitchen table eating them when Missy the Cat came marching into the room, her little nose held high in the air, sniffing like crazy. She looked up at Jeffrey eating his sandwich, and then suddenly swung around and stared into the goldfish bowl that she is always trying to get into. Once she saw that the fish were in there, she went back to her sniffing and walking around.

Silly cat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Those Crazy Cranes

Lest you fret that Melinda2Mindy has gone all commercial on you, I thought that today I would post something that I haven't mentioned for a while.

Yesterday was yet another better-than-average weather day for November in Michigan. Which, if I may complain for a moment, does not to me make up for the worse-than-average weather we had in August. There's not a whole lot to do outside here in November, but when it's 50 degrees at the beach it puts a real clinker in the enjoyment. (OK, I'm done, just had to put that out there for Mother Nature in case she's reading this too.)

Anyways, the sun was shining so brightly on the water (not ice yet!) and the cranes were standing right out back behind our house, perfectly framed in our kitchen window. I have yet to get past my fascination with looking these giant birds. They make me feel privileged to have to have the opportunity.

So I grabbed my camera and went out there and took these nice close-up pictures. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winner of the Pie Dish

The random drawing for the winner of the pie dish has taken place. For those of you who are interested in fairness, you will like to know that I printed the eligible comments, cut them into strips, folded the strips into little squares, and had Jeffrey pick one from the pile. And he picked...Aunt Kathy! So a box from cookware.com should be arriving in Fort Lauderdale sometime soon. Thanks to everyone who participated, this was fun.