17 January 2006

Ugh, commuting!

For those readers who are not American, I should mention that Monday -- my first day at the new job -- was a sort of half holiday in the US. It's the day we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, and it's a federal holiday, a bank holiday but a fairly optional holiday otherwise.

This is important to know because my commute on Monday took 45 minutes. Today, Tuesday, not a holiday in any way, shape or form, the very same commute took 1 hour, 10 minutes. This with some 50-ish percent of the trip on a tollroad, which costs $1 for the privilege of sitting in bumper-to-bumper automotive mess.

Oh yes, I'm very excited about this development.

I need a new podcast that just repeats over & over: "Your job will be just 13 miles away in a few weeks. You can do this until then. No, really, it won't kill you. Your blood pressure may rise, and you may become a screaming maniac, but you can survive it."


There was also drama at work today. My boss's boss, who actually helped arrange my interview at the last minute, announced he is retiring. In 2 weeks. The communications staff was stunned, and it's unclear what will happen to that position... whether it will be filled or we will be shuffled off to report to some other department, or report directly to the VP.

Gotta love a job that starts with no computer (still! -- but i might have one on Friday) an office full of other people's crap, and managerial drama. Woot!!

Don't have to love the commute tho, grrr! (only a few weeks. you can do this. really, you can!)

16 January 2006

I Survived!

Made it through the first day at the new job without falling asleep at my desk, but of course there's a story or two...

This morning I started to tell you about how cool it was to have the coffee all made for me when I got up in the morning to go to the new job. I did manage to remember to actually bring the last cup of coffee in the car with me, and managed to drive to work without spilling it all down the front of my clothes (my favorite 'stupid humans' trick).

Upon my arrival at the building, I realized I had not asked where I should park, so I grabbed a visitor spot and calmly walked to the end of the hall where the Communications Services offices are. There, I found out that you need an access card to get through any of the doors. So... walked back to the front desk to explain the situation. She called my new boss, he confirmed that I'm a real new employee, and she gave me a temporary card and showed me where I should (and should not) park.

This time, I actually got into the office, where I found my new work space, which apparently once was filled to bursting with 'stuff' and now is only halfway filled with 'stuff' that would go into a storage closet if only they had one. (Sigh)

The good news: I have a desk, a phone and a tape dispenser. The bad news: no computer, no tape, no stapler. [I list the latter item for "Office Space" afficionados.)

I got to meet the office gal who hands out the permanent access cards, and most of my immediate co-workers. The boss also took me to lunch (Chinese) to meet a freelancer who does the layout for the company publication that I'll be editing. Then we drove up to the company's new building, where we will be moving in February or March.

I think I mentioned that my commute now is about 40 miles because 'you can't get there from here.' Well, when we were done touring the new office space (wow!) and meeting some folks at the nearby Tech Center, I drove direclty home and found out that when we move to the new building, my commute will be 13 miles, about 20 minutes. YAAAHOO!

Apparently everyone else in my department lives south of the current office, so the move will considerably lengthen their commutes. They are not as wildly excited about the move as I am.

The boss says my computer has all the approvals it needs, but there is some IT delay. If it doesn't come tomorrow, he has a contingency plan -- or I'll have another day to read in my messy office. Somehow a messy office is not as endearing when it's not MY mess.

One final note: I have never worked full-time since I have had the dog, so it was touch-and-go on how she would deal with me being gone all day. It apears she slept all day rather than eating my couch, so I suppose I should finish writing and play with her now as a reward :)

New Job Day!

I start my new job today. I've had a week at home to get myself and the dog accustomed to going to bed early and getting up in the morning.

Naturally, I could not sleep last night. Oh, sure I got a few winks, but last week I had no trouble at all falling asleep at 10 & waking at 5:30 without an alarm. Today, I was still looking at the clock at 4:30, and I almost threw the phone across the room when its alarm went off at 6:15.

"The phone?" you ask. Well, I have this great Sony alarm clock, with about 500 buttons on it, and you can preset different wake-up times for every day of the week & weekend. But I can't remember a) how to turn set it, b) how to turn it on, or c) how to shut it off after it knocks me out of bed. I mean, it's been basically four and a half years since I last used an alarm. I will have to find the manual for the thing one of these days; until then, I have a cell phone with a cheerful morning wake-up song.

When I moved to Houston, one of the items that did not survive the journey in the truck from Arizona was my poor old coffee machine. It was yer basic Mr. Coffee, so I was hoping to upgrade anyway. The Martian bought me, as a housewarming gift, a new cool coffee maker that has a timer on it. That's not the greatest invention ever.

I'd write more but the clock says it's time to make sure the dog has done all her business, finish getting dressed, and head out into traffic for what is to be my daily commute. You know I'll have more stories about that...

08 January 2006

Back home (whew!)

There is something very soothing about sleeping in your own bed, with your own pillow, after three weeks on 'vacation.'

It's also quite nice to choose clothes from the closet instead of a suitcase. I could go on, but you get the idea. I love to travel, but I also love to come home.

I'll talk about the trip & show pictures from the Billund Airport another time, but for now I need to tell you about Bluetooth.

The Martian gave me a new keyboard/mouse for Christmas, and it's all bluetooth. While I was in Denmark, I was using it on the Mac without most of its fun special features because it doesn't come with mac drivers. Now it's home & installed on the PC with full functionality, and wow! There are almost enough buttons on the mouse that I can do without a keyboard ;)

But the keyboard has its own functionality, including little preset buttons for common tasks and a nice zoom/volume control bar, and an LCD screen that shows what song is playing on iTunes, current time/temperature (how do it know?) and whether someone is trying to reach me via MSN Messenger.

Plus, now that I have 'Bluetooth' on the PC, I thought it would be fun to see what other gadgets I could attach to my already-too-big geek network. [Oh yes, the geek-meter is always pegged at this house. Where else can you find a house networked with three Windows PCs, a Mac, three printers, and the assorted stuff -- including the CNC sewing machine -- that attaches to each of these things.... and only one person living there?]

Your basic Bluetooth geek probably has a Bluetooth phone so they can sync their address books with their PC (?), maybe a Bluetooth headset so they can talk hands-free on their Bluetooth phone in their Bluetooth-enabled car (e.g., Mom's Lexus!); and maybe a Bluetooth handheld thingie to sync whatever one puts on such a device.

An Internet search turns up ever more entertaining things, however. For example, Toshiba expands the Bluetooth geekdom into the home with a Bluetooth microwave oven, refrigerator and washer/dryer. Yes, really!

A geek like me can appreciate the concept of syncing my grocery shopping list from the empty fridge to the PC or a PDA to carry to the store. But the microwave and washer/dryer?

"OK, I'm leaving work now, so start cooking that frozen food I left in the microwave all day"? I don't think so. Now, if the microwave can talk to the fridge & automatically grab the food out of the freezer, we might be talking about a useful device.

And unless the washing machine can flip clothes from washer to dryer and then fold them & pick up another load, I don't see the point of that one, either.

Anyway, I'm having a great time with this new toy and getting used to all the fun new buttons on the new mouse. And now I have a spare keyboard, which means (of course) that I have to buy another PC, right? hehehehehehe

03 January 2006

Godt Nytår

SneThe title of this one is my attempt to hide my late New Year's greetings by speaking Danish. It will take you so long to figure out that it says "Good Newyear," you won't notice it's a few days late. That's the theory, anyway.

As promised, here are some pictures of the snow we got here in Denmark while mom, dad & my poor dog have been suffering with high 70s and low humidity back home in Texas.

The first snow day was fun for me because of the drifts; it reminded me of my kid days back in Chicago, where you could get 2 inches of snow and have a 30-foot drift blocking the garage doors. OK that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there's a reason for that city's nickname. I opened the back door of the house here to take some pictures, found a drift up to my waist against the door, and decided pictures could wait until the wind was gone. Meanwhile, the wind had left the whole courtyard of the house (between the house & the barns) almost bare of snow in the middle, with high drifts at the edges.

churchWe went for a nice walk yesterday, and I got this fine picture of the great little Danish church up the street from The Martian's place. I say 'up the street' and I mean 'up'; I always forget between trips how hilly this area is. The glaciers carved up the place a bit.

For New Year's Eve, we went to a party at the home of one of the guys who came to stay at my house last summer. Carsten is a nut, and the party was made more fun by the fact that he had to work all day and half of the evening. He does something with a shipping company, planning and executing the loading & unloading of ships. If a huge ship comes in on New Year's Eve, you don't ask the captain to park there for the evening while you go play with your pals.

funThus, the first guests to arrive found an empty house and a large sack of decorations sitting on the coffee table. (Rub hands together, use evil grin). What could be more fun than making a huge mess of someone else's house? hehehe. We were very thorough; we even decorated the inside of the refrigerator. I'm pretty sure there are some streamers Carsten will not find until he moves out of the house.

The food arrived as we were finishing with the decorations; actually, some other guests had stopped at the caterer to pick it up. Carsten came shortly after that, but still had to shower and change into nice clothes. What a nut!

leap!A Danish New Year's Eve party follows a general schedule: At 6, everyone gathers around the tv to watch the queen's annual speech. Then you can eat, eat, eat -- the Danish national pastime. There is much toasting and laughing, some silly hats and party games. Then everyone gathers around the TV again to see "The 90-Year-Old Woman." It's a German comedy duo, performing in English, with Danish subtitles. How it became a staple of Danish New Year's no one knows. But there it is.

Near midnight, the guests climb onto the furniture so that at the stroke of midnight they can LEAP into the new year. They then leap into their winter coats and other warm stuff, to go out and see the fireworks.

hat finaleFireworks are legal for all here, so rather than having one centralized fireworks display choreographed to music by some professional outfit, you have the exuberance of 5 million inhabitants whose goal is to have some fun and maybe outdo the guy next door. The upshot (heh) is that you have fireworks basically anywhere you care to look, for much longer than even the best American displays I've ever seen. (Danish dogs must really hate New Year's Eve.)

The Martian took some great video of the fireworks but I can't get it uploaded just yet. It may have to wait until I get home. Anyway, a good time was had by all!