Sunday, November 27, 2005

Almost Human Again

Got home from a friend’s birthday party a short while ago and after a shower and a large cup of coffee I’m feeling almost human again. A little groggy still from the alcoholic refreshments and tired from the lack of sleep, but I’m otherwise functional. At least for a while. I suspect that around noon I’ll suffer a system shutdown which will force a few hour nap. Though not quite an all-nighter, the event may as well have been as an hour and a half of broken sleep doesn’t count for much these days. Thankfully there was a functional (though rarely used) coffee pot at my friend’s condo, so I was able to make a strong Cup of Life to sufficiently revive me for the trip home as morning sun broke the horizon.

I did much of the cooking for the event (most of Friday and all day yesterday spent in the kitchen) and it’s always gratifying to see various offerings well-received by guests. But it was a lot of work and a break from the kitchen is needed. I don’t want to see an oven or mixing bowl for at least a few days.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Meet the Parents

Had Thanksgiving dinner at the sister’s place for the second year in a row (do I sense a tradition brewing?), but with one twist: her fiancĂ©’s parents made the trip from out of town to attend. This set the stage for the first ever meeting between the respective sets of parental units and depending on how that went, the possibility of high drama. At long last, our rural, deeply religious parents face to face with well-traveled, worldly heathen parents. Two worlds, same small, small room.

To be honest I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this today and had visions of my sister, her fiancĂ©, and I struggling to maintain some semblance of polite dinner conversation whilst the sets of parents glared at each other from across their respective sides of the table. Alarming from a strategic perspective was that my place at the table was in the far corner away from the door, so if food and plates and utensils started flying, I had no way out.

Much to everyone’s surprise and relief, the meeting was very cordial and the all the ‘rents hit it off. Even my wizened gnome of a grandmother (Yoda) was on her best behavior and kept the “1942 a dark year was…” stories to a minimum. Food, conversation, atmosphere were all pleasant so it was certainly a successful gathering. Certainly something to be thankful for on this day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Various Updates

So I haven’t updated the blog in quite some time. Don’t know why this is really, other than being distracted with other things and probably more than a little lazy. And besides, not all that much to report. Life is very good, though a bit routine at present.

I suppose the biggest news is that I finally procured some living room furniture from the Ikea up in Northern Virginia. It looks very good and is functional and was reasonably priced, The latter is proving to be important since the cats are already turning the sofa into their personal play toy/scratching post/bed. Other assorted acquisitions were side tables, a coffee table, a leather chair and matching footstool. The leather chair I keep in the study until I find a proven cat attack deterrent.

Now that I have the foundations of the living room out of the way, I can begin the task of decorating. This is where the fun begins, though I probably won’t do much with this until I get back from Honduras at the beginning of January. I leave on vacation in just over three weeks and have much with work and research and day to day activities to wrap up between now and then.

OH YES…how could I have forgotten about this. Even bigger news that furniture: I am FINALLY getting an assistant manager at work!! The department underwent some restructuring this month, the result of which was shifting of some vacant positions to my division. We interviewed for the assistant manager last week and they start on Monday. From the administrative perspective, this is a wonderful event as we’ll be able to take on more projects and enhance most of our core functions. Some of my staff is considerably less excited about this than I am as indicated by a few long faces and bit of grumbling with the announcement at staff meeting today. The heart of the problem is that the restructuring and management addition constitute change and I’ve mentioned in previous posts just how difficult change can be for some. Medusa, (the bitter old employee for whom change is feared more than death), once again threatened to quit. Such irrational behaviors are difficult to handle in such a group setting without it becoming a spectator sport for everyone else present, though I discovered the statement “Then I expect your resignation on my desk” will bring to a quick end such outbursts.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday AM

One of these days I’m going to have to learn to start sleeping in. Up a little after five again this morning and I’ve been ready to head out for some shopping for almost two hours. Trouble is that nothing is open this early. Ah well. Enough time for another cup of coffee. As if I really need that.

It has been a relatively quiet (ok, very quiet) holiday weekend. I’ve been unable to pick up the bedroom set from Pier One due to logistical problems (truck-owning friends have been singularly unavailable… OK Kim, you can laugh now), so that’s still in the works. Store staff is holding it for me until tomorrow I believe, so I may just pay extra and have it delivered. Much easier this way as I don’t have to worry about hauling things up three flights of stairs. (Me + hauling furniture = pathetic, ridiculous scene. People from the coffee shop across the way would take notice and gather around, pointing and mocking as I drag furniture up the sidewalk).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

And the winner is...

Very proud of my fellow Virginians tonight. We elected Tim Kaine as governor, which makes the second Democrat in a row to hold that office. Glad I voted. Now I can gloat at work tomorrow.

*evil grin*

Monday, November 07, 2005

Busy, busy, busy

A productive hour and a half since coming home from the office: a load of laundry washed, dried, and folded, kitchen cleaned, trash taken out, and so forth. Now comes decompression time with a coffee and some music. It seems that I can get so much more done if I launch into things as soon as I get home as opposed to taking a while to unwind and relax first. Unwinding too frequently translates into naps and that leads to lazy evenings. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional lazy evening, but when there are things to do, the last think I need to do is put myself into a position where it’s hard to get going (e.g., nap time).

Still working on the reinvention of the living room and it seems that the project has evolved into a redo of the entire apartment with each room slated for modification to varying degrees depending upon frequency of use and general need. The kitchen, bathroom, and study/guest bedroom are fine for now, so that leaves the living room and bedroom having the higher priority. Since Friday is a holiday from work, that may be the Great Shopping Day during which I’ll finally procure the bedroom set I’ve been lusting over for months at Pier One. Of course this depends on successfully bribing (with beer) a friend who has a truck since there’s no way a dresser, headboard and footboard, and a nightstand can possibly fit in my Jeep.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Failed I Have

The last ditch bid yesterday to retain my top lab employee was unsuccessful and I now have another vacancy to fill. Very disappointed I am with Human Resources by this whole ordeal. Even at the very end of the day when they finally began to get the picture, they were still reluctant to move in any way that would lead to retention of this talented, talented employee. Their solution was to reevaluate and reclassify the position once it’s vacant. A bittersweet victory of sorts. While I lose current talent, the position will eventually become something more attractive (and better paying) for acquiring and retaining future talent. Of course the operative word here is “eventually.” Such a process takes a long time, possibly up to several months, particularly with Human Resources’ reputation of moving at Ent-like speed (“Don’t be hasty.”).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Office Party and a Challenge

Tomorrow is the annual office fall cook-out/party and I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen since around six this evening and am just now done. I made enough lap kai (one of my favourite Thai recipes: savory minced chicken salad) for about twenty and since the consensus of my staff was for me to make it as authentic as possible, it’s rather hot and spicy. But it’s still not quite as authentic as it could be since I ran out of fish sauce! (I am ashamed. What self respecting cook runs out of fish sauce??) Nonetheless, the dish seems to have turned out exceptionally well. I may scout out a local grocery store for fish sauce tomorrow morning and tweak the dish ever so slightly, but it’s not absolutely essential that I do.

Tomorrow’s big challenge at the office will be a second attempt at retaining a top lab employee hired by another agency. Over the last week I put together a justification packet as to why we need to retain this person and the proposal was soundly defeated by human resources today on salary issues. The penny-pinching analysts at HR are being just that: penny-pinchers. No real case beyond what I feel to be a secondary issue. I know my budget; I know what I have to work with. This the my first defeat at work, the first time I’ve been overruled and I don’t like the feeling at all. So tomorrow I will pull out all the stops, make a last ditch attempt at employee retention.

While it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t succeed, it does deal a terrible blow to my long-term organizational vision as the employee I’ve groomed to be my “second,” my backup when away (remember, I don’t have an official assistant) goes elsewhere. Besides, they’re the most talented of all my staff and talent is so hard to come by. But this just seems to be the natural progression of things: you hire talent and they move up and on. The employees who are little more than chair warmers…well, they’re not going anywhere.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Dropped a wine glass tonight whilst washing dishes and the damn thing did not break. That’s what I get for buying the cheap stuff; they don’t even break when they’re supposed to.