Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stove Top Bisquits

Post on Suzanne's blog... Chickens In The Road (the best farm blog)

I'll tell you my Dad's secret (he's long gone) for camp cooking bisquits on the stove top. In our case it was on an old two burner butane stove with exposed everything on case iron feet. It was at our antique former World War II quansit hut cabin in the woods, that had electric power but no running water or toliet.... just an outhouse. I'll take a photo of the old outhouse, if I get up there again. The cabin roof is falling in, so I've saved a few items but not the two burner butane stove. Some VANDAL destroyed my Dad's old handmade brick BBQ (it was HUGE with a chimney up the back) made in 1950 something by him, George A. Zoeller, and his best friend, Joe K., a polish bricklayer.

Anyway, he had a two sided omelet pan (plain steel, not cast iron). He put store bought bisquits into one side, squeezed together. Cooked them on top of the stove, as there was no oven in the cabin just the stove and the huge BBQ pit outside. When he thought one side was done, he flipped it over to cook the other side. That might work on a wood stove too.

I think I'll start posting again about my memories of growing up in the 60's and 70's and 80's in San Antonio and spending many weekends at the cabin at Medina Lake (Bandera County). I'm GOING TO DO IT! SOON!

Thanks to many of my favorite bloggers for inspiration: Chickens in the Road (Suzanne McMinn), Svensto (Mrs. G), Daily Coyote (Shreve Stockdon), Dooce (Heather Armstrong), Sweet Juniper, This Fish Needs a Bicycle (Heather Hunter) and many others.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Really Rambling Story Tonight

Tonight, I'm unable to sleep. I took 3 risperdal and that hasn't helped. My doctor said to take 2 in the morning and two at night but last night 3 helped me to sleep. Not happening tonight.

I'm listening to my iPod nano. Something that I always find soothing when I'm experiencing a manic episode. My music collection includes Sky Prayer by Alice Gomez. It's native american flute music and more. Very moving and soothing. She went to high school with me at Edison HS in San Antonio.

Alice is an amazing talented woman. I knew her back in the high school days. We were classmates in Mr. Jordan's 10th grade English class. It takes me back to think of Alice. She was a drummer and precussionist back then. Played in the marching band and stage band. And she was great! Her father had organized the Gomez family into a band also. All were gifted musicians.

Alice is now Dr. Gomez at San Antonio College as an assistant professor. I hope to go and see her live when I next visit San Antonio to see my new niece Victoria Lynn.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Family... is there a gene I didn't get?

Sometimes family can be annoying. Like when they try to tell you that you are wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Those photos, letters, stuff that your Dad left you in his garage that you cleaned out when he had a stroke and left you in charge... well they aren't yours. No they belong to the "family". What about the stuff that those family members' have, do I get to take their stuff? NO. It's a big fat smelly mess. I just wrote a two page letter to my two Aunts who are trying to bully me into giving my family history inheritance away because the letters were from my grandmother to my grandfather and vice versa. So they have more rights to them, even though most people would have tossed that stuff 50 years ago. My Dad didn't, he just put those two old trunks in the garage and they stayed there for 30 plus years. I rescued the stuff from the trash that it could have become. It's MINE! So there!!!! MINE!!!!

I didn't get any inheritance except a couple of trunks, a bit of china, some immediate family memorabilia and photos, my mom's jewelry that my sister hocked once upon a time in 1994, and that's about it. No millions no thousands no hundreds, just lots of bills in 1994. Then I paid for 5 years of many visits to the nursing home with blood, sweat and miles on my Saab. Then I paid for his cremation and burial (in the Sunset mauseleum with my mom). Then I cried alot. That was my inheritance.

My sister... nothing else needs to be said about her... She has been my Chinese obligation from my mother. Take care of your sister she said in 1987 when she was dying. Beckie was 11, I was 22... January 1983. My father became an alcholic and retired to take care of my sister. He lived on SS plus a small IRA, rent house from my grandmother and what I gave him. I bought him a house when my sister was starting high school so that she wouldn't go to high school in the barrio that our neighborhood was turning into. My Jr. High school had knife fights when I went there. My high school had security guards. I grew up in a working class neighborhood that has gone down hill, way down hill.

Is there a family gene that I didn't get? Insanity? Irrationalness? Spite? ??? LOL I'm keeping the f-ing letters, so there!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our Trip West

I'm not yet up to writing much more about the trip. If you want to see photos, then take a look at my Facebook page or Chuck's blog I especially recommend his entries up to the last one Home is where the la-z-boy is! It sure is and now I have 1/2 of the pet population back home with us. We picked up BeeGee the cat from the vet a bit ago. She's starved for attention and rubbing my legs as I type. I'm giving her some solo time before I pickup her nemeisis, the dog Seamus, from 4 Paws Inn. The inn is a great dog B&B with A/C for the dogs in individual dog runs, walks 4 times per day, grooming and personal attention to the canine residents.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

California Dreamin'

I wasn’t dreaming of going to California much. It was a few days with my husband, Chuck’s, family, period, end of story. Not prepared to have fun, experience community, feel love, enjoy myself much or have a wonderful time. It was all of that and more.

My husband’s only sister, Vicki, and her 12 year old daughter, Alissa, live in Southern California, in Riverside. Riverside is a wonderful place, especially since it is NOT L.A. I had one visit to L.A. a few years ago, and it was enough to last me for my lifetime. Not that L.A. is bad or anything, it’s just too big, too polluted, too hot in the summer and not very friendly to visitors. Riverside is friendly. Riverside is easy to get around and close to other places including one hour to the beach, if there is no traffic.

Speaking of the beach, I had a lovely afternoon, at Laguna Beach on July 3rd. But the traffic was bumper to bumper when we got within a few miles of it. We travelled there on some rather expensive toll roads, but then had to get on a smaller four lane road that went down to two lanes. Not tourist friendly but it was a beautiful cool day and the beach was full of people enjoying themselves. We did too. Ending the visit with a trip to a cute little ice cream shop. A mango-orange-banana smoothie hit the spot after being in the sun for several hours. I had the sunburn to remember it by.

Speaking of food, we had a memorable meal at The Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. The inn has several restaurants with the best having an inside courtyard which reminded me of Mexico City or being in Europe. The seafood buffet was gourmet quality and the service rivaled the best restaurants that I’ve experienced in the past. Lovely company of Chuck, Vicki and Alissa; incredible food and desserts!; a beautiful evening with cool weather and an almost full moon in the night sky.

Speaking of the night sky, it was of course not too clear it being still near to Los Angeles. We visit three evening minor league baseball fans. Chuck is a die-hard baseball fanatic. Especially for visiting minor league teams on our vacations. He’s attended six games so far… Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore. He has enjoyed every minute of every game. On the 4th of July, we saw the Inland Empire 66ers play and then a wonderful fireworks display. A day full of patriotic symbols that I hold dear. Baseball being one of them, at least as far as Chuck is concerned. It’s almost a religion to him.

Speaking of religion, I had the opportunity to visit a local Riverside church… All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. I’ve been a practicing UU since 1993 when I joined a local Plano church. It’s a church that believes in community, service to others and being a welcoming place for people of all faiths, those searching for their religious home or just a place to be themselves. It’s a place that like Toastmasters, where I can be true self. The Riverside UU church was a welcoming place full of friendly folks that were happy to have a Texas visitor. I listened to an uplifting service with good music and a diversity that’s nice to find at any church. I hope that they continue to bring a sense of justice, service, love and community to people entering their doors.

I walked through a door to California and found love, community, fun, good food and cool weather. I’ve been California dreaming’ and it was good.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seamus Shortcake, Media Darling

The dog is in the news today! Click the link in the title... Chuck has immortalized him in print in the Dallas Morning News.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Adopted a GOAT

Seamus once again lived up to his shelter name today. I came home to find a cardboard box destroyed on the living room floor with styrofoam blocks chewed to bits. He's a goat in dog's clothing. His shelter name was RIGHT. What do we do now???

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I wish I had some great wisdom to impart. I've been silent for way too long. Seamus is stealing all my spare moments. That and commuting. I can zone out now with the best of them. I take mini-naps on the way to downtown. Then on the way home I look out the window and listen to people or my iPod. I like to look for the funky boxy cliff houses just south of the Forest Lane station. They lean precariously over a cliff looking so out of place. I've got to find out what neighborhood that is and go see their fronts.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Psycho, chewer, whiner DOG

I'm thinking about a new name for Seamus.... it's PSYCHO, CHEWER, WHINER dog! He has been teething on my possessions. The other day it was my aqua blue genuine Crocs. Today is was my real leather winter gloves that I left at home.

He has a ton of chew toys that I bought him... two rawhide rolls, a cute teething ring with balls on it. a Kong puppy teether, a Kong ball, a pull rope.... BUT NO, he loves my stuff!

To Be Continued...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Are You My Mother?

Do you remember that beginning readers book? I loved it as a child.

A little bird hatches without it's mother nearby. He wonders off looking for his mother. I think I have a little bird of my own. His name is Seamus Shortcake Bloom. He's a big puppy who lost his mother and think's I'm now it. He follows me everywhere even to the bathroom. I'm pretty sure he's bonded to me and me alone. Chuck calls him and he looks at him like F U, I'm with the dame.

My poor poor cat. She's beside herself. First I bring a medium sized DOG home. Then he tries to catch her and eat her (or at least taste her). Then I lock her out of the bedroom, so that I can keep the dog and cat separated at night. She gets the rest of the house and he gets me & the bedroom. She's been unhappy for a week.

I'm not sure how to get them to kiss and makeup. Can the cat and dog ever be friends? Will the dog always follow me around like I'm his mom? How old is he? He's a rescue dog, the vet thinks he could be 1 year old, so his "birthday" will be his adoption day 3/8. We'll celebrate with some soft dog food next year. Hopefully the cat will be at least in detente with him by then. I miss having a bundle of purr on my shoulder. I guess I should have consulted Chuck and BG before getting the dog, but a cute dog named Goat was too much to pass up. A very stupid name on an adorable mutt with a terrier face and dalmation body.

I've got to read the book I bought about Dalmations. I'm a terrier person, so it's a new type of doggie for me. In the mean time, ARE YOU MY MOTHER? continues...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rainy Days and Fridays

This week has been one flood of a week. Wet and cold, immediately following the best weather possible for the North Texas Irish Festival. It's difficult to imagine a bigger change in the weather from Fri/Sat/Sun to this week starting on Tuesday. The RAIN has come down by the bucket full. The backyard is a marsh zone. Good thing the lawn people came to cut it on Monday before the monsoon season began. However, we're still in a drought, as we're behind on annual rainfall for the last couple of years. Don't ask me though, we don't have sprinklers and our grass manages to live through it. We're frugal that way.

Friday was a good day today. My 3rd day at my new job. Following two long days of concentration during orientation. Today was a breeze. Meeting people, meeting more people, finding my way around the building between red, green and blue zone elevators. I am still a bit confused on how to get around, but it's getting better all the time. The Dr. Pepper machine and snack machine are on the 3rd floor. My department is on the 4th floor. Our offices are on the 5th floor near the blue elevators. I exit the building on sub-level 2 near the green elevators into the parking garage through a tunnel then another big parking garage and down a sidewalk to a tunnel to the train station! It's cryptic, but I have it down now. And today I learned how to get to the green elevator from the blue elevator on sub-level 2 (L2). BOY! That was interesting... one more parking garage to navigate.

The dog and cat have not made peace yet. I hope it will come eventually! More later. CIAO!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My 1st Day at Work 3/11 and THE DOG & CAT

Wednesday 5:30 a.m. - woke up 2 minutes before my alarm. Tried to take the new doggie out but it was raining and he said heck NO. Ate breakfast, had shower, dressed and did makeup. Put on my walking shoes and a coat (forgot my gloves, hat, scarf, but remembered the umbrella). Took a waterproof messenger bag with extra shoes, water, book to read and papers.

7:00 a.m. arrived at Parker Rd. (taken by a sleepy Chuck) and got on the train immediately. It took off pretty quickly, but I sat near a door. It was a bit chilly. At Forest Lane, a nice man named Phil sat down and we talked all the way to downtown. So the book went back in the briefcase.

7:50 a.m. arrived at Convention center train stop. No idea which way to get to the office except I knew which direction. Asked the 1st guy who was waiting to cross street. He works at my new place and was to be my HR instructor for the orientation . He showed me the cryptic path to get to the office without going outside after the first block or two. Mostly under cover of parking garages and not too cold or wet.

8:40 a.m. the orientation started a little late due to the weather. We got a 10 lb (kidding) packet full of forms and policies & procedures. (Must memorize... kidding!). Our group has about 20-25. Usually they have over 50, but there is a hiring "cooling" as they said. Their budget is tight so they are slowing hiring.

Noon - after having writers cramp from filling out forms and some lecture time about new employee stuff, he let us out for lunch. I walked with two new colleagues a couple blocks to a hamburger joint next to Subway. It was windy and cold outside. The cafeteria is out of commission as the contract was terminated recently... They hope to have a new cafeteria provider some time. All the soda machines were Dr. Pepper products.

1:15 p.m. More info to digest on rules and regs, sexual harrassment prevention, workplace violence prevention and avoiding breaking the rules and reg.s ... by playing a odd game of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. A chat about Fair Housing. And various other topics on Wed. afternoon. A few more papers to fill out.

Homework - bring a voided check for direct deposit setup. Decide which health plan that I want... one of their's or stick with a TI plan. I'm eligible for retiree medical but it's expensive. The medical plans are high deductible (3000) and expensive (3-4 times cost of my old plan) and provider isn't as good as BCBS. Chuck and I discuss over some fish at Red Lobster.

11 p.m. past my bedtime, drag dog into rain, he says F U and goes back inside. I decide to let him pee on the carpet! To bed.... perchance to NOT DREAM about the dog and cat trying to kill each other (it's possible).

Thursday 3:45 a.m. got up because I can't sleep any more... too excited about the new job and dog is hogging the bed.

Seamus (Shay-mus) is a puppy definitely. He thinks I'm his new mother.... and can't stand to be in my room without me. He follows me everywhere. Chuck even brought him to the train station to pick me up. He is afraid so far to jump up into the car backseat, but can be persuaded to jump down by pulling his leash. He's a doll except for the BARKING and Growling at the CAT. She's a bit ticked off at us, and is now living in a kitchen cabinet during the day when Seamus is at large in the house. Last night, I put him in my room with Chuck on the computer... and found her. I apologized profusely and told her it was all my fault. She didn't scratch me and is considering being nice to me again... in a year or two. But asked that the dog leave immediately. I told her that the family has one new member now... and she will have to adjust. She gave me the LOOK and turned her back to go to her liter box... More later.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Zen of Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been said that nirvana can be found by eatting a hot chocolate chip cookie. How much better will it be if the chips are dark chocolate from Ghiradelli? I'll find out and post a photo of the cookies here soon. Sorry smellovision or smellnet hasn't been invented yet... so I can't add in the lovely warm toasty chocolatey smell of the cookies when I take them out of the oven. WAIT!!! That's not nirvana that's an orgasm. Silly me... confusing the ultimate reality with, WAIT!!! Maybe that IS the ultimate reality. ;-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This Post Brought To You by Bizarro

I would like you to read this blog and the comments.
I made a comment on it today as I truely believe I do owe my life to prescription medications. Without them, I might be dead. Why? Because I have bipolar disorder. Drugs help me to function. Therapy helps me to function. My friends and dear husband help me to function, but I couldn't handle life without the drugs. What Dan said in his post today is true. Naysayers should have to walk a mile in our mocassins as they do not know what true depression is, if they have never been clinically depressed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I have Accepted the Offer!

I just sent off my email to my new supervisor and his manager for the position entitled Programmer Analyst / Project Manager. It's rather vague, but it's actually a SAP Configuration Analyst job. I know that will be GREEK to my readers so here's some definitions.

SAP = a company in Germany that has celebrity spokesperson in ads in the U.S. They have a system which is an enterprise application suite.

Enterprise application suite = everything from financials to sales and distribution to purchasing systems. That's about as simple as I can get it.

Financials is the General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Capital Assets.

Sales supports the functions needed to sell products and services and also to ship products to the customers and/or distributors.

Purchasing supports the functions needed to purchase items or services from vendors (other companies).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Contemplating Employment

I have a JOB OFFER! I picked up the letter on Friday. I have to have my FINGERPRINTS taken by the Dallas police... a new experience for me (unlike my sister). They will be doing a background check and maybe a credit check. Can my overabundance of debt prevent me from getting a job??? I hope not...

Contemplating commuting. We did a dry run yesterday on DART Light Rail from Plano to the Dallas downtown stop that I would be taking. It look 45 minutes. Add another 20 minutes to walk from the train stop to the office. That's over 1 hour each way. I will have to get up EARLY! And we all know how bright and cheerful I am in the morning. Add to that having 1 working vehicle... so Chuck will have to get up EARLY too and drive me to the train station. FUN!!!

Somehow, it doesn't seem so bad. Unemployment vs. Inconvenience... I'll take the later. I will learn to get up earlier, go to bed earlier and enjoy having myself chauffeured by DART down to my office. I'll load up my iPod with tunes and bring along a book or magazine to read. Talk about having two hours to relax! It will be so much fun.... oh well, maybe not fun, but I'll try to enjoy those 2 hours. And remember I really did have a cushy job... I guess Diane was RIGHT!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Interview

Which one? The one I just went on yesterday (Friday 2/13).

The funniest thing about it was the question my sister asked me the day before... "Why did you schedule it on Friday the 13th?" Answer: they scheduled it and invited me to come down at 4 p.m. on Friday. I didn't even think of the date because I was so happy to have the 1st interview of my now almost 3 week job search (since 1/28). Not, "Are you interested in the job being offered?" or "Congratulations and good luck." or "How did you get an interview so fast?". What can I say? My sister and I often don't seem to have sprung from the same gene pool. If she was a stranger, we would never have known each other because we are SO DIFFERENT. Like night and day. Like good kid and bad kid. Like ADD and normal. Like black and tan. Like Miller and Guinness. Like her and me. Yet we did share the same parents. I checked once by asking my mom if I was adopted, after we had gone to see "Annie", the musical live with my sister. She assured me that we were all related and she had given birth to both of us. I always felt like the odd one out at family gatherings and reunions. I was the "smart" one. I was the "book reader" with her head always in a book when not eating or watching TV.

I was the one that finally went to a 4 year university after many generations of my family not ever attending. I am the odd duck in the Zoeller family. But finally the next generation of cousins have all exhibited the intelligence to go to college and graduate and get good jobs mostly. I always send at least $25 for a gift because I really am proud of the kids of my cousins that are getting the bachelors and masters degrees. I have distant cousins that have PhD's in science and one that was an Astronaut for the US and commanded the space shuttle and went to the MIR station (John Blaha). But that was another branch of the Zoeller family... my Dad and his father and back several generations did not go to college because of the cost or the opportunity lost when they were in World War II. My Dad had to drop out of high school after 10th grade to get a job to help his large family of nine kids and parents. He was the 3rd oldest: Harley Francis, Joseph (Joe) Albert, George Albert, Fredrick Louis, Molly Teresa, Edward (Ned), Henry and Alice Mae were all of the children of my father's parents Mary Bauche and Albert Zoeller. The first 6 lived through the great depression. All the men served in World War II except Henry who became a career man in the Coast Guard and Harley who joined the Army before WWII and went to India, but was there during WWII. The rest were Navy men and looked very handsome in the uniforms (from the old photos I inherited from my Dad). I'll write a book someday about the Zoeller family and it's service during WWII as German-American immigrants' descendants.
Any way... enough family history, back to The Interview.

It was my first job interview in TWENTY ONE years. I interviewed for my last job in 12/88 with Thelma Peacock (may she rest in piece). Thelma was pure East Texas twang, tough as nails like Miss Ann, and a died in the wool Longhorn graduate with an accounting degree. I'll write the story of Thelma and me later as it was interesting during my long association with her, but not working with her after the 1st year at the "xyz" corporation ( which shall not be named here). She was tough but fair and hired me in a Chicago minute. About three days after my November interview on the day before Thanksgiving in 1988, the head hunter in Dallas called me in San Antonio where I was living and said, they want you. The salary was comparable to what I made in my prior job for Comp-Data Communications and they were going to pay moving expenses including packing me up to move 300 miles north to Plano TX!!! Two weeks later in December, I started my career at xyz Corp after 8 years in the 80s in a very difficult job market not unlike today but I was twenty years younger and still a lower paid programmer/analyst.

It was a twenty year and two months span of time at my last company. Most of my working life so far. It's difficult to understand the layoff but many many many good people either were laid off or were highly suggested to take early retirement in their early 50s. Some of the people like my friend Sandy were jumping with joy about the offered retirement program as she had been talking about retiring for at least 4 years and planned to leave in 2009 before her daughter graduated from high school in Richardson and goes onto a private university (with an equestrian program). I'll write more about the expectations of the children in Plano and around here of my friends... To put it mildly I would have though their families were rich when I was a kid. I never dreamed of a high school like the quality and diversity of courses available in the locals school district in Plano and other area districts in the northern 'burbs of Dallas.

The INTERVIEW... stop digressing Jodie!!! OK!

It went well. I can't post their name here and never will but a hint is that it involves an area governmental entity job doing similar things that I did in my last job but in a more challenging environment and with more interesting job requirements for what I'll be working on (SAP). Most of the interweb knows nothing about SAP... just pretend it's Microsoft Office that you do know. It's a system that takes care of just about everything a business needs in the way of "enterprise" or company wide systems just like Microsoft Office does for you PC. Sometimes you need Word, sometimes Powerpoint or Excel or Outlook for Email. There are different modules in SAP for accounting, sales, purchasing, etc. Trust me that's the simplest analogy I can make without making Chuck's eyes glaze over with confusion. Because he tells me often that he doesn't have a clue what I do with computers, but just that I'm really good and they like to pay me very well... well not that well, but enough to own a house in Plano and two cars and a cat and maybe a dog when we are employed again. Chuck is a disabled "semi-retired" newspaper writer / editor. He's old school and was poor most of his working life as a journalist working in community news. A story for another day of how we met!

The interview.... my 1st in 21 years. It went very well. It helped that the woman who screened me at the job fair and gave me a 15 minute pre-interview was not an HR recruiter, she is the manager of the department and was in the hour and fifteen minute interview yesterday. E and I had bonded pretty well in 15 minutes. THANK YOU Toastmasters for my improved communications skills. So I was less nervous about talking with her again. The 2nd person interviewing me was new to me, a manager under her named T. Then the hiring manager that I would be reporting to is D. D and I knew each other! He worked as a contractor at the company that I have just left in January. We knew each other semi-OK and he respected my talents and knew that I know my stuff! That just gave me a KNEE in the door that I already had a foot in from the pre-interview. E had said on Tuesday that my resume and what I had told her fit the job they had very well. Like it was almost made for me... well she didn't say that but she was very encouraging on Tuesday. When she finally set the interview for Friday afternoon on Thursday I was so relieved as she had promised to schedule it after the fair on Tuesday and then email and said Wednesday. I was getting nervous.

The questions that they asked me were mostly technical in nature about SAP and what I had previous experience with in my 10 years working with SAP at my last job. I think I answered most of the questions very well because they were smiling and shaking their heads. At the end, I asked if they felt that I was a strong candidate for the position and they ALL DID! Woo Hoo!

No chickens hatching before the eggs though. I've seen the egg but I've got to be patient and wait until they decide next week who they are hiring. I have no idea how many people that they have interviewed for the position. But knowing the hiring manager can not hurt AT ALL. He knows my reputation for good work at xyz corp. and that I was well respected by both the company and his consulting / contracting company that did most of the level 3 technical support work there for SAP. I happen to have worked as a virtual team member with the mostly consulting group and had been on call, done production support, done troubleshooting, configuration, batch job setup, troubleshooting and generally know what I need to know for the release of SAP that we had. They have the newer one, but I've been to a few workshops for the new GL, so it should be OK. Just a small learning curve about the system. A bigger one to find out the business processes at the new place and get acclimated but I've been there and done that several times previously.

So interweb.... start praying, chanting, thinking wonderful thoughts, kneeling, rubbing Buddha's belly, star watching, meditating or whatever you do and do it for me.... Think positive thoughts that Jodie will get a job offer next week and start work in March. That would be the best of all possible worlds. Better than getting my old job back. Way better! Because then we can afford to go on vacation this year. I asked for two weeks off without pay in the summer to take our planned vacation and E said yes at the pre-interview. SO I can get paid my severance for several more months, use the 6K educational benefits, continue to network and help others find a job and take a paid vacation that is paid for by my time bank payout and my severance pay (not all of it!!!). Most of the severance is designated to pay off debts or to go in savings so that we have a nest egg for future unemployment. The career services that we're being provided had a 2 day workshop on job searching. Job changing every 3-4 years is now the norm. Staying somewhere for 20 years is an anomaly. Most people will have 3 careers and 15 jobs in their working life now.

For my next career after I get a good paying job and pay off our debts and then find myself looking for a new job........ I want to be a teacher. In high school, I was the historian of the career club called Future Teachers of America. That was my goal, to teach math and science, until the HS counsellor talked me into looking into Engineering because of my grades and SAT scores in Math & Science. She thought that would be better than teaching. The jobs paid 2 or 3 times as much even starting out in the 80s. So I went to Trinity to major in engineering. I hated my engineering classes and the professors weren't especially supportive of the concept of female engineers. I like my FORTRAN and APL classes for engineering best. I like my Chemistry class the least but I still liked it. Calculus II was not fun and I made a C. Remember I was a straight A student in high school and graduated as 4th in my large class from Edison HS in San Antonio. So not liking a math class? Not, but hating my grade Yes! I made As in the computer classes freshman year. So I went to my counsellor and said I wanted to move into Computer Science. Sophomore year I took the make it or break it class called Assembly Language. I aced it! That sealed the deal and I declared Computing & Information Science as my major during that year and got a better advisor. Dr. Howland was the chairman of the department and several of us had crushes on this man about 20 years old than us. He was our department hottie until Dr. Pitts came along with his body builder body and good looks. Oh well... sorry Dr. H. Most of my old profs have retired now but Dr. H was still there at my 25th college reunion. One of my BFFs Mary Ann and I attended the department reunion. I think we were the oldest graduates at their open house with good appetizers and wine! They are moving up in the world. Now computer science majors can specialize in VR or Gaming or other modern areas of CS. We had a micro computer lab that consisted of one Apple IIe, a Teseract or something like that used Pascal as it's language, a Tectronics green cathode ray tube graphics monitor/computer for advanced graphics work and an other other 6800 based machine. A big PC lab, not! It was before the introduction of the IBM PC in the mid-80s. It was still the computer dark ages compared to now. I started with punching cards for my FORTRAN class. By my sophomore year, they upgraded to a VM mainframe environment with an interactive computer lab setup that we called the "Computer Room". It was filled with students at all hours of the day and night working on homework programming assignments and my friend Marsha smoking her little brown cigarettes that were forbidden in the room. Oh, you radical you!!! She was a little more advanced than me as she was one year older and graduated in 1981. We're still friends.

My boyfriend was one year behind me and was a champion geek winning a video game contest at a local bar when video games came in big standalone type units with color screens that you still see at Dave & Busters. We thought Space Invaders in monochrome on an Apple II was advanced graphics and gaming on a PC back in college. He had a very early serial number Apple II. I'll bet he still has it. He was an Apple groupie before most people had ever hear of Apple. I wish I had bought stock with my meager earnings as a college grad. I would be wealthy and retired by now if I had done that. Oh well! I've always know that they were a cool company... with that rainbow logo apple of the 80's who could doubt it. That was before the rainbow became gay symbol and other groups stopped using a rainbow for a symbol (like my sorority stopped several years back and changed its colors and symbol... that's just WRONG... we picked a rainbow as a symbol of our different backgrounds becoming one in ZX!) Any way, I hung around with a herd of geeks and we liked it that way. I did have groups like Alpha Phi Omega (national co-ed service fraternity) and Zeta Chi (sorority that I helped found) to be near normal people that weren't thinking about computer code 24x7. More about college later... and especially APO and volunteerism.

THIS my longest blog entry EVER. Thanks for reading until the end!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Church of BBQ

The Church of BBQ
by Jodie Zoeller
Originally written in 1997, revised for a speech given to Toastmasters.
Competent Communicator Project 6: Vocal Variety, 2/12/2009, DFW Tech Talk Toastmasters
International Speech Contest, 2/19/2009, DFW Tech Talk Toastmasters
International Speech Contest, 3/4/2009, Word Wranglers Toasters

Where are you closest to God?

I believe my Daddy was closest to God while sitting in the woods at our lake cabin and cooking BBQ. Not that it was a formal type of worship, he just meditated in the woods while drinking a cold one and cooking his BBQ. He taught me to both enjoy and respect nature and being out in the natural world.

We had a ritual of sorts, here’s how it went in the ‘60s… On Friday evening after he came home from work, we would pack up the car and head out. Stopping by Stella’s hamburger shack for a bag of burgers, dill pickles and fries… this was before the advent of fast food, at least in San Antonio. Stella cooked her burgers the old-fashioned way and we waited patiently for the delicious burgers to be put in tissue paper for our trip to Medina Lake. After a half an hour or so, we would stop in Helotes Texas for a loaf of fresh baked bread to take along and sometimes a new miniature oil lamp for my collection. We processed down the twisty roads to Lakehills Texas in the hill country near Medina Lake, Bandera County Texas.

On our arrival, Daddy would have to check the cabin for invaders like wasps, scorpions and other critters. After he gave us the all clear, Mom and I would get out of our car or van and help unload bags of food, coolers with perishables, clothes and big old metal Army cans full of water. Yes, this was a rural cabin with no running water or modern plumbing. Our bathroom was down the path and called an Outhouse. It came complete with spiders and wasps, along with air freshener and toilet paper. The cabin was a former World War II surplus Quonset hut, converted by my Dad into a rural camping cabin. It did have electricity, so there was an old refrigerator, fans and a big water cooler to help cool us down in the hot South Texas summers. The cabin had one overhead light and a couple of lamps. For heat and cooking, we used bottled butane for small two burner stove. The cabin had been purchased in the early 50s after my parents’ marriage in 1952. Dad bought three 25 foot wide lots for a total of $75 plus $25 for the Quonset hut. His friend, Joe, was a bricklayer, so together they made a brick BBQ pit with chimney to vent the wood smoke. The BBQ pit lasted over 50 years, but recently someone vandalized it which when I visited there reduced me to tears! :(

At that cabin in the woods, I learned about respect for nature, the beauty of the natural world and how God is there all around us. There were MANY stars overhead at night and we could see the Milky Way sometimes without a telescope. Trees surrounded us, mostly cedar and live oaks. In the spring, many flowers bloomed, even though the rocky soil was hard and impenetrable. Every where on my walks I found flowers, flowering butterfly bushes complete with beautiful butterflies, flower cactus plants with tall stalks of blooms and wildlife – rabbits, deer, skunks, lizards and of course my favorites the wasps and Daddy long leg spiders. Did I say that there were flowers? Well there were yellow ones, white ones, palest pink ones, purple verbena and many more. And it was possible to garden a bit in the rocky soil, one year my Dad and I planted some left over pinto beans and tried to come back often enough to see them grow and water the plants. Eventually the deer ate the plants, but it was fun while it lasted… we had a small garden at home in the backyard, so I was never deprived of the garden learning experience.

We spent time up at the lake cabin, talking and hearing family stories, having great food that was made with love and spending time together without schedules or urgent places to be. The food is a wonderful memory – BBQ brisket, sausages and chickens, corn, potatoes and onions all cooked in my Dad’s BBQ pit. Mom used the butane stove to cook a big pot of pinto beans with onions and some salt pork or ham hocks. For breakfast, Daddy would make biscuits using a covered omelet pan, the best ones ever. And lots of eggs and bacon or sausage from the old iron skillets. The food is one of my best memories of that place and time.

Peace and quiet is another memory. Something not often found now, even when you go camping. Now people have DVD players in their vans, bring boom boxes camping and even TVs. Highways aren’t far enough from the campgrounds, so even a night there is some distant noise. That was NOT the case at our Medina Lake cabin. I remember the sound of silence………….. Our cabin was at the end of a very rocky rural street and not many people had houses or cabins near ours. Dad and Mom loved to escape the city life in San Antonio and dragged me along, so that I came to love that place and my memories will always be dear to me of the time we spent together there. At times we had a cabin full, with my parents, my grandparents, me and my sister after ’71… and lots of friends. My Dad never met someone that couldn’t be turned into a friend. :)

Our lake cabin was an oasis in the Texas hill country for peace and quiet reflection, lots of good BBQ and food, parents drinking a few cold ones and just living life at a slower pace. I remember Daddy meditating under the trees by the BBQ pit with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Mom would be in the cabin sitting in front of the water cooler trying to stay cool. I would be swinging on my board and rope swing in between. A little bit of paradise that I didn’t realize! BUT, it’s preserved forever in my heart!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking

I've completed over three years in Toastmasters. I now belong to two clubs. One is my 1st club at TI that meets on Wednesdays at 11:30-12:30 each week... Word Wranglers Toastmasters. I joined a 2nd club in 2008 to complete my first 10 speeches quicker HAH, DFW Tech Talk Toastmasters.

I'm jumping OFF the pier with out a life jacket this month! I'm doing Speech 6 (Vocal Variety) on Thursday. Next week I'll compete in our DFW Tech Talk contest in Table Topics. The following week or so, I'll compete in the Word Wranglers contest for International Speech. What if I win? Another speech at the area contests. SCARY.

My topic is "The Church of BBQ". I'm doing it this week to practice for the contest as my speech number 6. It's all about my father, BBQ, religion, nature and me. It's my eulogy for my father written several years before he died in 1999, five years after a major stroke that took his limbs and brain but not his soul. May he REST IN PEACE! I love you DADDY!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dogs Rule ... at least tonight and tomorrow night

The Westminster Dog Show is hot! So far the Hound group and Terrier group... now the Non-sporting dogs. More later.

The SCOTTY won the terrier group. The SCOTTISH DEER HOUND won the Hound group. The PULLI won... and can't remember the 4th.... will post the results later gater.

2/10 tuesday night

Well the dog that I didn't expect won best in show. The Brittany Spaniel age 10!!! I was so rooting for the Scotty. I LOVE TERRIERS. But I'll take an Irish Wolfhound rescue dog or a puppy terrier like cairn, westie, wired hair fox terrier, aussie terrier, basically any of them except another Jack Russell. I did my time with a wild dog... the young ones are SO high energy that they run circles around you. Even if you're 29 like I was... he was exhausting and so strong and strong willed... and puppy humped everything in sight until I had him neutered. He never forgave me.... but I'm a responsible pet owner that spent probably 5K in medical care on my Blarney JRT and another 1000 on Natchez our 12 yr old German Shepherd adoptee that lived to be 15. NEXT time, I'm buying pet health insurance. DOGS cost lots to keep, feed and keep healthy.

I want a scruffy mutt terrier, a westie, a cairn, a scotty, a wired hair fox terrier or a huge Irish Wolf Hound (couch potato dog). Chuck wants one of everything.... NOT. We will have to settle on one to adopt AFTER I get a new job. That's our goal and we're sticking to it. .... Unless there is a Irish WH to rescue at the North Texas Irish Festival. THEN all bets are off. I hope to have a new job SOON so that I can afford to adopt a puppy and a young dog too. LOVE 'EM. Watch out BeeGee (the cat) here come the DOGS.

Who let the dogs out..... uff uff, who let the dogs out.... uff, uff
(my fav rap song)

Ciao internet and good night!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Job Searching and Networking via Internet tools!

It's not easy work... Doing a job search takes time, energy, enthusiasm, attention to detail, follow through, follow-ups, note taking, research, communication skills, analysis, reading-reading-reading, connection making, networking and more. Luckily I've cultivated a very large network of friends, family, Toastmasters, co-workers, former bosses, college friends, high school friends etc. I think I can put together a network of 200+ people to help me with my quest for a new job and/or career.

THANK YOU internet!!! Thanks e-mail!!! Thanks to Linked In, Facebook, blogging, web pages that are free from my ISP and more. INTERNET I would like to kiss you today. Also a big round of applause for Microsoft Word, Excel and Internet Explorer. Tools like Yahoo e-mail, calendar, contacts, Google, gmail! They are all terrific. Oh I forgot twitter, bloggers and assorted online only friends!!! Woo Hoo!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Click on the title to display my online resume site.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Resume is almost ready!

I'll post it here soon so that readers can help find me a new job. I'm also going to setup a new web page for my job search to post my resume without my home address included.

Strange Cat Noises

My cat likes to sit near me when I'm on a computer, preferably next to the keyboard or on my shoulder. In my home office (spare bedroom) she has to jump up and walk across the printer. Which caused one to break! and so I had to buy a new and better one for less money than the broken laser printer - I got a multi-function printer/fax/copier/scanner from HP. Any way, there's a bed in the room too since it's one of our guest rooms. She likes to sit on the edge of the head of the bed and look out the window which goes almost to the floor. The front bushes cover most of the window but I have raised the blinds about one foot and there is a small area where she can see the world from the window. Tonight she was sitting there and started making a weird growling hissing sort of noise. I looked out of the window and a twin black cat with collar was looking in at her. I guess she wasn't pleased. The visitor cat went on his/her way when I went over to look at it. Cat make strange noises!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Retirement vs. Laid Off - not much difference

I've got a number of friends who received STRONG suggestions that they take "the company's" early retirement package. These are people in their 50s, who still want and/or need to work. The Turk came to visit them too. But they didn't get a choice: take the package OR wait and see if you win/loose the layoff lottery. Not a good choice any way!

We all knew that "the company" was going to do a layoff. I guessed it last year several months back. I knew that when they announced the early retirement program starting in December, with a deadline of acceptance of January 23rd, that a layoff would follow. I just didn't know THE DATE of it.

Well, the retirees have had a couple of weeks (at least) to say their good-byes. I didn't get an hour to say mine. I really wanted to be able to say good-bye to my dear friends and co-workers at "the company" where I worked for TWENTY years of my life, Dec 1988 to Jan 2009. I got my freaking GOLD badge and parking pass in December 2008. It got ripped away on January 27, 2009. Rather ironic that I really wanted the privelege of having the stupid gold parking pass to park a few rows closer to the building. VERY IRONIC.

"The company" will not be the same place, ever again. Too many GOOD PEOPLE are walking away or were booted out the revolving door. I keep hearing more and I'm starting to be glad that I was shown the door. At least the anxiety and stress of worrying about when the layoff would come is over. So is the stress of the current reorgs at "the company". It's a totally different place.

Yes, I miss my GOLD BADGE. I freaking earned that little piece of plastic. I gave them at least 15 good years and 5 not so great ones. It averages out to a pretty good career there. But so many of the retirees and laid off people were EXCELLENT folks that were put out the door before their time.

PS. I kept the DART pass. F*** them! I deserve it.

PPS. Remind me when their stock goes up. I need to SELL all my stock in "the company" as why be an owner of a company that kicked me to the curb. SELL SELL SELL!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

When the Turk Comes to See You...

Here's the excellent article about our layoff that my DH (dear husband) had published in the Dallas Morning News local options section today...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friends are the Best

I've had some really nice emails and phone calls from my friends. Lots of sympathy about my job loss. Today one of my BFFs bought me lunch. Two friends came to lunch and both wanted details about my "package" and shared info about what was happening at my former office. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. Bits of information keep popping up. The names of people no longer there. The new jobs that people have been slotted into. I'm not sure that I would like working there any more. It seems that people have been haphazardly tossed about into different teams and positions like so many mix and match Legos. The new reality of corporate IT hell. IT wasn't the only area with major cuts. The denizens of bldg 2 who produced a brilliant product that hasn't totally worked out suffered the same or worse cuts than bldg 1. That's just the location that I worked at. There are many more buildings on the sites in Dallas proper.

I'm getting used to being an outsider (to my former company). It's different but the stress and anxiety of wondering what was going to happen and when have all vanished. I'm hopeful that my job situation will work out for the best. I'm not one of those people who say, "Everything happens for a reason." I don't believe in that theory of life. I guess I'm more of the school of chaos theory. There is no such thing as fate or good/bad/mysterious reasons for things to happen. We make our own way in the world. The future happens one day at a time. It's up to me to determine my course of action. I can do it. I'm a survivor and veteran of many crisis' past. So, I'm optimistic that I'll learn some new lessons along the way and somehow things will get better. And I'll be happy that I have friends who care!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living Through A Historic Day

I can't believe that this day has come finally. It's one of those moments in history that we'll be reminded of again later. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. I watched his swearing in and speech.

It's the first time that I've cared enough to find a TV and watch this type of event. What does that say about me? Usually I pass on all political speeches. I did hear Bush's post-9/11 speech sitting in our rental car on our honeymoon in Hawaii. The juxtaposition of being at one of the most beautiful beaches and listening to the President address the nation made it one of my personal historic moments.

Today is different. It's a NATIONAL historic day. Our President is now someone who will stand against torture. Hopefully he will bring our long and agonizing war in the Middle East to an end. We all pray that he and his administration can pull our nation out of this devastating economic crisis. We have HIGH HOPES for the future. I pray that we see those hopes become reality.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two of these things have something in common: water heater, my left foot, my laptop

Do you remember those pictures from your childhood? Which of these things belong together? Well my water heater broke last week and so did my laptop (hard drive, yes, backed-up, being restored by an IT professional as we speak). My foot however was judged to be merely sprained yesterday during my two hour visit to Prima-Care near my home. Thank God, for them, otherwise I might still be hobbling around thinking I might have a broken foot bone. It hurt enough sometimes to be broken. But himself said that it wasn't. I decided to let a DOCTOR decide if it is or not. Yeah!!!