Monthly Archives: May 2009

A final ‘raspberry’ from Mercury

Not long ago, I spent a bit more than an hour creating a wishlist (at Today I went to update it (since we got some DVDs over the weekend) and I accidentally deleted it.

You see, the were the first entry duplicated the second entry, so I deleted the first entry, not realizing it was a listing for the ENTIRE wishlist. Now, I think there’s some poor design on wishlist’s part, but mostly this was operator error.

I’m not sure I have the energy to recreate that list.

Slogging through Resumes

I know this is a terrible job market . . . but that means it is all the more necessary for applicants to pay attention to the advertisements.  I’ve written about this before, but things have gotten a lot more intense this time.

We’re hiring an administrative assistant, having been without as a budget-cutting measure for a year now. We’re very clear about what we want in an ideal applicant. And, as usual, I am very specific about what I want from applicants: a cover letter, a resume, and salary expectations. (Don’t believe me? Here’s the post, at least until it expires on CL.)

I got 25 responses within an hour of posting the ad. And 120 in six hours, when I stopped checking my office email. Today I have another 50+ to input. My guess is that I’ll have 300 resumes to review before the weekend is over. Look at that figure for a moment: three HUNDRED resumes.

I said it before: you’ll get a lot further in the process if you write your cover letter to me. But you are now going to get an automatic rejection if you don’t include the items I specifically requested: a cover letter, a resume, and your salary expectations. I

I started out willing to ask people for a cover letter/writing sample — now I just mark the person ‘no’. I may lose a great candidate, but I doubt it. In fact, my impressions is that the people who don’t bother to compose a cover letter have little or NO relevant experience.

What a waste.

Foghorns & Sunshine: My weekend in San Francisco

I just came back from a weekend with my family in San Francisco. I flew down to heavy fog, and left in 70* sunshine.

That is the city of my youth in a nutshell: a dichotomy of dynamic tension.

I went down to help my mom with some tasks that needed doing, but would have left her in a lot of physical pain from her disability. It took most of two days to get it done, and I brought a number of things home with me to finish up, but she’s in a much better place than when I arrived.

But lest you think this was a weekend of drudge – fear not! I had a great time visiting with her and with my sister’s family.

In my mom’s backyard the remnants of a palm tree she took down usually looms with a sad, sort of stressed out look. (Seriously — a few years ago she took a machete to it and goes out every once in a while to hack off any upstart reappearances of life.) A neighbor covered it with one of those holiday ‘angels’ made of woven willow and it now presents a more artistic shape to the world.


I found it seriously funky — and fascinating.

My sister’s yard is blooming beautifully, the roses are obviously very happy, and she’s got a nice collection of herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, etc.) going in the back area. Of course, I covet her lemon tree. But then again, she misses her Buddleia and covets my lilac tree in return.We spent a nice afternoon out there, enjoying the sunshine and watching the McSherry Heir play.

glorious rose!

On Saturday we (minus mom) went to a strange place called FairyLand over by Lake Merced. This is a strange, STRANGE, place, but sweet in a funky kind of way. The concept is that children’s fairy tales are turned into a play area. So we have things like this:

peter rabbit?

(note the mad gleam in his eye . . .) or this:

scary playhouse

Then again, I really liked the Alice in Wonderland ‘down the rabbit hole’ installation:


particularly the paintings on the walls:


All in all, it was a lovely time. Weird, but lovely.

Facing North Update!

Despite Mercury retrograde, Facing North has been updated! It’s a great collection (as always) of honest opinions about items of interest to our community. I’ve got an even dozen reviews of books, ‘tools’, and CDs, some old, some hot off the presses.

Michele Morgan and I did a fun interview a few months back, and that’s been posted for you to enjoy.

Mark Lesser wrote a couple of articles for me, each based on the idea that doing less means you’ll do more. It’s a groundbreaking idea in this day and age of busyness. My review of his book (Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less) will be in next month’s update. I can tell you now that it is making em think very carefully about certain assumptions I’ve been making for a decade or more.

Brooks Palmer gave me a great article (Clutter Busting!) which feels timely for all of us looking at our spring cleaning rituals.

All in all, a nice bunch to add to one of the largest collections of reviews of interest to the Pagan and alternative spirituality community. (And yes, it is free.)

Check it out!

Frugal Living: Rightsizing Your Life

A key component of frugal living is: Live within your means. One way to do that is to shed that which you do not need and consciously simplify your surroundings.

I freely confess that I’m a bit of a hoarder, and I’m definitely a collector. Knowing that, I either deny my collecting desire, or play games with my self to keep it under control. Making rules like “you can only add something if you get rid of at least one other thing” help me keep it in check. Thinking about how I’m spending money on <insert object>rather than saving for the trip to Venice also helps.

Simplifying your surroundings has a lot of benefits. It’s easier to clean, for one thing. It’s more restful on the eyes, for another. But it goes beyond that to a place where the conscious evaluation of your living space may mean that you entirely change your environment. That is rightsizing.

I am looking ahead to when I’m older and I know that I will want a very different space than where I am now. I live on three stories which is great when I’m confident my limbs will take me up and down stairs easily — but when I’m 60 (or 80!) those flights of stairs only add to my potential to fall and injure myself. (Which, I have to say, I’m likely to do given my childhood penchant for falling down stairs.)

Given that, living on one floor becomes much more important. Or maybe two, with the second floor for guests and storage. There is a strong possibility that my mother will live with us for a portion of the year, so my next home will have some kind of mother-in-law private space/apartment for her. I absolutely want a garden space, I want to grow more of my own food, and when I’m no longer working that produce will be a supplement to the household costs.

I think I want a smaller space, but when it comes down to it, I’m not sure that is strictly true. I can’t imagine not having my own office/ritual space. And J needs his. We’ll always need that guest space, and even if we combine it with the workout room (as it is now) that doesn’t *save* space. I don’t need two living rooms, though, just room for the books in what I’ll affectionately call the media room (that is, where we watch tv), but that room better be big to hold all of those books. We need a dining room that accommodates a table for 10 (12 would be better, but its hard to find a table that big that isn’t custom made) because we do entertain a couple of times a year, and often have people over for games.So, if not smaller, then it would be laid out differently, with more planning and practicality.

But a component of rightsizing is to deliberately review your life and plan for what you want to be a part of it, instead of what you’ve got. For me, that means reviewing what we have — and periodically getting rid of what we do not use.

This month, May, we’re doing just that. (We started in April, but the month got away from us.) Along with putting up the rugs and switching the drapes from the winter-weight to the summer-weight, we’re going through the closets and the garage and asking ourselves; do I use this? does it have a use at all? is it sentimental in value?

What it’s led to is that we’re going to store our CDs in sleeves ($4.99 for 100) in a box in the garage — this frees up quite a bit of space in J’s office and a shelf in mine.  Photos are either getting put in an album, or tossed. Non-memory-related paper materials are being scanned and stored on an archive drive. J is selling his Dwarven Forge terrains and we’ve already taken a lot of scrap wood and materials to the dump. There are a number of appliances that are now on ‘probabtion’ — if I don’t use them in 2009, they are going away. This includes the Atlas pasta maker I’ve owned since 1994 and have never once used and the Donovi ice cream maker that I use every couple of years.

And, of course (and most importantly) we’re talking about it. Js expectations are different from mine, and we’ve got to negotiate our way through the differences.

Mercury Retrograde: May 2009 edition

Mercury went retrograde on May 7th. What has that meant for me? Sleep deprivation and interruption.

On the night of May 7th, J. and  were enjoying a lovely birthday (his) treat of a night at the Edgewater Hotel. We’d just watched the first performance of Star Trek (shortest review ever: awesome!) and freed the puppy from her imprisonment at the Downtown Dog Lounge.

There we were, snuggled in bed, sleeping well amidst the pillows. And the phone rang. At a bit past midnight. J. grabs the phone and sleepily murmurs ‘hello?’ only to find no one on the other end. That was weird, but not incredible. So we go back to sleep . . . except that a few minutes later the phone rings again. J. is not nearly so pleasant when he answers the phone this time. Nor the THIRD time the phone rings a few minutes after that. I actually got up and tried to remove the battery from the handset, in a vain attempt to keep the darn thing OFF. (No, it didn’t occur to me to remove the phone cord . . . I was semi-conscious, ok?) I couldn’t get the cover plate off, so we went back to bed, praying it was over. It wasn’t. This time J. hung up and called the front desk and explained that someone kept calling, did they no who? She didn’t, but she put a ‘Do not disturb’ on our phone so no one could ring through. Thank the heavens.

The ringing phone started at midnight and repeated a few times. Which isn’t ‘typical’ kids making random pranks calls timing or behavior. And let’s not forget the extra weirdness here: we were not at home, we were in a hotel. How do you get a wrong number in a hotel?

But wait, there’s more. This morning our fire alarm went off at exactly 6am. It rang for about five seconds and then stopped. J. was already up with the puppy so I let him check out the house . . . no fires. Nothing smoldering or smoking. No reason for the alarm to go off. So I went back to sleep. It took a bit, but I succeeded . . . until the alarm rang again at 6:45. This time I got up. Which was good because the alarm went off again at 7 and7:10 and then it stopped. It is now 7:53 and the alarm hasn’t gone off since then.

Just as I wrote that, the alarm went off. Joy.

Hail mercury!

A New Joy: Lover of Strife

I’m not much of one for celebrating a new source of reading — at least not here — but I have to rave about a new blog I just stumbled upon. Evnissyen, Lover of Strife is  A character from the epic Mabinogion, whose tendency to bash heads first and ask questions later leads to a terrible war between Britain and Ireland. Also, a modern-day, kind of high-maintenance, very male Witch from Houston, Texas. He can often be found not keeping his mouth shut and taking creative liberties with What Really Happened.

 I’ve just spent two days reading his blog from the beginning (yes, it’s a bit OC, but harmless in it’s manifestation) and desperately holding back laughter. As an example:

Heat lamps on the ice sculpture of my sanity

There’s a lot of stuff in the world that makes me crazy: political corruption, religious fundamentalism, cultural homogenization, totalitarian agriculture, etc. Above and beyond, though, nothing unhinges me more than e-mails submitted through my company’s Web site that read, “I can’t figure out how to submit an e-mail through your Web site.”

or, another giggle-inducing post:

In which meanings are revealed

A local Pagan posted to one of the lists, vibrating with excitement. As her story unfolded, we learned that she’d found a shed snakeskin on her porch, and another in her backyard. Later, she spied a small garden snake curled up in the shade under a bush.

“So, what does it mean?” she asked.

“It means you’ve got snakes,” the rest of us replied.

“Well I know that,” she said, pulling off the considerable stunt of rolling her eyes through e-mail without benefit of emoticon. “But what does it mean?”

There was a brief pause as we regrouped, trying to figure out clearer ways of phrasing the words “It means you’ve got snakes.” This is one of those unfortunate contradictions in NeoPaganism. Earth Worshippers though we may be, most of us are inextrcably tied to modern civilization, dependent upon its comfortable trappings and climate-controlled environments. As such, any brush with Nature in all Her (or His, depending on your tradition) glory becomes a Deeply Significant Experience.

In reality, the grand majority of these experiences are decidedly lowercase. (read the rest)

Thank the Goddess!

Weekly Silliness: Why English Teachers Quit

I’m sure this is making the rounds on email, but I found it too endearing, and frightening, not to share with y’all.

Actual Analogies and Metaphors Found in High School Essays

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a
fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

26. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

27. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

28. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.