Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First Impressions

I started my new job at Design Engineers today. I got there at a reasonably decent time, did the tour, met my new co-workers, and filled out paperwork. I'm temporarily set up at a table in the Company President's office, but when they get the new furniture next week I'll move in with the CAD techs. I sat in with Ryan (the most senior of the CAD techs) and watched him do some edit work. I was happy: this is the way I thought CAD tech jobs should be. An engineer gives you a marked-up drawing, you do the CAD work, and then return the edited drawing to whoever gave you the original. They have one guy who sets up a "starter drawing" with every new project so there's a standard already set for blocks, layers and text. As you learn more, you can get promoted to designer status. This is the way a Drafting Department should be run, and I figured I could get settled in real easy.

Then at noon, my cell phone rang. It was the elementary school. Mary had come in saying she didn't feel well, and she had a temperature of 102 degrees. Someone had to go get her, and I was on the phone negotiating with Carl over who was going to go when Ron Foster, the Company President said, "You really should go. You don't have any deadlines to meet, and you can start over again tomorrow. Go home and take care of your daughter." Wow. What an incredibly super nice guy! Honestly, Mr. Foster is just the kindest person you'd ever want for a boss. He understood I was conflicted about leaving, but he made the situation seem like nothing. He had (obviously) been listening to Carl and I talking, and he figured out that Carl was supposed to do some test flight work today, so even though it was my first day it was more convenient for me to go than for Carl. So I grabbed my stuff, checked out for the day with Steve Foster (Ron's son and the head of Administration) and picked up Mary from school. A doctor's visit revealed that she has strep throat, so now she's on antibiotics and will be for a while. Carl's staying home with her tomorrow, and she should be well enough to go back to school on Thursday.

Sheesh! What a way to start a new job. I wonder what else is going to happen. Or maybe, I just don't want to know. :-P

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Price Of Gas

Gas prices are high right now - everybody knows this. Most people gripe about it. Yet on May 14 Congress (yet again) passed legislation preventing oil exploration and drilling in Alaska, and off both coasts of the US. Meanwhile, Cuba is allowing China to drill for oil 45 miles off the Florida coast. Go figure.

But this blog isn't about the price of gasoline. It's about this morning's trip to the veterinarian. Last week I made an appointment for all three of our pets to see the vet. This is something that had been put off for months. I was in school and working, and Carl was working regular and overtime, so neither of us could get away. Plus, up until mid March the weather really stank, so even getting out of the house was a challenge. But this week I'm between jobs, so I'm catching up on all of those neglected chores (housecleaning, gardening, blogging, etc) and I needed to get the pets to the vet.

Taking all three at once is rather difficult. I can handle Moose Mutt myself, or I can handle both cats by myself, but I can't manage the menagerie. Carl had to help. I made the appointment for 8AM, the soonest possible slot after getting the girls off to school so Carl would miss a minimum of work time. He and I put our heads together and came up with this scheme: since the can redemption place is on the way to the vet's office, I would take the animals in my truck along with our cans and bottles, leave early, stop at the can place first then meet Carl at the vet's. Carl took the girls to school, and since he didn't have the pets he had doot duty. This works best because he has the pickup and can put the specimen bags in the truck bed so they won't raise a stink. The stink got raised in my truck because I had the doot producers with me. Fortunately it was a nice morning, so I could put the back windows down part way without freezing. Plus, Moose Mutt got to stick his head out the window and sniff, and also draw the stares of other motorists who couldn't believe the size of that dog!

Anyway. I should clarify that none of the pets made doots in the truck. However, their gas emissions were almost overwhelming. I'm going to be blunt: when comparing molecule for molecule cat farts smell waaaaaay worse than dog farts. But our dog is so big that he produces more gas in one fart than the cats produce in a week. Combine that with the relatively small enclosed space of a Ford Expedition, and the need to open the windows becomes obvious.

Long story short, though, I got my cans turned in ($5.60 worth) and I made it to the vet. Carl got there about 10 minutes later. He took the cats; I got the dog. They put us in one room, but that wasn't a problem because the cats and dog get along OK. Dr. Shaver (who is a wonderful vet!) took care of Judah first, and when he was finished I took him back out to the truck while Carl handled the cats. All three pets are very healthy, although Judah is a couple pounds overweight. Their vaccinations are now up to date, and Judah's heartworm test came back negative. I guess you could say everything came out all right....... in the end.


Friday, May 09, 2008


Tomorrow I graduate from Kirkwood Community College. I had my three final finals this past week, and now all I have to do is the Pomp and Circumstance Shuffle across the stage at the US Cellular Center where I'll receive my empty diploma holding folder. That's right - all they give you is the folder. The graduates won't be seated in any particular order, so they won't have any way to quickly distribute the real certificates. Instead, when you show up to register they give you a card with your graduation information on it. As you approach the stage, you give your card to an usher who gives the cards to the MC (or ringmaster or whatever you call him) and when it's your turn they read your card and hand you the folder. The diploma comes in the mail later.

In some ways, it's nice to be done with school. I'll have my evenings free again. I won't have to do homework, and I won't have to bring work home from work because I'd spent the day in classes. But I'll miss my classmates. OK - I'll miss most of my classmates. There's a couple that I have to admit I won't miss. And I'll miss my instructors: Jorge, Tom, Jim, Steve and Barry. They were great to work with and learn from. They were friendly and nice, and if you wanted to learn something extra, or you needed help, they were happy to spend time with you. All things considered, my two and a half years at Kirkwood were pleasant and enjoyable. Maybe someday, I'll go back. I'm definitely going to try to get my girls to do their first two years there. The tuition will be lower, they can live at home (cheaper than an apartment) and they'll have a better chance at scholarships.

So what will I do now that I'm done with school? I'm going to change jobs. I found employment at an engineering firm that's only 1/3 the commute distance compared to where I work now. My last day will be next Friday (the 16th - also my 21st wedding anniversary) and I'll start the new job May 27th. I'll also have more time to spend with my girls. I promised them that this summer I'd teach them how to sew and paint, and I promised Boo-Boo that I'd start walking and jogging with her. I'll also have more time to spend with Carl, but what we're going to do is none of your dang business. ;)

Speaking of Carl, he just came in here looking for Skeeter, one of our cats. We shut the cats in the basement at night, and while Maya doesn't mind going downstairs, Skeeter usually hides. She also hides when she doesn't want to come in from the garage. I couldn't get her to come in tonight, so I stood in the doorway between the house and the garage and pressed the panic button on my SUV's remote. The truck only honked twice before this flying black streak of fur went whizzing past me and into the living room. A quick and effective solution to the problem.

Tomorrow I graduate. I'll have more time for my husband, my kids, my pets and myself. I can get my studio cleaned out, and I can start painting again. I can feel myself beginning, ever so slightly, to relax.

Life is good.