9.26.2010

10 Minutes - So Far So Good, Me Thinks...

Hi. It's Joe.

It is Sunday night, September 26, 2010. I am feeling really good. Tomorrow, I will kick off another week working for the man. I use lower case lettering to indicate that the man, in this case, is pretty f-ing cool. My supervisor and co-workers are helpful and inspired and super nice.

The commute isn't the best, but it is tolerable and I listen to talk radio to get informed. When I get to the workplace, however, I am very focused and in my element. I don't get many e-mails or phone calls to respond to, as a result of being a very new employee. That may change, but the nice thing about being a contractor is that I'm not expected to integrate into the corporate collective. All I have to do is follow orders and bust my ass on the desktop publishing work they have me doing. And bust ass is exactly what I do.

I enjoy the work. It is little more than formatting MS-Word documents into Adobe FrameMaker using a template that was developed by the Technical Communications director. There are a few related side tasks to do with document control and obtaining graphics for putting images into the files. But it is all very straightforward. It takes focus, but not a huge amount of new learning. When I do need to learn something, the people around me are very helpful.

So, I hope they are pleased with my effort. I am giving it my all and I've removed a lot of things from my plate to allow me to dedicate myself to the task at hand. I am golden through the end of the year, I think. Then I have to start thinking about what to do with myself. Moving to Arizona is always an option. Moving to New Zealand would be an even cooler option, but I don't want to be that far away from my family during this time of our lives.

In retrospect, I probably should have gotten into writing more as soon as I left the vitamin company I was working for prior to April of 2009. They had re-purposed me to the most boring and useless tasks, totally unrelated to writing, that I had almost lost my skills in that department.

On the other hand, I am glad I took a year off to hone those very skills via blogging and piecemeal freelance writing, while exploring the realm of professional songwriting. I learned a ton, and now I am refreshed and ready to delve back into the world or pro writing.

I know this totally pisses off my former boss. Though he would never admit it, passive aggressive cock tool that he was, he made it his life's goal to suck my (and everyone else's) life force away by never letting me pursue my goals and aspirations at that job. Oh, the stories I could tell, but I won't.

As a result, he single-handedly deprived my former employer of one of the most creative and driven people they ever had. If I was the President of that company, I would have totally canned my former boss for doing that to the company. Since that didn't happen, I can only assume the company is not worthy of my skills. Now other companies are profiting from my genius. Well, at least they are profiting from my drive and ambition, if nothing else.

Time.

9.20.2010

10 Minutes - You Aren't Going To See This Until the Weekend

Hi. It's Joe.

This blog is offline during the week for a little while. It's not that there is anything bad about this blog per se. I started a new job, and I just don't want everyone there to be able to know all the details of my life, as uninteresting as they are.

At my last job, everyone was really nosy, so you had to keep your private life concealed, however innocuous it was. I think the people at this new job are not only way cooler, but they have lives and better things to do than pry into the lives of co-workers. But I could be wrong. In any case, I am still traumatized from my last job and the horrendous work environment created by the worst boss in the world. So for now, I will just play it safe. My new job is SWEET and so I just want to go there, do the best job I can do, and not make any waves.

So for a little while, my good readers, you will have to catch up on my posts on Saturdays and Sundays, which is when I will make the blog temporarily public. You can also e-mail me and I can grant you special permission to view the blog at will. Blogger gives me that option for up to like 100 people or something. I recommend it. That way you will never be without my posts on demand.

Time.

9.19.2010

10 Minutes - A New Perspective

Hi. It's Joe.

It's Saturday night. I'm chilling, watching a few episodes of the old Star Trek via YouTube on my new flat screen monitor.

I finished my first week at the new technical writing contract job. I like it. My work is cut out for me and it is clear what I need to do. It's hard, but enjoyable. By hard, I mean intensive. It's nothing I can't handle, but it takes a lot of brain power and focus. I like that. At my last job there was no direction or purpose and I was never allowed to do the things I wanted to do. Now I am able to pursue what I was cut out to do. Things really could not be better. I'm also making a decent amount of money, and that's cool.

The only down side is the long commute to Middleton WI from Cambridge WI. It's not bad right now. I can usually avoid the traffic in Madison pretty well and since I am at the workplace all day, I don't really have to drive anywhere when I am there. When winter arrives, I will feel less impartial about the commute. But it is possible I can work from home sometimes.

Anyway, my time is about up.

9.18.2010

Scary Halloween Games

Hi. It's Joe.

The Halloween Techno Party is coming fairly soon.

You'll want to have this info.

9.09.2010

10 Minutes - It Was a Good Day

Hi. It's Joe.

I will just say right off the bat that I think America has gone off the deep end, and as such the "terrorists" have succeeded in debasing us to the lowest common denominator of human idiocy. And that is all I will say. If you don't know what I am referring to, it is probably for the best anyway. In some cases, ignorance is bliss.

It is fall cleaning time at my house. Today I cleaned the back screen porch really really well. I moved everything out and I swept it out top to bottom and stem to stern. I was tempted to even hose it out, but I didn't want to deal with removing all the water after I was done.

I even did a little bit of power washing of my siding. My dad did the lion's share of it. My folks are in town through the weekend, and they will be going to Fighting Bob Fest on Saturday. They are die hard progressives and so that is probably where I get it from. Progressive thinking is intelligent thinking. Not that all dumb hateful people are right wingers, but a lot are.

OK, I'll stop. But they are really stupid some of them.

Tomorrow, I hope to finish power washing and then I am going to clear brush from my flower beds and garden for most of the rest of the day, hopefully with some aid from mom and pop. If I have time, I am even going to mow.

GUPPY EFFECT will put on a half way decent rock-n-roll show tomorrow night for the fine patrons of Bella Grays Pub in Delavan WI. We will be joined by guest drummer Peter, of the band Rough Diamond Red. It is going to be a very winged show. I don't know what time we start and I don't know how much we are getting paid, but I hope to know this soon, so I can put out a bulletin.

Time.

9.08.2010

10 Minutes - The Final Countdown

Hi. It's Joe.

I received the underwriting from THE MAN that I wanted. In other words, I got a job.

It's only a short-term, contract job. So it isn't really the same as having a real job. But it should pay the bills, while allowing me to maintain a modicum of free agency.

I don't think I have ever used the word "modicum" in my writing ever before. I may have. But I don't think so. According to BLOGGER's built in spell checker, it's not only a real word, but I even spelled it right.

I got my paycheck (actually, an electronic direct deposit) from the admin job I did a week or so ago. I am expecting another one this Friday for about half the amount of the first one. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was fairly easy work with nice people.

I start my new contract job as a tech writer next Tuesday. I am looking forward to it. I need to find out what the final pay scale is and also the dress code. When I interviewed there, the supervisor I would be working for had on a t-shirt. I hope underlings can dress in casual clothes too. I liked the guy. I think he will be a good boss to work for, if I kick ass. And I will kick ass. I have nothing to do but kick ass when I am there. I hope they don't even let me access the Internet. I will just focus on the work and do it.

Today I worked at the CSA farm in the AM and I will probably work there again tomorrow AM. The new job kind of screws up my schedule for working at the farm. I will probably have to do it on weekends now.

This weekend I am going to practice a lot of music. I am playing a gig with BABY ROCKET on Friday September 17. I also have my first piano lesson with Emily Paape on Tuesday September 14, the same day I start my new job. I will probably have to go right there from work, because I am sure that first day will be a long one.

My parents are rolling in tonight (Wednesday night) and will be here a couple of days before going back to Ohio. That will be nice.

I found a real estate property manager guy, named Bary Luce, who may be able to help me rent my spare room(s). Sherry Misener referred me to him. When a referral comes from a friend, it is always more trustworthy, even though it really has no reason to be.

Anyway, I am out of time.

9.06.2010

10 Minutes - Summer's End

Hi. It's Joe.

Summer isn't really ending, but the fun of summer is. After Labor Day, we have to close up the cottage for the year. It's always a bit nostalgic.

But there is still plenty of fun to be had. If I don't get the underwriting from THE MAN I seek, I will probably have to sell my house and take the money and run. It would be cool to get a camper van and tour around. I envision performing in one location until I have generated enough cash to move to the next location.

When Todd and Sherry were up here over the weekend for Bike With Melinda, the end of summer big event up at the cottage, Todd and I were monkeying with my Mac laptop to try and fix the battery. Well, we f-ed something up because now it won't boot up at all. It just goes into an infinite loop of useless disk spinning and never loads.

That's why I am posting on my Crackberry and my time is up because it takes forever to type on this thing. Hopefully, I can boot my Mac from the OSX DVD and not have to pay an arm and a leg for repairs. Note to self: Don't monkey with the Mac.

Time.
Via my Blackberry

9.03.2010

10 Minutes - "My Uncle Died" is the Perfect Excuse

Hi. It's Joe.

I am up at the cottage again. I had to go back to Madison for a job interview earlier today. I was able to coordinate it so that I could head back north right after the job interview.

I'm hosting BIKE WITH MELINDA this weekend at the cottage on Shell Lake. On Wednesday, I did a pre-ride of the ride and documented it on my smart phone.

VIEW IT HERE.

I originally had eight (8) RSVPs for BIKE WITH MELINDA via the Madison Energize Activities MeetUp group, not including myself. They started dropping like flies the week before the ride. People always chicken out, or they have minor issues that become major issues in their minds.

One excuse that always works and can never be questioned is, "My uncle died."

My uncle died about 13 years ago. It would not be false for me to say, "I can't make it because my uncle died."

Nobody would call me out on it, even if they knew my uncle died 13 years ago (or that he wasn't technically my uncle). Maybe I am still in mourning. It's possible.

Almost everyone probably has an uncle who died at some point in the past, making this an almost universally true excuse to get out of something.

You can't call someone out on it, because what if their uncle really did die last Thursday? Chances are slim, but you are going to look like a real ass if you doubt someone and it turns out to be true.

I am going to start using the ambiguous excuse, "My uncle died," more often. It's totally true, provided I don't put a time frame on it. Even if someone asks me, "Oh, sorry, when did that happen?" I can just reply, "Thirteen years ago," and let the uncomfortable, awkward silence linger.

I actually have come to expect a lot of people to bail out on Bike With Melinda, and so I overcompensate. By the time the ride happens, it is usually down to a fun intimate group of people who really want to be here, and who I really want to be here.

It always works out.

Todd and Sherry will be here, and that is good enough for me. My buddy Rod was not able to ride on Sunday, but he might come visit on Saturday and hang out. A couple other people from Madison are still on the list, although one might still bail out for lack of car pooling options.

Regardless, it is going to be great weather and a fun social with my friends and family. I wouldn't want this ride to ever become big and commercial. That would suck.

Good night.

9.02.2010

10 Minutes - Stevia Sweetener and Jumping Through Hoops for THE MAN

Hi. It's Joe.

Looking on the bright side, it is a good thing that I am being called back for an IN PERSON interview for the technical writing job that I want.

However, it is on Friday 9/3 (tomorrow), which disrupts an otherwise car free holiday weekend up at the cabin, where I am now. I have to drive back tonight (Thursday) and spend Friday morning getting into job interview mindset for the 1 PM appointment.

All I can say is that they had better hire me. I am driving nine (9) hours I wasn't going to drive just to be there tomorrow. That shows drive and ambition. Right?

Of course, there are other up sides. I can leave Buddy at the kennel for the BIKE WITH MELINDA family friendly bike ride over the weekend. That's one less dog to annoy people. I didn't want to put him in the kennel all week, because it would be too expensive. Now it will just be Friday evening through Monday evening. I can probably afford that, assuming I get the job. So for all this effort and expense they had better hire me. I am well qualified for the job.

Today I wrote a blog post about Stevia sweetener (an herbal, zero calorie sugar substitute), with a link to some flavored Stevia packets if people want to try it out.

Up at the cottage, we have a whole bunch of Stevia sugar in packets that look just like regular sugar packets. I use the Stevia sweetener on cereal and it is really good.

Stevia extract is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, which means virtually no calories or glycemic issues (for diabetics and people with sugar handling issues). They use inulin as a "filler" to give it the characteristics of powdered sugar. Inulin is a soluble fiber that has a low glycemic index and is a prebiotic, good for gut health.

The Stevia plant comes from South America, as most things useful do. They grow it in Asia too, to meet the demand for it as a sweetener in Japan.

Well, I should go psych myself up for this job interview. Stressful!

Time.

9.01.2010

10 Minutes - A Bold Adventure

Hi. It's Joe.

Today is the day that I "preview" the Wisconsin bike ride called BIKE WITH MELINDA that I am hosting over Labor Day weekend.

I am going to take my dumb smart phone with me as I ride the proposed route. I will snap a few pics of things I see along the way and post them to my FACEBOOK page, with comments.

That includes any BLACK BEARS. We saw yet a third black bear this morning driving up to Spooner WI. It was a juvenile.

The thing I like about black bears, and you may think it is trivial, is that they are black, which makes them very easy to see. Deer are hard to see, because not only are they semi-camouflaged with the background woodsiness, but I am also color blind to certain of the more pastel-ish natural color schemes. But black is no problem.

I guess it's because black bears have no natural predators besides humans that they can be so stark against the background. They don't really need to conceal themselves and I'd bet even if they had a natural predator they could probably kick its arse decently. Anyway, it's nice that you can usually see a black bear at a distance and avoid close encounters. Pray for me.

Does anyone else think that the fur of black bears seems to "loose" on them? My perception of it is that their skin kind of "hangs" on them, and isn't snug. It's almost like they are in a bear costume that is too large. Anyway, I am off to ride the route and see what there is to see.

I found out today that many employees at large corporations often have Google searches set up to feed them RSS about their company. Basically, Google e-mails them a list of any links making reference to the company in the previous day or week, say for example Intel Corporation in Portland, OR.

Do you see what I did just there? I shared my blog post with everyone at Intel who has a Google search set up for the search phrases "Intel" and/or "Intel Corporation." I even threw in "Portland OR" to hit anyone with a geographic filter on their search.

Hello, Intel! I love you, and especially TEAM CRAZY BIRD, my RAGBRAI cycling team, many of whom work at your fine company. Also, thanks for letting Apple Computers (yes!) use your Duo Core processors. I quite enjoy my Mac laptop, and I am using it right now to write this post.

Time.