Sunday, October 31, 2010

End of Year Performance Review - raaaaggggghhhhttttt....

So it's time to submit my end-of-the-year Performance Review. Ugh. This time, to add insult to injury, there's a new question, no doubt thought up by some Harvard educated MBA: Where do you see yourself in 1-3 years? I have to make up some suitable BS to answer this inane question, and I will, but what I really want to say is this:

Listen, you dweeby bean counter, I've been a permanent employee now for almost 4 years. In that time, although my caseload has increased by almost 50%, I've never submitted a single late report (this is a big deal at the company where I work). Furthermore, I've taken on many additional responsibilities since I started, some of which have been assigned to me, others that I've initiated, e.g., I created a training manual, complete with screen shots, that's now used internationally to train new employees on our pharma database, and I'm expected to keep it current. Yet I haven't received a raise or a promotion, or even an overall EE (exceeds expectations - word is that management doesn't like anyone to receive that rating, because an employee receiving that rating might expect some sort of financial reward, e.g., a raise or promotion). And so I'm still working at the same grade at which I was hired, as are those employees hired at the same time as me whose idea of work is pretty much to show up for 8 hours a day, period. Furthermore, in spite of my putting time and effort, twice a year, into writing these performance reviews, I have yet to have a one-on-one or to receive any sort of feedback on the work I'm doing from anyone who's supervised me. I'd say writing these is sort of like pennies down a well, except that I know someone reads them, because we get them back to redo if what we've written falls short of the rah-rah spirit with which they're supposed to be once again, I'm writing and submitting mine, but oh, what a colossal waste of time.

Previously on Alphawoman...

The Rules

Recently I have not had the opportunity to read. I dearly miss curling up with a good book. So I decided to venture down to the local-ish public library and pick up some audio CD's to enjoy when I am driving.

I picked up Tony Robbins talking about something or another. I find I enjoy him much more as an orator than as a writer. Several times I tried to read this book I am listening to and failed. But I'm loving the audio.

I am picking up quite a bit about changing your behavior and little tricks to make yourself a better and happier person. Now you might be asking yourself, "I thought Mary was an extremely happy and well balance person!" And you're right, I am. But everyone could little readjusting now and then.

One interesting section was about rules. Not just any rules, but the rules you make for yourself and thereby inflict them on those around you. I found this "spin" quite easy to apply to real life. Especially if I apply it to other people. I understood at once why Joe is having a difficult time with a certain someone. He does not understand her rules and therefore, breaks them. As much as she dislikes Joe, he must break every single one of her rules. (see how easy this is?)

Is it possible to sit down with some one you are having a conflict with and somehow find out what their rules are? I don't know. But he makes sense and I believe that if you could follow his advice and put into action his behavioral shifts I think you're life might just be less annoying. Better? Happier? If I am less annoyed, I am happier.


Take today. I go to Kroger's because I like Kroger. It is a classy supermarket in this town. This area is limited in the supermarket offerings. For some reason the powers that be think that "everyone" just drives into Nashville if they want variety. (I stop here, I learned my lesson in Ft Wayne about city bashing). I pick up the two items I want from the vegetable area and mosey on down the Halloween aisle (1/2 off and tremendous make-down) and pick up some (pukey - but I only find this out later) Kroger brand Indian Corn. The place is packed. Last minute Halloween shopping but it looks like a blizzard might be making a beeline for us with the crowded store and impossible to find a space in the parking lot! So I go to the self check out line and get in the queue. As I stand in the middle area of the two lines a gentleman assumes his place behind me to await his turn after me. Out of nowhere a lady and her husband arrive, just out of church by the way they are dressed to the nines, and get behind the lady at the check out space to the right!

I turn to the guy behind me and say, "Did I miss something about check out etiquette at this store?" He is Mexican and just smiles and nods. Maybe he understands, maybe not.

I realize one of my rules was just broken!!

So life goes on. I understood (not right then but later) that my rules about standing in line at the self check out area is totally different from the people who just left church. They believe in every man/woman for themselves and those who play fair go after them.

Then I go to Walmart. Halloween candy is still top dollar. Thank God I stocked up on my Almond Joys at Kroger. I get the items I need and head to the self check out lanes and immediately get one. As I am lifting the 35 pound cat liter out of the basket this woman comes up behind me and gets in my space!! I just ignore her breathing down my neck and swipe my coupon and pay with her shopping cart right up my thigh. As I get ready to leave I see a second lady ignore the queue and rush towards the person next to me and get as close to her as the lady behind me. I look at all the people who obey the rules of etiquette waiting patiently in an orderly line and wonder why some people think they are more important.

And I think that maybe Tony is right.

Right about something.

(also apprearing on Alphawoman)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Hello! anyone noticing? White House - No Flag
It is time we ousted this scoundrel...
Have you noticed that the decor at the White House haschanged since BHO moved in? The Oval Office is now stripped of the traditional red, white, and blue, and replaced with middle eastern wallpaper, drapes, and decor. The hallway that he walks out of to talk to the press now has middle eastern chairs, drapes, etc..Most disturbing is the bright yellow drape behind him every time he speaks from the White House. It has Arabic symbols on it and has been there from the beginning.Today I received this and it clearly shows what I have been noticing. That bright yellow curtain is highly visible, but as you scroll down, you will see what is predominantly absent. Also, as you look at the pictures of other presidents speaking from the same spot, look at the traditional 'American' background and decor as opposed to the new decor. This is intentional and should alarm every American
This is the text of an email forwarded to me by a relative of a relative. I've done some Googling about the new oval office decor and I'm still trying to figure out what's Middle Eastern about striped wall paper, among other things.
I'm not seeing the Arabic characters in that backdrop fabric. I'm not really into yellow but it looks like a really nice satin brocade to me.
It's getting loonier by the hour.

Great Breakfast Treat, Oatmeal Cake

A cold morning, water in the birdbaths lightly frozen over. The birds are emptying their feeders in record time, and I am feeling quite guilty about forgetting to fill them last evening. It's still too cold to go out there and do it right now in my jammies.  But it's the perfect morning to bake up a panful of Oatmeal Cake so we'll have it to take as a portable breakfast for fly-ins at the Bosque del Apache next week. Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for us in winter, both in our previous life, and our New Improved Vegan/no oil life. 

This is something I used to make for breakfast when we ran Marigold's, our guesthouse on Cape Cod, only now I have modified it for our new diet to exclude eggs. sugar and oil.  It is actually quite good, with the banana and applesauce providing a nice sweetness. It makes a grab & go breakfast if you don't have time for a sit-down, or can be heated up with fruit for a tummy-warming morning start.

Oatmeal Cake 

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (NOT instant)
2 cups soy (or almond/hemp/oat/etc) milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 (or more, as you like) tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
handful chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (cranberries are also great)

Oven at 350.

Spray 8" round or square pan.
Soak oats in milk about five minutes.
Add nuts/raisins, vanilla, banana and applesauce to soaked oat/milk mix.
Mix dry ingreds separately, then mix in to oat mix until well blended.
Pour into baking pan, bake 40 - 45 minutes, until golden crust forms on top.
Let cool before cutting.  Serves six, or keeps two in breakfast  treats for several days. 

(Cross-Posted from Quid Nunc)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


An expansion on a comment I posted on Lisa’s entry. Do I think that the president might have done a few things differently over the past couple of years? Personally, I believe the administration might have spent more political capital on putting people back to work. The president worked like an old time coal miner trying to put together a bi partisan consensus even though it was pretty damned obvious from the beginning that the ‘Pubs weren’t going to cooperate. Do I wish there was a way out of Afghanistan that doesn’t involve throwing our hands in the air, saying the hell with it and pulling out? Oh yeah. The only consolation is that Alexander, the Russians and the British couldn’t do any better.

Thomas Paine coined a wonderful phrase back during the Revolution in his pamphlet “the Crisis”. To the “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots” who voted Democratic in ’08 and aren’t happy or satisfied with the results and feel too “discouraged” to vote this time around; if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the results can you?

We’ve got a candidate for the house in my district who, among other things, believes that public education is socialistic and “child abuse” and should be abolished. That our radioactive waste could either be diluted and dumped in the ocean or mixed into housing foundations because low dose radiation is good for you. That the EPA should be abolished, and that all our energy problems would be solved if companies like Exxon and BP (and their employees) didn’t have to pay taxes. Of course now that he’s running for office and being reminded of what he said in the past, well that wasn’t exactly what he meant. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

It gets even better. Other candidates want to gut the fourteenth amendment. Some candidates would repeal the seventeenth amendment that provides for the direct election of senators. There are modern nullifiers who would allow the states to ignore any federal statute they don’t agree with. Andrew Jackson must be spinning in his grave. Sharon Angle is on the record advocating a “second amendment” solution if the election results don’t suit the far right radicals.

There is a radical minority who are willing to trash what we have in hopes of replacing it with something more to their liking. Now, they can’t succeed, but they can create a hell of mess in the process. An even bigger mess to clean up. Now all you discouraged folks out there; if you want to risk this by all means stay home, sit in a corner, stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud.

As for me, my mail in ballot it already deposited in the drop off box. We filled ours out the same day we got them.

Hail to the Chief

Last night, for about twenty amazing minutes, I got to be in the same room ( was an auditorium. A very BIG room, but a room nonetheless) with the President of the United States.

After standing on the sidewalk for three hours (I SO wore the wrong shoes) then sitting in an ugly auditorium for two more hours, and having to endure a rather childish political pep rally, that man walked out on the stage.

I'm not saying it was worth all the peripheral bullshit to get a glimpse of an obviously tired president who was sniffling from a cold and guzzling water in order to try to retain an audible voice for the duration of his speech. And we were really far away (mostly watched him on the Big Screen.) :(

But I realized I am still very proud that he is President of the United States. I'm proud that I voted for him. I'm proud that he speaks FOR me, and TO me as if I were a rational adult.

I'm proud of what he has achieved so far, in the face of ridiculous opposition. And I'm proud that he hasn't lost heart, and that he's just going to keep on plugging. He has set his sights on accomplishing as much as he possibly can while he holds the highest office in the land. I'm proud that I was in that crowd, among those five thousand people who showed him a degree of excitement, admiration and support that, I'll wager, he doesn't encounter too often these days.

Barack Obama has my greatest respect and loyalty.

Hail to the Chief!