Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I have company from out of town, so I'm pretty much going off the grid for the day. Peace be with you all. And whether or not you celebrate, the music is always good, so my present to you dear readers, a few of my favorites.

Also, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney - Count Your Blessings. And Nat King Cole The Christmas Song.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread House

I've never actually built my own gingerbread house. I've always wanted to. Maybe someday I'll make one that looks like this.

More photos here and also the backstory. This was in a competition. Personally I think it's much better than the house that won.

Also, I've been to this house in real life. It's Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water."

Happy Christmas Eve

Been a busy week. A few things to talk about but I have company for Christmas so for the moment, The Mothra Song. Because we were just talking about it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When Niagra Falls dried up

Found this link the other day. I didn't know they once damned the river and dried up Niagra Falls. It doesn't look so impressive when there's no water thundering over it, does it?

More photos, with and without water, here.

No competency left unpunished

As I said in the last post, by Christmas I will have worked 20 days with only one day off and still don't make enough to pay the bills. Now to add insult to injury, I got my schedule for the week after Christmas. They gave me 12 hours of work over three days. That won't even pay for the gas to get there. And even more irritating, even though everyone got their hours cuts, there's at least three cashiers that got 4-6 more hours than I did who were hired after me and are among the lowest performers according to the metrics chart.

I didn't do a huge analysis but a quick scan suggests the older workers got the biggest cut in hours besides. Apparently my best hope for the new year is to buy a lottery ticket and hope I win the big jackpot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So tired...

Well I gave up my day off yesterday to pick up an extra shift. Had no choice really. Even though, since I'm working right through until Christmas Day, this means I will have had one day off out of nineteen, I needed the hours because they gave me so many short shifts for the last two weeks. Even worse, I still won't bring home enough to actually pay all my bills, much less pay down the debts I accumulated while I had no job at all.

And I couldn't possibly live more simply. I mostly only eat two meals a day. I never go out. I treat myself to three dollars worth of Chinese takeout about once every six weeks. I sweltered through the heat of summer with no AC and am now shivering through the cold snap trying to use only the minimum of heat to keep the pipes from freezing.

On the bright side, my weight is way down and living in a cold home is probably why I haven't caught my death of cold working the front of the Big Box store. It's so cold there that I have to wear three layers so I don't freeze to death during the shift. Figure building up my cold tolerance must be helping me survive.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why they hate me

I only go to the back of the Big Box store once a week to get my hours, but yesterday I actually took the time to look at the bulletin boards where they posted some stats.

Corporate metrics are a weird thing. Every time you log on to your register, it tells you what your previous ring count was. Mine varies wildly. One day I'll be ranked #3 and the next #37. I was told years ago when I worked briefly at a grocery store, that metric can be gamed by locking your register frequently. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don't. But the bulletin board had expanded metrics, like total sales rung and how many customers you rang through.

I'm outperforming everybody else by five times the volume. In other words I'm skewing the metrics and making everybody else look bad. And clearly I'm working too hard for my miserable pay rate. It's just the way I am. I don't know how not to do the best I can, no matter what the rewards, or lack thereof. This is why I've never wanted to work for large institutions. I just don't have the right mindset for it.

Of course that doesn't explain why the computer isn't giving me more hours. I was shorted for the last two weeks by at least 8-10 hours while the worst performers are picking up expanded time. I guess it may be because I picked up those extra shifts in the previous two weeks and the computer is trying to balance it out since next week's hours are better again. But that's not going to help much when the next pay round hits the bank though. It's going to be a small paycheck just when the utility bills are getting bigger. As the kids say, FML.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little City Story: Cozy

It's been way cold here. Unseasonably so. I finally broke down and put the plastic on the windows yesterday. I decided this year to plug up the gaps in the window with felt, since you can't seem to buy rope caulk here. I got halfway through felting the first window when I realized I had never shut the glass storms.

Now nursing the tradional "storm window dropped on my thumb" injury. An impressive blood blister but it could have been worse. The window fell apart and the glass was what smashed my thumb. Feeling lucky that I didn't bleed.

On the bright side, at least I remembered that sooner than later and now my funny little apartment in the little city is warmer. Even cozy.

And I just got my electric bill for last month after running the stand up heater -- a lot -- and it wasn't terrifying. So there's that... [graphic via]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

RIP Irma Golden

Well, I lost another friend. She was only 57. It's like losing Karen all over again. An aggressive cancer that took her within a few weeks of diagnosis. I'm told she fought to the end. She held on until her sister could get there from Virginia, but slipped through the veils about a half hour later.

She was my neighbor for many years on Randolph Place in lovely downtown Noho. We hung in the same circles. She and Michael were my one great success story in matchmaking. They had celebrated their 9th anniversary last August. I wonder now if it was the right thing to do. Michael had barely recovered from losing his last great love to diabetes when I got the two of them together. Seems so unfair that he has to go through this kind of loss again. When he told me today that he had expected to grow old and live out the rest of his life with Irma, it shattered my heart.

In the years before I left Northampton, she and Michael would include me in their annual Christmas tree decorating since I stopped putting up one of my own. We laughed a lot. There was always some comical disaster involved and much hilarity. Mike tells me they didn't put up one this year. She was already too sick by Thanksgiving from being poisoned by the chemo. That didn't work anyway.

She was too sick to even go on the internet. I bought her a card two weeks ago. I didn't have time to send it. I wish I had. I know she knew I cared but, I would have liked for her to have some tangible thing to hold before the end.

Irma was a complicated person. She was a really ugly drunk. I feel a little guilty right now remembering the times I snuck out of a bar so I wouldn't have to be the one to walk her home. And how impatient I was with her when I did walk her home. She was impossible when she was too drunk. She would walk soooo slow, stopping every few feet to shout out some rude comment while she swayed on the sidewalk.

But overall, she had a golden heart and a gentle soul. And she was a good mother. Her kids and grandkids were everything to her. And she was so honest. She never lied about her lifestyle. Not even to her doctor. In fact, she never lied. About anything.

The last two things she said was that she loved them all and she was sorry she got sick. Michael tells me she wasn't in pain. The drugs kept her comfortable. And she was surrounded by her family and her last great love at the end, so there's that. I guess there's worse ways to die.

Irma was a total original and a true friend. And man, did she have good fashion sense. Even in the worst stages of her alcoholism, she took pride in dressing well and she so rocked a hat. There was no one quite like her. I'm really going to miss her.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bad news

My friend with Stage IV cancer is not doing well. Chemo didn't work. She has a new tumor. And pneumonia. She went to the ER on Wednesday and her blood platelet count was so bad they had to give her a transfusion.

The family is basically sitting death watch at her hospital bedside right now. Send a good thought to Irma, would you? Not sure I can handle another holiday death this year. I really want to believe she's going to pull through.

Tis the season...

Now that it's December, guess it's time to start drumming up some Christmas spirit. So here's this year's version of a Food Court Christmas Flash Mob singing a Christmas song.

I'm told this one happened in Canada.