Cybertoad's Blog - Spring is in the air!

Spring is in the air!
viernes, febrero 28, 2003

Busy, busy!!
It's been a busy day! My boss, Rider, gave some stuff to do yesterday afternoon and I've been working on that: a job description for another new permanent employee and an introductory memo for about the two of us to be sent to the German office (the memo will be sent to Germany, not us physically - sorry for the confusion Kathy!). I am also being handed all the insurance documentation so I am trying to figure out what is what and what needs to be filled out for the two of us who are new. Add to that a constantly ringing phone which forces me to stop and take a messages as well as a myriad of other small tasks and you can see why I am busy.

Rider also gave me some goals for the near future goals: managing the IT move into the new office, hiring a new IT firm after the move (we are receiving bids in the next week or so), helping with some marketing CDs we would like to produce, keeping track of various legal immigration issues for some of our foreign personnel, working on weekly statistics with another girl and cleaning up our contacts database in Outlook.

Speaking of the move, which takes place at the end of March, I saw the new office space yesterday and it's great! It more than doubles our space (from 2200 to 4700 sq. ft.) and offers floor to ceiling glass windows and high ceilings. It's so much more open and well lit! I'm looking forward to the new space. The current office is cramped as it is.

Stomach's growling so I'm off to reheat some pizza for lunch. Have a good day!

P.S. I received my 1st paycheck today - and it wasn't from the
Texas Workforce Commission anymore! It's just a week's worth since I only started on Monday but it's something!

posted at 2/28/2003 12:45:00 p. m.

jueves, febrero 27, 2003

"Won't you be my neighbor?"

NPR's Remembrance of Mister Rogers

Remember the ugly and cranky Lady Elaine Fairchilde who lived at the museum and with whom I share a name? Rest in peace Mr. Rogers.

posted at 2/27/2003 06:54:00 p. m.

Impressions from Work Part 2
Sorry to bore with your more new job stuff but just a few more observations:

* From what I saw of an e-mail from my boss to his wife, who helps out around the office and is the one training me, he really loves and respects her. It's so wonderful to see what type of family man he is.

* The office environment is very open. As I said earlier, everyone picks up the phone and in fact, no one has a direct line, not even the president. All calls come into one number and they get transferred as needed. The only one with an office is my boss, the president, and even he has a wall that is glass. The VP sits at a desk in an open area just like the rest of the guys in the chartering group. You would think he was just one of them if you didn't know who was who.

* My boss likes fresh flowers. One of my duties is to buy a bouquet of fresh flowers every Monday morning for a vase we have in the reception area.

* I found out today that we will be setting up a team to ride in the
MS150 in April. I think it will be a few guys from chartering, the president and VP. Our goal? An ambitious and generous $10,000 that we intend to raise through business contributions.

* The company alternates on a yearly basis between throwing a Christmas party and going as a group to New Orleans for the annual Breakbulk Conference in the fall. This year we will be going to the conference! Sounds like it will be a blast. Our company is even hosting a reception for about 100 clients complete with tango dancers!

OK. Enough of my randomness. I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled mundane babbling before too long!! Till then, please bear with me... :D

posted at 2/27/2003 07:00:00 a. m.

miércoles, febrero 26, 2003

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage (no, not me)!
Wow! This year is going to be a marriage and baby boom year! At least it seems that way - many of our friends are either a) tying the knot or b) expecting or already have had their baby! I'd like to congratulate all of them publically:

Wedding Celebrations:
March 22, 2003 - Louis & Michelle, Houston
March 29, 2003 - Lou & Rob, Houston
April 26, 2003 -
Sherry & EJ, Houston (and I'm a bridesmaid in this one!)
April 26, 2003 - Lori & Duncan, Houston (ack - I'll be at Sherry & EJ's)
September 12, 2003 - Paul & Michelle, London (I really hope I can go!)
December 20, 2003 - Kathy & Chris, Houston

Babies who are already here:
Dec. 31, 2002 - Cesar & Lily welcomed their 1st child, a boy named Xander Josua.
February 10, 2003 - Shae & Tony welcomed their 1st child, a girl named Sophia Ernestine.
February 14, 2003 - Jeanne & Mike welcomed their 1st child, a girl named Emily Hope.

Babies coming soon:
Paul and Carol are expecting their 2nd child next month.
Melanie & Cole are expecting their 1st child (a girl) in June.
Pamela & Daniel are expecting their 2nd child in August.
Carmen is expecting her 2nd child in August.

Congratulations to all of my friends
about to embark on yet another stage of life!

posted at 2/26/2003 01:59:00 p. m.

martes, febrero 25, 2003

Toady's meme
A bit late but it's still Tuesday! And this
This-or-That Tuesday was even hosted by our very own Houston blogger (hence the randomness of the questions)!

1. Holland or Netherlands? Holland
2. Emu or Ostrich? Emu
3. Biff or Happy? Happy??
4. Quincy or Braintree? Quincy
5. Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali? can't decide
6. Instanbul or Constantinople? Istanbul
7. Pig or Swine? Pig
8. Barf or Puke? Puke
9. Potatoes or Spuds? Potato
10. Squeeze Box or Accordion Squeeze Box

posted at 2/25/2003 09:45:00 p. m.

First Impressions
* I like the casual dress code (even jeans are allowed on a daily basis).
* Out of 16 employees, 5 of us speak Spanish.
* Others speak French, German, Bulgarian, Portuguese and Danish.
* Three have work visas sponsored by the company (I think they are all Danish).
* My official title is "Office Manager" - ooh, fancy!
* I have a 15" flat screen monitor at my desk.
* I'm a bit anxious since it seems that I'll be given so much responsibility.
* Everyone has made me feel very comfortable though.
* Our new offices - we move in a month - look like they will be nice (we will be doubling our space)!

One more observation: I had a lot of competition in regards to interviewing for this position. The woman who hired me told me they were overwhelmed with resumes when they posted the opening and I saw several of those resumes including one that had actual samples of the applicant's work attached. She had samples of PowerPoint presentations, business letters, even an employee handbook she had created - it was a stack of papers! Several applicants called today just to find out why they weren't selected while another one (who I assume had not received her rejection letter yet) called to check in and say she was still interested. I've never heard of calling after being turned down, have you?

The thing I think that worked for me was not necessarily my experience - because I am sure they saw applicants with more - but my personality. I think I fit into their "corporate culture". I was told that some of those that interviewed were just "too much" - one talked to much, another was too "forceful" (maybe too desperate)? I guess I acted relaxed (despite being extremely nervous) and never felt the interview got that serious. On my 2nd interview more time was spent hearing stories about the interviewer's possum infestation than about me or the position!

Well, again, I must run. It seems that I will be limiting most of my blogging to early morning or late in the evening so check back then! (this also applies to getting around to reading everyone's blogs...)

posted at 2/25/2003 06:56:00 a. m.

lunes, febrero 24, 2003

Weekend Update
Just a quick post before heading out to my 1st day of work...

Friday:I had lunch with a friend and spent the afternoon with my mother. Joined a large group of friends (there were 14 of us) for dinner at
Freebird's and drinks afterwards at The Stag's Head. Good conversation and good friends = great combination!

Fun at the beach!Saturday: I took EJ's kids, Gelli and Brendon, to Galveston to go to the Mardi Gras parade. We arrived at noon at a friend's house who lives just a few blocks from the Seawall (he always has an open house for during the festivities) and then walked as group down to the Seawall itself to watch the parade and catch beads (don't worry - it's very kid safe). After the parade, laden with beads, we headed down to the actual water and the kids had fun playing in the water and the sand. The water was way too cold to swim in but it was warm enough to roll up our jeans and run around in (and yes, I played too). The kids had fun looking for seashells, running up and down the sand dunes and burying their feet in the wet sand. Afterwards we had some ice cream and then headed home in the late afternoon. They were extra sweet too and thanked me several times for taking them and told me that they want to spend more time with "Auntie Elaine" because they had so much fun! The picture album showing all of our fun can be found here!

Saturday night: Recuperating!

Sunday: Slept in late, ran some errands, cleaned up house and headed out to a friends' place for an evening of Scrabble.

Now I must run and get ready for work. Although I would normally be starting at 8 AM since I will be opening the office since I do not have a key yet I was told to come at 9 today so someone will be there. I'll post an update tonight and tell you guys my first impressions!

posted at 2/24/2003 07:57:00 a. m.

jueves, febrero 20, 2003

miércoles, febrero 19, 2003

I'm back
Thanks again everyone for all the good wishes! They are truly appreciated! Kenny happened to be home today taking care of some estate business so he took me to lunch at our favorite Cuban restaurant
Cafe Piquet (which I was told is also a favorite of my new co-workers and is right down the street from where I'll be working). Afterwards he indulged me and let me stop at a nursery on the way home and bought me some new flowering plants for my garden... I have found during my 6 weeks of unemployment that plants cheer me up so knowing this, he let me grab a few!

We also hit Best Buy because he will be rebuilding my computer over the weekend and he needed a part. While there and since he was in such a good mood he also bought us a couple of new CDs: T.A.t.u. (a couple of Russian girls singing pop'ish songs - some even in Russian) and the They Might Be Giants 2-CD collection.

Now I am just waiting before leaving to have dinner and coffee downtown with the H-Town Bloggers... I've got another hour to waste here at home.

(I still can't believe I'm gainfully employed again! I didn't think they'd decide so soon!)

posted at 2/19/2003 04:41:00 p. m.

martes, febrero 18, 2003

Today's Meme
This-or-That Tuesday:
1. Black or white? black
2. Plaid or stripes? plaid
3. Paperback or hardcover books? paperback
4. Color or B&W printer? we have an old b&w printer
5. Golden oldies or the newest tunes? I guess the 80's aren't golden oldies yet?
6. Ice cream: in a cone or a dish? a dish
7. Bath or shower? shower
8. Are you outgoing or shy? depends on the situation
9. Answer the phone when it rings, or screen calls? screen calls
10. VCR or TiVO? TiVO

posted at 2/18/2003 01:34:00 p. m.

Send me good karma!
I'm up and getting ready to go on my
2nd interview at that company I like! So, if you can, send some positive vibes down my way here to Houston! :D

Thank you!!!

posted at 2/18/2003 08:07:00 a. m.

lunes, febrero 17, 2003

Low-key weekend
Hello everyone. Well, Valentine's was a lot more low-key than we had wanted. Kenny was sick all weekend! It seems he got what
I had but a little worse (he's been more tired than I have been since I am sort of living a life of leisure while he has to trudge to work). He had a fever for a couple of nights too which I never had. I nursed him all weekend though by making sure he had his Gatorade nearby, a blanket on him and even made sure he took his nasty "cherry" cold syrup.

Still, he came home with 2 dozen gorgeous orangish red roses Friday night (it's a beautiful and unusual color) and he told me that he was going to take me shopping for a new interview suit the next day as his gift to me (so I wouldn't have to wear almost the same black suit on Tuesday for the 2nd interview). Granted, suit shopping is *not* fun so the shopping experience was a bit stressful on me, especially since the mall was packed but I really appreciated the gesture because I needed it! After several hours and much indecision, I found a nice pant suits in navy blue with subtle red pinstripes. It will look especially nice with a red silk shirt I already own and a nice strand of pearls!

The long day at the mall really tired him out so we went home for a 2 hour nap before dinner. He told me I had to take a rain check on the movie but that he was still taking me out to dinner. It was well worth it - what a great experience! After stuffing ourselves we headed back home with some rented DVDs and plopped back down in front of the TV. Like almost everyone else in the country, we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding and also finally saw Men in Black II (which I thought was funnier than the 1st).

Sunday was spent resting at home. I got absolutely nothing done except a quick trip to Target and the fish store for various supplies. Kenny hardly moved form the couch all day. I cooked him dinner and even baked a lemon cake (of which he had seconds) and today he did make it into work although he may take the afternoon off if he starts to feel worse. Poor thing...

Well, it's time for lunch! How was your Valentine's weekend?

posted at 2/17/2003 12:56:00 p. m.

viernes, febrero 14, 2003

Sort of bad, but not really - and good news
Quick job search update -

Remember that silly "pre-employment test" I took
Monday morning? Well, it seems that my results weren't good enough and I got a "thanks but no thanks" letter from them. A bit upsetting until I talked to friends who told me that this was a probably a good thing. The company has a reputation for being extremely conservative (they won't hire you if you smoke and they require full business attire - suit & tie for men) and overall just a bit weird. Actually, a couple of friends (including my husband) are relieved I didn't fit their profile...

The good news is that I really liked the company I interviewed with yesterday afternoon and they liked me too! I got a call today requesting a 2nd interview (with the VP). It's scheduled for Tuesday morning so keep me in your thoughts that day! It's a small office with a close-knit family atmosphere that I prefer. I met with the president and he made me feel very comfortable and I really liked what he was telling me about the way he runs the company. I would be his assistant as well as the general office manager/administrative assistant responsible for everything from handling their IT contract to managing HR to ordering office supplies to greeting customers to making travel arrangements to helping out on special projects! Sounds challenging and dynamic - what I have been looking for. Ack! I only wish I knew how many other people they were interviewing!

posted at 2/14/2003 04:17:00 p. m.

jueves, febrero 13, 2003

Job search update
Yes, I am still looking... *sigh*. When I call back on positions they are either 1) on hold and not ready to be filled (then why advertise it is my question?), 2) already filled or 3) resumes are being reviewed because they were swamped with hundreds of them!

Still, I have remained upbeat. I was called in on a resume I sent about 2 weeks ago and took that "pre-employment test" early Monday morning that I mentioned earlier. Haven't heard anything negative or positive on that position. That same afternoon yet another agency called me in for an interview. I spent 2 hours there taking tests and talking to a recruiter. Let's see if she can find me anything.

I was also called for two job interviews this week. I have one today at 2 PM and another one for 7 AM tomorrow morning! It is so early because they are actually looking to replace the girl they have now so interviews have to be outside business hours. It won't even be at the office - it will be at a nearby IHOP! I'll have to wake up by 6 AM to make it on time... ugh!

I search almost every night but last night I also used I saw some of the same positions advertised there but also some new opportunities so I sent about half a dozen e-mails. After I return from today's interview I'll sit back down and send a couple more (it was getting late last night). If I have time, I will also call on some of the positions where I already sent my resume.

In other job-related news, I received my first unemployment check from TWC. Only a week's worth but I think they explained that the next checks will have a couple of weeks' worth. This should help me pay some bills!

Well, I need to eat some lunch before I get ready to leave! Ciao!

posted at 2/13/2003 12:17:00 p. m.

miércoles, febrero 12, 2003

Finally - the promised update!
Sorry! I have been sick and didn't feel like sitting at the computer to compose an entry. Slept well and have not been too achy nor really stuffed up. Just feel sort of yucky and my left gland on my neck is definitely swollen. My mother and husband both told me to sleep as much as possible so basically I did - watched some TV on the couch for a few hours and took a late afternoon nap until Kenny came home. Some more
TheraFlu tonight should help me sleep again and we will see how I do tomorrow. I actually have a few errands to run so get out of the house too.

So, quick weekend update:

Friday: Spent it with Mom. She was really sweet to me and supportive and told me to calm down about the job search - that things happen for a reason and that she has confidence that I will find something better than before. She even bought me lunch (I usually always do because she is on a fixed income)!

Kenny also came home that night (although his plane was almost an hour late) and the rest of the evening was spent with friends and a rented movie (as usual).

Saturday: Slept in late, ran some errands in the afternoon, stayed in that night. Pretty low-key.

Sunday Woke up early to spend with EJ & Sherry and the kids (we were helping Gelli sign up for summer camp). Afterwards, heading to the Museum of Fine Arts with Robert for an afternoon of art. Had a wonderful time at several exhibits: Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland and Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow . Both exhibits were amazing!! I saw original paintings by Da Vinci, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Gaugin and many, many more masterpieces! Kenny even found a floaty pen for me... :D Our feet were tired by the end of the day...

Monday: I had to wake up early for a "pre-employment test" at a company I submitted my resume to. It was half a mile from home though! The test was hard (math and logic questions) so I don't know. They said they would call back in about a week although they did talk to some people after they got the test results. I wasn't one of them. :( I was also mortified to find out that it seems that I forgot to zip my skirt up in the back in my morning daze. You could hardly tell but still! It was noticeable when I walked. We went out for sushi with friends that night though and that cheered me up.

That's about it for now. I have a couple of pictures to post but I'll make that another entry in a little bit when I've uploaded them... I'll also give you a job search update...

posted at 2/12/2003 10:18:00 a. m.

martes, febrero 11, 2003

Tuesday's Meme
Time for today's
This-or-That Tuesday:

1. Bacon or sausage? Bacon
2. Eggs: scrambled or not? Scrambled or sunny side up.
French toast or regular toast? Regular.
Pancakes or waffles? Waffles.
Muffins or bagels? Bagels (toasted).
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
7. Juice: orange or grapefruit? OJ!
8. Hot or cold cereal? Cold.
9. To put in cereal: bananas or strawberries (or some other fruit)? No fruit.
10. Eat breakfast at home or at a restaurant? At a restaurant.

posted at 2/11/2003 01:57:00 p. m.

lunes, febrero 10, 2003

viernes, febrero 07, 2003

Sorry for being MIA yesterday...
Didn't feel like blogging yesterday. I didn't sleep well Wednesday night (which is becoming a habit) and I didn't get to bed till 5 AM Thursday morning so I slept in yesterday till 1 PM. I then stayed busy and cleaned up my office (most of the bills are neatly filed away and the junk pile under my desk is now gone) as well as did laundry.

Before I knew it was 5 PM and
Robert was picking me up to go meet Kathy for dinner over at Cafe Red Onion. Afterwards the three of us went to the H-Town Blogs Happy Hour at Brasil's. That was a lot of fun - even though no new faces showed up, it was nice to see some old faces...

Robert dropped me back home at 10:30 PM where I played around the computer a few hours and talked to Kenny. It was so good to talk to him and I really look forward to seeing him tonight! Soon, it was once again time to go to bed but due to the combination alcohol + caffeine + general anxiety, I had trouble sleeping yet again. I just was not sleepy. I even turned the TV on to see if that would help calm my thoughts down and I think it worked a little bit. It took me over an hour but I think I finally went to sleep around 3:30 AM.

Today I am planning on spending the afternoon with my Mother. I actually need to leave here in half an hour so I can be at her place around noon so I better wrap this entry up.

Hope you all have a good day! Toodles!

(P.S. Thanks Kathy for the cute little stuffed frog - he is sitting on my scanner here at my desk)

posted at 2/07/2003 11:04:00 a. m.

miércoles, febrero 05, 2003

Garden Update
As I said earlier, I went to the nursery yesterday and bought some nice new plants (3rd picture below):
onion chives, dwarf carnations (2 light yellow with red edge: "Lacy", also pictured below - and 1 red: "Dart") as well as 3 purple heliotrope plants. I potted the carnations and the chives but left them outside. I planted the heliotropes in the garden. I also bought *another* indoor plant for my frog planter. It is called Tricolor Peperomia.

beautiful carnation  carolina jessamine blooms new plants for my garden
(click on photo for larger image)

The rest of the garden is doing fine. My rosemary is doing extremely well and keeps putting out little purple flowers. My carolina jessamine flowered despite budding right before the couple of days of light freeze we had. It doesn't look like any buds were damaged and the flowers are beautiful (middle picture below). The pentas and Mexican heather did freeze but there is a little bit of green at the base of each of the plants so I think I may see some re-growth. The nandinas are a beautiful red color and are doing well and my narcissus bulbs are sprouting. I have no clue how the oleander is doing though. The buds never flowered, the tops froze twice but the rest of the plant has stayed sorta green. No new growth yet either...

I am looking forward to a little warmer and sunnier weather so I can keep adding plants to the garden. I also can't wait to see the bulbs bloom! I wish they'd grow a little faster... Who could have thought I would enjoy gardening so much?

posted at 2/05/2003 04:45:00 p. m.

Encouraged by a friend...
I was going to stay home yesterday but when I checked my e-mail, a good friend of mine had sent me a message telling me that she hoped I would take advantage of the beautiful day and not waste it. It got me thinking and encouraged me to get off my butt and get out...

So, after watching the
Columbia Memorial (which was here in Houston and beautifully done), I had lunch, got dressed, grabbed the digital camera and a book and headed out. I headed in the general direction of my favorite coffee house but as often happens when I have time to myself, the car never takes the direct route there. I wandered over to my favorite nursery, Buchanan's, and bought a few plants to cheer me up (onion chives, heliotropes and carnations - my Dad's favorite flower). Then I headed down to Texas Art Supply to try to find some books on exterior murals (more on why later). Finally made it down to Brasil's where I sat out on the patio with a granita (coffee, chocolate and crushed ice mix) and started reading my book. I also jotted down some thoughts that I will share later in a separate entry.

Got wired on caffeine and headed home an hour or so later, taking, once again, the long way home. Decided to see where certain roads led and also pass through Downtown. Came across some more murals unexpectedly (again, more on this later) and just had a good time wandering the streets of Houston!

No calls or updates on the job search but I decided that this was OK. This afternoon I will get back on the phone and start leaving messages once more. Gotta go!

posted at 2/05/2003 11:29:00 a. m.

martes, febrero 04, 2003

I almost missed today's meme!
Ack! I never got the e-mail reminding me to do today's
This-or-That so here it is posted at the end of the day...

1. Morning or night person? Night person, definitely!
2. Heavy or light sleeper? Varies.
3. Remember your dreams or not? Nope. Hardly ever do.
4. Do you need a lot of sleep, or just a little? When I'm working, I only need about 6 hours sleep during the week then I catch up on the weekends...
5. Do you need something like a nightlight or TV to sleep, or do you prefer complete darkness? Complete darkness (although I leave the bathroom light on so Kenny can see when he goes to bed, which is always after I do).
6. Flannel sheets or some other kind? Cotton sheets with a light down comforter.
7. One pillow, or more? One foam pillow and one down pillow.
8. Bedroom door opened or closed at night? I like it open but because of 1) the dogs and 2) my husband's preference, we close it.
9. Wrap yourself into blankets like a cocoon, or just cover yourself with them? Just cover myself.
10. Alarm clock: wake to music or buzzer? Buzzer.

posted at 2/04/2003 07:07:00 p. m.

lunes, febrero 03, 2003

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Just came back from seeing
this film with a friend. It has a lot of big-name stars (Clooney looks wonderful as always, even with a mustache) but I still can't decide whether I liked it or not. It's not bad but I think I would have preferred to rent it and not spent my friend's money to see it in the theater (she invited, wasn't that nice?)... I think she felt the same way I did about the film. Perplexed. This review sort of reflects how I felt.

I'm curious. Anyone else seen it? What did you think?

posted at 2/03/2003 09:58:00 p. m.

Weekend Update
Well, life must go on despite the Columbia tragedy and so my weekend went on, interspersed with occasional news coverage breaks. Here is a quick summary...

Friday night: Vietnamese food for dinner and the movie
K-19 afterwards at our house Friday night.

Saturday: Shopping with Kenny. Since I have no paycheck, he was nice enough to buy me a some new clothes (hey, I only spent $35 and bought a pretty top and a business skirt) and a new optical trackball. It's got lots of buttons to make internet surfing even easier!

Saturday night: Stayed home so Kenny could get ready for his week-long business trip (he left yesterday) and I worked on the new H-Town Blogs photo gallery. Still need to do the captions though...

Sunday: Took Kenny to the airport and then stopped by Sherry and EJ's for some football tossing, puppy playing and dinner (thanks for the invite guys). Came home and watched TV in an empty house till Kenny called and told me he had made it safely to his hotel.

How was your weekend??

posted at 2/03/2003 11:51:00 a. m.

sábado, febrero 01, 2003

A world mourns...
Lost: Space Shuttle Columbia

My thoughts to all the families and friends of the Columbia crew
as well as the hard-working NASA employees.

A salute to these courageous men and women.

posted at 2/01/2003 07:51:00 p. m.

Cybertoad's Blog on Life