Plugged Back In To Matrix

Never have I so jonesed for a smart phone as I did for my refurbished iPhone 5s after the Blackberry died. Accordingly, my phone was the only one of the four that were mailed to us that couldn’t be left at the doorstep by the mail carrier, and I forgot to take the pick-up slip to work with me the following day, and then I forgot to take the SIM card with me back to the office so I could activate the new phone after my lunch-time sprint to the post office, and then I forgot to bring a paperclip or something similar with me so that I could open the SIM slot and put in the card while I was waiting to pick up TeenBot from his job, and then the lead from the pencil I used to open the slot broke in the phone when I was trying to get the card back out so I could write down its number (the phone refusing to serve up this info until I could offer it wi-fi or a cellular connection to the world). I was in such bad shape that my 16 year-old rightly chastised me for being overly dependent on my smart phone. Happily, I found a paper clip in my car while waiting for my dinner partner to meet me at the Red Lobster last night, and thus I was reconnected to the zeitgeist.

(I trust it will not violate the Hatch Act if I say that I got all weepy listening to the coverage of Hillary Clinton being nominated by the Democratic Party. I genuinely believe I would have felt the same had she been a Republican. I guess it’s like my reaction to reading about women being admitted to combat roles in the military – it just touched a raw spot and made me sob out of nowhere. It feels good to see those doors opening after a lifetime of knowing they were closed.)

Tomorrow I’ll be going to an open house for would-be election officers. The city of Alexandria is offering us “patriotic refreshments.” I assume they don’t mean corn whisky or hard cider, but I’ll go anyway.


Fermenting Things

(Did I say I was using my work phone as a stop-gap until my “new” phone shows up? Ha ha ha ha ha nope. That was before it decided to download a new operating system and never finished. So much for that. Now using Mouse’s rejected iPhone 4.)

Some middle-aged ladies take up running marathons. Some get tattoos. Me, I’ve been learning to make Russian-style sauerkraut (selyonnaya kapusta) and kombucha. I failed at water kefir and half-sour pickles before that. The kapusta is reliably good, plus the juice is a fantastic stomach-settler.

(Yeah, I’m drinking sauerkraut juice. It’s kind of fizzy, actually, so maybe I should call it a sauerkraut spritzer. I wish they sold this crap in the store because it really is magic.)

I followed some instructions I found online for growing a SCOBY and making kombucha. I let the first batch of kombucha ferment too long and got fizzy vinegar. Half of it I used to marinate chicken on Sunday. The other half I am trying to fix with fruit juice and more tea. I grew a SCOBY from a bottle of the store-bought stuff. The SCOBY totally fascinates me. It reminds me of when I saw the placenta after Soldatik was born, only smaller and, you know, not a body part. It’s intriguingly repulsive.


The Mascot from Liquid Egg Product

Mouse has finally gotten to hunt for Pokemon. I swapped phones with them* two weeks ago because their iPhone 4 could not run the necessary iOS to download Pokemon Go. Alas, my 4S fell out of their pocket on their very first PokeWalk, ushering in many days of darkness. Mouse got the old iPhone back until their “new” refurbished 4s showed up from Amazon yesterday. I have been using my Blackberry Q10 as a stop-gap and waiting for the Amazon phone fairy to bless me as well.

*I am attempting to honor Mouse’s preferred pronouns. It bugged me a lot at first as a grammar traditionalist, but I’m starting to get a kick out of vicariously rejecting the gender binary.

Uncle Sam’s Blackberry doesn’t let me download Pokemon Go (or any other apps of any other kind), but I think I caught a Pokemon in my comments section:

The Mascot from Liquid Egg Product
The Mascot from Liquid Egg Product


In Which I Find My Personal Brand

I have alluded in the past to my effort to cultivate Ye Blog as an exercise in Personal Branding, through which I might hawk my professional wares and opine on things professional and work-life balance-y. At long last, I have it figured out.

I am a human being, mother f*ckers!

Brands are for commodities and institutions, neither of which I currently am.

Now, she’s a brand. (Picture looted from “The Gloss” via Google Images)

I’m going to just stick with TMI and random musings on life, where I belong.

Rabbit Hole

My boss is on leave. I have a number of tasks to complete. Two of these involve providing instructions about using software to people in the office. The office has installed a video capture/presentation program on my computer to help with exactly this sort of thing. I am inexpert in its use, alas, but the end products genuinely seem to help people understand how to do the stuff they’re being asked to do. One of these tasks is Urgent and Important and potentially complicated; the other is neither, in comparison, but it has fewer moving parts.

I decided to spend a few minutes on the one with fewer moving parts this afternoon – you know, because it would be easier and help me do the other one (Urgent and Important) faster and better. Four hours later, I had a poorly edited video which I will have to totally redo before it will be of much use to anyone.

The Business Management Institute at Muppet Labs ™ is quoting reliable sources as saying that saving work frequently on a computer may prevent wasted effort. They are also reporting that doing the most important work first is more likely to result in faster completion of important work.

In unrelated news, I just spent the last 90 minutes playing Solitaire (with an actual deck of cards) over and over again.

Economies of Scale

Alexandria City Public Library Central Branch, June 12, 2016. Line for Passport Acceptance services. Taken from the “three-hour wait to see Passport Agent” position in line, about 20 minutes before opening. Posted hours for Passport Acceptance on Sundays are 1-3 PM.

Mouse is going to summer camp in Canada during the first week of July. Since she has never traveled overseas before, she does not have a passport. As a minor child, she has to appear in person at a Passport Agency or a Passport Acceptance Facility along with one or both parents to be issued a passport. Alexandria City schools being in session until the end of next week (a week before her camp starts), I wanted to take her to one of the Passport Acceptance Facilities in our area to apply outside of school hours. These are post offices and libraries which see applicants in person, collect the necessary forms and fees, and forward them to the State Department for adjudication and issuance of passports.

Not complaining! I have nothing but love for passports, libraries, post offices, or the good people who sign my pay checks. Everyone is doing the best they can to meet increased demand for passports with limited resources. Everyone I have encountered so far in the effort to get my child a passport has been polite and given me accurate information. Unfortunately, it’s been hard to do so far. It’s summer, so more people are trying to travel abroad, and I didn’t plan ahead. I’ve gone to the library three times for Passport Acceptance hours; twice we came midway through the posted hours and were told the all the times for passport service that day were already full; Sunday we got there 20 minutes before opening and, after waiting in the line pictured above, learned that we could be seen three hours later if we stayed in line. When I called one of the local post offices that make appointments for passport services, I was offered an appointment in the third week of July. The others operated in a walk-in basis similar to the library. If I call the National Passport Information Center on Friday, I’ll be allowed to make an appointment at the Washington Passport Agency; that’s contingent on showing proof that our travel is scheduled to occur within the next two weeks (or four weeks if you also have to get a foreign visa).

Not complaining! But it occurred to me that maybe Social Security field offices should become Passport Acceptance Facilities. They’re set up to offer a mix of walk-in and scheduled appointments, much like Passport Agencies and U.S. consular sections overseas, and they have waiting areas and ticketing systems. Plus they are already set up to handle people’s original documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, and so on). Just a thought. Maybe this can be my capstone project for an Executive Potential Program, should I ever rally to apply for one. I’ll put that on my to-do list, right after getting our passports.

Economy Act

Last week I took a course at Graduate School USA, the venerable training institution formerly known as the USDA Graduate School. I learned a lot about the subject matter of the three-day course (“Non-Defense Working Capital Funds,” or the financial management basics of administering USG activities that are supposed to run off of earned revenue instead of base budgets). I liked the instructor. I liked the location. But I really did not like the text-bound materials or the relative lack of computer access compared to Management Concepts. I also missed the free coffee, danish, and soft drinks provided by same. C’mon, Grad School USA, up your game.