Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shiny happy people laughing

Ooh, it's been a whole week since my last post. This new job and commute downtown really does suck up all my time. But so far, it's been worth it. The change of scenery is great, though I could do without all the people downtown who talk to themselves or randomly talk to me/yell at me as I walk by. But I guess that comes with the territory.

Today I spent most of the miserable rainy day at an "Introduction to Wire-Wrapped Jewelry" class at Bellevue Community College. Getting up in time to make it to the 9am class wasn't too hard - I guess all the early rising I'm doing for work is paying off.

The class was really fun - instead of just learning some techniques, the instructor had a specific project in mind and gave us all the supplies to make a cool bracelet.

Here's mine:

I was surprised at how quickly the 6 hours in class went by. And how easy it was to learn how to do these wire-wrapped loops the right way, after struggling with the technique for the past couple of months, trying to learn it from a book. I bought a two new tools from the instructor, so now I'm really all set to make more stuff! Woo hoo!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Here we go again

Ah, the disappointment that comes so quickly after buying the wrong pair of shoes. I tried on those Danskos briefly at the store on Friday and planned to wear them yesterday for an afternoon of errand-running.

Before I left the house, I wanted to make sure the shoes felt ok, before I couldn't return them anymore. (At least, not in good conscience. Nordstrom has a "no questions asked" return policy, but I'm not the kind of person who'd return something I had worn, unless it was truly defective.) And sadly, as soon as I put them on with thin socks, I felt those shoes rubbing the side of my toes in the same place that I had trouble with my old Danskos. I tried to talk myself into keeping them and hoping they'd stretch out over time, but last time, that never happened, even after a few hours with the amazing Nordstrom shoe-stretching device.

But I knew that it wouldn't work, and that my feet would hate me if I forced myself to wear them and walk 2.5 miles each day. So with a heavy heart, I returned those shoes to the Bellevue Nordstrom, hoping they'd have the next size for me to try on. Of course you know how this story goes, a tragic tale of lost love. Bellevue did not have the shoes in the size I wanted. So I came home empty-handed.

And then I remembered the Internet. Nordstrom's website is pretty awesome and has the same Anniversary Sale items as the stores. And there they were, my fabulous shoes, in a size 38 (crazy Europeans!). So I bought them online. I can return them in-store if they don't fit. And best of all, Nordstrom refunded my shipping charge because it was an item not available in their stores - no questions asked, and all it took was an email to their customer service department. How much does that rock??

If only more businesses ran their customer service more like Nordstrom. I'd willingly pay more for that. And now, all I have to do is for my ruby slippers to show up at my door. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I don't know how I survived those days

On my way home each day, I have to walk past the flagship Nordstrom's store in downtown Seattle. That store is a true Temple of Shopping.

Today was the first day of their Anniversary Sale. This is when they put all the *new* stuff on sale for a few weeks. Then it goes back to their usual crazy expensive Nordstrom prices.

Apparently everyone in the entire city of Seattle loves a good deal, because when I got to Nordstrom at 5:45pm, the place was a zoo. The kind of craziness that would make TJ bust a cap in someone's ass. Every five minutes. The man hates shopping already - I can't imagine what an entire Nordstrom's-full of frenzied bargain shoppers would do to him. I wouldn't be that mean.

So I went there after work, thinking I might be able to find a few items for work. You see, my new company is a little less slobular than Microsoft. Even the guys at my company seem to take some effort in dressing up for work. Most wear collared shirts and long pants. I haven't seen any shorts or sweatpants yet, than I can recall. And no ratty T-shirts! In fact, I'm not sure I've seen anyone wear a T-shirt with any kind of writing on it. I wonder if that means my Queensryche shirt is going to have to be for weekend wear only. Sad.

As it turns out, my summer wardrobe is way too casual for this job - it's almost all tank tops, which would be fine if I had something to wear over them.

So I bought a couple of thin sweaters (remembering that Stacy London from 'What Not to Wear' says never to wear bulky ones), two really cool printed tops, a pair of dark wash jeans (Stacy's advice strikes again), and an incredible pair of Danskos, on sale for $40 off!!! So cool that I have to post a picture:

The look red in the pic, but they're really more of a purplish color, with cool shiny metallic flowers on them. For those of you not familiar with Danskos (and you might not be, if you live outside of comfort-shoe-happy Seattle), these are European shoes that are really well-designed to not be hard on your feet.

My absolute favorite pair of shoes EVER was a pair of shiny black Danskos and I wore them a ton over 2 years, but the upper came unglued from the sole, and the shoe repair guy couldn't fix them. He told me it was time to let them go. Turns out Dansko doesn't make that style anymore, probably because they fell apart too easily.

I have more faith in the new ones, because similar styles have been around for a long time. I can't wait to break them in, and then start walking to work in them! My feet will be *so* happy, and the best part is that they make me about an inch taller.

I think I'm done shopping for a long, long time. Since I started work last week, I've been shopping 3 evenings. It's just too easy to hit the stores on my way home, especially since I get out of work before 6:15 on most nights. The new job rocks my world!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Give me one more chance

Working full time sure is time consuming! I already miss my part-time days of leisure. Oh well, tomorrow is Friday and I can't wait for the weekend, just to have some mellow time. And a nap would be nice.

The bus commute is going well. It comes frequently enough that I haven't waited for more than 5 minutes at any time, and the trip is actually shorter than the time I walk to/from the bus stops.

I used my pedometer today to see how much I've been walking daily, and I clocked just under 12,000 steps. That included a trip to Marymoor, but I had already hit 9200 at the end of my walk to TJs building at the end of the day. So woo hoo - without much extra effort, I'm getting the amount of walking that I'm supposed to.

And I am noticeably less tired this week, and my feet feel better too. The heat + all the walking last week made them pretty uncomfortable even though I was wearing my comfiest shoes. Ah well, I guess all of my cute heels are going to have to stay home from work. Does that mean I get to buy more of those cute not really athletic sneaker-type shoes? I've got about 4 pairs of those already in red, green, black and brown. I've had my eye out for a blue pair and have yet to find one I like, though.

Well, tomorrow I'm having lunch with Meera, a girl I met at Michael's when I was in the bead section. She works somewhat near my office. That should be fun.

Hope you all are doing well, and thanks for all the good wishes about the new job!

Friday, July 13, 2007

What I didn't know

Whew! I meant to write after Spike and I returned from Vancouver but it was a pretty tiring trip, and last weekend I wanted to prepare for my new job and get all sorts of languishing errands out of the way before I started work full-time.

So now here we are at the end of my first week at the new job. It was a long and tiring, but *very* satisfying week. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I'm expected to do, and how I plan to accomplish it. I feel now like I did after working for a month or two at a new job at Microsoft.

This job isn't as technical, so I don't feel a huge pressure to cram huge amounts of architure and product details into my head as quickly as possible. I need to understand how our product works, and how data flows between our systems, our customers' systems, and the sites we're pushing that data to/from, but it's a pretty simple process.

I will refer to my new company as MCo, since I found out on my first day that our CEO gets Google alerts when the company name shows up in new search results. That's how he ended up at my Microsoft blog, and he pointed that out when he met me on Monday. So I need to be careful. Given that it's a startup, I think he is carefully managing the public face of the company. So I doubt I'll get to start a "Day in the Life of MCo" company blog anytime soon. Which is ok, since I barely got the chance to write in my Microsoft blog.

The commute to/from work has been very, very tiring for me because it involves almost 2 miles of walking total, plus a 25 minute bus ride. The weather has been very nice, so I have quite enjoyed the walking, but it's more activity than I've gotten in a LONG time.

And that's the end of my story. It's past 11pm and I can barely keep my eyes open. More later this weekend, peeps! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

So dry your tears and baby, walk outside

Happy Fourth of July, peeps! We got invited to two BBQs but decided to forego both since the pups get freaked out by all the firecrackers. We have some crazy neighbors who are very fireworks-happy so we tend to get some really loud blasts, which makes Peanut very afraid.

I went grocery shopping today because I was thirsty and craving a diet Coke. Instead, I found some very yummy flavored water (unsweetened) made by O Beverages. Kind of like the Glaceau flavors, before they decided to add all that aspartame crap to it. They were on sale for $1.00 each at Safeway which I figured was a small price to pay to get me to drink more water.

I also went to the Pro Club, for what's likely to be the last time since I'm quitting Microsoft and can't rationalize paying $73/month for a gym membership. (And that's the special rate for Microsoft employee spouses!)

I've done some research and narrowed down my gym choices to 24 Hour Fitness (cheap because TJ belongs there) or Redmond Athletic Club (much nicer, but still pricy at $63). I've read some pretty bad reviews online about both the Bellevue and downtown Seattle 24 Hour Fitness clubs, though, so I'm leaning towards RAC. I'm going to wait until I start my new job and see what the schedule is like, and how much walking my bus commute entails first, before signing up for any gym. If I can get a lot of walking in, I may delay signing up until fall.

Tomorrow morning I have my last meeting with my manager, and my exit interview with HR, and then I'm a free woman. (Until Monday, anyway). Spike and I will be taking off for Vancouver around 11am or so.

Woo hoo for beagles and vacation! YAY!

I uploaded my pictures from our visit to Aunt Susie's house last weekend. Here's one to get you started:

Monday, July 02, 2007

Too late to make it right

The MacBook is like crack. I can't seem to put it down and go to bed before midnight these days.

One of the things I love about it is the Adium IM client, which allows me to combine my MSN Messenger, Yahoo and Gmail chat contacts in the same app/window. It just signs me into all of them, and I can chat with anyone who's online from any of the services. So much more convenient than signing into multiple clients. My only wish for it was that it would use my Mac's built-in webcam. Maybe that'll happen in a future version. For now it's text-only chatting for me.

We had a nice time with TJ's parents, who left yesterday to visit Robin in North Dakota. After that they'll drive back to Tucson. Must be nice to be retired! :D

Tomorrow is my last "real" day at work, since Wednesday is a holiday and Thursday morning is my exit interview where I have to hand in my badge and everything else. Weird that my almost 5 years at Microsoft is so close to the end. But I have no regrets right now. (Ask me again in 6 months!)

To celebrate my last week of working part-time, Spike and I are taking a road trip to Vancouver. In order to cross the border, Spike needs his rabies tag and a certificate so I spent some time today tracking down replacements for all of the tags on his collar. A few months ago, he mysteriously lost all of them, including the ring they were on. He still had his collar, but the ring and all 4 tags, including the very nice handmade nametag, were gone. I'm sure they're in our yard somewhere, so I'm still holding out hope that we'll find it.

In the meantime we bought him a cheap tag with his name and our address/ph numbers from Petco. Today I finally got around to replacing his rabies tag and King County license as well, so that if he does manage to escape in Canada (I hope not!) he can find his way back home.

I made our reservation, at a very swanky 5 star hotel, which we got for a really good rate on Hotwire. (I took my chances since most of the nice Vancouver hotels are at least small dog-friendly.) So I'm looking forward to the trip, and hope to tire Spike out enough with our daily activities so that he won't be tempted to bark in the hotel room. I live in fear of being the annoying guest and/or getting booted out into the street because of his ear-splitting howl.

On our agenda are Granville Island, Stanley Park, a crepe stand, and the Frites french fry place Leslie and I visited when we went last January. And lots of walking. Vancouver also seems to have a ton of off-leash parks so we'll try to hit a few of those too. It'll be a nice vacation for both of us, and Peanut and TJ will also enjoy their male bonding time at home.

Whew! If I sign off now, I can attempt to go to bed before midnight. Only 2 minutes left!!

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