Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wine, coffee, and now mixed drinks--much ado

When my partner and I were first together, he got me interested in wine tasting.  We spent a good bit of money, learned to act pretentious, and took a trip to Napa-Sonoma.

That ran its course somewhat.  Then at a cafĂ© I frequented, the manager tried the same thing with coffee--again, major pretentiousness over (less than) minor differences between this Costa Rican bean cultivated on this side of the mountain versus that side....

Then I got a job and had kids.

My graduate student who is about to defend and then hurry to her new job tried to convince me recently that I just had to go to this new restaurant because they make amazing mixed drinks.  All about infusions of lavender and blah blah blah.

I find these trendy drink obsessions a bit irritating.  I'm not irritated that other people get involved in it.  But I get irritated with the idea of ME doing it.  For me, looking back on it, it was a sign that I needed a job to focus on, and/or kids. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Houscleaner, cleaning solutions, and mini-strokes

The house cleaner I hired to clean all the things the regular weekly cleaner has been missing just called.  She missed our appointment yesterday. I called to see if she wanted to reschedule and she didn't pick up.  Part of the work is organizing, and I need to do it with her.  So it is pretty inconvenient to have her not show up, as I had scheduled my day around the appointment.

She called just now to tell me that she had been in the hospital with a stroke!  She is young, around 30.  And she trim and seems in good shape.  So it is all the more shocking. 

She says she collapsed while cleaning someone's home because of the fumes, especially bleach.  She qualified the diagnosis a bit further, saying that the doctor had called it a mini-stroke (which doesn't cause permanent damage).  And it isn't clear whether the doctor had said it was because of the cleaning products.  It started to seem like her roommate had made that diagnosis. 

Regardless, she experienced temporary decreased blood supply to her brain, and she passed out.  I haven't seen any mention of cleaning fumes in my quick look through the internet medical sites.  But I do see mini-strokes associated with cocaine use and alcohol.

I like her personally.  We've done a good bit of talking.  She is so smart.  But I also know her to stretch the truth regarding her previous work (said she had worked as a professor at my university).  If she does indeed have the law degree that she claims to have, one has to wonder why she is cleaning houses. I still don't have the heart to ask her. 

We've rescheduled for next week.  And she won't be using any "non-natural" cleaning solutions.  Just vinegar, baking soda, water.  Let's hope that's all it was.  But I suspect her problems go deeper.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Biking for ice cream

My daughter is 6, and it is definitely time for her to learn to ride her bike.  She really really wants to ride it.  But at the same time, she never quite committed to it.

She's been doing well with the pedals off, just coasting with her feet out.  So we put the pedals back on and off she went, almost without even thinking about it!

That was two days ago.  As incentive, I proposed that we ride our bikes to the ice cream shop.  It is mostly down hill, but not too steep.

Ideally, I would have ridden my bike too.  But she still needs me to run alongside her.  So I got a pretty good workout on the way to the ice cream shop. 

It was lovely.  Daughter was so proud of herself.  Son was actually quite supportive of her.  Ice cream was terrific.

Nephew as entertainment

There is a one week gap between summer camp ending and the kids' school starting. Too hectic to fit in a good trip the week before school starts.  I thought of going into the mountains for a week. But decided to fly out my older nephew (12yo) instead. 

Kids will have a great time, especially my son.  And this nephew has been very bummed because his mom and dad just told him last month that they would be moving out of their (nice) home and into the (very small) house that they own as a rental.  This entails moving schools.  My sister and her husband had led both kids to believe that they'd be going to back to their neighborhood schools with all their friends up until June, when they dropped the bomb. 

Not sure that's the route I'd have taken.  But hard to say what I'd do if I were defaulting on my house.

So hopefully he can forget his troubles for a week.  We'll pack in a bunch of fun kid stuff while he is here.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stupid me agreed to a minor admin position

Earlier this summer, I agreed to take on an administrative post.  I will be the director of the XYZ Center.  Hopefully it won't be too time-consuming. I get a graduate assistant and a course release (one course less per year). 

I just saw the XYZ Center office.  It is in a new building that I didn't even know existed.  The building is nice and shiny new and has a very nice and expensive espresso machine (free espresso).  Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, views on the upper floors.  Our office is in the basement--no view at all.   

It is a research building.  Not only did I not know that this building existed.  But I also did not realize how many faculty now had second offices there--with beautiful views! 

Who really needs two offices?  And who decides who gets these offices?  It is very arbitrary, really.  If you were asked to join a research group sometime before last year, you got a prime second office last year.  There are only very few such research groups, and their themes are very specific.  My research doesn't fit.  Same with many faculty more prolific/successful than me. 

The situation reeks.  I wish I still didn't know about this building.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Identity, dignity, and cleaning houses for a living

Back again! I'm finally returning to a schedule in which I have enough down-time to blog!

Yesterday I hired a woman off of craigslist to doing some extra cleaning that my regular cleaning man misses.  She was definitely worth it.  The disorganization and dirty spots in our house were starting to really stress me out.

We talked for about 10 minutes, and she volunteered that she had been a professor at my U.  I was excited by the coincidence and asked some follow up questions.  I told her I also worked there and started complaining about the budget cuts (which I was assuming to be the reason she was not working there any longer). 

Turns out she had been doing some part-time administrative-level work at the university for a year, plus independent study (which my U doesn't pay for).  I felt a bit bad for pressing her on the details.  I had only wanted to have a conversation about our common employer.  But I'm afraid some of her dignity was wrapped up in calling herself a professor at the U, and I inadvertently took that away. 

She also said she has a law doctorate (which is a JD).  I don't know why she is trying to earn a living by cleaning homes and dog-sitting.  Having talked to her, she is clearly smart.  And this economy sucks.  I paid her more than the rate she asked for.

Also--no, I don't feel guilty about hiring people to clean my house.  We feel that buying ourselves more time by hiring people to clean and cut the grass is one of the best ways to spend our money.