Considering Dal

I have a slow cooker.  I don’t use it.  But I have it.  In case I finally live up to my ideal of cooking up meals for the week ahead.

This week I’m considering making a dal.  So easy, so freezable, so yummy.

But I’m not a cook.  And my entire yummy dal experience is from a local Indian Restaurant that does something magical to beans that makes me like them.

So I googled, as one does.  And it turns out… Dal is not just one thing.   Or it sort of is – it’s legumes.  But sometimes they are whole, hulled or split.  Depends.

India is GINORMOUS, for those of you who flunked geography.  And different areas do different versions of dals.  Different spices, or beans or what not.

Very few recipes are already for a slow cooker and I’m not an expert so…

I have no idea what kind of dal my favorite is.  It’s just the magical stuff you put over the rice and then it’s contentment in my mouth.

I was overwhelmed by the possibilities I see.  And I’m fairly sure I’m not going to be making dal tomorrow.

I might buy some on the way home though.  😍

 

 

 

Fred, the Mouse

We have a mouse at work.   He’s a very smart and very brave mouse.  He tends to show up in the office space after most of the noise and activity dies down, so early evening.

At first his favorite spot was my boss’s office.  We heard her scream several times.  She told her brother it was either the mouse or her.   Not that she needed to threaten him, he was already ready to be rid of the mouse.

So traps were laid out and the mouse ignored all the traps, mechanical, glue and poison.

Now he’s moved in the main office.

He’s been chased but he’s quick and good at squeezing into his hidey holes.

I am a bleeding heart about animals.  If he isn’t bothering me, I’m fine with live and let live on the mouse.  And the more resilient and smart he proves himself to be, the more sympathy from me he gains.

The HR director has been a mouse fan from the beginning.  He named it Fred and has been rooting for the mouse all along.  I finally admitted to rooting for the mouse.  So we decided to start a campaign to save Fred.  I sent out a funny email and the whole office went into a pro Fred vs anti Fred mode.

My boss is decidedly anti Fred and suggested I bring in my cats to deal with Fred.  But I’m not bringing in my cats when there is poison on the floor.  Although, I do think a cat would be the most effective deterrent of a mouse invasion.

Because while HR guy and I call the mouse Fred, we really have no idea if it’s a Fred or a Felicia.  And if it’s Felicia – we are going to have a whole lot more mice.

So.  Now I’m considering a new campaign for an office cat.  I think we could keep the mice out and improve moral with a nice cat.  And as long as we are diligent about keeping it inside, it will be fine.  I work at a transportation company, with many giant buses,  and more than 50 vans, cars and SUVS.  Not a good place for cats to wander.

But if we bring in an adult cat from a shelter, and we keep it inside, it will be FINE.  I want an office cat. I wonder if anyone at the office is allergic.  I shall check.  And if we add it to the interview process – Are you allergic to cats?  It will be fine.

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That time I had a stroke and didn’t know it. But at least I don’t have syphilis.

Yesterday morning, at the ungodly hour of 8:20am, I was sitting in the opthamologist chair being tested in various ways.  I have iritis.  Which is painful occasionally.  I was there for follow up tests following an exceptionally painful bout.

During one of the tests, the doctor turned to the assistant and said, I want her to have a field of vision test today.  It wasn’t what I was scheduled for.  He said to me there is some evidence of narrowing of… (I have lost those words he said.)

So I had a very boring field of vision test and it turns out there is a very pronounced and clear lack of vision in upper right peripheral vision.  Both eyes.  Which is a result of an apparently small stroke I had in the past.  No way to know when.

That is both disturbing and also not really relevant?   I mean it’s weird and sort of scary that I had a stroke and was COMPLETELY unaware of it.  I’m very lucky that the result of it is that I have a small field of vision problem that I am unaware of in daily life and the doctor says won’t even cause me to lose my license.  Indeed I may well have taken the vision peripheral tests at the DMV since the stroke.

It most likely happened when I wasn’t controlling my blood pressure problem when I was in the deepest parts of the abyss.

My primary care doctor wants me to have an MRI.  I’m wondering if knowing the extent of the damage is of any fundamental help?

I need to ask that because I’m still paying off the rabies shots and the iritis, separately from this stroke situation, is leading to a bunch of costly tests to see what caused the iritis.   One of those tests was to see if I have syphilis.  But good news – Nope.

I feel like I’m going to be forever in debt to medical costs.  Rabies was going to take me a year to pay off, this round of tests I don’t know yet, but I’m guessing a year again.  And now the MRI, which sounds expensive.   And all of it with insurance.  But because of the deductible…

And all of this is happening when work is kind of a zoo.  In fact it’s a major zoo.  Zoo Poo is being flung about like it hit a propeller.   It’s taking most of my focus and energy just to deal with work.  Adding this on top is just not good timing for my brain power.  But I’m trying my best to power through.  Not with a ton of success, but with moderate adequacy.

It’s been a very busy week.  Very stressful.  And it was capped today by a mistake by omission that sent me home in near tears.

We are putting in a new software system and I have been given quite a lot of extra responsibility with that.  And since it’s implementation was supposed to be Friday, the last week was fraught with various glitches and various things not done.  All while my full time job was not done by me with any great focus.

In the end we did not go live on Friday because there were too many roadblocks.  I was relieved because a good portion of my responsibilities on it were unfinished.

To add stress and work to this, Friday was the monthly close for billing.  On the 1st I am normally putting in at least a 10 hour day.  But due to the system it was just impossible to even get done, after my 12th hour.  So.  I left and came back today.

Needless to say, I have set aside a whole lot of non-urgent tasks during the last month.  And one of them was a contract my boss gave me to read.  It outlines the new rates etc for our biggest client.  I read it today.  After I sent the invoices, which were based on a conversation I had with my boss on how much the fares were.  I don’t know if I misunderstood him or if the contract was not written to his verbal agreement, but it specifies a whole different rate structure than I billed at.   And it doesn’t matter what he or I understood, because what he signed says these things.

When I say it’s our biggest client, I had 1500 line items on one invoice and 600 on the other.  And all of it is wrong.  I have pull it apart and redo it.  Then apologize profusely to their AP folks.

I couldn’t face it and I walked out tonight  on the verge of tears.  I called my coworker and she talked me off the full on breakdown.  She’s good at that.   I might go in tomorrow.  Because Monday is going to be yet another day of system issues and I won’t have time to do it.

But I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Last time I felt this shitty was when I literally stopped moving, lost my job, and after exhausting my savings became homeless.

On a positive note though, I notice I’m handling it better this time.  I have tools to deal with it, I guess.  Last time I refused to acknowledge it.  Because I had a great life, I couldn’t possibly be depressed or anxious.

But now I see what’s happening and have more tools.   I am better prepared and more aware of it.  When the feeling of near breakdown was worst was the beginning of this week, I just sat myself down and realized I had to let things go.  I had to stop internalizing things I couldn’t control and recognize the limits of what I could do in the space time I was allotted. .  And after that, things got a lot easier.  Although I’m still prone to snapping at people, and all of my coworkers recognize that I’m a bit overwhelmed, I’m not internally as ready to just curl up into a ball and not participate.  Which was how I was at the beginning of the week.  And how I was when I fell apart years ago.  Back then I did just curl up and stop participating.  But I won’t do that this time.

I won’t let this kill me.  I’m fighting for my own sanity this time.  Maybe the odds don’t look in my favor, but I think I go this.

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Passing the Doctor’s Office Visit

I had a physical and follow up visit with my doctor yesterday morning.  I very much was not interested in going when I woke up.  The stillness was enveloping me.

But that was the reason I needed to go.  Also I have a spot on my leg that my anxiety has diagnosed as skin cancer.

But I went.  Using all my mental resources to push the rock up the mountain and get moving.  I love my doctor.  She is kind and thorough and responsive.  She listens.

So.  We adjusted the depression meds.  And she told me I don’t have skin cancer.  And she ran a calculator on my risk factors for a heart attack and found it’s only 2.5% in the next 10 years – which is basically just the standard of the general population.  And since I’ve been harboring an anxiety that I will die of a heart attack at 55 like my father did that released another anxiety.

I normally feel like I flunk every doctor’s appointment.  Something is diagnosed as wrong and then we have to treat it and then we follow up for what feels like dozens of times trying to get it fixed.  So it feels nice to have only depression which feels like the normal.

Which is, of course, why it’s problematic.  I think this way I’m living is normal.  It’s not.  It’s just the life I’m used to.  But when she ran through the questions for anxiety/depression it struck me that this REALLY IS WRONG.  It’s amazing how awful living just stops feeling wrong and just feels like awful is normal.  And in many ways, my ability to manage my depression and keep functioning is why it feels OK.  I never felt like it was OK when I was unemployed and stayed in bed 23.5 hrs a day.  But now I have a job and an apartment and I keep a minimum standard of living going.  It tricks me into thinking life is supposed to be this way.

Hopefully the meds will kickstart a new path in my brain that I can take advantage of.

Cross fingers.

 

 

Cold Snap

Like large portions of the US, we are about to have a deep cold snap after a bit of warmth, relatively speaking.  ie – warmth is above 32 and raining instead of snowing.

The problem, of course is that this will be followed by subzero weather – so ice.  Lots of cold and ice.

I work for a transportation company, so weather and road conditions are of paramount importance to us

But I find that our company’s obsession is nothing to a woman whose blog I follow.  She’s a farmer.  When it’s cold the water freezes.  She ends up carrying 100 gallons of water to her animals.  And because her farm, not unlike many farms, extends over quite an acreage with many buildings, it means she is hauling water over quite a damn distance in sub zero weather, plus wind, plus that icy layer caused by the warm rain today.  She is constantly in a worry that all the animals will be able find sufficient shelter and warmth in these conditions.  Because animals often die these conditions.

My maternal family is deeply farm embedded.  Even today people I am related to own thousands of acres in Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  That blood is clear in me that I cannot help but follow farm blogs despite it having only the remotest relationship to my actual lived life.

So I find that rather than worrying about my drive to work, I’m worrying about whether her pigs, or ducks, or cows are going to be OK.  They probably will be.  She’s very focused on planning for their benefit.  But what is heartbreaking for everyone is that sometimes, planning and effort aren’t enough.  Sometimes the weather is just bigger than your efforts.  And farmers face this all winter.  Indeed, all year.

 

 

It was a woman.

Yesterdays post was about a shooting in the pony keg next to my building.  It assumed, wrongly, that the shooter was a man.

But it was a woman.

I’m grappling with that.  My first impulse is all the cultural bias I own about women.  Then I have to re-calibrate.  I assumed without consideration that man did this.  Why?

More to the point was my assumption about her post shooting reaction.  I assumed the man MIGHT have regret at killing a man over money.

But I more  than assume it for a woman and then back it off because she actually did it.

The reality is that some people live, explain and justify their lives through overarching principle rather than outcomes.

So if you live by overarching principle – the person robbing is wrong, the person shooting is right. Then the death of a human being for a few hundred dollar seems worthy.

If you live by outcome – the person killing is wrong.  No amount of money will equal a human life.

If you look at that duality you see the complexity.  I will probably always land on the preserve life side, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t fully get how this happened.

We want to simplify.  And I was all about simplifying until a small tendril of recognition hit my brains.

It was a woman.  How ridiculous and how fortuitous.  It made me realize.  Humans all act in a moment.  We act on all the accumulated beliefs and values that led us that place.  We rarely have the luxury of considering that moment and it’s consequences.

My boss, one of the kindest people I have known, first said “Good”.  He had been robbed many times as a Taxi dispatcher.  His drivers had been robbed and beaten.  He has no sympathy for the robber’s  viewpoint.  This is one of the kindest men I know.  He offered me a job when I was homeless.  He recognizes the hardship of being poor.  As well as the injustice of being robbed.  When I pointed out the absolute values of death vs money he immediately got it.

But. He also got why this robber was shot.  We cannot let the robber rule us.  On the other hand we cannot become the robber – willing to kill for their objective.

That mean ALL OF THE INPUTS WE RECEIVE are crucial to the moment of truth.  Think about them.  Pay attention when the stakes are low.

 

Shooting in the Pony Keg Next Door

Pony Keg:  A small convenience store that focuses on beer and wine.  When Ohio only sold hard liquor through state stores, Pony Kegs were very popular.  Always small locally owned places – many of them had/have drive thrus.

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They are a dying breed these days, but there is one next door to my apartment building.  This afternoon it was robbed and someone was shot and killed.  My co-worker who lives a couple of blocks from me has sources who say the owner shot the robber.  He’s been robbed a lot and I guess he had hit his limit.  However, none of the news stations will confirm who was shot and the police have opened  a homicide investigation.  Which I guess they would have to do in either case?

If it was the owner who killed the robber, I just can’t imagine feeling like a few hundred dollars was worth a killing someone.  You forget about the money.  You never forget that you killed someone.  However righteous you feel about it.  It’s got to just kick a person in the gut on a daily basis.

As you may have gathered, I live in a borderline sketchy area.  Just a few blocks from the full on sketch.  It’s cheap and my street generally feels very safe.  Lots of kids and people walking around and well cared for homes.  But I’m one building, that pony keg, from one of the main drags in Cincinnati.  And as I said just a few blocks on that road to the scary areas.

I don’t want to move.  It’s comfortable here.  And it’s cheap.   I guess it could have happened in any of the upper crust neighborhoods I used to live in.  Just less likely, somehow.  Fewer desperate people in those places.

It’s odd.  I no longer really want to live in those upper crust places.  They feel artificial or something?  Too white.  Too insular.  Too out of touch.  I don’t know.  Something feels off about moving back there, even if  I could afford it.

Or maybe I’m just more comfortable not moving.  And so I’m projecting these things onto those places in order to justify my choice.

In any case, I think I’ll stick it out here.

 

Heartbreak.

 

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That is a very cold squirrel through a very dirty window.  Trying to suck as much heat as he can from my open window in the 12F weather with added breeze.

I was just about to close that window, because while I normally keep it open in the winter because this building is heated like a Sauna in Hell, it has gotten a bit chilly.  Becauses 12F is COLD.   Plus breeze.

But if I shut the window, the squirrel will lose his tiny bit of heat.

I guess I can just snuggle under the damn comforter.

Poor little one.

 

Working for Free

I’m working on a project to implement a new system.  In order to transfer the data we currently have into the new system, we have do a good deal of touching of the data.  Manipulating it from it’s current data sets to fit into a new data set.   It’s involved and tedious work.

But it’s also something I’m deeply invested in making work.  This new system is desperately needed in the company, and if we lean hard into it’s various processes, I really think it will improve things a lot.

But it will be a painful birth.  Because the old system has only the barest shared junctions of data.

Unfortunately this transition of data happened when we had the under-staffing crisis in my dept and so I have not given it any real attention.  So this weekend I’m working on it from home.

I am an hourly employee, so unless I’m clocked in at work, I don’t get paid.  But I don’t care.  One, because the pressure to get my normal tasks done and get this done is terrible.  I would rather it wasn’t a traffic jam of tasks on my desk.

And two.  I’m really invested in making this new system work.  I don’t want someone else to do this because I really want this to be done right.  ie – the way I would do it.  And because the only other person designated to this project of transition is of the quick and make it work mindset.  Although, to be fair, he is also DEEPLY invested in making this new system work.

We are both VERY excited about the new system.  But he, probably justifiably, feels that we are paying a company to manage this data transition and giving them finely curated data in a spreadsheet to upload, means we are paying them for something we both suspect we could do ourselves.  The value they could offer us is to curate the data.

We originally thought we would just run a crystal report with the raw data and this company would do the parsing.  But this company has made it clear that that is not how it’s going to work. Which begs the question – why are we paying them?  I mean, uploading a spreadsheet into a system is not rocket science.  Either of us could probably do it, and definitely my teammate could do it, regardless.

But, we paid them already so.  Here we are.

And I’m kind of OK with it.  I know this data.  These are our customers.  I know who and what and why.  If I handed it over to a stranger, they would not know those things and would likely make bad choices as a result.  They don’t know who we consider valuable.  They don’t know that this executive assistant is basically only slightly less important than the CEO of P&G from our point of view, or that this executive passenger is very particular about how the invoices are sent, or that this lovely old woman calls in to have us take her husband to various sportsball games and that it is very important that only careful and kind drivers are involved.   Someone who will call her the morning of game day and discuss whether it might not be too cold and rainy for a frail old man to sit in Buckeye Stadium for a game.

That information is lost when you hand your data over to a stranger who cannot know, even if there are notes, which often there are not because often these special clients have their own reservationist who knows and that reservationist has a back up who also knows.

All of which sounds like we have a seamless system, but as you might deduce from the above paragraph, we DO NOT.  All too often that knowledge held by one reservationist is lost when they aren’t available.  And so a person who calls on the weekend doesn’t get their reservationist, they may get a relative newbie.  And then it all goes south.   Our current system is not good at managing those kinds of things, BUT the new system is.

So I have hopes that if we start with a good solid foundation, we can build up to a system that won’t fail a client with a frail husband who needs an extra eye kept on him.  We are all about providing service for the specific needs of our clients.  And that is often a GIANT pain if the ass.  And while we hope for being able to do this, all too often we fail, because we started that core value when we were small and now we are starting to crossover to the level of business that makes that nearly impossible to achieve in our current systems.

But I have hopes for this new software.  No doubt it will disappoint some of my dreams.  But since we are starting from such a dismal situation it can only improve things.  And I am very invested in the idea of improving the current maelstrom.

But, it also requires people to rethink how we do things.  Specifically, I’m going to attempt to make our managers rethink our rate structure.  Because the current rates won’t transfer into the new system.  And we need to think of rates by zip code instead of neighborhoods or towns.  Because the new system assigns rate by zip.  And we assign by neighborhood/town.  But because zip codes cover many neighbor hoods and those neighborhoods have different rates it’s not transferable.  So part of this weekends work will be put that situation into an easy presentation that will make the 2 managers face the task of reassigning fares and have still be usable for me when they do.  At first I thought – Easy Peasy.  Yeah.  Turns out, Nope.  It’s also tedious work.

But it’s important.  So I will slog though it so they can spend an afternoon arguing with each other over what to do.  Don’t worry.  They are best friends who enjoy arguing over these issues and blaming each other for anything that went askew.

But don’t let me downplay how much I need to get done to in order for the various managers to fight over the right fare.  We have fares for different companies.  So once I’m done with one, I get to start over with the next one.  Which are handled by different managers, so I will have to represent this issue to them and have them reassign the rates.

ie – I need people to face the reality that the way we have done business for the last 20 yeas will not longer work with the new system.  I expect, of the 4 people involved, only one of them will accept it and adapt without me pushing them into it.  One of them will loudly resist and will remain obstinate throughout.  However, I’m helped by the fact that his partner in fare making is the owner of the company, who is by definition, invested in the new system.  But that is not this weekend’s task.  This weekend I only have to make their task manageable once they accept it’s reality.

And that the easy part.  That original paragraph about customer accounts is still the hard part.

All of it is at least 20 hours of work.  Probably at more like 30 to 40.   Still, I delusionally hope I will finish this weekend.

It will be worth is.  Once this system is up and working as it should.  I cannot wait until that day.  Hopefully by this summer I will basking in the clover of this weekends work.