Stuff I Did This Weekend

I left work almost mostly on time on Friday. I just ended up staying an hour late because this last-minute communication had to go out. I am getting a little sick of this lack of work/life separation now. At least there was an outage of our web sites over this weekend, so it was like a forced weekend off for me. GG and I went out for dinner and then I watched Fringe before bed. (AltOlivia clearly had the fastest, most painless, least baby-cheese-covered delivery ever.)

GG worked on Saturday (his last week of weekend overtime), so I spent the day cleaning the entire house. I feel like I’ve really fallen behind in general upkeep these past couple months that I’ve been so busy. I mean, I’ve cleaned here and there, but just little bits at a time, so it was nice to get the whole house clean at once. When GG got home, we got dressed and headed out to meet MB and A – I wasn’t expecting to be able to see MB again before that baby comes out of her, but they happened to be out here shopping at Ikea, so we went to dinner with them and then back to Ikea for $1 ice cream cones :o)

This morning GG and I went out to do some errands, come home, then headed back out again for lunch at Elevation Burger (excellent burgers and fries, just sit as far from the kitchen as possible or you will end up smelling like one when you leave), and dessert at Kiwi (GG hadn’t been there yet and was a bit overwhelmed by all the options). This afternoon we watched This Is It together. (Okay, I may have fallen asleep for a few minutes toward the end.) I guess for a concert movie it’s pretty good, especially considering there was never even a concert. And there was lots of behind-the-scenes info about how a big production like Michael Jackson’s last tour would have been gets put together. But you don’t really see much of him off stage, and that’s what I was more interested in.

Need to go to bed at a reasonable time tonight because it is going to be a long and busy week at work this week, with literally zero free time. And I know I say this every week, but after this week… things should slow down for me a little.

Linky Thursday – 3/24

IKEA E-Folder Set Desktop Organizer: I love Ikea, though maybe not quite enough to mess with my computer this way. However, read the comments to see some other creative customizations from users.

A Nuclear Reactor Explained by Poop and Farts: Nuclear Reactor Boy’s Tummy Ache: Don’t worry, Fukushima Daiichi is just feeling a little gassy…

Posts about interesting musical instruments by Griph: Ethereophoning It In (theramin), Roll Your Own (Kinect hand-drawn soundboard), Turned to Steel (Singing Tesla Coil).

20 Sad Etsy Boyfriends: “I found these twenty sad boyfriends pretty easily, so there are probably enough to at least launch a single-topic Tumblr blog.”

Busy Business Week

I have had a busy past few days. On Sunday I drove out to NJ for MB’s baby shower! Her sister, a caterer, hosted the party and provided a fabulous spread of food. (Amusingly, nothing the child guests really wanted to eat. Also, a super strong mojito that knocked me out with a headache for the entire night.) It was great to see my chicklet one more time before she has a chicklet of her own, plus catch up with some of her other friends and family who I haven’t seen for a while, some not since her wedding. And thankfully, no weird games like tasting baby food or guessing what brand of candy bar is melted in a diaper.

On Monday I was scheduled to serve county jury duty, but I found out after I returned my juror survey that I was also supposed to leave for a business trip that day. I’d been stressing about this for weeks – I would either get out of jury duty and drive up to the meeting with my other two co-workers, catch a train up after jury duty, or drive up myself (the most horrible and stressful option). So first of all, it was pouring rain when I arrived Monday morning. I thought I’d get there a bit early so I could ask in advance about my situation. Turns out it doesn’t matter when you get there, because they don’t open up the room until the actual start time. So even though I was the fifth person to arrive, I was more like the 50th into the room. No time to ask then. Once everyone was checked in (there were probably about 120 people there), we watched a video about being a juror, and then a judge came down to speak and answer questions. There were a couple other administrative things, and then we were sent on break. During the break time, I found someone and just asked what time I might be able to leave, because my co-workers were leaving at noon and I wanted to let them know if they should wait for me or not. They told me to check back in an hour. Then they called everyone back from break because they needed to pull 60 people for a jury. Luckily I was not called. Back to break. It was about an hour later at this point, and I checked back with the woman in charge. She told me to return my badge and just leave quietly, they were letting me go because of my work hardship. Score! I gathered my things and booked it out of there, and was able to stop at home briefly before meeting up with my co-workers and driving up to our meeting. (And honestly, jury duty doesn’t seem like the most horrible thing ever and I was actually excited to finally be called – this was just really terrible timing.)

We made amazing time on our journey, getting to our hotel around 4 PM. We met up with another co-worker and went out to dinner at this nice place by the water, then headed back to the hotel to crash. Tuesday morning we got to the office early because a couple of us had a team meeting before our department meeting began. It was good, very productive, even though it ended up only being half as long as it was supposed to be because of some last-minute work we had to do. Our boss is amazing – I am so glad he is our boss now! Then we all got together for our department meeting – day one was meant to talk about our event that we just held, look at metrics, survey results, etc. It went really well. Then we went out to this place for a dinner with the leadership team. The LT was in town this week and specifically invited us to dinner, which was the reason our group meeting was bumped up to this week, and moved to this location. However, only three LT members even came, and the head one arrived late and left early, and also the food was kind of bad. Probably the only good thing was that it was at a wine shop and it was pretty much all the wine you can drink, but I don’t drink wine, so just water for me :o( Then it was back to the hotel to crash again. However, despite an awesome night’s sleep my first night, I woke up sideways across the bed at about 4 AM and had a hard time falling back to sleep. (Also, I have to complain about the pillows here – they used to have normal pillows, but now each bed has two of those large euro size pillows, and two little half-size pillows. Neither is very comfortable to sleep on! I just want a regular pillow!)

This morning we went back to the office for day two of our meeting, which was meant to come up with some 2011 goals. The head of our group had to attend a different meeting at the last minute for most of the morning, so our boss ended up leading the discussion, and it was awesome. He is such a good leader. We came up with some great ideas, so we shall see what actually ends up going on our goals – they have to be submitted by the end of next week! Anyway, the meeting ended around 1:15 and we were on the road by 1:30, and again made amazing time getting home! I decided I’m working from home tomorrow and taking the afternoon off, so I have a little time to recuperate.

Since I don’t usually watch any shows on Wednesday nights (because I’m usually at band practice), I caught up with the finale of Big Love. I heard early on that Bill would probably die at the end of the series, so of course I was waiting for this big climactic moment. All I have to say is… that is how it happened? Over a lawn? So disappointing. I mean, the Lost finale was weird and kind of a letdown but I still cried through the whole episode – at the end of Big Love I was just mad and disappointed.

Beauty Reviews

A few new things I’ve been trying…

Hylexin Eye Cream: I’ve seen ads for this stuff for years, and of course didn’t believe them because they just seemed so fake, and anyway, I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since high school (no matter how much sleep I get, and I don’t have allergies), and nothing has made them go away. But then a friend of mine posted on Facebook how amazing this product was for her, and with a non-compensated review from a person I actually know, I decided to suck it up and give it a try. (Shop around, because you do not have to spend $60 on this little tube.) It’s been a number of weeks now, and I can say: this stuff works! No, my circles are not completely gone. But they are significantly lightened. Once I put on a light layer of my regular concealer, you really can’t see any darkness. I’m very happy with it!

Pretika SonicDermabrasion Facial Brush: As I mentioned when I wrote about this before, I got this as a much less expensive alternative to the Clarisonic brush. I wrote to the company asking about the “gentle” brush head I’d heard about, because I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere, and the brushes it came with were a bit harsh. So they just sent me a pair! The gentle heads are definitely better for me. I have been using the brush once a day, and have noticed some improvement with my dry spots. And I haven’t experienced any negatives like the “purging” some people write about in their reviews of the Clarisonic and other brushes. I charged it when I first got it and haven’t have to do it since. Also, I like that it runs for 1 minute at a time, beeping every 20 seconds, so you can keep track of how much time you’re spending on each area of your face.

Lip Stain Pens: Lipstick doesn’t last more than a couple minutes on me, so I’ve been trying lip stain markers again. I have been a fan of Mark Kissink since it came out, but its latest incarnation comes in only two colors and seems to dry out the minute you open the pen. So I picked up a couple new options to try the last time I was at the drugstore. First was CoverGirl Outlast Lip Stain. It’s pretty horrible. I mean, I guess it’s a true “stain,” but there’s no “play” to it. So wherever you draw it on, that’s where it stays. And no matter how smooth and well moisturized your lips are when you start, it will seep into and emphasize every little line and crack. One good thing I can say, it does smell nice. The other one I tried is Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain. I am definitely more of a fan of this one. I like that it comes with a lip balm built in – that’s just handy. It works better, and I like more of the colors. I would use this again for sure. The only negative is that, like the Kissink, it feels very dry like it’s running out already. (Handy tip – no matter which brand you use – layering a little gloss over the stain finishes it off nicely.)

Save me, Vitamin C!

Well I still feel like any complaining I’m going to do is nothing compared to having an earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, but here I go anyway. We’ve had a couple recent issues with our house that have ended up being extremely annoying and costly (one of them), but I just keep reminding myself that even if we don’t have heat in the house for a couple days, our lives are pretty darn good. (The cats would beg to differ – they were a bit chilly this week.)

Despite everyone around me getting sick, I actually have been doing really well until yesterday, when I got that general “yucky” feeling. I am taking megadoses of vitamin C in an attempt to stay healthy for the next couple weeks. I am sure it had something to do with being in the cold, and then yesterday was damp, too. I just really cannot get sick until April. (Not like I want to. But you know, if I have to, I’d like to postpone until then.)

We’re at that point with band practice now where we really dig in and work on each piece, rather than playing them straight through (like we do at the beginning of the season, when everyone’s just trying to figure out how things go, or toward the end, when we’re getting ready to perform a concert). This is my least favorite time. Luckily, by the end of March, I will have been at two of the last six rehearsals. Thank you, work.

Speaking of work, even though our event is over (and was extended, and is over for real as of tomorrow), I am still crazy busy. Literally, it is like there are not enough hours in the day. And then when I am home, I’m just so exhausted. Last night I totally crashed, I don’t even remember going to bed. That is probably not helping with my health, either. Hopefully after tomorrow things will slow down significantly. But don’t I say that every time?

Catching Up, Work, GNO

I’ve been needing to blog, I’ve just been so busy still. Plus half the world is falling apart now and anything I have to write about just seems so trivial.

I had a restful weekend last week, I seriously just slept a lot to make up for all the sleep I hadn’t gotten the previous two weeks. I think I finally got caught up and got back on a normal schedule.

Work this week was still busy, but at least I was able to work from the comfort of my own desk. I was even able to get back on my regular schedule and work from home mid-week as usual. Also, since I moved desks this last time and a new group of people (including some old friends) moved into our area, I have literally felt “at peace” at my desk. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like we’re suddenly just in the right spots finally. My new neighbor (and friend and former co-worker) agrees – and it’s fun to be able to talk to her over the wall.

I was able to go to band practice this week after two weeks away. I missed playing music, but definitely did not miss band drama. My term as Vice President is up at the end of this year, and I’m thinking I may take some time off from band government after that.

After work on Friday a group of us went out for our Girls Night Out dinner. I think we’re trying to do this on a quarterly basis now, which is about as often as we can coordinate a bunch of us. We went to Redstone Grill this time, and ended up sitting there talking for 4-5 hours. Not sure when or where we’ll be meeting next time, but hopefully somewhere warm where we can sit on an outdoor deck!

You thought I was busy last week? Check this out.

Saturday: Celebrated a friend’s birthday by going to a winery (I don’t really drink wine), then out for a sushi dinner (I don’t eat seafood). I make it sound horrible, but actually I had a really fun time. Got to catch up with a couple friends from college who I haven’t seen in a while, and met some new people. And I had chicken for dinner, plus some vegetable sushi (the sweet potato roll at this place was amazing!). While I stayed up watching SNL, I caught up with my regular work from the previous week that I let slide while preparing for our event.

Sunday: Did laundry, turned on my work computer around 1 PM, ended up staying online until after 8 PM, when we had a meeting to prepare for our global, multi-site learning event this week. I’d been told they might need me to send out a communication after the meeting, but then they changed their minds, so I went to bed.

Monday: Day 1 of our event started off with some problems. The online system that most people needed to use to complete most of their training seemed to be struggling under the weight of 10,000 people around the world trying to do the same thing at the same time. And guess who manages the e-mail box where people write in with their questions regarding this event? Me. So all my other work was put aside as I struggled to keep up with the neverending stream of angry e-mails. We also had to take some time out to do a walk-through of our site, because live events were running there Tuesday and Wednesday.

Because we all ate Asian foods last week, including over the weekend, we decided to make this week Mexican/Italian week. But a 6 PM meeting threw a wrench in our plans of all going out together. I ended up going out to a local Mexican place with one of our visiting colleagues once I was able to leave work around 7 PM. Then I had to go home and get back online to send a mass e-mail update to our global audience.

Tuesday: This was the first of our two days of on-site activities, and I was facilitating a poster session – which meant I was in charge of setting up the area where the posters were hung, making sure the presenters were present and stationed with the correct posters, and then electronically checking in attendees. Luckily, I had some great helpers! We got the room set up just in time, then some angry attendees (angry because they still weren’t able to do the online component of their training) showed up, but guess what – the live session was a huge success! It went great! After cleaning up, I had about an hour-long break, then I was needed at an afternoon session to run the attendance table. That was a lot less work for me, luckily, and I was able to get through still more angry e-mails in our mailbox.

When the afternoon session was over, I went to sit in the “war room” where the rest of the behind-the-scenes team was stationed. This was cool because I got to silently sit in as the head of our group attended teleconferences with some other groups to determine the cause of our technology issues. By the end of those meetings, it seemed like they had determined a solution to the issue that wouldn’t require us to re-create (and re-test – remember how we spent the entire last week testing everything?!) all our training modules!

One of my coworkers talked our boss into canceling our 6 PM meeting, and instead five of us went out to Bahama Breeze for a fun and relaxing dinner – definitely needed after the way our week had gone so far!

Wednesday: The second and final day of on-site activities was much less stressful for me, personally, because I was facilitating two four-hour training sessions that pretty much ran themselves. The first session started at 8 AM, so I was in a little before 7 to make sure everything was ready before people started arriving. Once I had confirmed that the room was set up correctly and everyone had checked in, I just sat in the back of the room and worked and occasionally stepped out for meetings. The instructor was very good and even though I’d taken a 2-day version of this course last year, I feel like I picked up some things just by sitting in the same room and barely paying attention!

The second session ended at 5 PM, and then I headed back to the “war room” to see what was going on. I’d gotten a last-minute request to pull an e-mail distribution list sorted by region. “No problem,” I thought. Well, it was a little more effort than I’d expected, because in our system people’s locations are listed all different ways: the name of a country, a city, an office, etc. So I had to use my great knowledge of geography to categorize people into one of five global regions. It took a couple hours. When I left work, I went to Qdoba with one of our visiting coworkers, followed by a trip to a new frozen yogurt place nearby called Kiwi.

I got back online at home, where several of us chatted online as we quickly tested updated versions of the courses we’d tested last week. When everything was confirmed to be correct, I sent a message to my Asia/Pacific region distribution list at nearly midnight. They were going to be a pilot group to test our new online training set-up, and if everything went well, we could open it up to the rest of the world. So we let them have overnight to try it out.

Thursday: I got to spend the day sitting at my new desk – my first time really sitting there since I moved to it a week earlier! Once again I spent the day answering angry e-mails, but our fix seemed to have worked – after we announced the new plan to the organization, the number of e-mails we received dropped dramatically. I was able to catch up with my regular work and take care of some things. It was the last day on site for one of the consultants who’s been working with us for the past few months, so a couple of us went to dinner with her at Olive Garden to say goodbye. I actually got home at a semi-reasonable hour and saw GG briefly before I completely passed out. (Seriously – I know we were talking, and then I remember nothing after that!)

Friday: I spent the day sitting in a conference room with the rest of the team (or what was left of them), but it was definitely less stressful than last week’s conference room days. I was able to catch up on some more of my regular work, as well as helping them out with their work. I’d been joking all week with our last visiting coworker, who does not like most fruit, that I was going to make her a big, delicious fruit salad for her to try on her last day. And I did! She did give each fruit in it a try, and I respect her for that. We still haven’t turned her on to produce, though. She had to leave in the afternoon, and since we couldn’t take her out for dinner, we had a little lunch out at the soup restaurant across the street. We had one final meeting at 3 PM, and once that was finished and we were done with what we were working on, my last team member and I were outta there! I was home in time to get dinner with GG and run a couple errands before he had to go out.* Then I came home and just crashed again.

Hopefully over the weekend I can get all the sleep I need and get back on a regular schedule – because this type of crazy activity is pretty much officially over (until next year)!

* GG did some stand-up comedy at an open mic night. A woman gave him her number, which he thought meant she was interested in him. He called her on his way home, and it turned out… she wanted to “bring him to Jesus!” Because after hearing his act, she determined that he needed the help!