2012 January : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

The Withdrawals, man. I got the itchies!

So the good man and I lived quite a long time in our old apartment. The place was built in the 40’s and had a lot of quirks. Since it was an older house in an older neighborhood, we tolerated a lot of the less than optimal things, but was a fun place to live.

For example, we got pretty cruddy DSL service there. When I signed up for the service back in the early 2000’s, they woo’d me in with promises of 3mbps download speed and 1mbps upload.

Not bad, really.

Well, in reality, we got a lot closer to 1.5 down and .5 up. Pretty crappy.

So I called AT&T to complain. Often.

At the end of every year I’d call up again, crankier than the previous year. They would tell me that my speeds were “within normal range”. I’d say “but you sold me on 3!!” Then they’d tell me that my neighborhood wasn’t wired for any of the other faster services they offer, and “oh so sorry about that.”

Then I’d threaten to cancel my service.

So the call agent would send me to the Retention Department who would cluck and coo over my bad experience, then reduce my monthly rate. I’d gotten it down to about $20 a month for my meager 1.5 download speeds.

It was a breakeven. Not much money. Not very fast. So ok.

This month, we moved into a new place. I called them sonsabitches at AT&T and told them I was moving my service, and they weren’t going to raise my rates.

They told me “oooh….yyyeaaaah….um….your new building isn’t wired for AT&T. We don’t actually offer any service there at all. Sorry.”

Well ok. So I started looking at options.

Turns out lo these many years ago, the building owners used to provide basic Comcast cable to all tenants. But Comcast kept trying to bump up the price, so finally the owners said “go away” and the tenants had to pay for their own service, either Comcast or DishTV.

What that means is, the building was wired only for Comcast and AT&T phone lines. No one else. And no ATT DSL.

Which means….

I’m stuck with $#%^*&%^%ing Comcast.

A little history: It was with sheer, unadulterated *glee* that I canceled my last Comcast service back in 2009.

Now they are my only choice. And I am peeved.

So peeved, that for the past week, The Good Man and I have had NO INTERNET in our little home.

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Well, ok, we both have iPhones and get enought done using our 3G coverage. But basically….we’ve been living internet free for a week.

At first it was kind of nice.

And then it was extraordinarily painful.

And then it was nice again.

Now I just don’t know.

I have two loaner MiFi devices coming from two different cell phone carriers. I’m going to see if 4G mobile coverage will get us there. I’m not optimistic. My last evaluation of MiFi service wasn’t positive (great with one device on it, but slows miserably as each new device hops on).

And I am really not a fan of DishTV.

So here I am. Back at Comcast.

How possibly can I live in the middle of a very bustling neighborhood in the very *heart* of the most technologically interesting place in the world, and I can’t get simple, stupid freaking DSL service!?!?!

As an aside, I have to laugh at how reliant I’ve become on having my WiFi internet at the ready. Maybe I need to detox from it. Maybe it’s time to step back.

But then I want to write a blog post about how much I’ve broken my tether to the internet and I can’t because I have no WiFi.

I cried because I had no internet, until I met a man who had no iPhone.





Fi-yah!!

One of the amazing, fabulous, so-cool-I-can’t-believe-it aspects of our new apartment is a real, actual, honest to goodness wood burning fireplace.

No pellets. No gas. No “oh it’s just for show we don’t use it.”

A real fireplace! With fire! From a log!

Yowza! [ insert cavewoman grunt here ]

Fire, good. Warm. Unh-huh.

However, since there are several units in my building, and who knows what sort of yahoolios I have for neighbors, today I called my insurance agent and double checked that I’m super duper double covered for such things as fire. And you know…burning.

Turns out that I am covered, and that’s good. I was raised with a healthy respect for fire. When my mom was just a little girl, her brother was using a burn barrel (or maybe burning leaves, I can’t remember) and he accidentally set several large farm fields on fire. My mom can vividly recall the huge flames and ever since she’s kept a healthy distance from any sort of fire.

So of course, my dad used to load up our 1970’s burnt orange free standing fireplace with lots of sappy New Mexico piñon logs. Then he’s say “what?” when mom mentioned that maybe that was a little too much fire for such a small fireplace.

I mean, as a kid I learned how to make a darn good campfire and over the years I’ve always really enjoyed cooking over fire (both bbq and camping), however, in my adult life, I have never lived anywhere that had a fireplace. Most apartments don’t offer this feature because the property owners don’t want to assume the risk.

Last night, I pondered while looking at this particular fire:



The first fire in our new place!!

For as much progress as we have seen in the world including technology, medicine, engineering, etc…meaning, of all the amazing tools that we, as humans, have at our fingertips, it’s still the tool of the caveman that can wipe the whole thing out.

One flickering flame. One spark from a burning fire is a lifechanger.

And so today, when my insurance agent asked me the all important question “what is the distance to the nearest Fire Station” and I answered “less than a mile,” at I first felt worry over having to even discuss the probability of tragedy. Then I felt thankful that the fire station is so close. Then I felt doubly thankful for all the people who work at that fire station and are willing, as a normal part of their job, to come and save me, and The Good Man and, yes, even The Feline, from a possible terrible situation.

Being a human is full of risks. Even if I choose not to use my fireplace, I can’t control all the others in my building. So yeah, I’m going to use that fireplace and I’m going to stand in front of it and warm my rear end. I’m also going to be very careful and very respectful.

And very grateful.

Regarding the fire, the Feline says, “where you been all my life?”.



Yes, that’s a box of Duraflame. Real logs are on the way.




Except where noted, photos Copyright 2012, by Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

Photo at the link to the freestanding orange fireplace is from UglyHousePhotos.com. That is not a photo of my family’s home.



Shazam!

I was so impressed by a Hipstaphoto I saw in December where a photographer had used an Olloclip to capture a snowflake, that I just had to go out and purchase one of my very own.

After the Christmas holidays, they were on major backorder, so I wasn’t expecting my new iPhoneography device until February.

I did a little hop click of my heels when it arrived this week.

Super!

Between moving and the deluge of new projects at work, I haven’t had a bunch of time to play with the glass lenses and ingenious clip for my iPhone.

Yesterday, I sat in the work cafeteria slumped in my chair trying to get in some nutrition, and my eyes landed on this tableau:




Well, the light was nice and the shakers were interesting. So I decided no time like the present.

I dug the Olloclip out of my pocket, slid it on the iPhone, and took some quick snaps.

These aren’t well composed and in some cases, focus is a little wonky.

And yet, I’m deeply impressed.

These three shots were all using the macro lens:



Red pepper flakes. They almost look like jerky. The light streaks are from the sun bouncing off the ridges in the shaker




Pepper that looks like grains of sand.




Take this photo with a grain of salt


So far, I’m digging the Olloclip. I still have to try out the fish eye (though I’m not really a fan of fish eye lenses) and the wide angle. Honestly, I bought the Olloclip for the macro lens, so I expect the other lenses won’t see as much use.

I think the quality of the Olloclip is a bit better than the Macro Cell Lens Band (reviewed here) mainly because it’s made of actual glass and not plastic, but I find the lens band more portable.

Either way, they make delicious looking macro photos. Time to explore!

Happy Friday ya’ll.



It should be noted that I paid for the Olloclip myself and that this review was not solicited, nor was I compensated. I’m just a giddy fangirl and proud of it.

All photos Copyright 2011, Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license found on the far right column of this page.


Don’t Disobey the Dictionary!

__________________________

bal·ance  [bal-uhns] noun, verb, -anced, -anc·ing.

1. a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.

2. something used to produce equilibrium; counterpoise. Source: Dictionary.com

__________________________

and

__________________________

Work–life balance is a broad concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) on the one hand and “life” (Health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) on the other. Source: Wikipedia

__________________________

So if balance means equal distribution, then work-life balance would imply that the two, work and life were equally distributed in my life.

Like so:




If I read our HR website correctly, for every hour I toil in Cubelandia, I get one hour of frolicking.

Work eight hours on one side. Play eight hours on the other. Sleep eight more. There’s a nice day. Right?

However.

As companies compete harder in the market place and my own employer is viciously cutting costs, and since people are, by far, the highest expense on any company’s financials, our employee numbers are shrinking. We are now called a “lean” staff. Or “right sized”. Or “efficient”.

Then work-life balance looks a lot more like this:




Rude.

So, who wants to volunteer to go tell my executive team? I see all their (luxury) cars in the lot, so they’re here today. C’mon!

Let’s march up to the boob painting floor and let them know they are directly in conflict with the generally accepted definition of the word balance!

C’mon, ye mighty defenders of the lexicon!

C’mon you slayers of sintax and abohorrers of “corporate speak”!

Come with me now!

Follow me!

Here I go!

Anyone?

Hello? Bueller?

*sigh*

Back to work.



Today’s Theme Thursday is: balance

Graphics by Stephen Stacey and used royalty free from stock.xchng.


Score One for Immaturity

My employer inhabits a lot of super large office buildings and I have to say, all in, it’s a pretty nice space.

I’m often impressed at the investment made in actual artwork. It’s not that usual drab office decor, but actual artwork. Paintings, sculptures, mixed media stuff. Really wonderful and thought provoking works.

I consider myself something of an artist, so I like to stop and take a look, really look, at these wonderful additions to my work life.

Not long after I started, I had occasion to be up on one of the high numbered floors of my building. There is a super duper large conference room up there, and it’s perfect for big negotiation meetings.

On that floor, in the open area where you wait for our notoriously slow elevators, there is a particularly large painting.

So one day, I was feeling the euphoria I get after pulling off a huge meeting. I hummed a happy tune while waiting and waiting for an elevator car.

My eyes naturally went to the painting. It’s not my favorite style, but I looked at it really close to understand what the painter was trying to say to me.

Here, I’ll let it speak to you too:



Well, so, I kept looking at the thing. My eyes were irresistibly drawn to the middle of the canvas.

You know…this part.



That inner voice of mine, the one that gets me in trouble, started giggling like a Jolt cola infused Beavis and Butthead.

“Dude,” the inner voice said, “That looks like a uniboob.”

For my male readers who may not understand….a uniboob is what we ladies call the effect that happens with some of the “shelf” tank tops and some bathing suit tops. It’s where the boobs are sort of smushed together and, well, it looks like you have one big boob.

Generally, we ladies like a little separation to the assets.

But c’mon now, am I wrong? That’s a uniboob, right?

So I snickered. And giggled. And guffawed.

Dude, there’s a nipple painting at my job! *snork, chortle*

I mean, look at this thing! That’s totally a nipple!



I let the giggling go on a while, but then that OTHER inner voice, the one that’s all responsible and mature and stuff admonished me. “Would they *really* hang a nipple painting at this large, important and serious company? I think not. Grow up!”

Inner Beavis and Butthead just kept hooting and hollering.

So then responsible voice said “let’s look at the tag and see if the title of the work tells us something more.”

I looked. It tells us a lot.

The painting is called “Mother”.

Yup.

There’s a big mommy uniboob painting prominently displayed on one of the executive floors of my place of employment. *giggle, snort*

That there’s your art appreciation break for the day.

You’re welcome.



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