Saturday, January 20

That Word... I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Buckets of Apples. A form of fruit... which contains carbs.
At some point, you are going to see a post (or a series of posts) on the Palimpsest blog about carbs. This (entirely true, non-embellished) story of an encounter I had at work yesterday exemplifies the reason why. Just so you know.

Background: we had had a crazy morning at work, full of drama. It was just shy of lunch time and I'd about maxed out my 'peopling' quota for the day. This lady came in with her son. She was wearing giant, dark sunglasses, which she made no attempt to remove, even though she clearly couldn't see anything with them on inside because she kept angling her head in weird directions to look over and around them. I took the son's order, and then politely asked what I can get for the lady. The conversation followed like this:

Customer: Do you have those yogurt parfaits?

[Editorial note: parfaits contain greek yogurt, honey, granola, strawberries and blueberries.] 

Me: Just the one right here. [In the ice bin on the counter, which she'd have been able to see if she took off her glasses.]

Customer: Oh, I can wait while you make more.

Me: I'm sorry, that's not something we can do right now. We have none of the product prepped and no one available to do it. Can I get you something else?

Customer: Oh, you're sure you can't make any?

Me: No, I'm sorry, we really can't. We have this one, but we just can't get any others made right now.

[Editoral note: I wasn't lying. We had no prep people available, both managers were up to their eyeballs in other things, I was the only one in bakery, and there really wasn't anything even slightly prepped.]

Customer: Well, do you have anything else with fruit in it?

Me: Sure, we have these fruit cups [right in the ice bin next to the parfait, which, as mentioned above, she apparently couldn't see], or steel cut oatmeal with fruit in it.

[We talk about the oatmeal options and she decides to go with the one containing strawberries. I ring her out, she walks away. Two minutes later, as they're finishing up her order and I'm trying to stock, she reappears.]

Me: Did we forget something?

Customer: Is it too late to cancel that oatmeal? I'd rather have the fruit cup instead.

Me: Sure. No problem. Here's the fruit cup, let me grab you some silverware. [Tells the line to nix the already-made oatmeal and gets the customer squared away.]

Customer: Thanks. I just really wanted something with no carbs, you know?

Me: Nods. Smiles. Valiantly avoids screaming, weeping, and shaking anyone.

NO CARBS...!!!

Because clearly the granola-and-honey-containing parfait had no carbs (47g, plus 33g of sugar!). Nor did the fruit cup (17g plus 12g of sugar).

And fruit, the one component she focused on all along, as a rule contains almost no protein or fat... which means by default is has to be almost entirely carbs/sugar and water!!

I seriously spent the rest of the shift scratching my head, trying to figure out where she could have gotten the idea that she needed to not eat carbs... but also somehow managed to come away with absolutely no comprehension at all what carbs are, or what kinds of foods they're in. 

Some days, I don't even know, you guys...

Sunday, January 14

Welcome to the Family!

We have a new furry niece! Her name is Cassie Lu and she's approximately three years old. (It's always a bit of a guess with rescues.) She is, I'm told, tiny, adorable and shy.

Our babies sent her a squishy ball in welcome and can't wait to meet her!

(They also expressed their approval that Uncle Chris is now properly supervised again... humans without furry supervison are dangerous, you know!)

Saturday, January 13

100 Days of Productivity Update and Blog Launch!!

Way back in November I mentioned the idea of doing a 100 Days of Productivity experiment. Although it took longer than I'd hoped to settle on my plan for the project, I did eventually get started – I'm now 41 days in! Since I've had a couple people ask, here's what it has ended up looking like so far:

  1. A Two Pronged Goal

    As denoted in a recent post, the first half of the goal was to get a part-time telecommute writing job. The second half was to launch a sustainably structured nutrition/healthy lifestyle blog to replace the long-lapsed Nutritional Mischief site. Together, I determined, these should:
      (a) Establish a flexible, scalable, and portable income stream to improve financial opportunities now and allow for a smooth transition later;
      (b) Resolve the problem of not having content that is legally mine to share with potential employers;
      (c) Document ongoing engagement/competency in the writing and nutrition sectors, demonstrating that my skills/credentials remain current, and keeping the line on future employment opportunities in both areas open; and
      (d) In the case of the nutrition blog, establish a constructive outlet for my nutrition geekery, which is good for my soul.

  2. Simple Structure

    Given that there were at lot of variables and some erratic scheduling over the chosen 100 Days, I decided to make things as simple as possible. Anything that got me functionally closer to achieving my stated goals counted, regardless of the time commitment or complexity. Thus, on days when time/energy were at a premium, my 'one thing' was sometimes stupidly simple: searching for/downloading a checklist, reviewing and deleting or properly filling a previously-bookmarked resource I'd thought might help, or searching the job sites and bookmarking anything new that seemed fit to apply for. When I had more time/energy, I tackled bigger things: completing job applications, slogging my way through website formatting challenges, or writing (another) legally acceptable disclaimer. Admittedly, some days it didn't feel like I'd achieved much, but it was amazing at the end of every week to see just how much progress I'd actually made!

    (Confession in case anyone else tries this: I also gave myself some grace. If there was a day where I simply couldn't get anything done, I just made it up later and still gave myself credit rather than consider the whole thing blown. So far it's worked out great and kept things positive and effective!)

  3. Learning From Previous Mistakes (aka Start At The Beginning, But Scale Back)

    I did a lot of reflecting through this process and realized that one of the reasons Nutritional Mischief failed was that I tried to do too much (often with too fuzzy an idea of the proper scope of things) and got overwhelmed. I also didn't front-load myself with the right systems, so the more content I made the more I felt like I was digging myself into a hole, which only made the anxiety worse and just created a big, nasty feedback loop. I learned from my mistakes: this time, I chose to establish my nutrition blog as only a blog, without any other business components. I also (thanks to this project) gave myself ample time at the get-go to deal with boring, stressful legal crap like proper disclaimers, figuring out the actual Official Rules for things like using images and linking to other people's material, and constructing behind-the-scenes spreadsheets to manage my content and prevent those scattered and digging-a-hole feelings.
  4. Progress!
    After posting about how I'd gotten a writing job, I heard back from two more places I'd applied. I'm still working through the on-boarding process with the first job, and examining the next steps in the application process for the other two, but I'm hopeful that by the start of February (once they've all gotten back to me again, etc.) I'll have that end of things sorted out and functionally up and running!

    The other half of the project, I am delighted to announce, is also finally coming to fruition! 

    My new site Palimpsest Living is now live!! 

     Current plan is to post once a week. It's not a lot but, given the new priorities, quality and consistency are FAR more important than quantity. It's also an extremely sustainable posting plan, which is a big deal right now, too.

  5. Going Forward

    Crazy as it seems, I'm not quite halfway through this experiment so there's plenty still to come! I expect a bunch of my remaining days will be eaten up by sorting out the new job stuff, but I'm also planning to dedicate time to getting a bunch of drafts written for PL, to prime the pump for the weekly posting schedule. Establishing new habits, tracking systems, etc. to manage the new workload and the chances it makes to how other things run will also play in there somewhere. In the meantime, I'm delighted to have more than I'd expected to show for my experiment at this point and so excited to have PL finally launched!!

    As a final note, I am taking 'requests' and suggestions for PL! If there's anything you'd like to see show up on there topic-wise, weird questions or comments you've heard from friends/coworkers, or common misconceptions that drive you nuts, please feel free to send them to me! I'll add them to my 'maybe write about this' list! (I've already got some doozies from work to get me started!!)

Friday, January 12

Free Online Courses

I was talking to a friend at work recently about having read about free online courses put together and hosted by some really big names in academia and industry. I promised to get her a list and, once I started assembling it, thought maybe I'd post it here in case anyone else can benefit.

Although I have not personally had the opportunity to try any of these yet, they've been on my radar for a while. Some of them are accredited, many are not. Some run on pre-scheduled timelines (usually because they incorporate a social learning component), others are entirely self-paced.

Whether you're trying to expand your skill sets for career purposes, hoping to keep your brain limber, or just looking for something engaging to help make the dark days of winter go by faster, it looks like there's something for everybody in here!

Duolingo - learn another language!

Canvas Network - "Open, online courses from colleges, universities and organizations worldwide."

JTDigital - "technical skills for the digital world"  (Psst... this includes a course on 'ethical hacking!' How fun does that sound?!)

Open Culture- "1,300 free online courses"


Stanford University

edX - free courses from Harvard, MIT, RIT, Wharton and more on here!

(PS - If you get a chance to try any of these, please let me know what you think!!)

Thursday, January 11

Vacation Planner Printable

I don't know if this is of interest to anyone else (or just crazy ISTJs like me), but Scattered Squirrel has a couple great vacation planning printables.

It's a neat, organized (free!) way to document and track when you're leaving, when you're arriving (and how you're getting there!), and any events/activities you've already booked or want to make sure you see. There's also a little weekly grid for visual learners like me who want to see what it all looks like in context. Although it's not applicable to us, I also feel like it would be a great way to hand off critical information to a someone watching your house/pets/kids while you're gone.

So if you, too, are looking ahead to what's to come this year and find your plans include travel, check it out!

Wednesday, January 10

Don't Be Busy

I was on Pinterest the other day, just swinging through to pick up a link I'd saved there, when this graphic/phrase caught my eye and lodged a little in my brain. I wanted to share it here because it struck me as a personal challenge. (And maybe you'll know someone else who needs to be challenged like this?)

I am absolutely certain there's going to be a LOT going on this year. (I've got the calendar and bullet journal lists to prove it!) But I want to stop answering "good, but busy!" every time someone asks me how I've been, or starting emails by apologizing for taking so long to reply because things have been so busy. Days can be full and deadlines can be tight, and it's okay to be focused on being productive - because there is so much I want and need to do.

But 'busy' is as much an emotion as an adjective - it speaks of haste and preoccupation and sometimes, unfortunately, doing things for the sake of doing them or simply by default. That's not what I want for my 2018. We've put a lot of work into paring down our stuff - this year I want to pare down the intangibles. The bad habits, the inefficiencies, the unfounded assumptions, the hold-overs from previous stages of life that aren't serving me any more. I want to pay attention to what I'm doing and to make better choices - even if its hard, or if it takes a bunch of tries to figure out what those better choices look like.

'Busy' won't get me there.

So if you hear me saying I'm busy this year, will you call me on it? Thanks!

Tuesday, January 9

Celebrate With Me?

It's not a secret that our long term goal is to leave New York State. (Isn't everyone's, honestly?) Nor have we been anything less than bubbly about our Errant Venturing.

One of the first things that always, always comes to mind when we talk about long term plans and opportunities is how not portable my job is. Although I can usually get days off without too much trouble, I don't have sick time, vacation time, or anything else - all days off are unpaid. Moreover, while I could technically put in for a transfer to a different cafe when we're someday ready to move, there is no guarantee wherever we go next will even have one, let alone have a good one that needs someone in the hours I'd be available to work.

I have plenty of credentials and experience to do other - far more flexible and portable - things. But, as I've been increasingly aware the last few months, the longer I go without some kind of current employent in those fields, the less up-to-date and reliable my skills look to potential employers. To make matters worse, about 95% of what I did in the grant writing field was proprietary, which means I barely have any work that I'm allowed to show potential employers to prove what I can do! 

Anyway, to make a long story short, I set myself up with a two-pronged plan to correct that situation - the sooner the better. (More on the first prong in another post to come soon!) To make good on the second part of the plan, I've been doing the stressful and unpleasant work of job hunting for a while now, trying to find a (very) part-time, fully remote/telecommute writing-related position I can do (in addition to my full-time job) between now and when we eventually leave NY to serve as a bridge between where I am and wherever we go/whatever we do next.


Only time will tell if it works out or if I end up going back to the drawing board but, for the moment, I am enormously relieved. It feels SO good to know that I'm not just wishing and dreaming but actually doing something to set us up for success in the areas and plans we hold near to our hearts.

Monday, January 8

Word of the Day

I ran across an awesome word today: insalubrious.

 adjective, formal: (especially of a climate or locality) not salubrious; unhealthy
I can't think of the last time I've seen this word in print or heard it used anywhere, but it's much too fabulous to be so neglected, don't you think?


Sunday, January 7

The Physics of Everyday Things

The Physics of Everyday Things is a brilliant book that made me feel, shall we say, less than brilliant. It is also a book I wish that I had had the opportunity to read at a much younger age. If you want to get kids interested in science and technology, this book (and Kakalios' other book, The Physics of Superheroes) is how to get started!

The framing of the book is magnificently done: we follow a normal, average businessman through his typical day, from waking up to going to bed, exploring the technology he uses and encounters along the way. This includes everything from the toaster that makes his breakfast to the GPS that helps him navigate traffic to the touchscreen of an ATM and the high-tech equipment he benefits from at a doctor's appointment, on an airplane flight, and in a business presentation. There's discussion of everything from simple electrical circuits and basic conduction to the binary language of computers, radio waves, and the mechanical back-up fail-safes that keep our elevators secure.

It was eye-opening to be reminded of just how much technology – both what we consider 'high-tech' and older-school but equally complex alternatives – goes into the modern life we so easily take for granted. Interesting as the book was, however, parts of it were hard for me to get through which I attribute to two factors. First, to be blunt, the science classes of my youth were clearly lacking. I have vague memories of talking about electrical circuits, magnetism, etc. round about fourth grade and occasionally in high school, but I decidedly did not retain enough to go into this book with anything qualifying as background. So I was fully reliant on the explanations in the book to keep up. Which would have been fine, except for factor number two: I am a visual learner. Although Kakalios provides very well done explanations, there are few diagrams, sketches or illustrations in the book and they are all exceptionally minimalistic. That's probably fine if you're keeping up, but I consistently found myself tempted to put the book down, hop online, and find a better one to catch me up before I kept going so that I could stay with the program. Now, if you're reading this with a young person, that's probably a point to the book's favor. If you're just reading it for your own edification, not so much.

But that's just me. Your mileage may vary, and the book is decidedly worth giving a shot!

Wednesday, January 3

Customer Quote of the Day

Customer, talking to my boss today at work: "So my friends made me go to this musical and, you know, there was music -..."

(That was when I stopped listening because, um, hello?! Musicals that have music in them? You don't say!)

Hope you got a free laugh somewhere in your day today, too. : )

Random Fun Fact About Allergies

From a book I recently finished:

"There are many foods that share similar compounds with common allergens. For instance, wheat and grass can both cause a kind of cross-reaction. So can, oddly enough, bananas and latex." (x)

Wheat and grass I get, but... bananas and latex?!?

In case you needed a reminder that the world is a weird, weird place... there you go.  : )

Tuesday, January 2

Happy Sci-Fi Day!

Happy New Year!
And Happy Sci-Fi Day!

May 2018 bring you new adventures (and the strength to meet them head-on) & new joys (and the wisdom to immerse yourself in them fully).