kv0925: (Default)
(And also a test of crossposting from DW!)

-I've been in a real photographic slump for a while. I stopped advertising so my side-business really fell off, apart from my few annual repeat clients and friends. And I stopped traveling for business, which was a big source of photographic adventure. And our family trips have been a little fewer and farther between as well. I still take the camera when we go to interesting places, but I don't shoot as much as I used to, and (probably as a result) I'm not as happy with the shots I produce, which probably reinforces the whole downward spiral, because why bother if I suck? But I feel like that might be coming to an end. I've felt a little more excited about getting back into shooting more, and I even have a couple of paid shoots coming up (which I hope won't suck, but even out of practice I tend to do okay with those). With my current employment coming to an end, I'm hoping these sessions will boost that spark and inspire me to put some effort into the business again. Not that I expect to go full-time with it or anything--I'd never make enough to support us and pay for health insurance and all that. But as a side-gig and a source of extra money, it was always nice to have.

-I even bought a new lens! Well, really it was a deal I couldn't resist, a Yongnuo 35mm f/2 prime lens for like $65. It ships directly from China, so I haven't actually gotten it yet. But it seems to compare pretty favorably to the Canon 35mm f/2 it clones, at a fifth of the price, so.. why not? I was hoping to get it before the shoot I'm doing Saturday, but it'll probably still be on a boat somewhere. Whenever it finally arrives, I'll have to play with it and do a review post. Maybe I can fire Shutterbuggery back up as inspiration.

-Speaking of the employment situation, no real change there. The wife and I talked about the Tampa thing some more, but she wouldn't budge. And that's okay, I know she's thinking of the kids, who aren't all that social, so she doesn't want to remove them from the friends they've spent so long making. Besides, the severance deal I should get here is pretty sweet, and doesn't even preclude me from being re-hired if something else opens up here (or they realize what a mistake it was to let me go). So I may as well take the money and run, but not run far. :) I've been looking around and seeing a few positions that might be good fits for me--the question will be whether they pay as well, and aren't crap jobs. I actually applied for a management job out at Disney yesterday. I don't have high hopes for it--my skillset overlaps the requirements of the position quite a bit, but it isn't quite the same, and I know Disney management most often comes from within--but who knows, maybe it's an esoteric gig that they won't get many applicants for. I'm hoping to at least score an interview. The commute would be a lot longer than I'd like, but if the pay and benefits are good, might be worth it.

I'm sure I can come up with more, but let me stop here and post more later. I need to boost the post count anyway, after seeing my LJ-iversary stats!

Ugh.

Apr. 13th, 2017 10:56 am
kv0925: (Default)
Big decisions are the pits, aren't they?

Talked with my old boss yesterday, about the manager position he has open which I was interested in. I'm sure the job would be a good fit for me, I know and like my old boss, he knows and likes me, and all in all it would be a known quantity, which certainly has a strong appeal. He told me that if he knew I was good to go with the position, he wouldn't bother to interview anyone else, because he knows I'd do well and he knows I am in need of a position. So that all sounds good, right?

But the bad news is that, while he says he's still not 100% certain, it seems that the location of the job will be in Tampa. From where I live now, that office is 97 miles away--about a 90-minute drive each way. And that would be a big No. I asked it it would be possible for me to still work from here, and maybe go out there once or twice a week. He said if it were up to him, absolutely--but the higher-ups want the team to all be based out of that office, no ifs, ands, or buts. So to take that position, we'd pretty much have to move to Tampa, sooner or later. I could maybe do the commute for a few weeks, or work something out for a month or two. But long-term, no way.

And the wife has pretty much said no way to the idea of moving. But it seems like a knee-jerk response to me. She's thinking of the fact that we like our life here, which is true enough, and she's thinking of her impressions from the small amount of time we've spent in Tampa. And yes, selling our house might be tough, and buying a new house could be stressful, and of course moving is a hassle. And we'd be giving some things we all like up by moving over there, for sure. But there are some significant positives, too. Like:

-Her sister lives over there, and being close to her would be nice. (Though this is tempered by being further away from my Mom and Dad, not that we see them all that often as it is.)
-We love exploring new parks and museums and stuff, and there are loads of both in the Tampa area that we've never been to.
-She doesn't like the busy-ness of downtown areas, but the new gig would actually be in the suburbs, like we are now. We could surely find a house that offers the space and quiet that we like.
-We like our current house, but it's.. quirky. The design is custom and a bit strange in places, with smallish bedrooms and space wasted elsewhere, and it's starting to show its age. And we could use a bit more space too. So getting a newer, larger, nicer house appeals to me.
-We also bought the current house near the peak of the 2007 bubble, so we've been underwater almost since day 1. That could make selling it difficult--we're not AS underwater now, but a short-sale might still be necessary. But if we could sell, whatever new place we find would almost certainly be a lower monthly payment, plus it would actually earn equity, which is still a distant dream for us now. So overall, we could end up in a far better financial position if we can sell and move. Plus the company would offer relocation assistance, so moving (and maybe selling/buying homes) could cost us nothing.
-I might also be able to angle for a raise with the new position, if I say it's another condition of relocation. And hey, more fun money every month (and more travel money!) is always a Good Thing.

So while the severance package would be good, and could offer us a similar (if temporary) financial boost, assuming I can find a new job quickly, I dunno. I waver back and forth, but the idea of taking this known and stable position definitely appeals to me, since it would remove the unknowns of job hunting. And I'm already starting to feel the stress of knowing I HAVE to find a good new job to support the family, since that's my responsibility. And hey, with the right attitude, moving could well be an adventure that turns out great for us in the long run, though it certainly has its own unknowns.

But it's all moot if the wife is dead-set against pulling up stakes. I'd ask the kids too, though I'm sure they'll say no because they don't like change and don't appreciate the magnitude of the decision at hand anyway. :)

So.. yeah. Any thoughts?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


I am not even going to look up the date of my last post, because I know it's been forever and confirming that would probably depress me. So I'll just pretend that I haven't been a stranger here, okay?

So yeah, we got a puppy! She's actually a foster-puppy. My wife came across a place near us that trains service dogs to assist disabled people to be more independent, and the girls loved the idea, so she applied to foster and I guess we impressed them because the whole thing moved along pretty quickly. We got the puppy last Wednesday, so today is one week. Her name is January, I guess because she was born early on January 1st, and her Mom's name is April so I think there's a theme there. So that makes her about 3 months old. Ignore the green tinge to her ear--they get an inside-ear ID tattoo, and the ink stained her fur a bit and it's taken a while to fade. So far she's a very good pup. The first few nights she whined and yipped a lot at night, but for the past few nights she's been nice and quiet, and has even been going the whole night without needing to go out. So that's nice! She hasn't interacted much with our dog or the cats, but that's probably good. Our dog is pretty shy and skittish, so we're hoping her getting used to being around another dog will be good for her too.

Otherwise things have been going along pretty normally. Work has been a bit of a madhouse since right after Christmas, seems like, so that explains my LJ-hiatus. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though it may be a train: I've been told my current position is temporary and will end by the end of June, most likely. My current boss is in Connecticut and wants his managers to be located there too, which I guess makes sense. I'm not really able or willing to make the move, so he'll have to find someone else. I'm going to look around for another opportunity within the company, of course--I happen to know my old boss is opening a few manager positions, one of which I actually already put in for, so we'll see how that goes. I wouldn't necessarily be averse to leaving this company on general principle, but it is nonetheless a scary thought, for a variety of reasons. But there's still some time on all that, so we shall see.

Better keep this short for now and get my nose back to the grindstone. I hope you've all been well!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


Sheesh, here it is more than halfway through January, and I see my last post was just after Christmas. I will hope this is not a sign of things to come, but.. I dunno. The week after Christmas is normally the most quiet and tranquil workweek of the year, but this time around it blew up. Some VP somewhere blew a gasket about something, and it's been pretty much nonstop work ever since. Today is quiet for a change, and my calendar is unusually clear, so I thought I'd better take advantage to say I'm not dead. Yet.

Anyway, there's too much to try to actually catch up on, so let's just recap a few things, shall we?

As you can see in the photo up top, Hallie's started horse-riding lessons. Heather found a little farm less than 10 minutes from home, a lady who's really just getting started up, so her prices for lessons were quite reasonable. Only 2 lessons in so far, but I think Hallie's enjoying it! I was able to go yesterday, since I had the day off for the MLK holiday.

Past couple weekends, I've put in a lot of work replacing stretches of our privacy fence around the house. It's all pretty old, and stretches have been threatening to disintegrate totally, so we decided to finally do something about it. I'd planned to get a fencing company to do the job, but I got a quote and it was a lot more than we expected, so I went back to the idea of DIY. So far so good, really, and a lot cheaper. Now my main concern is how to get rid of the old fence! I need to see if the county can come and haul it off, or if I need to make alternate arrangements somehow.

This past weekend I took a break from fencing so we could go visit my Dad, though. We didn't get to see him around Xmas, and then he took a cruise for New Year's and his birthday. Plus 3-day weekends are always preferable if we have a day trip in mind (and he lives about 2 hours away, so that counts). Anyway, it was a nice visit, mostly I did tech support like a good son. :) Perhaps the main thing of note was that he'd gotten an Amazon Echo for Christmas, which we all found pretty impressive. The voice recognition is cool, and we all had fun asking it random questions and asking for it to play songs. I thought it was just very cool! So of course we had to order one. :)

I went with the Tap, though--it's a little smaller then the Echo, and it's not always listening for its name, like the Echo does. But it has a battery which makes it portable, and it also works as a Bluetooth speaker. And we weren't necessarily keen on the idea of a device that's listening to us all.the.time. anyway. :) So far we really dig it. It's fun to mess with, though music is its main function. The girls will put it on the table where they play LEGOs, and take it in their room when they have playtime before bed. And it makes for nice background music for dinner, too. The main drawback is that the default music service is Amazon Prime, which is rather limited. It can do Spotify Premium, or Amazon's new Music Unlimited service, but of course those are both subscription services. I've been paying for the ad-free level of Spotify for some time, since I use it here at work a lot, and at home too when I'm working on the PC. So I'm considering whether to upgrade to Spotify Premium, or stop paying for that and go to Amazon Unlimited. Or neither, I suppose! Maybe I can get it to stream from my home media server instead, and I can add music to that as we find things we want. I'm doing the free 30-day trial of Amazon's Unlimited, so we can mess with that while I try other options.

Speaking of options, it seems like a very hackable device. Out of the box it can do home automation with things like Nest thermostats and Hue lights, and it can control media devices with the right hubs and whatnot. I'm going to try to get it to work with Kodi and/or Plex on my HTPC, and if that works it might be worth it to add a Dot in the TV room for the always-listening functionality (and Bluetooth audio streaming to my nifty new A/V receiver). I found the functionality for general-knowledge questions was a bit lacking since it defaults to Bing, so I found a step-by-step guide on the interwebs to add an Ask Google command instead, which works well. I look forward to playing with it more!

Okay, that can be enough for now. Hopefully the rest of this week will be as calm as today and I can post a bit more regularly! I hope you're all doing well so far this year. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
A bit odd: I had a 4-day weekend since I took last Thursday and Friday off, and yet I still had to work those days, plus the weekend. Just a little time in the morning to crank out some daily reporting the bigwigs wanted, so not too bad. And a bit unusual, really--it's pretty rare that I have to produce anything over the weekend. Anyway.

Thursday I took the older two girls to Disney's Hollywood Studios. They got enough interest in Star Wars to watch the movies (so far we've seen all but Episode III and Rogue One), and they've enjoyed them, so Star Wars is a Thing for us now. As such, they'd never really cared to check out the Star Wars area and Star Tours ride, so we did that and they approved. Disney is about to undertake a project to turn a good chunk of that park into a Star Wars land, so I guess we'll see if they still dig it whenever that finally opens.

Thursday evening, Hermione's band had a little Christmas concert, which was nice. After that we took a stroll in old Winter Garden, which is beautifully decorated and lit this time of year. And it was a cool night for a change, so that was nice.

Friday the girls had the last day of their homeschool enrichment program, and they put on a little show for the parents for the last hour or so of the day. That was fun. We had decided to not return to the program when it starts back up next month, partly because they raised the (already high, imho) price and the classes they expected to have weren't as good (sewing, for example--Hermione doesn't really care about that, and Hallie's already quite good at it since her mother is such a good seamstress herself). But I guess they got feedback about both, so they not only lowered the price (and added a sibling discount!), they ensured us that the class schedule would be flexible, and there would be an alternate option if a student didn't care for what was on the agenda. So now we're wavering, especially because the people who run the program are really nice, and working hard to get it off the ground--this past semester was the first, and it was done very well. So I guess ultimately it will be up to the kids, but I certainly lean towards having them stay in. It gives Heather a much-needed weekly break.

Saturday we didn't do much, really--went out for a walk in the woods and lunch, but mostly stayed close to home after that.

Sunday I went out in the morning to do some shopping and errands. Got myself a little sledgehammer, so I could bust up some concrete to remove our old basketball hoop post, which rusted through and broke a year or two ago. Hermione's shown some interest in learning basketball, for some reason, so the time is right to get a new post and fix that so she can practice. Plus it's fun to go out and shoot some hoops now and then!

Sunday afternoon Heather's band had its usual Christmas concert at the downtown mall, so we dropped her off for that and I took the girls to a park we like before we headed back to catch some of the show. Beautiful day out, so that was nice.

And today I'm back to work, but it's actually been pretty quiet around here today. I have some irons in the fire, but my presumptive-new-boss hasn't really needed much today. Which probably means he'll blow up my phone when I'm trying to head home later. Tomorrow I'm on the road to St. Pete, assuming nothing comes up to derail that trip, and then I'm taking Wednesday off this week for no particular reason aside from burning up some time. I might take Amy to Disney, I guess we'll see how we feel that morning. I need to go shopping sometime, to get a present for our little Christmas lunch and gift exchange here at work, which is Thursday. Hard to believe December is already almost half over!

Speaking of Xmas, I think we're just about set present-wise. Amy's getting the most since she's obviously still at a toy-centric age. Hallie didn't really ask for anything in particular, so we're just getting her some things we know she's kinda-sorta wanted. And I picked up a nice 3/4-scale electric guitar for her, since she showed an interest in learning. But that was a couple months ago, and really she hasn't seemed interested (though Hermione has!). So I guess we'll see if having a guitar of her own rekindles that interest. I'd give it to Hermione instead since she's actually making an effort to learn, but she's tall enough for a full-sized instrument, so.. yeah. If she sticks with it, I'll be happy to find her one, or give her one of mine. I need to make room for that PRS I've been drooling over anyway. :) Hermione didn't ask for much either, though she did mention wanting a little point-and-shoot camera of her own, so I found a great deal on a refurb camera from Canon. She's also shown an interest in making her own jewelry, so we're getting her a bunch of beads and a tool set, and some books on the subject. I think she'll like that.

Heather and I aren't getting each other much, since we generally tend to get ourselves what we want anyway. :) I sort of impulsively decided I'd like to upgrade our A/V receiver as my Xmas present to myself, even though the old one is really still fine. But it's a few years old and doesn't even have HDMI, and I've wanted to get one that does, and that has room for expansion if I ever decide to get a PS4 or something. So anyway, I found a really good price on the one I want, which made it a little bit of a splurge but not too bad, and pulled the trigger. But it's an independent dealer, and I fear it's a scam. The place says 3 to 5 business days on shipping, which is a bit ridiculous these days but I was willing to wait since the price was so good. But I ordered last Tuesday, and the order status still said 'Processing' today, so I looked a bit closer and saw some bait-and-switch reports from people about the place--like they hold off on shipping so long that the customer reaches out, and then they hit the customer with upsells for shipping charges and extended warranties. Ugh. So anyway, I e-mailed the place today, expecting to get a response of 'Call us to discuss your order' or something, at which point I'd say thanks but no thanks and initiate a chargeback on the credit card. But they actually responded to say the order HAS shipped, and I'll get an e-mail update once it gets scanned into the carrier's system. So I guess I am cautiously optimistic, but still pretty wary. If I haven't got a ship notification and tracking number in hand by tomorrow, I am calling the whole thing off.

Oh yeah, the reason I was able to splurge on the receiver (or try to, anyway) was because we got the pension money last week, a little earlier than expected! So that was nice. It felt good to walk into the bank with a check of that size, even though it's actually a bit of a Bad Thing that they killed the pension in the first place. But anyway, it let us pay off the cars and some other small debts we've been nursing along, so that will still provide a bit more breathing room each month, plus a cushion in savings. I don't want to spend much more of it until we know how our taxes end up looking for the year. But if we come out of taxes with some left, we're thinking of maybe new windows for the house (ours are thermally inefficient, to say the least) and replacing some fencing, which is looking pretty bad in spots.

Jeez, this was a much longer entry than I had in mind, sorry. Good thing it's a quiet day here! Hope you're all well and having a good Monday. :)

Oh man.

Nov. 2nd, 2016 08:03 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Thank goodness this election is less than a week away so we can get it overwith, for better or worse, and get on with our lives. I feel pretty confident Trump is going to lose, which is a relief at this point, even though I'm not exactly chuffed about a Hillary Clinton presidency. But then again, I dunno. This is Florida, which may well be a big deciding factor, and it's hard to say. Over the weekend we passed by a Republican field office that had a bunch of people outside waving Trump signs. Then yesterday was my biweekly drive over to St. Petersburg, and I saw a LOT of Trump. Many bumper stickers ("I'm a 'Deplorable' and I'm voting for TRUMP!"), big signs along the road, even a couple billboards along I-4, one of which I wish I could find a photo of. It had Clinton on one side, Trump on the other, with little bullet points under each, and one of the points under Trump was "Unite us" (while HRC, of course, was "Divide us"). I don't think either of them have much hope of uniting us, frankly.

Then last night my Mom called because we hadn't chatted for a while, and during that conversation she told me she'd early voted for Trump. My jaw just about dropped. I knew my sister was a big Trumpalo, and my maternal grandmother, and the rest of that side of the family, and maybe Mom's husband--but my Mom is reasonably intelligent, and I respect her, and I really thought she'd not go to the dark side. "I think he could do some good," she said. It is to laugh. It really bums me out. Let's just get this thing behind us, and get on to the part where we look back on the Obama administration with wistful nostalgia.

We'll be in a cabin near the mountains of northern Georgia for election day. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but at least there shouldn't be riots there. :) The wife and I both early-voted by mail, so that's handled. We'll just watch and see, I guess.

Besides the pall of the election hanging over us, and other assorted things getting me down, life continues. The job is still here, and I still--STILL, when they said by the end of August--haven't gotten the memo about my new role and boss. Other info has been trickling out in the meantime. It's time to enroll for our 2017 medical and other benefits, and of course that got more expensive with less coverage, which stinks. But hey, the vision coverage dropped by 50 cents per paycheck, so I got that going for me, which is nice. They pretty suddenly banned all logos from our old company name from the building, so I had to box up and take home all the various cups and mugs and whatnot I've picked up over the years. The building itself looks like a bit of a DMZ since they pulled down all the signage, leaving ugly holes and old coats of paint showing, and all the room signs are hand-written temporary paper signs, which looks just fantastic. Usually this time of year, we get a giftcard for the grocery store as a thank you and a help with Thanksgiving, but of course that sort of thing is unheard of under the new regime. As are our annual Family Fun Nights at Universal, I'm sure. Haven't heard a thing about the usual Christmas party either, not that I ever go to those. And yesterday I heard that our annual raises, which normally take effect with the first paycheck of the new year, won't happen until March or April. wtf? My old boss has said all along that he expects our annual bonus to still be in place for this year, but at this rate I have my doubts about that, or at least expect it to be a lot less than usual (which will definitely displease me, since it's been a reliable chunk of income each year). The one bright spot is that our annual paid time off isn't changing--I'm a couple years away from getting my 5th week of vacation each year, and I'd heard the new company maxed out at 4, so I was a little concerned. But the 5th week will remain, which is good, and they're also adding the ability to carry over some vacation time to the next year, which might be a nice option to have. They don't pay out unused vacation time, though, so for me there's no real incentive to do that. Oh, and they're cracking down on employee bandwidth usage, video streaming in particular. Hmf. I'm sticking it out for now, but we'll have to see how many more tiny cuts the new company inflicts before I decide the bleeding is too much.

Anyway, rambling and sort of a downer. Sorry. On a brighter note, I did watch The Nice Guys the other day, pretty good flick. :) That's all I got.

Hiya LJ!

Oct. 3rd, 2016 04:29 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


I dunno, I don't really want to bore you with my photos from NYC, mainly because I'm not especially happy with them. I can't even really say why, but they feel more like snapshots than usual. Out of practice, perhaps. But it was a nice day in the city. The above is from the Empire State Building's observation deck, which I visited a little before sunset, which was nice. It was packed up there, though. Like whoa. Central Park was pretty similar, which isn't surprising since it was such a gorgeous day. I think the high temperature was right around 70F, which was a very refreshing change after a summer in the mid-90s down here.

Anyway, the quick recap: Flew into LaGuardia on a smooth red-eye flight, and caught a Lyft (my first!) to Penn Station in Manhattan. Stowed my luggage there and set off on foot. Visited Herald Square, Bryant Park, the library (closed, unfortunately), Times Square, popped in for a quick peek at St. Patrick's (it was Sunday so a service was underway). Then to Central Park (did I mention it was packed?), where I walked for a bit. Caught a cab over to the west side for the Intrepid Museum, which was pretty decent. Then another Lyft to the ESB before walking back over to Penn Station to catch my train to Connecticut.

Actually, one more photo:



Exciting, right? It's a hunk of iron stuck in a rock! But I was thrilled to find it. You see, in the early days of New York City, the now well-known notion of the (mostly) orthogonal and evenly-spaced grid of streets and avenues in Manhattan was a new idea. And urban parks were rare, so Central Park had no place in the original plan. Starting in 1811, a man named John Randel (the same man who designed the grid layout in the first place) began the process of marking where each intersection would be, by means of iron rods or marble monuments. Most of those markers were of course removed as the streets were built, and others disappeared to the ravages of time and humanity. But a few remain, especially in places where streets were planned but never built. And this one is there in Central Park, marking the never-built intersection of 6th Avenue and 65th Street. It's actually pretty much right out in the open, surely passed within feet by many thousands of people every year. But I'd wager hardly any of them ever notice it, let alone have any idea what it is. So I thought that was pretty special, to seek out and find this little piece of history, a simple iron rod set in its place two centuries ago and left to watch as one of the world's greatest cities sprang up all around it.

The visit to Stamford was pretty okay. It was nice to actually meet the people I've been working with by phone and e-mail for the past couple months. And we covered a lot of stuff, but not the most top-of-mind thing, which is how our organization will actually look when all is said and done. I think my Presumptive New Boss (PNB) really thought it would be settled by the time we got together, but no such luck. Maybe within the next few weeks. It's certainly 99.9% obvious that I'm destined for his team, but exactly what form that will take seems a little less clear. And some of it may depend on whether I'm willing to relocate to CT, which frankly I'm not. Even if finances didn't constrain us to our house here, it's not an area we'd really choose to move to, and it's not like this is my dream job that I'd chase anywhere. So I'm planning to stick around here, and if that means the job and I eventually part ways, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

In other news, we got the information on the pension payout, and... underwhelming is putting it mildly. I don't know what math they used to calculate it, but it was a lot less than I was minimally expecting, and FAR less than I was hoping. So refinancing the house is basically a non-starter. We can at least pay off the cars and some other small things, which will put some money back in the budget each month. And there will be some left over, which can go to trips and whatnot. Bottom line, it still beats a kick in the nuts, that's for sure. But I can't help but be disappointed that it wasn't the game-changer I was hoping for.

Speaking of whatnot, I did get permission to use some to get myself a new camera. My venerable 7D has exhibited a couple of concerning symptoms recently, which made me realize the thing is very nearly 5 years old. And as much as I use it, that's gotta put the shutter at or over its expected lifespan. So I found a great deal* on a 7D Mark II--I figure I may as well stick with the crop sensor since for most of the work I do it's a benefit, and the shooting speed is crucial for my HDR predilections. Hopefully the high-ISO performance is improved, and I think it adds some other nice upgrades as well. That should arrive in a couple days, something to look forward to. And good timing, as I have a photoshoot this weekend with a family I work with every year. I'll bring the old camera as backup, just in case. :)

There's probably more, but that's plenty for now. I hope your week is off to a fine start!

* Photographer friends, let me throw out a tentative plug here for Canon Price Watch. I was planning to just snag a 7D2 body at Best Buy since I have their credit card and they do no-interest financing, plus it was on Canon instant rebate for $1499 ($300 off the usual price). But none of the stores nearest to me had it in stock, so I Googled and came across CPW, which mentioned a deal on the body PLUS the genuine Canon battery grip for $1349 total. The battery grip alone retails for $200, so yeah, that's a great deal. CPW seemed a bit shady, somehow, at first--on the CPW site you submit your name and e-mail address, then they e-mail you with a few potential deals on the product you're after. You reply with which deal you want, along with your name and address, and only then do they actually e-mail you the info on which store you're dealing with, and a link to the deal you selected. In my case, it turned out to be a camera dealer out of Ontario. But hey, no sales tax, free shipping, and I figured if it was a scam I'd just reverse the charge, right? So I bit, and got the shipping notice from Canada Post within just a few hours. That was Friday afternoon, and the camera should arrive Wednesday, which was actually the best Amazon Prime said they could do anyway. If it's truly new-in-box product with a valid Canon warranty and all that, I will be a CPW customer from now on, no question. I still want a Canon 100-400mm, after all. :)

Sigh.

May. 18th, 2016 01:55 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


On the plus side, I went to a neat new (to me) park on the way home from St. Petersburg yesterday. It's called Edward Medard Park, a little outside of Plant City, and the highlight is an area called the Sacred Hills: Southern live oak trees growing in sandy hills, which have eroded over time and left a lot of the trees' root structures exposed. It was pretty amazing, and I'll have to take the girls there sometime. They love climbing hills and trees, so they'd be in heaven here. But it was already super hot there, so it'll have to wait until cooler weather comes back. Hopefully I'll remember it when that time comes!

So today is the day my employer officially gets subsumed into what is now the 2nd-largest cable company in the US. So I expect the news and changes will start coming down soon. There's already been some--last week we had to register for our e-mail address and intranet account for the new company, and yesterday they told us about some payroll changes. I think I mentioned the pension thing, right? Hm, maybe I didn't. My company has always offered both a matched 401(k) retirement plan as well as a pension plan, which is pretty awesome since it's a rarity these days. So of course with the merger looming, a few weeks ago we got word that they were freezing the pension and would give us some options about what to do with the funds at some point in the future. So that part is interesting, since there could be a lump-sum payout option which might be nice. But I just love the logic: Here's something that makes us exceptional as an employer, and we can't have that so we're pulling the plug. Yay capitalism, indeed. Probably a sign of things to come. I am mostly concerned about whether our (quite generous) management bonus program will also go the way of the dodo.

And we're also waiting to hear about inevitable organizational changes. Right now my boss is in charge of several different but sorta-interconnected parts of the business, and he fully expects that will not be the case as we get more absorbed into the larger company. So I could very well end up with a new boss at some point in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a new role too, who knows. Which might be kinda nice, since right now I feel way underutilized and it makes me feel a little guilty and worried. Picture the scene in Office Space: What would you say you DO here?

In other news, this past Sunday we decided to head down to Downtown Disney--er, I mean Disney Springs--because Heather had read that the second parking garage had opened last week. And that's cool because our main reason for going there is the LEGO store, which is a lot closer to the second garage. So we got there and headed for that.. and found that the garage was closed! So we looped around to the first garage instead, and when we came out of that we discovered that it was the opening day for a whole new section of Disney Springs: the Town Center and the titular fake springs themselves. Since the second garage feeds people right into the middle of the Town Center, they were waiting to open it up until they were done with the ribbon-cutting festivities and whatnot. Anyway, we walked through there and were fairly impressed. The fake springs are quite something, for one thing:



And the selection of new stores was impressive. Though they're mainly high-end clothing and accessory stores, things like Sephora and Vera Bradley and Ugg, which we could care less about. Just another step in the direction of Disney catering mainly to the wealthy and pricing out everyone else, really. Still, neat to (accidentally) be there on opening day to see the new area.

In other news, I've been sickly AGAIN. Feels like I've been sick most of this year so far, if you count allergies (and I certainly do). This time it was another cold type bug, left me feeling puny for a day or two. I feel mostly better, but it's going on two weeks of blowing my nose and clearing my throat and coughing, which is surely as fun for everyone around me as it is for me personally. :)

Anyway. I think that's about it for now, not too much else exciting going on. This evening, if the forecasted thunderstorms don't get in the way, I'm planning to take the girls to the Magic Kingdom for a last hurrah before the summer blackout period kicks in.

Hope everyone out there is doing well!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Been scarce around here lately, sorry. Mostly because I've been sickly, and it's a rough one. Not sure if it's a particularly nasty cold or some strain of flu, but it lingers and keeps morphing symptoms. At first it was general blah with a touch of fever, then the fever spiked up and I felt terrible and feverish and nauseous for a day, and since then it's been various shades of stuffy/runny nose, gooked-up throat and dry/wet cough, some GI distress, you name it. Amy had it first and she STILL has a bit of a runny nose after 15 days now. This is day 8 for me, and Hermione's been stuffy and coughing for about the same. Heather seems to have avoided it except for a day of sore throat, and we hoped Hallie might escape too--until she crashed hard yesterday, fever, vomiting, couldn't even keep water or medicine down. Today she's much improved in that respect, but still taking it easy, so I'm working from home this afternoon while Heather took Hermione to band. Hopefully we're all on the downhill side of it, whatever it is.

I was at work this morning and started moving offices. Someone was let go recently, and with my position change last year, that office makes more sense for me than where I've been sitting. So I got the key and cleaned up all the stuff the former tenant left behind, and got my computer set up for a start. Tomorrow I'll make trips to haul the rest of my stuff over and find homes for everything. It's not quite as large as my old office, and there's not as much room for stuff, but both of those are actually good things--I tend to accumulate stuff as space permits, so perhaps a smaller space means I'll control that better. We'll see.

While I'm talking work, my boss let me know yesterday what my upcoming bonus for last year is going to be, and it's going to be pretty darn good. I turned off my federal tax withholding in preparation, because it always takes such a huge chunk out of bonuses. I think a lot of it is spoken for to catch up on bills, and to pay for our recent roof work, but there should be some left over for fun. We'll have to see!

They came to replace our skylights on Friday, and that went well enough. They look good, and so far they do seem to be an improvement for noise when it rains too. And the leak seems gone so far, which was the main idea. Now we're considering replacing some windows, which are old and not at all energy-efficient. Again, we'll see what's left of the bonus, I guess.

I guess that's about it for now. I'll be back around more once I stop having to blow my nose every few minutes, I promise. :)

Oh, and how about that Bernie Sanders, eh?

Ho Ho Ho.

Dec. 23rd, 2015 09:35 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Wow, hard to believe it's already almost Christmas, already almost a new year! Let me say upfront, from this agnostic to you and yours, a very Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate. And if you celebrate nothing, then Happy Wednesday. :)

I've been a poor LJ citizen lately, I fear. I've kept up to date with my flist, but I haven't been commenting much, and posting hardly at all myself. I intend to get better. But I'm contemplating going into the new year by paring my flist down to just those of you with whom I feel I've made a real connection. It's not that I dislike reading anyone on my list, not at all. But if I find myself refraining from commenting because I feel too much like a stranger, maybe it's better to go, you know? Just thinking out loud.

So Christmas.. Like I said, I consider myself agnostic, actually leaning fairly heavily towards atheist, at least in terms of any sort of sentient, anthropomorphic deity watching us all masturbate. But I still dig Christmas. I like the trappings and sights and sounds of the season, I like the warm-hearted spirit it still occasionally brings (in between churlish bouts of the manufactured War On Christmas, anyway), and I've always liked the notion of celebrating the winter solstice--the darkest day of the year, and the beginning of our collective trek back into the light. Plus these days it's fun to play Santa for the kids, of course.

But it feels like a very low-key holiday this year, almost an afterthought. I suspect the weather has much to do with that. It's been unseasonably warm all fall, with the exception of one cool day and two cool nights last week. For Christmas Day we're expecting highs around 85F, feeling more like 91F. It's hard to feel Christmas-y whilst sweating, as I'm sure my my Aussie friends can attest! We seem to be right there with you this year.

Gift-wise this year feels a bit light, too, nothing huge to report. The girls typically ask for just one or two main things, and leave the rest up to us as surprises. Hermione asked for a rock tumbler and a particular LEGO set, Hallie really didn't come up with anything special to request, and Amy makes up for that with a veritable laundry list, though she's never satisfied anyway. :) I got Heather a few smallish things I know she wants or will like, and she bought herself something as her main present. Pretty much the same for me too--she's gotten me a couple things, but my main gift I bought for myself. Not as much fun, but at least we know we're getting things we'll like. :)

I've realized this year that grammatically speaking, my favorite Christmas carol is "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Most people leave the comma out, but I think it's important. The gentlemen aren't necessarily merry themselves, but the narrator is wishing them to be rested merry, if that makes sense. And the lyrics have a nice wordsmithy lilt as well. "From God our Heavenly Father a blessed angel came, and unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same." I just like that wording, for some reason. Yes, I know I'm a bad atheist. :)

Family-wise, we're going over to see my Mom on Boxing Day (not that that's a thing here), and planning to meet up with my Dad for lunch and a walk somewhere the following day. And then I took next Monday off from work, mainly to relax and do nothing before coming back. Though that's usually a very quiet and stress-free week at the office anyway, which I always enjoy.

Speaking of work, I'm waiting to hear about my raise for the new year. I know my boss has the info in hand, he just hangs on to it until we can get together to discuss. Oh well. I don't expect it to be a big bump, it usually isn't. And with the merger hanging over all our heads, I wonder if they're being especially conservative this year anyway. Still a lot of uncertainty about all that, though it's looking like the merger is likely to be approved. Next year should be interesting on the work front, though whether 'interesting' will mean good changes or bad is very much up in the air.

The Steam Winter Sale is underway! That's bad. I should take a lesson from the fact that I need to look up most games on the various bundle sites to see whether I already own them or not. If I have no idea what's in my collection, that might be a clue that it's big enough. :)

Got a few photoshoots coming up, family things. And today I'm meeting a co-worker for lunch to discuss shooting her wedding next summer. I'm not especially excited about it, I must say--the guy she's marrying is also an employee here, and not someone I've ever been very fond of. But the lady is nice enough, and we can certainly use the money, so..

Okay, enough for now, I guess. I do hope everyone has a great holiday, and makes some lasting and fond memories. That's what it's all about, anyway. Thanks for being a part of my LJ experience. :)

And here, have my favorite version of the aforementioned carol. Not sure why it repeats a bit at the end, ignore that. :)

kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
My boss pulled me into his office after our staff meeting this week, and dropped something of a bombshell on me. Our company is (again) in the process of trying to merge with some other cable companies, so he's thinking ahead as to how we should be structured when and if that happens. And he's right to do that, and I appreciate that he's trying to get everyone into safe spots given an uncertain future.

Presently my job is primarily to support what we call our outer markets, the 4 cities around the US where we have a presence and which I go to visit twice a year. But we've been making some company-wide changes, like moving to a single consolidated billing system, which makes it pretty clear that eventually those markets will probably be supported from here in Florida, maybe sooner rather than later. At any rate, we're moving to a level of integration where we don't really need a dedicated manager to support them, they can just be worked in with the folks who support the larger Florida markets. And that makes me a bit redundant, or at least it might look that way to the folks we're merging with.

So instead, he wants to move me into a more analytical role, looking at customer and employee activity and the impacts of the work we do to our network, how special events effect us, staffing stuff, etc. A lot of things I've been involved with looking at over the years, but which have always been occasional, off-to-the-side efforts. It actually sounds like fun, and I'm okay with that part of the change.

But it will mean an end to my business traveling days, and that does bum me out a little. The business parts of the trips are dull, but I've really enjoyed the chance to get out and explore some places I never otherwise would have made it to. And I guess I can look back and appreciate that I had the chance to do so at all. But I was hoping it might keep going, at least for another round or two. Plus the frequent flyer miles were great. :)

Ah well, the important thing is that I still have a job, right? Not that I doubted that, at least not yet. And it's not a demotion or anything, just a different role. Gotta make the best of it, that's all.

Okay, back to work. Hope everyone is having a good day. And I hope we finally get some rain around here today!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
-No response from the toll people yet. Maybe that means they're working on it? Ha!

-NYC trip is less than a month away now! I've been really working on the itinerary, and I'm getting there. I dunno how close we'll stick to it, but if we want to see even half of the things on the (admittedly overlong) list I made up, it's going to be a nonstop whirlwind tour. Which would be fine by me, but the girls may reach their limit of walking well before I do. As long as I can keep them going from one fascinating thing to the next without thinking about how exhausting it all is, we should be good. :)

-More frustration, this time on the work front. Trying to get reimbursed for that Canada adventure has been a bit crazy! I put together the expense report, which was a pain with the currency conversion, and got it all printed and signed by the boss. Since these trips were special, they're being processed by someone other than the person who usually handles my stuff, so I had to track them down. And they say oh, we're using a new online system for these now, here are the instructions. I take a look and I'd essentially have to start from scratch, enter all the expenses again one by one, and THEN try to get my boss to log in to the new system and approve, which would be like pulling teeth. That was all yesterday afternoon, so I was like f this and went home. This morning I said what the heck and wrote to the guy saying look, I already have this expense report done and signed off, can I just send it in and switch to the new system for the next one? And thankfully I got a reply in the affirmative, so whew. Let's just hope it actually gets paid out soon, because otherwise the wife is going to kill me.

-Speaking of work, there's been lots of speculation and frankly no small degree of pessimism and panic since the news of the tentative merger. This was not helped when the corporate office decided to send everyone an e-mail detailing the severance packages that have been agreed upon, which I think they thought would be reassuring but instead made everyone see the axe hanging over their heads. The good news is that it's not a terrible severance deal. But I will still hope not to need it. My boss seems to be thinking along the same lines I am--it all comes down to whether we're taken on as a self-managing partner, or if they really try to absorb us into their national operation. If the former, I think we're all fairly safe, at least for a few more years. If the latter, all bets are off. But I want that severance, so unless I get to looking around and find a really good opportunity, they'll have to kick me out. But let's hope it doesn't come to that.

-Meanwhile it's business as usual, so I'm planning my next round of visits. Looks like I might do California next week, but then the rest would be after the NYC trip, second half of May. I like to give myself most of a day to explore, but so far I'm drawing a blank on what to do in Cali. I was initially thinking Disneyland again, but with the NYC trip I really need to keep it cheap, so I think that's out. Maybe just some hiking and exploring around the parks in the area. Any suggestions?

-Eh, that's enough for now. Is this week over yet?

Well then.

Apr. 2nd, 2015 12:45 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Remember a week or two ago, I mentioned that there was a rumor that the cable company I work for was going to be sold, and the CEO tried to put the kibosh on it and say it was all just unfounded speculation? Yeah, well, earlier this week we got the official word that there is indeed such an agreement. It's tentative, and again depends on whether the merger of Comcast and Time Warner gets FCC approval. Clearly the folks who own my company think that will happen. So I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it. My boss and our leadership have been in full spin mode since that news came out, trying to assure everyone that it will all be for the best and there's no need to worry, at least until the deal is finalized. I guess the good news is that it's more of a partnership than an outright sale/takeover--the people who own our company now will essentially become the largest single shareholders in the new, merged company. Whether we keep our name remains to be seen, as does much else, of course. I'm not too concerned yet, largely because everything is still up in the air, and even in a best-case scenario we aren't liable to see any changes until next year. I suppose I almost hope this deal DOES go through, because if the FCC rejects the Comcast/TWC deal and our deal falls through as a result, it's quite possible that Comcast or TWC would try to gobble us up instead, on far less cooperative terms. Anyway, not really worth worrying about presently. But I'd better polish my resume at some point this year, just in case.

In other news, as of yesterday evening the squatters across the street are gone. I guess the bank which owns the property finally got their ducks in a row, and sent a crew to secure the property. When I got home from work, some guys were literally hauling everything out of the house and into the driveway, including the appliances. And the residents were scrambling to load everything into their trailer to haul away. I feel bad for them if they were telling the truth, and truly thought they were renting the place on the up-and-up. I find that a little hard to believe, because I'm sure the rent was too good to be true and the "landlord" had to be shady as hell. But either way, they're gone, and we'll have to keep an eye on the place to make sure it stays empty. Hopefully it will go on the market soon, though I'm sure it will sell cheap and drag down the rest of our property values even more.

Okay, back to work. Hope everyone is having a stellar Thursday!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20150323-IMG_6175

Got the rest of my Canadian adventure photos edited, so.. here you go! Be warned, lots of photos below the cut.

Clicky! )
And that was Canada. I sorta looked at the time in Toronto as a trial run for exploring New York City next month, and in that I think it was a success, because I had fun and am pretty excited about NYC. Now to draft the itinerary for that trip. But first I have a few more business trips to plan!

Thanks for looking, as always!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Untitled

I was here at the office until 1am last night, and the above was the situation when I stepped out into the parking lot. It was pretty! But cold! Got about an inch of accumulation overnight, too. Beautiful world around here this morning. But cold! I looked and it's 12F here, 80F back home. Heh.

Another random Canada thought: Apparently bumper stickers and other car decor really aren't a thing here. Americans are fairly big on plastering their car with the things they like, or in some cases don't like. Sports teams, bands, My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student, OBAMA=One Big Ass Mistake America, etc. Haven't seen many bumper stickers up here at all. I did see one truck with some Harley-Davidson stuff, which I found interesting.

So now the big project for which I am here is wrapping up, all having gone more or less according to plan. So we're at the office today, but I suspect we'll be excused for tomorrow, or maybe only come in for a few hours. Then I can head back down to Toronto, check in at the hotel, and explore a bit before I head to the Erik Larson thing. Should be good!

So should I go up the CN Tower in the daytime, or at night?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Niagara Falls, Canada.
iPhone pic, but not too shabby!

So usually I have to wait until I get home to update about my business trips, because they tend to be fairly nonstop. But this current trip is a bit different. Instead of spending all day in meetings with various people, this trip is all about sitting around and mostly doing nothing. The job is basically to babysit a phone which is dialed into a conference bridge, which is silent unless there's an event happening or someone has an issue and/or needs the people here to check something. We're doing a big billing system migration, so it's important stuff, but really a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. And I get to do it until probably 3am or so tonight. HOORAY.

Anyway, today I didn't have to come into the office until early evening, so I had most of the day for exploring. And I figured since I'm about as close as I'll ever get, I might as well hit the road for Niagara Falls, so I did ad got there right around 10:30am. It was still cold, but that was neat--the cold and the ever-present mist had produced a layer of ice on all the exposed above-ground surfaces, including the railings and trees. It was a nice effect. The falls themselves defy description--suffice it to say that they're definitely one of the wonders of the natural world, and I was suitably impressed. It was also a little less commercialized than I'd expected. There was indeed a tourist-trap stretch of restaurants and shops and random attractions nearby, but all set back from the immediate area of the falls. I wonder if the American side is the same. I did spot a pretty awesome cantilevered observation deck on the other side, I wouldn't mind checking that out sometime. I didn't really do anything else on the Canadian side, though. I'd considered the Journey Behind the Falls, but I gathered that the lower observation deck was closed due to ice, and the whole experience looked a bit too wet for a chilly day, so I gave it a pass. I could see me coming back someday, but I doubt that will be anytime soon!

On the drive back I ventured into downtown Toronto, and kinda wished I hadn't. The traffic in that city seems to always be horrendous. I stopped at one neat park, but otherwise it was just a hassle to fight traffic in and out. Plus my GPS directed me through a very not-nice part of town, which didn't even help because that road was bumper-to-bumper the whole way too. I expect to go back to Toronto Monday night, but I think that's a different part of town. I do hope it's a bit easier to negotiate and has parking. We'll see!

Tomorrow I have a good chunk of the day free, though exactly how much depends on how late things go tonight (and hence how long I sleep in). I'm planning to just stick around Barrie, there's a waterfront area that looks nice, and maybe a few other local parks and things to check out. It might be the last above-freezing day, so I should try to enjoy it!

So let's see, since this is my first time visiting Canada, some random thoughts.
-I got used to speed limits and everything being in kilometers. What's weird to me is the fuel efficiency metric, which is displayed as liters per 100 kilometers. In the US it's miles per gallon, which is essentially an inverse of that metric--so at home, a higher MPG is better, but here a lower value for liters per 100 km is better. Took me a minute to get my head around that. And really, I still don't know what a value of 10.5 L/100 km translates to in MPG, so it doesn't mean much to me. Let me see what the conversion factor is.. let.s see, 3.8 Liters per gallon, 1.6 kilometers per mile, so the conversion is to divide the lp100km into 235.2 to get MPG. So if my car averages 30 MPG, that's 7.8 lp100km. I can't math anymore.

-Saw a sign for Bare Oaks Naturist Park. I lol'd.

-The Canadians I've dealt with have been pretty nice so far, as expected. But they aren't as considerate on the roads as I might like!

-Did I mention it's cold here? Because it's cold here. Still lots of snow and ice hanging around in patches and drifts. I see why they call it a thaw at this time of year, it clearly takes a while! We tropical sorts don't have that problem.

-My allergies haven't been much better here, surprisingly. I figured a break from the pollen would help! My eyes have been okay, but my sinuses and nose have been bad. I think it might actually be this office--it smells kinda funny.

-Haven't had to deal with any Canadian currency yet, been using credit card for everything. No issues except for when I got gas earlier today--the pump wouldn't accept the card because they needed a signature, apparently, so I had to go inside to pay like it's 1997 all over again.

-I'm not too versed on Canada-specific thing I need to try, any suggestions? There's a poutine place near the office that I hope to try sometime. I did have a sandwich from Tim Horton's for lunch, that was pretty good. Last night I ventured to a chain called Mr. Sub for dinner, it was not so good. Anything else I need to try? Any Canadian-favorite brands of soft drink or candy or any such thing?

Um.. that's all I can think of for now. Back to "work"!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
20150315-IMG_5694

It's been pretty toasty here the past few days, and by all indications we're just about done with spring and heading full-bore into summer. Yay, I guess? As the photo indicates, we went to the beach yesterday. Not swimming per se, just playing in the surf. Fun, though! And then when we got home, the girls went in the pool, even though the water is just now getting up to 70F. That's too damn cold for me, but they sure don't seem to mind.

The beach we went to was Ponce Inlet, which is just south of Daytona Beach. It's home to an awesome lighthouse (the tallest in Florida!), but we didn't do that this time. We did the Marine Science Center there again, that's always fun. Nice little place. And then we parked for a little playtime at the beach, which was also fun. Kind of a boring stretch of beach in terms of unique features or wildlife, but nice and broad with hard-packed sand and a nice long littoral zone. Mostly we saw coquina clams (Dorax variabilis), the tiny little ones I grew up calling periwinkles. I always like to look and dig for sand fleas (actually little crustaceans also called mole crabs, in the genus Ermerita), and I did spot a little one swimming but never saw one after that. Anyway, it was fun!

My allergies still suck because the pollen is still everywhere, but my eyes are much improved. Yesterday at the beach was a good choice--between the lack of oak trees and the steady sea breeze, there was probably not much pollen to speak of. But after we got home I made the mistake of spending some time outside, and my eyes got all itchy again. I'm going to try to stay in as much as I can this week! I really hope we're past the peak of it by now.

And I'll get a break from the pollen later this week, when I head up to Canada! Forecast says it's going to be nice and chilly up there. I need to start packing, I guess. I also looked into some tips on cold-weather photography, and avoiding condensation and all that. Hopefully I won't have any problems. And it remains to be seen how much time to explore I'll actually get anyway.

Did I mention the squatters? There's a house across the street from us, the previous owners were foreclosed and moved out maybe 3-4 months ago, and it had been vacant. Suddenly a couple weeks ago, we spotted a couple guys over there cleaning, and we're thinking okay, maybe the bank hired some guys to come clean it up in preparation for going on the market. But they were back the next day with a trailer of furniture (looked like a bed and not much else, really) moving it in. And these are fairly young guys, definitely not the type who seem likely to buy a house. It seemed very odd to us because there had been no activity over there, certainly no For Sale sign or anything. I'm on the HOA board so I asked around if anyone had heard about a sale, and was told no. One of the other neighbors called the bank to ask, and of course they couldn't give out any information, but apparently did eventually confirm that they did not sell the house. But there's not much we can do aside from that--it's the bank's property, so it's up to them to investigate and try to get the people out. And they apparently said they'd be sending someone to inspect the property and ensure it's vacant, so we'll see what happens there. It's not like they're being loud or obnoxious or even doing anything to call attention to themselves. But it's so squicky, and sad that people need to resort to that sort of strategy. Not that it's difficult around here, I think we're still foreclosure capital of the US, or at least in the top 5.

Last week we got an e-mail from the owner of the company that owns the company I work for, downplaying an unspecified rumor that our company is being sold off. It was the first I'd heard of it, so I dug around and found that sure enough, there were reports that a larger cable company had reached a tentative agreement with our owners to acquire us. It's all a rumor right now, and I think any decision will hinge on whether the FCC approves the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable (though I suspect that will be approved, politics and payola being what they are these days). I kinda hope it doesn't happen, frankly. Currently we're owned by a privately-held company, which is nice because we aren't answerable to the whims of shareholders and all that. If we're acquired by a public company, that would all change and I imagine there would be a lot of downsizing and added corporate nonsense. Not to mention they would probably chop up our service areas and sell some off--namely the ones I primarily support, which would make me a bit redundant. A little scary to consider, anyway. But also still a ways off in the future, if anything happens at all. For now we just keep on truckin'.

Okay, that's all I can think of for now, and it's about time to call it a day and head home anyway. I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Oy, it's always a joy to bring up pollen.com and see Orlando in the top spot as the worst place in the US to be for those afflicted by seasonal allergies. The scale used to only go to 10, now it goes to 12 and we've been in the mid-11s this week. Tomorrow's only a 10, so at least there's that. I've been taking my daily Zyrtec, which does seem to help keep my sinuses from getting too clogged up. But when the pollen level gets this high, it does nothing for my eyes. I literally can't even step outside without my eyes starting to burn and itch and water, and then it takes a few rounds of Visine-A to make me stop wanting to rub them right out of my head. For someone who loves to be outside, why must nature torment me like this? I love oak trees! They clearly do not love me in return. I try to restrain myself from rubbing because sometimes I rub myself right into a case of pinkeye. But good golly it's hard not to rub when they itch SO BAD KILL ME NOW ACK

Sigh. What else is happening.. not much, really. Work this week has been okay, though I'm having to pick up the slack because the other half of my team has been out--last week it was because his mother-in-law was ill and his wife had to fly up to New York to see her, and this week he went to the conference in Nashville I sometimes go to. He actually had to leave that early yesterday to make it out of town before this winter storm hit--turned out to be a good idea, as his originally-scheduled flight did get cancelled. But he was set to take today off anyway, so he'll be back tomorrow. And it's about time!

I've been keeping up with Better Call Saul, which I'd very much been looking forward to. So far I like it. A colleague here thinks it's been a bit too slow to get going, and I do see what he means. But I still like it. It seems to be going interesting places, and it would appear it's about to crank things up a notch now that we're finally getting around to more of Mike's piece of the puzzle. Next week's episode oughta be a good one. And that bit in this week's with Tony the Toilet Buddy, hilarious. Also started watching the new season of House of Cards, and have not been disappointed. Good stuff it you liked the first two seasons.

Okay, back to work. I hope everyone is having a good week!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
In other news, yesterday I got my annual review and raise info. Underwhelming. I figure my boss doesn't actually have much say over the raise amounts, but that doesn't keep it from being disappointing. Better than nothing? Sure. But after factoring in the increased taxes and healthcare costs, it's not much of a raise at all. Blah.

At least I have our annual bonus to look forward to next month--that's been pretty good the past couple years, so hopefully this year will be good too. That's always a nice chunk to pay stuff off and pad our savings a bit for future trips and whatnot.

Ugh, this illness is sticking with me. I generally feel okay, but it's been 2 weeks now of clearing my throat and coughing to no avail. It's sad that my triumphs presently are coughs that actually produce some gook. TMI, sorry. Last night I started feeling a bit off, too, like maybe I'm not completely over whatever has been causing this anyway. I'm tempted to knock off early today and go take a nap, but frankly the office is just as quiet and relaxing so maybe I'll just hang out here anyway.

Now lunchtime!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I feel kinda yucky. I have for a few days, on and off--nothing major, just a nagging headache, occasionally all-over achiness, stuffiness in the head, maybe a touch of fever. It comes and goes. I think I'm fighting whatever bug Amy is still getting over, which she probably caught on our trip. She was really feverish and logy for a couple days--luckily most illnesses in our family seem to run their course in 48 hours or so--and is still pretty snotty. Eww, I know.

So anyway, here I am at work on Christmas Eve, feeling yucky. But there's hardly anyone else around, so it's a pretty quiet day. Can't say I'd be doing anything more productive at home, so why not hang out here where it's quiet, you know? But I'll probably knock off early (as we typically do on the day before company holidays) and go home to lie down later.

In the meantime, I'm researching upgrade speakers for my car and it's making my head hurt even more. There are so many, and audio quality is so subjective that reviews don't mean much. The stock speakers aren't BAD by any means--I think it's a pretty good-sounding system overall--but I also think I could get more clarity and punchiness with a new set of speakers. But I'm not about to drop many hundreds of bucks to add an amp and crossovers or anything like that, you know? Though I'm damn near sold on something like Dynamat for sound and vibration deadening. It's also not helping that Crutchfield tells me certain speakers will fit, and Amazon says they won't. But I trust Crutchfield a lot more in that arena, so that's not too big a deal. I think I need to pop off a door panel or two this weekend and see exactly what's in there to put my mind at ease, and go from there. Maybe go see what Best Buy has sitting around--I'm not averse to clearance and open-box items if the price is right!

What else.. jeez, I really haven't posted much this month, have I? I dunno if I'll get around to a proper recap of our Virginia trip. It was okay--the weather kinda put a damper on it, as the first few days were cold and windy and rainy and then the rain stopped and it was just cold and windy instead. So we didn't feel like doing a whole lot outdoors, and I didn't get as many good photos as I might have liked. But we still had a good time, did some fun stuff, and it was nice as always to see the in-laws. Though I think next time I will insist that we get a hotel for at least part of the visit. It's wonderful of them to put us up, and much appreciated, but if there's such a thing as a comfortable sofabed, I have yet to encounter it.

Christmas is upon us! I think we're all set. Last night was our neighborhood's traditional event, where we put out luminaries along the sidewalks and roam the neighborhood to chat with neighbors. Usually 2 or 3 people host open houses, but this time we had a handful of people do things in their driveways instead. Fire pits, hot chocolate and cookies, s'mores stations, that sort of thing. It was fun, but I thought not as good as the open houses. But maybe that's just because the 80F temperatures lately made it feel not very seasonal. We're expecting a cool front today that should make tomorrow nicer, though.

Our Christmas routine these days is to open presents in the morning and then stay home most of the day. Maybe a pancake breakfast. Friday we're going to head over to my Mom's, and I should call my Dad to see when we can go visit him too. Maybe this weekend, or next week I'm off Tue-Thu (and maybe Friday too, if I decide to tack it on).

So I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, however you choose to observe it. And if you choose not to observe it, have a fantastic Thursday. :)

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