Sunday, February 14, 2016

Big changes afoot

My sister and I have been sharing a house for almost five six years now, and in that time, we've both realized that we'd rather have our own digs again. We might be just a touch set in our ways. :)

Well, we both assumed it would be me who moved out, since I'm still working full time and I've been socking away money for a down payment (she's retired on Social Security and couldn't possibly buy my half of our house). Big surprise, then, when she found a little house that's perfect for her in a nearby small town and jumped on it with both feet! I'm doing a cash-out refinance to buy her half of our current house (less what she owes me in house-related debt) so she can put a down payment on the little house and fix it up the way she wants. Here it is:

As you can see, it has both a very nice carport and a garage. The backyard is fenced well, the roof is in great shape, and it's actually move-in ready...but, of course, Sister A. wants "a few" changes. Our favorite handyman is going to faint (or maybe dance a jig!) when he sees the length of her list!

Here's a little of the inside:

Ignore the hideous bordello chandelier in the last photo and focus on the cool beadboard ceiling. The ceilings in the entire house are done that way.

There's a pile of new goodies to go into the house currently sitting in our kitchen and A. has at least four lists going of what all to do and buy and pack and separate between the two of us (we've already split up books).

I close on my refinance on the 19th and she closes on her new house on the 24th. Exciting times!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Adventures in telecommuting

I work in a 77-year-old building on the Texas Tech campus. To be fair, most of the buildings on campus are about that old, so it’s not like we got the worst digs in the joint (contrary to my crabbing about being stuck in a cubicle now after having a private office for about 12 years; why, no, I’m not bitter—why do you ask?).

Sometime in the 1950s, the electrical wiring in our building, Drane Hall, was updated.

Yeah, that was about 60 years ago.

With advances in technology come an increase in energy demands, so Tech has decided to boot us all out of Drane Hall for a few weeks while they shut the power off completely in order to replace Drane’s switching doodad(s) and other antiquated electrical stuff. And by “all” I mean all three floors full of people. I’m not sure how many people there are in the whole building, but our bunch number 75-80, and we don’t even take up all of one floor. And since Tech doesn’t want to just give us all three extra weeks of paid vacation (darn it) while the electricians are working in the building, we all have to be temporarily rehoused somewhere else on campus so we can continue working.

Most of my department will be stuffed into the basement of another building on campus, in three or four big rooms, 25 people or so per room, each in a spacious 4’ x 3’ cubicle. [shudder] But there’s just not enough space for all of us in that basement, so for a lucky, lucky few—my department, as it happens—Tech has deigned to get up off its insistence on “duty point*” and is allowing us to work at home.

Thank you God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, the Goddess, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster who has touched me with its noodly appendage, because I don’t think I could hack being stuck in a tiny cube in a windowless basement with 24 other people for three weeks. I have a wee problem with crowds and heat, and the combination of all those bodies, their computers, and their chatter would just do me in.

Last Thursday and Friday, we got instructions on how to get connected to our department’s network on campus (excellent, in case we need to download a file, because we can’t get back into Drane until the electrical work is done), and we all updated our home computers with the wherewithal to communicate with each other while working separately. (I get a lot of IMs and emails during the day asking how to do this or what to do in case of that, etc., not to mention the people who just pop into my cube to ask a question.) I’m also loaning my laptop to one of my fellow Production wonks who has a Mac at home, so I got that all set up with her passwords.

(Not that Macs are bad—my first computer was a Mac, and I’ve had several—or that they can’t interact with Windows documents, but owing to font and other software requirements, this is the path of least resistance.)

Monday and Tuesday, those moving to temporary cube farms will get boxes and labels for their computers and any books, files, etc. We’ll also get further instructions about parking and other logistics. Wednesday those who are moving will pack up; those who will be working at home will just unplug everything at the end of the day and collect all the stuff they need to take home. IT will transport computers to our lovely basement Thursday morning and by late Thursday afternoon, we hope to be back in business.

This is my first experience at telecommuting, and I’m really looking forward to it. I plan to telecommute after retirement, if I can get editing or proofreading work, so it’ll be good to see if I can focus on work while in my own house with two kitties to pet and a sister who likes to talk.

And to those of our bunch who will be moving into that basement for three weeks…I’m really sorry, guys.


* From Texas Tech University’s OP 70.06:

An employee must, during normal working hours, conduct university business only at the employee’s regular or assigned temporary duty point, unless the employee is traveling or has received prior written authorization from the chancellor or the president to perform work elsewhere. In no event shall an employee’s personal residence be deemed that employee’s regular or assigned temporary place of employment or duty point without the written approval of the chancellor or the president.

A request for exception should include the type of work to be performed, how the time and productivity will be monitored, how it meets the business needs of TTU to have this person work from home, and the duration for which the exception is being requested.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New (volunteer) job

I volunteer at the local library on Saturdays (well, not every Saturday, but a lot of them), as does Sister A. She also became treasurer of the Friends of the Library several months ago, so she's been working her head off whipping the treasurer's processes and records into shape. Recently, having heard a lot about the FOL's membership recordkeeping woes from A., I volunteered to put my name in the hat for membership director at the next election in April. Well, the current director isn't coming up to the mark, so to speak, so I started as "apprentice" today, which suits all parties just fine.

I didn't exactly cover myself with glory today, but in my own defense, I had the only computer with, of all things, an Ubuntu Linux operating system and a stinker of a spreadsheet program. That'll be remedied soon, I'm glad to say. (Linux is great fun for computer geeks, but really not the best choice for a business environment.) Other than that, I got confused on a couple of recordkeeping points and had to backtrack a few times. But I'll get the hang of it.

In addition to contributing more to the FOL than I have been, this is an opportunity to learn more about Excel. I've used the crap out of every other Microsoft Office app lo these many years, but have hardly any experience with Excel. It'll be nice to plug that hole. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pampas grass shade

The three pampas grasses in front of my bedroom window have gone bananas this year, thanks to all the extra rain we've had. This is my view from inside:

And here they are from the street:

I finally have some shade on my window!

While testing Picasa today, I happened to get a super-floofy photo of Minnie:

"Go away, Mom."

I was testing Picasa--and other programs--with regard to Windows 10, which I loaded on my home PC a couple of weeks ago. Overall appearance/impression: I like it. The Start button, which disappeared with Windows 8, is back in all its useful glory, plus the new MS browser, Edge, appears to be a big improvement over hoary old Internet Explorer, and I love that the stupidly named "Windows Explorer" (which used to be plain old File Manager) is now called "File Explorer", which sounds more like its function.

However, when I started working with my apps--Picasa, Photoshop, and some from Office 365 (which I'm trying out for a month)--I kept running into permission problems, even though I'm logged in as Administrator! Googling Windows 10 problems got me nowhere; it was only after I Googled "Picasa Windows 10" that I finally found a workaround. For Picasa and the Adobe programs, right-click over the shortcut, choose Properties, go to the Compatibility tab, & click the "Run this program as an administrator" box. For MS Office, you have to open the file location, right-click each app, choose Properties, click the Security tab, under "Group or user names" click Edit, select your Administrator self, then under "Permissions for Administrator" click the "Full Control" box. What a lot of rot. And every time you open the program, you still have to authorize the app to "make changes to your PC", so it's an extra couple of clicks. Real first-world problem. Whatever--at least I can save documents now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

V-E-T day

Well, I was going to put up a photo of Minnie with her new bald spot, but she got away from me before I could lure her inside. She probably thinks I'm going to grab her and stuff her in the cat carrier again, like I did earlier--right out of a nice nap, which was terribly rude of me. She got her rabies shot, though, and was an absolute champ while Dr. Stabby was using the small clipper on her mats. She sat still and let me and the vet tech scritch her cheeks and head (and I held her under the chest just enough to grab her quick if she showed the least sign of bolting). She has one spot about the size of a quarter where you can see her multicolored skin and a few other thin spots, but all those nasty mats are gone.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Feeling virtuous today

Getting out of one's own head and doing a good turn helps dissipate any gray clouds that might be fogging one's mind. This morning, after a long absence, I volunteered at the library, sorting books for the Friends of the Library sales in Sept.-Dec. I had stopped because I still work full-time (and I put in full, intense days every day) and I just wasn't getting enough rest on the weekend. But I'm on vacation this week and the FOL is terribly short of sorters, so I thought I'd pitch in. Now I'm tired and my feet hurt (especially my right heel--owwww!), but I feel good. Don't know what else I'll be doing this vacation, but I will do more sorting.

Another thing I'll be doing is taking my cat Minnie to the V-E-T for her annual shots. She also has some bad mats in her fur that have gotten beyond my ability to work out without risking life and limb, so she'll probably be coming back home with some shaved spots. All the other kitties will laugh at her, but at least those mats won't be pulling on her skin anymore (and neither will I).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

About that SCOTUS ruling Friday...

Happy Marriage Equality Day!