Monday, April 19, 2004

Cheese Life, In a Nutshell; Naked Eye better put on pants...

Good morning. I'm posting this entry first thing Just For Carrie. She requested I post something this morning, to keep her mind off the stress she's feeling with M's car project which isn't done yet and has to be on a truck on the way to Daytona today.

So Carrie, this one's for you! (the audience cheers madly!)

Funny kid facts. Let's start with Jessica.

Jessie greatly enjoys changing the lyrics to songs, and then singing them in her silly Weird Al kind of way over and over again. Not really a full song parody, but just a word or two.

Her latest is "Life, in a Nutshell" by BNL. She has added a new word. Instead of "All that matters to me is she" it's "All that matters to me is Cheese." If you're a BNL fan, next time you listen to Rock Spectacle, sing along. All that matters to me is cheese.

And cheese will figure in later in this entry, so keep in mind what I had to listen to all day on Saturday.

Now for a Geoff-ism.

Geoff is very literal. Part of his learning disability, according to the specialists. We have to explain things to Geoff that a lot of people take for granted... such as figures of speech. Although he breaks the mold because he has a sense of humor and recognizes things when they are "wrong" as "funny," the way most of us do, but figures of speech go right past him.

Anyway, the literal Geoff sees and hears things slightly differently than you and I. He doesn't pick up on nuances in language or nonverbal communication. That being said, he and I were reading a book on outerspace the other night, and the part about telescopes mentioned "The Naked Eye."

Geoff says, very straightforward and matter of factly, "Huh. I think the naked eye better go put on some pants." Geoff doesn't "crack jokes" very often. So I looked at him and asked him if he knew what the naked eye was. He said no, that he pretty much thought it was "some guy looking up into space with his while naked."

I explained, and he started laughing. He got his own joke, and understood the naked eye. It wasn't a joke initially but a misunderstanding of the term... both of us cracked up about the naked eye. I told him my eyes were naked, and that his always had pants on because of the glasses.

Later he was walking around without his glasses on and said 'Avert your eyes! My naked eyes are in the house!'

We had a good laugh. My kids crack my shit up.

The other morning I woke up singing "Rio" by Duran Duran. Mostly because I was dreaming about BNL and them doing that in concert... reliving a great memory. But then it was stuck in my head and I could not get it out. I spent the whole day humming it to myself as we hiked. I'm pathetic.

Are you humming it now? Good!

Since our last visit, my sister got engaged and the following day Ronnie asked my parents if it was okay. My mom got all weepy, my dad smacked him on the shoulder and muttered incoherently (I'm seeing visions of the same event in my own life about 13 years ago when Doug and Bart saw each other the first time after he proposed to me). My dad has been LONGING for a "nice Irish boy" to marry my sister instead of these Italian guys she kept dating. "C'mon Linda, why can't you find a nice Irish boy instead of these..." well, I won't insert the racially charged slur that dad would end the sentence with lest I offend any members of my readership who are of Italian descent.

So she finds the nice Irish boy, and he's happy, and she's happy. And who knows. Maybe this time next year they'll be married, maybe not. They haven't set a date and I have to let her tell the whole story in her journal, so I'll shut up now. I can't wait for her to come home and write it up. Yay Lee Lee!

Friday I had to go to that unemployment seminar thing. So I got the kids ready for school (or, red up fer school) and my neighbor drove. I crawled back into bed praying that I'd die in my sleep. I had such a sore throat and headache... Not the sickest I've ever been but certainly not feeling up to going to some retarded mandatory unemployment seminar crap.

I woke up at about noon, and had enough time to shower, dress and get in the vehicle to drive to Lowell. I wanted to make sure I was there in plenty of time, noting that the last time I headed out to one of these things I got stuck in traffic and was late and... screwed. Friday was the last possible day I could attend this seminar before they stopped my unemployment as a punishment for not going. Jerks.

Driving down the highway, I suddenly realized that I was on I-93 and not I-495. I was heading to Boston, not Lowell. I'm not sure how I did that. I think I thought that rte 125 through Andover would get me around the construction and bridge in Lawrence, I just didn't realize it would put me on the wrong highway. Duh?

I jumped off the highway and changed direction, heading North on 93 to get to 495 south. Luckily I was south of the bridge work, and made it to Lowell with five minutes to spare. They told us to be 15 minutes early, that if we were late we wouldn't be able to attend the seminar again... blah blah blah.

As God is my witness, eight people came in one by one well AFTER the seminar started. And I'm thinking to myself, what kind of bullshit is this, that at one center they're all laid back and nice and welcome people in 15 minutes late but at the other they're all insane scolding school marms with an axe to grind against the tardy.

The entire seminar was pointless. "These are the services our center offers. Now that you're in the system you can go to any center in Massachusetts and use the services. If you're a veteran we've got a special veterans liaison. If you're blind we have two computers with screen readers and low vision resolution... blah blah blah."

The girl doing the program was really nice, but the whole time she's up there I'm thinking "I could do this, and I could do it better. Why does SHE have this job and I don't." Not that I'd really want it, but...

Some of the people in the room were downright scary. There was this one girl there with a halter top on, showing her stretch marked, paunchy belly, and it said "Guilty" across the front in Gothic font. She sat there with her mouth hanging open the whole time. And you're unemployed because???

Her cell phone went off in the middle of the seminar AFTER the girl told everyone to turn off their cell phones, and she got up and left the room to take the call in the middle of the seminar.

I guess not only does she not have a job, she has no clue as well.

Who decides they are "above" or "exempt" from the established social behaviors? It has less to do with being an individual than it has to do with being a self centered bitch, in my opinion.

Top it all off with the fact that she yelled at the person on the other end of the line for calling her in the middle of the seminar.

My Lord. Like the person KNEW. And you're yelling at him -- why? You took the call, stupid ass. Hang that up and sit your ass down like the rest of us poor sheep who are just sitting here suffering through this crap to make sure our cash flow isn't interrupted.

Cell phone etiquette is such a huge issue to me. I hate people who feel they can just talk to whomever they want anywhere on earth. And I hear their conversations -- nothing important is taking place in these conversations. Cell phones rang during my daughter's play performance on the first night. The kids on stage were distracted. It sucked.

I hate them.

Anyway -- I rant, therefore I am. Back to my story.

After the painfully useless time-sucking seminar I asked the girl running it if she'd give me a resume critique. I handed her my resume and she told me that the format was all wrong and that I should see the resume expert down in the center. So I went to see him, and he hated my resume.

Now, I always thought my resume kicked ASS. I love the format. My work history is on one side of the page, my technical abilities, software skills, seminars/classes taught and my educational background are in a thinner column on the other side. I use two tones in the table. My heading is stylized and pretty. My. Resume. Kicks. Ass.

He shows me these two resumes as examples of great resumes. Both are two pages long, which I thought was a total resume faux pas. He told me that in 1990 it was. Well thanks, HR gods and goddesses for letting me KNOW that. The top of one was all "action words" about this person. And a descriptive list of stuff that this guy knew. Then, underneath it was "Accomplishments" and a bulleted list of stuff that he's done.

Nowhere on this resume did I see where the guy has ever worked and for what dates. There were no dates mentioned, just a bulleted list of companies he's worked at over the last 20 years. Perhaps this is a creative way of skipping over hugeassed gaps in employment:

Applicant: "Like, I was a MCI Cedar Junction for three years, so I don't want anyone to know that, Mr. Resume Guru."
Mr. Resume Guru: "That's okay, Convicted Felon Java Programmer, we can format your resume so there are no dates!"
Applicant: "Cool!"

I suppose it's helpful for someone in my position who has spent excessive time between jobs while looking for jobs, and it's a good way to not have HR Benefits Assistant on the top of my recent job history. So it's not something I fully scoff at. But still. It's meaningless. It didn't show me that he had the ability to stay anywhere for a length of time. I always thought the dates and chronological list of employers was really helpful to prospective employers, so they knew where you were coming from.

On the second resume, the "Objective" was so vague it should have said "Experienced Accounting Director continues to have a pulse." Useless. And he had this "Summary" section which ended with something like "A real go-getter!"

It was inky bullshit on 24lb ivory Hammermill paper.

I took some of the resume guy's advice, but I swear to God my resume is much better than the two that he had sitting there.

He read my resume very carefully and went to my online portfolio. He loved my online portfolio... was completely blown away by it. I was worried at first because he has a small monitor and I swear he's running 640 x 480 resolution. The header graphic was humongous on his screen (must do cross platform/alternate browser compatibility testing on my resume... meh!)

He left me with "We need to get someone from here [points at my paper resume] to here [points at screen] so you can blow their minds. Your print resume isn't inviting them here [points screen]. And that's why you're not getting any calls."

And I think he's right. So I have a mission. I have to redo my damn resume. The format that has gotten me interviews many times over in the past no longer seems to pull the pants off the HR rep and spank her hard enough to give my resume over to the actual hiring manager.


So that was Friday. Saturday we got up early (is this entry long and distracty enough for you Carrie!?) and went geocaching.

We have pretty much exhausted caches in this area. So we headed out to Winchendon/Gardner/Central MA to hit some. There was a cluster of caches in a park that we thought looked good. Plus we could go to Smith's Country Cheese in Winchendon and Jessie could sing her cheese song to her heart's content (and my ear's wrath).

Cheese shop first -- we picked up some gouda and smoked cheddar. Doug had hoped we could go visit the cows or tour the shop but they don't do that, so we stared at cows from afar and peeked into the windows of the cheese aging area where there where wheels upon wheels of gouda. It was like a cheese library.

We found that many of the roads in the area are Winter use roads that haven't been opened yet. Road after road was blocked with gates... it was very frustrating. We drove all around Templeton, Winchendon, Royalston, just trying to get access to these cache areas. On the first one, we parked at a gate about .45 from the cache, which wasn't bad, in fact it's a perfect round trip walk. Bonus was we had the road to ourselves for the dogs to run around on, and the kids to meander behind us. It was really nice. We found the cache after little searching, and hiked back to a cheesy snack with yellow peppers and celery. Yum.

Then, off to this one at Lake Dennison.

Well, again, we drove all around and couldn't find an open gate. The closest we could find was about .60 from the cache. So we figured that wasn't too bad, and we set out.

We got to within 400 feet of the cache, and discovered we were on the wrong side of the river. And it was a nice fast river, as Jack and Kinger found out when they jumped off of what used to be the bridge and into the water.

Duh?! Stumped. So now what? Do we walk back to the truck, get in the car, and try and drive around until we get to the bridge that we think is .40 south of here, or do we walk it, and then walk back UP another .40 to the cache, turn around and walk back to the truck?


Well. Doug opted for the latter. We walked it. And it was longer than .40, and there were lots of good water hazards (lots of very very careful foot placements on rocks as we tried to go down what used to be nice flat trails).

As we're hiking along, realizing that the walk back to the truck is going to be about 2 miles, Doug says "Well, perhaps a visit to the web for a trail map would have made this easier..." Yes indeed, because there are great, detailed maps that would have showed us exactly how to get here the easiest damn way. And what kind of cheeses me is that when I hide a cache and there are good trailmaps online, I always provide a link to save the cacher time in plotting out his/her trip. Like here's the winter use trail map and here's the summer use trail map, knock yerself out. [click on the graphic once to enlarte it to readable size].

But some people don't.

Oh well. We hiked onwards...

We made it to the cache and stood there looking at the other side of the river, where we had been earlier. Pfth. Then we walked back. We opted for walking on the road back to the truck instead of going back on the waterlogged trail we'd just used. It was a much nicer walk but probably an extra quarter mile added to the trip.

We bagged going to the next cache, as it was then 5pm and we wanted to get home for dinner. All told, I think we walked a full four miles for two geocaches. I don't mind the walking, I just mind the low "body count" for such a hike and the amount of time spent.

But we played "It could be worse" and said that bees could be stinging us. The trail could be completely swamped and we'd have to walk through in our shoes. Our dog could jump off a cliff. Things that have actually happened to us. It was a gorgeous day, gorgeous area, and heck, what's body count when you're out just having a hike.

The one I feel bad for after that is Kinger. He was limping and tired by the time we got back to the truck, and he figured heavily into our not going up to Doane's Falls for the cache there. We didn't want to have him not be able to climb back up after a steep descent. Poor thing.

Sunday dawned and again it was gorgeous. So we decided to go hit some more caches.

Much to Jessica's dismay.

There are a few in the area that we haven't yet hit... so we thought we'd sew up the loose ends in our own region. First we went over here, a brand new one not too far from where we hid his birthday present last year.

We also checked on that cache, did some site maintenance, cleaned up a problem with two clues in in the same location (due to one falling out and being buried in snow during the winter, I went out in January or February and hid a 2nd one... so people were confused as to why there were two in that spot. Duh. Someone picked up the "missing" one once the snow fell and put it in the hidey hole, obviously). So it turned into a full hike of about 2 miles total for us, plus a big assed hill to climb up from the cache we did. Nice.

We drove over here, to complete the cache that resulted in us getting stung by bees last June. Jessica refused to go. She wanted to stay in the truck alone, and was borderline freaking out. I didn't want to leave here there, by the side of the road as we walked about .75 of a mile to the cache and then back, so we told her we'd skip it but she had to do all the rest of the caches without a single complaint.

She agreed -- anything to get out of there. I had promised her we'd come back before the warm weather, and now she wants to wait until it's cold again to visit this one. Thing is, I doubt we'd be attacked at this time of year by any bees in that area, especially if we walked past slowly and quietly. We wanted to conquer her fear of that area. And truth be told, nothing says we won't be attacked somewhere else. But... she's scared shitless, so we left.

Then we went over here, where we parked 490 feet from the cache. We thought "Pfth. How PIMPY. We'll be in and out of here in no time!" We didn't realize it was pretty much 300 vertical feet, and that we'd have to walk the trail around the backside of the hill, thus making it a lot longer of a hike. Again with the hills. Phew! It was worth it -- there was a slightly obstructed view down to Boston, and it was obvious no one ever comes there, and the trail was nice. And we had fun.

Then down to North Reading, where we did a cache in a very public park and we had to keep from being seen, which is kind of hard to do when you're a part of six large beings. In geocaching circles, when someone sees you hiding or finding a cache, they are "Muggles," which is, of course, Harry Potter-ism for non-magical folk but in this case they're non-cachers. We've been "muggled" a few times, and usually we explain what we're doing and let them know we're not terrorists of subversive evil underminers of woodland areas.

We weren't muggled there, but we quickly left to head over to this cache, which exceeded our expectations greatly. It was a beautiful conservation area, with tons of birds. All sorts of different birds everywhere, and it was wonderful to hear them ringing all through the woods. We found the cache with little difficulty and decided to call it quits. We had two more printouts with us, but it was starting to get cold, and Kinger was getting limpy again. He's a good barometer for us. So we piled in the truck and noticed that the property next to the parking area was for sale.

It is an old barn, on a little less than an acre of land. We weren't sure if the property was being sold just for the property or so someone could rehab the barn and make it a living space. We started fantasizing about it. It's 3 stories high. It would make a kick ass house.

While looking in all the windows, I knew exactly where I wanted the kitchen and the first floor bathroom/laundry area, and how the large sliding barn door area could be removed, and a huge fireplace built in by my current mason nextdoor neighbor. The front door would be beautiful French doors, with a mud room, and off the side there would be a deck to party on until we barfed.

The second floor could be easily three bedrooms and a cavernously huge bathroom, and each bedroom could have a cute loft area using the third floor. Plus, all that storage up there. It could be the dream house of the century. Preserving what appeared to be a very historic building and giving it new life.

Doug was evaluating the area and said that he thought that it was probably $200,000, and that the barn could be converted for another $150,000, and it would be a rustic, modern palace.

I looked it up last night on I almost plotzed. $479,000. Holy shit.

My dream flew out the window. I put the phone down, decided not to call Bob Villa or PBS to talk to whomever is the host of "This Old House." That's a lotta dosh. And it looks like the property is for sale with intent of knocking the barn down. And that's kind of sad, considering the name of the geocache right behind the property is "Vanishing Heritage." Someone can knock the barn down and build yet another personality-free box of a house as cheaply and quickly as possible.

Oh well.

But I did dream about the barn last night.

I had this wonderful dream about how beautiful it was when we were finished, and how we got a chandelier of deer horns for the dining area, and how the fireplace was huge and beautiful and the stone front was exposed all the way up to the top of the house on the one end, and the second floor was U shaped and had a railing where you walked around and could look down into the living room, and there were four bedrooms, not three, and a huge cavernous bathroom.

And the floors were sanded and stained, and polycoated, and you could see hoofmarks on the floor in my beautiful kitchen. And that was so cool.

I dreamed this, and woke up sad. Vanishing heritage indeed.

Well okay, I hope this entry has been distracty enough for you Carrie, it sure does meander about the whole universe, doesn't it? I am hoping I'll get one more entry out before we go on vacay... I was going to rant about the Boston Marathon, but pfth. Who cares. I'm up here in the woods with my dreams of living in a barn. Who needs the marathon.

Have a good day y'all.

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