February 25, 2011

Crazy couple of weeks

Little did I know what was going to happen just 36 hours after my last post. Got up and went to work as I usually do. After taking a few calls and just going about my day, I check my email and notice I have a meeting notice from a manager that I spoke to back in December. Let's go back in time, shall we. We shall

Picture it; October 2010. I have applied for yet another position. This one would have been a pretty big stretch to go into but I would have loved the work as a business analyst. I had a meeting with the hiring manager (Director of IT for Transportation; deals with the cargo ships  and other areas for the company). By the end of that call (he is in Houston; I'm not) he tells me to expect a meeting notice from one of his employees here where I live. I met with him just 2 days later and he was only meeting 2 people from here (so me and one other). It came down to me and one other person; I didn't get the job. The guy I was against was already doing about 40% of the job already and is there in Houston (this would have relocated us). But I impressed the manager and his employee (who are both tough customers) such that the manager has now become my career mentor.

Shortly after this interaction, he had me get in touch with a manger where I live, which turns out to be his brother-in-law. I met with him in November and he suggested that I meet with 2 of his supervisors below him because they will need people "next year". Now I have heard that before and that usually means mid to late year. So I didn't act on those secondary meetings immediately. About a month later I get an email from the senior manager here stating that a position was just posted and that he was not aware that I had met with his supervisors yet and that they are filling 8 position from that one posting. I read between those lines and quickly made the meetings. About a month after those meetings, I received a call from one of the supervisors stating that they cannot get my employee profile to come down and if I could send it to them. I did so and didn't think about it again.

So I opened the meeting notice and all it said was "Corp Staffs job" for the subject and nothing else. So I just assumed that it was an interview meeting. I was wrong.

The supervisor comes in and we chit chat a few minutes and then she says "I am offering you the position" and mentally I thought, "Huh?" Seriously. The fact that she was offering the position was not even on my radar. So after I agreed to say yes (LOL!) I was informed that starting the next day (Feb 8) I was going to start working 1/2 day in my current position and then the other 1/2 of the day in her group until the new pay period started (Feb 16th) and then would be full-time in her area. And the reason for this is that the person I am taking over for is retiring at the end of the month.

I also learn that one of the applications I will be now supporting is currently in a major upgrade project. Needless to say that the last 2 weeks have been fast, furious, and mentally challenging/exhausting because I have had to pick up on applications I have never seen and the upgrade project is not going so well. And I am thankful for the opportunities that come from it and from whom they are coming from.

So I have moved into my new office. Who knew an office had color from wood grains and wasn't just slightly lighter/darker than the same shade of gray? I have the option to NOT pick up my phone if I am in the middle of something. I have a company card now for travel (and having to submit expense reports)as well as a company provided phone (OK, OK it is a Blackberry. And I like this one far better than I did Heather's when she got it). Now to some these things are not that big of a deal. But when you were not sure if an opportunity to move out of entry-level jobs and into one that has all of this, it is.

I think this is a funny situation:

5 phones; 4 members of the house; 3 old enough to have a phone; 2 each of a Blackberry and iPhone for the adults = 1 confused 6 year old on why one of these isn't hers

February 05, 2011

It's about to get interesting in here

We have recently started watching a show in Hallmark Channel called Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn (www.madhungry.com).

Lucinda is not just someone who loves to cook and got a show. Not by any stretch. She is the Executive Editorial Director of Food and Entertaining for Martha Stewart's empire.

We have really gotten into how and what she cooks. Everything in moderation and nothing is off limits. Yet her food is easy, approachable, and can uses ingredients that be found in most (if not all) grocery stores. Seriously. For example. Her Basic Tomato Sauce is:

2 T olive oli
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like some spice)
1 28-ounce can of low-sodium (or organic) whole plum tomatoes

In a blender (or using a hand blender), puree the tomatoes to the level of chunky or smooth you like. Get the oil hot in a pan and then throw in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook just until you can smell the garlic (about 30 seconds). Pour in the tomatoes and bring up to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Now I add 1 teaspoon sweet basil in the last 5 minutes of cooking and that is it. Now a tip I learned from her is when to add the herb. If you put the herbs in right at the beginning, you will cook out all of the flavor. Instead, add it at the end and then the flavor will perfume throughout the sauce. Huge thing to learn and makes a difference.

Anyway. I was watching her show on DVR, as my wife and I do every day, my 11-year old son came in and sat down about 3/4 of the way through. He was quite intrigued by what was being made. He grabbed the remote to see what the theme was. You can only imagine what his reaction was when he saw that it was an episode on bacon. 

Shortly there after, he restarted the episode and watched it completely. Once the show was done, he went into the kitchen and grabbed my copy of her book (http://amzn.to/hTbkVg).

Studying Lucinda's book quite intently
So when making the grocery list this week, he informed us that he wanted to make everything in that episode. So for breakfast - Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich (http://bit.ly/gdAaZq). And we are teaching how to properly clean the cast iron - now that we own some.

Making the eggs for the sandwich
The completed product
 Dinner was Pantry Bistro Salad (http://bit.ly/fqGgiJ) and the Spaghetti Carbonara (with whole wheat spaghetti - http://bit.ly/e9dWFA). I believe I could eat this salad with her tomato soup (http://bit.ly/eLdMkV) every day for lunch. Without question! This was a really good dinner. The recipe says that the salad is 4 servings and the pasta is 4-6. For us, the pasta is probably about 8 servings. But I ate quite a bit of the salad (which has a poached egg on it - part of the recipe).

The end results for tonights dinner
Even my 6-year old asked to try the salad and she does not do salads. I now need to get her other two books!

August 01, 2010

How Photography Can Make A Difference - Jen Lemen

I have really been working on my photography (with help from OKStrobist) and feel like I am making progress and getting more comfortable giving direction and how to make what I have work. I am getting stronger in Photoshop, etc, etc, etc. And I do think that becoming a "legit" photographer is still a reality. I may not have a BFA or all of the mastery of other togs, but I love what this message had to say.

May 30, 2010

"Oh, that boy" or "You suck Dad!"

So yesterday I took the kids to the new pool here in town.

Going to the pool, I stopped to get drinks and lunch at Sonic. When we got there, I put the food in my gym bag because it was going to make it easier to carry and we carried in our drinks.

Well, Jackson saw on the wall a rules list that had "No outside food or drink" listed on it. When I went to pay our entry fee, the guy didn't say a word even though I had set my drink plainly in front of him. Well, I never saw the sign.

When we got in and got settled, and I started to had out our lunch. Reid munched along happily. But not Jackson.

I asked Jackson what was wrong, and he didn't answer. I asked him if he was going to eat or not because if the answer was no, lunch will not wait long on in the sun (even though it was chicken strips).

Turns out,  Jackson was so conflicted that he didn't want to eat. I mean, he was sitting practically in the fetal position on deck chair. His response "Dad, I don't want to knowingly break the rule and also turn around and do it in their face." I replied "Jackson, the clerk didn't say anything about it when I set down my drink" He fired back, "Just because he didn't enforce the rule doesn't make it right because it is posted." I was 1/2 way through my sandwich by this point and about choked. Nice.

I didn't make him eat. But an hour later, his tune had changed and he was ready to eat the canopy. You have to give the boy his convictions and principles.

More later...

April 16, 2010

More playing, but completely inspired

This last weekend I was able to attend a workshop in downtown Tulsa, and I was on a high the whole time. The purpose was to learn how to work with studio strobes and other flash units off of camera. I had a great time the whole 5 hours it went. I cannot wait for another one. Here is some of what I took (giddy grin):

Part of why I was so excited is that I have this idea (maybe a dream) of setting up a side photog business. I have been really frustrated and fed up with my job and the lack of opportunities to move. And I have had this idea for a while but have not felt very good about how to go about it and had given up on it because my efforts to get help were coolly rebuffed. I really have been struggling with all of that. 

After this weekend, I learned that what I thought could never happen is still a possibility. I learned where my weaknesses are but that Corey, Richard, and the rest of the group can help me with that. That is what they want to do. I'm going to use this as much as I can. I learned that while natural light is great, flash units and natural light can work together. Very, very well. I need to get through the next month with the children's choir, but then I want to put this into motion. If I can get this going, then I will find a satisfaction that can carry me through my current position until the next opportunity comes along.

March 02, 2010

I got to play...

This last weekend was busy. Jackson had a swim meet and I was able to play with my new toy. Yes, another one. But this one was sanctioned by the wife. Even better. 

What was it? My new camera - a Nikon D300s. This thing is fast; it focuses quickly and shoots 7 frames/second. Perfect for swim meets. I am very happy with it. I should be for that price. 

I have been making myself shoot in manual mode and I have gotten pretty good with it I think. Here are a few images from the meet. I'll post more later.

I have been reading Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" and tried to put that to use. These were shot using a Nikkor 70-300 f/3.5-5.6 VR lens at f/5.6 & ISO 1600. I made some minor adjustments in Photoshop but very little. I love how clean they are at such a high ISO and have figured out that the lens is really not a bad one (I had gotten to be a little snobbish to any lens that wasn't a f/2.8). Now this pool has huge windows and allowed in a a fair amount of natural light but also had the indoor lighting.  Shooting sports is hard. But I had a good time learning my camera.

More later.

February 11, 2010

Sorry, long time no post

OK. So I'm not good at doing this regularly. January has not been good and we are not out of the woods yet. Let's just say that homeowners insurance has been used, someone else's auto insurance is getting charged (all in 1 weeks time) and we are thankful for health insurance. I was off 2 days this week for part of the health issues and was able to get Reid's and Jackson's valentines made for school.

Reid's are flowers.

I figured out how to use Heather's Cricut to cut out the flowers. The pattern from the design has a hole in the center so we put a Dum Dum through the center. Pretty cute and goes pretty quick.

Jackson's were a little more intensive.

Heather has this pattern that will cut out a little popcorn box. So I cut out 26 of these. Heather felt good enough to glue them together. So this is what he is giving out. Thought it all worked out.

More later. Promise

December 08, 2009

Busy couple of months

So I have talked about the dining room and the rest of the paint projects and meeting The Pioneer Woman. Once that all died down, it was time to decorate for Heather's party. Let the chaos ensue: a total of 7 trees.

First up: the living room

This tree the photo tree. It has wallet-sized picture frames hung with red ribbon on the branches along with 4x6 and 5x7 framed photos stuck into the branches. The small frames a silver and the larger frames are black along with red ornament balls.

Next is the dining room.

This tree has all of the ornaments that we have either been given, kept from childhood, or things the kids made that they want to hang. Heather calls is the Heritage tree. I call it the tree with all of the old stuff. Then in the middle of the dining room table is the wreath. We just pulled the table slightly apart and dropped the electric cord through. The cord is run under table and the across a small part of the rug with piece of plastic that is the color of the rug to hide it and for safety.

The other three trees are a set of a 5, 4, and 3 foot trees that we call our forest. Then each of the kids have one. Don't be that impressed.

So the day of the party this is how the room looked.

The jars on the table look like this:

You can thank Bakerella. It's all her fault.Heather made 30 of these. They weren't too expensive but you spend about $65 to make 30.

So after that not much happened. Heather went to OKC this last weekend to see Beth Moore along with Precila Shirer and Kay Arthur with several friends and had a great time. Sunday morning all of the kids in the children's choir had their performance and they did well.

Yesterday was Heather's birthday. So instead of trying to go out to dinner last night, we went down to Tulsa and went to Ted's Cafe Escondito. The place was very good. Until....

The waiter asked if we had been there before while Heather and Reid went off to the restroom. I answered "No, we are here for my wife's birthday". Heather and Reid get back and just shortly after getting our food, they came over and ...

began to sing. The sombrero was an unexpected, but welcomed side benefit. Shortly after I took this with my iPhone, Heather yanked it out of my hand and took this:

This way there was evidence that I was at least having a good time before the bodily harm started. They needed a way to ID the body. But no, Heather decided that I should pay in other ways.

My penance - purchasing her a
iPhone 3GS. 32 Gigabytes. Black. So her device has 4 times the storage and has some features that mine doesn't have. I'm thinking that her tactical maneuver was more psychological than financial. So much so that I actually had a slip of the tongue when were talking about her phone: I said "my phone" instead of "your phone". She immediately said "Excuse me?" Oops. Bad Damon.

The funny thing was as Heather was getting instruction on how to use the device, the kids were over at the iPhone display playing games that were on their demo devices. When we went to leave, Reid asks "Where's my iPhone? I want one!" I couldn't contain my laughter. Sorry dear Reid. Not any time in a future that you can comprehend at the age of 4 3/4!

I had another doctor appointment this week for some follow ups. I think I have just one more but we'll see. Heather gets an MRI Thursday for her knee. Looks like she may be having some repair done on her menisci on her left one. We'll just see.

More later.

November 01, 2009

What fun...

The last couple of weeks have not been fun at hour house. Jackson got sick with the swine Flu. And just as Jackson hit rock bottom, Heather and I started down. Then I just ended up with bronchitis not two weeks later.

The highlight was Saturday night. One, the kids did all my work of gathering candy so I would have something to snack on. Two. I got to meet Ree - The Pioneer Woman at a book signing in her little town a mere 30 minutes away.

As it turns out, I've already known her (I say that loosely) for a while before Cathy Zielske's web page led me to Ree's. I used to work at the hospital in the town I live in, which is Ree grew up; just 50 miles from her ranch. Her brother Mike worked there and he would talk about his sister Ree. It finally hit me one time when I was reading her blog and she was talking about her brother. I thought that the person she was describing was the Mike I knew from the hospital. Lo and behold, she was.

Then. Jackson used to go to school with a boy at his old school who is now on his swim team. His mom, Vanessa and Heather are friends. Vanessa has an email address that is tied to her husband's business. Now I knew Vanessa's husband was in the cattle business, but there again was able to put 2 and 2 together. Just funny that way.

I snapped the above picture with my iPhone. I didn't notice then that she had her camera right there on the table.

So I waited in line and snapped the two pictures above. I changed the one to black and white using her actions. Not that she didn't look nice, but the B&W looks really good.

So when it was my turn, I took my books up to her and she was very nice. I told her about I knew Mike and Vanessa. She did think that it was funny that we could not get more than 2 degrees away (the whole 6 degrees of separation thing). I noticed her Nikon D3 on the table and commented on it. She then said "Oh, pick it up and shoot a few frames and see what you think." She then commented on my "old" Nikon D70 (which is what her first digital SLR was) and said that it is a great camera.

All in all, it was well worth making the little hop over there.

October 19, 2009

Done painting...for now

So my project as of late was to paint the dining room while of course led to the entry and hall. Then of course led to trim and doors.

This this the dining room before:

It took me about a week to get it completely done. During that week this is what we tried to ignore (though it made the house feel trashed)

This is the final result:

I also painted the doors and trim in the entry and hall. They were just an old, stained wood door. They now match the trim in the bright white. My final project was the front door.

Nothing special. Just a green door. After sanding and painting, this is how it looks now.

One would think this is just a black front door. One would be wrong.

A little closer.

It is covered in chalkboard paint! We made the word stencil using Heather's Cricut and some stencil material you can get for it as well as a leaf stencil. We love the way the door looks. There is a downside; on the wood, even primed and sanded, it can scrape off if you press too hard and if the chalk has a point like a pencil. It really doesn't take much pressure to get the chalk on the door. For the words, I just rubbed a little chalk in the stencil and then used my finger to spread it around within the template. This was so worth the effort!

More later.

UPDATE: Heather got out one of her Stampin' Up! stamp sets and rubbed the white chalk on a stamp and filled it in with some orange chalk. Very cool!