Monthly Archives: March 2004

Gruntled

Well, I’m feeling better than after my last post. Got the car back, they did what they were supposed to, and everything works OK. Good enough, though it still shouldn’t have happened to begin with.

So anyway, I’m taking a break while the dessert for ovrclokd‘s party tonight – a tasty flourless (well, almost) chocolate cake called Double Dark Chocolate Excess. I modified the recipe slightly – took out the almonds and almond extract. I also used my l33t geometry skillz to determine that a 10″ springform pan has apprxoimately 1.5 times the volume of an 8″ springform pan, and adjusted the recipe accordingly.

So, stuff going on this weekend: got friends coming over to hang out tomorrow night (I think – we’ll need to confirm with some folks when we see them tonight). Have lunch with some interesting folks on Sunday, then the Midwest FurFest staff meeting online that afternoon. Yay!

And now, some musings on furry conventions…

Is it a car or is a citrus-y annoyance?

You know, I’ve been feeling pretty good through this whole unemployment period, but I’ve found that being stuck at home without a car is really getting me down.

Why am I without a car? Well, I dropped my 2001 Oldsmobile Alero off at the dealership on Wednesday morning because of a possible coolant leak. The car has only 43,000 miles on it, so it shouldn’t be doing that! Over the last three months I’ve had to add over a gallon of coolant (50/50 water and Dex-cool, the nasty orange stuff), though there’s been no sign of any leaks on the garage floor, nor any telltale smoke from the exhaust. Being a chemical engineer and knowing the concept of mass balances, I cleverly deduced that either my car’s engine had come up with a way of destroying matter (I’m rich!), or the leak was going somewhere else – a concept I really didn’t want to contemplate.

So, I dropped it off at the dealership (yay 60,000-mile warranty!) and hoped for the best. I got a hurried call Wednesday night saying that it was an “intake leak” and they were waiting for the gasket to come in, so it would be another day. Well, this sent me to the net to get a little better understanding of what’s going on. What do I find but GM’s dirty little secret: the lower intake manifold gasket is defective on all 3.1 and 3.4 liter V6 engines built by GM from 2000 – 2003 or so. I was extremely fortunate to have caught it this early, as once the coolant starts to leak into the engine block extensive corrosion and cylinder damage can result. I’m also very lucky that Oldsmobile slapped a 60,000 mile warranty to get people to buy their dying brand – this is about an $850 repair.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there. I got a call last night saying that they had replaced the gasket and while pressure testing the system discovered a leak in the water pump, so they’re going to replace that this morning. So, let’s add this to the list of parts replaced on this car, including the alternator, the ignition key cylinder (!), the left front wheel bearing, and the right front wheel bearing, as well as the turn signal switch, which was just recalled. You know what this tells me? I’m going to baby this sucker as much as I can, and if it all possible get rid of it right at 60,000 miles, because I sure don’t want to start paying through the nose when the rest of the car goes to hell. This is a lemon, plain and simple, though regrettably not in the state of NC’s sense of the word (yes, I checked the laws, believe me). I’ll not be buying a GM car again anytime soon.

So, theoretically, they’re going to fix it and give me a call this morning. Either they’ll come pick me up or I’ll get a lift to the dealership from me_not_you. I intend to double-check the part number of the gasket they used to fix it and make sure they used the new, improved gasket instead of just replacing it with one of the old, defective gaskets.

I’ve got more stuff to talk about – I’ll do that in my next post, after I shower.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were planning on a visit to Porter’s City Tavern on Friday night. We did indeed go (a party of eight, eventually) and the food was excellent. And reasonably-priced, too. I’d like to go back, though a few of our group mentioned tummy troubles afterwards. Odd – not sure if it was directly related, but still, not a happy thing. I had a duck lasagna with caramelized onions and spinach and goat cheese that was simply fabulous, and the chocolate-espresso crème brulee for dessert was excellent. It didn’t hurt that we all agreed that the owner, who was working the dining room most efficiently, was a complete babe. He had the most artfully-mussed hair, very cute.

Anyway. On Saturday, we had friends over for gaming and burgers, which was lots of fun. I was tired all evening so didn’t really join in the games, but it looked like folks were having a good time, so it’s all good. On Sunday we stopped by wildmouse‘s and she introduced us to the joy of Product (in the Queer Eye sense of the word). From there we went over to Crabtree Valley Mall and went on a small shopping spree. We picked up a nice facial scrub, a daily facial wash, facial toner, and moisturizer from The Body Shop, as well as a clay facial mask and a peppermint clay mask for the feet (heavenly!), then replenished our supply of shaving lotion at Bath Junkie – a mixture of forest pine and forest rain scents in this one, to replace the eye-watering eucalyptus one we first got (I still like that one, but it’s a bit strong for takaza). We also stopped by the gelato joint ad I officially put in my two-weeks’ notice. Yeah, I wimped out and cast it in terms of needing more time to find a job, but to be fair the owner was dealing with a couple of other crises and that just wasn’t the time to bring up some of the complaints I have. Maybe I’ll bring them up after I leave, I don’t know.

Yesterday was the one and only day I’m working this week – 6.5 hours of retail fun. Given that the bottom fell out of the temperatures yesterday (it barely made it up to 45 F, after having been in the 60’s), it was understandably slow. Still, with days like that, I can’t see that she’ll be keeping the doors open much longer.

So, we have the rest of the week. I’ll be spending more time on job-related stuff, and looking into what possibilities are available through the various temp agencies. It sucks, but it might just pay the bills. We’ll see what I can dig up.

Friday babble

As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to get too worked up about the weekend when you’re unemployed, but hey, I can fake it with the best of ’em. Besides, this means I get to see more of Takaza, and that’s never a bad thing!

So I had a phone interview with the company in Hopkinsville, Kentucky yesterday. It seemed to go well, as near as I can tell – I have a lot of what they’re looking for. I’ll know by the end of next week if they want to fly me in for an interview. It’s a really small company, only 45 employees. I’m guessing domestic partner benefits are pretty unlikely. However, we might could get Dan a job in Clarksville or Nashville, TN if we split the difference on the commutes. On the bright side, it’s a lot closer to a lot of our friends in the Midwest: 7 hours from Chicago, 5 hours from Chambana, 4 hours from St. Louis or Memphis.

I also got a call from a recruiter today. I swear, this must have been her first call to a candidate – she was working with a recruiter I know well, so I played along. But there were times when I just wanted to say, “Look, calm down, follow the script, and I’ll give you the answers you want.” It’s a position for a company “near the North Carolina/Virginia line” which means Martinsville, Danville, or South Boston. The first two would work, I suppose, but South Boston is the middle of nowhere. We’ll see if I hear anything back from that.

In between several errands today I stopped by a dog show going on at the State Fairgrounds. Interesting time. I swear, I saw every character from Best in Show there. I don’t think I’ll be going back to a dog show any time soon – it’s people spending too much time to make dogs behave in un-doglike fashion, make them conform to some arbitrary standard, and, quite frankly, the dogs didn’t look like they were having a good time. T’heck with that. I’d rather visit a Dog Park. At least there you can pet the dogs!

So tonight the plan is to meet the usual folks for dinner at Porter’s City Tavern. The reviews look good, so I’m looking forward to it. Plus, they have steak for Dan – that’s always a Good Thing.

Quote…Unquote

I’m watching Margaret Cho‘s Notorious C.H.O. and she closes with this marvelous rant:

If you are a woman, if you are a person of color, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are person of intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world.

And it’s going to be really hard for us to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. If you don’t have self-esteem, you will hesitate to do anything in your life. You will hesitate to report a rape. You will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote. You will hesitate to dream.

For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution. And our revolution is long overdue.

Oh, hell yeah.

Something substantive

And so, after a long hiatus from actual content, we now return to our program, already in progress…

As I mentioned last week, I put in 40 hours at the gelato place. This yielded a few things:
1. A renewed hatred for all retail employment
2. A paycheck of all of $250 (gee, that’ll pay my car payment, yay)
3. A complete lack of progress in the job-hunting area due to being too busy scooping fancy ice cream

Needless to say, that was a waste of time and something I shan’t be repeating anytime soon.

Still haven’t heard anything from Closure Medical. Given that they told me it would be 2-4 weeks until I heard anything and it’s been more than four weeks, well, let’s just say I’m not expecting much from this. If I’m wrong I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but otherwise I’m going to assume it’s not going to happen and proceed accordingly.

I have a phone interview on Thursday with Amfine Chemicals in the metropolis of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They’re looking for an expert in Yokogawa DCS; I’ve had training in it and even spent two weeks at their facility in Georgia taking courses…in 1999. I haven’t used it much since so I don’t have great hopes for this, but who knows? And hey, it’s convenient to both Nashville AND Paducah – boy howdy! (Uh, yeah)

Oh, and I had a phone interview a few weeks ago with Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials in Newark, Delaware, but I haven’t heard anything since. Nothing may come from that, but who knows?

So this week, it’s more applications, more resumes, and looking into short-term positions in both Raleigh and Chicago. A cursory glance at Manpower Technical yielded pretty much nothing, but there’s other services and other possibilities out there. Also, I need to pay the mid-month bills, and verify the exact steps I need to follow to tap into my 401(k). Later this week, we’re going to head over to Six String Cafe to catch The Kennedys, and probably hit one of a couple new restaurants for dinner on Friday. Life goes on!

Update? What update?

Not a lot to say right now.

Busy past week. Bottled Donald’s beers. Kegged my spiced ale (yum!). Geeked on Survivor All-Stars.
We drove to Philadelphia and hung out with unclekage and Giza. Takaza covered the trip well in his journal. Very fun! Thanks Kage and Giza for a great weekend.

Not going to have a lot of online time this week – I’m working 40 hours at Silvia d’Italia, filling in for a vacationing cow-orker. Hey, it’s money I wouldn’t have otherwise and the work isn’t particularly demanding, so what the heck?

I came home, dead on my feet, and Dan had already gone to the store, put in the last load of laundry, and is now making homemade mac-and-cheese, as well as a tasty apple crisp. I am so damn lucky to have such a wonderful husband!