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Writing a blue streak...
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6th-Oct-2007 03:02 pm - 3:10 to Yuma
 I saw a most excellent movie last night: 3:10 to Yuma. Go see it if you haven't.

And then we (me and T) snuck into another movie just to rebel. But the movie, unfortunately, was The Game Plan starring "The Rock." Entertaining and glitzey and The Rock has an awesome physique and nice teeth so it wasn't ALL bad. But when we snuck in the marquis only said "Game" and that it started right after the paid-for one ended.
14th-Sep-2007 07:48 am - My last day

hm, hm, hm-hm-hm. Today is my last day at HP. After celebratory sushi this evening I will be self-employed. Or maybe I should be UN-employed til Monday. Then be self-employed. Decisions. So many more to make now.

A whole lot of my last HP paycheck went to taxes and my 401K (I increased my contribution about a month ago). That's what happens when you have two weeks vacation remaining. They give you the cash but they tax the snot out of you (42%). It'll all even out in the wash on tax day. 

I signed up to pay my self-employment and federal taxes online. I like that I now get to hold ALL my money each payday and dole it out to uncle sam myself :).  

Oh, I saw a palm reader a few weeks ago at the Renaissance for S&Gs and she told me she saw self-employment in my near future. I FREAKED! How did she know. She said a lot of things that were very VERY accurate. Like apparently my life line is severed in the middle indicating I had a very huge trauma in my life at a young age. How do they do that? She also told me I'd have three more grandchildren... all boys... including a set of twins. So, somebody better get to work. Oh, wait... yeah, just a parlor game. Tony and our friend Diane listened in and we were all surprised by the apparent accuracy of the reading. On the other hand, most of it could apply to anybody. But I listened in on Diane's and her reading was completely different, as was the lady's in front of us. All completely customized readings :).

But I digress... Did I say YAY? I'm so dang happy.

14th-Aug-2007 06:55 pm - I got a raise
Today was my annual review at HP. My boss is very pleased with my exceptional performance and gave me the highest possible rate increase allowed: 3.5%. This equates to about $.92/hr. Yay.

Then I got a call from the consulting company I'm working with. I just finished a project for them and they are very pleased with my exceptional performance. They offered me another project which starts in mid-Sept when my HP job ends. They gave me a raise of $7.50/hr. Double yay! If you recall my starting rate, you will know why I am so very pleased I'm still pinching myself.
26th-Jul-2007 05:08 pm - Tony's Dad
Tony's dad passed away this morning. He had been in a medically induced coma for a week and in "hospice" since Friday (i.e., no feeding or hydration but still at the nursing home). He hung in there for quite awhile and pretty much faded away slowly. It's "a blessing" as they say because poor Kathy was basically sleeping at the nursing home and Livio hasn't been himself for a long time. The docs kept saying this week he'll go anytime. And of course we've all been prepared for this for a long time. In the end, Tony was pissed because he believed they were extending his life unnecessarily by keeping him on oxygen.
Pneumonia sent him to the hospital last Wed and he lost his reflex to swallow (a sx of his Parkinsons, they said) and was very confused and flailing about when he was conscious so they medicated him and he's been basically sleeping since then. Even snoring :). He loves to sleep, I guess he's always been a pretty slow moving guy and liked to sleep a lot even in his younger days, so it was pretty much Nirvana for him (well, not) :). In the end he was pretty much taken by alzheimers too. One day he was pretty sure Tony had been abducted... Another day recently he called the house looking for Tony's sister who's been estranged for 15 years or so. I was surprised that he knew who I was when the nurse told him he was speaking to his son's wife. All I could understand was my name "Patricia" the rest was in mumbled italian. I hate that I never got to know him. By the time I met Livio (right before Tony and I got married) he was sick and not himself, so I'm a little sad about that.

I have attached this favorite photo of him... he reminds me of Tony. It's from the late 1950s. Wow. He's the guy with the glasses (obviously?).  I guess he was around 32.
30th-Apr-2007 05:35 am - North Carolina

Tony and I spent almost a week in western North Carolina. We returned Friday morning and I'm still trying to feel back to normal. Traveling is hard work. 

First, on our way out there was some maintenance issue with the windshield warming parts on the aircraft so it took 2.5 hrs to get off the ground. That sucked. We got into Greensboro at 2 a.m. instead of 10:45 p.m. and the bed was rock hard at the motel. ROCK hard. Too bad I already hate sleeping on the floor. 

It only improved after that tho. Yay.

We toured mountain property... as in just land. Tony is looking to invest and potentially flip it.  We put earnest money down on a 1.26 acre parcel in the Cowee Mountain range in a develpment called "Wildflower." It's got a nice view. It's one of the lowest, if now the lowest priced lot they had. The plans look really cool for this place. It'll be an upscale 2200 acre gated community with all the amenities going in between now and 2008: clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, fishing pond, walking trails, 20 foot paved roads, utilities, bobcats, deer, and wild turkey, snakes. Oh, trees... and brush. Rhododendrons are native and grow wild there. The covents for building say your house has to look like a cabin on the outside. After touring the models they are building, I could live with that! Gorgeous. Well, if we were to keep the property... which is an option. Heck, we could build a vacation home when we get rich. Or retire there. :)  

Tony's taking care of all the due diligence... deciding if this is a good investment. Because he belongs to this investment club we get at 15% discount that goes into escrow and pays the mortgage for about 2 years... so that's nice.  Fingers crossed that this land increases in value. 

Oh, and another development we toured was "Gray Rock" a bit east and I forget the mountain range. But it's the same mountain development where they built the HDTV 2006 Dream Home. We got to tour the 3 million dollar dream home which was... well... dreamy. The view was breathtaking -- from every room in the house you could see a view of the valley and a lake. They even had an outdoor living room with fireplace. The winners couldn't afford the property tax on that -- between 20 & 30K/yr -- so they sold it back to the developers. I actually entered a few dozen times to win that house.

We did a few other things... stayed at a quaint B&B in Franklin, NC and then at a famous Inn in Lake Lure (Lake Lure Inn and Spa) which was where Dirty Dancing was filmed. In between all the dang driving around western NC, Tony climbed Chimney Rock whilst I was having a very wonderful massage. Typical. :)

14th-Apr-2007 12:42 pm - Time out
Lily got put in a Time Out at preschool a couple days ago. When her mom asked her what she did she said: I got in trouble for saying "darn it" only I didn't say "darn it." I said "shit." It is probably important to note that when Lily says "shit" it sounds like "sit." And, as Kasie said, ya can't hardly fault a girl for wanting a chair. 

7th-Apr-2007 09:29 am - Decisions
The way I left it with the consulting company is that I'm committed to the end of August at HP. Why am I dragging my feet? Yes, there's an upgrade happening in Sept and the Online Help needs to be updated for it and they're counting on me. I've done a pretty great job with all five applications in the past year that I built from scratch after teaching myself RoboHelp. More and more end-users are getting around to using it and they LOVE it.  Ok, well, those who like using online Help love it. Unless it's context sensitive (which this is not), it's pretty much guaranteed to only be used by a select few.

But now that it's built, it really just requires maintenance. Yuk. That's not my thing. But I feel committed somehow and I hate feeling committed. I'm not on contract with HP, I'm an employee. I'm a free agent and I can leave any time. Independent contracting has been my freakin' dream. And here is the chance sitting right before me and I'm waffling. Ok, I WAS waffling. My current position sucks. Ok, yes, it's a cushy job in that I can make my own schedule, I can work from home and I have full benefits. But I can do twice the work in half the time as most people, I notice. They don't pay me what I'm worth but in return I get to sluff off because the job is a piece o' cake. But I'm bored. I'm the only tech writer in my group and I have no one to challenge me. I hate office politics. I hate when co-workers try to be my new best friend. There's really no great projects in sight, it's just a matter of twiddling my thumbs and doing brainless updates now.

So, the next step is to go to my boss and let her know I'm leaving for a fabulous opportunity to freelance. It won't be a surprise because i've mentioned before that it's what I want to do. But in my own mind I'll be leaving them in a lurch. They'll have to find a new tech writer.  Shouldn't be too tough, right? My fear though is that she'll want me to teach a few of the trainers I work with to do my job. That was going to be the plan when I was on contract and fixing to leave (b/4 they hired me last July). Aside from the whole problem of teaching a non-tekky to use Robohelp, how do you teach someone to write better? How do you teach someone to write Help instructions instead of merely writing down every detail in their heads in long paragraphs. In the year I've been there, showing them the proper way to write instructions, they still don't get it. They are trainers. They write 40 word paragraphs when a seven word sentence will do. Each trainer has their own vernacular for the same menus and tools (is this the activity menu, activity tab list or the navigator bar? Depends on who you ask! Even tho Help now clearly tells you what it is, every new topic they write is still in their own made-up words :). I still have to take their content and drastically copy edit and rewrite it before it's fit for publication. I don't know. You'd think they'd start getting a clue by now. 

But I digress... they need a technical writer. They were good to me! I called them up out of the blue as an intern and asked them for work. Originally it was to redesign their training manuals which I did and they loved. Then they said, hey, we want to put our material online for end users,  you wanna do that for us? So I did. The rest is history. And we must remember history so we don't repeat it.

You can see I'm just working thru this in my head, right? I've already decided I want to take the plunge into the unknown world of independent contracting. That means no bennies and no job security. 

5th-Apr-2007 08:11 pm - Independent Contracting
My goal for 2007 -- one I actually wrote down in January -- is to make $XX/hr. As an independent contractor. I like to make my goals big, yet attainable. I sort of forgot about it because I haven't looked at my goal list for a few months. Anyway, I got a call last week from a consulting company who found my resume on Monster. Actually, it was the VP of Marketing for a large tech comm consulting company. To top it off, it's someone I know from my affiliation with STCTC.org. We're both members. Anywho, she called me and gushed on about how she saw my resume and thought I was a perfect fit for the sorts of projects they have. And then she saw my name and immediately recognized me, called me, and invited me in for an interview. (Incidentally, I'm still employed at HP but looking, always looking). 

The interview yesterday went swimmingly. It was right up there with the best interview I've had ever. Anyway, long and short: she wants me to come work for them and wants to start me at $XX+/hr.

<taking a bow>
28th-Mar-2007 03:48 pm - Lily the navigator
Lily (age almost 5) and Jesse (age 33) went to the park to play whilst her mom and I took a walk yesterday. Lily lead Jesse to a park a mile away from our place that she's been to about eight times in her life but not at all this year AND when we go we always drive. They walked. She knew right where she was going and Jesse followed her the entire way to what Lily has coined "the blue park." I can't believe she knew the way.

11th-Mar-2007 10:18 pm - Dead or not dead?
Me and Lily were talking this morning as I was drying her after her bath. She had been complaining that she already had a bath at her gramma's. And she said "Nana, do you have a gramma?" and I said "yes, but she died." Lily's eyes got really big and she looked concerned. Then she said "My gramma's not dead, she only has a cough."
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