Saturday, July 26, 2008

Discard color information?

Whenever anybody's been in contact with me for the last several weeks, I inevitably hear: "How's your new job?"

The short answer is that things are good. The long answer is — as life tends to be — slightly more complicated.

Coming from such a long duration of doing freelance work, followed by intermittent bursts of joblessness, I find I'm still making a mental adjustment. I think I'm beginning my fourth week of work tomorrow, but it dawned on me last week that I needn't bother keeping count of how long I've been there. It's already becoming hazy. As a freelancer, your time is punctuated by timesheets and invoicing. I'm finding that I'm comfortably slipping back into the mentality that allows a full-timer worker the opportunity to let years slip pass without much notice.

I worked my first overtime day last Tuesday. It was one of the days that combines three things I hate: (a) having a steady stream of incoming work dumped on me during the day, all of which needs to be tended to as soon as possible; (b) an apparent lack of understanding on the part of my manager as to just how much work has been dumped on me — despite being the only person who's assigning work to me; and (c) no advance warning that I was going to be "hit" with as much work as I was. As it went, I wasn't there too long after work, as I'm incredibly efficient at my job when left to my own devices (i.e., after hours). My manager also seemed to notice that — when I hadn't touched a major project yet, approaching end-of-day — she had interrupted my work flow considerably during the day, and apologized for it. Also, as luck would have it, I didn't have any plans I needed to cancel. So, all in all, it wasn't anywhere near as offputting as it could have been.

In related news, I'm going to be on a semi-monthly pay schedule, and my near-mid-month starting date meant I hadn't completed the paperwork to be on payroll for the mid-month payday. I suspect I'll have a much easier time adjusting to full-time work when I get my first paycheque.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Preferred Potato Salad recipe

I've been making this recipe for a few years now — the publication date I adapted it from says I picked it up in 2001. I've had really good "creamy" potato salads with mayonnaise, but I've had my fair share of potato salads with too much mayo or questionable ingredients. This is a really nice alternative to that, and one that seems to be a consistent crowd-pleaser.

Potato Salad
6 cups beef stock
2 tbsp beef/vegetable bouillon granules
6 cups water

4(-ish) lbs small red potatoes,
washed and cut into slightly larger than bite-size chunks
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or more)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 bunch green onions, sliced

1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tsp Dijon mustard

Place potatoes, bouillon (if using) and garlic in a large pot. Add water or stock. Cover and heat to boiling, reduce heat to low. Simmer covered about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Cool potatoes in cooking liquid in refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 hours until chilled. Drain potatoes. Add walnuts and onions.

Make Dressing; pour over potato mixture and toss.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Every day, the same again

I started my first day of employment on Tuesday. I realized this week that I haven't experienced a real, full-time work atmosphere in a little under 5 years. That last place technically had me under probation — unbeknownst to me — after my probationary period was supposed to have ended.

It's been more than a little strange to re-adjust to the full-time mentality: not counting the days until I'm done; not counting my hours; having a workstation set aside strictly for me, to customize as I see fit; having my own storage space; knowing that I've got a "base of operations" away from home; and feeling welcomed/pressured to develop relationships with my co-workers. It's definitely odd to return to it again.

I've been experiencing random bouts of anxiety about the new job, which I've come to accept as day-before-school jitters. Whenever I get to thinking about the career situation I've placed myself in, 'though, I end up feeling remarkably positive about the anticipated experience.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In rememberance

Sneaking this in "under the wire", I wanted to post a few of my ruminations about the passing of my beloved Lola, 5(!) years ago, to the day.

I remember the following week being one in which I wore just about every skirt I owned — a definite rarity for someone like me, who tends to loathe being "girly". All of the funeral preparations meant that I felt the need to be dressed up for the duration of that week. The relative discomfort of the clothing I was wearing seemed to fit the feeling of disorientation I felt at the time.

The job I was slowly coming to despise got to be intolerable when I saw how calloused they were in regards to my mourning period. I felt rushed back to work and it was the very sizeable "last straw". This was the main reason I left the job that started my career. I learned the majority of my design skills at that job, and made some truly great friends there. The fact that my employer's reaction to the loss of my grandmother was what caused me to leave doesn't lessen the fact that I mourn that experience, too.

Really, there's a wide range of aspects of my existence that seems to have been catalyzed by my grieving. I'm still sorting out how much of it was over-reaction — on my part — and how much of it was completely reasonable. Generally, my policy is to treat almost any emotional reaction as completely valid, which effectively nullifies any blame I might have placed upon myself for my resultant actions. Suspiciously tidy, that.

I know that Lola would have been mortified to cause such upheaval in my, or anyone else's life, so I'm a little ashamed to admit that it's only now that I feel like I'm recovering from the fallout of her death. I've said it before, 'though, the impact that her passing caused is a tribute to how important she was to me, and undoubtedly everyone else whose lives she touched.

That said, I think next year I'll have to post about some of the positive influence she had on my life. :)


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Black Hole dense muffins

As many of my friends can attest, these are dense enough to be a meal unto themselves. It doesn't hurt that I'm baking them in mini-bundt pans. Still, these are great for long trips or excursions with limited food options. If you're just snacking, 'though, I'd advise splitting one with a friend. :)

There's a lot of room for variation in this recipe, so I've listed various components I've tried at some point or another.

1 cup quick-cooking or steel cut oats
1/2 cup soy milk or milk
3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup melted margarine or applesauce
1 egg or 1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, chocolate chips or dried fruits (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease bottoms of muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine oats and milk, allow to soak until — standing — oats appear to have absorbed the milk. Add syrup, margarine, egg. Blend. Add remaining ingredients, stir until moistened. Pour batter into muffin tin, filling cups to 2/3 full.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean. Remove from pan to cool, if possible.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

In other news...

My last day with Rogers, as it turns out, was yesterday. I had to go in — just before rush hour today — for my "exit interview" with HR, but yesterday was my last day of employment. There simply wasn't enough for me to do in my department, so my manager escorted me out, as per policy, just before noon yesterday. I'll be running errands, doing chores, and cooking/baking until I start at Pareto next Tuesday.


This memoriam brought to you by the letters Q & R

Let us hang our heads in sorrow at the loss of two great eateries on the King West strip.

Q Dim Sum Palace and R-Shop are no more.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

First annual Hawkestone outting!

With the price of gas being prohibitively high, I suspect we're going to be doing most of our swimming in our condo's pool this year. Nonetheless, we managed to corral a decent troupe of beings to join us at Hawkestone Dock yesterday to celebrate Canada Day.

The water was cold ('though not the coldest I've been in), the day was beautiful and the company (as always) was great. I've uploaded the photoset to Flickr.