Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Random Travels Thru The Web...

So, this is what made me happy today.

A Treesweater. Of course. I'd knit a sweater for my tree out front but it's about three feet in diameter and I'm just not that good at knitting. Also? It just doesn't get that cold here.

I don't know who Discover has doing their ads, but this one rocks.

Who knows who or what Blur is, but this struck me as funny too.

There are days when the only ball I can sink in a pocket is the white one, so this is just amazing to me.

RAWR! Zombie octopus chandelier will eat your brain! Or, um, light up your living room. Whateva!

As I looked at the piles of books surrounding me on the couch - that I've been too lazy to put away... for weeks... I watched "Hoarders" on A&E and now I'm feeling MUCH better about myself. While bare flat spaces may be scarse, they do exist, and I can see my floors so I'm okay. Right?

I'm okay, you're okay. How about a hug? Free!

So, happy Monday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baby Hummingbirds...

These pictures are really neat. Check 'em out here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interesting Developments

You know, it's not like I have a grand plan here. Mostly, I just float along, and end up wherever the current takes me.

In high school, I was considered "gifted" and therefore was allowed to participate in the Governor's Summer Institutes for the Gifted and Talented. They were summer camps ranging from 1 to 3 weeks long at various colleges around Ohio, each specializing in a different topic. I applied to Shawnee University's program to become certified in scuba. I was rejected for that, but they put me into the engineering program. Of course, I went anyway. A week at a college far from home and parents at sixteen? I will study anything you want me to, just let me go. When I got there, I learned that every single one of the 40 of us in the engineering camp had applied for scuba and were put into the engineering labs instead. We got intensive four hour lectures followed by two hour labs, homework, and quizzes the next day. The scuba kids played in a pool all damn day. I still firmly believe it was a trick. They didn't really need my math scores for scuba, did they? Of the 12 or so people I stayed in contact with, every single one of us ended up going into engineering in college. Coincidence? I think not.

My first "real" job came about because of a random post on a cross-stitching forum... something along the lines of, "I can fix this, I'm an engineer dammit." And one of my online friends replied back that she was hiring engineers, what sort of engineer was I? Several hours of interviews and a personality test later, I had a real job as a junior supplier quality engineer. I've been in supplier quality ever since.

So, yeah, no grand plan. I just bumble along, and so far, it's mostly turned out okay.

Well, the winds of change are blowing again and I'm not sure what to do about it, so my plan is to go with the flow and see what happens.

My boss (or, as I call him, the asshole) has taken a new job. Starting on October 1, he will be production manager in our factory. Also on October 1, his job will be posted. I don't really want it, but I can't think of anyone who is even as qualified as I am, and if I don't go for it, I have no right to complain over whomever the next person is. So, I'm going to go for it.

I've told my boss' boss (aka the idiot) that I'm going for it, and while he is hard to read, my odds may be better than I thought. I really thought that, since the idiot and the asshole hate me, I have no shot. But, the idiot informed me that he wants me to go to the next global meeting for my department - which is the job of the lead engineer, which is the job opening.

I pretty much have to apply - I can't complain that there's no room for advancement in the company and then not go for the one and only opportunity likely to come up. Also, it's the next logical step in my career, and will get me management experience, which always helps when looking for the next job. I have no idea if I'll get it - the idiot told me that he never gets many applications for jobs. (Partly, this is 'cause quality is a nightmare. Also I am not alone in labeling him the idiot, except my label is nicer than most. No one who isn't completely miserable where they are is going to apply to move into his department.) So I may well be the only applicant. Keep in mind that with the current economic environment, we are under a total hiring freeze, and all jobs must be filled internally. I know there are scads and scads of really qualified people out there who don't know enough about our company to run for the hills, but we aren't allowed to hire them. This greatly improves my odds of getting this job.

So, if I get it... probably not more money, 'cause as a degreed engineer, I make more than my boss now. But maybe I can negotiate for additional vacation time or something. The chance to do more travel, especially international. Direct management experience.

But, as much as I'd like to, I can't take a new job with them and then bail, so I'd be stuck here for at least another year. Our little department of misfits is NOT a walk in the park to manage, and will probably turn my hair even more grey. I have said, more than once, that if it were my department, I'd clean house, fire everyone and start over. Given the hiring freeze we're under, that isn't going to happen. I'd get to spend scads more time with the idiot. Oh joy. Of course, with the asshole leaving, that's going to happen anyway.

If I don't get it, I will have a new boss. As they are opening it up to international candidates, my new boss will almost certainly be German. He'll come in and change everything. I hate change. *sigh*

It'll be interesting to see how this works out. The asshole is a VERY political creature. He's quite charismatic, he's been in this area longer, and knows everyone, and made it pretty clear to people that they could be friends with him... or with me. It's one of the reasons that I remain so alone here. Now that he's out of my department, that may change. Of course, if you're the sort to be influenced by that sort of thing, we're probably not going to be that close, but it would be nice to be invited to the parties and things that pretty much everyone else in the factory gets invited to attend.

Another interesting tidbit - I told the idiot (during our two hour car trip aka bonding expedition the other day) that I was perfectly willing to go to overseas on assignment for the company. He was surprised by this, since the asshole told him that I wasn't. *sigh* Sabotage at every turn. So the seeds have been sown there too.

Wish me luck, and stay tuned for whichever direction I float in next...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Near Space Pictures... DIY for Under $200

This is just cool. Two MIT students with a weather balloon took some kick @$$ pictures from near space. Here's their page - they'll be posting a how-to guide shortly. Isn't it nearly science fair season?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moving Right Along

It's been a while since I posted what I've been up to in the studio. And, with the goings on in life lately, I haven't gotten to spend as much time as I'd like there anyway. But, progress has been made. The snowbell cup and the birdies were underglazed last time. Here they are as bisque.

Then I glazed them. I decided on just clear for the birdies, as well as for the red pot. Covering up weeks of painstaking detail painting is terrifying.

I also finished glazing the mug and pitcher. Here they are sitting on the shelf, waiting and waiting and waiting for the glaze fire (which finally happened yesterday).

My wine cup is now finished, and has been used a couple of times. The opal ran quite a bit, so Chris got to chip it out of the kiln, which made me popular, and the grapes didn't turn out exactly like I planned but all in all, it's okay.

My little squirrel is underglazed and waiting for the next bisque firing, which should happen this week.

My Labor Day gift to myself, after I ended up being too exhausted to attempt the scheduled trip home, was to spend all day Monday in the studio. These are all of the things I threw that day. One is hanging upside down on the bat 'cause my friend P decided to wedge clay on that table, instead of on the wedging table, and the pot collapsed from the vibrations from her banging around. We tried to save it, but I ended up throwing it away, and the lid that went with it on Friday. Wedging is like kneading really stiff bread dough to get any air bubbles out of it. It is especially necessary if you had something fail on the wheel and you're trying to reuse the clay for something else. All of these were made using clay that I spent an hour wedging back into shape. I save the failures and scraps, which were quite wet, and the small amount that I had left of a bag, which had gotten quite hard, and I wedged and wedged and wedged to blend them together smoothly. My forearms were actually sore on Tuesday!

Last Friday, I had to visit a supplier, and I didn't come back to work - I went straight to the studio. AND it was Art Walk, so the store was open until 8 instead of 6 which gave me an extra two hours to work on trimming all of the stuff that I made on Labor Day. Also, that plum saki was REALLY good and it's probably best that I had some extra time for it to disperse from my system.

I had to work last Saturday, so I didn't get any studio time. Poor little me. There are nine of us in the quality department, and we made up a calendar in January for Saturdays, since if production is running, they require a quality person in the building somewhere. Last Saturday was my turn. I think it's the first one for me this year, so I can't really complain - but I'm going to 'cause I really wanted to be playing in the studio!!

Tonight, I painted sunflowers on one of Monday's bowls for my aunt for Christmas. This went onto the shelf for the next bisque fire. Right now, I'm thinking that I'll glaze it in Expresso Bean, which is brown that breaks black. We'll see how it turns out after the firing.

Now that I'm looking at it, I probably should have done flowers all the way around it. *sigh* Too late now. If I don't like it, I've got enough time to redo it. I'm back to making bowls 'cause I have to do at least two bowls for a charity event. Restaurants are donating food, and we (the studio members) are making bowls. People will buy lunch, and get it served in a bowl to keep and all money is then donated to the local food bank. Okay, so the event isn't until February, but just the birdies took me a month and a half and - petty little twit that I am - I want people to want my bowls so I'll be carving and painting away on these the same way that I do for nearly everything else that I make.

And tonight, I also got to pick up finished things from the glaze firing yesterday. Whoot! I LOVE finally seeing stuff completely finished!

My snowbell cup... I'm very happy with it. The butterfly's rose faded to a very pale pink, but I wanted it to look like a watercolor and it does, so yay!

The red pot... I'm not thrilled with this one. All of the white markings on the carving I did inside the black band disappeared. The black ran a bit, which isn't supposed to happen, and the red looks almost pink in some lights 'cause of the bazillions of teeny tiny bubbles in the clear glaze. We are baffled as to where they came from.

And the birdies are FINALLY done. The blue darkened a bit more than planned, but aside from that, I'm pretty happy with them.

I also got back the most recent glazed things - my third coffee mug, and the pitcher. I experimented with the glaze a bit. After the dip in black, I brushed on the mottled blue, but in grades - so the first coat of blue came within an inch or so of the bottom, the second coat stopped about an inch above that and the third didn't go much past the rim. It would have worked out better if I hadn't have confused myself and forgot which grade stopped where and what I'd already done. *sigh* At least I know the theory is sound.

So that's what's new in pottery around here. P and I went together and bought glaze. We bought 10 lb of powder in each of two colors - green blue and lapis satin - and P spent part of her Saturday mixing them in buckets so we have experimenting with color to do. I still have 2 things from Labor Day's wheel fest to finish trimming and carving and painting so that's the plan for Friday and Saturday. Now to just make it through this week...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adventures in EEEEEEK!

Last night, the cats got all alert and headed for the entry, in a way that means fuckin' GINORMOUS cockroach. The Peanut managed to injure it so it couldn't fly anymore, much, and I chased it under a plant in the living room and sprayed roughly half a can of Raid on and around it. A couple of minutes later, it was crawling around on the mantle, so I grabbed the Raid Max and let loose with that until it stopped moving.

About twenty minutes later, Peanut was in the dining room staring alertly up at the wall, in a way that usually means ANOTHER fuckin' GINORMOUS cockroach. So I grabbed the Raid, circled around into the kitchen, turned on the lights in the dining room and cautiously made my approach. And something HUGE went flying across the room. It was the largest fly I have ever seen in my life - easily more than two inches long. So I had the Raid in one hand, and the flyswatter in the other and it's buzzing around the ceiling but dipping lower every now and then, causing me to shriek, spray poison in its general direction, and wave the flyswatter vigorously - all while ducking. Keep in mind that my ceilings are approximately 12 feet high - I was in no way even close to swatting it. Eventually, it flew behind the bookcase in the dining room, and I sprayed approximately half a can of Raid behind the bookcase. All was quiet... for about 10 minutes, and then this odd humming noise started. The fly was unaffected by the poison, but had gotten tangled up in a stray tumbleweed of cat fur and was trying to escape. I ran for another poison - Ortho home defense - and hosed the bookcase down again. It finally died... I think.

Tonight, I was driving home from the studio with the window down 'cause it is beautiful out there and something whirred its way into the window, bumping into my arm and ear on the way by... and then there was a thunk in the back of the jeep and a low chirping noise. OMG. I nearly bailed out of the moving car. I pulled into a convienent parking lot (which just happened to be in the projects, but who cares, there was SOMETHING in my jeep!), threw it into park and jumped out. Then I leaned cautiously back inside to grab my maglight, which I shined into the back into as I attempted to figure out what had landed in my vehicle. Cursing my tinted windows, I jerked open the door, jumped backwards and waited. Nothing. And it was quiet. I grabbed the old quilt, jerked it out of the jeep and shook it - nothing. Needing weaponry, I snatched up the large IKEA umbrella, and poked at some things in the cargo area. Nothing. So I opened the back hatch and shined the light around again... and there, next to the Sam's Club freezer bag was this HUGE thing. It was a locust, black with dusty grey markings, and about 5 inches long. OMFG. I eventually managed to remove it from my jeep using the umbrella, flipping it into the parking lot amid much squeaking and cursing (from me) and chirping (from it). Then I tossed everything back into the jeep, and took off, with all of my windows as tightly closed as possible.

*shudder* I used to live and let live. No more. Bugs, all of them, must die. And I really hope that I'm done with the adventures in arthropod-land for a while.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

An Unexpected Journey

On Friday morning, I was counting down the hours 'til I could escape work and head to the studio. Then my supplier called. The 50% fall-out on a product from a sub-supplier became zero yield and the problem wasn't fixed and, long story short, before 4:00, I was on a plane to San Diego. I love packing in 15 minutes. It's my favorite!

So Friday was spent traveling, Saturday was mostly spent at the sub-supplier, fooling around with DOEs and going through 2000+ parts, trying to find some that were salvagable. Saturday evening and all day Sunday were spent in the company of the general manager of my supplier, wandering ALL over San Diego. We hit the Gaslamp District downtown and ate at Fred's on Saturday night, where I had the best margaritas I think I've ever tasted, and really good Mexican. Yum! Sunday, we started by wandering around Old Town, moved on to Balboa Park, toured the Air and Space Museum - and their exhibit on Leonardo de Vinci - and then headed to the Midway. We had dinner at one of the little cafes along the water, the Edgewater Grill. The drinks there also rocked - I had their lemonade slush and a peach bellini. Monday was spent at the sub-supplier, with lunch at Karl Strauss Brewing Company and dinner at George's At The Cove in La Jolla before heading to the airport for the red-eye home. (Karl Strauss' was a little oasis in the city, and their mac and cheese is delicious. The view was amazing at George's. The food? Not so much.) Turns out that San Diego has an 11:30 pm curfew for planes, and even though we could see our plane through the window, our crew was stuck in Phoenix... which made us stuck in San Diego. The airline put us up for the night at the Holiday Inn across the street from the Midway, and the bar was still open when we arrived. My new favorite hard cidar? Strongbow. So yummy. Then Tuesday was spent traveling back home. [Clearly I'm feeling the link love today.]

Here, in pictures taken on my shiny new iphone, are some of the high points of our wanderings around San Diego...

Saturday evening...

Then Sunday...