Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Sometimes, when I am sad, or stressed, or just need to get away from the office, I walk over to the East River and stare at it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Kathy and I have issues with contractors.  Every time we have one, I am shocked.  I wonder when I am going to learn to lower my expectations about this.

I think most people tend to think that they are reasonable.  I am no different in this regard.  I know there are times when I am being unreasonable, and can't seem to help myself, but generally, on this topic at least, no.    And yet, all too often, when we have to hire a contractor for something, we experience the same set of issues:

Getting an estimate.  No one ever wants to give us one.  When we were fixing up our flooded basement, once the first contractor fell through, I called three other contractors for estimates, and only two of them even bothered to call me back, one showed up, and zero returned an estimate.  I thought a full-scale basement remodel was a decent sized job, especially in a recession, but apparently the contractors in our Westchester town could not be bothered.  And, it's not like I only called these people once.  I made multiple phone calls.  For the basement, this threshold issue was so severe that we eventually just did the work ourselves.

Timing.  The first contractor that fell through on our basement did so because he couldn't meet our timing.  And by that, I mean that we received an estimate for the work in August, and in November he informed us he wouldn't be able to start until after the holidays.  I think that six months is an extremely long time to wait with your basement furniture sitting in your foyer.  It was at that point that we said thanks, but no thanks, and I started trying to get other estimates.  We've also had this problem with a painter and a gardener.  Delays of months before they are willing to even get started on our projects.

Communicativeness.  Okay, so maybe I am a little bit horrible at returning phone calls sometimes, but come on.  If someone hires you to do work, calls and leaves several messages that say "When can you start?" I think common courtesy requires a call back in under six weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

internet presence

Last week, I wrote a long post about where I've been lately.  Then I realized that said post teetered dangerously close to a line called "oversharing" or "dirty laundry."  So I deleted it, and wrote this instead.  Suffice it to say that over the summer, the stress of planning a wedding, renovating a house, working a new job, and parenting three kids just completely overwhelmed me. So, I did the only thing I could -- I withdrew, put my nose to the grindstone, and soldiered through.  Completely unhappily while complaining a lot.

Ultimately, the result was a complete lack of any internet presence. No tweets, no status updates, no pins, no blogging.  But!  In the name of keeping things positive and upbeat over here, rather than complain about how stressful the summer of wedding planning and house renovating was, how about I instead share what I learned.

(in the bathroom of a wine bar in the west village while out with my sister the week before the wedding)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

live long, and prosper

I have mentioned before that we love Star Trek (the Original Series) in our house.  I thought I might emphasize this fact with a few examples of our over-the-top Star Trek loving.

1.  A photo me, as a Vulcan.  This was Halloween last year; I didn't just dress like this for no reason.  Although I would.

2.  Another, for good measure.  I tried not to smile the whole night, since Vulcans don't really have emotions.  I mean, technically, they do, they just don't acknowledge them.  Which is what I went for.  I am pretty sure I failed miserably though.  A recently told me that I could not really be a Vulcan, because who ever heard of a Vulcan that cries.  I had to point out that really, Spock was only half-Vulcan.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

five tips for staying awake during long conference calls annoyingly scheduled immediately after lunch

Today, I have a 1 1/2 hour conference call scheduled immediately following lunchtime.  This call is a drafting session, which is particularly painful (i.e., boring).  We have these calls for this particular client at relatively regular intervals -- every 4-6 weeks or so.  Here is the thing, though.  Always, ALWAYS without fail, the call is scheduled for a day I am sleep deprived.  Last night I was up late working, but sometimes I am just up late fretting and stressing about something, or I am exhausted from a weekend of working on the house, or A had a school project due that kept us up late, or whatever.  So, I have developed the following strategies for staying awake.  I cannot take full credit for these -- some of them are Kathy's.  But some are all mine.

1.  Don't eat too much.  Not only does the food make you sleepy, but being hungry actually keeps me awake. 
2.  Don't get too hungry.  I know this kind of conflicts with the first one, but a drop in blood sugar can be a dangerous thing.  You have to strike just the right balance.  Sometimes it helps to snack continuously through the call.
3.  Drink two Diet Cokes with your lunch.  Not only does the caffeine help, but needing to go to the bathroom also helps.
4.  Stand up.  This is a good one if you are in your own office, but is less effective for live meetings or conference calls in your boss's office.
5.  Thing about something that is actually interesting.  This is a tough one, because it requires you to not pay attention.  Use sparingly! 

The problem with this particular call is that it is in my boss's office.  I see him doing all of these things -- standing, eating, etc.  But I am limited, because I want to seem professional and wandering around his office in the middle of the call does not seem all that professional to me.  Once, I just broke down and asked if I could get coffee in the middle of the three hour call.  He said yes.