Friday, September 29, 2006


So glad this week is over. I think I have walked through or past every foot of the million+ square feet of this place, with entourage no less. Today is sit-at-the-screen day, for the benefit of my aching arches.

Rain and more rain here. Our roof leaks; probably around the fireplace chimney. We've had it fixed twice, and each time it's OK for a while and then leaks again. So there is a nice red Igloo cooler open on the dining room floor to catch the drips while we consider the next move. To Arizona, maybe.

Both kids are looking for better jobs, and I sent them an email with the job posting web pages for the university, the hospital, the physician's office center, NIOSH, and Morgantown in general. It occurs to me that finding job openings is so much easier now with the Internet than when I was a job-seeking graduate. Then, you pretty much depended on the want ads, and spent a lot of time driving from place to place to meet-and-greet potential employers, who mainly hired their relatives, I think. That part hasn't changed. I think it must make for a lot more applicants per job, but doesn't help with the screening. I heard a funny story the other day. Our University is seeking a new president. Several years ago there were ten or so Eastern universities seeking a president, and this one guy sent out applications to all of them. He always made the final cut because on paper he looked fantastic--lots of high-level admin experience, academic kudos, lots of publications, experienced fund raiser, the works. But when he'd come for the interview, he'd stretch his arm out across the table, rest his head on it, and respond to nearly every question with "Oh, I don't remember.." or "Yes, I guess so.." in other words, a complete dud. And finally the universities began comparing notes, said, Have you interviewed this guy? Don't bother... It seems his main occupation was applying for jobs, not actually doing anything. Many places don't actually check references except on the final, or maybe the three final, candidates. So the resume/application looms larger and larger in getting the job you want, which is not necessarily a realistic picture of the candidate. I hated getting the first job, when everyone wants experience and overlooks the fact that they will still need to do training, because everyone does the work differently (and insists their way is the only correct one).

I parked this morning in a spot marked "compact car only"; that definitely includes the Miata. Next to me was a spot with the same sign, and in it a Yukon SUV was parked. Guess literacy doesn't necessarily correlate with ability to pay large car payments.

And speaking of literacy, how about the factoid that 30% or more of West Virginians are functionally illiterate? Recent discussions at work have centered on the re-signing of directories at the various entry points, since so many departments have relocated. I suggested color-coded directions, as simple as possible, because the clientele of this medical center may be illiterate AND mobility impaired. Can you imagine the frustration of someone using a walker, laboriously making their way to, say, the 3rd floor north, only to find out they need 5th floor south, because they mis-read 'otolaryngology'? But it was decided that "color" would compromise the "aesthetic" appearance of the hallways! Form over function once again. So glad I am retiring....

When I was kid, I once went to a friend's house to play. My dad told me he would pick me up at a quarter past 12, and that I should be standing outside waiting when he pulled up, no delay. So I kept watching the clock, when all of a sudden I heard his car horn! I dashed outside and got in the car, and he started in on me. "I TOLD you to be outside waiting at fifteen after 12!" And I said, "No you didn't, you said a quarter past!" He said, 'That's the same thing!" and I said, oh, I thought a quarter past meant 25 past......Logical, from a kid who hasn't done fractions yet, yes? So even when we think our directions are perfectly plain, mis-communication can occur.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Time oh time

Well, it's amazing how time flies (even when you aren't having fun). Things at work have been moving briskly along. My replacement has been hired, so we have a nice overlap to go over everything before I retire (my last day probably Dec. 15th). We plan on having a double celebration around then, me for retirement, and Hubby for paying off the mortgage. Next will be all the home upgrades (and barn upgrades) that we want to make, some DIY and some contracted. After a suitable goofing-off period, of course!

Two weeks ago we traveled to Hardy County Kentucky to visit my sister-in-law. She has been in Kentucky about three years, but this is the first time we've been there. She truly lives in the middle of nowhere, 12 miles to the nearest (only)gas station/convenience store, 18 miles to the grocery store/bank/florist. That's all that is there. Oh wait, a mexican restaurant, surprisingly good. They don't live anywhere near anywhere, including a city of any size. My memory of driving through Kentucky 25 years ago includes envy of all the rolling green pastures, tight even fencelines, opulent barns surrounded by statuary and loonnng gravel drives. But her part of Kentucky is all about poverty; even compared to some of the less choice locations in West Virginia, ramshackle barns, peeling paint on once-black fences, houses with old appliances in the yard, weeds, dead cars. Sad. I think Hardy County has the highest number of welfare families in the state, lowest per-capita income. All it is now is farms, there is literally no where to work, and farming a family farm as a sole income hasn't been possible for many years, anywhere. Even the cattle look tired. My sister-in-law does have two cute little calves, Jerseys, that she'll winter over for meat. Wisely she hasn't named them--never name a beast you're going to eat. One of those rules, like, never squat with spurs on.....

When we drove home, it was through torrential rainstorms courtesy of Ernesto. Usually deluges where you can't see the car in front of you only last for a brief time, then stop or at least slack off. But this went on and on, all 7 hours it took to get home. We had rented a nice Cadillac, which handled the road nicely, I must admit. When Hub went to pick it up, the young guy at the Enterprise desk asked him where we were going. He said, Kentucky, and the guy wanted to know which states we'd be driving through. He replied, uh, Kentucky? It touches West Virginia? Clearly renting cars does not require geography skills.

The pool is once again closed for the season, I wish we could keep it warm enough to use for longer. Once I looked into getting an inflatable dome to cover it, it would keep it warm and decrease the bug/leaf problems, but I'm afraid the wind ripping up the valley would carry it far far away. It would end up keeping company with the assorted grill covers, trash can lids, towels draped on the railings, and umbrellas that have deserted us for greener pastures, somewhere. Once the kids were "camped out" in the backyard and we nearly lost the tent, kids included! No, not really. Only the tent, during a food run into the house.

Last week, daughter and I went to see Nickle Creek in concert, I understand that while they aren't precisely breaking up, they won't be touring together, starting at the end of the year. It's too bad, they are one of those groups where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Incredible musicians, and above average vocalists, mostly. Funny, too.

No one much at work today here at the university, last night WVU beat Maryland in the stadium across from the med center, and I think a lot of folks partied a little too hardy afterwards. Scheduling week-night games is all about TV coverage, and not about the logistics involved in getting employees out of the med center and getting 60,000 vehicles parked in their spaces. Not being a football fan, it's just a big nuisance when we have home games, even on the weekends; one can only stay home, or do a quick errand after kick-off. When I worked in the blood bank several years ago, my shift would end usually just as the game was letting out. I wanted to shout, "I WORKED, LET ME OUT FIRST!" but I just sat and sat until some kind soul would let me into traffic. And it always surprised me, how many people would come to the hospital cafeteria to eat lunch before the game. I mean, how festive can a hospital lunch room be? Aren't they supposed to tailgate? Anyway, this weekend should be quiet, everyone nursing hangovers.