Monday, January 17, 2022

Birthday post

When I wrote that I was taking a break, I really hoped it would be a short one. I could keep up with the blog during training, though it wasn't easy. Once I started taking calls, I thought there would be an adjustment period, but that I would gain experience and regain my equilibrium.

That didn't happen.

(I have been continuing to post on the other two blogs, very regularly on travel -- for which I still have nine drafts of things we have already done -- and somewhat less regularly on provident living.)

It's not that I am still struggling with how to do my job. While there are still periodically things that come up that I don't know, usually it is something that truly is weird. I am doing pretty well in general.

It is more the call volume, and even more than that my specific reaction to the call volume.

It is busy. Some of that is probably time of year, though I do have concerns that part of it is inadequate staffing and that there is a worker shortage that can't be easily solved and it will never let up. That could be true.

However, it is mainly the effect that the frequent phone ringing has on my nerves. 

I tried avoiding applying at call centers, but other types of jobs weren't hiring me. Of the places that would hire me, this was definitely the best. After my probation period is over on March 13th, I should have options for moving into other jobs within the company. I think I might do well in claims.

Here is something I know about myself: I am good at concentration. I do well with states of flow, and that can include spending time working out an intricate problem, but having a chance to focus on it.

I do love helping the people who call, for the most part; it's the start of that call, maybe when I am trying to finish logging something or read e-mail or study something that I realized that I don't know that well... that's what is getting me.

As it is, I have hives again. The last time I had them was when Mom's attention span was going, and there was constant change and difficulty in keeping her happy. It makes sense, then and now.

It's not bad knowing something about yourself. There may be frustration if there is a problem you can't solve, but identifying the problem doesn't make it a problem; that's just awareness.

So, I am still not writing for a while.

There are so many things that I have to say, but I will only flesh those thoughts out more for when I am able to write them.

Regardless, for the luck that makes my birthday a holiday, today I have time, and I will post. Today is about doing the things I have not been getting time to do.

(I know I have joked in the past that when I turned 50 I would get on Our Time while I was the hot young thing, but it is hard to think of a more annoying way to spend my limited time, and that is just not going to happen.)

Monday, November 08, 2021

Break time!

This post is late because I have an internet issue.

It is probably something really simple, but I don't know. 

My wireless connection went out this weekend. I need to use the wired connection for work. When I set up my work PC I changed my personal one to connect via the wireless. That indicates that I should be capable of fixing this, at least in theory, and yet... 

When the issue first occurred there was an error message that I should have written down or something, because it probably would have pointed me in the right direction. I didn't have time then, and time remains an issue.

Regarding time, I had been toying with the idea of taking a break from blogging to catch up on other writing. That seems like a good idea for now.

I am not planning on posting to this site until after Thanksgiving. I will continue to update the travel blog and probably the preparedness blog.

I did get through a lot with the last round of posting. More recently I have been posting random things that have felt good to write about, but it may be time to gear up for the next larger project. I am going to spend some time figuring that out.

It's easy to be productive with no internet.

 

Friday, November 05, 2021

Album Review: Pete by Jesse Valenzuela

If I recall correctly, when I saw Jesse in January 2019, he mentioned that he was working on a new album. I would periodically check for it.

Pete appears to have come out in August of last year (not that I have been prompt in reviewing it). 

I am not positive on the release date, because Jesse has been scarce on the internet for a while, deactivating his Twitter and Facebook page. The only working link from the previous reviews is the Youtube topic, though it does have a Pete playlist now with the different tracks loaded.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC24AgkfU3mTUYdbCwUtBN5A

The album is still available for purchase on Amazon and Apple Music, and can be listened to on Spotify.

While retaining social media could have been helpful for promotion of the new material, I suspect going offline might relate to the subject matter.

Pete is a very mature album, though maybe not in the way expected. 

Initially I noted the ways in which it was romantic. The album does wear its heart on its sleeve, perhaps most notably on "Love Struck Kid". However, that kid is not a kid; he does learn and is making choices more deliberately. That means there can be a decision to move on, as in "Find Me Someone", and that decision is based at least in part on valuing himself.

Perhaps the greatest thing about that maturity is that it doesn't scoff at play. The first and last tracks are -- respectively -- "Jesse's Walk On" and "Jesse's Walk Off", with actual foot steps during the walk on. (So maybe he still feels like a kid, and is certainly not "old".)

The second track "Never Coming Home", with subtle accents of trumpet and accordion, enlivening without overpowering. The overall mood is positive, but in a mellow, relaxed way.

That is the state of maturity displayed on Pete. Greater appreciation for the self and sunsets, still loving deeply, still playing, and sometimes losing but happier for knowing what to let go.

It is a state of grace.

Previous posts:

https://sporkful.blogspot.com/2015/07/band-review-jesse-valenzuela.html 

https://sporkful.blogspot.com/2019/01/concert-review-jesse-valenzuela.html

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Curating music in a socially responsible way

I am not doing well enough with my daily songs.

I know, I just wrote about realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect playlist and went over specific reasons why. Still, here we are in Native American Heritage Month and I just feel like I should be more ahead of the game.

I know I want to do daily songs by native artists all month, and for there to be a playlist by the end of it. I even know which songs should start and end both the month and the playlist.

Everything else just feels like I am throwing it out there, and have to because I haven't spent enough time reviewing. I was finishing Halloween and then I will need to start on Christmas right away, and then I want to have something special for February...

I may be at the point where I mentally know that perfection is not possible, but where I have not yet emotionally accepted it.

That does sound like me.

I think part of the pressure I put on myself is because these are two areas that are so important to me. 

I love music. I am comforted by it, excited by it, thrilled by it, and fascinated by it. I could find more applicable verbs if I tried. 

Music does not mean as much to me as equality, but they are not in competition. Music can help with that. I seek out artists from marginalized groups, and that is important to me both ethically and musically.

Early on in starting the reviews, I gave each opening act their own review. Sometimes if there wasn't a lot of information or two bands played short sets, I did combine, but the really solid rule is that it doesn't matter if they are local or touring or have been together for two months and will dissolve next month or they have been doing this for nine years and scraping by with day jobs or if they are famous:  I will listen. I will hunt up their web links. I will give them a shot. 

Bands are made of people and people matter

That "people matter" part might be why I have so much trouble with bigotry.

There remains that inconvenient fact that I do not have much of a platform. It is very questionable about whether the agonizing I do over the content I put out matters at all, but it does matter to me. I know, and I have thought deeply about it, and if it comes up at some point, then I will be ready.

And I still wish I were better organized/less tired/had started working on certain things sooner.

I don't necessarily wish I had a larger platform. If more people would be better, I don't think I would need one. For now, I think I am still gearing up for whatever comes next.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Self doubt and cardboard

My conclusion yesterday was about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. That is somewhat of a theme in my life right now.

In my last week of training -- which is basically taking phone calls but with trainers on standby -- I probably am doing pretty well, but when I hit a snag I am so hard on myself: Why don't I remember this!?! And yet, I have been here for less than two months, and they told us many things.

I have had it confirmed that no one has heard me sounding flustered or panicked, but it still really bothers me that I feel flustered or panicked.

I know I have grown in many ways, but I still regularly have difficulty accepting being human.

There are two other areas where I really need to pull myself together. Well, two that I can think of right now.

I will write about the other tomorrow, but today is more about my effort to bring my yard into harmony with nature.

The last time I covered this (in the appropriately named "Garden stress") I mentioned some plans for cardboard and mulch in the fall, and that if that was all I did it would be enough. Then, due to some orders of large flat things, I had two great cardboard boxes to use; I was so thrilled.

I recently read a comment about how bad the cardboard chemicals are.

I am not sure I believe it. Lots of other people use cardboard and newspapers, and it seems to be okay, but...

WHAT IF I AM MAKING A TERRIBLE MISTAKE?

Okay, the area where I was planning to use it was not going to be for human food, but the whole point of so much of what I want to do is for there to be food for insects and birds and all the small creatures. I don't want to poison them.

I had a lot of fun this Halloween, but the thing I hated most was that I hadn't grown any pumpkins. Some of that was weather issues, and I figured out what I would have done differently, but I want to try it again and get it right.

Could thinking about "getting it right" be setting me up for disappointment? Is there such a thing as getting it right?

If your brain does similar things to you, you have my sympathies. 

 Please don't mind if I am a little distracted by what to do with this cardboard.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Never as planned

I have completed my first week of the Turkey Trot.

If you will recall, there are many Turkey Trots. This one is a 28 day, 280000 step challenge that I am doing through https://walkertracker.com/. It is supposed to be tracing a path in the shape of a turkey, but I can never get the map to load. Knowing my virtual location on the path would be fun, but the real goal was to move more, and I am.

With effort, I have been able to keep up with the challenge. 

Working at home and only doing things around the house, it would be easy to stay somewhere around 4000 steps per day. With a desk job, it is easy to become glued to the chair and get quite stiff.

Adding in some walking in place or dancing or taking extra trips to do mundane tasks can get that over 10000, but that requires attention and monitoring. That is what makes this valuable.

(Only about 2400 extra steps have come from walking outside so far; it's been pretty dark and rainy out there.)

There was some early panic.

I saw that the challenge was supposed to start on October 25th. When I went to enter that first day, I saw that the site runs its weeks Sunday through Saturday. Who does that? Oh no! I had missed a day!

That led to me making myself get 11000 steps for the first two days, hoping that I could still make the weekly total with a little extra during the work week and then I hoped for a big push on Saturday.

The challenge did, in fact, start on Monday. I overreacted, but I primed to do so because of my procrastination.

I mentioned that I had to order a pedometer. It arrived about a week before the start. In my mind I was going to get it all programmed, then do some testing of different tasks and distances, and I would start the actual challenge out all prepared and organized.

I got hung up early on the reset button not working. It does work, but you have to hold it down for an extended period of time. Given how frustrating unintentional resets can be, this is a good feature. Reading the directions and testing it sorted that out, which I finally got around to the night of the 24th, the day I thought I had missed. 

I still haven't set the clock.

That doesn't really matter. I mean, preparedness is nice, but without that I have already figured out that the average song is 500 steps, changing the litter boxes is 1200 steps, and one loop around the park is 800 steps.

There was nothing wrong with the original vision, other than that it wasn't going to happen and thinking that it needed to happen and not getting there caused some delays and frustration.

So, perhaps in this time period where I am starting a new job and getting caught up on things, this may be the wrong time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Related post:

https://sporkful.blogspot.com/2021/10/one-more-thing-about-work.html

Monday, November 01, 2021

Vamps versus Zombies

 I thought I was all done with Halloween, but then I remembered writing this:

For now, though, after two days of on-boarding at work, with going through various exercises, I want to write about some of that. (Except for my new insights on preferring vampires to zombies; I think I will save that for October.)

https://sporkful.blogspot.com/2021/09/assessing.html

I never did get around to it.

I thought I would because I thought I would have some October posts going over the symbolism of different monsters, and relating that to emotional health. There ended up being different things to write about.

I still like the idea, and am toying with the idea of turning that into my first non-fiction book.

Regardless, I promised I would share a new insight, and I'm going to do it!

Historically, I have always preferred vampires to zombies for mostly aesthetic reasons. 

If you must be killed by a supernatural creature, a necking embrace in the dark seems preferable to having your brain eaten. Even before I thought of that, the visible signs of decay on zombies were just gross most of the time, whereas vampires are usually pretty good looking (except for Count Orlok from Nosferatu and that space vampire from Buck Rogers).

I realize there are people who like the ooky stuff, but that has never been me.

When I wrote that, I had realized another important advantage of vampires if you have to fight them. I do not remember what question led to it.

Usually the questions are about your weapon in the zombie apocalypse. My thinking has changed on that as well. 

I used to always say "a machete", because I don't want to have to deal with running out of bullets (or arrows). Yes, it might need regular sharpening, and you need to have some arm strength and stamina, but I always felt good about a machete, except there is no distance. All of those longer-range weapons can require restocking, but it's still nice to not have your striking distance and the zombie's striking distance be about the same.

(Whereas vampire fighting generally assumes it is up close and personal.)

It occurred to me, though, that the real advantage of fighting vampires is you get the daytime off. Whether they need a certain amount of time to lay on their native soil or will actually burn up in sunlight, that's a huge help.

With zombies there is never any rest. Part of that is quantity, due to the much greater contagion rate. Who needs that?

I have now gone on the record regarding this important issue.