Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 wrapup

having read my cousin's blog where she actually THOUGHT about what happened to her this year, and her last line What about YOU? I suppose a little retrospective is a good thing.

Well it sure was not the year of the garden. The new crimson daylily has great promise, but the irrigation systems are still in disrepair and the new slate walk to show off said daylillies is going to be at least 2 years in the making, I predict. However the paver path next to the new roses may actually get done sooner since I can do much of that work myself with a bit of engineering guidance I got yesterday. Those @#$! pavers are heavy, and getting them from the car to the back will be a project. On the other hand, the tomatoes were better than last year, and now I have 2x as much veggie garden space. We will in fact have a carrot from it in our soup tonight.

I dropped $50K on the house, including new roof, retaining wall (ouch), paint, slate porch and walk, shored up garden. And it does look fine, I shall say, if you don't look at the tile cutting station in the middle of the front lawn. Actually, don't look at the lawn at all, I'm not a grass kinda girl.

I acquired a J & P Coats wooden thread cabinet with a lovely desk-top and drawers for things. We are designing a wooden cabinet to put it on for my birthday (which birthday, exactly, remains to be seen, but I am optimistic).

Probably not too surprisingly with all that going on, my productivity in the sewing room was limited to a couple of tops, a necklace from parts and stoppers etc from work to wear to trade shows, a jacket (except for button holes) from gorgeous hand-loomed fabric, and not a whole lot else that I can remember.

Oh, and I survived my rookie year as a sales specialist near the top of my group - proud of that, I am.

What's the list for 2009?
Get the blood pressure down. Lose 10 pounds and see if it helps. Exercise. do it!
Find something easy enough I can do it for a half hour in the evening with out making mistakes - even if it is to knit a plain stockinette scarf with the new bamboo needles!
Continue to bead and knit with my friends, and teach L how to read written knitting directions.
I would say eat better and drink less, but that is a lost cause. Just lose the weight some other way.
Keep my job. Don't bait the boss. Important, that one. Good luck to us all on things to do with money.

Having publicly affirmed my good intentions, I am going to replace a zipper and clean up after myself.

What about YOU?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Saturday

A week. I've been home a week. Reading the paper, Science, a Jeffery Deaver novel from the library. Not too much tea. Christmas was lovely, Santa was very generous, and the bamboo knitting needles a delight. We had friends and neighbors Christmas Eve and Day, the smoked game hens were divine, and all the bottles of wine excellent. I shall finish my jacket today, the green hand loomed wool is so lovely to work with.

The rains a week ago has all the weeds germinating, and it is going to be a big job to get them all cleared up. I put out the granules that are supposed to keep seeds from sprouting, but either too early or not enough, and I have a lot of work in front of me this spring. Ah, well, good exercise scrambling on the side of my hill. Took out more tomato plants, tore down the beans and planted peas and beets. I put in the new Pink Promise rose and the queen Elizabeth grandiflora, and worked on the path for the stone walk next to them. Off to find asparagus! What a luxury to work outside in just a shirt.

The old Mercedes has, I hope, belched its last clouds of blue smoke. A fine bargain for the new Fusion, $9 grand cheaper than when we looked at it in November. How prosperous the house looks, with a new roof, new walk and 2 new cars! An auspicious beginning for 2009, 2 new cars and 2 jobs. Who would guess we both feel so lucky to get a pay cut?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve tidings

well the stockings are hung (or laid out), Glen's gift is on the TV in the bag from the store (men!), the cookies are made and iced, the kitchen is clean. I get to prepare the rest of the dinner, go watch the National Weather Service show where Santa's sleigh is on the evening news (my favorite part), and then entertain friends and neighbors. Oh, and I still have to get my jams to the neighbors. What a luxury, to have a day to get dressed in my new Christmas apron from my friend, cook and bake and clean, and then get to eat, drink and be merry. I hope where ever you are and however you celebrate, these blessed days bring you peace and love. And presents, of course. the knitting needles came yesterday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a quiet day at home

I'm enjoying the chance to be working in the sewing part of my office, instead of the office part of my sewing room. The house is picked up, I got a few things mended, the piles of mail have been sorted, I had the capital loss discussion with my broker this morning (yikes. it had been weeks since I looked at my stocks). I'm ready for Christmas - more about the Christmas project after it no longer needs to be a suprise. I'm online researching a new iron. I have 2 bareroot rosebushes to plant, and the sun is shining. What a nice Tuesday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

fauna on Cliff Drive

I have had a request for a photo of the boys. According to the hunting pages, the fluffy feather on the breast is the trophy, and longer and fuller is most desirable. It is fall and they walk about in full glory in case a female shows up. The girls live on the next hill over and I have not seen them here this year. Presumably the ranges overlap.

Did you know there are multiple tortoise rescue organizations in CA, including one here in silicon valley? Well, there are, and today I mailed my application to adopt a rescue tortoise to join my 2 rescue Siamese. Hey, why not? If it eats too much in the garden I can fence it off. I think I need to do some work on my yard fences to 'tortoise proof' the yard and keep it inside, but that should not be so hard to do, and one supposes I can get some advice on this. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

three disconnected thoughts

I have finished packaging my Santa Shipments. Louie helped by rummaging in the Styrofoam to make sure everything was in place, and then by sitting proudly on top of the taped boxes to send his love to the recipients. Holiday helping hands (paws) are so welcome and cheering!

I have spent a couple of times rummaging on the Internet for a set of single-pointed bamboo needles. I cannot locate a set in smaller sizes (containing size 5 for my current project, for example), only in big sizes that I rarely use. However one can buy them singly in small sizes. Huh. The rosewood ones are loverly - I went to a yarn store to browse, and caress. I may go to another store later today. But expensive!

The company has cut our salaries to reduce overhead before things get worse. There are reports daily of my customer's companies laying off and cutting back, so the action, while unwelcome, was not unwarranted. Then I read about bailouts for the auto companies citing the network of other companies that support GM. So the government is going to spend how many million to bail out last century's technology, and how many millions to bail out science and biotech and pharmas? We are just developing personalized medicine, which would be such a blessing for people with genetic screw-ups causing autoimmune diseases and cancer. How can the government propose to invest less than a million $ in science, with a $500M jump start for the tattered economy? Come on, bureaucrats, look forward! Think of science as an integral a part of the infrastructure as bridges and buildings, for it is upon the scaffold of knowledge that industry and environmental custody can build for the next century, not the last.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the other shoe

It was a great weekend. A friend has bought an architecturally charming 5th floor condo with city views of San Jose for a good price. Two of us helped her pack Sunday until our various muscles would lift no more, then we went out for a grand Moroccan dinner. Yum! However, bad karma clung to me in spite of spending a day being generous.

The BlackBerry refuses to communicate. Spending the day in South San Fran with no phone was like not wearing shoes. The electronic leash certainly tethers the thinking. When I finally got home to get in touch with the wider world, there it was. The company has cut our salary 10% again, probably for the rest of the fiscal year which is just underway. Better than layoffs, yes, but it will be a bit harder to be cheerful this holiday understanding that things really are as bad as they seem. Yikes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the last good perk arrived yesterday

New car day at last. Nice bright blue. Sirius radio! A whole station devoted to classical Christmas carols for my 2 weeks of Christmas! Back-up beep-beep-beeps so I won't back into the bumper behind me! Digital auto temp control! BlueTooth sync for the BlackBerry that comes out of the car speakers. Now if I can just figure out to use the audio commands - my requests to DIAL! are met with an electronic 'Choose Help or Other Options', so there is a bit of a learning curve here. All just for me to amuse myself as I drive up and down and up and down 101 for at LEAST 5 hours a week. Thanks, John (manager of the US sales force). Let me finish the mileage bookkeeping and get back to dialing for dollars here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A new lab to visit

Occasionally I get to do something new and different, and today it was to visit Kaiser's clinical lab where they run all the blood, urine and clinical tests for the Bay area. I have never been in a clinical lab. Lots of automation, lots of ice chests on conveyor belts, lots of vials of bodily fluids lined up with different colors of caps, piles and stacks of test tube racks. Lots of tracking systems and piles of print-outs. Identical instruments in rows, and then more rows of another kind of instrument. Machines to do stuff that people do in other kinds of labs I visit. I was at the State of CA forensic lab a couple of weeks ago, and that manager told me the cops run a drug panel on everyone stopped for a suspected DUI, in the event they are driving under the influence of something other than alcohol even if they are not legally drunk. My client today had a row of instrument that run opiates in urine from people in rehab. I didn't know they tested people in rehab, although it makes sense. This was a pretty big lab as labs go, about the size of an averagely large grocery store. I now have 2 jobs on my list from hell - working at an environmental testing lab and working at a clinical lab. No fun to run the same thing over and over and over and over and . . . Life could be worse, Lenore.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

knitting needles

I'd like to take a public opinion poll here. I have both polished aluminum needles which aren't as nice to use as the brushed aluminum needles. Mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her I've always wanted a nice set of needles. Go buy them, she said. So, anyone used wooden ones and are they worth the upgrade? What would you buy if you got offered such a fine present?

Monday, December 8, 2008

9 more business days to Christmas

Our company is closing for 2 weeks and I can hardly wait. I have more stuff stacked up to do than I could get done in 2 months, and I am really looking forward to not working. It's dark so early, I feel holed up inside the house. You want to hear the list? Finish digging the sidewalk by the new roses, buy sand and walk blocks, and lay it in. Get more plants in the winter garden. Knit on my thingie. Finish the jacket I started last summer with the lovely hand-woven fabric. Finish my Christmas presents and get them mailed (maybe this weekend would be good). Weeds are growing in the yard, so time to rake leaves and de-green the dirt places. Exercise, lots of it every day. I bought some retro cherries fabric for an apron - it would be nice to wear in my ranch kitchen for the days I actually cook. Clean the walks and driveway the next time it rains. And if I actually get through all that, there is MORE fabric in my project baskets (as opposed to the stash, which is to have but not actually have a plan for).

By the way, anyone have a gift suggestion for G? He must be so tired of getting clothes, which I tend to buy because he needs sprucing up once in awhile, but it ain't fun.


The good thing about having the discipline to hang up the Christmas lights is the light itself. It is dark for so many hours, and not even very sunny the other hours, that the extra light is so cheerful. My father died a year ago this week, and I find myself in mourning again. My mother has done very well, and I'm really proud of her. I need those little twinkles this week.

My neighbor found a fox in her yard yesterday morning, in convulsions. We speculate it has been poisoned, for the animal control people tell her that rabies in foxes is not a problem in Santa Clara County. Very disturbing. I shall keep the cats in for a few days to give the fox time to die or move on. How can people be so cruel?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the buck stops here

I don't have time for a few days to return phone calls, but just a short financial note. Every 6 months we get variable pay, and it comes this month. It will be my last big check for awhile, and will cover both fall and winter taxes and may have to stretch as far as income tax time. I am just flat out of cash, a position I have not put myself in for years. After a new roof, new paint, new fences, new walk, new garden wall, more dirt and surely other things I have forgotten already, all the $$ in the bank I put there for those purposes are gone, gone, gone. A has changed how the commission payout works, and there won't be much of that until the end of the fiscal half. Humph. One supposes in the current financial situation it is good discipline for me to watch every dollar, but I am finding I can no longer add in my head and have to use a calculator. Humph. getting dotty, I am.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

3 cubic yards of dirt

Who knew it would be so much? 27 cubic feet, right? 27 trips with the wheelbarrow, right? Uh, I estimate a full 8 hours over 4 days, but it's all back there now. Well my doctor said more exercise, so there you go. I had a lot of time to think about gardens, and enjoyed the classical music. Summer of '07 we went to Austria. Every little house had a little or bigger garden. Each of them looked like something out of a Beatrice Potter illustration. Well, think about those gardens have been there for centuries and centuries. If I stayed in one place, think how fine my garden would be! Well, I now have a big flat place with a nice border, and roses along one side. I am going to put sweetpeas along the other 2 edges, at least for the winter. It is probably too late to germinate much for winter crops this year. Ummm, vegetables and roses.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

cautious optimism

I have been watching the appointments to the new regime's cabinet and so forth. I am optimistic that Obama is able to appoint able public servants who actually KNOW something about what they are tasked to oversee. In addition to former Clinton appointees, several of them are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (as am I, so not necessarily a recommendation in and of itself, but at least they presumably read the journal). Meanwhile, Bush is reportedly "burrowing" people with no science credentials into federal science agencies, such as a 30-year old into NOAA who has a bachelor's degree in government and a guy with a degree in world politics to oversee grants in the Department of Energy's Office of Science. I sincerely hope all of this sabotage can be undone by the incoming administration. Unfortunately, there is so much work to be done, this all just makes it that much harder. The law needs to be changed to move the inauguration up to a month after the election.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


It's a baby bird! When the weather cooled off, I put a nest in for each of my pairs of finches. The fawn hen laid some eggs, which I didn't really pay attention to. I noticed she was chasing and pecking the other cock, so I put the separator into the cage and separated the 2 pairs. Today as I gave them water I noticed something move, and they have a chick. It is at least a couple of days old, I would guess. You can see the crop is full of seeds. Come see if you are around!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Drumming up bidness in a slow economy

We have been doing meetings at Santa Clara Site since Monday, so I have been rolling along in rush hour traffic these past few days, listing to Morning Edition and trying to keep my space behind the car in front. This morning, at the awful 280/880 interchange, a white panel truck dove in the lane ahead of me (illegally as trucks are not supposed to be in lane 3), missing my front bumper by a fraction of an inch, I swear. I honked loudly and rudely and tried to remember I am not supposed to be getting my blood pressure up, then went back to listening to the radio and rolling along at 20 mph. About a mile later I inched past the white truck, now back in lane 2, and noticed in small black letters on the door, "American Casket Manufacturing Company" Well, new trucks and casket purchases are one way to stimulate a woeful economy, but please, not on my shift. @#$!@!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thomas, again

Thomas has been hanging around with the boys, who are starting to gobble and display. Beautiful guys. The hens hang out on another hill about half a mile from here. Now Thomas is back hanging around the end of our cul-de-sac, holding up the leg again. It doesn't look diseased this time, but he won't put his weight on it if he can help it. Well, he has quiet, corn and water. Take it easy Thomas and get well again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Your tax $$ at work

Today I went to a meeting of the Crime Lab Directors. Santa Clara County has built a new crime lab on the corner of W. Hedding and Guadalupe by the jail, so we drove over there after the meeting and took the nickle tour. 4 floors, all high tech all the time. Wireless, computer notebooks, not even a photolab, all electronic with a secure link to the DA's office. Lots of rooms with monitors to look at evidence, lots of lights for photography, more cabinets than Imelda Marcos could fill, sliding evidence banks like in university libraries. Safety features, redundancy, uninterruptible power supplies and generators. A firing range (they have a long tub with water to fire bullets into to get the rifleing marks without smashing the bullet, which only travels a few feet in water) and a garage to work on vehicles. Every sample will have an FID tag, and there are scanners at each elevator and each door so all the samples will be tracked, all the time. Not only key cards on all doors, but a thumbprint reader also. A green building, sited to use the sun, one of only a handful in the county to get the LEEDs golden seal (not sure what that means, but it is a big deal). They have only started to move in, not much equipment yet, but WAY cool tour. What a show-case.

By comparison, yesterday I was at the Department of Justice in the capitol, in the tox lab where they run blood and urine alcohol, drugs and so forth. Turns out for every person they stop who is under the legal alcohol limit, they go ahead and run a tox screen. The biggest problem? Ambien, the sleep aid. Now this lab has been there some years, and it for sure is not in the same ball-park. Books, papers, files piled up to the ceilings and held in place with bungee cords (earthquake safety). Old equipment, out dated computers, tired offices.

And before that, at Ca Food and Ag. We gave a presentation in the library, full of books from the 40's. Really. Government offices sure have a wide range of longevity and modernity.

Some days the job is really interesting. I just wish I weren't exhausted.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Plan

Boy, there is a lot of stress out there in the blogs I follow. Let's explore how to deal with all that.

Well, here is the plan. Exercise, not that I did today. Lose weight - one cookie at the Guild meeting. Check. Read a good book, on #2. Sew or read a sewing/beading book every day. So yesterday afternoon I put in the picot French neckline on a white-dotted long-sleeve tee, and it worked just like the instructions say it should have, although the next time I make this pattern I should scoop out the neck a bit. I was suprised that the neckline stitched with a straight stitch was still stretchy - guess that is due to the picot edged elastic in the trim. It got very dark when it started raining, so I shall continue sewing up the black fabric in the daylight today.

At our guild meeting, I decided I needed more therapy, so acquired 3 skeins of linen-mohair fine yarn and a lovely pattern that can be worn as a vest or a shrug, depending how it is buttoned. Very clever. I knitted my swatch last night, and my anti-stress therapy is to knit LOOSELY on the next sized larger needles to keep to gauge.

On a sad note, I hear the Hancock's fabric stores are closing. I didn't go there much, but I need to visit one more time. Surely there will be some stress-alleviating items on a good sale.
I WILL get the blood pressure down. Less housework, more stash acquisition.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A note on beginning the 7th decade of life

I could not imagine even a decade ago that this country would have elected an African-American to the White House in any capacity. I have been watching as the collective country rejoices and holds its head in its hands. Well, here we are, with the most articulate politician in a generation elected to head the Executive Branch. I was delighted to note he has chosen a junk-yard-dog Chief of Staff to keep the troops in line around the Oval Office. While Obama was not my original candidate of choice, I could bring myself to support him after I examined his views, especially on science and environmental issues, and because it looked like he knew how to surround himself with good people. Let's hope he can, no one can know everything, and Lord knows, he's going to need the help. God bless us all, and provide us with the best Secret Service agents $$ can buy.

The other comment on the 7th decade of life is less sanguine. I never imagined my doctor would tell me to lose weight, but that 7 lb. of fat that has larded my belly since taking this job and cutting back sharply on the exercise has elevated my blood pressure (or is it the stress that has me clenching my teeth . . . nah, not possibly). So, back on the discipline wagon, more exercise, watch the diet, drink less, sigh. Poor Glen, more brown rice. The good news is unlike the high cholesterol, this appears to be fixable, and within my choice to do so. I've still got a lot of fabric and beading to deal with, so I'd better get on with the program so I will be able to do so.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election night

I'm cleaning up emails and listening to the first returns. John Sununu and Elizabeth Dole (R) were already defeated for re-election. I get a Genome Technology listserve and lookie here:

Every Tuesday brings a new poll question to the GTO homepage.
Here are the results from last week's poll:
One week to go! Who would you vote for?
16% John McCain / Sarah Palin
76% Barack Obama / Joe Biden
5% Bob Barr / Wayne Allen Root
3% Ralph Nader / Matt Gonzalez

What do you know, I am not the only scientist fed up with BOOSH.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

According to Science and Nature

No matter which party is elected to the White House, it won't be as bad as the last 8 years. Both candidates support science and technology, although my take is that Obama has surrounded himself with a larger and better stable of advisors. While corn ethanol is a big mistake, at least Obama doesn't want to teach Intelligent Design. When McCain says to base air pollution standards on 'sound economics and science', that says to me if he would seek reasonable advice as President, he probably would not take it. We won't even talk about the train wreck that would occur if McCain drops dead on the job. Let me just report here that Nature, the British equivalent to our Science journal, has cast its imaginary ballot for Senator Obama.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yikes, 4 more years of Bushie Science

I am seriously frothing at the mouth. I read Science (or at least let it stack up on my desk) so that I am not stuck in 1980. I read how Bush has ordered National Academy of Science reports overwritten and various other assaults on science. Oboy, now we have Sarah trashing fruit fly research. This is a model for neurotransmitter research that, of all crazy things, may lend some understanding of autism, one of her pet causes. !@#$!@#! I really don't want 4 more years of cowboy science.
thanks Lei for this one

Friday, October 24, 2008

So where IS it, already

I bought a sweater. I have the receipt. It wasn't time to wear it, so I put it away. I have searched everywhere I can think, and I can't find it. I have the RECEIPT. I found the other new tops. ??!

I am so ready for this fiscal year to be over. I am so ready for the election to be over. Apprehensive about the outcome, but ready to move on.

My 79 year old mother, who uses a walker and is having a hard time getting around, has taken up water volleyball. She told me with amazement she stood in the pool for an hour (OK, clinging to the side) and scored a point. Now this woman has not been able to stand for more than 5-10 minutes for years. Well, good for her. I hope they have a hot tub so she can soak out the soreness.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Post Auction Stuff

For $75, I bought what turns out to be an 1929 electrical Singer 3/4 size portable model 99 sewing machine, with attachments. I cleaned it up, threaded it using the 1947 instruction book that came with it, and it sews very nicely. Glen fixed the bent case locks for me, and the busted case needs a little interior support work, but I am very pleased. I was fussing with it yesterday, thinking of the woman who bought it new 90 years ago, and what a wonderful, beautiful thing it must have been for her to have.

I also finally broke down and bought a wooden J&P Coats display desk. It's a bit big for the sewing room, so I have to figure out what to do with it. Oh, and the Rit dye cabinet was really cheap; at the end of the auction there are good bargains as everyone has spent all their wad.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's all interconnected, somehow, someway

Did you do the school experiment where you mashed up a spinach leaf, put a drop of it on a piece of filter paper and wicked alcohol through the spot? Did you see the green and yellow and red light-gathering pigments separate into distinct spots? Well, that is called chromatography (chromos, colors) and that is what I do. Unfortunately, there is an acute global shortage of the chemist's favourite solvent, acetonitrile. Let me tell you about that.

The monomer acrylonitrile is polymerized to make acrylic fibers for acrylic sweaters, industrial fabrics and rugs. Acetonitrile is a 3% by-product of the process. Acetonitrile is not actually made in chemical plants, it all comes out of this process. Now, auto sales are very slow, the global economy is tanking, and the recent hurricane in LA-TX has temporarily closed some chemical plants that affect acrylonitrile production. They aren't making as much acrylic rug fabric since cars aren't selling well. The result is an acute shortage in our favorite solvent. We actually use columns packed with little particles instead of filter paper these days, (that's what I help labs work with) and run water-acetonitrile mixtures through that to elute drugs and impurities, etc. No acetonitrile - no chromatography. Pharmas and biotechs are howling, my chemical distributor has no bottles to distribute, and life in the lab as we know it is disrupted. Who would think GM's problems would be affecting the Genentechs of the world? It's going to be one rocky economic ride for a bit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sho' 'nuff, I wore my beads today

Unfortunately it wasn't enough. I did the routine health check at work, expecting my cholesterol to be high, but loaded with HDL good stuff, and my blood glucose and blood pressure to be low. Well, 2/3. My blood pressure has ALWAYS been very low, but now it is way high. I suspect the extra drinkie-poo at 5 p.m. is not helping. Drat. Drinking is HOW I de-stress (yes, I read the warning sign screaming away). This job is killing me. Maybe half-doses of the happy pills is not enough.

On the other hand, fall is beautiful. The rain a couple of weeks ago has kept the leaves on the trees, and they are turning colors instead of drying up. It's quilt show weekend, and the quilts are exquisite with ever so much stitching. A bunch of us are wondering about the top-place wearable dress- a boned bodice is not enough for a first place finish, I'm just saying. What were the judges THINKING?! Yikes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

not much here to blog about

What I didn't expect with the new job was the deadline pressure. Our fiscal year ends, appropriately, on Halloween. It ain't just at home where discretionary spending is being curtailed. My numbers are awful, and I am worried about not only the loss of a zero in the commission check, but about the new manager looking at the numbers. She is really on our case about being on sales calls all day, every day, and checking the calendar. I am going nuts. I am forgetting things. I am not following up on things. Breathe. Go fix supper and read the morning paper. It will all be there 12 hours from now when I get to do it all again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's official, the greater depression is upon us

I wish I had some zen words of wisdom for the economic outlook, but not today. 'A' management did the $$ rain dance today and there was another downsizing of the paycheck. In the late .com bust, there were 10% salary cuts and layoffs here. Since then they have moved to structure the salaries so there was more incentive pay and very few raises. With lower sales, there will be lower variable pay. Then when you look at my quarter-to-date quota performance, there ain't gonna be much commission at the end of our fiscal year 10/31. Dismal. Like all of you, I have lost 40% of my wealth in the stock market in the last year (well, except maybe you J, you probably are weighted in cash now, good for you). I think I have enough cash to pay the property taxes Nov 1 without selling any devalued stock, but I think I also need to run the calculation again this weekend factoring in the shriveled commission check. My ex is certainly extremely pleased with himself for predicting all this. He so loves to be right.

So the good side is I have friends and family and cats who love me and leftovers in the fridge so I don't have to cook dinner. Oh, and the quilting show is next weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rain! It RAINED!

OK, officially fall in CA. It rained early, it rained nicely, it rained for the first time since early spring. The reservoirs are as low as 39% of capacity, it is supposed to be a dry winter, but for just a couple of days, the soil is moist, the leaves are clean and turning, and the air is clear. I had already picked up the outside tools. Time to put out the Preen so nothing germinates in an unseemly place. I picked more tomatoes, pulled out daylily leaves, stained part of the fence and garden wall that had not been stained, and really enjoyed the lovely, clean day today. The fall green beans are climbing nicely, the squash plants are not as mildewy as usual, so we are still getting squash, the carrots have germinated, but the beets and the chard seem not to have sprouted. I keep thinking I would like to do something on the weekend but work in the yard, but I guess only rain or cold will keep me indoors. I found some self-seeded cosmos flowering next to a tomato plant today, so life is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The pelican, the pelican, his beak holds more than his belly can

We killed a day in a pleasant drive up the coast from Anaheim. We pulled a motel off the navigational device - life is too short to stay in a $40 room where the hotel receptionist grew up on the Indian peninsula - and ended up at a fabulous Best Western property at Pelican Point. I woke up at dawn to run outside to explore - there were thousands of seagulls, sooty shearwaters and pelicans. This shot shows the mature brown pelican with a white neck and head, with just a touch of yellow around the face. There are 2 juveniles in this bunch, on the left is Junior who is still all brown, and in the middle is our adolescent bird losing the brown pinfeathers and showing some white. You can see the pelican paint on the side of the cliff. How lovely! Really worth staying an extra day.

The girls from Missoula

We spent a couple days at the Victorian Casino Auction which occurs twice a year. We have a grand time. Such Stuff! I was about to turn to Joe and say "who would ever want THAT" when he bid on it. It runs the gamut from there for stuff I would love to have but could never afford. So this was hanging by the ladies room door, and I looked at it for a day before I figured it out. Have a look-see, and enlarge if you must to see the detail! WooHoo!

Go back to Aug 29 photo

OK, I had one precious free day on my vacation. Not quite as glamourous as Swaroski crystals, but good enough to get at least one double-take on the show floor last week. These are all pieces-parts from one of my instrument lines.

I have some earring findings - I'm still waiting for more inspiration.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where were the marketing weenies?

Saturdays this summer there is a farmer's market a few blocks from here. It is very popular, people and cars clog the corner where I turn left to get south. I haven't been much, since I grow my own, but it is a valuable addition to neighborhood life. It makes me smile when I go by there. As I turned the corner and slowly wove through the people and cars, I passed the Curve's store across the street. They had a table out to attract new customers, balloons and two frowzy, obese, middle-aged broads sitting on folding chairs. Hello-o! Where was the cute, pleasingly plump matron bouncing on the little trampoline? Whoever would sign up for THAT?

Friday, September 12, 2008

We are so close to miracle medicine

We are introducing a chromatography product in a couple of weeks that makes it fun to do this work. Turns out that for reasons of its own, Staph. aureus produces something called Protein A that binds antibodies, probably to keep it from getting picked up in the blood. In our case, we are brewing and binding Protein A to a substrate so that drug companies can use it to test therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. I have found the conversations with the production and testing people on this subject quite interesting. All these MAB's in the pipelines are 'magic bullets' for tumors of various types, and I hope the one I may need someday will be there before I need it.

The other magic medical wand we need is a way to do gene therapy, a way to insert a gene into the DNA so something can be made or suppressed when a gene is or becomes inactive. Viral vectors have been used in research, but it's problematic to find a modified virus to infect humans that has no side effects. Adenovirus is used in a couple of cases, but there are problems with that. Today I see where shistosomes secrete a protein that could be used as a vector. This parasite is the second most costly disease. The shistosomes are very clever at changing their immunological presentation to avoid being attacked by the host. I don't know if this sounds better than a viral vector to me or not. But the point is, this next generation of medicine, gene therapy, is getting closer to being there for me when I need it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The good news and the other news

The good news is the little hen is back in the community cage and being a bird. Her leg is a little crooked, but she can sit on the perch and take off and land and do her birdie thing.

Several weeks ago I took a glass of wine out to the back deck (where I have signal) and punched the number my sleuthing cuz found for me, took a deep breath, and pressed send. He: Hello? Me: Is this John Sanders W*****? He: (suspiciously) Yes. Me: John Henry, is it really you? This is Lenore Kelly. He: ohmygod. He was my first real boyfriend, my senior year in high school. We did all the high school stuff and had a great time. Then we went to different colleges, he flunked out, and I dumped him. He joined the Navy, and I lost track of him. He's a high school biology teacher, kids, Mormon, living on his wife's family farm in the frozen Midwest, working with Indian kids. I bet he looks just like his father. I thanked him for making my last year of high school so memorable, and he said he, too, got to do stuff with me he didn't get to do at his school. It was nice. I gave him my e-mail address, he said he'd write, and we said goodbye. I didn't hear back from him, but I got to close the loop and thank him for being there. Have a good, long life, John Henry.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just stuff

Here I am trapped at my desk just like it was a work day (well, I was working). Too hot to be out, even hot in here. But I got my back yard cleaned up this morning, the stuff put away, the leaves put in the compost bin (even turned the compost for good measure), some of the soil leveled a little bit, a bit of washing down. I have planted some fall beans, carrots, chard where the tomatillos were. I'm like a kid, out there spraying the bed to keep it damp, peering hopefully for little bits of green. Dug my shallots, dried them in the sun for a few days, and I have a nice big bowl of eating sized ones and enough little ones to plant when I get a space for them. Shallots grow like bunching onions, which I didn't know. I thought each little bulb grew into a big bulb, but the grow into a cluster of shallots. I won't plant them so close next time! I made a bunch of jars of dried oregano, and ate a few tomatoes. It was a good morning, except . . .

A bad thing happened, probably this morning. They get really quiet when it gets dark, so I doubt this was last night. One of my little finches, the fawn hen which lays a egg every day, pulled a thread from a spool hanging near the cage - I cleaned the cage yesterday and moved it too close to my thread rack. When I went to check on them, fortunately fairly early this morning, I found her hanging upside down from the swing, mostly touching the floor of the cage. She had gotten the thread wrapped around her leg and the swing. I can't tell if her leg is broken or dislocated. She is in a box covered with net and facing the cage so they can all see each other but she can be quiet. I'm sure her mate misses her, they fly as a pair and always sit next to each other. The bird guy at the vet's was off today, so I can take her there Monday. Awww.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

8 years too long

I read Science and have since graduate school (when it was a lot cheaper, but A pays for it now). For the last 8 years there have been a steady string of reports explaining how the White House has meddled in reports, investigations, and programs to further the Gospel according to W. Go here, this is great Click on the cartoons to make them large enough to read. This hasn't been normal Republican big-business behavior, this has been the wholesale manipulation of facts to further a political agenda. I am relieved to say no matter who wins in November, this part of either administration will likely improve.

On a related topic, Sarah kicked butt last night and I was impressed by her political savvy. Not that I am likely to vote for someone who wants creationism but not sex education taught in schools, (which may not be part of her political agenda, just her personal belief), but that was one fine political speech.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All done but the cleaning up

My contractor and his 3 Russians left today for the last time. I have a little cleaning up to do, but it's DONE!!! Time to buy topsoil and nag G into helping me finish the garden sprinkler, the slate walk, the tree structure and put up one more layer of the deer fence. It's a hot day and I need to go water and admire the front yard without a pile of lumber. DONE (just as soon as I pay off the credit card bill)!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thomas the Turkey

Thomas has a scary story with a happy ending. Turkeys live on the hill by my street, a flock of Toms and a flock of hens. One supposes they mingle at least once a year, but not down here. One of the cocks got ejected from the flock. He had a hurt leg, a very severe limp, a growth on his foot, and like 8 year old boys, the flock pecked him for being weak and different. Since there was water, food in the form of cracked corn, and shade under a small tree, Thomas moved into my yard. He stood on one leg and avoided the other guys. I carefully walked across the grass so as not to chase him off, and a couple of months passed. I noticed Thomas was not limping as badly, and then I noticed Thomas was not here as often. I am very happy to say that Thomas has moved back into the flock, is not limping, and appears to be back to normal. Isn't that just fine!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Toys from the lab

Yesterday I went to our factory in Folsom Ca, the former J&W gas chromatography columns site founded by a chemistry professor from Davis. A sympathetic colleague devoted some hours to teaching me about the instrumentation, and particularly, the consumables associated with it. 8 months into this job and I finally understand that part of it. GC columns are +/- 100 meters of angel-hair pasta-sized tubes of polyamide coated glass with a wee-beensy hole down the middle, wound on a circular cage. The inside is coated with various non-polar materials that attract volatile molecules. You put that in a hot oven, inject sample, and blow gas through it so the sample separates into various components. Now the point here is that the injector has to be sealed to the capillary, the detector has to be sealed to the other end, the gas has to be sealed so it has pressure and so forth. All of these seals for different purposes and for various vintages of instruments are of sundry sizes and colors. So last night, on the couch, I spread out my baggie and assorted jars of colored small seals, caps, and ferrules. We're talking show jewelry here!
Years ago I made a great quilted vest with my bioanalyzer printed upon it, using the disposable chips for buttons, and I always got attention when I wore it to trade shows. Hee!
I need to figure out how to make a jig to make perpendicular punctures so I can string them and they won't be crooked. The materials are soft - you need to poke syringe needles into them (the injection part) - but if I just use a beading needle they will lay every which way when strung. And they are light-weight enough that I can make some darling earrings. Fun! Stay tuned for the after photo.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A day in the life of a Sherpa

I french-braided my hair and dressed for success (no zorries, shorts or tee-shirts), put my baby power and some ice in the car and hauled back through Sacramento to AggieLand. I always love working the universities, but in record-breaking temps in the Central Valley, I was cool about the idea today. In the morning, I managed to serpentine among the shade of the trees. I found a few crows, a flock of plump Guinea hens with impossibly small heads, and a family of half-grown jackrabbits, all in the shade as well. In the afternoon, I went over to the new biomed buildings, with nary a tree taller than me in sight. Parked in the visitor's space, which is to say a quarter mile from the building. Hauled two boxes of paper and a carton of freebies on my wheelies over the scorching asphalt and into the cool of the building. Set up, gave away the freebies in exchange for names, toured a lab and met a few more people, packed up the paper and haul it back across the even hotter parking lot. Baby powder to the rescue. Too hot to find a restaurant - off to the grocery store to buy salad stuff and watch the convention in bed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cruising around the Central Valley

Hot, pale blue sky overhead, hot wind hitting the car, I followed a truck heading east that was loaded with three sizes of blue pipes on the bottom - large ones on the left, and two smaller sizes alternating on the right, with a different arrangement of 3 other sizes of green pipes on the top. Neat rectangles of neat honeycombs. It would have made a nice polka dot print. Polka dots make me happy, so I drafted on the truck for awhile.

After a few calls, I dropped by our factory in Folsom to glad-hand, then turned out and headed north. I drove along the RR tracks and past a vast lot of RVs being liquidated (good luck with that). I turned onto a charming block of historic Folsom Sutter street, with shops with wooden porches of all kinds on both sides of the street. Everything was a different height, like very old buildings in Europe have different door heights and sizes. I wished I had time to go sit on one of the porches. There is a roundhouse, the old train station that proclaimed the Wells Fargo line terminated there, an old power building in the Sacramento River, and three bridges of increasing sophistication and tonnage fanned out over the curve of the river. I quite like Folsum - you can see the foothills and the terrain is pleasantly rolling. Time to grab a couple of Science's for company and forage for dinner.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Tomatoes

The reason I wanted to buy this house was the land. Flowers in the front so I can look at them from the kitchen window. Garden in the back for the veggies, newly enlarged and not done yet. The roses will go there, as the deer eat them in the front yard. The deer did get in the back this summer during the house work, so now the tomato plants have finally grown back from being eaten and I am rolling in tomatoes. I made a special trip to the store for lettuce, good bacon and potato bread. I had the ceremonial BLT for breakfast. It has to have hot bacon, dripping tomatoes and perfectly toasted bread. What more could I ask for? Life is good. OK, off to boot camp exercise class to work it off!