Hello?

05/13/2013

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As the search continues to find employment in this fine city, the phone interview continues to challenge the spirit.  I suppose a healthy dose of self-criticism is good for continual personal development, but the phone interview has always been one of the most challenging aspects of the job searching process for me.  I can feel really good in a phone interview up to a point and then there is always a question or two that surprises me to the point of my brain just turning off temporarily.  And, of course, you never have the time to hit the mental reset button so you do your best to push through with some semblance of an acceptable answer.  Today I had a phone interview and there were two questions that threw me.  And they weren't complicated questions, but in the realm of questions that may have been asked they did not pop up into my head beforehand.

The first question was, "What do you think when you hear the phrase 'the customer is always right'"?  The first thing that popped into my head was I don't really think much of it at all.  Then I thought I certainly can't say that.  So I flubbed my way through the question by saying something to the effect of that it depends on the situation and the customer should always receive what they expect.  Mediocre answer at best.  This question has stuck in my head and I keep answering it over and over again.  The things that keep popping up in my ever changing answer are that when the quality of service or product is matches expectation, then that phrase doesn't need consideration.  When you put in your best effort to match quality with expectation then the customer is always right because they are getting what they expect.  Yeah, that would have been a better answer.  Oh well.

The second question was, "how do you define success?"  When I'm not thinking about the above question, this is the question I keep answering over and over again.  My answer wasn't horrible but I could have elaborated on it more clearly to round it out.  I said that I define success in satisfaction.  And success comes in different sizes.  I mentioned successfully recreating a Julia Child recipe (which can be a lot more challenging that you might think) but also dealing with a disgruntled student who doesn't understand why the expectations she set for her teammates have resulted in her doing the brunt of the work at the end of the semester.  I wish I had included in my answer that when you know you've done your best and you've obtained the intended results while feeling good about it, that is satisfaction...that is success.  

By then end of the day I'll have completely re-answered these questions, perhaps thinking about it from a different perspective.  And should I have another phone interview, or even an in-person interview, I'll have a better mental hold on how to answer similar questions.  After learning more about the company from the interview, I would really love to work there, but if it doesn't work out then the right job will come along....and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Good luck to all you fellow job hunters and stay strong!
 
 
Well, folks, hardly two days passed after my last posting about the pumpkins that the green beans sprouts made their entrances into the world!  And, boy, are they growing fast! So far I have counted seven green bean sprouts.  The two pictures right below are the first day they popped out of the ground and then today.  It will give you an idea of how quickly they are growing.
That's a pretty significant difference between the two, am I right?  I'm right.  In no time at all Jack will be able to climb our beanstalk to get a better view of the city from here.

In addition to the kickass green beans, the cherry tomato plant now has two very tiny tomatoes on it.  In the picture below you can only see one because I took it first thing this morning.  It wasn't until this afternoon that the second started to take a round shape.  But you know what that means, right?  Very soon we will be able to make a spoonful of homemade tomato sauce!  Or make a tiny caprese salad.  Yeah!  That's what I'm talkin' about!  

Well, kids, I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.  It's supposed to be a very nice one out here in the Bay area.
 
 
The cool thing about planting a garden is that you can just go to the store and buy plants for your garden.  No need to start your garden from seeds.  That's what Laurel and I did for the most part with the one we recently started.  You can see an array of pictures of the initial building of the garden in my post entitled, Green thumb: nature or nurture? (you see what I did there?).  

Of the variety of things we planted there were two that we actually did start from seed, mini jack pumpkins and green beans.  We planted the pumpkins first.  The package indicated that it would take between 7 and 14 days before they sprouted.  About two weeks later we planted the green beans and that package said the same thing.  So we waited and watered.  Seven days go by, nothing.  Fourteen days go by, still nothing.  Since we have never grown vegetables in this climate or geographical location we decided to give it some more time.  Was it too cold or did things perhaps just grow more slowly here?  We did a little research on how to care for these plants and changed our watering patterns.  Another week went by and still nothing.  We took the rest of the seeds and planted them, hoping one more shot at growing them would do the trick.

One week after that (aka this weekend) I was brushing away the area trying to either find seeds that never grew or something resembling a sprout. Lo and behold, I found four sprouts!  One I accidently brushed too hard and it popped out of the ground, but I stuck it back in the dirt and hopefully it will continue to grow.  It actually felt like a miracle had occurred!  The pumpkins were growing!!  Since the beans were planted later I'm still holding out for them.  

I used to grow tomatoes when I was growing up in FL. It's pretty cut and dry on how to properly maintain vegetables/plants in FL.  Out here in CA you never really know what the weather is going to do.  You can look at a forecast but it's not particularly accurate.  Also, in Sausalito, it can be 85 degrees and sunny and then all of the sudden the wind starts up and it can drop to the 60s in no time.  One is certainly never bored with the weather here!
 
 
Happy Cinco de Mayo to you margarita-drinking and enchilada-eating lovers!  Today is the day for both of those activities in honor of Mexican heritage and pride.  This day should not be confused with Mexico's independence day which occurs sometime in September I believe.  I know I've always appreciate great Mexican food and a delicious margarita.  It seems to be, in my experience, if the margarita and chips and salsa are good a Mexican restaurant then the entree with will excellent as well.  So far that theory has been supported, again, in my experience.  

So in my own honor of the day I made a burrito and a margarita.  Both were delicious.  I've never personally made a margarita from scratch (and I'm not talking about the frozen kind you can buy in the freezer section of the grocery store). Since we have Don Julio in the liquor cabinet I decided to visit the Don Julio web site to see what type of recipes they for margaritas.  I made the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita.  It was simple and delicious.  When making adult beverages I have always believed that less is more in terms of ingredients.  This recipe had tequila, simple syrup/agave nectar and fresh lime juice.  It was great! Suffice it to say I will not be buying margarita mixes anytime soon.

PS. If you read my last blog entry I told you that I never looked up a word because I was too lazy. Well, my curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the word.  The word was connivance...go ahead, look it up!
 
 
When I was young the best book was a picture book.  Or in my case, I loved National Geographics...they had great pictures of things and people from all over the world.  I preferred being outside in a tree than inside in a book.  I suppose at that point in my life I didn't need an escape into someone else's life or story.  And I certainly had enough to do outside making up my stories, which I most certainly did.  Sometimes my sisters and I would make up games or scenarios...pirate ship (we lived on the intercoastal) or coffee shop.  It was good enough for me.

As I've gotten old and had to read more and more for school, I started enjoying the stories I'd come across  The first book I ever really loved was Freak, The Mighty.  I actually read it three times.  Other books that kick-started my enjoyment of reading are The Great Gatsby (read it three times as well) and To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have found that I really love books that speak in the first person and share that character's experiences and thoughts on what is going on.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was great...I was in Barnes & Noble one day looking for a books to take overseas and just stumbled upon it.  Loved the title so I took a chance on it.  Recently I read a collection of essays called, The Disappointment Artist.  I wasn't sure at first about reading a collection of essays but I ended up enjoying them very much.  I'm finding that there is a definitive pattern in the types of books I like to read.

I'm not a constant reader, but when I do read I really get into it.  I was just thinking about the fact that I have four books going currently.  Then I wonder why I was reading so many at one time. So I thought about it and determined that there are so many platforms for reading now.  One book (Life of Pi), I just finished listening to on Audible.  Another book (The Sportswriter) I have on my Kindle and two other books (Elegance of the Hedgehog and The Casual Vacancy) are actual books.  

As much as I love technology and computers, I kind of rallied against e-readers.  I never liked reading long passages or articles on the computer so I figured it would be the same for the e-readers, but it turns out I was wrong.  I love an actual book (the smell, the feel, the ability to manually flip a page and close the close when I've finished it), but there's so much more to reading on an e-reader.  For instance, how many times have you looked up a word that you read in a paperback that you didn't know?  Me?  I never do.  I was reading The Casual Vacancy this afternoon and I came across a word I didn't know.  All I wanted to do was put my finger on the word and pull up the definition.  Then I realized I couldn't, but could easily grab my phone and look it up.  Unfortunately, my phone was miles away on the coffee table in front of me so I couldn't use that (yes, that's a pathetic and lazy excuse).  So I never looked up the word.  Granted I can live without knowing the definition but if I had had my Kindle, I would have been one more word knowledgeable. 

I love the fact that there are so many ways to read a book. Each form is a completely different experience that allows me to be able to read more than one book at a time and not get the contents confused. Thank you technology and the people behind the creation of it.
 
 
That moment at the end of the day when you know the day is actually coming to close...when you know the next move you make is to find relief (take a deep breathe and release the sigh) from the jaggedness of the day.  The barrier that we construct throughout the course of the day to separate our true selves from that person that we become everyday in order to be successful, whether it's at making a living or redefining ourselves in order to make ourselves feel more like part of the world.  Ooooh....I think I'm getting a little too much in my head. It's complicated in here and can be difficult to write down (even in my teenage diary) without sounding like a crazy person.  And who knows how long it would take to get to my actual point in this posting.

So jumping to my point, I wanted to describe my experience of coming down from a day. And it's not an everyday experience anymore but it's one I made a routine of for a few years and, whenever I think about it, it always feels fresh and refreshing.  I would get home from a day or the "5:00" hour would come around and I would pour myself a cran and Stoli, walk out onto my porch (unless it was 95 degrees with 100% humidity...Florida can be brutal during the summer), sit down and look at my cocktail.  It was at that very moment that the day had officially started to close. That first crisp sip of cranberry juice, vodka and melting ice that I could make my way back to being me, plainly and simply. I would sit on my porch sipping my cocktail and watch the world go by (On the east coast drinking at work is typically unheard of...apparently it kills productivity). Although we typically don't consciously think about it, there is always something that we do to complete a day and pay respect to the simplicity that is life.  And we all do it whether we have an insanely crazy busy day or we spent the day reading while enjoying the great outdoors.  

I find the intricacies of life to be fascinating.


 
 
Goat Festival on 4/20 in San Francisco.  Yep, that sounds pretty epic in the world of people-watching if I do say so myself.  This festival was posted all over the place.  Had to be great without a doubt. It was a festival dedicated to goats!  Well........it was less than grand.  It was actually flat out disappointing. The farmers' market was going on and there were three scattered tents for the goats.  One tent actually did have baby goats you could pet, but you had to wait in line for an hour to fight your way to touch one (unfortunately no pics of goats...sorry, folks).  So, goat festival = fail.

The farmers' market was pretty rad.  As we walked up to it we were passed by a group of naked bicycle riders.  Well, actually some of them wore jackets and top hats, so I guess that would be bottomists?  Then there was a group of Venezuelans demanding the recount of a fraudulent Venezuelan election.  I wonder how effective that was in San Francisco.  I really have no idea.  For all I know they hold Venezuelan elections in San Francisco.

It was a beautiful day, so despite the goat festival disappointment, just getting out and seeing the sights was lovely. 
 

Wake Up

04/17/2013

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Yesterday I woke up feeling happy.  I'm not implying that I don't usually wake up feeling happy (it's actually something I don't necessarily think about when I first open my eyes in the morning).  Why did I wake up feeling happy, at least, consciously happy?  First of all, I had a very vivid dream of securing great employment.  This has been my challenge over the last few months.  Not only am I trying to get into the startup industry in the bay area, but I'm also trying to switch career paths.  Suffice it say it's definitely taking longer than I had hoped, and it was a nice dream to wake up to until reality kicked in.  So back to my story, the dream was great...felt very real.  As I've noted in earlier posts, when you look out any window in this house, all you see is green.  Once my vision came into focus and I peered outside I saw a deer.  Never in my mind did I think that I would see a deer in Sausalito.  And it was huge!  Florida deer are tiny, so this one was practically as big as a horse. 

At first I couldn't believe what I was seeing and then excitement and haste overcame me.  So I quickly got out of bed and raced upstairs to tell Laurel what was outside.  Immediately she reached for her camera.  It has moved behind a tree so we weren't able to get a great shot of it.  There are a couple below.

Seeing as how seeing a deer when I first awoke could be symbolic, I looked it up online.  I'm always curious about the meaning of things in the bigger picture of life and why we feel connected to some things more than others. So the meaning behind seeing a deer is symbolic of opportunity and new adventures just around the corner. I believe that is very appropriate for my life right now.  And hopefully sooner rather than later I will embark on a new adventure.
 
 
I've always wondered if the infamous green thumb turned green as a result of genetic makeup or exposure to its powers.  Having given it some thought over the years, I always end up thinking myself in circles and have not come up with the answer.  For me I think it's a little of both.  On my pop's side of the family growing plants and whatnot is just what they've always done.  In fact, my grandparents had a greenhouse in their backyard. Yeah, it was pretty freaking awesome even though it was pretty run down by the time I came onto the scene. My dad can take a clipping of pretty much anything and make it grow. When I was younger I always loved playing outside in the dirt (and I have pictures to prove it...unfortunately they are currently in a storage unit in FL).  As a teenager I used to grow tomatoes, and as soon as they were ready to pick the bugs always got first, and subsequently, last pick of them.  But it was always fun to get them to grow.  There was always a great sense of satisfaction.

So this weekend, Laurel and I planted a vegetable garden on the upper deck where the sun shines for a few hours everyday.  We did the research and figured out what plants could be planted together, how long each would take to start producing vegetables, types of soil/compost to use, watering needs, plant spacing, and flowers that would attract pollinators to the garden.  Marigolds are wonderful flowers to plant in your garden because they attract a lot pollinators, just so ya know.

Now you're wondering what we planted.  I would be at this point.  Alright, so we planted big boy tomatoes, husky cherry tomatoes, crimson sweet watermelon (red inside), charleston gray watermelon (yellow inside), zucchini, bonnie green bell peppers, and mini jack pumpkins.  We have green bean seeds somewhere but they are currently MIA since the move.  Having two types of watermelon was not our intention.  We were so excited when picking out vegetables to grow at The Home Depot that we accidently forgot to put down the yellow watermelon plant and pick up an eggplant.  C'est la vie!  Holding all things constant, we should start seeing vegetables on our plants in as early as 40 days. Below I have pictures of the process of creating the box and planting the plants.  As they continue to grow I will post more pictures of their progress.
 
 
Being able to safely walk around the neighborhood makes getting out and exercising a LOT easier.  My older sister, Kate, who lives in Connecticut, and I decided a couple of weeks ago that we would take the month of April to walk a mile every day.  We also added some ab exercises in there as well, but that's neither here nor there.  So this past Sunday I started walking.  Yes, it was a day early but it was beautiful day for a walk!  There are all sorts of places to walk.  The cool thing about Sausalito is that there are unmarked stairways and paths all over the place so that locals can get around more easily from street to street.  For instance, if I walk out the front door and hang a right it is 8/10th of mile to the next street. Well, not all streets have these connecting paths (like the example I just used doesn't have a path because it's sooo steep and a little more wandering than most of the other roads around here), but there are a few.  On my walks with Peach, the golden retriever (my sister's dog), we've found four of those paths so far.  They are pretty nifty and one of these days I'll take a picture and post it...scout's honor even though I was never one.

I've been doing well with the walking.  We've been averaging about 1.3 miles a day.  It would be higher but I had to give my legs a break yesterday.  The day before was quite painful and close to the shin splints danger zone.  But taking the day off was exactly what I needed.  We made great time with a 1.74 miles walk today.  Climbing hills is definitely a challenge and something I am not used to.  I grew up at/just above sea level, so going on a walk and gaining a total of 433 ft during a 35 minute walk can be miserable at points (and always the point in the walk when someone wants to stop and talk!).  But at the end of the day, I'm 100% glad I did it.  And so is Peach!  

Here are some photos of the view from my walks.  Enjoy!