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Homeless?

Boy, are we in a pickle.  I flew to Colorado last week to look at housing and to have some face-to-face time with the team I'll be working with when I get out there.  Found the perfect house, it was cheap to rent, had a GREAT back yard and was close to a park and was big enough for all of us and our stuff.  I put in an application, and looked at a few other houses.  Figured we'd get the house I wanted, as I have plenty of money and an absolutely perfect rent record.

Hopes were dashed by Monday.  Since my plan to go "no credit" a few years ago, I have managed to reduce my credit score to zero.  You'd think that'd be a good thing.  No credit cards, no revolving accounts, no nothing.  I have a few old medical bills I'm paying off, but really, there's just nothing else.  Turns out "no credit" is worse than "bad credit."  That zero credit score was enough to keep the guy from renting to us.  Even though our personal, work, and rent references are extraordinary, that zero thing is a problem.

He explained it to me this way:  If we have no credit, then how are we supposed to take care of emergencies that come up?  It means we don't have the means to borrow when needed. 

Okay.  I get that, from HIS perspective.  But from my end, I have no problem covering my bills and having some left to go into savings.  My savings is my emergency fund.  I've never run into an "emergency" that couldn't be covered by my savings.  I've paid cash for our last three cars. We don't live high and mighty, and if I can't afford to pay cash for something then I just don't get it, and probably don't need it.  I can't think of a single thing right now that my savings wouldn't be able to cover (as it is supposed to).  

I don't WANT to borrow money just to prove that I can.  I don't WANT to owe anyone anything, have anything hanging over my head.  It is completely ridiculous that I should have to carry some sort of revolving credit debt just to show that I have debt.  I can't think of anything more stupid than that.

So, the search continues for housing.  I'm trying not to panic, but we're getting in a moving truck in three weeks, and I need to know we have a place to go.  
We are overrun here in my area with the 13-year cicadas.  These huge, ugly, brainless winged insects are climbing out of the ground, looking for love, laying eggs, and dying.  In that order.  They swarm and buzz and make a huge racket.  And when they land on your shirt, inches from your face, you get a chance to stare into their vacant red eyes.

Yes, red eyes. 
Cicada

But I digress.  The cicadas are so bad you don't want to be outdoors for long.  But I found myself outside of the DMV with my mother, waiting for my daughter to pass her licensing test.  And a lonely cicada, thinking I was a tree, crawled up my shorts, and underneath the shirt I was wearing, to finally trap himself under the shoulder of my shirt.  That was when it got noisy.  He's hollering because he's trapped, I'm screeching because there's a bug under my shirt, and all I can think about is getting my shirt off.

And that's exactly what I did.  Dropped my purse, threw my keys at my my mom (they were in my hand from having opened the trunk of my car), grabbed the tails of my shirt and whipped it over my head and off.  One good shake and the cicada hit the ground, and my mom, being the good mom that she is, promptly stomped on it.  I calmly but quickly turned my shirt right side out and put it back on. 

Oh, but Ethyl, it was too late.  Two 20-something guys were trying to take a pinball machine out of a delivery truck, while trying not to laugh.  A DMV driver's license tester stood stoically trying to pretend she had seen nothing at all, while the kid she was running through the paces of checking lights/horn/blinkers looked as red as the t-shirt he was wearing.  My daughter is laughing so hard I think she's going to pee.  

At least I was wearing one of my new pretty pink bras.  Mom always said never to leave the house without underwear.  Or was that clean underwear?  Something like that.

Learning to Cook

Moving to Colorado is going to present a few cooking challenges, I think.  There's that whole altitude and cake-baking thing, but there's also the problem with trying to boil a simple potato.  Water at altitude boils at a lower temperature, and because the climate is dryer, water evaporates more readily too.

This means I will need pans with tight-fitting lids, and will have to account for at least 1/4 more time than usual to cook things that are being boiled (eggs, potatoes, any kind of braising, anything being steamed.  Leavening agents work overly well at higher altitudes, which means I could have exploding cakes and breads.  That could be fun.

I have a pressure cooker, thanks to my mom, who gave me her old one from the 70's.  It works great, but in Missouri, is not really all that necessary to regular cooking.  I think I'll be using it a lot more in Colorado.  I wonder how this will affect my rice cooker.  I've been doing some online research but haven't found any mention of the rice cooker.  

This should be interesting!

In the meantime, I need to cook up what's in the freezer and pantry as much as possible this month.  I will also pick up an AngelFood order the week before we leave, which means another pile of meat and other items that will have to be eaten up.  I may have a box full of stuff to give away, much as it pains me to do so.  I am not sure I can keep frozen things cold enough for a two-day journey across the country.  That will take an awful lot of ice...

Oh, and I have two peach and blackberry pies in the freezer waiting to be baked and eaten.  Since I'm really the only pie eater...dang.  LOL

The Housing Hunt

The housing hunt is not going well for Colorado.  I know, I've only been looking for a week or so, and most of the property available is ready for June occupancy and we need July occupancy.  Still, I'm starting to get nervous.  I'd love to have this nailed down by mid-June.

Of course, my expectations are high.  This is what I want:
Cabin in the Woods
But this is probably what we can afford:
Trailer

Heading to the Mountains

I received a job offer from Colorado University at Boulder.  I accepted it.  I will be doing what I am doing now, but at a four-year school, in a place that I've always wanted to live.

Am I scared and crapping my pants?  You bet!  Am I excited and can't wait to go?  You bet!

Yeah, I'm a little bi-polar there, but that's to be expected.  I'm also way stressed and madly making lists of things we need to do in order to move.  And part of that is a ton of cleaning out and getting rid of stuff, figuring out what we truly want/need to take, and then making that all happen.  It's going to cost a fortune for us to move, of course, but that's expected.  We are now on the hunt for housing, and I have to fly out in a couple of weeks to meet the team I'll be working with and to visit the lab, and hopefully to look at housing.  

Meanwhile, I also applied for and am in the interview process for my current job on my campus.  I know, that sounds so backward and messed up, but they figured out they had to create a position to replace the one yanked away by the IT department (which is who I work for).  The problem is, this is too little too late, and I have no interest in being bossed around by the micro-managing irrational library director for the next ten years until I can retire.  But, I will go through the interview process anyway, point out the board policy that shows I should have been given the job outright, then submit my resignation.  I will complete the fiscal year at the college, and then I am gone.

So, now I start packing, throwing away, piling up for a yard sale, and trying to visit all the places I want to visit locally one last time.  We'll be trying to go to Grant's Farm and the Zoo, and trying to see all of our family one more time, before we drive away to the mountains.  Oh yes, and I need a stop at Ted Drewes too.  

Then it's off to new adventures, and tea!  (Celestial Seasonings headquarters and plant are located in Boulder, Colorado.)
Celestial Seasonings

Never Enough Information

One of my faults is an inability to make decisions.  I always need more information.  Usually this is for big things, not necessarily small things.  And right now, it's all about the job.

The potential job in Colorado will come through at some point.  When, I'm not sure and there are more questions than answers at this point.  I need to be a resident of Colorado in order to take the job temporarily.  I don't live in Colorado.  I can't move there with no job, and maintain a household here too.  Well, I could, but then we wouldn't have money to move the family there.  So no, can't do that.  Can't get enough information about the Colorado job and am waiting until I talk to the person doing the hiring, and she hasn't called me.  Bah.

Meanwhile, a position has been created at my current campus for an Adaptive Technologist.  By union rules and board policy, I should be able to move into the job, except the person who created the job really doesn't want me to fill it, so she wasn't going to tell me about it.  Nice.  I found out anyway, because I have people who care enough to look out for me.  I'm still wrangling with Human Resources over the position, but hope to know something by mid-next week.  

I hate being in flux.  And I hate not knowing enough to make a clear decision.  And if the job on campus becomes mine, I will take it, with the thought that if the Colorado job ever gets together and is ready for me, I will leave campus and go.  I have lost all faith in how the campus will be treating people in the future.  I don't have any doubt that I will go through this upheaval again next year, and that is just not right, nor healthy.

In the meantime, I'm doing my job, and trying to keep my temper under control both there and at home.  I have ramped up my writing, at least, enough to be able to send a query out for a story that is partially written.  Now the hard part - finishing the story so that if the publisher asks for it, I will have something to show them.  This means some heavy-duty writing.  I squeezed in enough time yesterday for about 3000 words.  I only have about 97,000 words to go.  I had hoped to devote a good chunk of today to writing, but my schedule is completely wonky between taking one kid to a volunteer gig, needing to go to the grocery store and pick up AngelFood and my mom needs some help with a problem with her computer.  It's already a busy day, and I need to squeeze in about 5,000 words of writing at the same time.

And try to do it without my mind wandering off and worrying over the job. 

Two Birds, One Stone

Tater has been losing teeth like crazy.  She's going through her molar replacement phase.  Every other week or so, another tooth is gone.  She's very matter-of-fact about it for the most part, and then we go through the whole routine of putting the tooth in a little cup on her dresser and waiting for the Tooth Fairy to come.

As you can imagine, I'm such a stellar mother that I never screw up the Tooth Fairy thing.  Right.  I miss it a lot.  We have had some very sneaky sleight-of-hand incidents over the last two or three years with the teeth trying to meet that overnight deadline.  And sometimes, we completely miss it.

Like Monday night.  She came home with the tooth she'd pulled out of her head at school (they put them in these cute little tooth-shaped containers on keychains) and proudly put it in the little dish on her dresser.  I then promptly forgot about it, as usual.  Several times I've been rescued by the Perfect Child, who does remember and stays up late (unlike me, who turns into a pumpkin at 10 every night).  This time, no rescue.  Tater gets up and immediately goes to the cup, and the tooth is still there.

I said, "Maybe the Tooth Fairy couldn't get in your room, it is such a mess."

Great save, Momilies!  Off she went to school, and madly I went to work on a written note from the tooth fairy.  The Perfect Child cut it out and glued it onto a pretty piece of purple construction paper, waited for it to dry, rolled it up with a little ribbon to tie it, and left it and a quarter in the little cup on the dresser.  Katie found it when she got home, and immediately cleaned her room.  Now we have a clean room and redemption for the Tooth Fairy.

I think this is the one and only time I'll ever get away with this. 
Tooth Fairy
We have had such dreary days of late.  Throughout last week we had rain rain rain, lots of humidity, and bright sunny spots that made us wish for more rain.  This is the part of summer I dislike.

Then Friday night, we got rain again, only the temps dropped.  40 degree rainy days are not so fun.  It was rainy/misty/foggy and cold all weekend.  It feels like November.

So we decided to go to the Ren Faire.  We were cold, wet, cold, wet, but still had a good time.  Going to the Faire when the weather is icky means that there aren't a lot of people there, many of the shows don't happen because of the weather (or no butts in the seats come time to perform).  It also means no joust.  At least, no joust on horseback.  But then again, the vendors aren't crowded, the beer tastes extra-good because you need it to warm you up, and you get to interact with the actors and crew a whole lot more than you might have otherwise.  I spent quite a few minutes chit-chatting with "Sir Malcom," one of the jousting knights, about this that and everything.  I now know what city he lives in and that his wife has a gluten allergy.  Funny what you learn when you are taking shelter under a stand of cedar trees to keep out of the misty rain.  

After a very funny non-joust at about 2:30, we decided to head home.  We were soaked and cold, and the girls were whining about wanting hot chocolate.  Can't say I blame them.  I do have to say it's one of the few Faire's I've attended where I wasn't dripping with sweat within the first hour.  So there's that!  I should have pictures up soon, just need a few minutes to download the right program (since I have a new computer and haven't replaced all the programs yet).  We hope to go back on a nice sunny day on a coming weekend.  There are still three weekends left of Faire. 

And of course, this morning dawned bright and sunny, and my soda is not sweating on my desk, and it's quite tolerable outside in the upper 40's.  Of course, everyone I know is complaining it's "cold."  I say, "the sun is shining, shut up!"  :)

Getting My Hopes Up

This morning I came in to work to find a job offer in my email.  The offer is for a job at Colorado University at Boulder, affectionately known as CU-Boulder or the Buffs (their school mascot is a buffalo).  For those that have known me for a while, they know CU-Boulder is my dream school.  Located in my dream state.  Near my dream town of Nederland, Colorado.

I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic.  There is some negotiating to take place, and the job is temporary for six months (or maybe less) until they can slide me in as a regular employee.  The job has good benefits, pays what I'm making now or a bit better, and would keep me involved with the professional groups and conference that I am currently involved with.  It is also a job doing what I love - working directly with disabled students and adaptive technology. 

There are some questions still to be answered, and family discussions to be had.  But this is the biggest hope I've had so far since being laid off, and it makes me very very happy!

So, I'm applying for a job as an IT trainer at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  I am following their procedures about uploading my resume, filling out personal information, etc.  Then I get to the "must take exam" part.  I'm thinking it's a state exam, which I am familiar with.  I'm excited to find out I can take the test online, that I don't have to drive to Milwaukee to take it.  All is good, right?

Well, funny thing about this exam.  It's not a typical state exam.  The "exam" consists of three questions to be answered in essay form, no more than one page per question.  It is suggested that I write the answers to the questions in a word processor, then paste them into the application form.  Also, the answers I provide to those questions will determine whether I am qualified for an interview, and that my resume will not be viewed by HR or the interview committee until after I am determined qualified.

This is the oddest thing I've ever encountered in a job application process.  I'm a natural writer, so writing these essays is not going to be a difficult task overall.  And maybe this will weed out those that are just willy-nilly uploading resumes to open jobs, by making one work a little harder to make it through the screening process.  That can't be a bad thing, right?

Just for the record, half of what I do now is training-related, and before I worked at the college, I was a software trainer.  So I think I will qualify.  Now, I'd better get busy on those essay questions... (I'm posting them below for anyone who's curious!)

Please describe your experience developing and providing IT training.  Be sure to include:

a.       Your role in the development and delivery of training

b.      Size of the audience

c.       Number of training sessions conducted

d.      Topics of training (e.g., basic computer orientation/operation, web browsers, Microsoft Office Suite, etc.)

e.      Length of training (e.g., one hour workshops, multi-day sessions, etc.)

 Please describe your experience developing and maintaining IT documentation.  Be sure to detail:

a.       Type of documentation (e.g., user guides, fact sheets, etc.)

b.      Documentation topics (e.g., basic computer orientation/operation, web browsers, Microsoft Office Suite, etc.)

c.       Experience creating documentation within a Knowledge Management System

 Please describe your years of experience providing technical support within a call center operation.  Be sure to provide details on your experience including:

a.       Number of computers or users the operation supported

b.      Incident management/call tracking systems used

c.       Method of support provided (e.g., phone, web, in-person, etc.)

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