Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gainfully (un)Employed

Iris's Food 'O The Day: Costco pesto sauce
Had to look it up.

Oh, hello. It's hard to believe that several months happened while I was sorting out my employment situation, but there you have it.  I was gainfully employed until late March, where a C.A. I signed to release my "generous severance package" precludes me from saying anything other than they were restructuring.  Actually prevented me from mentioning it on here, folks, hence the radio silence.  But then it occurred to me that hell, I'm a writer, I can write AROUND it!  Heh.

Perfect for ruining car paint.
I wish I could wish my former boss well but that would be lying, when for the first two weeks after I received said package I was thinking of creative ways to prove to her how awesome I am at my job--office manager doesn't just mean filing, it's keeping the troops happy and making sure you do such a good job nobody wants for anything...unfortunately it means that nobody in the office realizes what a vital cog you were in the machine until you're gone, downsized, made to feel you're not necessary.  

In the world of the writer, by the way, "creative ways" get pretty damn elaborate.  If there is any government institution reading my humble blog I can tell you that no, I am not a threat because where would I even GET a thousand pounds of (full of GMOs and HFCS) bologna to put on her Jaguar SUV?  more importantly, why would I want to waterboard her into going to all you can eat IHOP breakfast day and eating non-organic pancakes until her eyes fall out from her self-induced horror?  

Nobody wants to see that.  Besides, I heard stories of the suffering that happened after I left, even though I explained the filing system to anyone who would listen.

Look up the Wikipedia entry on "gainfully employed", by the way.  Based on the psychological characterizations of such I've probably never been gainfully employed in my entire life.  Okay, this is perhaps an exaggeration.  According to the nine characterizations I've probably been gainfully (under)employed.  

Wait, is that even a thing?

At issue here is my skillset.  It's suited for startups, because my resume belies the fact that at the last five jobs I've worked, I've effectively had the workload and task diversification of five positions.  It's what startups want. And yet, the more of them I work for, the more I realize I need job stability and an oversight committee (in the form of simple things, like strict adherence to the employee manual and an HR department to oversee labor and HR violations), both of which are put on the back burner when it comes to small startups.

And so I'm still gainfully unemployed.  My friends say I'm being too picky, but really, dreaming of bologna and IHOP pancakes at the same time is not a sign of sanity, so it's imperative that I find a job that's right for me.
Anyway, look for my inane blog posts on what I'm doing with my life while I look for something else.  It'll be a fun ride, I promise.

to be continued 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Halloween Planning in March

Iris's Food 'O The Day: Meatloaf

Another foggy day in SF.
I always get obsessed with the planning of my Halloween costume, and every year it gets kind of crazy...so crazy I wear the same one several years in a row due to the expense.  This year I had my bright idea in March...I'd been Dorothy for..oh, three years now?

So I thought it was time for a new one.  The first part of my costume arrived today, in the form of a custom-made doll from Etsy.  The doll being, of course, necessary as it's lighter than carrying the real thing around.  The cost and time spent on the doll (named Jean-Pierre, custom, so it took over a month) was well worth what was sent to me, but suffice it to say that the rest of the costume will be purchased in multiple Goodwill trips.  

Yes folks, this is what I do instead of sitting my ass down to rework the whole novel because I have to change One. Stupid. Magic. Rule.

Also, I was a little overenthusiastic in removing Jean-Pierre's facial hair part of his costume that I ripped out some of his seams.  It's a little unnerving to say the least, and as I have the sewing skills of a mitten wearing monkey I'll have to take it to the dry cleaner down the street... they also do alterations.  Wonder if they've ever sewn the head of a doll back on before?
to be continued

Monday, June 8, 2015

Catching up.

Iris's Food 'O the Day: Baked chicken wings

Birthday Burger
Okay, so.  I've got a TON of peektures that I never got around to posting here so I'll start with my birthday burger in no particular order.  

Yes. $20.
Now I'm not one to snub a delicious, five dollar burger, but this being a shi-shi-fancy city and all (for all San Francisco natives say there's good food here in MOST cases I've had better elsewhere) of COURSE there are $20 burgers.  Now, I've had several, and my current favorite is the one at Wayfare Tavern.  Here's the thing.  On a normal day, in a normal universe, WHY would you go to a fancy restaurant in the middle of the bougie Financial District and order one of their two specialties, BURGERS or FRIED CHICKEN?!  I wouldn't.  But hey, it was my birthday, and ask anyone, those are the dishes you MUST have there.  

Second, Tyler Florence is one of the few "celebrity chefs" I love, not because of looks or popularity but because his recipes actually work and are pretty awesome.  All things told, my go-to recipes are as follows: New York Times. America's Test Kitchen. Tyler Florence. Ina Garten.

So what makes a $20 burger, you ask? Apparently some happy grass-fed bougie beef, equally bougie free-range fried egg, homemade pickles and fries, cheese, and sauteed onions.  Juicy and grilled to perfection.  Seriously though it's not hard to emulate this on your grill at home.  Probably for way less than $20.

to be continued

Monday, June 1, 2015

Interesting Baking Happenings.

Iris's Food 'O The Day: Ika shiokara

I have this really awesome oven mitt in the shape of Pac-Man.  Alas, I only bought one before it got discontinued, otherwise I'd have bought another and somehow stuck a red bow on it (Ms. Pac Man, natch).  But I was baking the other day, and after carelessly tossing Pac-Man back on the counter, I turned to see this:
NO, Pacman, NO!!!!
Who knew Pac-man could be so vindictive.  Luckily, the damage done to my fancy hand mixer was minimal.

to be continued

Friday, May 29, 2015

Geekin' it out with Ingress

Iris's Food 'O The Day: Brown Sugar Sour Cream Pound Cake
Burnt. Out.

I don't want to waste money on you.
I don't play many console games these days-- mainly it's my dislike of Microsoft* and harrowing memories of lugging first-gen 20 pound XBOXes to a horde clamoring to buy the Next Best Thing, and a fear of getting burned on buying the Playstation4**.

So I play a lot of phone games. If Nintendo did a better job of retaining the kinds of games I want to play on a portable and I wasn't still irritated that essentially bought my DSXL for one game (so I didn't buy a Vita to play the games I want to play), although to be honest I should just say it's a larger screen and it makes a whole lot of difference sometimes.  But I digress.

Ingress is essentially a global capture-the-flag MMORPG.  Due to game mechanics at higher levels (level 8 and up) it also essentially forces you to be social irl with people you only know from in-game-- eight level 8-and-up players of your faction need to be physically at the same "flag" (I'll call them portals from now on) to turn said portal level 8 (the highest level portals can be).  This of course requires planning, although it can be said that in a high-player area like San Francisco sometimes this happens naturally.  I can go into WHY we want portals at level 8 but I doubt you have that kind of time, and this is a non-Ingress devoted blog.

Get sucked in.
Ingress was one of those Google projects that was open to invited beta-users only, and then opened up a year or so ago (don't quote me on that) to all Android OS users, then more recently to iOS users.  As in any new tech product, you have the early adopters, and the newer ones, and everyone who plays has varying levels of geekiness.  Add a healthy dose of elitism and drama unique to getting a roomful of geeks together.  Yeah.

So I've been playing this for about... two years now?  Seriously about the last 6 months or so.  Again, with the game mechanics being what they are you're useless at level 7 and below and the community treats you as such.  At level 8 the world opens up to you-- you can finally DO damage in the game, and at the social gatherings become easier to navigate, ironically, because you know most of the game rules by then.  Globally there are more folks playing for the opposite faction from mine*** but until recently San Francisco was dominated by my faction, as...I suppose we've become too complacent.

As with the Roman Empire at the precipice of its downfall, I've heard stories of why this is happening.  Without getting too much more into it I'm of the opinion that the early adopters are burnt out, and a new set of leaders need to ease in, but there isn't much action on that yet.

Enter...me.  If you know me at all you know I can't stand when people complain about something, and keep complaining, without doing much to change their circumstances.  I took it upon myself to start arranging events.  When I did, of course, I got more of the drama and the elitism and the geekiness, and while the latter is fine (I'm used to it), the drama and the elitism are not.  I fell off the ingress grid and turned semi-feral***** for a couple of weeks (I couldn't be completely feral because I have to go to the event I organized today) and damn if it didn't feel good.  For the first time in months I wasn't getting 24 hour intel from people regarding game happenings and it was. So. Nice.

And I realized then that what happened to me with Ingress is the same reason why I can't stick with Final Fantasy XIV for long periods of time-- the game is designed to be played with groups of people, and it's real hard to increase your level without said people.  I like people, but there are days when I want to get the hell away from them and go off and adventure on my own.  I think that's why I like writing-- I get to be "in the zone" alone, with only my characters for company.  Luckily, there are other ways I can play the game without drama, which negates the "multi-player" aspect of MMORPG a bit, but hey if it keeps me sane, nobody can complain, right?

to be continued 

*Why force me to pay annually for the privilege of using your crappy-and-hasn't-been-upgraded-since-2009-but-everybody-uses-it-so-I-have-to-too office suite?  Can't I just BUY a copy of it so I can use it forever?

**My PS3 is a glorified Blu-Ray/Netflix player that I play all my PS2 games and a whopping 2 PS3 games on.  Good or bad investment, at $500?  You decide.

***Honestly I think this is because of the shitty wording upon initial download of the game that skews folks that way that this happens

****Feral is used to describe an Ingress player who essentially does not participate in any of the community activities/gatherings. Heh.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

California Droughts and Trickle Down Theory

That's a whole 20 cents.
Canary Yellow.

Oh. My. Goodness, Iris is Back, you say.  Where have you been?  You may also say.  Aside from the propensity to refer to myself in the third person, I'm more or less the same (more or less, of course, because at the very least I'm older than I was a second ago). 

This blog was created so many years ago as a vehicle for my writing (if you happen to be a person who creates logos / does web design for cheap, I'd like to hear from you!), so when things happen irl that derail me from that ambition, the extra half-hour it takes me to carve a tiny slice of my internet self out to post here gets derailed as well.  These days, my Work In Progress (hereafter referred to as "WIP") is a completely different animal from what it was last year, and while the characters are the same, the cross-genre world they find themselves in is not--and the plotline is a mere shadow of what it used to be.  I'm hoping this is a good thing, although the natural result of this is that I'm binging on crap TV* way more than I should be.  I blame myself, of course, but also Netflix.

This being the internet, and with me just posting this for the WWW to see, I'm not going to go all crazy with listing the finer points of the plot here (especially since I'm still working it all out) because, well, it's still a WIP and therefore not copyrighted yet and all that.  Let me digress here...to butter and my friend N.

It took me a while to realize that there are people who love their job and people who don't, and for the longest time I was in the latter camp.  I'm still looking for the dream job mind you (which at this point has achieved "reality" status: A boss who I get along with, a paycheck that allows me to save a generous portion on the side to travel [this year: to Chicago and to Baltimore], and a job I don't have to take home so I can work on the WIP.  So I was at the supermarket the other day, wondering what the "generous portion" is.  After all, I live in one of the cities with the highest standards of living in the country, so the phone call to my mom put things in perspective on Mother's day:
Iris's Mom: That sounds like a great job!
Iris: I have two housemates, mom.  It's actually not.
Iris's Mom: WHY?! You make so much money!
Iris: I'm not in tech, Mom, it's not enough to live on AND have my own place.

And by standards of living, I don't just mean the rent, which is insane.  I mean the price of butter.

Hold on, the....what?

Butter.  You heard me.  I bake a lot of cookies and stuff, so I notice the price of butter, flour, and sugar as those are the three things I buy frequently at the market.  Veggies and other things?  The farmer's market, of course.  When you go to Whole Foods*** they're selling butter from organic free-range, happier than I could ever be, grass-fed, beer massaged cows for $9.  I'm not against cows that are happier than I am.  Nor am I begrudging the cow farmers the prices they need to stay afloat.  But $9 is a whole meal.  $9 is a couple of meals if I'm frugal.  $9 is TWO BAGS of produce at the farmer's market.

So I clip coupons.  And I wait for friends with Costco cards to go, and I hang on in the back seat like a barnacle (I'm not getting off this thing until I have my butter!!!).  But usually it means I buy butter from Trader Joes. 

And their butter has gone up by 20 cents.

I hear you now.  20 cents, you say, that's nothing.  Of course it's nothing, eggs have gone up by 50 cents.  There are two things at work here, simplified for easier explanation:

Also Canary Yellow.
The California Drought, and the Bird Flu Epidemic in Iowa.  It costs lots of money in terms of water (again, I'm simplifying here) to raise one cow.  Water is scarce in California these days, so the butter producers have to raise costs to offset the rising cost of doing business.  As for the eggs, well.  I get them from the farmers' market here in the city, and they're California chickens, but since the epidemic in Iowa happened, there aren't enough chickens to go around. 

So.  Butter is my canary in the coal mine.  If prices are going up that high that drastically (they traditionally go up by a few cents during the summer anyway, but this is a huge spike) for butter, then everything else is going up in the supermarket too, if it hasn't already.

Lest you think I've digressed, I haven't really... I realized I was the cog in the wheel of my previous job, doing well but not truly happy, and it was so I could support my standard of living.  These days, I'm back again to my writing, and I'm watching the price of butter like a hawk, and being smarter about my food purchases, because I don't make as much as I used to.  But I'm happier.
And my friend N.?  She's been referring to me as "her friend who's the writer...she does all those other jobs to support her writing".  Since I the first day I met her, apparently.  You see?  This is why you should keep friends around.  They know more about you than you think.

Send butter coupons my way, would you?  I hoard those.  :)

to be continued 
*By Crap, I mean Crap.  Look, the only reason why I watch this show, no matter my original intentions (support the film industry in Hawaii, see what they've done to my old High School, sick curiosity on how many places I can recognize), the show has jumped the shark for me**.  The female characters are nothing more than window dressing for the real reason why I watch the show and as soon as he's killed (because you know he will) I'm done with it.

**If you'd like to know why this has happened in my mind let me know, perhaps I'll blog about it at a later date.

***My housemate calls this "Whole Paycheck" and with good reason