Friday, December 23, 2005

Feast Day

Today was another never-ending feast at work. It went like this: birthday cake for co-worker at 9:30, coffee (thanks to Pax) at 10:00, retirement cake for co-worker at 10:45, boxes and plates of food all over the office. It is a testament to how overfed we are as a group that no one wanted cake at 9:30. A true first for our office! I managed to dodge the plates of food, and I succumbed to a single piece of cake at 10:45.

I went to lunch with the co-worker who is retiring, and had Mexican food - Chicken Mole - it was wonderful! There is an authentic Mexican restaurant near the office. It's not a chain with prepackaged sauces and entrees,it's the real deal.

After a sanctioned early exodus from the office, I headed home to feed the hounds. Then it was off to dinner (yep, we ate out!) with my hubby. Nobody wanted to cook or clean up tonight. I more or less nibbled at my dinner, and there are leftovers in the fridge. I think I've discovered the secret to dieting. Keep a ton of rich food around at all times. You'll lose interest in it, and you'll eat less!

The co-worker mentioned above, the one who is now officially retired, has turned her old position over to me. She has been very kind to me over the last several weeks as I learned the ropes. Because I continued to have an active and demanding caseload while I was learning the new position, I've only been able to learn it in chunks. I feel like the new job is a puzzle. I'm pretty sure all of the pieces are in the box, but I haven't fit them together yet to see the picture. I hope it's a pretty one!

The next couple of weeks will be transitional for me. I have to move all of the stuff from my old office to our main office - quite an undertaking, with more than 250 files, a computer, and all of my own stuff. A good friend has offered to help, thankfully, so the move should go well. The transition will be tough - leaving a caseload is never easy. I'm sure to be pulled in to help for some time to come, especially since the caseload will not be reassigned for awhile.

So I'm moving on - new location, new responsibilities. New boss as well, another big change. I've had the same boss for the last 11 or 12 years. And there are more changes on the horizon. We'll be restructuring, and the main office is supposed to move in the spring - closer to my home. If it happens. We'll see. I've learned not to count chickens until I see feathers and beaks.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Private Eyes

The current media furor over the domestic spying scandal has made me wonder if I’m being spied on. Right now, as I type. Or earlier today, on the phone. Or ever. Forget Guardian Angels; do I have a Personal Spy? Has some poor schlub been assigned to keep tabs on me? Have you heard of anyone being fired from the CIA or FBI recently? That would be my Personal Spy, fired for sleeping on the job: my life is just that dull!

I’m sure that even our extravagant government would not dedicate the resources needed to watch me 24/7, so I wonder just which bits of my life they’re watching (if they’re watching). A good first bet for surveillance would be my PC at work. As a government employee, there is a fair to middlin’ chance that every keystroke is logged. And there have been times when I have had the eerie feeling while on the phone that an unannounced presence was following the conversation. You know what I mean - the little chill that makes you feel haunted or watched.

Then there’s my PC at home. I’ve had haunted moments while computing, too, and in the privacy of my own castle. I suppose most of us have been observed while computing at one time or another. Think of a time before firewalls, and think of all of the folks nowadays who spend most of their time trying to climb over your firewall. So I’ve probably been watched while computing, I'm just not sure whether or not the eye has ever belonged to the US Government. It’s sad that I can’t rule it out, but there you have it.

Do they have photos of all of my bad hair days? Video clips of the time I slipped on the ice on a sidewalk in Somers Point, or the time (not too long ago) when I dripped a trail of coffee across the interior of my poor car, then cussed up a blue streak? Has someone had to listen in on one of the long-for-no-good-reason conversations with my sister, with discussions of the latest diet trends, the same old family trivia, relationships and job stress?

Do they have vacation pics of me? I'd love to see them. I'm not in too many of our photos, since I'm usually the one holding the camera. Personal Spy, when you read this (this is, after all, in the public domain), would you send me a copy of any photos you have of me? I'm sure that the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Public Records Act can be made to apply somehow. I'll be looking for the envelope in the mail; please be discreet - wouldn't want the Post Office to see my business.

I could keep going with this, but you get the drift. The phone line at home, those video cameras in public places and at traffic lights – all are possible means of surveillance. How about that creeped-out feeling you get sometimes in restrooms and clothing store dressing rooms? There’s always a chance that someone is watching there, too.

But here’s the big question for today: who is my Personal Spy, this person who knows so very much about me without having been properly introduced? Ever pass a total stranger who looks at you as if he or she knows you? You’re certain you’ve never seen them before, but you sense complete recognition in their eyes, and the prelude to a greeting on their lips. Déjà vu? A kindred spirit from a previous life? A simple case of mistaken identity? Nope, it’s your personal spy.

And in an aside to my Guardian Angel: no insult intended here. Please continue your usual fine work, and keep an eye on that Personal Spy fella, while you’re at it. That guy could bear some watching…

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bame Pax

Pax Romano posted this yesterday. It's about Afred Hitchcock and a missing etter of the aphabet. Thought I'd try a brief post using Hitchcock's aphabet, just for the fun of it, as a way of saying Joyeux Noe to my friends. So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Peacefu Sostice, and, best of a, HAPPY HOIDAYS!

Monday, December 19, 2005

What Googling Fruitcake Stories Will Get You

I'm one of the few people in the world who actually likes a good fruitcake. No comments from the peanut gallery, please. I assure you I am sane, not nutty as... well... you know...

I remember a short story I had to read in grade school. It was written by Truman Capote, and it's about a boy making fruitcake with a slightly batty relative. I Googled the story, and I found it here. It's called A Christmas Memory.

The story was based on a young Truman's memories of a distant cousin named Sook Faulk. As I checked the Google results for more information, I discovered that Marie Rudisill, The Fruitcake Lady who makes appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, is Truman Capote's aunt. She is the author of a cookbook called, aptly, Fruitcake. The book is subtitled Memories of Truman Capote and Sook. She has some other book titles to her credit, as well.

I had no idea that the sharp-tongued Fruitcake Lady was Truman Capote's aunt! Here's the summary about Marie Rudisill, and here's The Tonight Show's bio about her. You can watch some of The Tonight Show's Ask the Fruitcake Lady segments by clicking on the links found on this page.

So much for Googling fruitcake stories. Might be time to Google fruitcakes: there are a couple of bakeries reputed to make some fine ones. It's probably too late to get one in time for Christmas, but maybe I can score one in time for New Year's Eve...

Off to Google some more!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Crunch

The crunch is on!

Had a holiday gathering with Mr. Merci's side of the family today. It turned out to be a nice, relaxing day! It was a simple affair, with the obligatory excess of desserts. We wisely declined the offer to bring some of the leftovers home.

I have a very busy week ahead, both at work and at home. The extra dash of holiday spirit should make it tolerable. Wish I had saved some time off for the week between Christmas and New Year, but it wasn't to be. Oh well, new vacation and personal days will be added in January, so I can't complain. We're thinking of a long weekend away sometime this winter, but it's still a bit tentative right now.

I still have a bit of baking to do, and I haven't even thought about wrapping a gift. Fortunately, Mr. Merci and I are not doing much in the way of gifts for each other, and we've agreed that there will be no more than one candy item in each stocking this year! I think I'll check my supply of gift bags for everyone else's gifts. As I've mentioned before, I'm into an uncomplicated holiday this year!

I was able to do most of my holiday shopping on Saturday. We managed to navigate the crowds pretty well. We had a nice lunch at Applebee's with no wait! I had a very tasty cosmopolitan with lunch (very rare for me), since this was by way of being a holiday celebration for us. I highly recommend this as a shopping strategy, since I was Absolutely unaffected by stress for the rest of the afternoon.

How about the rest of you? How are you coping with this crazy season? Is it mostly pain or mostly pleasure for you? How do you spend the 25th? Most places of business are closed, so even if you do not celebrate Christmas, it would be interesting to hear about how you spend the day!