Friday, January 25, 2008


One of the major challenges of working at home is socialization.  There's no one else here but the cats for me to talk to!  In my corporate days, I could head out to lunch with coworkers, and we could complain about our idiot less than highly intelligent superiors.  I'm trying to discourage Diva from calling people "stupid" or "idiots."  

Back to my original train of thought -- working from home does lead to some degree of isolation.  I battle some of the isolation by volunteering weekly at a Theraputic Riding Center: I have to admit I get much more out of this than I give -- great company, beautiful horses, and forced exercise.  I also believe so much in the work they do there and have seen so many success stories.  If you caught Extreme Makeover - Home Edition last Sunday you saw a similar program.  That keeps me socialized at least one day a week.  

Last night, I had arranged a dinner meeting with a couple of business associates I had not personally met before.  Both of them are still in the corporate world.  After dinner we were chatting, and something I said triggered a rather unexpected response.  This professional woman I had just met began talking about a serious problem she was having at work.  It didn't take long to see that she really needed someone to talk to  -- someone who understood the issues she was facing -- both on a professional and a personal front.  In short - Girlfriends.

I'm sure she did not come to this meeting with the idea of sharing her problems, and I didn't come to the meeting with the idea that I would be able to help her in any way, and yet in the end I made a new friend and was able to do just that.  

In the rush of the world we live in today, it is hard to find enough time to spend with our families.  It is even harder to find time to squeeze in some 'time with the girls.'  But don't forget to make time for your girlfriends, because they (and you) might just need each other more than you realize.  

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Other Side of Me

Anyone with a 'tween girl in their life probably recognizes the title as a song by Disney Channel star Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus.  I'm a huge Disney fan from my Mickey Mouse watch to my Peter Pan tape dispenser.  Recently, I was asked what Disney character I am most like.  After a bit of thought, I'd have to answer "Hannah Montana."  

Why?  Well I'm closer to another age beginning with fif than I am fifteen, so it's not an age thing.  I've lost my adorable southern accent after 22 years in NH.  My singing voice doesn't exactly inspire millions of fans to go crazy trying to get tickets to come see me.  I'm more LL Bean than Limited Too when it comes to fashion sense.  Nope, it's the portfolio career thing.  

If you have no contact with a 'tween and you don't follow entertainment news, you may not realize that Hannah Montana is a high school student by day, pop princess at night.  She's also the loving daughter of still cute Billy Ray Cyrus (don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart.)  In addition to his role as Dad, he plays her manager and songwriter.  Yep, that qualifies as a portfolio career.  

I start my portfolio with a few basic careers:  spouse, mother, family CFO, taxi driver, personal secretary, and queen of laundry to name a few.  I'm lucky that Kilowatt joins me here as spouse, father, taxi driver, chef, landscaper, mechanic, and general home repairman.   

The difference is that Hannah just has one more career.  Right now, I have three more.  I'm a part time (sometimes full time) travel consultant --- that's where Cruise Mom comes from.  I'm a part time college professor.  And I'm a part time student, finishing up a graduate certificate program in forensic accounting (think CSI with numbers.)  

Now is probably a good time to share with anyone who has fantasies of quitting their full time job -- I work more hours now than I ever did when I was a full-time employee.  I make less money now.  Some days I swear I'm going to polish up my resume and go back to work full time, usually after Diva is complaining that I spend no time with her, or a particularly difficult student or client has me pulling my hair out.  

But my reduced income is offset by spending less money on commuting expenses, eating out, clothing, and childcare.  Snow days really don't stress me out because I don't have to find childcare or drive in the snow (and that's a real good thing this year!)  For the most part, I arrange my own schedule to fit what I want to do.  So my resume remains a bit outdated for now.  

And my portfolio career makes me really cool like Hannah Montana (or maybe not, LOL!)  So, what Disney character are you most like, and why?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

High School Math

I was good in high school math.  Really, really good.  I was successful in the corporate world.  Not a CFO, but I made it as high as I wanted to up the food chain.  I still like to play with retail store clerks by giving them $22.02 for a $16.77 check.  Preferably after they've entered $20 in the computerized register as amount tendered.    

For the last four years I've been deciding what I want to be when I grow up.  I realize most people do this in their 20's, but I've always embraced being a bit different than most people.  I decided that what I really want to do, maybe, is pursue my PhD.  I've researched b-schools, made my selection, requested my transcripts, collected letters of recommendation, and developed a proposal for my dissertation.  All that leaves on my to do list is taking the GMAT.  

The GMAT includes a verbal section and a 'quantitative' section.  The quant section supposedly covers high school math concepts.   By the end of the test, I was just hoping to see ONE question where I actually had a remote clue of how to calculate the answer.  

This experience led me to reflect on the differences between high school math and, well, real-life math:
1.  Never underestimate the power of being able to add and subtract without a calculator, in case you are working in a store and somebody messes up that automatic answer the register gave you.

2.  You will need to know how to set up an equation, and solve for X.  X may be how much money you have left over at the month after paying the bills, or it may how much car you can afford, or how weeks it will take at x lbs/week to meet your weight loss goal.  

3. You do need to know how to calculate area.  You may need to buy paint, or fertilizer, or something else that relies on area.

4.  Ditto for volume if you ever hope to own a pool.  Chemicals are expensive and it is critical to use the right amount.

5.  Probability is useful too.  Remember, the lottery is a tax on those who are poor at math.

6.  Exponents - can't recall using them in the last 25 or so years.  Anybody out there use exponents in their line of work?  Kilowatt designs big pieces of electronic equipment, and responds in the negative too.

7.  The dimensions of a triangle that lies within a circle - can't think of a use for that one either.

8.  Derivatives - not the financial kind, the calculus kind.  Nope, haven't needed that.  

So, am I missing something in my life by not knowing how to do all these mathematical equations?  I sure hope not, because I'm just not ready to take high school math again!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Primary Day Recap

I'm  not an intensely political person, so it is rather ironic that many of my first blogs would contain references to politics.  I have to say that this election excited me more than any election since I've been old enough to vote (except when the town where my university was located was voting to go from dry to wet, but that's a story for another blog.  And if you don't know what that means, it's probably something you'll enjoy reading!)

Even though I've complained about the annoyances that accompany the primary, I'll miss them.  No more planning my route to work around potential motorcades and debate locations.  No more counting how many pieces of political mail I get daily.  No more poll of the week phone calls during dinner.  No more political activists knocking on my door asking me if I have questions about their candidate.  No more five candidate commercials in a row during Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Yes, life in NH will be much quieter now.  

But today I'm proud to be from NH, where yesterday we turned out in record numbers to vote.  When I went to my polling place yesterday, there was an excitement there that I don't remember seeing in past elections.  I saw several young girls who were in the line next to me, proudly announcing that it was their first time voting.  I saw senior citizens, business people in their suits, Mom's with kids coming along to see them vote (and since we participate in kid's vote, the kids had their own opportunity to cast a ballot.)  And people were happy!  

Today's news discusses why the turnout was so high.  True the weather was great (60 degrees, so we waded over melting snowbanks.)  But I think the reason is - for once, most of us -- democrat, republican, libertarian or independent -- actually felt like we had a choice of a candidate or two we liked.  I can say that in the last two elections I voted for the candidate I disliked the least, so actually having a choice of more than one candidate I like was a refreshing change.  Let's hope that whomever is eventually elected delivers on some of the hopes that I saw reflected in voters faces yesterday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Snow is a Four-Letter Word

Perhaps I cursed myself.  That lovely contraption I described for my friends who live in places where you don't get snow measured in feet -- our snow blower -- developed a terminal case of engine-itis on New Year's Day.  Yeah, after using it to clear the seven inches of heavy, wet snow that we got on New Year's Eve, hubby thought he'd do a little clean up work before he had to use it to clear the snow we were forecast to get on New Year's Day.  He comes walking into the house with something mechanical in nature in his hand.  
Hubby: "Do you know what this is?"
Me:  "No, looks kind of like the engine on the old roto-tiller my parents used to have."
Hubby:  "It's a snow-blower engine that is beyond repair."
Me:  "I'll call Home Depot and see what they have in stock for snow-blowers.  I think they are open until 6, and we just got a 90 days same as cash offer!"
I've lived in NH for almost 22 years now, but I totally forgot what happens when you have two very mild, dry winters followed by a record-breaking December.  Let's just say that at least some of the Home Depot associates in NH, MA, and ME didn't laugh at me when I asked what they had in stock.   
I decided to take a break from my search and check the weather forecast - our local ABC affiliate, WMUR, has as a top story "Snow Blower Stolen from Driveway of 84 year old."  On the local radio station "Do you know where you Snow Blower is?"  I'm pretty sure somewhere in NH someone is offering to trade their Wii with accessories for a snowblower - that's how hot an item they are right now!
Hubby and I spent two hours shoveling on New Year's Day - about 5" or so.  I spent another two hours yesterday cleaning up the 4" additional that fell after we shoveled.  Today, another 45 minutes cleaning up the mess the town plow made when they came by knocking snowbanks down to a level where those in the tallest four wheel drive vehicles might be able to see over them, barely.  

In case you are having difficulty picturing what all this snow might look like, I posted a picture.  That vehicle is a Honda Pilot - about 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

Oh, on a side note - if I don't get buried in snow, I will be buried in paper.  The Presidential primary ad count for yesterday was three ads.  We received six more today.  I think our post office may not have anything to do after the primary next week!