Thursday, December 29, 2005

Survived the Holiday Madness

Well, I survived the 12 hour drive to my folk's house with my sister and her two kids. You know the kids weren't too bad - her yelling at them made me a bit crazy to be honest.

Scoop on the smoking - Even though I stayed at my parents' house which my dad smokes in, I didn't have one cigarette -- didn't even want to. It's been 20 days. I think this is really going to work!!

Scoop on the family - My brother has moved back home and is finally seeing someone who my cousin (who's met her) describes as nice, sweet, smart and fun. Sounds like a winner. My parents are good -- mom still makes me crazy, but dad does too. My younger sister's husband has been driving on a suspended license for months now -- just found this out. My dad's entire family came in - his siblings anyway. First time since my Papa died almost 10 years ago. They are the strangest bunch - one aunt doesn't believe in vaccination anymore; one cousin who is home schooling his unvaccinate children of the corn kids with his scary looking wife; one aunt who is so into her looks because she is afraid of losing her husband; two uncles who are just strange - one in a redneck way, one in a city slicker way; and one grandma who is so rude about other people it is unreal.

Scoop on the gifts - Not too bad. Got many items from my list, but somehow nothing spectacular. Usually there is one gift that I just adore and can't stop raving about. Not so much this year. I did get the clothes steamer I wanted, a few movies, Eddie Bauer pants (which are the wrong size, but I figure I can use them for inspiration pants), Victoria's Secret pajamas, Sudoku books, cute cat frame and toys, and some other items.

It was a good holiday overall.

I am looking forward to this weekend - not a single family obligation. I am hopefully going to see "Brokeback Mountain" tomorrow with some girlfriends.

For New Year's Eve, I got a bundle of tickets to see "Wicked" at the Kennedy Center - I can't wait. We're doing the total dress-up thing - floor length and all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Quick Update Before Holiday and Movie Review

Movie Review

I saw "Walk the Line" over the weekend. Awesome movie - two thumbs up. Joaquin (sp?) plays an amazing Johnny Cash -- right down to the voice and facial expression. Reese is wonderful - charming and funny with enough sass thrown in. And the music will blow you away. I also thought it was great to see Buddy Holly, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Waylon Jennings.

Quick Update

I've been actually super busy with work and every thing, so I haven't blogged much lately.

This is my 100th posting - hard to believe. I really do love blogging but don't have the time to devote that I would like to.

It's been 11 days and I'm still not smoking. So, it's working.

I am all ready for the holidays. I have one more card to send and one more that I need an address for, but I haven't received one from either of those people so I don't feel too bad about it. I still have to pack. I'm going to my parents tomorrow and probably won't blog at all. My mom is incredibly nosy and I wouldn't want her to find this blog. I really like it being totally private.

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming holidays - Christmas, Hannakuh, Kwanzaa, and New Year's. I hope you all find some sense of peace and happiness during this time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hypnotherapy - It Worked For Me!

I know I sound like a crazy infomercial, but I went to a hypnotherapist last week and couldn't be more thrilled with the results. I actually have quit smoking - no patches, no pills, no on-line support group. Absolutely amazing!

Last year's Quit Details
January Quit Day
Day 3
Day 11
June - Slipped Back Into Smoking

So, now it's another start. This time definitely feels better than before. It actually seems easier this time. The power of the mind is amazing.

How does it work? Well, basically, my hypnotherapist interviewed me for over a hour. She asked me lots of questions about my smoking -- where do I smoke, who do I smoke with, my daily schedule, what I like and disliked about smoking, and why did I want to quit - all of it. She then gave me some paperwork quizzes to determine how susceptible I was to hypnosis and what kind of learner I am. She also gave me a questionnaire about my smoking.

She then took all that information and used to perform a 45 minute hypnosis session on me. It felt like 15 minutes. I don't remember all the details, but she gave me a tape of the session to listen to whenever I need backup. And it is strange. I still have cravings (nicotine takes 5 to 7 days to kick from your system), but my mind seems to be battling back. I can say to myself - "No, you can't have a cigarette because you are a non-smoker and non-smokers don't smoke!"

Interestingly, she guarantees this for a year. So, if I screw up in June (as I did last year), I can go back for a free session. She said she rarely has people come back - maybe three a year.

I am recommending that Rose go see her for self esteem issues. If it gives her half the help it has me, it's well worth it.

I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Target's Response - Why It's Lame

Some of you may recall the outrage I expressed over Target's pharmacy policies. Well, I did finally receive a response from Target. Here it is, with my comments inserted in red.

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with filling a guest’s prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest’s prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

How can you guaranteee that another pharmacy will fill this prescription? You can't guarantee that your pharmacist will do it.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies.
Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.

Really? The only one? So, what about birth control? If the pharmacist refuses to fill that, what will happen?

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.

We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood’s negative campaign. We’ve been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests’ prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That’s why it’s unclear why Target is being singled out.

We’re committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices"

I don't feel that Ms. Hanson or Target is committed to meeting the needs of female guests. If they did they would guarantee that Target would get these prescriptions filled. This makes me a bit crazy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Great Film, but I'm disappointed

First, let me just say that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I love the books - have read them all between 5 - 8 times each. I've even read books about the books.

I've seen all the movies -- even have them on tape. I've probably watched them 3 or 4 times each.


However, I have to say the 4th movie is different. Don't get me wrong - the movie is amazing - great job with the awkwardness of their adolescence and the cinematography was sharp and awe-inspiring. I like the actors -- except for the actors playing Mad Eye Moody and Rita Skeeter. I am always amazed by the set design and overall feel of the films. The feel of the film did fit the feel of the books overall.

So, why am I disappointed?

One reason - the film veered from the book too much. There was no Dursleys -- understandable due to the need to shorten the film. But, they immediately change where Harry wakes up from the disturbing dream about Voldemort. They change the scene so we see Barty Crouch Junior with Voldemort - not the way it was in the book. Why couldn't they have started with having that at the Dursley's? And then the Quidditch. The veelas were gone -- really could have been a chance to show some cool graphics. No leprechauns either - so no talk about the magical gold. The Weasley's didn't even get their great seats - they were in the nose bleed section. Then, they change the whole Dark Mark scene. No Winky - again we see Barty Crouch. It was weird. They expanded the dragon scene, which was unnecessary. They could have used that time to add more depth to the characters. I'm glad to see they did have Neville step up and help Harry out, but it wasn't that way in the book. And the worst of all, they totally changed the whole maze from the book - no more creatures to get past, nothing that interesting. It definitely lost some of its appeal.

I will have to say some of it was better than my imagination and the book. The grave scene was incredible - even better than I imagined.

I do love the movie. But, the book is more precious to me and I didn't care for the changes. I knew the books probably too well.

Just thought you would want to know.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Working for the Man

Well, it looks like life may actually be handing me some good news.

My boss pulled me (and my crazy co-worker, Nut) aside yesterday to let us know that there would be 2 GS-13 jobs** opening up in her office soon. And we were welcome to apply (wink, wink). We both also applied for a GS-13 over at the Department of Labor, coordinating the same computer program that we do here. They are hiring one person.

So, here's the thing. Only one of us is going to be chosen by DOL. The other person will have to stay here. Whoever is offered first is given a choice. The one who isn't may be stuck. So, if I am offered it first, do I go or do I stay? In some ways, I would love to get out of here. Try something different, meet new people, get a chance to make some significant changes, etc... However, on the other hand, I am really not looking forward to such a big change. It makes my commute slightly longer, the people don't seem as friendly, and I like my boss here.

However, I want to be able to keep moving up the chain and be promoted into management one day. I fear getting stuck at a GS-13 for the next 10 years. I really want to be able to break into management and become a GS-14. I don't think I'll be able to do that here. But, things could change.

Going to DOL could be interesting. Basically, you can build the system infrastructure from the ground up with strong IT support.

I'm not sure what I'll do. It'll greatly depend on if I am offered the DOL job. I'll keep you posted.

**In Federal Government service, the GS stands for General Schedule and the number is your called your grade. A college graduate usually starts as a GS-7, but if you have a graduate degree you start as a GS-9. Jobs have grades assigned to them. These grades directly relate to how much money you make. For example, a GS-7 made $35,452, but a GS-9 made %43,365 this year. My first (and current) position is a GS-9/11/12. So, my first year I was a 9 and then the second an 11. I've now been a 12 for 2 years. You get the idea.