Tuesday, February 26, 2008

sunset in the Sunset

I left work around 5:10 this evening and had a 6:30 appointment for a cut and color in the Outer Sunset with my longtime hairdresser Lucy. I've been a client of Lucy's since 1985.

I got to Lucy's salon (Virtuoso) at about 6, so I had about a half-hour to kill. I sat in the car listening to my CD and then began to notice a really nice sunset. So I pulled out the cameraphone and took the shots seen on this blog entry.

All of the pics were taken while sitting in my car on Judah Street and 32nd Avenue facing west. The first pic is my view from the driver's seat. The second pic is the sunset from my rearview mirror, and the last pic is the N-Judah streetcar taken across the street speeding east.

Not bad for a cameraphone.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rain, snow or fog + wipers on = Headlights ON

It would seem many drivers in California still don't know since summer 2005, one must have headlights turned on when windshield wipers are in use due to rain, snow or fog. On my 15-minute drive to the gym today, I must have seen at least 7 cars without their headlights turned on.

These are probably the same drivers that talk incessantly on their cell phones and hold up traffic because they are engrossed more on their conversation than they are on driving.

Please turn on your headlights. This is to make yourself visible to other cars, pedestrians and cyclists. And while you're at it, hang up, shut up and drive. It can wait until you've reached your destination.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Neti pot update

It's been a bit over a week since I first began using the neti pot in hopes to wean myself off nasal sprays. I'd been off Rhinocort for about 4 days and only took oral antihistimines. My travel neti pot arrived today from Amazon, so it reminded me to provide an update.

Unfortunately, life without nasal spray didn't last long. A few days later, my nose felt like it did after swimming when water gets inside. My head felt congested and my throat sore. It was time to return to a nasal spray. This time, Nasonex. The good news is that unlike Flonaise, Nasonex works. Flonaise burned and stinged and had no effect whatsoever for me. Nasonex didn't. I started to feel the effects of it almost immediately. I'll save at least $15/month by switching my prescription to Nasonex.

In conclusion, the neti pot is a great supplement to nasal spray, but not enough to rely upon completely alone. For me, it will be an effective aide should my allergies go through really bad patches when sprays and pills aren't quite enough.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nasal spray vs. Neti pot

If you've been following me this week on Twitter, I just began using the neti pot to treat my chronic sinus problems. My original intent was to switch to Nasonex, but remembered an unsuccessful attempt to switch to Flonaise about 10 years ago. I then decided this would be a good time try out the neti pot. Perhaps this could wean me off nasal sprays completely.

It's been 4 days since I stopped using Rhinocort and started administering jala neti (nasal irrigation). The last time I was without Rhinocort was during a conference in Fort Worth, TX in 2003 and my sinuses were miserable. The use of the neti pot so far has been quite effective. While I'm blowing my nose a bit more than usual, I've been able to breathe through both nostrils REGULARLY and not sneeze as much.

So far, I have yet to hear any negative results of using the neti pot. I've had relief from watery, itchy eyes by using contact lens saline solution as a rinse, so it made perfect sense to try the same process for my nose. After all, sneezing and watery eyes are the body's reactions to rid itself of pollen and other allergens. The neti pot only speeds up the process to prevent the uncomfortable reaction.

I'm hopeful continued use of the neti pot will further reduce sneezing and nose blowing to a bare minimum. Benefits for the body and wallet. Rhinocort was $50/prescription at my previous employer and is $35/prescription at my current one. I've since ordered a second neti pot (non-breakable) that I'll be able to take with me when I travel. I'm still taking oral antihistimines. That might be something I'll still have to continue using. Updates to follow.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ms. Money Bags (for now)

We're on a rampage. Now that I'm back to work with leftover severance and an upcoming $3K tax refund, there were numerous big ticket purchases over the past 2 weeks.

Above is the quilted laptop bag. It is my new, girly and sophisticated briefcase bought today (in black) from Edwards Luggage called the Knomo Toyah. I'll be taking my first business trip in my new job to attend a conference in Atlanta next month.

Because I was issued a company laptop, I know I'd need to take it with me. I could have ordered a bag from the office, but I wanted a bag with style. And something I would be proud to carry my Sony Vaio in if needed.

I was very selective about the requirements. No leather. Too heavy. I'd been carrying a gorgeous Coach leather messenger bag for about 5 years. I'd been carrying Coach leather purses for even longer and switched to jacquard fabric about 3 years ago. Man, what a difference in weight. Wear and tear is less visible too. Bag also had to be sleek yet roomy enough to carry my papers and checkbook.

The Knomo Toyah fit the description perfectly. It's lightweighted professional elegance. It will also serve double duty as my purse when I travel on business. This will keep intact my ability to carry-on luggage only. I can't wait to carry it to work with me on Monday. Like Tiffany & Co., there is a unique serial number given to each bag and can be registered online. I did that once I got home.

Third of the big ticket purchases is a new coffee table. 

Last big ticket purchase today was our leather recliner chairs. After admiring Josh's and Amy's Mission-styled recliners for years, we thought that's what we wanted in our place. I found some leather ones online at Macy's this past week and went for a test drive.

There was another recliner in red (Pavia Club Style, as shown in picture) which looked like a regular leather chair. This is what grabbed my attention. I reclined back and it felt very comfortable. It's unassuming and multi-tasks well as a chair and a recliner. I phone ordered it tonight about an hour ago. It's on backorder but will be delivered around the first week of March.

Next is the installation of wall cabinets in the bathroom.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

First Week

Yesterday was my first week at my new job. So far, I've been very impressed. There is a huge difference coming from a struggling company to one that's doing well. When I started my previous job 6 years ago, I took a $12K cut in pay. I accepted this current job at $9K more than what I earned before my last one ended.

Day 1: Spent first few hours going over benefits package. I can opt for Kaiser or Blue Cross for medical coverage. Kaiser is free. Blue Cross for single coverage is $35/month. I was paying $90/month at my previous employer. When I reached my 5-year anniversary, it was reduced to $65/month.

Got my tour, introductions to my department associates. Around 3 p.m., IT comes by with my computer, a brand NEW laptop in a humongous cubicle in the back row. I notice later that most managers get the larger, back cubicles. This is my first job with "manager" in the title. Woo hoo!

At my previous job, I got a 7+ year old desktop (eventually replaced) with an even older screen monitor. It was inside a cubicle with a crappy desk chair which took 3 years before the mailroom guy took pity on me and gave me a new one. In 6 years, I moved at least that many times. And each time I moved, I'd be down for a day because I had a card terminal and dinosaur dial-up modem that required a specific phone line routed within my cubicle. When I left the company, I still had the SAME monitor.

Day 2: Attended first all-hands company meeting. CFO introduces me as "the blogger" and one of two new members of the Finance/Operations/Business Systems team. Found the vending machine only charges $0.25 for soda. Twelve cans would only cost me $3, still less than what Safeway or Target charge for the Diet Coke cartons I used to buy because the vending machine charged $0.65 at my old office.

Day 3: Sit in my first meeting with the other departments I'll interact with regularly. My reporting manager also issues a companywide e-mail with yet another introduction. I get over the next 3 days numerous return e-mails from various staff members welcoming me. I am floored at the warm reception. I found it interesting that all of the welcome e-mails except one are from men. Hmmm....

Day 4: Receive my first assignment to follow up with customer phone messages. It is likely in response to a recent mailing they received and have questions about it. I check to see if I have the correct resources to provide answers to the customer inquiries.

Day 5: Contacted and spoke to 3 customers. Two had questions I could address, but bring up other questions where I need to go back and find out the answers. It's bagel Friday at the office, so I grab a bagel and half a muffin as an afternoon snack. I also am asked to draw numbers for the office Super Bowl pool, so there is verification that we are "SOX compliant".

Overall, it is a major contrast from where I worked previously. The office is brand new, having only moved this past August. Friendly, warm, and many of them very smart. I have underground parking. A credit union ATM (co-op'd with mine and no-fee access), upscale grocery store, restaurants and free gym (courtesy of the company) are all in the same complex.

The last time I worked an office this cushy was during the dot-com days with a company that failed to generate enough revenue to stay in business. The company where I am now has been around for 10 years and a profitable business model. At least so far, I earn more money and don't have to work nearly as hard.

Life is tough. NOT.