Archive for the 'nine-to-five' category

April 6th, 2010

» 24 Books: March & April

Simon Prebble is one of my favorite audiobook narrators. I was reminded of him somehow a few weeks ago; after a quick search of my library’s catalog, I requested his reading of Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

Joe just finished reading the entire Sherlock Holmes collection, and had already told me about the switch halfway through A Study in Scarlet: the narrative jumps from Holmes solving a murder mystery in London over to the settling of the Mormons in Utah. It all ties in at the end, but it’s certainly not what I would’ve expected for a narrative choice. I didn’t LOVE it (Prebble’s Watson is older-sounding, which made it harder to imagine him as Jude Law), but I liked it well enough. I did find myself getting distracted while listening to it, especially at the beginning, so it wasn’t entirely a fair crack.

I did better with the short story The Adventure of the Speckled Band; maybe I was in a better frame of mind, or the pace was snappier, or..? Regardless, I was quite delighted with myself when I guessed how the crime went down before Holmes revealed it. Not that it was especially difficult, but I’m not one for actively trying to solve the mystery.

So, that wrapped up March. Last night I finished reading The Pru-Bache Murder: The Fast Life and Grisly Death of a Millionaire Stockbroker, by Jeffrey Taylor. It’s the true story of Michael Prozumenshikov, a man who immigrated from Russia to Minnesota in the late 70s; he became a stock broker in the 80s, during a very strong bull market, and built his fortune largely churning clients’ accounts, placing unauthorized trades, pushing unsuitable stocks, etc. The market crashed in 1987, and many of his clients (many of whom were — and shouldn’t have been — heavily margined) lost their life savings — including one man who took the loss especially hard, and killed Prozumenshikov in 1991.

I found the book absolutely fascinating. I live and work where the events took place, so I knew all the towns, the street names, the buildings. Though I haven’t met anyone mentioned in the book, I recognized a lot of the names from conversation around the office. I keep thinking about what a strange, different time that must have been in the industry, that surely Prozumenshikov would never get away with all that now — but then I remember Madoff, and I have to wonder. Different situation, but still. Anyway (before I get into a whole thing about different investment philosophies) — it was an absorbing story, though (fair warning) it’s suddenly very gruesome at the end. Thumbs up if you’re local, have any interest in the industry, or like true crime novels.

2010 Book Count: 10 (+3 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4
March: 3
April: 1

April 6th, 2010

» 5 million dollar home

I love National Camera. I went there last night with my mom and sister for a photo class. We arrived a little early so I could look at camera bags — I’ve had one on my 2010 Spring Binge Shopping list for a while. An adorable sales guy gave me some very sound advice about which bags were cute and which were tragic (my words, not his; I wish I could remember exactly how he delicately described the fanny packs, though, because it was hilarious). I ended up spending a ridiculous amount of money on a Crumpler bag that I adore. It is excellent, and definitely $35 more cute than the Lowepro. Plus it’s called the 5 Million Dollar Home. (I was going to link to a picture of it, but none of them do it justice. Maybe I’ll take one later. And maybe I’ll write a novel! And post those Peru pictures!) (The bag, if you were wondering, did not cost five million dollars.)

Okay, breaking for a second — this is so awesome. I just got my company’s Weekly Digest email, and there was a little article in it about shortening the length of time a particular alert shows on our system. The title of the article? “They Only Have One Week to Live.” I wish I knew who’d come up with that, and who okayed it, so I could thank them. So fantastic.

So anyway, confession time: I don’t have a budget. I kept a really nice one for a while, using Microsoft Money, and all the pie charts and line graphs and tidy reports made my little accountant’s heart glad. But then the ‘horse’ slice of the pie started looking depressingly large, and I got a couple months behind, and I came to a realization that none of it was helping me figure out what was an appropriate amount to spend on anything. I spent all this time entering data and staring at the results, and wandering around the internet looking for rules on spending, trying to find something that would tell me Yeah, you can get that nice couch, or You should really skip the fancy cheese this week.

Apparently spring is the time when I wonder a little bit about money and then go on some cathartic shopping binge: two years ago I mulled over Lasik. (And wow, I totally forgot my Lasik anniversary this year! As an update to that post, I did get the surgery, and life is really better. I can see, it’s a miracle!) (Okay, maybe spring isn’t exactly the only time I whinge about money [see December 06], but I’m going to stop trolling through the archives now, because this is all getting so very far off course.)

My point was, I think, that I don’t budget any more, and I’m a happier person for it. I’m frugal most of the time, skip coffee shops and bring my own popcorn to movies and don’t get my hair cut for seven months, live in kinda low-income housing and work a little side job — all so I can buy a ridiculous bag that I will (hopefully) still be smiling about years from now and get a laptop because dammit I want to use it on the couch, and et cetera.

And I’m starting to feel weird, now, talking about money when I really meant to talk about my cute bag. But I also feel weird deleting this, because I hate the whole money stigma. And I can see from here the circles I’m about to ramble in, so instead I’m going to stop here, with the thought that I am lucky, and life is good, and my new bag? My new bag is very cute.

February 10th, 2009

» day in the life

I walk out of my building into no February I would’ve dreamed. It’s drizzling, wet, smelling of spring, all muck and smudges of old snow and muddled grass waiting to grow again. I pull in a chestful of warm air, thinking of last night, of grey clouds racing over a big moon, faint fog lying low in the fields, Halloween out of season. The sun comes earlier and earlier now; I noticed the change a few weeks ago on one of these clockwork mornings, one of these 7:43 departures. I’m happy, loving this month, this reprieve from an otherwise bitterly cold winter.

I’m first in the office, unlocking the door, flicking on lights. I go through my morning computer dance so the programs all open in the task bar in the right order; I wish again that I could rearrange them, drag them around like my Firefox tabs. I field some calls, read my favorite blogs, copy a few cds for my grandma. Mid-morning I sift my favorite butterscotch candy out of the big mixed bag in the back.

Last week I switched out one of the photos on my desk; the new one is Everett and me at our first show, mud past his knees, his ears up as he eyes the billboard just out of shot. I dream of summer. I think of his soft eye, his big nose, wonder if he’s sleeping in the hay pile.

The market slides ever downward. We’re in a bit of a quiet cycle here; everyone is a little grim. It’s been a long time since we’ve had celebratory beers at lunch. “There’s been nowhere to hide,” we keep saying to each other, over and over. “Everything’s gotten crushed.” Mostly I try not to think about it. It will go up or it won’t, every day.

We have lunch at the really good Indian place. They’ve redecorated since we were there last, and it’s nice: deep burgundy walls and tablecloths, big gold and wine canvases on the walls. We’re the first to arrive but when we leave there are a scattering of other people. I hope, not for the first time, that they can hang on.

We take the long way home, snaking west and finally around the lake. I check out every house we pass, loving best the little ones with stonework fronts, those nestled in trees, the well-kept cottages. I try to imagine the insides of the really big ones, those with port-cocheres, tennis courts, little walking bridges over meandering streams. What do people do with all that space? How do they keep from rattling around?

The minutes tick by. I file, I daydream, I read blogs, forums, facebooks. I think of the internet like plain popcorn; it keeps you busy and you can eat it almost indefinitely but after a while you realize it’s lost all luster. I watch the clock. Soon enough it will turn up 4:30, and I’ll be on my way to see my ponyface. I’ll groom and fuss and groom and ride, come home for dinner, tv, a book, my bed. Tomorrow to do it all over again.

October 10th, 2008

» correlation

Today I wanted to make a little graph in paint showing the relationship between the stock market and my chocolate-consumption habits, which is: when the market crashes, I eat lots of chocolate. Largely because it is October, and October is a great excuse to put a gigantic plastic pumpkin full of candy on my desk. It was going to have funny axises (axes?) all ‘bury pennies in back yard and hide out in bunker’ and ‘buy second private Tahitian island’ and you know what? The phone, it will not stop ringing. So funny paint graphs are so out today.

I give you instead this totally unrelated but much funnier picture that Bryce sent over: click!.

July 29th, 2008

» getting out

Yesterday my office played hooky; we snuck out mid-morning to head up to my boss’s cabin. We spent the day on the lake, playing on the jetski and cruising in the pontoon, drinking and fishing, having a nice leisurely dinner, setting off fireworks. The weather was entirely perfect, sunny and 80′s. I could easily envision the rest of life in a sleepy little cabin on a forest-hugged lake. Just mix in some family, some horse, and I’m there.

Sunday Ev and I had a great time at our clinic. We accomplished Goal #1 (stay on the horse). There were actually no other formalized goals, but really I was going for a safe, positive experience, and we definitely had one. He was excited when we got there, and it’s a little hilarious for me watching the video back because he felt so up to me, all animated, looking at everything — and in the video he looks totally calm. So I think partly it’s that I’ve gotten used to riding him in total surfer-dude/half-asleep mode, and partly that our few previous crashes have left me a bit rattled and every time he takes a look at something I’m half expecting him to leap and take off in some unexpected direction (which is kind of unfair to him because while he is a baby, overall he’s a pretty laid-back guy). So mostly I was the more nervous of the two of us at the clinic.

We rocked it, though — we did our first: pile of poles, crossrail, little log, bigger little log, baby ditch(es), up-bank, up-bank to up-bank, down-bank, bridge crossing, water time, etc etc. My group was split up at the beginning — which worked really well, since there were two of us out for the very first time and two with more experience — but one of my new barn buddies caught a little video in the beginning and mid-way through when we were back in the same field. We shall speak not of my position (a nine year break from jumping does not, I can report, improve your form over fences), but look instead upon the Boo’s calm willingness, and imagine the eventers we will one day be:

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