Joys of contracting

Posted by barb on Mar 1, 2006 in Random Thoughts

I’ve probably mentioned that I’m a part-time contractor and a part-time grad student. The excitement of being a contractor is that every 5 years or so the contract is put up for bid, and I have the choice of either working in my current position for the winning company or finding a new job. To add to this excitement, I’m a contractor for the government, which means that that my job is hinged on the national budget and how it’s allocated to my particular corner of the world.

But why am I bringing up these specific joys of my job right now? Because both of them are currently in play, and I’m not sure first of all whether I’ll even have a job in a couple months, and secondly, if I do have a job, what company I’ll be working for.

My project got hit very hard in the budget submitted to congress a few weeks ago, and it’s going to be a struggle for it to keep above water. (Though, the man in charge of this particular project said that we could either look it as terrible or “not as bad as it could have been”. In other words, the project was not zeroed-out in the budget, so it might still be possible to recover if next year the budget for this project grows.) Translation: they have already made a few cuts, and my position is not exactly critical to the mission. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

On the other side of things, we had a meeting with our new overlords this morning, and I need to get my resume in order so that I can “apply” for my position (which might not exist soon). Sigh. I’ve got to finish my PhD so that I can figure out what it is that I really want to do when I grow up.

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Mental Note

Posted by barb on Feb 26, 2006 in Random Thoughts

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever let the supply of Gas-X with simethicone in the house run out. Ever.

Especially when my loving, caring husband is going to be out of town for a week and I’m going to be stupid and have spicy Chinese food.

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More Waiting

Posted by barb on Jan 23, 2006 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Artemis helping me make the bed

Artemis is at the vet again today for more tests in her ongoing saga. About a year ago, we noticed that she was breathing hard pretty much all of the time. Last June, the vet took some x-rays and saw what looked like a mass in her chest cavity. After some steroids, he concluded that he was confused – it could be cancer, and if so, she wouldn’t be around very long, it could be her anatomy (she has a divit in her chest, so there could be stuff going on that they don’t know about). The advice we got was to either take her to the expensive clinic for lots of tests (lots of stress on her), probably for a diagnosis of cancer or to wait for the cardiologist who periodically visits our clinic to have a look at her x-rays.

We decided to wait. Of course, we didn’t know that it was going to be 6 months before the cardiologist visited. He came to our clinic two weeks ago, and looked at her x-rays. He didn’t see cancer (plus, if was as bad as the original vet had thought, she should have been in bad shape by now). Instead, he thinks it might be a diaphragmatic hernia &#150 the stuff that the original vet said looked like a mass might be intestine coming into her chest cavity. He left us feeling very good about her chances of living a long life, if we find that it is a diaphragmatic hernia and get it repaired (major surgery, but he reassured us that the mortality rate is generally very good).

When our normal vet returned to the office (she was away at a conference last week), she had an associate call us to arrange a barium swallow for Artemis – this should show them if, indeed, she has intestine in her chest cavity. However, the vet that Andrew talked to also cautioned that if the liver is coming through to the chest cavity that there could be other complications to correcting the problem.

So, now she’s at the vet today for her barium swallow. I’m telecommuting, as usual for Mondays, and the house feels so empty. The boys are here, but they haven’t moved from where there were when I woke up this morning &#150 Artemis usually follows me around a bit, and demands attention while I’m at the computer. I miss her. Send her some good mojo today.

< Side Note > We had to take away the kids’ food for the night, since Artemis wasn’t supposed to eat after midnight for her test today. Ares was so hungry this morning, he was seeking out toy mice in the house to eat off their tails. What a silly guy.

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Posted by barb on Jan 5, 2006 in Random Thoughts

When I hopped into my car last night to go home (late, thank you very much), the radio was playing classical music. Odd. It’s not that I don’t like classical music – I just don’t listen to it in the car much. In fact, for driving to/from work, I generally need music that I can sing along with. That way, if I get stuck in traffic, it’s not so bad because I just sing along with the radio. So, when I turned the car off, the radio was playing the Z104 morning show and “modern” rock (whatever that means). That’s why it was a shock to hear classical music playing when I turned the car back on.

Turns out that Z104 went off the air yesterday at noon. I don’t recall any warning yesterday morning about that, but then, I was listening in traffic and then at work, so I didn’t have my full attention on the station. Still, one might think there’d be some warning.

This morning, when I hopped into the car, I didn’t know what do to. I liked the Z104 morning show. It was the thing that got me going in the morning, and I’d get my traffic and weather for the day on my way to work. I spun the dial a bit, but the other “modern rock” stations were playing rap or harder rock, which I don’t really like. Instead I started up the CD I had in the player (Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked for the Holidays).

I used to listen to a different station most of the time, but once I discovered Z104, I just left my dial there, since I liked about 90% of the songs they played. That, and they didn’t seem to have as many commercial breaks as the other station I listened to. I don’t want to go back to the old station. I don’t like the other “modern rock” stations in town. Guess I’ll need to get my iPod radio transmitter back in the car so I can just create my own radio station. Ugh.



In the air

Posted by barb on Oct 4, 2005 in Random Thoughts

Fall is here. I’ve been feeling it for several weeks now. The morning funk has set in &#150 a heavy weight I have to fight to get out of bed in the morning. It’s not the cold, but the dwindling hours of sunlight. I leave the house before the sun pokes over the horizon, and the sun is already on a rapid decline when I drive home.

I drive to work in a sweatshirt now, and the sandals have been put back in the closet where they will collect dust until Spring. My jeans have replaced my shorts, and the long-sleeved shirts are slowly coming out of retirement. My one joy in the morning is a hot cup of chai.

It’s not all bad though – the blankets have returned to the bed, so the cats have, too. They’ve started snuggling on the couch again.

But it’s not enough to combat the overwhelming feeling of dread that comes with fall. This year, after suffering for the last seven years without much relief, I’m going on medication for my winter depression. Let’s hope I start to find more that’s not so bad about fall….

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Well, that was exciting

Posted by barb on Sep 26, 2005 in Technical Details

Andrew came home last Friday to hear the hard disk on the computer running our web stuff making a funny chirping noise. That’s never good. You can read about the details on blog: Recovering From a Site Crash and Crawling From the Wreckage. The good news is that it appears that we didn’t lose any data — very good news since we hadn’t actually backed anything up. I have a copy of my main web pages on my other computer, but not of this weblog or Galaxy Girl.

I’ll be catching up over the next few days. Let us know if you notice anything funky, since we certainly haven’t explored all of the nooks and crannies that could have been lost.

Update: Looks like I need to mess around with the comment template…I’ll try to do that tomorrow or Wednesday.



Not good news

Posted by barb on Jun 21, 2005 in Cute Pets

Artemis in a box

The news from the vet wasn’t good. The prednisone may have reduced the mass a bit, but not as much as he would have expected. But, it looks like it is cancer. He said that we’re probably talking about months not years.

Today sucks.

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Posted by barb on Jun 21, 2005 in Cute Pets, Random Thoughts

Artemis went to the vet’s office again this morning for her follow-up X-ray. Last week, the vet called me after the X-ray was done and he’d looked at it, even though I had an appointment to pick her up later in the afternoon. Today, I’m expecting him to call again, though he hasn’t yet. The phone rang while I was eating lunch, and the butterflies in my stomach were unbearable, but the call was a wrong number. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a wreck — I’ve been less productive today than on the day before a vacation…

Fingers crossed, and happy, healthy mojo to Artemis!

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My Little Girl Needs Lots of Mojo!

Posted by barb on Jun 14, 2005 in Cute Pets, Random Thoughts

Potted Artemis

Artemis was at the vet again today — her second day in a row of X-rays. Yesterday we took all three of the kids in for their annual check-ups, and we mentioned that Artemis had been breathing heavily occasionally for no apparent reason, and the vet wanted to look into that more. So we left her there for the afternoon to get X-rays of her chest.

When I picked her up, I found out that there wasn’t anything obvious on the X-rays. There was one interesting thing, but it wasn’t causing her heavy breathing. Apparently when she was little — likely when she was in the womb — something happened that caused her chest to get dented inward, and so her rib cage has a noticeable divet. Her abnormality, though, makes reading her X-rays a bit of a challenge, because much of her anatomy is moved around from where it should be.

They had also looked for fluid around her lungs, and found nothing. In addition they gave her a diuretic, but I can’t remember what that was suposed to do. Before we left, she got a shot of steroids, which would to help the vet determine if the cause of her heavy breathing was asthma or allergies.

I took her back this morning for another X-ray. When I went to pick her up, the vet said that they saw a mass in her chest cavity, up near her heart (which is further up than it should be, due to her developmental abnormality). He said that it could be one of three things: (1) nothing at all, but it looks weird due to her odd anatomy; (2) thymoma, a cancer of the thymus; (3) lymphoma.

The next step is to figure out which of the three things it is. To do this, we’re giving her prednisone for a week, and then she’ll have another X-ray next Tuesday. If it’s (1), then nothing will have changed, she won’t have cancer (at least thymoma or lymphoma), and we won’t know what’s causing her heavy breathing yet. If it’s (2), then the prednisone should reduce the mass, and, with further prednisone treatment, may put the cancer into remission (if not, thymoma is frequently operable). If it’s (3), then the prednisone should also reduce it; however, it may also cause chemo-resistant cells to form. So, if it’s not (1), we’ll need to figure out with of (2) or (3) it is; and if it is (1), then we still need to find the cause of her heavy breathing.

I’m not sure which cause to hope for, though. With (2) or (3), we would at least know the cause, but it would be cancer; and with (3), even on chemotherapy (which the vet assures me is not as bad for cats as it is for humans), best case is that she’ll be around another year and a half. With (2), though, they can frequently get it into remission. With (1), she won’t have cancer, but breathing problems can also arise from cardiac problems…though I don’t know if he’s ruled out allergies or asthma…

Artemis needs all the mojo you can send her.

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PPTC — My first ride

Posted by barb on Jun 12, 2005 in Biking, Pictures

I made my first ride with the Potomac Pedalers this morning. It was a ride along the Fairfax County’s paved path along Ox Road (aka 123) from the Fairview Elementary School to the Lorton Valley shopping center.

Here we all are at the shopping center:
Potomac Peddlers Ride

A few thoughts on this ride and riding in groups:

  • I found it fun riding with the group because it felt safer — cars seemed to respect us as a group more than they do in ones or twos.
  • It was a bit nerve-wracking riding with a group, though, because I was constantly worrying about watching the signals from the rider in front of me, wondering if I’m close enough/too close to the bike in front of me, wondering if the bike behind me is close enough/too close, worrying that I’m slowing people down.
  • This ride was supposed to be 13 miles (at least that’s what the schedule said), and a “D” level ride, which should keep a pace of no more than 12 mph on flat terrain. However, it ended up being 15 miles and the pace was more like 13-15 mph. I was fine on the way out, but it was generally downhill. However, on the way back, I just couldn’t keep the pace up, so I grabbed Andrew and we had the “sweeper” go on without us.
  • After Andrew and I broke off at our own pace, we were able to stop, go a bit slower for a while, and catch our breath. In fact, we stayed about the same distance behind the group once I caught my breath. We were also able to enjoy our surroundings a bit more — I even spotted a deer off the trail that we likely wouldn’t have seen if we had been busy worrying about the other riders.

Overall I’m not sure how I felt about the ride. I did enjoy being part of a group; however, I was very frustrated that I couldn’t keep up the pace on the second leg of the ride. However, when I found out that “D” rides were supposed to be kept at a bit slower pace, I’m more upset at the leader. I realize that the other riders had no trouble, but if the ride is advertised as a “D”, I expect a “D”. We’re thinking about another ride in two weeks, but, frankly, I’m just not sure…

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