New digs, new jobs, new commutes, travels, imports and new hells

Vitals contributors have not been extending their stay at one of the luscious spas in our area (despite popular belief and the incredible desire to be sipping cocktails while enjoying a pedicure, at this very moment). Instead we have been busy purchasing real estate, moving, starting new jobs, hauling ass to the un-desired suburbs, traveling and welcoming international friends.

Once upon-a-time, several writers were able to contribute on a more frequent basis due to the "no big brother" policy with their employers. Unfortunately, times have changed and these writers not only find that their internet usage is logged, but they haul about 50 miles round trip just to be online (well, to work too, but that is really a minor detail, at present). Before these glamorous new jobs attracted them, commutes were a breeze and all internet surfing, with the exception of porn, was totally acceptable. I know, I know, what is a work day without a little porn?

Well, I have recently encountered people at my newest employment gig who actually get paid to surf for porn. I swear this to be true. And when I met the guy that headed the group, it became even more apparent that this group actually enjoyed their job. So, just remember, when someone asks you the trite question of "So, what do you do?"; there is always the snarky, but could be true response of "I get paid to surf for porn". Don't' go into how your surfing is for the good of the kiddies on the 'net, this would definitely ruin the moment.

So happy that I drive 30 miles one way to interface with these lovely people.


My father is 7th grade teacher, and has - like every middle school teacher - a slew of good stories from those braces-wearing, loud-talkin, and dare I say TRIANGLE HAIRED kiddos. Recently, he's asked his class come up with a "Question of the Day" - just anything they're curious about. He posts the best questions on the board, and they all discuss. Here are a few good ones...

1. Can you cry underwater?
2. Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
3. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
4. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?


China doesn't Chew - an interesting factoid

Chewing Gum puts Wrigley at #65 on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. Even more interesting is the following statistic from Mr. Wrigley's Forbes' bio:

China's per capita gum consumption is just 10 sticks a year. In the U.S., the per capita gum consumption is 160 sticks per year. I believe Wrigley is trying to expand into the Chinese market. Isn't bad enough that today's Chinese youth are dealing with obesity due to Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's and Burger King franchises - now, we make must the people of China want to up their gum consumption.

Does this mean that Americans have a higher propensity for oral fixation?

FYI - Wrigley, the U.S.' largest gum producer, sells 16 types of gum in 67 flavors.
He's also recently divorced - just in case there is a woman who would like to be the Glamour Girl of Gum...

Career Decisions - As Dolly once sang,
"Workin' 9 to 5...What a way to make a livin'"

I've been in Washington for about eight years and I have been with my current employer for two years and six months. This is the longest stretch of time that I have been with the same company, in my entire post-college career. Once again, I am feeling a little restless and I am seeking a new challenge. My employment has been pretty steady in the software/consulting sector; however, I am thinking about leaving the software industry and trying something completely new. I have thought about all kinds of careers, from farming (seriously, there are ways to be a profitable farmer/grower) to becoming a high-school art teacher.
I just don't think I can spend my days behind a computer for much longer. I'm craving that "get your hands" dirty job that comes with plenty of challenges and many rewards.
According to a Sept. 26-28th Gallup Survey, now is not the best time to be seeking my dream job:
  • 38% of Americans say now is a good time to find a quality job
  • The majority of Americans (56%) say it is a bad time

Even more interesting, responses are colored by one's politics:

  • 6 in 10 Republicans (60%) say it is a good time to find a quality job
  • 33% of independents say it is a good time to find a quality job
  • 22% of Democrats share this point of view

Job satisfactionn is also an interesting topic. For those of us who do not have steady access to money, we must work in order to earn, save, provide and hopefully, invest. I also believe that the desire to work is not just based on earning potential, but it is a product of our environment. I hear the sarcastic saying about DC-ers or East Coasters all the time - chatting with someone on the East Coast (especially DC and NYC) is all about who you work for, what you do, etc. I have found myself (reluctantly) locked into one of these conversations, but I've also been able to sway the conversation to other, more interesting topics. I do have to admit - I know I spend 40 hours a week at my job, as do most of my peers; at some point, the topic of work is going to surface. I am constantly challenging myself to make sure it is not a topic that one spends more than a little while addressing.

Gallup's annual Work and Education Poll, updated Aug. 8-11, finds:

  • About three in five employed adults in the United States like their jobs
  • A fortunate one-third of workers love their occupations
  • Only 9% of working adults dislike or hate their jobs

No more financial worries! Apparently, we Americans still want to work (how honest were these people!?) - 60% wouldremainn employed in some capacity.

Gallup asked workers what they would do if the lottery presented them with $10 million in instant wealth.

  • Overall, 36% of workers say they would continue to work in their current jobs
  • 24% would continue to work but find a different job
  • 39% would stop working


It's The Little Things...
It's pretty much a miracle that my diet of Kosher Salt, Spray Butter and all things Soy has not caused me an untimely death. I also have a new found soft-spot for imitation crab and lobster meat. If you're thinking that I've developed a crush on canned meat, please navigate away from this site. I've been known to salt my bread and even chocolate ice-cream, but I will never eat canned meat. It's the pre-packaged and air-tight imitation seafood that I have grown fond of enjoying at really, any time of the day.
I would also like to share a recent affinity for Brussel sprouts, squash and red onions. Yes, I guess I like foods filled with fiber. While the rest of the world is taking an afternoon siesta or Starbucks Coffee break, I am strolling the industrial streets of Ballston in search of my afternoon Soy Crisp snack. So many flavors of Soy to savor.
If you have never had the pleasure of attending a day long client meeting with me, then you've never witnessed my "straight from the package" oatmeal eating routine. It's quite simple. Take a paper oatmeal packet, open, stick in spoon, insert dry oatmeal into mouth. Honestly, it's not as gross as one would think. I guess the camper in me comes out in these situations. Having low blood sugar and constantly needing to eat is a total curse. I carry Saltines around in my car. No, I am not pregnant.
If you consider yourself an adventurous foodie, don't discount yummy combinations like:
  • chocolate pudding and puffed wheat
  • salad, imitation lobster, soy crisps and raisins
  • cold tofo and soy sauce (nice and salty!)
  • dry oatmeal and Splenda


This is a picture of me at my new job! (OK, I am lying. But who would want to see a picture of me sitting at my desk, trying to act like I'm doing important research instead of shopping on-line?)

Dear Iraqi Pen Pal,

OK, this little sentiment is courtesy of my (very funny) friend Caitlin. But seriously, it is a handy little phrase to invoke when you are feeling particularly whiny and sorry for yourself, for no real reason other than the overwhelming anguish of dealing with the banality of typical city life in 2005. Like I am right now. Twaah-twah-twaaaaaah.

I really feel like winding up into a long, whiney, ear-splitting snivel-fit right now. Really, I do. Here is why:

1. I have accepted a new job, which I am scared about. I am very conformable with my current position, and by comfortable I mean: "filled with abject boredom and ennui." So I was offered the new gig, and it will mean more work, more time in the effing car commuting to work, and (the kicker) more money. So I have sold my soul to the corporate overlords and am feeling apprehensive about the decision. What if I hate it? What if I somehow get sucked into working in the Virginia suburbs and eventually just give up on the commute, trade in my cute clothes and sexy heels for dowdy school-marmish suits and running shoes, and renounce the whole living-in-the city thing? (shudder)

2. I have to move. Again. Granted, it is into a much bigger, more spacious home with a freakin YARD, where (one day, when I am feeling saucy) I can plant actual living things and lounge in the sun swatting mosquitos. But still--moving SUCKS, people. And I should know. I moved last fall. And the year before that, too. And before that...well, you get the idea. The point is: I am sick to death of putting all my shit in boxes, hauling these boxes around town like some sort of freaking Sherpa, only to take all my shit OUT of boxes on the other end and have to decide the proper place (again) for all that SHIT. Damn it!!! Not to mention having to endure the tail-lashing fury and destructive mood swings of a pissed-off black cat who is incensed by the prospect of having to deposit her scent all over a NEW house. And who can blame her? She had only just finished rubbing up on everything in the OLD house, for fuck's sake. All that work, just lost.

3. (and this is the whiniest bit of all) I am sick to death of dealing with, thinking about, and hyper-analyzing the actions of basically every single male I meet. I am bored senseless by things that start out fun and then turn into what can only be described as "not fun," due to the fact that I am compelled to play my part in some sort of ritualized dance where no one really knows the steps, but they go something like: "If you show that you like me, I will immediately feel for you only scorn and derision, but if you treat me with disdain I will immediately be compelled by the need to make an ass of myself in a desperate effort to win your affections." It is mind-boggling. The thing is, I am a reasonable person. Really! I recognize the idiocy and futility of this scenario. Yet I play into it repeatedly, seemingly without control over my thoughts and actions. Argh!

But you, my dear Iraqi Pen Pal, probably do not find any of these complaints worth the time it took to commit them to cyberspace. You are probably thinking: "My American Pen Pal is truly the most self-involved, egocentric, and tedious human being to ever suck up more than their fair share of natural resources." You are probably right. I suck.

And to top it all off, I just broke a fucking nail.