Diverting myself

Yesterday I passed my test for my AWS Cloud practitioner certification. It was a cause for celebration but it was not a healthy study pattern. I started the AWS course in August and delayed and delayed. It wasn’t until I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal to finish it before year end.

Around Thanksgiving when I realized I was out of time, I booked the last time available in the year for the test. That gave me 3 weeks to study. I did a bit of haphazard work until a week before the test. Then I crammed for 4 days. I was sure I was going fail and had a backup plan. I was cramming on my way to the test center. The test doesn’t give me a score, it just says I passed. And I got my logos by email.

So I can officially use these logos on resumes and websites about me.

But this wasn’t a healthy way to get the certification. And as I look around at other things in my life, I wonder what happened to my healthy habits? When did I start hanging out with my buddy procrastination? Why does my phone see my face more often than my family?

It seems that I have a lot to work on this new year. I expect a lot of comments about 2020 being a year of clarifying vision. As much as that makes me cringe, it may not be a bad thing to have FOCUS as a theme for next year.

My word for 2019 was connection and I can see places where I failed but I can also see where I have moved forward from last year.  This year also gave me a lot to think about and taught me how easily I have let others manipulate me. I’m getting help for it and there are behavior changes I need to make. What are your plans for the new year? Do you have a habit of evaluating your year and planning out the next one?

New family this year.

Earlier this year, Ancestry helped us find my husband’s father. We have new family and tonight we were invited to a Christmas party. The yard was festive.

And the chicken was at the party but not in party dress.

See my new Aunt Marianne travels with the chicken. Rather the chicken travels and takes Marianne along for the ride.

It reminded me of the woman who comes to FanX with her stuffed Totoro and pays for Totoro to have photo ops with celebrities.

I also saw my first chicken Nativity.

It was a great party with cocoa and cookies and lots of people. It’s really fun having family again on that side.

This week, I’m studying for my AWS practioner exam and trying to get an emergency release out at work. Luckily my holiday preparation is pretty much done just waiting on UPS and FedEx. Thank goodness no more of the packages are coming through OnTrac. I have a really horrible record with them saying they delivered something and it not making it to the house.

However, I feel really bad about telling Target that my movie didn’t arrive on Thursday as OnTrac reported. See the movie is now out of stock so Target gave me a refund Saturday night when I reported the missing item. Guess what arrived from OnTrac Sunday afternoon? Is there any way I can have Target stop processing my refund?

I did find the movie at Barnes and Noble and it’s on order there. I would have cancelled it but it’s already processing so I can’t cancel. I’m not too worried about having 2 copies since the kids are already claiming the spare copy.

Thought for today: Did you ever have a mess up at Christmas ever be a good thing?

Would love to hear your story in the comments

Productive Weekend

Last year, I took the month of December off from job hunting and participated in Flossmas stitching. I did quite a few ornaments but didn’t get them finished/finished. As in, I have a pile of completed stitching but no actual ornaments. This year, I kicked off the holiday weekend by stitching ornaments that I plan to give to co-workers. I have 5 co-workers that I think would appreciate stitched gifts, mainly because three of them marked the ones they wanted in my 2019 JCS ornament issue. One said she appreciated the offer but thought I was being ambitious stitching that many ornaments so if I get the time to do one for her, just pick one. The fifth was busy in meetings.

This weekend, we also brought up all the Christmas boxes and went through them. Three trees, 2 centerpieces and all the plastic ornaments and a box of green glass ornaments are headed out of the house. Some of the Christmas candles are headed to the emergency essentials storage others have never been used and will be gifts this year.

My word for 2019 was connection and usually decorating has been my jam and the rest of the family participated as directed. This year, I’m asking for more help and trying to make it more of a family event since their are only 2 of us left. I’m hoping we can do more of the house than usual but if Christmas is banished to just the front room and entry way, then that is what will be done. I didn’t get out the village of ceramic houses because I’m not sure where I would put the Christmas village. There really hasn’t been a good place to set it up in this house. I could take the dining room table but DH would like to entertain and needs that table free.

If three trees are leaving the house, what are you putting up as a tree, Stasha? I used to put up 3 trees so the 3 windows facing the street would each have a tree in them and each child would have a tree to decorate. However, last year Santa took the place of the tree on the landing and that will continue this year too. DH feels that having only one tree would be a good thing to start doing. He liked the idea of starting fresh so picked a new LED pre-lit tree for us to put up.

I’ve never had a white tree before. He had one of the silver aluminum trees with the light box to make it change colors as a child. Growing up, we always had the pinion pine trees with the long needles. I loved the smell of the pine, that meant Christmas. When we first married, I would find a free pines trees close to Christmas. Once we bought a house, DH bought an artificial tree and gave the excuse of not wanting to have a fire hazard in the house. I knew it worried him so I haven’t pushed for a fresh tree since. We have had a few years where we did get a real dead pine for the house but those years were few and far between. Mainly it’s been because $50-$100 could do more for the family than it would buying a tree to be thrown out.

As we went through the bins to decide what stayed and what went, I decorated. All that needs to be done now is decorate the tree and put up the garland on the stair rails.

I’ve decided that I can’t afford to lose time in my job search. So this year, after I’ve applied to a position every evening, then I can work on finishing ornaments. Christmas break, I’ll work on the wedding quilt which needs to be finished by May 6th.

It’s been an interesting year

  • Not wanting to write should have been a sign.
  • Not wanting to stitch should have been a warning.
  • Sitting and playing stupid match three games and hiding from everyone and everything should have screamed at me but I ignored it.

A year ago today, I lost an amazing job when the company reorganized. My job search led to some unforeseen places which connected our family to my husband’s birth family and I stepped back from what I had been doing at the amazing job to what I had done previously. Going backwards is not a good thing.

I miss being on the road. I haven’t traveled at all this year. I really want to get back to being a road warrior. So if you know of anyone looking for someone to visit customers and help with implementation, demo software at trade shows, help with customer trainings and be a point of contact for escalation, let me know.

Year of WIPs Update

I missed my first quarter update but, hey, better late than never.

First, Dragon Ride by Teresa Wentzler is finished. This is stitched on 36 count Star Sapphire linen with the Anchor conversion published in the magazine originally. I added a Krenik to the reins and the backstitch may not be as charted because the colors on the chart were confusing so I did what looked good to me. Also, the celtic style border is not stitch and the addition to the tail to remove the border was charted for me by Dette.

Next up is progress on Stars for a New Millenium. I have it on my floor stand. The design is by Anthony Minieri and it’s stitched on 18 count rose canvas. This one is counted canvas work. It’s amazing on the shadow on the left border makes it look black but its the same lavender silk as the right border. This is worked in a variety of fibers. Mainly silk and Krenik.

Third is last year’s Stitch along – Into the Jungle by Frosted Pumpkin stitchery. It’s had a little progress since the first of the year but not much.

I don’t know why the fabric on this always looks grey in photos. It’s a 28 count antique lavender. The pattern this year’s SAL (Stitch Along) from Fuzzy Fox designs. You can see the start of the May monsters in the yellow blog on the right. I’ve done a bit of modification (hey, pattern is just a place to start). Burple is holding a fish charm that I picked up somewhere since it was in my button box. Also Jemima Jugglefish is juggling some buttons. I didn’t have the fuzzy orange for Pinky but I may get some and restitch her before framing if I get hold of some orange Wisper. I also added some eyes to those of Mr. Sprout’s friends who didn’t have them. I was going to add a some green to Mr. Sprout’s head but then it hit me, he sleeps with his feet in the air so the white hairy strings are appropriate unless they are a manifestation of Agrobacterium rhizogenes in which case, it will be interesting to see his transformation.

I was thinking of working on Tempest as I commuted on the train. However, the little bit of work I did on him while down at Stitcher’s Paradise in Las Vegas made me realize that the only way I could work on him on the train was if I took prethreaded needles. Instead, he’s going to be added to the Decision Wheel and go into the regular rotation. I’m using my commute time for some new starts from Armada designs. Tempest here is designed by Teresa Wentzler and was a freebie until she stopped selling her dragons. The color conversion was done by a good friend who started him and then gave up her stitching stash as her eyesight deteriorated.

And the final update for my Year of Wips work is Class Schedule. I have completed the Herbology block but haven’t really moved to any more of the classes. The borders and lettering are silks from Jo Mason Silks. The fabric is from Picture this Plus. We’ll see how this month moves as my Maynia goal is to put in at least one thread a day in at least one project besides my commuting piece.

So this is what I accomplished in the first quarter of the year along with looking for and finding a new job, starting same new job, finding and meeting lots of hubby’s bio family (thanks to winning 2 Ancestry DNA kits) which has been absolutely amazing, feeling guilty about not coaching or working on my book, working on the board planning for DevOps Days SLC (which is in 2 weeks), giving my first public speech at a tech conference, participating in the year of not resorting to fast food or eating out when things get busy (see Black Forge Kitchen), getting back to walking 10,000 steps per day (but haven’t made it back to the gym or yoga classes), and trying to connect more with hubby and kids while taking care of church callings (luckily related to geneaology) and the house.

So it doesn’t look like I did a lot of stitching but there was a ton of other stuff going on.

It wasn’t meant to be an adventure…

Today was the annual Japanese festival at the Buddist Temple. We used to go every year when we lived in the Avenues. We decided to go this year in order to check out the food.

We decided to take Trax but didn’t notice the announcement on the platform that a power outage had closed a section of the track.

A few stops in, the train stopped and they had us board a bus.

We travelled on the bus bridge until the place where the train wa running again. After that the ride was uneventful.

At the festival, they had an exhibit of the art from the World War II internment camps.

If you have not heard of this dark period in America’s history. Please do at least a Google search and read at least a Wikipedia entry if not something more.

I’m so glad we made it down to see such a powerful exhibit.

As for getting home, we took Lyft and met a great driver.

A mellow FanX was just what I needed.

I have been volunteering with Farr Production events since their first September 2013 Event. I have 14 Badges hanging from the hook in my basement and that doesn’t count the one from gaming con when the Farrs owned a percentage. Having been there since the beginning, there are some pre-con things I usually do before the event to help out my team. This event, however, I bowed out since I was looking for work, volunteering as a board member for DevOps days, and a few other personal things. I was planning to be available for both days of the event though.

The photo ops group photo

Two weeks before spring FanX, I landed a job. I debated if I should ask for a vacation day this close to my start date. Then my boss scheduled our initial user group meetings for the 19th and I knew I wouldn’t be volunteering for the first day of FanX. I changed my availability to Saturday only and got a notice that I probably would be asked to help in Photo Ops instead of being on Celebrity Row.

Now the last time I was on secondment to Photo Ops I spent the entire day as a cashier and had a horrible time but sold a lot of photo ops and digital prints. So I was pretty worried about my upcoming shift, but during Thursday night Jim said he was excited to have me on his team this event and assured me that he would find me something better than sitting at a desk waiting for people to buy pictures.

Your Saturday Scan out team at Photo Ops

Remember this is my year of connection. Working with photo ops Saturday gave me some wonderful opportunities to connect with the fans in more ways than before. I was scanning at the exit to make sure that people were leaving with the correct photos so that their digital file would sync to the correct image. See FanX gave everyone the digital file in addition to the physical print.

This meant I got to see everyone leaving the photo booths. I saw amazing cosplays but only got a few pictures because I didn’t want to hold up the people leaving the area. I can’t count the number of times people were still shaking with the joy of having had their pictures taken with their favorite celebrity. There were a few times I asked if I could steady the picture in order to get the scan.

Can you guess she had the Aladdin/Jasmine team up photo op?

The only problem I had was every now and again, the tablets would lose connection with the server and I would have to rescan. After several people had to be rescanned, I had one go through perfectly and I said, “You’re beautiful.” to the person whose photo had worked smoothly, showing up on a green screen at the first try. She started to tear up and said, “No one has ever told me that.” That hit me like a ton of bricks and from there out, instead of saying “Thank you” or “you’re good to go,” I started passing out compliments. Things like “Looking great,” Beautiful shot, “Great pose,” or “You’re amazing.” The smiles were so worth it.

Another experience was a young girl in a mermaid costume who was so proud of her cosplay. She wanted me to guess who she was and gave me hints such as “Blond is the wrong hair color.” and “Oh, wait let me get out my palace pet.” I guess Ariel and she is so excited that I got it right. She was so cute that I asked if I could take a picture of her great cosplay. She was thrilled and posed. I showed her the pic to make sure she liked it and then made sure her Dad saw me delete it so he could be sure his daughter would be safe from any social media posts.

Great Freddie Mercury cosplay

I really did miss the con family that I usually work with at these events but I was able to get over and talk with most of them and collect hugs and stories. So all in all a great con. The only bad part was as often as I have been the person insisting that everyone drink water, I was so busy that I forgot to drink enough. I only went through half of my water bottle during my shift and ended up dehydrated.

I’m thankful to the people who realized that as busy as I have been the last few months, what I needed this event was to have a low key, slower job than what I’m used to doing. I’ve been exhausted learning the new routine at work and having a slower pace at the Con was a good thing for me even if I didn’t realize it at the beginning. By September, however, I’ll be back to being my high energy self and am looking forward to having a great challenge and being back with my people.

Our experiment this year…

Last August while we were on vacation, my husband, Chef John, had an idea. He wanted to spend a year not eating out, we would be cooking at home. Looking at social media, other people had tried it but most had failed at about 5 weeks. You should know. My husband is technically challenged. He crashed the federal government computer systems when he created his H.U.D. account. However, he wanted to blog about the experiment. After a really rocky start, he got the blog working. He’s posting on either Monday or Tuesday every week and we have now been three weeks without eating out.

This challenge came at a great time, I’m between jobs and it’s amazing how much we’ve saved not eating out already. I haven’t lost any weight but my blood pressure has tested in the normal range for the first time in years.

Anyway, you can follow our adventures eating in this year at BlackForgeKitchen.com – please, leave a comment there to encourage the hubby in this idea.

WIPocalypse 2019 – first post of the Year – Introduce yourself

I didn’t make all of my WIPocalypse posts last year but that’s okay, this is a fun hobby and too many rules spoil the fun. I would also like to preface my plans by saying – I’m between jobs and finding a new pre-sales job or product/project management job may change all my plans.

Last year I signed up for 2 annual SALs – Into the Jungle by Frosted Pumpkin and Class Schedule by Armada Designs. My goal was to complete each section the month I got it. Into the Jungle made it through April and then fell to the wayside as I started to travel for work. I have completed 2 months of Class Schedule which is also the same amount of sections I completed in the 2017 SAL from Clouds Factory – the fabulous women. This year I was not planning to join any SALs but then Annette from Annette’s Acre mentioned the Fuzzy Fox SAL and I was lost when I saw the preview so not only have I joined the Fuzzy Fox SAL, I dropped my plans for the first week of January to work on the first block and I should finish it tonight.

My plans this year before discovering the Fuzzy Fox SAL were to participate in the Year of WIPs and finish off the following pieces.

On the top left is my counted needlepoint piece – Stars for a New Millenium by Antony Minieri. I started this in 2012 when the SAL group for it start on The Wagon. The Wagon was a bulletin board where stitchers hung about before Facebook was a thing. I’m down to 6 blocks and the border to finish it. This will count as 6 finishes in the Year of WIPs (YOW) challenge.

The top Right is Dragon Ride by Teresa Wentzler – I have the Dragon, the over 1 rider and the backstitching left to finish and it will be done. I started it in July 2000 on Sapphire Linen using the Anchor floss listed in the magazine. Interestingly when the pattern was re-printed on Patterns online, it used a different Anchor key which threw me off when I tried to use that pattern after misplacing my magazine. I’m glad I found the magazine again. It count’s as 1 piece for YOW 2019 but will show up as 3 or 4 stories on the Decision Roulette wheel.

Middle Left – Frosted Pumpkin Into the Jungle – You can see only 4 sections were completed so I have 8 sections and the header and footer to finish. That will count as 9 finishes for the YOW 2019. I don’t remember what fabric I used for it, I know it was something from stash and I was too lazy to do a conversion so it’s stitched in DMC.

Middle Right – Class Schedule by Armada Designs – Completed January and February leaving 10 months to complete.

Bottom Left – Magic Mini Monsters SAL by Fuzzy Fox Designs – the goal is to stay current on this which means a release 2x a month. I’m on track to complete the first section tonight. I haven’t finished the center or the border yet so those will become segments in the sections where they appear again.

Bottom Right – Tempest in a Teacup by Teresa Wentzler – I inherited this WIP from Erica Gonzalez when she sold off all her stash because her eyesight was going and she needed money to launch her new business. This is the perfect travel piece as long as I take magnifying glasses with it.

This is my plan for the year. It’s a lot of stitching. I put all the segments into my decision roulette and I’m spinning it each time I finish a piece. So far it seems to be working but it’s only the 1st Sunday of the year and I’m still working on the piece that came up on the first spin. We’ll see how it works out this year. Last year’s plans made it to April when I got a new job and this year, I need a job by March. If you know anyone who needs someone to help out their sales force by putting together amazing demos and training customers on new products – let me know.

Are you stupid?

We watched a video recently where the interviewer would go to people and ask them if they were stupid.  The correct answer he was looking for was Yes because you can’t be an expert in everything and everyone has more to learn.

Well I definitely have a lot more to learn and I need to do better at remembering that when people ask me the same questions over and over it’s because they are learning from me and as annoying as it gets, it’s a signal that how I’m teaching isn’t getting through.

Occasionally, I can’t fix annoying things like why this page says Shondra’s blog in the title when my name is Stasha and never has been Shondra. I’ll admit that right now this page forwards to WordPress and they would like me to upgrade from a free page to a monthly paid page and they keep suggesting the name Shondra’s blog for me so it may be a WordPress thing.  Honestly, at one point I looked into trying to see how I could move everything from WordPress to my own domain but failed miserably at it.  Probably because there is a lot of history out there on this blog and I got impatient.  It’s a new year though and I could use some new skills so things could still change.

Any suggestions on an inexpensive host that plays well with WordPress and YouTube?