Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year End House Cleaning

Now that this one's almost history, I've decided to do a little tidying up around here, I added some links to the blog roll (and probably still have a bunch I've missed), I've cleaned the sidebar up some, I added a Flickr badge, (and am working to get the rest of this year's select pics uploaded there), and I updated the Irks and Delights picture for the first time since 2004.

Here are a few of the things that I never got around to blogging in the last year:

Work: After 5 years of teaching as an adjunct, I was given a full-time position, but with only a one-year contract and at salary that turned out to be $5,000 less than I was initially told it would be. But I do have insurance now. Say a prayer that my contract will be renewed for Fall 2008. I hoped to be back in school by then, working on a PhD, but I just don't see how I can taken that on when I'm still trying to get the house fixed and us moved back in.

Otherwise, I can honestly say that love my job and my students have been great this year. Really, really great.

Home: Our fight with State Farm over wind damage ended when it was discovered that I'd been underpaid for the damage that the company did acknowledge and the difference would put the claim over the policy limit. So, no compensation for the foundation. We still haven't settled on Additional Living Expenses (ALE): State Farm has paid zero, despite the fact that we haven't been able to live in the house since the Storm.

If the pain of being screwed by contractor Rick Ford wasn't enough, I just found out that the subcontractor hired by Davies Shoring to fix the foundation did a half-assed job and did several things wrong. It was never permitted or inspected and now I know how they managed to do a job they said would take two weeks, in a day and a half. I've been getting the run around from them and no one will return my calls.

Things are looking up, however, as Morwen (aka Gentilly Girl) and Betty have put their contractor on the case and I'm feeling more optimistic than I have in a long time. This optimism scares me a little because I really don't think I can take any more crashing disappointments with this house thing.

Everything Else:

The kids are doing well. I can't believe I have one in college now. Alex is at UNO and had a pretty typical first semester as a freshman. I'm still haven't adjusted to paying tuition, though. As difficult as it may be to believe, UNO faculty get no tuition wavers for their offspring. Thanks to Katrina, my son missed a TOPS scholarship by 12/100 of a point, so I'm paying for him to attend the university that employs me. The university senate recently voted to add this benefit and I'm hoping it will be a reality by next fall. Meanwhile, Alex continues to work the counter at Croissant d'Or on the weekends and because of that, he's been spending a lot more time with his dad this year and that's good for both of them. (It's easier for him to get to work from his dad's house, but on school days he's with me.)

At 11 years old, Rachel is rolling headlong into puberty and seems to be growing an inch a day. Her legs are about as long as mine now, and eventually the rest of her body will grow into them. (I remember being 75% legs around the same age.) She's still my #1 sidekick and a happy child, all full of love and life.

Renard is also doing well and it looks as if he is really, truly finished messing around with his first solo CD and will get it to press in the next couple of months. (It still needs graphics and mastering.) We've been waiting a long time for this one, folks, but once it's out, it will have been well worth the wait. He plays every instrument on it but saxophone and has done a really fine job with the recording and mixing. The production work is truly impressive, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his girlfriend. Just wait. You'll see.

And speaking of Renard, tonight is the 6th anniversary of our first date, which came after about 20 years of friendship. The relationship was worth the wait, too. We've had our share of rough spots, but we seem to have gotten much better at all this in the last couple of years and have been really happy since The Storm. (At least there's one thing I can say is better since Katrina.)

I suppose I covered everything else that merited coverage in other posts throughout the year. I hope that with the new year this blog will revert to something more akin of what it was before August 29, 2005. I think I enjoyed it much more then.

Adios 2007. Like your predecessors, you taught me a lot, some things that I'd rather not have had to learn, but all things of value, nonetheless. For all of it --the people and experiences that brought me love and lessons in the last year-- I express a heartfelt thank you.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Ice, Crack...It seemed to make sense at the time.

For the Unfortunate Product/Packaging Decisions file:
Sugary Candy Looks Too Much Like Street Drugs, Cops Say.
Story via the 23/6 News.

I have to wonder if this was someone's idea of a joke that went too far or if they just hired some "heads" in the packaging design department. Hey! They call crystal meth "ice." Ice cracks. Crack and ice come in little baggies. Yeah. Let's put this new, powdery Ice Breakers candy in something that looks like a crack bag. Heh, heh. I said crack. Heh, heh, heh.

In the photo: something illegal on the left, Hershey's Ice Breakers Pacs on the right.

This reminds me of the one time that picking up trash outside my house proved fortuitous for my students. My house is on a corner a block away from one of those corner stores where commerce takes place inside and out. One of the many unfortunate results of this activity is the commercial and contraband trash that ends up on the ground in a two block radius of the store. A lot of time my time is spent picking it up (and I've found some truly disgusting things out there), but only once was there a payoff.

On this particularly fateful day, among the detritus I found a tiny baggie similar to the one in the picture on the left, but with a little marijuana leaf on it. (Though, clearly it was not marijuana that had been in the bag.) A scene began to play out in my head of a marketing department meeting in the corporate offices of some plastics manufacturer. When the subject of product development comes up, some young upstart proposes targeting the illegal drug trade segment. The idea of the putting an image of a crack pipe on the bag is dismissed over the more universally embraced marijuana leaf. The company decides to list the product under Retailer and Dealer Supplies.

I stuck the baggie in my pocket and pulled it out that night in my Principles class when we talked about market segmentation. Feedback indicated that the example was a huge success and the students really got it. (And for some reason, marketing segmentation generally is not *gotten* easily.)

I considered saving the baggie for use in future classes but couldn't figure out how to store it without the risk of someone finding it and getting the wrong idea. I guess I could have sent a notice to everyone in my department saying, "I wish to go on the record that I have an empty crack bag in my office. I found it on the ground outside my house. It's a great and memorable classroom prop for explaining market segmentation. Please don't judge me too harshly."

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