Sunday, November 16, 2008


Hiding, You're Doing it Wrong.
(Modeled by Nigel, who is just happy to have found a sunbeam.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Post About Time

First, thanks to everyone who responded to my post about vacation time. It reminded me how valuable it is to have flexibility, not just quantity, in work arrangements.

So, my watch stopped working this week. I went to put it on Tuesday morning, and realized the date display still thought it was Monday evening. The hands were not moving, either. I even pulled the knob out and pushed it back in, just in case that had been stuck again. I had just had the battery replaced not two months ago, so I was concerned something else was wrong. I took it in to the Fossil store in the mall, where they replaced the battery to see if that was the problem. No luck, it must be a mechanical problem. So, I get to dig up the warranty booklet (ha!) and send it in for repairs.

In the meantime, I'm reminded that I have no natural sense of time. I just can't tell how much time has passed without looking at a clock. I burnt two hours in the mall, when I thought only about 45 minutes had gone by. When I stepped away from my desk at work, (therefore away from my computer and its time display) I felt like I had gone "off the grid" - it was so disorienting to not know how long I was talking with someone or how long I had to get to a meeting. I finally bought a cheap watch at Sears, so it would stop driving me nuts. (To those of you asking, "why doesn't she just look at her phone?" it is because my phone is not attached to me.)

Only after I get home and have been wearing the new ($13.99) watch for a few hours, I remember that I have a nickel allergy. I have NO idea what the band is made out of. The watch back tells me that it is made from stainless steel, but no clues for the expandable metal band. Ugh. Well, if it starts irritating my skin, then I'll take that as a good excuse to just buy another watch. Of known metallurgical origins.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Poll: Vacation Days

We only get 12 vacation days per year. It increases to 15 days after 10 years of service, then 20 days after 15 years of service. Is this good, normal, or poor? It doesn't seem like enough, especially to both take a see-new-places trip and do a family visit in the same year.

We do get 12 holidays as days off with pay, mostly clumped at the end of the year for Christmas shutdown. Also, sick days aren't levied against us, so that is fair. Comp-time is an option, but that doesn't really count in my mind as time off (we can get paid for any overtime instead).

So, a quick poll: is your vacation policy better or worse than mine is? Do you feel like you get enough time off? Do you even get to use your vacation time?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Harvest Festival

Somehow I totally missed this last year, though it seems to be an age-old tradition at my new church. Harvest Festival, also called Harvest Days, is November 7th and 8th (Friday and Saturday) 2008, at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church. Hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

It is a combination craft fair and bake sale, with ALL of the stuff made by members of the congregation. Lunch is also a big deal, with BBQ and "Apple Slices" made from scratch at the church. (From how they have been described, Apple Slices are like apple pies the size of sheet pans.) Craft items include: jewelry, floral arrangements, woodcrafts, holiday decorations, fabric art, ornaments, greeting cards, quilts, and even a White Elephant table. (I don't think the White Elephant stuff is made by the congregation, more like DISCARDED by the congregation...) Bake sale items include bread, cookies, pies, and cakes.

St. John is located at 1800 S Rodenburg Rd. Schaumburg, IL 60193. They are at the intersection of Irving Park Rd. and Rodenburg Rd. If you exit the Elgin OHare Expressway westbound at Irving Park, turn left at the bottom of the off ramp. The church is on the south side of Irving Park Rd, with the main parking lot across the street. They belong to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

I finally went to a meeting for the Service Guild at church after someone clued me in that it existed. All women members of the church are default members of the Service Guild, and from what I could tell from one meeting, they appear to keep the church running. This is their major fund-raiser for the year. I declined to volunteer to work at Harvest Days, but I did say I would blog about it. If I'm in a cooking mood on Friday night I may make something for the bake sale. It is nice to feel more incorporated into the church. At St. Peter's I never moved beyond "Choir Alto #4" and I'm not sure why. Maybe because no one asked?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Six Flags Season Wrap-Up

We went to Six Flags Great America one last time for the season on Saturday, their last long open day. Apparently, the draw of being the last Saturday in Fright Fest trumped the weather. Lines were 2X longer (time-wise) than any of the other days we went this year. So, not only did we wait an hour and a half for Raging Bull, our toes and fingers were going numb. Still, it was worth it for a day outside and riding 5 coasters. (Viper, Batman, Raging Bull, Batman, Viper) That last Viper ride, we got in line 15 minutes before close, and got on the LAST car of the LAST train of the night.

Here are my opinions of the significant roller coasters in the park:

1) Raging Bull: BEST ride at Six Flags Great America. Smooth ride the whole way, you aren't distracted by physical pain from noticing the height and speed. Designed to trick your mind a bit, there aren't really loops, but it does tilt the track to one side and another at the top of the tallest sections. Rather than being strapped in over the shoulders or secured by a safety-belt, you just get a molded lap bar that sits on top of your thighs. K observed you can hook your feet under the seat for extra security if you want. I am more likely to hold my legs out straight and my arms up in the air. If you don't remember what is coming next, there are three places in the ride where it suddenly drops. I suggest taking the last row of seats, with the braver people sitting to the outside. There are two places, one for each side, where you are sure that the outside person is going to slam into the safety railing flying at you. Overall really great, and not too short to enjoy.

2) Batman (the older, suspended one): Now that it isn't "new" the lines are shorter than previous years. We feel that it is worth the extra wait time to get in the front row, otherwise all you see if the back of the row in front of you. The front row is crazy as you fly too close (not really) to landscaping and support beams. Keep your eyes open or you miss the best parts of the ride. K's father has me on his "list" now for making us take the front row of this ride! Which seat you get in the row doesn't seem to make as much of a difference in this one. If the line for the front is ridiculous, the back row makes it feel like your shoes are getting pulled off of your feet. The seats and shoulder restraints feel VERY secure, you aren't going to move at all in relation to your bucket during the ride. Fast, loopy, and spinny, even throws you at the ground a few times. It is over too quickly, however, to be completely satisfying.

3) Viper: Wooden, fast, pulled out of your seat at the top of the hills. Take the last car for the most free-fall events. The weekdays never had a line, even on Saturday it was only about a half an hour wait. Everyone forgets to take off the seatbelt before standing up at the end - watch for this, it is pretty funny.

4) Eagle: Wooden "racers" aren't always running both the red and blue sides. Classic coaster, less comfortable than the Viper, loud, jarring, but still fun.

5) Superman: New, flying coaster. Very long line for a very short ride. Do it at night if you can for a more intense experience. You are strapped in so tightly (even at the ankles!) you can't hold your arms out straight in the classic Superman pose. Which row you get doesn't seem to matter at all. Each row has a good view since you are facing away from the track. Sensations are totally different than other rides. I found myself not making any noise at all because I NEEDED THAT OXYGEN TO BREATHE!

6) Demon: 80's looping coaster. Short line, short ride, from back when the number of loops and corkscrews was all that mattered. Unfortunately the shoulder restraints look like they still carry the evidence of all the riders since the 80's. Ewwwww. I saw a lot of smaller children in line for this one, which is cool. Get them hooked early!

I didn't ride Iron Wolf at all this year because it HURTS, or V2 because it FREAKS ME THE HELL OUT. Great if you like those, I'll just go do Batman again instead. Or Viper twice.

7) The Dark Knight: They really should call this a fun-house ride instead of a coaster. Nothing like Space Mountain, other than it is indoors. The line is better than the ride, seriously, because of the nifty Gotham city maps. Worth it for serious coaster riders only if it is raining. Suitable for all ages, if not afraid of clowns.


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