Monday, May 29, 2017

Emergency Hygiene: Learning the Hard Way

Men:  This post is not for you.  If you persist on reading...just remember: you have been warned.

Back in 2012 Michael and I had just bought a house and finally had somewhere to PUT a food storage.  That year was entirely dedicated to putting our year supply of food together, like the LDS church has counseled for YEARS to do.  Michael had been wanting to make progress on this particular front for some time, but I always dug my heels in because we weren't living in a home of our own and really had no storage space to put anything. 
In 2012, we put together not only food, but other emergency supplies such as cloth diapers and a way to do laundry sans electricity.  For cloth diapers I really love the Gro-Via brand (Hybrid shell-snaps).  Honestly, the BEST!  One diaper will size from infant till 2 years old just by adjusting the snaps.  Perfectly waterproof. 
Overall I felt pretty prepared. 

Well fast forward to Memorial Day Weekend 2016.  We all went up to Girl's Camp work weekend.  It's an hour and a half drive (without any traffic, whatsoever).  The nearest store is at least an hour away. So...pretty isolated.  My whole family went up to help out, which was SUPER fun!  We made tons of memories, went swimming, built trails, played on the confidence course, swung on the tree swing, went hiking, roasted marshmallows and of course worked.  My family didn't reserve a private cabin, which actually worked out pretty well since we slept in the main lodge with running water, bathrooms, a game room and the camp kitchen. 

But, on Sunday I started my period.  I had not planned for that.  Civilization, like I said, was a LONG way off.  I had NO supplies whatsoever.  I went around to different girlfriends who were able to help me out a little, but 10+year old tampons and party-liners are a sure-fire recipe for a gosh-awful mess.  Fabulous.  I'll spare you the gory details.  You're welcome.

I was NOT prepared. 

Once I got home I went to work looking for long term emergency feminine hygiene options.  I found many pads, that were similar to cloth diapers, but without the waterproof backing.  No spank-you.  That, in my opinion, is just asking for trouble.

Then I stumbled across moon-cups.  Let me explain what they are.  They are made of medical grade silicone and are inserted similar to a tampon.  However rather than absorbing, they collect into a little cup.  According to the different websites, you can wear it for 12 hours before emptying it.  Meaning, all of your menstrual maintenance can be done at home.  Before bed and in the morning. 

The cup is perfectly sealed to prevent leakage. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

interviews



I've had five phone interviews so far and two in-person interviews with one more scheduled.  One phone interview request I think I initially handled poorly so they weren't interested in actually getting on the phone until I sent a follow up email apologizing for my lack of availability.  They had an initial phone screening, an in-person interview with the CEO, and a follow up phone interview with the lead scientist.  Things were looking really, really good.  They asked what I expected in an offer and they were saying that they wanted me to start the following week.  They even started calling everyone on my list of references.  Then the lines went dead and they got back to me saying that the position was filled.  Well, that turned around unexpectedly.  Hmmm..

The second was an analytical lab who said they would call me back this week if they want me to come in.  I got an e-mail saying they were pursuing other candidates. 

The third was from a headhunter trying to fill a generic position at a much lower compensation rate than I should expect with my degree.  So that's not going anywhere. 

The fourth is a contract firm that helps smaller food manufacturers expand, grow, plan and build.  They're looking for a Food Process Engineering Associate.  I've had a phone interview.  He requested an in person meeting and he wants a follow up phone interview this Tuesday followed by another in-person interview with the partner.  He has full disclosure, and is interested but hesitant.  He said that he was going to give me an offer.  But we have yet to see.

The fifth is a recruiter who wants to meet in person next week.  Lots of call backs.  Not so many follow throu

WORK IT. OWN IT. The truth about my REAL job.

Here's how this is going to go down. I'm going to give you a completely accurate snapshot of who I am and what's going on. You're might even be impressed. At some point you're going to go A-HA and think that I've been BS'ing this whole time. If you can hang with me, I will dispel the societal discrimination and preconceived notions that has been drilled into your psyche.

For the last year I've been on sabbatical. I needed a break because I was working 60+ hour work weeks, and that's JUST the time that I was interfacing with clients. That doesn't count all the time after hours of prep and clean up before and after business hours which would make it closer to 80. October 1, 2015 I took a huge step back and laid down all of my responsibilities managing employees, budgeting, and interfacing with clients. I continued my work in production on a part-time basis and finished out my educational commitments by June 2016. However, I'm not the type to just sit back and be satisfied with the status quo. Here I am one year later. The home bases are covered and I'm ready to ramp it up again in a different role.

My happy looks like steady upward movement. I am very much a type A personality, so instinctually this upward movement would like to be at the speed of a rocket ship. Realistically that's not a viable output, so I've learned to reign it in. Master and add, master and add. I'm quoting my cover letter now, "I have several years experience in the field of biotechnology and more recently in the production of long term, shelf stable food products. I am a highly organized and motivated problem solver. Challenges are engineered into practical, efficient, and economical solutions. My dedication to and focus on projects can be to a fault. Previous employers can attest to my attention to detail, and when I left Integrated Biosystems [after Ethan was born], they asked me to come back three different times in the subsequent two years. Mathematics, analytical research, production, and effective communication are some of my particular strengths."

Clients who would come in to observe me with my current employer would tell me by the end of the week that they didn't know how I did it. They knew for certain that I DID do it because they had watched me with seemingly effortless calm juggle a herculean load. And that's just the part that they observed being on site and in my face for 10 hours a day, all week long. Keeping up false appearances or pretenses may certainly be possible for an hour, but not sustainable under this self-imposed level of scrutiny. Clients were given a complete overview of the services Baby MacBean provided and though their own vetting process, were completely confident that they were, in fact, getting what they paid a premium for.

Compensation was awesome. Between salary and compensation package my take home (after taxes) was valued at $150,880. By education I am a Chemical Engineer with a Bachelors of Science degree from Brigham Young University. I have been applying my education over the last 20 years. Here is a copy of my current resume:
Objective
To secure a position as an Associate Engineer contributing to organizational objectives through practiced technical and analytical skills.
Education
August 2000     Brigham Young University      Provo, UT
Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering
June 1994    Benicia High School    Benicia, CA
High School Diploma with Honors
Work Experience
2009 - 2016     Baby MacBean Inc.    Vallejo, CA
Food Chemistry Engineer &Site Supervisor
Implement various preservation methods to prevent short/long term degradation of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.  Methods include: high temperature/high pressure systems, low temperature/low pressure freeze drying, preparing long term shelf-stable dry storage, vacuum and dehydration. Responsible for preparation and sterilization of manufacturing equipment. Performed substitution and monitored quality control through sensory analysis panel.  Practiced in fermentation. Ran production trials on packaging, testing for permeation of atmospheric gasses, durability with cost/benefit analysis, oxygen absorber & descant performance, and UV product degradation. Designated with up to twelve clients.  Director of 6 employees, budgeted for 2 out of 3 locations, administrator for client interface app, and managed website.  Worked with city planning commission to improve standards and regulations within the city. Monthly meetings with CT liaison to ensure state standards being met. 
2006 - 2009     General Engineering & Construction     Benicia, CA
General Contractor's Assistant
Plan, direct, and coordinate a wide variety of residential & commercial construction projects including services for industrial clients, (Atlas Copco, Valero, Shell Oil).  Keep projects on time, within budget and ensure high degree of quality.  Develop business relationship with new and existing clients. Issue invoices, manage accounts receivable/payable, work with CPA on tax preparation, document tracking, process change order requests, create and implement construction schedule, coordinate subcontractors and vendors. Assist contractor in bidding process and with engineering consultation.  Review development and signage packages.
2002 - 2006     Kincaid Family     Benicia, CA
Stay-at-Home-Mom
Skills acquired: People management, social perceptiveness, judgment, decision making, effective communication, active listening, research, complex problem solving, time management, organization, negotiation, and collaboration. 
2000 - 2002     Integrated Biosystems, Inc.     Napa, CA
Applications Research Scientist
Perform statistically-designed experiments for evaluating the applicability of IBI’s freeze-thaw technology on biological and chemical matrices. Prepared buffer/acid/base solutions and dilutions. Operate lab equipment (ph meter, refractometer, CryoWedge, CryoBead) to evaluate the effect of the freeze-thaw process on the integrity of the chemical/biological matrix.  Maintain lab equipment in good working condition. Analyze raw data and provide verbal and written summations.  Keep a lab notebook that documents objective, design, results and conclusions for lab experiments.  Present findings to customers. Published in BioPharm Volume 15 Number 5 May 2002, “Freezing Bulk-Scale Biopharmaceuticals Using Common Techniques and the Magnitude of Freeze-Concentration.”
2000          Curecrete Distribution     Springville, UT
Chemists’ Assistant
Test internationally recognized concrete chemical curing agent, Ashford Formula. Organize and maintain research lab according to OSHA and safety standards.  Design wet lab experiments to measure desired properties in concrete: durability, water resistance, depth of penetration and sheen.  Use statistical methods to analyze results.  Work with lead Chemist to develop subsequent experiments based on initial findings.  Prepare and deliver detailed PowerPoint presentation on progress and findings.
1997-1999     LDS Church     Canary Islands, Spain
Volunteer Representative-fluent in Spanish
Consistently worked 10-12 hour days for 18 months.  Provided community services to over 25 families and performed weekly community service.  Led through quantitative goal setting, reviewing past goals, learning new teaching/contact methods, and increasing team member morale.  Developed strong communication and presentation skills. Spanish fluency. Taught English as a second language to 5-8 community members on a weekly basis.
1996-1997     Dr. Nolan Mangelson     Provo, UT
Research Assistant
Prepare lichen samples for analysis in environmental research project focusing on natural biomonitors of atmospheric pollution.  Prepare vacuum ion chamber for use in ion-beam method experiments, including proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE), proton-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE), Rutherford backscattering (RBS), and nuclear-reaction analysis (NRA) by a Van de Graaff accelerator.  Analyze results of experiments and compare to previous data.
1996          BYU Cosmos Connection     Provo, UT
Student Manager
Provided leadership by managing three teams of four employees for university student services.  Gave assignments and motivated team members.  Maximized sale profits by performing market research to determine what student consumers wanted and accordingly ordered new products.
Skills
·         Analytical technologies: chromatography (GC, IC, HPLC), spectrometry, titration
·         Engineering solutions: material and energy balances, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, chemical reaction engineering, and separations.
·         Strength in math, chemistry, and physics
·         Strong IT skills, AutoCAD, MathCAD, MS Word, MS Excel, PowerPoint, MS Publisher
Volunteer Work
Special Olympics Volunteer, Crisis Center for Women & Children, Cougar Marching Band, AIChE scholarship fundraiser
Professional Profile
Leadership through example, service, structure, delegation, dedication, and training
Highly organized, methodical, and complete tasks with economic, environmental, and safety considerations
Have excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills
Thrive on problem solving with attention to detail and working in a challenging environment



I've been getting a high average of call backs. But the vetting process inevitably gets tangled up along the way. Why? Partly because I've been working in an industry that continues to face professional discrimination to the point where entire neighborhoods of otherwise calm and rational people were willing to drag out the location zoning process, which personally cost a college upwards of $40,000. Why was I willing to work under conditions of rampant discrimination? Like I said, the benefits were awesome and frequently envied.

I'm more practical than I am proud. This industry has allowed my husband and I to have the big family we always wanted. Any other employer would have been inconvenienced a cumulative 21 months of maternity leave. Six weeks before due date. One week average past due date. Six weeks after birth. 13 weeks minimum = 3 months. 3 months times 7 children. That represents $227,500 that ANY other employer would be legally required to pay out while I had all my babies.

To me that's not fair. I believe in equitable compensation for services rendered. Abusing the system for advancement of personal goals, which would directly and negatively impact my employer, does not sit well with me ethically. My most recent company, as you'll see on my resume is Baby MacBean. I had reservations about disclosing the name, but my husband told me to be proud and OWN IT.

Baby MacBean, as a company, provides high quality childcare specializing in human growth and development. There are now 5 Baby MacBean locations, all of which follow strict NAFCC standards; more rigorous than the codes required by the state of California. My location in Vallejo, which has since closed to clients would have been six. Two out of the five locations provide additional Montessori educational services.

For some of you your eyes just glossed over with dismissive societal prejudice. It's this same prejudice and discrimination that had neighbors freaking out during the legal zoning proceedings with the city. You can read all about that, here. To dispel some of the assumptions: There are no TV's on site. Babies sleep, but often in short bursts and not at the same time. Down time is when the facility is cleaned and prepped. The day is carefully scheduled to accommodate activities for social, emotional, physical, and mental development. If you want to know more about the comprehensive program and services, I recommend you visit the website.

(Blue text taken from resume)

Worked with city planning commission to improve standards and regulations within the city.
I worked directly with the city zoning commission FOUR different times for additional Baby MacBean locations. The process only took one day for the new Vallejo location where I ended up because there was no legal neighborhood notification required, and thus no pushback. In Benicia the York location took only six weeks to get approval because I did some PR work in the neighborhood prior to the notices going out. There was still opposition at one hearing, but it was minimal. The Gill location, which has since moved, had 4 months of legal proceedings in the face of dedicated and angry opposition. There were two hearings before approval was granted. The Cooper location took six months and three formal hearings before the neighbors were forced to concede by the city council's verdict. After the Cooper location was granted zoning approval Baby MacBean started the process to change Benicia's regulations to coincide with the legal option Vallejo chose for zoning. Each city can choose 3 options to meet the zoning requirement in California. Not all of them are efficient or friendly. Each facility had additional hoops to jump through, but I won't go into that here. There are many daycares that forgo the costly, lengthy, and complicated legal requirements, paperwork and training and just fly under the radar. That's not how we operate. I cite this on my resume to illustrate an ability to effectively work with the city in civil proceedings and the capacity to learn and meet applicable legal requirements.
Monthly meetings with CT liaison to ensure state standards being met. 
The CT liaison is the Credentialed Teacher who met with my four school age children as part of their educational oversight with Visions in Education. More simply, it was a charter homeschool program. The biggest motivation for engaging with Baby MacBean was that it allowed me to be with my children. I have been teaching since 2006, so a total of 10 years. They went into public school briefly in 2011 when we moved into a new house because I recognize my own limits and still wanted the best education for my children during the upheaval and transition. Homeschool has it's own prejudices, but understand that all of the same state standards that are required in public school were being met and exceeded with me. At the end of the 2016 school year I was teaching 18 different classes to 4 children. Four curriculums for different levels of math, science, history, and reading and a PE and art class which I combined. This year I would have had to teach 24 classes to five children ranging from kindergarten to high-school. As I said before, I recognize my own limitations and fully appreciate the value of division of labor. The children are all in their respective classes at three different schools and are loving the new change of pace. I cite this on my resume to highlight my ability to meet organizational objectives on a deadline. 

Designated with up to twelve clients.
Each BabyMacBean location has a maximum capacity of 12 people on any given day. However, not everyone utilizes 5-day a week service. Some locations may have 25 clients who fill up the (12 x 5) 60 available spots. I successfully interfaced with clients, meeting their individual expectations and needs. I hate to characterize clients as hyperactive, irrational, or neurotic, but the fact is that I've had to deal with that kind of energy. Customer relations are complicated and require a great deal of patience and finesse. They're even more complex when you're being given responsibility over a person's most valuable human connection. Many of our clients were great once we established a good relationship, but gaining such an intimate trust takes time and effort.

Director of 6 employees,
At the Vallejo location, where I claim the job title, Site Supervisor, I had two direct hourly employees. Personally I could work 11 hour days and additional time on the weekends meeting with new clients, however labor laws have limits on what can be expected of employees. The other 4 employees were at the York location. There was only so much the York supervisor could accomplish with their direct subordinates especially when out of town or recovering from surgery, so I had to play the role of good cop and bad cop depending on the circumstance. I've had to sort out workplace drama. I've approved pay raises and denied them. I sat on the disciplinary review to terminate an employee after gross insubordination. I've also interviewed new employees and trained them according to the high expectations and standards of Baby MacBean. I've found one of the best approaches as a manager is to correct privately and praise publically. Expectations and responsibilities need to be documented and enforced. They will test the boundaries of what they can let slide and if you don't correct it immediately, it's a bear to pull back later.

As an example of my managerial skills, I had to respond to theft. One employee stole several hundred dollars out of the desk drawer. When I realized the money was missing I took a few days to observe behavior, consider the circumstances, and opportunity and I systematically eliminated all other potential culprits including my own children who had access. I approached the employee I suspected without directly accusing them of anything specific. Part of that strategy was to discern whether they had other things they were hiding and didn't know which misdeed I had discovered. I assured them it was not my intent to throw them under the bus, but unless they were willing to own it, I couldn't help them and they couldn't come back. There was a bit of denial and drama that ensued but ultimately they confessed to taking the money. They also came clean about a few other minor things. I was so proud of them for the trust in me as a boss and the courage it took to confess. They repaid what they took and worked under close supervision at another location with full disclosure and in a diminished capacity. Since they were willing to come clean about it I was willing to work with them as they worked through reparation.

Budgeted for 2 out of 3 locations
Each location has it's own budget, but one location was struggling financially due to poor money management. Employee paychecks were paid at the end of the month, however they were being paid with tuition that was paid in advance. So December's work was being paid with January's money. If the doors closed on January 1st, there was simply not enough to cover the payroll for work already performed in December. It was a huge liability and not an acceptable risk to unwittingly hang over employee's heads. I reigned in the budget, cut staffing and hours (better than laying everyone off), froze all CapEx, and carefully managed necessary expenses. Over the course of 3 months I successfully switched payroll to a weekly system where the loss liability was greatly minimized and payroll is now being paid with earned rather than refundable monies.

Administrator for client interface app
This is really a minor claim to fame, but I set up the Daily Connect app for clients to stay abreast of the activities in real time. I handled the technical issues, giving feedback and making suggestions for app improvement, which were implemented.

Managed website.
I did not build the website.  However, I did move the coding and pages it to another server when the old provider gave notice they were shutting down.  It was also my responsibility to keep the activities calendar current, the PR pictures recent, and the availability up to date.  Again, a minor claim to fame.  

While at the Baby MacBean York location for three years I was actively engaged in various methods of long term shelf stable food preservation to prevent both long and short term degradationNow, I'm not talking about occasional homemaker stuff.

In one year, I prepared and packaged 4600 pounds of long-term, shelf stable carbohydrates.  I processed over 700 pounds of proteins and lipids using high temperature high pressure systems, running as many as four 3-hour batches in one day. At one point I had filled four refrigeration units at three different locations with product we were able to acquire at a discount. To process that volume of product before it spoiled I set up a production line supervised by a graduate from the Culinary Art Institute in Napa.

 One of major capital expenditures was to acquire a freeze drier I oversaw the commissioning and qualifying of the unit where I identified that the electrical system was defective. Rather than sending it back via freight to the vendor, I had an electrical contractor come in and fix the problem to get it up and running. I have personally performed the compressor tear down, cleaning, maintenance and oil change. Processing cheap and common foods was not the objective, but rather to produce viable product that was not otherwise available on the general market, or overly expensive. These items included meats (raw-unavailable and cooked-expensive), sliced avocados (only powder is available), watermelon (unavailable), specialty dairy such as cottage cheese & Haagen-Dazs, and prepared deserts such as cheesecake and pumpkin pie just to name a few. Post production sterilization of manufacturing equipment is equally important to prevent bacteria growth and future batch contamination. One batch, which fills a single #10 can, requires a minimum of 48 hours processing time.

I conducted post production trials on packagingOptions tested under financial considerations included clear vacuum bags, opaque mylar bags, vacuum sealed glass jars, and #10 cans with descant and oxygen absorbers.  Vacuum bags performed the worst, succumbing to permeation of atmospheric gasses which moisture content spoiled the product. Glass jars are both heavy, delicate and expose product to UV light. Watermelon, for example loses it's red color when exposed to light. Number 10 cans proved to be the most feasible option for long term storage, but required an additional capital expenditure for the #10 can sealer. Mylar bags worked well for shorter-long term storage but represented a durability problem and awkward storage requirements.

I also produced for immediate consumption.  Specifically, I fermented streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus, which are just fancy words to say yogurt and buttermilk. Each week I made one gallon of yogurt and two quarts of buttermilk. It wasn't meant for long term storage, so to produce any more at one time would have been impractical. However, the sterilization SOP's 
needed to be followed meticulously for both a safe and viable product. Fermenting temperatures are also very particular. Pre-fermentation requires a sterilization step to kill native bacteria that could compete with the introduced culture. However, heating the product too high will scald the milk. Inoculation at too high a temperature will kill the culture. The art of fermentation requires a specific sweet spot in each step of the process. Time is also a factor, where the longer the culture ferments, the more tart the product.

The second item produced on a daily basis for immediate consumption was sprouted whole wheat bread. Preparing the sprouts was a week long process, so several pounds of sprouts were germinated at the same time. It took 24 hours for the wheat berries to sprout. Any longer and the carbohydrate turned into a vegetable grass. The sprouting process reduces the gluten, and neutralizes phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients making the bread easier to digest. The sprouts are then dehydrated for 3 days to create berries that can be ground into a dry flour. However, because the wheat protein (gluten) is significantly diminished by sprouting it needs to be added as an extra ingredient to the bread. Gluten swells to form a web of delicate fibers, making it elastic and expandable and provides the structure to hold its form as the carbon dioxide off-gassing from yeast metabolization expands the loaf. Without gluten the sprouted dough will not rise. This particular product was so popular, that standard pieces of bread were commonly thrown on the floor at the homes of our clients. Many offered to pay for extra sprouted loaves to take home. However, all of my efforts in food preservation and production were not meant for commercial, but on site use. 

In an effort to introduce more vegetables into the diet I practiced substitutionSpecific examples include cauliflower for cheese in alfredo and zucchini for spaghetti noodles. My sensory analysis panel consisted of my own children and those of my clients, as child's palate tends to be more acute to flavors and textures than that of an adult.

 I have tried to explain the above with headhunters and recruiters in complete transparency and detail. But often, they hear childcare and everything after that is completely dismissed; the technical and scientific aspects of my 60+hour work week running a high standard small business, managing employees, and manufacturing shelf stable product. Their eyes have glazed over and the next question is always,"When was the last time you had a real job?September 30, 2015I've been working on a part time basis for the same employer since then. Please refer to my resume for specifics.

I am a very quick understudy for anything new. Another job posting cited a preference for an advanced drafting program. I downloaded the free 30-day trial version to start learning it. By day four I could quickly do 2D flow charts, floor plans and 3D rendering in user defined x-y-z planes. I'm willing to do what it takes to get the job doneI have a history of not accepting A vs. B options but running my own C choice to ground getting what I want. I've been up the food chain to get what I want and I'm willing to go back as many times as I have to.

Let me paint a picture for you.  In April 2015 I was 7 months pregnant with my seventh and last child.  I was at the York location sorting out some workplace drama while their supervisor was out of town.  I stepped over a gate and the enormity of my belly threw me off balance.  I fell and broke my arm.  The rest of the night was spent in the ER getting a cast.  The next day and over the next 6 weeks I was STILL working 60 hour work weeks, providing services for clients, running freeze dryer batches, managing employees, teaching homeschool, running the household of 9, and making the daily loaf of sprouted wheat bread.  The only difference was that I did not make the weekly yogurt had to verbally walk my employee through dinner preparation because I was one handed.  . 

With my first child I worked up till two weeks before he was born.  With my last child I worked up through the day he was born and was back to work a week later. 

Most professional women work only 40 hours a week.  Most pregnant employees get 6 weeks off before their due date and 6 weeks after delivery.  Most of the working moms I know have only 1 or 2 kids.  Most people working do not successfully manage 4 full time jobs all at the same time.  What were my 4 full time jobs?  Teacher.  Production Engineer. Site Supervisor.  Homemaker/Mom to seven. 

I am a dedicated and energetic powerhouse.  The time between my last "real" job (and by real I assume that they mean with a W2) and now has only made me MORE capable, more experienced, and more valuable to a potential employer.  People in my inner circle who already know everything or relevant parts of what I have elucidated in this VERY long blog post are listed as my personal and professional references.  The feedback from my references has been glowing.  Universally they've all given high praise, which is much appreciated.

This is who I am and what I have done.  I own it.  I don't give up.  So while people have already said no, for whatever reason; it was good practice to interview.  There is no such thing as failure in my book.  Just opportunities for learning and improving the next time.  "Yes," is only a matter of time.   

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Oh no, you DI'INT

Now that the kids are all in public school, I've been interviewing for Chemical Engineering positions.
 
So as part of my effort to prepare for an upcoming interview I went with a friend to Kohls to get some new clothes that both look professional and POP with some fun color.  She picked out two shirtsthat were the same design in different colors.  Plus we pulled a jacket off to see how it would look, so she recommended I get the jacket too even though I had one at home.  My friend also helped me pick out some new bras, cause you know, mine were all two sizes too big and meant for nursing.  So that really wasn't working.  Turns out the bras were buy one get one half off, so I got two that fit really nicely.  WIN!

Husband got home and took me to the outlets to find some clothes.  Ann Taylor had a great suit and blouse that was the same color that my friend picked out but I liked the cut a lot better. 

SOOO....the day after my interview I went back to Kohls to return the Jacket and the two blouses that I didn't use.  I expected to get back $120 plus tax because the jacket was $60 and each shirt was $30. 
Turns out the person who checked me out didn't ring me up correctly.  Rather than scan both shirts she scanned one shirt twice.  Same difference.  HOWEVER, the girl (Ashley) who was handling the return scanned my receipt and then scanned both shirts and announced to me that the pink shirt was not on the receipt and that I would not be able to return it. 


Excuse me?  Yes you will take it back.  I bought these two days ago, the tags are still on.  The cashier screwed up, not me. 

OK Ma'am.  Calm down.  It's not my job to make sure the cashiers do theirs. 

She probably scanned one shirt twice since they're the same.  [Look at receipt and see two of the same UPC numbers]

So THAT got worked out, but when she went to return the jacket I was only going to get back $47.  Ok, no.  I paid $60.  I'm going to get $60 back. 

She told me that it was part of a buy one get one 50% off.  The store automatically paired the jacket with one of the bras and there was NO way to give me $60 back. 

There is absolutely a way to get all the money back and if I have to return the bras I will.  But I will be getting $60 back for the jacket

I can't help you.

I'd like to talk to your manager.

[Roll eyes] You're going to have to stand over there and wait.

Brad shows up and I explain that the bras were buy-one-get-one-half-off.  I bought two bras.  I bought ONE jacket that had the same deal.  But I didn't want two jackets.  HE gets what I was saying and agrees that it should have been paired with like items. 

Then another manager shows up.  Ashley jumps in and explains what's going on in the worst possible light being completely unhelpful.  Thinking to myself, "And THIS Ashley is why Brad is a manager and YOU are not."

The two managers are working very calmly and most helpfully trying to work out a solution.

Their first solution was to give me $60 store return.  I initially agreed thinking they would give me the money back in cash, but then they started to put it on a Kohls gift card I stopped them and said, "Based on how this has all gone down so far, I'm not real anxious to come back here and shop.  So that's really not going to work for me."

They empathized completely but said that their hands were tied.  So the ONLY way to get the full value of the jacket was to return the bra that it was paired with.  So I stepped around the corner into the bathroom and took my bra off hoping it was the right one.  Even without the sales tag they were able to look it up. 

ASHLEY said that the one on the receipt was nude.  (GAH!!! ASHLEY!!!)  I corrected her, "Actually they were both white."  The manager confirmed it was the correct bra and returned it with the jacket and I got my full refund.  AND they lost out on the profit from the second bra that I wanted to keep. 

Don't tell me that I'm not going to get a full refund for this jacket, Ashley.  I will totally take my bra off if I have to.  Right here.  Right now. 

After it was all settled I thanked Brad by name for understanding and helping me.  He looked confused and asked, "How did you know my name?"  I smiled and said, "Because I listen."

And then I walked triumphantly out of the store BRA-LESS feeling like a warrior.  Hear me roar, Ashley.  Hear me roar.


In retrospect they should have rung up the two bras in a new transaction to pair them together with the deal and then return everything from the first receipt.  But hindsight is 20-20.  And this makes for a far better story.  Win.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Simple Solution to the Problem


Saturday night a Muslim extremist gunman went into a gay nightclub and killed 49 people and injured 53 more.  Social media is on fire with the story.

Internet outrage is exhausting.  Particularly because even though the aftermath is always brutal and horrifying, the cries for change focus on the wrong root cause.  It's not guns that kill people.  Guns are a means; a tool.  If guns were really the issue then you would have unmanned firearms leglessly walking into occupied areas, eyelessly aiming at innocent people and fingerlessly pulling their own triggers.  It doesn't happen.  Bombs,  knifes, clubs and even airplanes must have, by requirement, a human element in order to kill people.  People kill people. 

We need more gun laws to stop the violence!!!

We do have a laws that would end the violence.  Laws against 1st degree murder, second degree murder, homicide, man slaughter.  But how about this one:  Thou shalt not kill.  Or this law: Love one another. 

But that's too simple.  I'd rather hate people who are too stupid to agree with me on political issues.  I'd rather hate people who have values different than mine.  I'd rather hate people who choose to live their lives, build their families, and contribute to the world in ways that I disagree with.

Stop it.  Just stop.

But even if I love my neighbor, my neighbor isn't going to love me back.  The violence will continue. 

You're missing the point.  If EVERYONE loved one another, the violence WOULD stop. 

But to address the reality of the world we live in, there's a handy axiom for that too:  Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  If only one gay patron had had a concealed carry permit, the man, who said to the 911 dispatcher, "I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State," would not have had a three hour opportunity for his killing spree.

And since we're talking about recent internet outrage, let's talk about Brock Turner.  Love one another would have prevented that atrocity. Because, if he truly loved that girl he would have picked her up, carried her to her sister, called them both a taxi and made sure she got home safely to sleep off the alcohol.  He wouldn't have taken pictures of her naked body and texted them to her friends.  He wouldn't have taken her behind a dumpster.  And he wouldn't have ruined his own life in the process. 
There is a more specific law that addresses what he did:  Do not commit adultery.  In other words, do not have sex with anyone who is not your wife.  Problem solved.
Not only would that law prevent rape, it would also prevent sexual trafficking and slavery, teenage pregnancy, the walk of shame, heartbreak, and a myriad of other problems.
You're so ignorant!  Women are raped by their husbands all the time!
Yes, but the Love One Another law would avert that entirely.  Universally husbands would be gentle, considerate, loving, generous and protective.   
The truth is: there are sufficient laws to solve the world's problems.  They are very simple.  They do not take up entire libraries, nor do they require expensive degrees to understand.  But since the origin of these laws have a religious background, they are rejected and often mocked.
Instead, the outraged masses want to pass more and more new laws that will accomplish the same thing as these few simple ones would.  The problem isn't the lack of sufficient legislation.  Despite laws people are still willing to choose horrible, destructive, hateful, and violent paths.  There's a few simple names for that too: wickedness and sin. 
GASP!  You're judgmental!  You're bigoted!  You're racist!
Sigh.  Those are the favorite rebuttals used to shut people up, aren't they.  Except to state the facts at the beginning, I haven't said one word about a particular race or social group.  I'm not even judging by my own standard.
People break laws all the time.  Laws don't actually prevent anything.  They only give teeth to society to punish criminals once the law has been broken.  Until each individual is willing to write the law upon their own hearts and freely choose to keep it, the violence that we find so abhorrent will continue. Since society's laws are so voluminous and complicated, it might just be easier for everyone to go with the simpler ones I've already mentioned.
Change begins with each person.  One at a time.  Let's each choose a higher, simpler law:  Love one another. 
There's even a catchy tune for the marketing campaign:
As I have loved you,
Love one another.
This new commandment:
Love one another.
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples,
If ye have love
One to another.
 John 13:34

Friday, June 10, 2016

I am a Bear

I really thought about creating an entirely new blog to chronicle this incredibly vulnerable part of me, but for anyone who may stumble across this, maybe you do need to know that I'm a real person.  With a family.  With history.

Putting this on here after the baldness and stress posts makes me feel like I'm just a hot mess.  It's all drama lately.  But writing for me is therapy.  And this for me is a start.  So if you want to judge me or talk behind my back, well then your a crappy person and I don't like you. 

Write out of the Darkness

I'm going to go curl up in a ball and cry now.