Archive for November, 2008

Well, in the last week, I have been interviewing with Jax Mercantile for a full time position in their camping/climbing department. I am happy to say that I accepted the position and am starting a new page in my career!

Duh duh duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh duh!


Why the career change, Kate? I have loved my time with REI, barring the minor things like panic attacks, and I have learned so much from that company. My coworkers are amazing and they brought joy to my life everyday I went into work. On top of that, I got along great with the management and was in the process of learning things like business numbers, how to control and direct my passion, and how to effectively communicate in a business setting–skills and knowledge good managers need in order to be successful. Again, I made this decision not based off of my dislike of REI…

I made this decision for the money. Pure and simple. I make $10.16 an hour at REI. Work me 26 hours and I make ~$280/wk. Not too bad. But REI has no legal obligation to work me at all. And as much as I would like to believe that the management team would not cut my hours down to nearly nothing, I am not reassured. I have no stability and no guarantee. Why do people shop at REI? The 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of the products we sell. They just don’t provide that for their employees.

Jax is starting me at $8.00 an hour plus the store’s commission, which is based off of how well our store meets our sales goal. We meet our goal–$1.00 is added to our hourly rate. We exceed our goal–more than $1.00 is added to our pay rate. We don’t meet our goal–between $0.56-$0.99 is added to our pay rate. So, right now, I am looking at $9/hr. A pay cut. However, 32-40 hours a week, guaranteed, at $9.00 an hour is still much better than what REI can offer me.

And this is why I feel bitter: Jax, a company who knows nothing about me, my ethics, my work practices, my sarcasm and sass, is willing to offer me a better deal than a company that knows my skills and what I have to offer. What is it that REI sees that makes them hesitant? What is it about my performance that has them so worried that I am a risky venture?

Oh well. These are needless questions. I have had one really good question lately: what is next for Kate? Well, if you forgot what I just talked about, I have a new job with Jax. But I am going to assume that you wanted to know more than that. So, I plan on pursuing a career in recreation retail management (working for retail outfits that sell recreation equipment) while developing a freelance graphic design/web design company that will, hopefully, work for small local companies.

How’s that for a lifestyle? When working: play with fun gear and work with customers ensuring that they have a fantastic time outdoors as well as play on a computer making sharp designs. When not working: free-time to play outside–cycling, climbing, skiing, hiking, ultimate frisbee, doing backflips, etc…

Indeed, it is time to move on. In 3 days it is time to move. And in celebration of a new job and the beginning of an adventure, I will not hassle you, my lovely readers, with any proposition or money-making scheme.

But just this once.


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Sunrises. Sunsets.

I have a tendency to love sunrises and sunsets. Love. There is something magical and beautiful about the beginning and the end of daylight.

So, this is a brief post. Here are pictures of a recent sunset that illuminated Fort Collins with an eerie pink/purple light:FoCo SunsetSunset 2

As well as pictures of a sunrise hike of Greyrock the night after an ice storm. We expected the cold. We did not expect the ice to leave such an impact. Every tree was coated in fluffy ice, and Jolly and I felt like we were in a winter wonderland or a Dr. Seuss book:Sunrise from GreyrockIcey Greyrock DawnDelicate Spears made of ice

For more, check out my flickr page.  If you would desire any of my photos for excellent wall decor, they run ~$20 a print. I can even photoshop you into them for a little extra. You let me know…

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So, I have been packing a lot the last two days. It started with the advent of selling a couple furniture items. Without stuff to hold my stuff, I decided to start boxing the stuff in preparation for storage.

Here are some pictures of the chaos of the living room:
Chaos 1
AND my bedroom:
Chaos 2

So after so much busy busy packing/making chaos, one feels the need to take a break. What happens to be more stress relieving than doing crack cocaine? Yup. Dancing.

Just so you know. You know, for the next time you are packing and need a break. Don’t go to the bar. Don’t eat dinner at a friend’s house. Don’t go to work. Dance. Dance in your living room. What’s that lame saying: “Dance like no one’s watching?” Well, I say, “Dance like everyone’s watching and you just don’t give a f@#$!”

Today was a good day. I feel…spunky. Let me tell you why.

Background: When I first saw that REI had cut me down to 8 hours, I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me?” So, I wrote that on the schedule: “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Right next to my name. Anyone who knows me knows I speak my mind. BUT, when my coworkers asked me how I was coping, I did not berate the management. I know that they really had no choice. Headquarters mandated this scheduling crunch. However, you’ve got to be kidding me? I was having at least one panic attack a day. More like two or three a day. For eight or nine days. I woke up at least once a night. More like two or three times a night, worried sick over how I was going to support myself. Did they expect me to eat with 8 hours a week? With as hard as I work? As much as I contribute? As loyal as I am to that stupid co-op?

Do you know how sane–let alone friendly–someone is after crying two or three times a day and not having a single good night’s sleep for over a week?

So, back to the story. My manager pulled me into his office last night to berate me for writing that on the schedule. “What did you mean by that?” “Do you think that people who didn’t even get 8 hours would have interpreted that poorly?” “Being where you are now, knowing you are getting regular hours, would you go back and not have done that?” (Oh, and btw, by “regular,” he meant I was up to 20hrs that week–not even full time hours.)

Well, here are my answers. Respectively. “I meant, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ” “No. They would have seen that and agreed. You have got to be kidding. This schedule is ridiculous for every single person involved.” “No. I most certainly would not have done anything differently. You people did not even give us 24 hours notice before cutting out hours dramatically. Do you not know that we eat with this money? Do you not know that some of us have kids who we are medically insuring with this job? Do you not fully understand the panic that you caused, given that you have your secure, salaried job? If you cannot admit that you did wrong by not letting us know a week–shit, 4 days–before you cut the schedule, how can you ask me to go back and say I did wrong by writing 1…3…5…6, 6 words on the last page of the schedule where 5-10 people at most would see it?”

But what do I care about this crap job anyway? How can I be so loyal to a job that treats me like I am not worth what they pay me? Silly human conscious.

Well, in celebration to not caring sooner than later, I pack up my unnecessary worldly belongings and dance. And soooo, if you would like a dance partner and have some extra cash for a lesson in not giving a f@#$ about what others think, you let me know…

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Here is something that has been accumulating randomly, needlessly:
Wine bottles
That’s right. Wine bottles. This is an example of filling space just to fill space. I envision this happening one day:

In Tulum, Mexico; note the use of several Carlo Rosse bottles...

In Tulum, Mexico; note the use of several Carlo Rosse bottles...

But that day is not today. I do not own a house that I can do this to, yet. I guess I could make an inlay of a table or something rad like that…but that will not happen today either.

So, why collect them? In some vain attempt to comfort myself about not owning a place–not being successful enough to own my own space? To simulate what my life would be like if I had my own place that I could corrupt in my own fashion? Probably a combination of both. The drinking of wine and saving the now empty vessel is as close as I come these days to that space, to that successful career… Besides, if I did own a place, this would probably be just another one of my grand project ideas that I halfway start only to leave it by the wayside before completion. How…depressing.

But why do people accumulate useless things like wine bottles? What is missing from their lives that requires such a useless, space-occupying object to collect dust in their homes? What is missing from my life that I needed to accumulate wine bottles?

My mom has a giant, glass case at home (sorry no pictures). In this case, many fascinating items rest. Also, many useless items rest there. She has a giant (and I meant giant) case full (and I mean full) of useless trinkets, some of which aren’t interesting or even pleasant to look at…sorry, Mom. Why, pray tell, do we have these giant cases of useless stuff?

An age-old question that will continue to age as far as I am concerned. I am just thinking out loud–not answering my own questions. Then I would truly be going crazy…

Oh well. Nine days until I start couch surfing… If anyone needs help building a wall of wine bottles or needs help emptying bottles for such a wall, you let me know…

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What is on sale? Well, once in my not-too-distance past, I owned my own business as a romance enhancement specialist–also known as a sex toy distributor. I quit the biz in order to focus on my master’s thesis and graduate sooner than later, but I still have stock laying around. And so it is time to move the excess.

So, after doing the math, if I sell all of this stuff I have marked 60-90% off, then I would make ~$580. And not have to move it later. And not have to invest in new storage containers because this stuff:
SP Stuff
would not be in said containers any more… Do that math–that is $1400-$3800 worth of product I have “laying around,” wanting–nay needing–to be useful.

WAIT! I forgot the lingerie!!! Closet of Sexiness
Scratch that. We can add at least $70 to that figure. Yup. So, this will be a space-saving, money-making experience. And simple. Set a date and invite all my girl-friends–check. Make finger foods–check. Provide drinks–check. Show them the product–can do… I am really looking forward to this stuff-relief celebration party!

So, deciding to let go of some of my bigger stuff is a bit harder. Mostly because I am poor. Isn’t that a confusing thought. If I am poor, wouldn’t selling my stuff make me less poor?

Well, yes it would, my math-genius friend! But think of how much I would have to invest to get that stuff back if I ever rent my own space again. I am not talking about magnets:
meager magnets
I am talking about chairs:
And outdoor furniture and tables, and a dresser of drawers, and a shelf, and a headboard/entertainment center:

This is “stuff” but not cheap stuff. So, sure, I could sell it off for money, but what, pray tell, will I sit on/work on/put clothes in/put books on/display my meager entertainment collection on once I get a new place in 3 or 6 months?

Creative solution–I am going to let my friends “borrow” my furniture. Jennifer Marquette needs chairs. I have chairs. She can “have” my chairs until I stop couch surfing. That way, the stuff is providing the services they were made to provide! They will be useful. Oh, and I become a great friend because that is no money out of Jenn’s pocket to get chairs until at least the end of her lease… Robb Prescott said he needed a table or two…

However, I think I can still live without a shelf and a dresser and an entertainment center/headboard. And some of my tables. So, if you know anyone who needs any of these items, you let me know…

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I came to a realization today that I might have to give up one of my most cherished things in order to do this couch surfing… And if you are an intelligent reader, you would have figured out that it is my morning ritual.

I love breakfast. My typical eating habit involves eating a bunch of food in the morning and then grazing the rest of the day. Sure I have lunch and dinner meals, but they are not at set times like when I was a kid. Did you know that I got grounded at least once a week as a kid because I was routinely 5 minutes late to the dinner table? It never occurred to me to be 5 minutes early just in case. There was too much fun to be had to stick to a rock-solid schedule like “dinner is at 6 pm every night”… What is time but an arbitrarily measurement of existence, anyway? Why can’t I set up my own arbitrary “time” measurement and make everyone work according to my schedule?

Well, I think that this is what this couch surfing experiment is about to me. I need to let go of the arbitrary as well as learn to live by others rules for a while. I deeply believe this will only make me a better person.

Back to the theme. Mornings. I love mornings. I have slowly come to adore this aspect of me–“morning-person.” I get up with sunlight. It is the best alarm clock in the world. If it gets unplugged, no big deal–the sun always rises. Even if it is cloudy out, there is plenty of morning light shifting through the clouds to make its brilliant way through my ever-open window and right onto my sleepy face.

I also love breakfast. Eggs are amazing. Bacon is a superfood. Sausage–shut up. It is delicious. Add an avocado and your breakfast just got crazy delicious. And coffee…mmmm, coffee.

So, what is the normal Kate routine, you may ask? Well, get up and use the bathroom. Then, go make coffee, and check my email. I might even play around a bit on the web before making breakfast. And there is even a normal Kate breakfast. First, I fry up a cubed red potatoes (the size of my breakfast is measured by the size of my potato). Once done, I pour one or two eggs (with some yolk taken out to increase the protein:fat ratio) over top. Crumble some cheese onto the cooking eggs and put a dollup of salsa, scramble up the mixture, and there, my friends, is the standard Kate breakfast. Serve with avocado if you got one.

I, then, get down to business. Lately, that entails checking out a career in graphic design. Today, business = post on my blog.

However, I feel that I might not be able to enjoy this routine to its fullest while surfing on other people’s kindness. I might have to…learn to live by someone else’s time clock. Maybe I’ll be the first up in the morning. Maybe I’ll be the last. Can I leisurely make my breakfast? What about the routine I do to make my coffee? Yes, there’s a routine. Oh, and did I mention my aversion to chit-chat type conversations in the morning? Or people getting between me and doing my coffee-making or breakfast-making routines?

I need to learn to let go. Adapt. Intelligently design…oh wait. That last one is crap.

So, with that, I will leave you with these photos. Imagine, after three days without a meal of food, existing off of almonds, crackers, tuna, cheese and bread; four days of being soaking wet from traveling through a hurricane; and two nights of paying WAY too much money to stay in the accommodations that we did, Ellen and I get to Corozol, Belize around 8:30am. We settle on a place for breakfast, which was magnificent not only for the hearty, delicious food, but also because it was the first real meal in three days, we were dry for the first time in four days, and it was inexpensive… Oh, and it was the first coffee I had had in, oh…five or six days? And the last coffee I had could be better described as a sauce–nay a syrup–it was so thick…

a basket of fry jacks (fried dough).

Eggs scrambled with tomatoes topped with shredded cheese. Refried beans. In the background, you can discern the best part of Belizian breakfast: a basket of fry jacks (fried dough).

Coffee Heaven
So, if you know anyone who needs a stellar, enthusiastic personal breakfast cook, you let me know…

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Fiber and Skiing

I decided to get very distracted this weekend. First, an alpaca show and then my first-of-the-season skiing at A Basin, CO.

My co-worker Janie and I went to the Fall Alpaca Festival in Northern Colorado. We walked around for about 3 hours looking at alpacas and fleece products. We saw a variety of colors and fleece types, ages and personalities. This show only solidified my desire to be an alpaca breeder and fiber artist. Holy crap. Amazing creatures that have amazing fleece. So, now my mind is preoccupied with alpaca. I mean, really, look how adorable they are!
Alpaca Cria Here is some interesting info about alpacas: Babies are called crias. Alpaca can be found in two varieties: suri and haucaya (pronounced “wa-kie-ya”). Suri is more rare and has silky fleece. Haucaya is common and has thicker fleece. It also doesn’t matter what type you have–alpaca fleece is softer, silker, and less irritating than sheep wool, insulates just as well, and can be knitted or woven into anything. Rugs made out of this stuff are AMAZING. And as far as I can tell, they may be easier to care for and better around children than sheep, horses, cattle, etc…

At this point, you are probably wondering, “Why does she care? This doesn’t seem profitable at all. Kate, why are you crazy?” I know. I think about the same thing all the time. Being a scientist, I can only answer these quandaries with hard facts. For instance, I saw a pair of gloves for $36 (and I saw three people buy a pair in 10 minutes). And the gloves didn’t even have fingers! A woven place-mat (18″x12″) ran $40-60 depending on the vendor. Sweaters? You would be appalled! ~$100. Yeah. Make stuff out of the fleece and you are probably going to profit. I’m just saying it!

Not to mention you can do silly things with alpacas like enter them into costume contests and make them hula hoop…
Elf AlpacaHula Hoop Alpaca

How did I sleep after such excitement? Well, I needed sleep because I just had to go skiing today with my friend James. We went to Arapahoe Basin and skiied ~6 runs because the lines were so long (and we are both out of ski-shape so our feet hurt something fierce). The lines were crazy long because there were only 2 lifts open today! There were only two lifts open because there were only 4 runs open. Yay early season skiing! However, I do have to say that the snow was better than I thought it would be, but this is also the earliest I have ever gone skiing so this was truly a new experience for me…

Be jealous.
Kate at ABasin

Bottom line: If you know any alpaca farmers in need of farmhands, you let me know… Or you or someone you know wants to pay someone to ski with them early season, you let me know…

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