Friday, June 05, 2009

More about work

I'm sure some people think I'm exaggerating when I say the people I work for are just not good people. They are stupid, selfish, greedy, petty, and just plain mean. This is what happened on Wednesday:

These was a bag of peaches sitting on the counter and one of the delivery drivers asked the wife if he could buy a peach to eat for breakfast. She looked at him and, very derisively said, "Don, he wants to KNOW if he can BUY a peach from us" to her husband.

Don said, "If you want a peach, why don't you punch out and go over to HEB and get one yourself."

At this point the driver said, "Hey, never mind. I saw them sitting there and thought it wouldn't be a problem."

Don said, "Those are for gift baskets when we get an order."

You should know there was no order for a fruit basket and, since I had stopped at HEB on the way to work, I saw the peaches on sale for $.99 a pound. I didn't get any because I wanted an apple. Coincidentally, I bought 2 apples that morning and ended up giving one to the driver which was probably better because the peaches were pretty small and the Braeburns were big. I also didn't get out my receipt and ask him for $.50 or whatever trivial amount it was.

I was, once again, shocked by this entire incident. The stupidest thing about it is that the guy asking for the peach is the delivery driver. He was leaving in a half hour to deliver the flowers and he could have stopped anytime on the clock and gotten whatever he wanted and they would never have known. That is the truth of their character: stupid, selfish, greedy, petty, and just plain mean. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free speech, dog fighting, athletes, gays, and religion

Today is my day off and, unlike last week when I actually got something done (built a curing cabinet for my candles), I spent the morning getting all worked up about several issues that really just make me sick to think about.

The first involves a case the Supreme Court decided to hear involving a "documentary filmmaker" named Robert Stevens who believes his films about and depicting dog fighting are protected by the first amendment. It all started when I got an email alert from Care2 with the story, then led to the LA Times and several more versions of the same story. Rather than rehash the story, I'll just state my opinion (with bullet points, of course).
  • Dog fighting is illegal in every state. fact
  • Filming a dog fight for the purpose of obtaining evidence for a trial is gathering evidence. fact
  • Profiting from the sale of anything is not free speech, it is free enterprise a.k.a. doing business. fact
  • Going around the world filming dog fighting for a film that will be sold is not gathering evidence, it is doing business. fact
  • Selling not one, but three, films about dog fighting through a magazine or website devoted to dog fighting is not making documentaries, it is promoting an illegal activity. my opinion
  • If your business is promoting an illegal activity, you are not protected by the first amendment. You are profiting from the promotion of that illegal activity making you an accessory to the crime or, in this case, many crimes. my opinion
And then, since it was dog fighting, I had to check up on Michael Vick. I learned he is going to released in May, but will be confined to his home because he will be under "house arrest". I was somewhat heartened to discover the commissioner of the NFL has been rather frazzled by the negative reaction to the whole story and wants to see remorse before considering reinstating his eligibility to play in the league. I sincerely hope it doesn't happen. Has he really paid his debt to society, or is he just another athlete who was indoctrinated by his coaches to believe he is better than everyone else and deserves to make millions of dollars because he can play a sport?

I have to admit my bias, perhaps prejudice, on this point since I have met a fair number of professional athletes over the years and have a generally low opinion of them based on my personal experience. They may have graduated from college, but they didn't learn anything and probably didn't even try. I recently read that a very high percentage athletes who retire from professional sports are bankrupt within two years. I would post a link, but I don't remember where I read it. I believe it, though, because they never learned about managing money or even how to live independently as an adult. They are catered to, told how great they are, used up, and finally spit out when they are past their prime. It would be sad, except they are such assholes, it's hard to feel sorry for them.

The last story, and perhaps the most horrific, was about the persecution of gays and lesbians in the Middle East and specifically in Iraq. This one I will quote because I don't think I can make my fingers type it. Translated by the IGLHRC, but from Alarabiya:

A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using “Iranian gum.” … Yanar Mohammad told that, “Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.”

According to her, the new substance “is known as the Ameri gum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.”

According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels.”

I realize I have many more gay and lesbian friends than most people, but I can't understand why anyone thinks gays and lesbians are so different. From my experience, they are exactly the same: they are people. They have the same problems, hopes, dreams, disappointments, triumphs, tragedies, and feelings as everyone else. The only difference is that they are sexually attracted not to the opposite gender, but to their own gender. Some of the more dramatic like to think their problems are greater because they are gay, but sorry to burst your drama bubble, they're not. They're exactly the same, the difference is in the way each individual person chooses to deal with their problems, but not inherently different because of sexual preference.

It always bothers me when I learn that one of my friends in not "out" to their family. I don't even talk to my family, so maybe it shouldn't be so surprising, but aren't those the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally? My family does not, but in that I do believe I am in a very small minority. The ones that surprise me are the ones who attend family events and are otherwise close to their immediate family, yet feel unable to share the truth about the person they are. They introduce the person they're dating as a best friend and tell them to act straight. Some never introduce their families to anyone at all. They have a secret life that remains hidden from the very people who should be interested in their happiness.

Thinking about animals, indoctrination, prejudice and persecution brought me to the issue that bothers me more than everything else: religion. I think religion is responsible for most of the social problems in the world (my opinion). I cannot deny that some religious charities do good things, but there will always be compassionate people who will make sure those same things are done. I'm talking about the brain-washing indoctrination that makes otherwise (semi)intelligent people start sentences with phrases like "Well, I'm a Christian" and "The Bible says" to justify whatever bigotry they espouse. "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is another one.

How can anyone read the story from Alarabiya and not realize it is being done in the name of religion? Why can a heterosexual get married, divorced, married, divorced, married, and divorced again, but a homosexual can't "marry" the life partner they've been with for 25 years? Where does it say that in the Bible? Marriage is a legally binding contract between two consenting adults. Legally binding, not bound by the Bible. Animals are property, the Bible says it. You have to Believe or you'll go to Hell, the Bible says it. Jesus (a man) will be resurrected, the Bible says it. The twelfth Imam (a man) will be resurrected, the Koran says it. And what? They're going to fall from the sky fully clothed in what they were buried in? Will they be born like a little Buddha and raised to believe they will somehow solve all the world's problems by simply announcing their presence?

It is absolute nonsense, and proof that everything can be justified with religion except common sense.

And, what about critical and/or analytical thinking? It doesn't say anything about that in the Bible. Does that mean we shouldn't do it? Because, I do both and, if you do you may realize you've been brainwashed. If you're relying on religion to get you through the day and you realize it's all a big hoax, you have to start accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions. You have to think about the consequences of your actions because now you know there's no Big Man in the Sky looking after you.

Truthfully, I don't really care what people believe as long as they keep it to themselves. I'm just not interested in hearing it and I'm tired of hearing about social injustice being justified in the name of religion and having everyone be okay with it. It's not okay with me and I think you are mentally ill when you start talking about "your religion" as a way to justify your bigotry and hateful actions.

Personally I'd rather read Aesop's Fables than the Bible, Torah, Koran, or any other book of religious gibberish. It's a lot easier to read and the morality is not subject to individual interpretation. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shadow and Blusher

These are my 2 regular feral kitties that come by to eat almost every day. The flame point was already spayed when I trapped her and took her for surgery so they just gave her a Rabies vaccination and tipped her ear. The little black tuxedo was just over a year old when I took her, and she was already pregnant. I call the flame point Blusher and my neighbor named the tuxedo Shadow Cat because she said she only saw her running to hide and it seemed like the shadow of a cat. I didn't realize at first that by naming the other one Blusher I had chosen a make up themed name for the pair. It's fitting, though, because they are always together.

I started feeding them when I moved in about a year and a half ago. At that time, the tuxedo was so skinny I didn't think she was healthy enough for surgery. When she got to the point where all her ribs weren't showing I trapped her and took her to emanciPET to get spayed with one of the Humane Society feral cat vouchers. I was able to get both of these girls the same night since they hang out together, but I never got the male into the trap.

Sadly, I think he developed an abscess on his hind leg because he started limping and got progressively worse, then I never saw him again. I felt so bad because I couldn't get close enough to him to see why he was limping. He didn't have any visible wounds and he lost a lot of weight in the last month he came around. Then, I guess, he curled up somewhere and died. I went out for a couple of weeks calling and looking for him and he was nowhere to be found. I don't think he was more than 3 years old. He was all long white hair except for a bushy black tail and I called him Ringer because it looked like you could throw a horseshoe around his tail. I think one of my neighbors called him Scruffy, and he was, but he was always Ringer to me.

Now, there's another long haired black male that comes more often, or at least I see him more often, than when Ringer was here. I also saw a long haired very fat female for the first time on Monday. The apartment manager has a little kitten in the office right now that wandered in also on Monday. I don't think the female is the mother because this kitten is already eating on her own. I guess I'll need to start looking for a litter of kittens.

I don't know where to start, though, since I've never seen the female before and I don't know her territory. A raccoon came up behind her, even brushed against her, to get to the food I put out. She was more scared of me than the raccoon, so I doubt she's had any human contact. She wouldn't come out of the bushes until I went inside, but I looked out the peep hole and saw her eating. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, April 10, 2009

My first batch of candles

I love this soy wax. This is the first time I've made candles with it, actually the first time I've ever seen it, and it's awesome. I decided to use EcoSoya Advanced, which is a little more expensive, but it's made from American grown organic soybeans that have not been genetically modified (non-GMO). I'm pretty sure most people don't seek out an organic non-GMO wax, but that's the only kind I want to use and I think this one is a good choice.

I put a little on the palm of my hand and if it hadn't been so hot I would have stuck my whole hand into it. It's really smooth and creamy. I spent about a month browsing candle making forums to see what other people are using before I finally ordered. I'm really happy so far. I like the way it feels so much I'm going to try making some lotion with it, too.

I realized when I was setting everything up that all the other candles I've made were pillars. I'm not sure why I decided to do containers this time, but I learned a lot from the few I made today. The only reason I mention pillars is that I had a little trouble keeping the wicks centered and straight once the wax was poured. With pillars you just set the wick and fill the mold. I used to put a clothes pin at the top of the mold to keep the wick in place, but that won't work with the little tins. I ended up lining the tins in a row and putting some metal kabob skewers on top on either side of the wicks. It's not going to work when I start making larger quantities, though, so I'll have to come up with something else.

I also think I put too much fragrance in the first couple of batches. I'm going to call them "super scented" because they are pretty strong. I think it also depends on the scent and I'll just have to get comfortable with each one and make some notes about the really potent ones.

The lids in the photo have the fragrance written on the top and that's not the way they'll be sold. I'm not quite finished with the logo and labels, but it'll work for now since I'm still in the testing phase. The logo will be close to the one on the right, but I'm not completely happy with it yet. The candle line will be called Green Lights and since I think the lotion will be awesome, too, I've decided to make the full name Green Lights Organics.

The last couple of weeks have been so busy and I'm glad I finally got the wax in and had a chance to make some candles. The fact that they came out as well as they did on my first try is a bonus. It makes me feel really good. Sphere: Related Content

Cheery desktop basket

This was also from Tuesday, for a woman starting a new job. Her mother ordered a basket arrangement, so I decided to use a flat one without handles that she could use for something else when the flowers are gone.

I used Sunflowers (obviously!), purple Stock, peach Spray Roses, orange Asiatic Lilies, and Boronia with a little Leather Leaf fern and seeded Eucalyptus. Sphere: Related Content

Another masterpiece by my boss

She caught me taking the pictures, too. I blatantly lied and said I love Daffodils and wanted to put it on my facebook page. I do like Daffodils a little, but I don't really like the color yellow. There is another variety that is a pale yellow, almost ivory, with an orange-ish center that I like better than the plain yellow.

The photo on the left is the front, the other is the back. The sad thing is the person who ordered this paid $65 and it looks like they've just been plopped into a vase with a total disregard for aesthetics.

After she caught me taking the picture I started feeling a little guilty because I felt like I was making fun of her and she's an old lady. I realize she probably feels threatened by me because I'm younger, more talented and she's trying to stay relevant in her own shop.

Then I thought of all the times she has come in to make some snide comment about something I was making and I stopped feeling guilty. It's her fault she never figured out that learning from your peers, in this case employees, is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of maturity. I learned things from every designer I've ever worked with, both when they were my employees and traveling designers at the top of the field.

This is a creative profession and everyone approaches it with their own techniques and sense of style. You can tell by looking at this that someone with 30 years of design experience who makes things that look like this never learned anything along the way. Just as they run the store the same way they did it the first time 30 years ago, never changing, improving efficiency, upgrading equipment, product, or floral variety, she has never learned to design properly. She doesn't think she needs to and if she treated me with common courtesy, I would feel sorry for her. Since she doesn't, I'll keep posting some of her "designs" here to remind myself the next time she tries to make me feel my work is sub-standard. Sphere: Related Content

Green and white week

I made two arrangements this week that I liked. Both were for funerals, although the style and color scheme would be appropriate for a wedding as well.

The one on the left was made on Tuesday. I used 2 large white Hydrangea, 4 small green Hydrangea, white Stock, Bells of Ireland, Curly Willow, and Springerii. This one is totally representative of my personal design style. I like well balanced, proportional, natural designs with a simple harmonious color palette. I really like to do pieces that have several shades of the same color to add a sense of texture, and I like the drama of asymmetrical balance.

The arrangement on the right was from Wednesday. I used the same color palette of green and white, this time with white Hydrangea, green Hydrangea, white Snapdragons, white Stock, white Stargazer Lilies, Bells of Ireland, Springerii, and Myrtle. This time I wove the Springerii through the center and left just a small tip showing on the front next to the sheer ribbon.

This one would have been gorgeous with a little English Ivy, but I didn't think my boss would appreciate me clipping the plants. I did it all the time in my shop, but, (I keep reminding myself) this isn't my shop and I don't have the freedom to do things my way. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good news on the garden front

Last week I decided to plant some seeds in regular soil. I was pleasantly surprised to find sprouts in the basil pot already. I noticed them on Monday, but they seemed a little too small to show up in a photo. Yesterday they had really taken off and I snapped this picture today. So far, I can't see anything happening in the other pots, but I'm hopeful.

I also changed the hydroponic set up. The plastic starter tray was not working at all. I decided to take twelve 20 oz styrofoam cups and embed them in a wire grid. I put a slit in the bottom and four on the sides. Next I put the rooters into the cups and secured them with toothpicks. I'm really happy with the results so far.

I think one of the main problems with the tray was that the fish food would float over it and get caught on the rooters. The fish were probably bumping it because they knew the food was there. The hornwort was also washing up onto it and weighting it down.

Another thing I learned it that not all the rooters float. I skimmed the bottom of the pond with a net and recovered most, if not all, of them. Since I already had the problem with the fish food, I set the cups far enough apart that they could swim underneath and get to whatever food does rest next to the cups. I put the extra rooters in a plastic baggie so I can use them another time. Sphere: Related Content


As much as I complain about this shop, it does have one redeeming quality. Tucker is a Ragdoll, given to the owners as a gift. He had a seizure, so the breeder decided not to sell him. He is about a year and a half old now and was finally neutered last week. Hopefully he will stop spraying all over the store now.

I know a lot about cats, but not much about Ragdolls. I have to say, this is the dumbest cat I've ever met. He is not curious about anything and has very little energy. I had two cats in my shop and they wanted to see everyone who came in because it meant they would probably get petted. Tucker just sleeps, completely oblivious to everything going on around him.

The basket he's in is where I put the orders I need to make. This is the first time he's gotten into it since I started working there in December. I liked having him there, so I moved the tickets to a table. Another time I was making a funeral spray and turned around to find him just sitting about three feet behind me. I don't know how long he had been there, but he was just sitting there watching me work. Most cats would have come up and started rubbing on my legs, but Tucker just sat there. Even when I petted him a little he just rolled over and stayed there.

It's a good thing he is so cute because he is severely lacking the "pet me" personality. Sphere: Related Content

Rotten grapes

Take a look at this. I don't know how well you can see it, but those are rotten grapes. For the past couple of weeks one of the coolers at work has been smelling like rotten fruit. On Wednesday, the owner of the shop pulled these grapes off the bunch and sent the rest to a customer in a fruit basket.

To make matters even worse, he made it Tuesday night and heat sealed it, locking the ethylene gas into the customer's "gift". All fruit emits ethylene. It is part of the composting process. By sealing it inside, the composting process will accelerate, especially as the temperature rises. Basically, if they don't refrigerate it immediately and instead put it on the table in their home, it will rot more quickly. If they leave it sealed it will be worse.

I sincerely hope the recipient of this fruit does not get sick. I hope the flavor was impacted and they throw it away. I am, once again, truly astonished that this is the way they do business and they've been able to get away with it for this long. Sphere: Related Content