Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tag Clouds and Tutors

Several people have asked me how I put the Tag (Label) Cloud on my blog. It was done for me by a friend, Terry of Terry's Playpen and Paradise Discovered. He's the technical genius who, with much patience, put together the look I envisioned for my blog. Terry doesn't like to title himself as an html wizard, but he does classy things with his blog and posts that I didn't know were possible. On his "Playpen" he shows you how he does certain kinds of blog magic, like images that expand when you mouse over them, or definitions/articles about a subject in a post popping up if you click on them without you losing your place in what you were reading. I asked him if he would be had/could/would put up a post on how to add tag clouds to blogs. He generously responded and his post includes a link to the blogger whose web site he got his from. If you want to know how to do lots of cool things to your blog, I highly recommend visiting Terry's.

All work and no play would make Terry a dull boy, and that would be a lie because his stories are certainly not that. A couple of Terry's Playpen posts are stories pulled from a very private blog in kind hearted response to meme tags he was inflicted with by Shrinky, of Shrink Wrapped Scream, and me. His Paradise Discovered is almost totally story oriented. Terry's writings are of such high quality that I number him among those whose skill makes me wonder why they aren't listed on Blogs of Note, far better than mine. If you visit either of Terry's blogs please take time to leave him a comment. And please let me know when you get a tag cloud of your own up and working, I'll be interested in seeing it. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beautiful Image

When I saw this puzzle my first reaction was, "This is the type of morning I like to go walking in." And it is. I've been fortunate enough to see and even photograph beautiful scenes like this. It was long ago when I was in college during the '70s, but the first black and white photo I ever took was of just such a misty morning and the trees that circled the campus center. It was taken with an Argus that was a gift from my uncle. I loved that camera, it made me a better photographer than I am without it's semi automatic settings and through the lens light metering. Got me an A for the photography course too. :-) So here's the puzzle that I enjoyed this morning. Hope you enjoy it too.

Click to Mix and Solve

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Working for the Census

I'm modifying this post at the suggestion of my HR director. It's good advice. He suggested that I simply direct folk to the census website. That's much more practical as I'm not the Census Bureau and don't want to say anything that might cause someone to think I am. Most of the article is still in tact. What has been deleted is the stuff that you can find on the Census website.

It's been almost a month since I started working for the Federal Government and the 2010 Census. The hours are good. The pay is decent, steady, and on time. The work crew is friendly and feels like a team. I couldn't have asked for better. The only things that are a downer to this job are: 1) it is designed to be temporary; 2) you don't get benefits. That's okay, I'm delighted to have work of any length and the skills I'm gaining will help the resume look better for the next job search. The lack of benefits I can handle through other resources like the VA and my bank.

I got hired just before Martin Luther King Day. The first thing that happened, after I'd been through the 1.5 days of training, was that I monitored the phones. That meant I was helping people apply for the job by scheduling them to take the mandatory employment test. For a first experience in customer service it was great! People really want jobs. Anything I told them about the process was important to them and they were very grateful. One guy even said so to my boss. I found that I was pretty good at phone work. It wouldn't be my dream job or even a favorite chore, but that I come across as friendly, caring, and helpful is a good thing to know about myself. That will definitely go on my resume.

Then I went and worked the data entry section. There we key in all the stuff from the applications, and if something is missing or confusing we may call to clear it up. That's an area where you have to be very discrete. Nothing that you learn about someone can be shared or even left where someone else could see it on your desk. This too is good experience because you learn how to handle sensitive issues and information.

While working data entry, I revamped some of my Excel skills and now create a report from other types of data (not personal) that I get to enter. I've signed up for "finger printing" and "advanced copier" training. These will all be handy at some point in my life and the training is free. Yay! More skills! Even better is the knowledge that I'll get cross trained in every position in the office. This cross training is vital to census operations running smoothly. It's even better for my resume.

This past week I put some budding coordination skills to work. I'd helped coordinate an event at my church once. On Friday at work, we held a "Jason's Deli" day and I was the mover and shaker on that. I'd driven past the deli along Loop 410, saw the sign, and was suddenly really hungry for a muffaletta. So I asked around to see if anyone was interested. Then I got the permission, requested a menu, and started taking orders. It went over well and I'll hold another in about a month. Folk were grateful and several who didn't participate will probably be ordering the next time. They kept sniffing and commenting on how good the food smelled as they walked past. LOL

One of the nice things about working for the Census is the job is flexible if that is what you need. I know that lots of us hold down more than one job, take care of kids, or go to school. If you need part time work you can do that, instead of full time, and flex your hours around your life. Everyone who's commented on my post, "Suddenly It's Raining Jobs," has said that this was the better choice. I couldn't agree more. And I want others to have the same opportunity that I had.

We have a website. Click here. Or if you need to write it down and give it to a friend the web address is When you have reached the website, click on "Become a census taker". That's where you can read all about the job, the requirements, the nature of the work, and find the forms to fill out and where to call to apply. There is even a practice test. You will turn in your application at the same place you take the employment test.

Right now, the 2010 Census is happening in the U.S.A., and we are at the very beginning of a year and a half long project of conducting it. If you live in another country, I'm pretty sure that your country does the same sort of thing. I just don't know the census cycle over there, but you probably do. Census work is important because it helps your government put money and resources where they are needed based on population and area income. So, if you need a job, apply for a census one. It's worth the time it takes to apply in skills and income, and it will help your government put that economic stimulus package to work where it is needed the most. By applying you become a part of the biggest job creation project going on at the moment. Good luck!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The San Antonio Contingent is Quizzing Again

JS posted her results from the latest quiz. For new readers, who don't know about these quizzes, they are fun, silly, and very much tongue in cheek. JS and I often get the same score. God did a great job when he made her my best friend. (G) We treat them like games or mimis and if you like taking silly quizzes there's a link to all of them labeled "quiz" in my tag cloud. Here are my results. Hope you'll join us in the fun.

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.

You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One by One

This past weekend, I'd intended to post a new story about working for the Census. Good intentions got waylaid by this amazing wave of you all visiting my blog, thanks to Blogger putting me on the Blogs of Note list. You came, you looked around, you decided to comment, or follow. And you're still coming! For a humble blogger who had only 8 followers when she went to work on Friday, and now has over 300, this has been an awesome experience. Thank you!

What I'm trying to do with all of this is answer each and every comment to the best of my ability. Since my comments are all moderated I have to read them, delete the duplicates, and of course get rid of the spam. Don't worry, just because you put a link in your comment doesn't mean that I delete it. Lots of you are leaving me links to your blogs and I love going there and seeing what you've done. Right now there are just SO many that I'm way behind, but I'll catch up one by one.

Many of you have just started your blogs. That's where I was 3 years ago. I'd actually created my blog by mistake. I wanted to leave a comment on a friend's blog and registered to do so. Suddenly there was this blog hanging out there with nothing on it. Couldn't let that happen, so I figured out what to write for a first post, and have been blogging ever since.

So far, comments have been left from many different countries, among them Brazil, Portugal, Myanmar, Romania, Australia, and a few that don't translate into a country I can determine. I took Spanish in school, but am not very good at it. I catch about one word in ten. That helps with Spanish and Portuguese, but doesn't get me much farther than knowing whether you left a compliment or not. Talking to friends across the work table I've learned that the characters I mistook to be Greek are actually Romanian. That gave me an interesting bit of history as I didn't know the history of the Romanian language or that they apparently got their alphabet from the Greeks. Being a lover of history and words, this is fascinating to me. And I want to thank all of you from other countries who speak the English language. You are awesome. America doesn't do it's part as a member of the global community when it fails to teach its students a second language well. We do get a couple of years of training, but, as those of you fluent in more than one know, that's no where near enough. It isn't even enough for the second language learners in our public schools. I hope someday that will be corrected, but I don't know that it will happen soon.

To any new comers, if I fail to comment immediately it's because I'm still catching up. There were over 3000 visitors this weekend. However, eventually, I'll reply and pay you a return visit if you've got a blog that I can visit. And forward we go, one by one.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Did What?!!!

The first thing I noticed, when I got home from work and logged on, was that the number of folk following my blog had almost tripled. I was wondering who some of these folk were. Then I read my email and discovered that I'd been nominated for blogger's "blogs of note." I raced to check this out! Not only did I make this noted list, but so did our wonderful David's authorblog! Wow! What a treat to come home to! To all the well wishers, a hearty, "Thank you!" I've no idea what I did to get this honor but I'm delighted beyond words.