Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reasons to Smile

Whenever I meet with my Cursillo Reunion group and we talk about study I always direct my talk away from books and instead say, "I'm studying people." It's true! I do study folk. That's how I learn my best lessons in life. How to face disappointments, be kind to others, see things from new perspectives, and be a better servant are just a few of the skills I'm learning from others. All of that's important in life and I'm blessed that I've got friends who accept being studied and seem to consider me just as valuable as they are to me. Friends have been stepping up to the plate a lot lately.

The new friends I'm making at my Census job are turning out to be fine examples of how to act in an office. Many of them have been managers or people in responsible positions and all are team players. We all work together towards a common goal, teach each other what we learn, and cover each other when closing out our day and getting ready for the next. So what am I learning from them? Besides the afore mentioned, I'm also learning how to take things in stride, how to coordinate things, and how to get good advice when needed. More subtle skills include tact, faith, and belief in a common goal.

One of my work friends, a very nice fellow named Kevin, has taken my poor job search skills and done his best to improve them with some well place instructions. He sat down with me over lunch one day, looked at my USA Jobs resume, and told me how to improve it to get a better shot at being hired by our government when I go looking for a new job. He pointed me towards which has handbooks for all the jobs listed on in the "job families/series" on and told me to match my job experience descriptions to the key words used to describe the skills used for the job I was trying for. That kind of advice was amazingly helpful! When I went to the site I had a general idea and instructions to do a "series search". I actually searched for those terms and learned about job families. Then I checked out the areas I had knowledge and experience in. I found 2 different jobs I can have a decent chance at by rewriting my resume, so that's my plan! I hadn't realized how varied resumes could be. That's something else I've picked up on this job. Apparently civilian ones are a page or two in length max, but the government job ones are several more pages with detailed descriptions of tasks you've mastered and experiences you've had. Whew! I always had a problem with writing short descriptions. Writing detailed ones should be a piece of cake. Oh! And they extended me at work so I'm employed by the Census for another 2 months! Yay!

Today I was headed to Target to buy a new watch and also Home Depot to get a new lamp. Instead I took a side trip to my friend Jerry's house, partly because he was on the way and could give me advice on whether I should buy a new lamp or fix the old one and also, because I hadn't seen him in a while and missed his company. Jerry and his family took me to their hearts long ago and have become my best resources for many things. If I need a house sitter or cat feeder I call them. If I'm going to the hospital for a procedure they are the ones to sit in the waiting room and drive me home afterward. They are also my emergency contacts and have permission to speak in my behalf if medical issues arise. It makes lots of sense. Jerry's an experienced OR nurse, knows my other friends with medical expertise, and would be able to ask questions that I wouldn't know to think of. They keep 10 cats and have taken care of mine by staying for several hours just to play with them when I've had occasion to travel.

When I stepped into Jerry's place he was relaxing with a book. I described my lamp problem and asked if I could fix it. He asked Susan if she needed him and got permission to go with me to my place where he proceeded to take the lamp apart. Discovering that the socket had gone bad, we drove to Target, followed by Home Depot to get the needed part to fix the lamp. While out running around we managed to get my watch replaced and a couple of very necessary belts of decent quality purchased. (My wardrobe is taking wear and tear now that I'm working 5 days a week.) Once back home the lamp got fixed, the windshield fluid in the car was topped off, bottles were recycled, and I had new CFL bulbs for most of the lights and a new R type bulb for the lamp. Then he played with the cats, or at least Hyram. Hooboo doesn't really trust anyone but me yet. A little later, I drove Jerry back to his place and borrowed a few books and a new computer game. I've promised to return tomorrow so that I can help them organize their myriad books. They need this badly because they are the best lending library I know and finding what they want to lend me is a whole house search project at present.

Earlier this morning, I popped over to my friend San's blog and then visited her friend Bob T Bear Esq. who was having a 500th post celebration. That was fun and I hope to share some of the jokes from his site with my friends at work. San has meant a lot to me as a friend because she started by making herself at home in my blog. She'd never met me, started reading and stayed and read and kept coming back till I think she has read every post I've ever written. In the process we became friends and I started learning how to love abstract art. I'd always been very much a realist and fantasy art lover till I met San. Now I'm seeing things in her work that I'd never have expected to. It's like visions just pop up for me when I look at something she's painted. Wow!

One of the things I shared with Jerry while he was watching Hyram eat was the start of my writing portfolio. David had a hand in that. In fact, I think it wouldn't have been started without his support. I also ran the articles I pulled from this blog past another new work friend. She said they were good too, but pointed out that if I wanted to be a technical writer I needed to write some technical articles. That makes sense. So I have to figure out a good "How To" article to put in there. Or describe a process that I'm familiar with that uses technology. She suggested blogging. I'm not so sure about that but there has to be something I can talk about and describe step by step. So I guess that somewhere in and around my rewriting my resume I need to write a couple more articles.

Well I don't think this article is turning out as I'd intended. It's become a ramble whose whole point seems to be that you can't survive without friends and that I've got some really great ones. But when Jerry and I were driving around we talked about disappointments in life. People often disappoint each other. Sometimes they hurt you very badly in the process. One can lose faith in other people if you hurt them often or badly enough. I've seen several examples of this during my life. The result seems to be that they lose faith in establishments, authorities, and powers too...including God. When Jerry and I are together we can seem like opposite sides of the coin. He's gloom and doom and I'm joy and light, but it wasn't always this way and I remember fondly the man who could convincingly make believe he was Merlin. So I talked about the need to forgive or just let things go. Granted, I'm not always good at that, but eventually I have to come around to that because I am, at heart, an optimist. I want a rosy tinted outlook and I'll move heaven and earth to get it. I wish I could gift that view to all my friends and anyone in need of a better feel about life because I think that without it I would have been a very unhappy teenager and possibly become a statistic of the worst sort. When I was just a kid my mother and I coined the label "Pollyannas" for ourselves signifying that we wanted to find something to be happy about in any situation, just like Pollyanna did in that Disney movie. So help me, it stuck! And I've never once looked back. In fact I resent any effort to teach me better. Life has a way of doing that despite our best efforts, so I can't claim that I'm totally unscathed, but I know things are getting better when I can share the smile that in my 20's earned me the nickname "Sunshine" and find time to appreciate the goodness of those around me. Thank goodness for friends! So yeah, let's smile! Just like the song!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Volunteering Fun!

For over a week now I've been meaning to get back here and post something new, but I got sick two weeks ago and while I'm back at work I haven't quite recovered fully. I apologize for the delay and, "Thank you!" to all who've asked if everything was well in my life.

Weekend before last I did my ever first volunteering. It was at a gaming convention here in San Antonio, the ChimaeraCon. Not a huge convention, but popular among its attendees. And it's growing. I had a blast! I'm not much of a gamer, but I loved being around people who love Science Fiction and are enthusiastic about playing games. Their enthusiasm for this is contagious and they have all spent enough time with their passion that they are very expert when you have questions. The people I met there share the same love of books and interaction with fantasy that I have.

My job was registration. I spent most of Saturday behind the counter. They turned me loose briefly to wander the floor and see all the fun stuff that had been set up and games that were happening. I also got time off to go to the food court (we were at Crossroad Mall) and get lunch. But most of the day I was watching folk come in, receiving their money and giving them badges to wander and enjoy the activities that had been planned. You'd think with a barrier between you and others you'd not get sick, right? Wrong, by the end of the day I was coughing and sweating with a fever. This was really disappointing because my volunteering got me into the convention free and I'd planned on coming back Sunday afternoon just to have fun. Now I couldn't do that.

When the planning for this convention started I'd expected bunches of compute games, and there was plenty of that. But there was also lots of board games. We had Game Masters running D&D games and other card or miniature based games. There was jousting. We had MechCorps there with 3 huge pods that you could sit in and fight an opponent from using cool technology. And there were several local guest stars. I met two of them. One was The Defuser, the winner of "So You Want to be a Superhero" from Texas and the other was his nemesis, Lord Vile.

There's a really neat video that the San Antonio Express created when they came and interviewed lots of folk there. I can't embed it, but here's the link. Go and watch, it's really very good. One of our volunteers has put up a really great MySpace page about ChimaeraCon. It isn't the official page which is now on hold till next year but you can get a good feel for the event and its history. Here's the link to that.

Even with me getting sick I had so much fun that I plan to volunteer again next year. This year I was shy and not ready to be fully involved in a large roll because I didn't know any of the ins and outs of running a convention. Now I do and I'll be ready to take on a larger role next time around. Thanks to everyone who took time to train me, explain things, and show me the way! You all were awesome!

An added benefit to having attended, actually one that was part of my reasoning for being there, is that I learned about other places in San Antonio to connect with folk who love SciFi and Fantasy as much as I do. And there are other conventions coming up to attend among them San Japan 2 in August. I've never been to any of these things before and plan on attending as many as I can. Life is looking a lot more fun for the future.