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June 21, 2006

cubed life

A month - it's been an entire month since I first checked into my cube and donned the title "waste reduction manager". I have written surprisingly little about my new job, but I assure that is not due to lack of interest. Rather instead, I have been so overwhelmed with the magnitude, breadth, and complicated-ness of it that I haven't found a way to sum up any one aspect into a sweet little blog entry. Don't worry though, I will eventually. The subjects keep rolling around in my head until they polished enough (and small enough) to make good public fodder.

So if I were organized and prolific, what would I write about?

The difference between retail and office job
Getting used to being in a cube
What I miss about the co-op
Top ten recycling myths (that I come across)
Top then questions people ask me when they find out I work in recycling

For now though, I'll just ask - how did I get so lucky? Although I am in a cube most of the time, some days I get to play around in the warehouse (and get dirty!), other days I get to meet with people of all types, from community organizers, to government employees, to unenthused (about recycling at least) residents, and then of course I get to meet with all the recycling enthusiasts as well.

In the safety of my cube I get to listen to music, gaze out the window; play with numbers and words turning them into meaningful pretty things that people who aren't so excited about numbers and words can enjoy. I get to read online and from paper, learning about St Paul, Recycling, Environmental issues, and Environmental allies (and foes). I can cruise through our data base, read all the reports already written, half written, notes taken, forms filed, numbers tallied... the list goes farther than I know because I haven't finished exploring it yet.

True, I am still getting used to the pace. I jump at the chance to run downstairs for something - just to get my blood flowing again. I drink too much liquid to encourage me to get up at least once an hour to use the bathroom. I learned to play with fonts and format when stuck at a place in a report and after a month of working nine-to-five I finally feel like I am getting the hang of waking up at a regular time five days a week.

I miss the chance to interact with customers at my whim (but I don't miss having to interact with customers at their whim). I miss the camaraderie of having known customers and other employees for years.

I don't miss the expensive chocolate available at all times. I find I am less exhausted at the end of the day, both emotionally and physically. At the co-op I was steering the boat at least partially for a score or so of employees and several hundred customers every day. I never realized how much that wears on a person. My social life has expanded both in order to keep in touch with former co-workers, but also because now that my job is less social I actually enjoy hanging out with people more. I also find I have more interest and tolerance in meeting new people but perhaps that is just spring fever.

Well, looks like I just couldn't stop myself from covering some of those topics but I'll save the recycling tidbits for another day.

June 19, 2006

City Compost

I have been doing backyard composting for over a year now, and for the most part, failing. My mistakes started because I really really wanted to compost the wood chips from my guinea pig bin. However, I didn't anticipate the drying effect this would have on my compost. Then, one lazy day, really ruining the pile, I threw in the newspaper from her cage as well. That created a layer halfway down that was probably on its way to fossilizing.

When I peeked in the bin today and saw a fuzzy-moldy-bug-crawling pile of vegetable goo, I knew it was time to take action.

Using my super powers, I biked over to the hardware store and picked up a pitchfork, two air filters for the house, a large flowerpot, three pounds of potting soil and four light bulbs. Only the pitchfork is integral to this story but I wanted to brag about carrying all the rest of that stuff home on my bicycle.

Facing the wild and wiley compost pile with pitchfork in hand, I felt my country roots swell within and suddenly knew exactly how to approach the problem. Tipping the bin over on its side, I had previously unheard of access to the lower (and troublesome) layer of my unfruitful pile. Using my brand-new-but-already-beloved pitchfork, I was able to stab through the newspaper, turn the pile, (integrating the too wet with the too dry) and grab out the bits of surprisingly dry newspapers that were obstructing the decomposing process.

Now I just have to keep adding nitrogen, in the form of grass clippings or a less popular (but more readily available), liquid substance, until those damn chips turn back into the dirt they came from.

June 16, 2006

driving crazy

Although I dread owning a car, I jump at the chance to keep my driving skills current. So I was thrilled last night when a friend requested my services to bring his wife's car home. He was working late, so the roads were quiet when we started.

He picked me up and we headed downtown where we hopped on a highway I did not know existed. This was the beginning of entering the warped "car zone". The car we were picking up was in one inner-ring suburb, west of the city and we were taking it to another inner-ring suburb located north of the city.

We got to the car and then with very little idea of where we were going (but a cell phone in my pocket in case of emergencies) I followed him from one suburb I've never been to another one just as strange.

Zooming behind the little yellow bug, driving a grand old boat, I entered an alternate Minneapolis that was previously unknown. We couldn't have driven for more than fifteen or twenty minutes but we were hopping highways so fast my head was spinning - 394 to 94 to 694 to 57 to 63 to 42 - I lost count. It was all cement around me, roads, roads, and more roads. I vaguely recall obnoxious large signs by the sides of the roads. I must have passed trees and plants but they were all so far away they never reached my radar. All the highways were at least three lanes wide (on each side), sometimes more.

The comfort that my friend knew exactly where he was going made me realize what a large aspect of the city I do not know. The highways, the suburbs, I can't tell them apart and they all blur. However, from the distant the city looses its distinctness as well. When you just drive around it each day the crime statistics and the scare stories can stand out more than any positive news that trickles out.

It once again made me reflect on how much I loathed Dayton (Ohio), where I owned a car and lived in the suburbs. I wonder if anyone who moves to the suburbs directly really ever gets comfortable and enjoys the city they live around.

June 10, 2006

Futbol Fanatic

You've probably already heard, but Germany won - 4 to 2 against Costa Rica. It was a loose game and from the first goal (which happened all too quickly) I suspected Germany would come out on top. It wasn't just that they had the home field advantage; the Ticos were playing poorly, perhaps shaken by the fact that no home team has ever lost out in the first round of the World Cup. Despite my past differences with Costa Rica, I was rooting for them, recalling with nostalgia the insane Ticos running through the streets, foaming beer and champagne bottles in hand, after winning against us in the last World Cup.

Ecuador won against Poland as well today, but I didn't find that game as interesting.

Half a year ago I wrote a humorous entry on how to appear worldly when you haven't traveled for an embarrassing amount of time. Well now that I have my butt planted more firmly than ever in Minneapolis, I found yet another item to add to the list:

    • Watch Soccer and follow the World Cup fanatically:

      I have never been much of a sports watcher, always preferring storylines with words, however I cannot resist the international draw of the World Cup. Soccer viewing is like watching dance and theater, with a lot of really cute (fit) guys of all sizes and colors in shorts running around. The steals, the falls, the goals, the blocks, are all there on the big screen and done so gracefully.
      My roommate bet that I won't watch even a quarter of the games (thanks to the miracle of DVR I am recording them all for at least a day) and he may be right. After all, it is spring. The daylight lasts until ten and my social life seems to be more active than a beehive. Yet, watching the games (or at least parts of them) and learning about the players and the countries, has been irresistible so far.

  • June 05, 2006

    Cleaning Spring

    Feeling cranky today, for no particular reason, I started cleaning fanatically. I find that when I feel wrong the best thing to do is make things "right" (aka - clean).

    This has many purposes.

    1. It keeps me busy so that I don't interact with other people and make them cranky too.
    2. I wear myself out.
    3. I can process emotions well - it keeps my body focused so that my mind can wander where it needs too.
    4. It turns a negative feeling into a positive act.
    5. I regain control of my life - or at least this one aspect in it.
    6. There is just something so satisfying at feeling both tired and having something to prove for all the effort.

    So after it was all said in done and I stood under the shower washing the dust off myself, the rest of the city got a shower too. There is no better end to a hot humid cranky evening than a thunder storm.