Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Review

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Rode the Surfliner up the Pacific Coast.  I had wanted to do it when I lived out west but never got around to it.  It surpassed my expectations - I loved it.

Visited Chicago for the first time - great city.  Loved the architecture.

Sat in an outdoor thermal pool while it was snowing. So cool, Literally.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I never make those.  I feel obligated to so many things that I can't add one more thing to the pile.  Although, it's pretty clear I have loads of things to improve upon!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One friend had the cutest bebe & I got to snuggle her when they visited me at work.

4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
A friend who was like family.  

5. What countries did you visit?
Australia, Japan, Mexico (first time!) & Canada.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
More peace of mind. The past couple of years ended up being really transitional. When all was was said & done, I stayed on and permanently landed on my feet in a much better place personally & professionally. Now that I've "arrived", I should probably stop the constant contingency planning. 

7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
1/1 - Shrine visit; 1/2 - met my niece for the first time; 1/12 - final job interview; 7/2 - met my my other niece for the first time. BTW, being auntie is pretty much the BEST gig ever!! <3!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
So nerdy.  Implementing a completely unfamiliar database for my department basically on my own. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
Any number of things on a regular basis! 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Garden variety colds and the usual stress stomachaches.  Otherwise, I've been blessed with superhuman health. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Warm winter boots with ice picks in the soles. I can't take the cold but Canadians have great tools to make it more manageable!

12. Where did most of your money go?

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The possibility of moving back to California.  I never wanted to leave in the first place but practicality brought me back East.  As time had progressed, I had relegated myself to the fact I probably would be in Boston until further notice.  Honestly, my quality of life is super high & there's lots of opportunities. So, there was no reason to up end anything, especially since I was still paying off my student loans (This whole thing of struggling with student loans has always been thing, at least in my circles.  I'm glad people are finally paying attention to the fact that most salaries won't enable you to pay them back in a timely fashion, never mind "live the American Dream" or take on a "dream job" #radio #haha).  Anyway, a couple of years ago, I paid the loans off & ended up with a skill set in relatively high demand . 

This past summer, I did a quick drive by of my old hometown with Phil. He loved it way more than I ever could.  Now, he wants to move there 😍.  We may never do it but the fact that it's actually possibility has brought me an amazing sense of peace that I didn't know I needed.

14. What song will always remind you of this year?
Bike Dream - Rostam
Sooooo romantic!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?


b) thinner or fatter?
About the same

c) richer or poorer?
about the same - well, maybe richer since most of my $$ is going into savings

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complain.  Even I find my whinging rather boring, pointless, and complete waste of energy.  Like I start whinging, and I'm all, "why I am doing this?".

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Made radio magic 

BUT...I did see so many friends around the actual day. My social life was robust around the holidays and I loved it!

19. Did you fall in love this year?
The longer we're together, the better it gets.  I never thought it was possible but I love him more & more every day.

20. What was your favourite TV program?
I loved the second season of "Master of None".  The "Thanksgiving" episode gave me allllll the feels.  All of them.  "Cute and smart! You don't get those together.",

The best show - hands down - "Offspring".  If you were ever curious about how my mind works, Nina Proudman is where it's at.  Most of the story lines & 100% of the internal dialogue. 

#subtleperve #becool #coolwithaK

21. What was the best book you read?
I have a massive stack of books on my bedside table.  There were 3 I couldn't put down:

L'Appart by David Lebovitz; Ever dreamt of moving overseas & getting 100% settled into your new homeland?  Bring a sense of humor.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: I would never want to be president of this county.  We are  front & foremost capitalist, along with being huge, which gives way to many different pockets of culture.  There's no way you could ever unify everyone...maybe if everyone had a stable income that allotted for basic security?  Who knows. For now, I'd rather have a career of picking up trash with a stick that has a nail on the end of it than lead the free world.  Anyway, this quick read gives a voice to people who don't often get to step up to the podium.

Gjelina by Travis Lett:  My friend sent me this as a gift and it will forever remind me of sitting in the back of Gjusta, eating off each other's plates on a warm night. <3!

22. What was your favourite film?
Scoop!: I saw it on a plane but is totally worth tracking down.  It's about a paparazzo journalist who ends up with this amazing story.  Lots of great shots of Tokyo.

Papa ou Maman: This a French film that would probably never get made here.  A set of parents are divorcing and they are letting their kids pick the parent with whom they'd like to live.  Both of them go out of their way to behave horribly to make them choose the other parent.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked on a tv commercial for work! Extra long day but fun way to enter year 44.

24. What kept you sane?
Walking?  Because the T is such crap, I end up walking home usually.  It's a good way to clear the cobwebs & get caught up on music or podcasts.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Matthew Le Nevez #damn

26. Who did you miss?
My grandmother.  I miss her every day.  It's been 14 years.  I guess you learn to live around the feelings vs. getting over them.

Friday, September 15, 2017


As the weather is getting colder & all the tv shows are coming back, I have some snack recommendations for your upcoming chilly weather binge watching.  You'll probably get a bit peckish while being sucked into shows like What Would Diplo Do? & Top of the Lake: China Girl.

Ice Cream
I know New England is the #1 ice cream consuming region in the US...this may be sacrilegious BUT Jeni's from Columbus, OH is totally bitchin.   Violet flavored ice cream??? UM, YES, PLEASE!  Best part?  Flat rate shipping of $13!

Ding Dongs
My friend, Jeff, turned me onto these adult ding dongs from Cake Monkey. Super posh, extra delicious snack cakes.   My friend, Amy, will be getting a bunch for her birthday.  She doesn't read my blog so I feel safe sharing this with you.*

Formaggio Kitchen sells these amazing Spanish potato chips called, appropriately enough, PATATAS FRITAS.  The can has a handle so you can use it as a giant purse when you're done.

Fried Chicken
If you're not in Boston or Charlotte, you may be out of luck but the Latin fried chicken from Pollo Royal is the best ever.

Completely worth traveling for - Sillari's Pizza. We literally have to pretend it doesn't exist or we would eat there multiple times a week.  Chef Scott & Amanda's pizza game is strong!

Bon Appetit!

*Let's be real. Nobody's reading my blog and I'm 100% ok with that.

On Job Searching

Over the past couple of years, I've changed jobs a bit more than I have in the past - all for normal reasons, nothing shady.  While I wouldn't consider myself an expert in looking for a new job, I've been hit up for advice lately.  So, here goes...

Before any of this job search stuff started, I had a couple of resources in reserve:

  1. Emergency Savings - While I had severance, it took MA Unemployment a while to process my first check.  Even though I didn't tap into it, the savings helped everything feel less urgent. 
  2. Examples of My Work - As I worked on projects, I would bcc myself on reports, decks, scope docs, anything.  If somebody wanted an example of my work, I had a whole library of items to bring with me to an interview. 
  3. Part Time Job & Volunteer Gigs -  Those got me out of the house & engaged when the walls closed in.  
In general, the biggest struggle I had with "being on the market" was the emotional piece.  From changing my daily routine to being asked inappropriate questions during interviews that lasted 6+ hours, it was exhausting.  While I couldn't control the outside forces of apply/wait/return call/decide whether I wanted the job/think about whether they wanted me, I could contain it.  Every morning, I'd wake up at my usual time & spend the next 6-8 hours doing work "stuff".  I'd update my resume, apply for jobs, schedule interviews, take online classes, etc..  Then, unless something extraordinary came up, I'd finish my "work day" around 3 or 4 and use the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted.

From a tactical standpoint, I availed myself of all free resources.  MA has some great career centers. I recommend using one located in the area where most of your jobs are located.  I live in an industrial city; therefore, my local career center specializes in things like mechanics, construction, etc.. So, I used Career Source in Cambridge as most of their training & listings were in the tech field.  If you want to learn something new or need some skills upgrades, libraries offer classes for free.

To get your resume through the bots, I recommend including all the software programs you know as "tools" & list your successes/accomplishments as your experience vs. tasks performed.

For referrals, at one point, I could walk into HR and recommend somebody for a job but that's not the case anymore. Unless a resume matches the programmed criteria, nobody will see the application.  I tell people to apply as directed & call me as soon as they hear something.  

Ultimately, if you feel like you could use some extra help, there are plenty of recruiters out there who are willing to meet & review your resume for free.  They tend to be the best source of the latest trends in applying & interviewing. 

Good luck!

Total P.S. to the story as somebody asked me about this yesterday.  Between both times on the market, I spent about 6 months total, around 3 months each time, looking for a new opportunity.  Since I had to keep track of all my actions...on average, I applied for 10 jobs a day, i.e. 70 jobs per week or 1800 jobs overall. On a normal week, I had about 10 contacts, follow ups, interviews, or unreasonable offers, i.e. 260 contacts.  Those resulted in 2 reasonable offers.  Basically, the success rate is 1 usable offer for every 900 applications, or 1 offer for every 130 contacts for me to score a highly technical, middle management, fully benefitted, market fair salary in the city.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mini Thought Piece - Dying Industries?

Over the course of my career, I've been the butt of many jokes as my chosen occupations seem to make the list of dying jobs.  My only rebuttal has been: Don't mistake technology disruption for complete industry obliteration. And, also, I'm not a travel agent.

For better or for worse, the Internet has been the great equalizer. "Experts" are just as likely to be average people as they are celebrities or highly educated specialists.  Consumers now have an active say in brand perception through reviews, blogging, social media, etc.. Now, before people commit, they often go online to find somebody like themselves talking about the item or service. People already have the facts - they just want to know if the experience will meet their expectations.

Aside from leveling the playing field, the Internet has blown open what were exclusive distribution channels. That airline ticket you had to go to travel agent to buy? Right on your phone. Want to listen to BBC news? No need to tune into your local NPR station (if they broadcast it) at a certain time. Go right to Tune In.  It's all about what you want; when you want it; in exactly the way you want it.  For the creators with a little bit of business savvy, the internet can make you an entrepreneur.

Ultimately, though, people still want all the things they've always wanted: fun experiences, a sense of community/companionship, & fewer hassles.

So, for those who may be in disrupted industries - just my 2 cents - take a step back & get the vibe of how things are trending. How are people getting & using your end product? If you stay open minded, flexible, willing to learn, & objective around how your industry currently fits into people's lives, you'll find the viability...or a new way to apply your skills elsewhere.

And, also, I am still not a travel agent but I can help you find some good deals.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Mini Thought Piece - What's In It For Me?

Disclaimer #1: These opinions are solely my own, based on my own lived experience.  I fully respect anybody who may have different thoughts or ideas.  No one perspective is correct for all people or experiences.

Disclaimer #2: I generate my money by providing experiences that make people happy.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Over the weekend, a podcast extolling analog as the best way to listen to music blew into my orbit.  As my last music purchase was a vinyl album, I was hoping for some hard data around analog formats making more of a physiological impression like digital text vs. actual books.   In the end, the podcast was really nostalgia piece thinly veiled under some unrelated stats.  I didn’t necessarily agree with the host’s point; however, I respect that this was his truth.  Emotions are powerful motivators.

After thinking about the podcast, my mind started to spin on one of my favorite topics: Fostering emotional connections under the guise of fast paced innovation.  

For better or for worse, our country is more capitalist than democratic.  On a personal level, that means you get to keep more of your money. It also means that you have use that money to pay for things that other countries offer like higher education, health care, comprehensive transportation systems, robust art councils, etc..  In general, people embrace, and often permanently adopt, things that are cheap & easy.  When people need to be picky about how they spend their hard earned dollars, time, and energy, technology can really help.  Whether it’s depositing a check without having to drive to the bank or listening to all the new music releases on a Friday to see what you should buy for the weekend.  It can all be done with a small device in almost no time at all.

In the end, the questions aren’t really around the format, the device, or the delivery means – everyone will have their preferences.  

The 2 big questions are:

1. From my consumers’ perspective, “What’s in it for me?”

2. From my perspective as the content generator, “Am I providing an emotionally captivating experience for people that they feel is worth an investment of time, money, & energy?”

If I can’t answer those, nobody’s going to care if it’s analog or digital.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Wine Recap

In my last post, I had a photo of my case of organic wines from Australia, mostly Ochota Barrels.  4 months on, I've not finished all of them but I have another case on the way.  After my most recent trip to California & my Winc membership, the wine closet is maxed out. So, I need to get off my block and make it happen or make room or drink it or share it or something.  If you're free & like wine, text me.

As I was sipping through the Spring & Summer, I did my best to document what I was drinking & eating.  If you'd like any of the recipes, feel free to send me an email. Overall, the wines were amazing & totally worth the shipping.

The below recap comes from phone photos & random notes on slips of paper.  I did more accurate mini notes on Instagram as I went.  If you're curious, you may want to check there as well.

Ochota Barrels 5VOV Chardonnay

Tasting Notes: Buttered Popcorn
Meal: Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp, crusty bread

Ochota Barrels Impeccable Disorder Picadilly Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes: Red & Black Fruit
Meal: Steak marinated in soy sauce, fish sauce, & red onions, sauteed mushrooms, salad, & oven chips with chicken salt

Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Vinyard Grenache

Tasting Notes: Dark Chocolate & Raspberry
Meal: Arroz con Gandules, Camarones al Ajillo (spicy) & salad

Ochota Barrels & Gentle Folk Vineyards - Father's Milk Pinot Noir
I think the winemaker's wife was pregnant when he made this <3

Tasting Notes: Small, wild sweet strawberries that are red through & through
Meal: Nothing - it was so good that I didn't want to pair with anything. It's the best red I've ever had after the Botanicals.  Reminded me of a valdigue.

Ochota Barrels 186 Grenache

Tasting Notes: Peppery & strong with 13.8% alcohol content #right_turnt
Meal: Most likely steak frites & salad (period dinner)

Miss Moss Sparkling Blanc de Blanc

Tasting Notes: PAPAYA!!!! Amazing!
Meal: Truffled roast chicken, salad, & potatoes.  We tried a few wines with the chicken, so, we had the rest of the bottle with a fried New England Fisherman's Platter (shellfish, cod, fries, onion rings) a couple of days later.

Other Wines From the Case
Ochota Barrels - Weird Sweet Berries in the Woods Gerwurztraminer: Hands down my favorite Gerwurz, super dry, floral - so delicate & complex.

The Other Right - White Young Thing: Tastes like baking tart apples, would be good in the fall with mature cheddars

Ochota Barrels - A Sense of Compression: This is the partner wine Maynard James Keenan and it's a one the best done premium new world wines I've ever had.  We shared the wine & our summer truffle with friends who are Tool fans and chefs.  The whole thing ended up being a truffle pizza & wine fest.  BTW, I bought the truffle on sale from Food52 & we definitely got $60 worth of deliciousness and entertainment out of it!

If you're interested in any of these, Australian Wine Centre ships worldwide.  With the exchange rate, it's not as bad as you would think.  However, if you're looking for something a bit closer to home, Winc is a great wine club.  I normally don't recommend wine clubs since they tend to be quantity over quality.  If you dig around their website, they have some really interesting California wines you don't see on the East Coast.  On a recent quick in & out of California, I saw my entire August order for sale at 2 super hipster wine shops.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

And so it begins...

My case of wine arrived from the Australian Wine Centre.

This is big news chez Evil Lair because I have such affection for Australian made things - music, wine, food, art.   Everything, really.  Living & creating in an isolated place brings a certain aesthetic to things and I dig it.

Here's a photo of my most recent haul from Down Under:

Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing some reviews & suggested pairings.  Here's a sneak peek:

Nothing like uncorking your dinner after a 60 hour week with another 12 hour day ahead of you!

KIDDING!!! #boozebag

I did not have half a bottle of wine with a packet of crackers for an evening meal. There was a huge plate of cheese, charcuterie, & salad out of the well as my hawt husband, who was splitting everything with me.  The wine just went best with these particular crackers.

Before I get into the reviews though, I wanted to serve you an apero!

In the Fall, I went back to the "Old Country", a.k.a. Ireland, and ate some very tasty things.  We decided to do one fancy meal & chose The Greenhouse  for their tasting menu.  It's billed as modern organic Irish food and it's made by a Finnish it has a bit of that trendy Nordic thing happening.   Highly recommended.

They have a signature cocktail which is a great starter & would be really wonderful in hot weather. It's Blanc de Blanc champagne, citrus syrup, kaffir lime leaf, & elderflower cordial.  The above is a decent approximation of it with components found at any basic shop.

As champagne is much more expensive in the US than the EU, I wanted a blanc de blanc fizzy from another region.  Total Wine didn't have much in that style, hence, my choice of Cremant d'Alsace.  In general, I tend to use the Trader Joe's Blanc de Blanc or prosecco if I'm creating something with a more subtle flavor profile.  This Cremant worked well but it was a bit heavier than the resto version with its red juice component.  For the citrus piece, we made lime syrup with just sugar & fresh lime juice and did a St Germain floater.   It's a great starter, especially, if you've got a night of eating & drinking in front of you.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Woooo New Post

I really only try to blog when I feel like I have something of value to add to your lives.  Over the past few months, I was hibernating a bit. Now, I'm emerging all RuPaul's Drag Race style...except no heels, make up, or fabulous clothes. On that note, here's my offering of "unique value propositions" for you:

Travel Tip - Additional Needs:

For those of you who may need one, wheelchair service at the airport is complimentary.  Most ticket counters have a row of seats very close to the counter, where you can rest until the wheelchair arrives.  You will get priority service going through TSA checkpoints as well as first boarding on the flight.

If you are traveling with a child, airlines will provide a bassinet free of charge.  If you have a toddler who is under the age of 2, you can take him or her as a "lap child".  While the "lap child" will be flying for free, she or he will need to sit on your lap for the entire flight.  Not recommended for international flights with multiple long legs :-).

If you have any other considerations or concerns, call the airline directly.  Ultimately, they want to help you have the best experience possible - not just because they're in the service business, but also, because they're moving hundreds of people at once. The more they know ahead of time of special requests, the easier it is to get that plane out of the gate on time.

Headphones In

Not sure if it's because last year was so tumultuous or what, but there's been some amazing music lately.  If you want to know what I'm digging, I scare the masses every Saturday on The River Boston, 92.5. Understandably, if you prefer a commentary free list of musical inspiration. my Spotify playlists are attached to my Facebook Profile.

If you want to hear cool people talking about cool things, check out my interviews on The River's Comcast XFinity On Demand channel. I had the incredible honor of speaking with The Record Company & Jain (whose album I picked up in Paris 2 years ago - what a thrill to have her here!).

Point Your Face Here
When I get my Landmark Newsletter, I open up my Netflix account and add all the movies to my DVD queue.  For as much as I'd love the experience of heading to the theatre, I just can't seem to get there. Anyway, one movie I watched recently was Sour Grapes, a documentary about wine counterfeiting,  Fascinating.

I am a firm believer in past lives; therefore, the show Soul Mates speaks to me on a very deep level. It's like Portlandia but with longer story lines & more socio-political commentary.

"They" say that you learn how to love in a very different & deep way when you have a child.  While I have no children, I am a proud card carrying member of the #AUNTOURAGEThe Missing was equal parts absolutely horrifying and fascinating.  It's the only show I've binged watched since Master of None.

I love the library SO hard.  BPL has Hoopla, which for the time being, seems to be allowing me to read foreign versions of books.  Unfortunately, I've been a bit lax in checking things out as of late.  However, 2 of my super cool listeners, Jody & Melissa, sent me a copy of Living on a Prayer.  It's really good so far - I just need to read it on my couch vs. nodding off in bed (stay tuned for full review). In the meantime, I've pre-ordered the new Murakami book. Cannot. Wait.

Ever since I was smart enough to grab a chair in order to reach that dodgy bottle La Choy soy sauce sitting on the top of our stove, I've been in love with umami.  For me, Pacific Rim flavor is where it's at. Now that I think of it, it's probably why I love Australian food so much.  It's all that Irish stuff I grew up with but with much better flavor. All due respect to my mum, I had no clue asparagus could be crunchy until I was double digits. On that note, this karaage just made my list of things to do.

One of my BFFs, Brian, & I have been scientifically studying wine on & off for a few years. We even have diplomas from a reputable institution to prove it. Some good things we've been encountering: Sicilian Grillo (great with crab), prosecco with arils, some pet nats (organic, naturally fizzy).   If you're looking to try some great new wines, I highly recommend wines made by former music people like Charles Smith, Taras Ochota, Maynard James Keenan, or Steve Lau.  The creative process definitely extends to wine making.

That's all I got for now.  If you have anything to recommend to me, please comment below! I need new content to consume!