Friday, September 30, 2011

Stay the Course

Five years and four months ago I was laid off from Cingular Wireless - after the merge with AT&T Wireless. I cried. I loved my job and I loved the corporate world. But I tried some new things...real estate agent, English teacher in Mexico, government worker in Oregon...and then I came home to Seattle, looking for another job in the corporate world.

That was one year, four months, and two weeks ago - May 15, 2010.

And today I am soooo happy to report that my eight-month contract job at Nintendo's headquarters that morphed into a nine-month contract job that then morphed into a ten-month contract job has now turned into a PERMANENT corporate position – effective today! I am now an official employee in the Legal Department at Nintendo of America...and I am so glad my job search is over.

The moral of this story is: stay the course. Nothing worth having comes easily.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seattle Seahawks v. Arizona Cardinals

This past Sunday the Seattle Seahawks played a National Football League game with the Arizona Cardinals in the Century Link football stadium (warmly referred to as the Clink) right here in Seattle. And we won! The game tickets were part of my birthday gift package to Mike last week. We had never been to a Seahawks game together – it was the home opener and we were stoked about going.

We beat the traffic into the city by taking a bus and that was fast, cheap and easy. We went directly to the Central Saloon, Seattle’s oldest bar, for breakfast. We stopped to chat with the owner – someone I originally knew over 25 years ago when I tended bar in Pioneer Square – and then we made the walk over to the Clink.

We saw this festive truck - all decked out in the blue and green.

Seattle's finest - and longest police vehicle!

The restaurants and bars had a good morning, the lines were full of fans, and the atmosphere was lively.

The forecast was rain, but it was only cloudy as we made our way through the growing crowd.

We stopped to watch this amazing band – not only were they playing music and revving up the crowd – but they were doing gymnastics while playing their instruments! Very cool. A short video is at The blue and green was everywhere.

We worked our way up to the 300 level and found our seats. Not bad for $50 each through a Nintendo offer! I slipped away to buy Mike a Seahawks cap and a jersey.

I got him a jersey with the #12 and the name “Fan.” He loved it and put them both on. He looked so cute!

The pre-game festivities began and the flag waved in all her glory.

They raised the "twelfth man flag" and the crowd roared!!!

Soon enough the players hit the field. And so did the rain. I was very happy to be sitting in the nosebleed section – that was covered – as sheets of rain pummeled the field and uncovered fans. It was so intense that clouds blocked the view of Puget Sound and we couldn’t even see the water! Unbelievably, that lasted only about five minutes and it ended up being a nice, sunny day.

This guy was two seats down from me...his head hung low the entire game!!! TOO MUCH TAILGATING!!!

The game was fast and exciting. And we yelled and cheered and clapped for our Seahawks! It was close at the end, but we came away with a 13-10 victory and our first win of the season. We walked with the other 66,199 fans out of the stadium with huge smiles on our faces and made our way to our bus stop. Before we knew it we were home. What a fantastic day – GO SEAHAWKS!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Sound of a Woman Facing Death

I’ve made a decision. If you read my posts last week about the testing I completed for a 911 Operator position, you read that during the testing process I listened to four real-life recordings of calls to 911.

All of the calls were tragic. Heck, one call was from a mother whose two little daughters had just had their throats slit – by their father – and they were hanging on for dear life. But the call that got to me was the one that included the Sound of a Woman Facing Death.

At the very beginning of the call, the woman identified herself and tried to provide her address to the 911 Operator. But the operator interrupted the woman and asked for other information. The woman explained that someone was trying to break into her home. The woman explained that she was elderly. The woman explained that she lived alone. But the operator did not ask the woman for her address. (And this call occurred years ago - before calls made from a landline phone automatically provided the 911 Operator with the address from where the call was placed.) The operator had no idea where the woman lived.

The next thing I heard was the Sound of a Woman Facing Death. I cannot describe it and I will never forget it. The HR Manager had warned us – if we found the calls still bothering us days after hearing them, we most likely were not cut out for the job.

That’s me. Not cut out for the job. Not able to work through that Sound. Not comfortable knowing the woman was attacked and died while on the 911 call.

And there is more to my decision than just that Sound. There is the fact that the job is para-military, with a defined chain of command, and there are aspects that are similar to military service – not something I am crazy about. There is even a 12-week academy! There is the fact that the 911 Operators work varied shifts (depending on seniority) and they are basically on call 24/7. There is the fact that I already have a life and I’m not willing to give that up for a job.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I gave it a shot. And it sure makes me appreciate those people who are 911 Operators. Next time you dial 911 be nice to the operator…he/she may have just heard the Sound of a Woman Facing Death.

Friday, September 23, 2011

After the Tests…

…continued from Wednesday’s post.

Once the three tests were completed, and I knew I had passed, I was eager to learn about the next steps in becoming a 911 Operator. Little did I know that I was just about to be affected in a way I had never imagined.

The greeter left the room with tests in hand and returned with nametags for the three of us that had successfully “made the grade” thus far. She explained that the Human Resources Manager would soon be joining us and indeed she did. The HR Manager set up a CD on a boom box, hit the run button, and left the room. For the next 8-10 minutes we listened to four real-life recordings of 911 calls.

We got a true sense of what we might deal with on any given call. One call was particularly disturbing – one I will never forget. We actually heard the sound of a woman facing death and, in fact, she did die.


The HR Manager returned and explained that she plays these calls to all 911 Operator candidates. And she advised that if any of us found the calls troubling us over the next few days then we may want to reconsider our decision to go forward in the selection process. We may have the necessary fortitude for the job.

We learned about the next steps in the process – and there are many. The fourth and final test includes watching a videotape with an operator at a console taking calls. The operator plays through 38 scenarios and provides four responses to each call. Our job would be to select the operator’s best, and most appropriate, response to each scenario.

Also, while watching the video we would be taking notes about such things as phone numbers, descriptions of suspects, details about cars – and the second part of the test would be depend upon those notes we took. Could we correctly identify a phone number or describe the height of a suspect and so on.

If we passed that test, we would be invited in for a first interview with the HR Manager and two other managers who would use behavioral interviewing questions. Passing that would mean that a comprehensive background check would be completed on each of us. And if we had a clean record we would then go to the Kirkland Police Department for a Computerized Voice Stress Analysis – a polygraph-like test that determines by our voice whether we are lying or not. It was stressed that the goal was to measure our integrity and that we should not lie. We were also told that the questions would be very probing and probably make us feel very uncomfortable.

A group psychological evaluation was next on the list and we learned that sometimes the whole group failed at this point. Several short tests are given and a one-on-one interview is held with the forensic scientist that runs the psychological evaluation. The scientist rates each candidate on a scale of “very suitable,” “highly suitable,” “fairly suitable,” and so on and the HR Manager uses this information to make her cuts.

If, after all of that, a candidate is still in the running, they have a second interview with the Executive Director and the Operations Manager. Following that would be a physical exam – their interest is in getting a baseline audiogram to determine if they need to provide an amplification device and to have a defense for any future Labor & Industry claims if an operator claims their hearing has been damaged by their work. Lastly, and it probably goes without saying, a drug test would also be performed.

And there’s more. More about the job that I’ll share next time. Right now I’m still thinking about those real-life calls I heard…

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

911 – What is Your Emergency?

Recently I applied for a position as a 911 Operator for Eastside King County. I had to submit an application, resume, cover letter and typing test. Shortly thereafter, I was notified that I qualified to move on to the next step – a day of testing. I accepted and yesterday was the day of testing.

There were eight of us. All women and they were all younger than me. We met in the lobby of Bellevue City Hall and waited for our greeter to take us upstairs at 10:00am. Our greeter explained that there would be three timed tests and that we would need to get a certain percentage of the questions correct in order to move on to the next test. I like tests. I test well.

The first test was a multi-task/split ear evaluation. We listened to a CD of a woman’s voice calling out 1) colors 2) three digits and 3) three words from a phonetic alphabet (she’d say alpha for A, bravo for B, etc.) Our task was to write out what we heard – the colors (using three character abbreviations such as blu, gre, pnk), the three digits (256, 731, 095) and the three letters (nvt, soe, vlm). Sometimes there was more than one voice and it was really hard to hear what they were saying. This test was 2.5 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer. The tests were scored and six out of eight of us passed. You needed 80% or higher and I got 89%.

The next test was a 100-question, multiple choice exam and we had one and half hours to complete it. It began with lists of addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, alpha/number strings and there were two sets of each set of information. Our task was to determine which sets were exactly alike and which sets had slight deviations. This was harder than it sounds! There were also lists of words and we had to identify which ones were spelled incorrectly. Plus, there were sets of four sentences that we had to put in order to make a sensible paragraph. At the end of the test were customer service questions with scenarios in which we had to pick the answer that would suggest the most appropriate customer service. Not so hard. When we completed this test we were let go for a half-hour lunch break.

When we returned to the lobby at 12:45 our greeter told us that three out of six had passed. You needed 80% or higher and I got 85%.

The greeter took the three of us back upstairs for the final test. It was another 100-question, multiple choice exam and we had two hours to complete it. It had the same lists of addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, alpha/number strings in which we had to identify the sets that were exactly alike – and again this was harder than you might expect. And it also had customer service questions. But additionally this test had scenarios that an operator might actually face and one in which we would need to determine how many fire engines or police officers to send to any given emergency. We were provided plenty of information in order to make the correct determination and I found it to be sixty questions that were solved by using logic. It was challenging, but satisfying at the same time.

The three of us finished with 15 minutes to spare. The tests were scored and we all passed. You needed 70% or higher and I got 91%.

There was more to the day and I’ll fill in the gaps. But for now I need to get to Nintendo!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As I noted yesterday, for Mike’s birthday we went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was a lot better than I had expected! Plus, it really got me thinking about the possibilities when we start messing around with human/animal chemistry and the possibilities…WATCH OUT!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Yep – today is Mike’s 55th birthday!!!

We started the celebration last night with best friends, Cheryl and Pat, who joined us at Outback Steakhouse for dinner. And this morning Rock, Squeak and I gave Mike his presents.

We gave him tickets to some fun activities. First is a one-hour Segway tour of West Seattle. Mike is fascinated with Segways – the unique personal transportation device – and West Seattle (on a sunny day, but not today) will be a great venue. And I’ll be going too!

Secondly, we have tickets for a boat tour of Deception Pass – up north, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Maybe we’ll finally spot some orcas! But we’ll wait until the sun returns before make the trip north.

Lastly, Mike and I are going to a Seattle Seahawks football game! It’s next Sunday and it’ll be the Seahawks v. the Arizona Cardinals – from Mike’s hometown. We’ve never been to a National Football League game together. It should be a blast.

So for today’s somewhat wet and windy day we’re planning to go see a movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I know it’s sci-fi and probably pretty corny, but we have been dying to see it and a blustery day like today is perfect for a movie and popcorn.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Teresa at Home in Nagoya, Japan

The last time we checked in with Teresa who recently relocated from Lake Stevens, Washington to Nagoya, Japan she and husband Steve were hotelling it at the Nagoya Hilton while Boeing was processing their “housing papers.” They have since settled into their modern, Western-style home – albeit not without a few kinks and funny stories.

Following are pieces from Teresa’s September 11, 2011 email - beginning with bidets and bathing:

our move went very smoothly with only a few garage sale items breaking, so no big deal. we love our house and yard and i have so many plants i've already lost count. a few interesting things about the house: we have bidets in both bathrooms, or washlets as they call them here. not only do they wash your privates, but they blow dry them as well. then again, maybe my friend was just pulling my leg when she told me about the blow drying because i haven't seen a sign for that, i'm so gullible ;-) they actually have those in a lot of public bathrooms as well-only in japan. taking a bath was a bit of a challenge at first. the controls are all digital, and there are 5 buttons to push. even though our realtor wrote little notes in english, they were very hard to read and of course when i put on my glasses, they got all fogged up!

This next tidbit had me rolling on the floor…the visual of Teresa trying to cook:

the stove is also digital. you have to push one button to turn it on, another to pick which burner you want to use and yet another to pick the desired temp. which ranges from 0-10. the first night i cooked i couldn't get the front burners to work. we'd totally forgotten that our realtor told us we needed special pots for those 2 burners. it's due to some type of safety precaution. when you remove your pot or pan, it immediately turns off and cools off, therefore keeping curious little children from burning themselves. last night as i was finishing dinner all the burners automatically shut off. i kept trying to figure out what had happened and the only thing i could think of is that i put a lid on one of the burners, it wasn't even turned on and i had immediately removed it. hearing how frustrated i was getting, steve came to help and after a few minutes he noticed a key emblem on the surface of the stove. it had turned red which made him realize it had turned, or locked off the burners. once he pushed it we were able to get the burners back on and i was able to finish cooking.

Coming from the Great Pacific Northwest recycling is not new to Teresa, however, I found this comment interesting and I’d like to hear more detail:

last but not least is the recycling. to make a long story short, things have to be sorted into 6 different groups.

(Cynthia: I’ve also heard that if you don’t sort your recyclables correctly and tie them in the preferred fashion, you will be scolded and they may not be accepted!)

In closing, Teresa advises that she is still feeding the feral cats and that two friends have recently had babies so she has the opportunity to “play grandma" in Nagoya. Additionally, Teresa and Steve live close to the professional soccer team's Brazillian coach and they have been invited to a game and BBQ. It sounds like she’s settling right in…Sayonara for now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

25 Minutes to Go

It was written by Shel Silverstein and originally recorded by the Brothers Four (Seattle band!) in 1963. Johnny Cash performed it on two of his albums, one in 1965 and the 1968 live album, At Folsom Prison. I didn’t hear it until 2003 when Pearl Jam played it at their Benaroya Hall acoustic show. Eddie Vedder's voice in the first line is so very deep...I love this song. It reminds me of something Señor Zapata would write...

Wiki says: It is sung by a man waiting his own execution by hanging. Each verse consists of two lines, of which the first line is anything from humorous to poignant, and the second line is a minute-by-minute countdown.

Well they're building a gallows outside my cell I've got 25 minutes to go

And the whole town's waitin' just to hear me yell I've got 24 minutes to go

Well they gave me some beans for my last meal I've got 23 minutes to go

But nobody asked me how I feel I've got 22 minutes to go

Well I sent for the governor and the whole dern bunch with 21 minutes to go

And I sent for the mayor but he's out to lunch I've got 20 more minutes to go

Then the sheriff said boy I gonna watch you die got 19 minutes to go

So I laughed in his face and I spit in his eye got 18 minutes to go

Well I call out to the Warden to hear my plea I’ve got 17 minutes to go

He says, "Call me back in a week or three...You've got 16 minutes to go"

Well, my lawyer says he's sorry he missed my case I’ve got 15 minutes to go

Yeah, well if you're so sorry, come up and take my place I got 14 minutes to go

Now hear comes the padre for to save my soul with 13 minutes to go

And he's talking bout' burnin' but I'm so cold I've 12 more minutes to go

Now they're testin' the trap and it chills my spine 11 more minutes to go

And the trap and the rope aw they work just fine got 10 more minutes to go

Well I'm waitin' on the pardon that'll set me free with 9 more minutes to go

But this is for real so forget about me got 8 more minutes to go

With my feet on the trap and my head on the noose got 5 more minutes to go

Won't somebody come and cut me loose with 4 more minutes to go

I can see the mountains I can see the skies with 3 more minutes to go

And it's to dern pretty for a man that don't wanna die 2 more minutes to go

I can see the buzzards I can hear the crows 1 more minute to go And now I'm swingin' and here I go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Ten years – 3,652 days – yet the heartbreaking memories of that morning so long ago remain fresh in my mind. Today I’ll be especially thankful for the freedoms I enjoy and the pride I take in being an American.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Lot on My Mind

I have a lot to contemplate right now. It is almost overwhelming. But I stopped to practice my Haiku. What do you think?

Dry cracked leaves fly by
Stacks grow quickly with the wind…
Happy cat pounces

Snow is all around
Silence is all I can hear;
White is white on white