Monday, October 31, 2011
"Easy as Apple Pie."
I have apples that need to be used up quickly. I decided to try my hand at apple pie. I've never made apple pie before, but the saying convinced me that I should try it. Because it's easy.
I first peeled, cored and diced apples. Some people don't like cooking because of the prep work. I love it. I use it as a time to self reflect. Introspect. Soul searching. While I cored and diced my apples, I came to peace with my recent situation with job loss and failure to land a new job.
I mixed 2 tablespoons of cinnamon/sugar blend, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a tablespoon of melted butter with the diced apples.
Next I took a roll of pastry dough. Yeah, I totally did NOT do this by scratch. I have a handicap when it comes to baking anyway. Really no need to push the envelope at this time. If this whole process with premade pastry is easy, then next time I can tackle from scratch.
Difficulty: Very easy.
Remember my cute little baking pots? They're back! I placed the dough inside my baking dishes. It took me a minute to figure out how to get the dough to line the pots. I figured out the secret is to cut it into a circle, then cut triangles in four corners. This allowed me to fold it into a cylinder inside the pot. I lined the pot and poked holes into it. I blind baked at 350F for 20 minutes.
Difficulty: Moderate. Figuring out how to line the pot with pastry took a minute of trial and error.
I planned to make a lattice to go on top of my single serve apple pies. I thought it would look nice. I read online how to make a lattice top, and I cut strips from leftover dough.
Difficulty: Easy. My carving knife was the perfect length to cut straight strips.
Fiance was sniping bits of apple and eating them with walnuts. They were delicious. He had the idea to add toasted walnuts. I sauted crushed walnuts in butter.
When I took the pots out of the oven, I discovered the pastry shrunk. Arg. I just tacked in extra pastry on the edges where the pastry shrunk. I filled the pot with apple bits. I should have diced the apple even smaller. Topped with the walnuts.
Difficulty: Hard. I didn't know the pastry would shrink in the blind baking. Apple chunks were too big for my little pots. I could have packed more apples in with smaller dice.
Then I attempted the lattice. I read that you just keep making crisscrosses, and you get the awesome lattice. Well, I got 3 or 4 rows, then I got lost. Umm. Need more practice.
Difficulty: Hard. I need video to demonstrate. I didn't catch on to the pattern.
I gave up, and just made a flat top to cover the apple filling.
Difficulty: Easy. Just roll a flat pastry, use a ramekin to cut a circle, put it on top, and poke holes.
Baked for 35 minutes. I made dinner while they baked, until the tops were lightly browned.
Difficulty: Easy. They were ready to cool by the time dinner was ready to eat.
The verdict: My pie filling was too dry. I forgot to add moisture so the apple chunks would float in a yummy apple filling. I used way too much pastry. It was unnecessary to line the dish all the way with pastry. Just a pastry top would have been enough, since the idea was to serve it in the pot.
Easy as Apple Pie? Where did this saying come from? Was it meant to be ironic? And I didn't even make the pastry from scratch!
Easy compared to what? Easier than churning butter?!
I will try it again so I can correct my mistakes. But I'm definitely busting this saying as 'bunk'. Unless it is meant to mean it's not really easy. From my experience, saying 'easy as apple pie' means something moderately challenging and time consuming that may be easy with practice and skill!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
For about 3 months, I've been just darn lazy about exercise. I've been keeping up my paleo-ish diet. I've continued to eat protein and veg, and I've definitely lost weight. I was shocked to discover I keep shrinking, despite what would normally be construed bad habits. Like lack of exercise.
I'm actually not super disciplined about the low carb, either. I've eaten bread and pasta in the past couple of weeks. I ate an apple pie tonight. However, I'm a lot more controlled about it. I don't eat a lot of it. I eat dessert one day a week, if that. It's a treat, like it's supposed to be. Bread, pasta, rice and potatoes occasionally also isn't a problem. I don't work them into every meal, like I used to.
I don't count calories, fat, carbs or protein. My hunger switches have reset. I eat when I'm hungry. I stop when I'm full. I rarely ever get cravings, and never out of control binges anymore. My plate is always packed with protein and veg. Anything else is a side item, on occasion. I find it practically impossible to overeat anymore. My appetite completely flips off when I've had enough. The concept of cleaning off my plate is just about impossible now - I'll feel physically ill if I try to stuff it down.
Portion control is no longer a contest of wills. I have noticed that my appetite naturally stops at appropriate portions. I used to have to carefully weigh 4oz of protein so I knew when to stop. I could eat 12oz or more in a sitting. I've notice that I naturally stop at 4-6oz now. That's just where my 'I'm full' switch flips. Eating 12oz would make me feel very ill. Even 8oz makes me feel I've overdone it. I haven't used my food scale in months.
My dad has lost 10 lbs in 4 weeks on a lower carb diet too. The numbers on his diabetes are also improving. Looks like he might yet be able to taper off some meds, if things keep going. Pretty awesome for a guy in his 70s with limited mobility. I'm so proud of him.
My bodyfat is right about 25%. Though I've been shrinking size, I sure still feel pretty flabby. When I look in the mirror, I don't see a smaller me. All I see are the flaws. I really should take some more pictures so I can compare the improvement.
Now that I am on 'hiatus', I plan to keep a routine schedule. I'm going to make an effort to get back to morning exercise. I also plan to join the spinning, yoga, and pilates classes I was never able to work into my schedule.
If I've lost this much weight just by eating mostly paleo, I'm really interested to see how increased exercise will change the mix.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Today was a day of acceptance. When I think back on all that has happened, I realized that I was blinded by my 'dream'. On paper, this job was perfect for me. It was as though they took my resume and made a job description out of it.
The job may have been perfect, but the environment would not have been. There were numerous signs of trouble with this one guy. After my first phone interview with him, I did not have a positive feeling. Something struck me odd about it. I almost thought about withdrawing my application at that time, but I decided to see it through.
I had great interviews with everyone. Except him. When we met in person, the chemistry was all wrong. He was attacking, and I was attempting to diffuse. One point will go down in my history as the most bizarre interview experience. He was behaving badly. It happened so fast, I just reacted, and took control of the situation. My 'manager' voice came out. He was cutting me off, and I very calmly, but firmly, told him to hear me out. He came across as a someone who was not used to being challenged. He tried several times to provoke me, but he was the one that came unhinged.
I walked away from all the other interviews feeling great. That one I walked away thinking maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I walked out of the building not so sure about if I wanted it as I had earlier that morning.
But I did want it. So I talked myself into it. I wanted it so badly, I convinced myself that it was all just to see how I would handle disagreements. Except I failed to remember that interviews are sales pitches on what it would be like to work there. They were selling me conflict with an out of control genius.
Today I went out grocery shopping. I bought some things that I wanted to make today and this week. While I was shopping, I had some time for things to digest in my mind.
While chopping apples for my apple pie, I came to acceptance. It was a blessing that I didn't get it. It would have been a nightmare working with him, and I would have gone through a lot of trouble and expense to get there in a cross country move. I was blinded by how badly I wanted this opportunity. This was not my dream after all.
As I continued to chop apples, I started formulating action plans in my mind on what I could do next. I came to see it as an opportunity to reboot my skills. Given that technology is such a fast changing field, and old skills become obsolete quickly, this is a great chance to get up to date on new skills. Maybe a shot at a 'dream' job was an old dream. Maybe I am a different person now, and my dreams are different, too.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
This morning started off ok. I was feeling pretty ok with things. I started organizing my details. Fortunately, I didn't have to do a lot of work to update my resume.
I did a brief search for jobs. I saved a couple and emailed others to myself. If I have to submit 3 resumes a week for unemployment benefits, then I am queuing things up.
But I started to get depressed. As I was looking at the jobs available, it was just so hard to see any that I was super excited about. Some were ok. Others I feared would actually degrade my skill set.
I guess this is one of the side effects of shooting for the moon. I was so excited about trying for my 'dream job'. I was so close. And I missed. Now it seems that everything pales in comparison.
I was so excited about it, and I gave everything I got. I really wanted to wow them. Except I vastly underestimated the environment. I tried to gauge from the manager how receptive the rest of the team was to someone like me. He assured me they were all enthusiastic. But the atmosphere was quite different. They weren't as excited to meet me, as I was them. They seemed skeptical and concerned about what I would be doing. They didn't seem quite convinced my role was necessary - bad sign. One of them seemed downright insecure and threatened, which took me by surprise. I guess I was doomed from the start. I wasn't trying to show them I was 'better' than them. I was trying to show I was equal to them. I was trying to sell them on a cooperative approach. I got resistance, which I was unprepared for. This job market is definitely employers' advantage. They can afford to be picky.
In no way am I saying that I shouldn't have tried for it. I think a lot of people are afraid to try for difficult things because they might fail, and be disappointed. I know a lot of people, unfortunately, who try to 'protect' their children or loved ones from trying hard tasks or goals, because they might get crushed when they don't get it.
Yes, I am sad. Yes, I am disappointed. But I would have been more sad and disappointed if I had never tried at all. I have tried and failed at many things in my life. Isn't the first or last thing that I will try, and fail at. But if I don't try, I'll never know what is possible.
My fiance and I ended up getting into a fight because I wasn't quite all 'here'. I told him I'm dealing with losing an old job. No matter how unhappy I was with my job, the loss is still rather emotional. I was treated rather harshly by upper management in the process. Then in the same swift moment, I tried for an opportunity that could have been my dream job, and I lost that too. I was holding it together, by staying positive, looking at the bright side.
Psychologists say job loss is emotionally traumatic similarly to a death. My fiance mistook me holding things together as 'everything is alright'. Well, everything isn't quite alright. I was just starting the process of transitioning to the 'new' reality. It's going to take time.
And so, he pushed a little too far, and it all came pouring out. I couldn't deal with his issues on top of the other things I was already dealing with, and I lost it. He later apologized.
So now I am feeling a little less emotionally certain than I was earlier in the day. This has all happened so fast, which makes it also rather overwhelming to digest. I still have to get comfortable with this new reality.
Friday, October 28, 2011
I got confirmation this evening. I did not get the job.
However, the reason surprised me. They said they thought I was a strong developer, but they didn't think I was strong enough in QA and test.
That floored me.
What I do is write code that tests code. You kinda need a strong developer for that. I'm pleased I was recognized for that.
But not strong in QA is...bizarre. These guys are developers who haven't worked with any QA for 7+ years. They asked me developer questions. I don't recall being asked QA questions.
I think most likely what happened was the last interview with the principle lead. I got into a disagreement with him, which is kinda a sucky position to be in an interview. I was very polite and calm about it. But I don't think he liked me challenging him. He forced the situation. I thought he was employing a 'stress' interview tactic where he purposely disagreed with me to see how I handled it. It didn't rattle me. Thus, when I was told the feedback, I knew exactly where it came from. It was very nitpicky. They didn't have anything major to complain about.
I've had interviews that I bombed, and I knew I bombed. This one I did very well, and in any other situation, I'm sure I would have got the job. The reason I didn't get it wasn't because I am not qualified. It is because someone is protecting his turf.
At least this was over quickly, and I can move on. Today was my last day at my current job. I'll hang out over the weekend and relax. On Monday I'll fill out my TAA application and unemployment forms. I've saved a couple of jobs that I want to apply to.
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