Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

 

I found this to be an instructive tale.

I don't know if you have seen it or not, but Fox is airing a new show [actually taken from another show in Latin America] whereby contestants are asked questions in front of a live audience for millions of viewers to watch and if they tell the truth they win money. Sort of like truth or dare, but without the dare. The twist is that they've already been asked hundreds of questions beforehand while hooked up to a detector and then they are asked a small subset of those questions [the spicy ones] again on stage.

On Monday's show - taped two weeks ago - one particularly cruel and greedy woman - Lauren - was a contestant. Lauren's ex-boyfriend made a surprise appearance and asked:

"Do you believe I am the man you should be married to?"

As Lauren's hubby Frank Cleri grimaced on the sidelines, his wife said, "Well, wow, um. I'm going to be honest and say yes."

The lie-detector results said she was being truthful, and she was awarded $100,000. She beamed with pride despite the fact she had just humilated her husband on television and trashed their marriage.

Later, after admitting that she cheated on Frank, and netting another $100,000, she was asked if she thought she is a good person.

She answered, "Yes," but the lie-detector test said she was lying. She lost all of the money.

For me, the question is, did she know she was lying, or was this lie one that she had talked herself into on a conscious level and her true subconscious assessment of her character came out through the lie-detector? We will never know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SAS Programmer

Our company is looking for a full time SAS programmer who has experience on the 9.1.3 platform and understands what I mean when I throw out terms like "OLAP", "Cube Studio", "Stored processes", etc. The pay is good, the job is located in Rockville with some days available to work from home. You must be a US citizen [but no clearance is required]. You would be working with our other programmers to create deliverables for our clients- mostly cubes, processes, info maps, and reports but you'd also be involved in our ETL work as well.

If this is something you would be interested in, please email me: jenni AT parjen.com. Feel free to pass along to friends as well if you know of anyone who might fit the bill.

Monday, February 25, 2008

$0 trades with Zecco.com

Last month I opened a trading account on zecco.com. They offer FREE stock trades if you have a minimum balance of $2500 in your cash account with them or $4.50 trades if you have less than that. I still keep my account at ameritrade.com because zecco doesn't offer trading on the OTC market, but Zecco.com looks promising for all my other trades. Why pay ameritrade $10 a trade if i don't have to right?

Anyway, if you trade stocks, or want to get into the stock market, doing so with $0 commissions is the way to go. Then you just pick a decent stock and invest and sit back and wait for it to grow. Simple. Here's the link for my referral:

http://friends.zecco.com/r/b0e416a63511102b8555

So far I am doing pretty well investing in CBI which was my first stock pick.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wonderful Merciful Savior

Some of my favorite worship songs to follow in the next few posts. May they remind you of who and why we worship.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jenni's Weekly Update

It's been a busy week as usual. Every night I've either had a social event or a meeting with a ParJen client. In addition I was up until 1am last night working on a project for my regular full-time job.

Good news all around:

My parents are inching closer to finishing the steps to move across the country from New Mexico. We have narrowed it down to Haymarket, VA (just 12 miles up the road) in terms of best places for them to settle. We start looking at condos for them Sunday.

Another 6.6 pounds down.

I was invited to participate in a forum event for gifted women. Apparently they contacted several alumni of the PEG program for a possible roundtable discussion panel. They want our perspective on what it was like for high-IQ gifted individuals to come through out 20s and how we are settling into our 30s.

The kitchen remodeling is coming along nicely. Can't wait until it is over and I can cook in my own kitchen again.

Jon asked me to start considering what I would like most for my birthday. Less than a month and I'll be 32. Hard to believe it's that time again already. We are thinking we will do a big shindig at our place as we did last year.

I stepped foot back into the world of LJ for the first time in 3 months to network for ParJen. I've met a lot of nice people already in the computer help forums and have spread some computer how-to cheer around with tips and tricks. You can add my user if you'd like -ParJen- in order that I might have access to your lj to read your entries, but I don't intend to use it for personal blogging; only to answer questions in the programming communities and post community events in the regional va/dc communities.

This weekend Jon and I cook dinner for our friends Danielle and Clayton, I lead the walking group on a tour of Mason Neck [31 members are attending] and also getting together with friends to listen to bluegrass at Tiffany Tavern in Alexandria Sat night.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

ParJen Consulting

Last Weekend I finished the upgrades to my consulting website. You can view the new site layout and content at http://www.parjen.com.

Please pass on the site link to any of your friends/family/colleagues locally and out of the area who may be in need of IT services. ParJen Consulting services clients nationwide.

I appreciate it very much.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What is a convection oven?

 

For K:

"Rather than let hot air circulate randomly, convection ovens carefully create a uniform temperature with internal fans that circulate hot air. Convection ovens are larger and more expensive than standard, or radiant, ovens, but they cook food faster, at a lower temperature, and with better results. Fans ensure that the same temperature reaches the top and bottom of foods, as well as foods at all rack levels.

A frequent complaint of cooks with radiant ovens is that bottoms of foods get scorched, while tops are not browned evenly. This is because the temperature is not the same over the course of the cooking time, as well as over the volume of the oven cavity. Convection ovens correct this variation by using a fan that blows the hot air throughout the oven. A "true" or "European" convection oven goes one step further by adding a third heating element. Thus, the fan actually blows pre-heated air, rather than distributing the already-heated air. These are the most expensive and effective types of ovens.

Cooking with a convection oven requires some adjustments, but proves much easier and more rewarding in the long run. Because the heated air transfers heat more efficiently to cooking containers and exposed food surfaces, food will take less time to cook. Most recipes can be cooked for 25% shorter time, which ends up saving energy. Also, you might need to slightly lower the temperature at which food cooks on a trial and error basis.

You'll notice that convection ovens seal in the juices of meat so dishes taste more flavorful and moist. Baked goods, such as pies or cookies, will be perfectly browned, even if you place them on different racks. Pastry will come out better, too, because the heat doesn't fuse flour and butter, but allows it to form flakes. When you're using multiple racks, the food itself won't interfere with the heat that reaches other foods. For all these reasons, convection ovens are no longer reserved for high-end restaurants, but increasingly find themselves in the renovated kitchens of amateur cooks."

Source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-convection-oven.htm

Weekly Update

It's been another productive week. My days were filled with solving problems at work and my evenings were filled with socializing and a few select ParJen Consulting appointments.

Saturday was the busiest day of all. In the morning Jon and I ventured to DC to lead the NoVA walkers on a stroll around Southwest DC on the waterfront. We did 3 miles and then enjoyed brunch at Phillips.

Immediately following we headed to Alexandria where Jon dropped me off at a client's home to perform some consulting work while he browsed home depot for our new kitchen appliances.

After that we headed to my friend Rho's house for the monthly NoVA Supper Club dinner. The theme was Italian and the food was great. Met some new people who were very nice.

Today Jon and I finalized our kitchen appliances purchase at the local home depot. We are going with all stainless steel and picked out an oven, over the range microwave, dishwasher and fridge. I'm excited to finally have a convection oven.

Soon we leave for dinner at Tim and Shannon's. All of our friends are taking pity on us since we have no kitchen and treating us to dinners at their place.

Update: Belize Blog Complete

Just a quick update to advise that my Belize Blog is finally complete, including pictures. Take a look at it here:

http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/22977

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Getting Things Accomplished

I got a lot accomplished this week.

I did some solid work on my consulting business (ParJen Consulting) and am working hard to build my client base again. I let it dwindle when I took on my latest full time job as the challenges of the new position were pretty overwhelming and needed my full attention. However, now that I'm settled into the role and have a handle on managing things I have more time off hours to devote to consulting again.

I got our financial records closed out for 2007 and up to date through the end of Jan 2008. We use Microsoft Money for financial management and I really feel good when everything is organized and we have a clear picture of our financial outlook.

I filed our state and federal taxes. We have a hefty refund coming back this year. This was due to the fact that 2007 was my first full year at my current job and I didn't do a good enough job at estimating what our final taxes due were going to be and had too much withheld. We will adjust our w2 forms this month so that we do not get a refund next year. We are not keen on the federal government holding our income interest free for a year.

I answered all my emails.

Since the house is clean [see my post on fire update] we really have nothing left to do this weekend except relax.

I am feeling good.

Meetup Inventory

This week I chartered three new meetup groups, bringing my total to six. Here is the list. Pass the info onto anyone who may be interested:

Northern VA Walking Meetup:

http://walkers.meetup.com/218

Our scheduled walks and hikes are of the easy to moderate variety and most are also dog and kid friendly. Plan on leisurely adventures with plenty of time to stop and smell the wildflowers or look at the city landmarks. You are encouraged to bring snacks, a journal, a camera, whatever you'd like to carry to make the experience more enjoyable.

About every month or so we hold a Happy Hour for members -if you'd like to join our group but want to get to know a few folks before showing up for a walk we welcome you to join us at next happy hour.

 

Northern VA Supper Club:

http://cooking.meetup.com/343/

The Northern Virginia Supper Club hosts a member dinner each month. One of our members hosts the dinner and prepares the main entree. The rest of the members bring a side to share. Come and share your love for all things culinary and build new friendships with other 20s and 30s and 40s women, men and couples in the NoVA/DC metro area.

 

Northern VA Women in Fellowship:

http://women.meetup.com/157/

The NoVA Christian Women in Fellowship provides the opportunity to meet and fellowship with other Christian women in their 20s and 30s and 40s in the Northern Virginia/DC Metro area.

 

Northern VA Computer Training Meetup:

http://comptutor.meetup.com/10/

Our meetup group offers a forum for members to learn new computer skills and we welcome all levels of computer users.

We don't expect you to know everything (or even the first thing) about computers and we won't ever look down our noses at members who are new to the basics. Instead, we offer a supportive group environment for you to learn how to leverage technology to help you accomplish the things that matter to you most.

 

Manassas Thirtysomethings Meetup:

http://socialnetwork.meetup.com/924/

Here we are, forever out of our 20s. Some of us have children, some of us don't. Some of us are married and homeowners, some of us are single and answer to no one including the mortgage bank.

We are all one generation and we are all living out here in Prince William County or Manassas proper.

Come and socialize with the fellow members! Make new friends and enjoy new experiences.

 

Manassas Book Group:

http://bookclub.meetup.com/1134/

Join us for a monthly book discussion evening with refreshments.

The gathering is held at Barnes and Noble in the Westgate Plaza and the meeting date varies.

Each month, one book is chosen by the discussion group members to be read and discussed at the following month's meeting. A group notebook is kept to record books reviewed, discussion details and book recommendations.

Fire Update

Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. We have good news- the ServePro company has finished the smoke/fire clean up stage 1 earlier than expected. They finished last night and so we have been able to return home today. This entire restoration process has been fascinating to watch. Wednesday the duct cleaning people subcontracted by ServePro began their work. They used special equipment to clean our entire heating/cooling system and then sealed off the vents with fancy filters [haha they just used cheesecloth]. Wednesday was also the day the dry cleaning company came and picked up items from the house for cleaning. Thursday morning ServePro began their detailed cleaning. It took them two 8-10 hour days to complete the entire job.

We will not have use of our kitchen until the contractors complete their work, but we can at least sleep in our own beds. Except that we have no sheets or pillows or towels. The dry cleaning company our insurance company hired has taken ALL fabric out of the house to treat for smoke removal with the exception of some clothes in our closet for us to wear and the earliest they will be finished is Wednesday. So we will need to go to Wal-mart and pick up some linens for temporary use. We also have no privacy downstairs as they stripped and discarded all of our blinds.

The cleaning company (ServePro) was amazing. They cleaned EVERY surface, item, shelf, drawer, etc etc in the entire house. It is as if Cinderella has been here. Spotless. For this they charged our insurance company $5000, plus we paid our $1000 deductible to them as well. The duct cleaning was another $1800 billed directly to our insurance company.

Unfortunately, now that the cleaning company has finished, the extent of the damage is highlighted clearly. The countertops and cabinets are toast. Our garbage disposal is junked because the firemen dropped a lot of glass from the microwave into the sink during their visit. The linoleum floor has permanent soot marks (The Pergo in the dining room is ok yay!). The ceilings and walls are still blackened throughout the downstairs of the home so it will need a complete repaint job and some of them may need re-drywalling. And obviously as part of the restoration we will be getting new smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher.

We had a laugh when reading the list of unrecoverable items as inventoried by ServePro. They listed our chile ristra as a “bell pepper hanging ornament”.

We will keep you updated on the adventure that is sure to be the contractor’s restoration job which begins Monday.

Never ever ever leave a pan with oil unattended. This is a lesson brought to you by my cautionary tale. Right up there with never ever walk across an attic floor that hasn’t been finished. Every year I learn new and valuable things the hard way.