Sunday, September 30, 2007

...Party All the Tiiiiiiime...

As in, "My girl wants to..." Say what you will about Rick James, he was a brilliant lyricist.

I'm home finally after working reunion weekend events, and while it was fun, it turns out that working parties is much more like work than partying. I also have some self-imposed rules (I don't drink, I stay until the bitter end) that make it grueling. But mostly it was a lot of fun to help people have environments where they could reconnect with their classmates and enjoy themselves. Yesterday was a pretty long day, though: from 6:30 in the morning to set up for the continuing education sessions until 11:30 or so at night when the band finished packing out of the evening event.

Things I learned:

1. I should thoroughly prep to introduce speakers even for somewhat informal presentations. I'd like to send a big "Sorry" to my speakers at my morning sessions.

2. We should have had "Our University Alumni Association" notepads and pens for the continuing education session. People would have taken them and used them for the session and back in their professional lives. Free marketing-o-rama.

3. People expect wine gratis with a $75 dinner. They will share with you their disappointment when it is not gratis, and really they're right. We'll do better next year.

4. Picking up an event that was half-planned before the planner quit makes it hard to really get the kind of event that you would want. Doing so when you yourself have spent less than a month on the job is particularly unsatisfying, because you will have no idea how to get done the things that need doing to make the tattered remnants of the event planning better.

5. Hotels have some kind of kitchen magic that allows them to deliver 80 filet mignons that are still rare inside. I can't seem to get potatoes and chicken breasts done at the same time for a family of four, so I have no idea how 80 hot dinners show up at once.

6. You'd be surprised at who will dance to a competent live band. Like almost everyone at the reunion. I was stunned and amazed (and completely wrong in my early misgivings about the band when I saw them setting up their seemingly too large cabinets and sound system). The band was beyond competent, and the guests who stayed late really enjoyed dancing. At several points the dance floor was, dare I say, packed.

7. A party at an alumnus' house can really get going when a classmate shows up with a bottle of Patron to share.

Good times. Good times.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Crime and Education

This week our temporary secretary had her purse stolen from under her desk -- the whole thing was just gone, with all her wallet stuff, her house and car keys, prescriptions, just everything in it. Of course, this kind of thing is not uncommon, but it's a serious drag. She's had to deal with getting everything cut off, changing the locks on her house and car, monitoring her credit for identity theft, and calling the people from whom she had checks in her purse to tell them to watch their credit rating and bank accounts since the thief has their information too.


But it got me thinking about the general security and safety of our office. Aside from doing the basics like locking up handbags and valuables (which we should have been doing anyway) there are a number of security concerns with the building. We're located in the same space as Financial Aid, Student Accounts, and Admissions -- all areas that could attract an irate and deranged person bent on violence. We look out on the central plaza for the health sciences schools. And of course, it's an open campus and anyone can walk in or out at any time, all the time.

Note to readers: I'm not really paranoid. I was charged with preparing disaster recovery and emergency response plans for the old job, and so I did a fair amount of reading on this subject. And I might have been known as "Miss Worst Case Scenario". But I digress.

Our university has a system similar to this one, and I was very pleased to read that it worked well at St. Johns University during a scenario similar to the ones I've thought of. I've signed up for the one here, but I don't know if they test it or are just hoping that it will work if they need it.

I hope I never have to find out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Something Else You Can Do At Home

You know, it's not all computer work that I can take home these days. Last night I spent a bit of out-of-office time hitting craft stores to look for stuff to make into re-usable centerpieces. If you didn't know already, fund raising work is a job comprised almost entirely of "other duties as assigned". We're writers, strategic thinkers, financial analysts, and party planners!

Given that the event is a couple of days away, I'm not sure I'll be able to come up with something that will work. Plus Hobby Lobby closes at eight in the 'Burque, and so by the time I wrassled the youngsters into bed, there was not much time to find what I needed. Alas. I'll see what the Hyatt wants to offer in terms of hotel-issue centerpieces.

Note to self: We absolutely must keep the new alumni relations staff member happy and engaged through next year's reunion events. It is sub-optimal to pick up an event that was halfway planned by an employee who was walking out the door. It is even worse to do so in your third week on the job when you know little to nothing and are trying to make a good impression.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back to Work-at-Home Norms

Okay, so I'm working at home today (well, not right this second, I'm blogging right now but I'm going to get back to working here in just a minute) and I think that this working at home is much more typical of the majority of people who are working at home.

Because it's Sunday.

I'm not working at home in lieu of going to the office. I'm not making my own hours because I'm a free-wheelin' fun-lovin' contractor and I can do what I want as long as I bill enough.

No. I'm working at home because I need to read through my draft fund raising letters in peace and think long and hard about whether we're taking the right approach, and I haven't managed to get to this during the standard workweek.

In the office, I find that I'm tempted to say, "What do I care, I've been here for three weeks, I'm sure that whatever they decided to do last year is fine for this year." But I don't think that's the right thing to do, for a number of reasons. For one, my new boss is coming off a significant illness, and I'm thinking that some prior decision making might have been deferred, given how those kinds of things go. Also, I know how to write and I'm sure that there are some improvements I can make. (Readers of this blog may demur, but really, I'm not a bad little wordsmith. Really.) But mostly I can't stand to think that I didn't really give it my best shot.

So I've fished the drafts out of web mail and I'm sorting through them on Sunday. I suspect that this kind of working at home is the most common: most people have a bit more to do than they can accomplish during the 9-5 bits, and so we work extra "from home".

I am wearing slippers. I am not a full-time teleworker any more. And that's okay by me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Having Dedicated IT Is a Good Thing and a Bad Thing

Dear readers, Stella knows she hasn't been writing like she should, but give a girl a break. I'm starting a new job after more than nine years of total stability (at least in terms of the circumstances of my employment, if not the actual daily duties of said employment which in fact changed so dramatically and regularly as to make my head spin). There have been one or two things to take care of, not least of which is remembering to put on Real Shoes before I leave the house for the Real Office. I'm pleased to report that after a week of steady grown-up shoe wearing that my feet did not enter a state of agony today, a major accomplishment.

My Home Office-Real Office insight for today is this: real IT support is a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, it is a bit of a relief not to have to horse around with my router, firewall, networking settings, opening ports, configuring which virus scanning server to avail myself of, and the like.

On the other hand, I must wait for people to do these things for me. I'm finding that the few things that I'm able to do in the new job are being somewhat hampered by my lack of access to assorted network crap, or want of the client-server version of the database app installed on my laptop. It is tough to adjust to being a mere customer rather than a purveyor of these services, and to add insult to injury I know no one and thus don't know where to go to get the things I need done done.

And please don't get me started about what an idiot I feel like for not being able to prise the laptop off the DVD drive/psuedo-docking station. I'd like to use the real docking station and thus be able to undock the thing, but when I unlatch the DVD bit, I feel that I may break the whole rig by dragging it apart too vigorously.

I am a mere customer, with problems that will surely make the dedicated IT staff roll their eyes. Let me just apologize up front.