Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here's a hypothetical situation

What would you do if you had mentioned to a colleague that you liked literature, for example. Let's be honest: you love literature, and you know a lot about it. You have wide ranging taste honed by years of reading and you really, really know what you're talking about when you make critical comments about things that you've read.

Imagine if you will that this colleague, a nice person who has a lot of skills that s/he brings to the job, starts foisting terrible, awful books on you with the intent of having you read them. And then this coworker for whom you have the highest professional respect begins asking you what you thought of the books s/he passed on to you. And then, after you gently told him or her that they weren't your cup of tea, this person continued to pass increasingly horrible tomes on.

What would you do?

My recommendation is to smile thinly as you accept them, and then don't read them, whilst reiterating the opinion that they're not your cup of tea. Steer strongly away from discussions of precisely what it is that prevents the offering from being your cup of tea, for you will surely launch into a sharply worded and incisive critique of the volume at hand.

But then again, I am an unrepentant liar.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Search engines can yield strange results

I was actually looking for groovy seventies-style tube socks like we had when we were kids for a Halloween costume. I typed in "tube socks" and I got a page full of tube tops, and this handy item: The 2007-2012 Outlook for Womens and Misses’ Finished Anklets, Slack Socks, Crew Socks, and Athletic Socks Made from Manmade Fibers Excluding Sheer Hosiery in Greater China.


How many $495 treatises like this do you think Target moves in its econometrics book section in a month, would you say?

Stella Did It

I ran 13.1 miles and didn't die on the course and/or walk over the finish line. I know, all y'all marathoners are snorting into your Gatorade, but this was pretty far for me. In fact, it's the farthest I've ever "run" (if you can call 11:00+ minute miles "running").

Nevertheless. I did it. Lo hicimos. (Yes, I know that's technically "We Did It" but it's all the accomplishment spanish I've learned from Dora The Explorer).

And now I'm looking forward to not running for just a day or two. My feet are killing me, far more than my legs or any other part of me. It's a small price to pay for a feeling of accomplishment.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to find my Sister Mary Francis shoes to wear to work tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sure I could make coffee at home, but...

Would it be this beautiful? I spoiled it a little bit by putting some sugar in the middle of the design that Andre the coffee cart guy put in my latte foam today. I must say that not only does the coffee really taste great, but the attention to detail makes it worth my time and money to stumble out to the lobby of my building to get it.
Yes, there is free coffee down in the executive dean's office, and it's pretty good, but there just isn't the love that I can taste in the coffee cart offerings. And frankly the "International Delights" creamlike substance doesn't really make up the difference.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh, For Pete's Sake

Why-o-why can I not get my LLL (luscious little laptop, not La Leche League, silly!) onto my wireless network at home? I know my router should be able to assign it an IP (especially since I restarted the whole rig so that everything would start at the begining of the IP range on my network). I know that my LLL has a rocking wireless connection because I was able to fork over my ten bucks for five hours of T-Mobile Wireless at the Hyatt a couple of weekends ago when I was working an event there.

Maybe I should become one of those horrible customers and call the IT guys at home on a Sunday night and ask them why some crazy-ass network that they have absolutely no knowledge nor control of is being difficult.

Maybe not.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Job Resolutions, Revisited

I boldly made some resolutions about the new job. You may have thought, "Good luck with all that, loser." Well. The amazing thing is that I'm actually doing pretty well on some of them.

Managing email effectively: This is something I'm rocking on. My in box has only new email in it, and I'm using folders organized around the different areas of my work. I'm keeping a lot of email for reference because often when I first receive something I don't understand the full significance of it (what with the being new and somewhat confused). But an explicit filing system means I can go back and find it without resorting to searching for a string of words in the message.

The only downside is that when the institutional email server has a major problem with what day it is and archives everything in those folders, it can be hard to work. Fortunately all my email and appointments came back from beyond the grave, so all's well that ends well.

Learning about stuff: This is the best part of my job. I get to learn about the whole organization and get a grip on it daily. Some of it is just because everything is new and so if I'm aware of it at all it's because I'm learning and growing every day in every way. But still.

Not turning into an annoying customer: I think I'm failing miserably at this. Each day the database irritates me in some new and exciting way. And it's not just the database, it's the crazy sloppy data -- like a record with the mailing name "The Such-and-Such Family" that was given the record type "Individual" (which should signify a person. Just one.). I know, I should pop a 'lude. Whatever.

Not turning into a grind: I am eating lunch with my colleagues almost daily, but I'm also not taking time off during the day to do things I want to yet. We'll see how that goes as I get my feet under me.

So not bad. The biggest surprise for me is how much starting out with a firm grasp on my email and not letting it go actually helps me do things. If you're thinking about either declaring email bankruptcy or you have an opportunity to start fresh, I really recommend this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sometimes the Drive Isn't Bad At All

Here's something I never really saw during my patio-based commute. It's Balloon Fiesta time, and, fatalities aside, it's pretty spectacular, even if you're not in the two-hour traffic backup around Balloon Fiesta Park.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Do I Miss Telecommuting?

I've been working in a Real Office now for a little over a month, and I'm trying to decide if I miss telecommuting. Well, yes and no.

Yes, I miss the smug feeling of rolling out of bed, performing minimal ablutions and hitting the computer in my slippers. It was fun to have a unique arrangement, and I felt like I was part of a cool trend. I miss not having to drive the car to get to work, and I miss being able to dart out in the middle of the day to hit Target, the grocery store, or other conveniences of modern shopping. I miss being able to serve baked potatoes on a week night because I was able to shove them in the oven promptly at five, even after I'd gone running and picked up the baby at preschool.

I am forced to draw your attention to the fact that none of the things that I miss were actual attributes of my job. They were the things around my job that telecommuting made easier.

I don't miss worrying about whether I am working hard enough to stay in touch with people. I am glad I don't have to constantly be available and chasing people down to reassure them that I do still work there, and that I can be called during east coast hours without regard to what time it may be here in the 'Burque. I am glad that I have my early rising benefits again (e.g. I can go running in the morning before work, rather than working in the morning). And I don't miss the meandering and largely irrational direction my technical work was taking, and how increasingly un-fun it was without my old boss there to provide a spirited intellectual dialogue.

In the new job, I'm pretty focused: I've got a goal, I need to dig up people who I can cultivate, and whose money can be put to work to advance that goal. In the course of doing this, I can send emails, I can write letters and print pieces, I can put on events, I can talk to people, or all of the above. It's kind of up to me. And I get to spend all day learning about science and medicine from people who are doing some pretty cool things that really, actually make people's lives better. Like, their actual, factual LIVES the stuff I'm raising money for.

I can bake potatoes on Sundays.