Friday, November 30, 2007

Another post about posting

With this post, November now becomes the most blogged month since the 12 post May. I know I've been remiss, and it's in large part because I'm not telecommuting any more, and I'm more of an office drone than ever.

But here's my resolution as I enter month four of my Real Office lifestyle: I'm going to work in the next two weeks to set up appointments that will take me out of the office at least two days of the week as a rule.

Why is this relevant to the StellaCommute conundrum?

Because if I'm not in the office I'll be getting busy in my car, in my house, and other locations around the great state of New Mexico. And by "busy" I mean getting the other stuff done that I need to get done.

And that will help me refocus on the Stella themes of telecommuting, mobile working, and the whatnot and all.

See? This is much better than a metablog post about blogging.

I know I promised...

...not to meta-blog again, but I'm going to do it. Here's the issue, friends: Do you know why Stella put those blogs on her "Links Stella Likes" section over to your left? She put them there because she likes to read them.

I know that most bloggers can't post every day, but I'm starting to feel like kind of a loser when I check in on a blog and there's nothing new there. Sigh. I actually sigh. Yes, I should just put a feed in and then I'll be alerted to when changes are made because new stuff will pop up on my feed, but whatever. I'm old fashioned. I like to go to the library rather than use ebooks. I like to read the paper. I like to visit actual blogs and see what's changed, and I feel a little bit heartbroken when there isn't something new to read.

So blog, blog, blog, my comrades.

And I'll try to do the same.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Family Member

Loyal Stella readers will be familiar with my existing former colleague/office mate/most excellent dog, Bettie (pictured here demonstrating her mastery of the "high-five" for last year's science fair project). Well, we've managed to convince ourselves that Bettie is lonely and also managed against the odds to locate a dog that is, dare I say, Bettie in Miniature. Meet Freda, a half wire haired dauchshund, half chihuahua mix. We'll see how she works out, but so far, so good. No yapping. No cat chasing. No biting. Lots of frisky play with our beloved Bettie.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coping with Crackberry Addiction

A lovely little op-ed today appeared in the Times about tuning out the communication devices and getting more done, including relaxing, meaningful conversations with family, drinking pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain.

I have a Treo for the new job, but because they don't push email to mobile devices I have so far managed to avoid getting a serious addiction going. I think if it was buzzing on my hip every three minutes with new emails arriving, it would be much easier to get way into it. As it is, I have to whip it out, explicitly tell it to go get my email, then wait whilst it painfully downloads it all.

This suggests that setting your Palm-Berry up to work like this might be a good way to prevent or treat addiction.

Because I'm completely representative of the entire world, and my experience should guide everyone else's behavior.

Ummm, right.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

They do actually telecommute here

Stella is pleased to note that there are one or two telecommuters in her new Real Office. She is also sad to report that it turns out to be the worst kind of telecommuting. Yes, that's right, these folks are doing the "mommy telecommute". Our full-time telecommuting part-time worker doesn't keep routine hours, doesn't have a dedicated phone line that is business-only, doesn't use IM, and is often minding her two small children while working. (Actually, minding two small children while also trying to conduct non-child related work is more than working. It's just not effective working.) It seems to me that, in fact, her tasks are well-suited to remote work, but if it were my call, I'd insist on the things that make remote work work well for the people who are left holding down the fort, as it were. As it is, it's frustrating to everyone in the office.

What would I change?

1. Regular business hours: The people in the Real Office need to know when they can call and know that they won't be disturbing naptime. Everyone understands that you're working at home with small children, and nobody wants to be the jerk who calls just as the baby is drifting off. Help us out by telling us, "Hey, I'm always working between 8-10:30 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday."

2. Two Letters - IM: No human being can work off-site without making nearly constant use of instant messaging. I've now managed to get the whole Real Office using the IM amongst ourselves, and will be working with the telecommuter to do the same. That way, we'll be able to see her pop on the system, and know that she's botherable. It's absolutely critical.

3. Tell us what you're doing: I'm not sure what exactly this person actually does. I know she produces some stuff, but I find that she's often doing things that would inform what I'm doing, and I have NO idea. This means that you, as the telecommuter, need to initiate the conversation to tell me what is going on, make an extraordinary effort to show up at staff meetings, and the like. It's not fair that you have to go the extra mile, but that's the price you pay for working in your slippers.

I have an ulterior motive for making the telecommuter more effective and easier to work with. See, if I can make her work a success, that means maybe I can do it to, at least one or two days a week. I'm not as altruistic as I seem.

Surprise, surprise.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do you ever just skip a whole week in your mind?

I am finding myself becoming mildly disoriented in time and space because I'm skipping over entire week's worth of time because I know that it's all taken up with "stuff" and thus unavailable for getting stuff done. For example, next week there's something or other sitting in the middle of Monday, the office potluck occupying much of Tuesday, no one is going to do anything on Wednesday, then tryptophan-n-football Thursday, followed by finally-take-down-the-Halloween-decorations-and-put-up-luminarias-Friday.

Basically, the whole week is shot.

But then I found myself panicking because I jumped ahead to the week after next in my calendar and looked at what was scheduled there and began conflating the two weeks. Wait, I can't have a meeting with Dr. So-and-So on Monday, that time is all taken. Except it isn't.

I might just be an idiot, though. This possibility has occurred to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Okay, I might miss telecommuting a little

I don't want to be an anti-telecommuting bummer, and I realize that I haven't been as positive about the telecommuting as I was in the past, like, when I actually was a telecommuter. So, while I love my new job, I do miss some key things about telecommuting.

I miss the ability to be around the house to get little things done during the day. I love my house and it was fun to spend my lunch doing little yard things and whatnot. I find that even the short commute eats into the day, and now that it's dark so early, I feel like I'm getting less done than I should. This feeling is also probably compounded by the fact that I was traveling last weekend, so I really didn't get things done. We only got one out of three jack-o-lanterns carved, and managed to not take any pictures of Halloween costumes.

I also miss being able to work in a steady and concentrated way. I find myself feeling frustrated by the level of interruption in the real office, not so much for me, because I'm pretty good at focusing and keeping my head down, but moreso for my colleagues. Some days I see folks spending what seems like an inordinate amount of time massaging a project that really should be kicked out the door lickety-split. Or it seems like we veer from coffee, to a two hour luncheon with a prospect, to an afternoon meeting about how we're going to count planned gifts, to quitting time without actually doing anything.

But of course we are doing what we're supposed to do. We in development are at the whim of the donor, the doctor or scientist, the dean. We exist to make those other things happy and fulfilled, and sometimes that means dropping everything to get something done. So this kind of work is pretty different from programming and web stuff, where you have a project, it's mapped out and you hit your deliverables. Getting things done is a much fuzzier area, and sometimes it's hard to tell that you're really working, especially as you dine on a cobb salad at the country club. But trust me, it's work.

I may also be feeling a little negative because there are attempts to rope me into office politics. In the old job I had a long-standing reputation as a relentlessly positive vault. People knew they could piss and moan to me and I

a) would not comiserate, agree, or disagree

b) would not repeat what they said to the person or persons involved

c) would not fink them out to the boss

d) would try to see the best in the whole situation and make the complainer feel listened to and less miserable.

In the new job my attributes are not well known to my colleagues yet, and so they're actively trying to whip me into a frenzy around certain issues. Good luck. I am a rock, and I'm not going to repeat anything out of turn. Although I'm not sure if similar levels of discretion extend upward. But I'm learning to govern myself accordingly.

But I digress. What I'm really trying to say is that I seem to get nostalgic for the liberty of telecommuting and the familiarity of a long-time job when things in the new job get a little sticky. But that's okay.

Because I'm on the verge of raising some money, and that's going to be a nice kick in the pants.

Friday, November 9, 2007

There sure are a lot of shut-ins

This article(?) Op Ed(?) (I'm not sure and I can't quite tell from the labeling, but the tone is pretty opinionated) from the NYT is interesting because it points out some inconsistencies and new ideas in how the government can treat telecommuters and all non-traditional sub-fulltime something-less-than-employees better when it comes to taxes, health insurance, and the like.

What I found most compelling, though, is the graphic that shows how many telecommuters there are in various metro areas as compared with the national average of 3.5%. And 3.5% sounds like a lot to me. But maybe not.

Monday, November 5, 2007

For $260 a night

...wouldn't you think that the nice people at Marriott could throw in the high speed internets, you know, like, gratis? I mean, come on, how much bandwidth could I possibly be using? I'm just a little grumpy right now and not for any good reason.

Well, one or two kind of good reasons.

I was too cheap to pay the extra $10 a day to get the internets sent up to my hotel room, so I didn't get to calculate a potential giving total based on average gift size because I didn't have that data downloaded already. Thanks Marriott.

And because when the Marriott business center drones finally used their eyeballs to look for the package that the printer had overnighted my business cards in instead of their database they actually found the box. (That seems like a good thing, I know, but stay with me.) I opened the box and the printer had spelled both my last name and my email address wrong. Bummer.

But on the way way plus side, I had a fantastic meeting with the one prospect I'd managed to get to see me on this trip, and he was so gracious with his time and with his enthusiasm for what I was there to visit him about. It was truly the highlight of the trip, and it made me really increasingly sure that I've picked the right kind of job for me.

Plus medical conventions have this weird crossover with porn conventions (not that I've ever been to one, but I've seen documentaries on the HBO late night). It turns out that medical simulation is really going for some realism. I watched some med students demonstrate the assisted childbirth simulator, and wow. I think it actually may have been made from the cast of Jenna Jamison, but I could be wrong.

I digress again.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm in with the in crowd

If by "in crowd" one can mean "dorks who connect to airport wireless just because they can," then, yes, I am certainly in with the in crowd. I'm sitting here blogging in the Albuquerque Sunport (it's not an airport, but I don't notice the sun coming in for a landing per se, which is probably a good thing).

But I digress.

This will be my first trip with a laptop, and I'm looking forward to watching the first season of Ugly Betty on the flight -- thanks for the DVDs, Margret and Jared. We'll have to see if the benefits of lugging this thing across the country outweigh the...well...the weight. It's gotta be good for more than watching DVDs, I think, to justify my growing feelings of irritation.

I do have a plan for using it -- I need to calculate the gift potential of a pool of prospects that we're developing a strategy for, and so I can crank up a little spreadsheet to generate a nice picture of what five to ten times their previous giving levels would look like. Fun! After that, I can continue to do research in the donor database and on the internets to figure out more about those folks. And, of course, I'll be keeping up with office email to such a degree that I didn't bother to put an out-of-offiice reply on the thing.

I'm not on vacation, and they gave me the Treo and the laptop for some reason, so I can only assume they mean for me to stayon top of things. Seems reasonable.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Does my butt look big in this budget statement?

There is a really interesting piece in the NYT today by Lisa Belkin that rounds up a bunch of the research on perceptions of different kinds of female behavior in the workplace. The gist of it is:

...whatever was most valued, women were seen as lacking it.
On the one hand, the research that she cites seems like real research, and inasmuch as sociology research is science, that's pretty real. The studies are ingenious -- hiring students to play Boggle and telling they'll be paid some amount between $2 and $10. In that one, most of the women accepted the first (low) offer without further question, and most of the men didn't.


But I was also thinking to myself as I read this article: gosh, all this navel gazing about how we're perceived in the workplace seems like a big distraction from actually getting the work done, doesn't it? I was reminded of the fashion magazines' relentless nitpicking on female appearance. Is my hair glossy enough? Do I have bilbobaggins under my eyes? Should I be thinking about laser surgery? Does my butt look big in this? And I've noticed that if you try not to spend time caring about whether your butt looks big, it frees up your time for fun things like reading a book, enjoying a run around the block with your kids, or blogging.

So the corollary: If I'm spending any of my time fretting over whether I got too angry or not angry enough in that workplace situation, it seems like some of my valuable brainpower is not directed at my work.

Although apparently directing the full force of my brain at work will make me seem like a grind, and that's a negative quality for a woman.