A little work, a little early isn't necessarily a bad thing 2006
[originally posted to metagrrrl.livejournal.com]
I was thinking "Well, this is it. Back to work tomorrow. Ugh. And there'll be a ton of email..." and starting to stress about what a rough day it would be. Then I realized it was stupid. If my brain was going to spend time stressing over work, I might as well be doing it.
So I switched over to my work account, opened the VPN connection, and downloaded that email.
165 went to my probable spam folder, and only 3 or 4 were not really spam.
62 went to my inbox (not just to some list I'm on).
52 were notifications requiring no action
2 were cc's requiring no action
1 were undetected spam
2 were things I was copied on but which don't concern me
1 was something that I needed to read in detail, but not act on
3 required a less than 2 minute action
Reading through the mail for my lists took about 10 or 15 minutes tops.
That leaves 1 email that I will need to deal with in the office tomorrow, but its one that will take less than 5 minutes.
So, it's only 7:30pm and now I know there's nothing alarming waiting for me and I can right down to the work on the top of my list.
Hooray for the sanity check!
Current Mood: confident
Current Music: Honky Tonk Angel's Medley - k.d. lang
So very busy. 2004
I've been quiet here since I've been crazy busy at work. I come home wanting something amusing to escape to and so I've been surfing the web, chatting with friends and watching DVDs. Not a huge amount of creative output in the evenings since I've been doing so much writing during the days. Admittedly, it is less fun to write & proof read documentation than posts about wonderful weird things seen on the web, but at least my writing muscles are getting worked out.
Not so much my physical muscles. Mental exhaustion can fool me into indolence when what I really need is to move around. The diet I'm on also leaves me with a little less energy, I suspect. Overcoming that pull away from activity is difficult. Today, though, I'll get a good bit of walking in. I have taken the day off to relax and see the geisha exhibit at the Asian Art Museum before it closes later this month.
Earlier this year I'd talked about taking a vacation, maybe up to visit my aunt & grandmother in Alaska, but then my company decided that one of the other product managers and I should put new versions of our products out twice a year instead of once and that made work fairly insane. I think we'll get good at it - already it's forcing us to be more efficient, but it is still a little crazy-making. On the bright side, I'm getting asked to present more at conferences, so that's giving me a little travel.
I'll be in Portland middle of next month and will get to take a 3-day weekend before the conference to play tourist. I'll be staying at the Jupiter Hotel and doing a lot of walking around downtown, visiting museums and parks, and, of course, hanging out at Powell's Books.
Now it's time to be a tourist in my own city. Off to ride the trolley to the museum!
Tech support is hard, frustrating, often monotonous work. Cool cars and uniforms that make you look like Agent Smith from the Matrix plus job titles like "Double Agent" seem perfectly reasonable ways to make the work more bearable. More power to the Geek Squad. (And do check out their website. Great attitude!)
Thank you, Sir. May I have another? 2004
It was great having a weekend, but it was too short.
Busy can be wonderful 2003
It's been a busy week, but a very good one. I had my review at work and it was mixed. I've definitely made significant mistakes in my first 16 months at this job, but I've also had great successes and my average work is good. It was a tough review because I really had to face some deep-seated bad habits. This time, with the support of my boss, my sweetheart, my family and friends, and some reserve of strength I found in myself, I've finally turned a corner. I recognized that I have been taking the lazy, painful way out by kicking myself and feeling shitty when I blow it, but not doing the much harder thing of actually changing my behavior. This time I decided to change. I didn't decide to try to change; I just did it. It feels really great. I am much less stressed, more productive and happier.
I just watched the special features about the Weta Workshop design team and the stunt team for Lord of the Rings on the extended edition DVD of The Two Towers (which finally came today) and I am so inspired and grateful and proud. These films make me proud to be human. We are wonderful creatures. To create something so amazing, so rich and deep and powerful, is the best thing in the world. It's the same feeling I get from seeing Cirque du Soleil or hearing incredible musicians. This is us at our best. And it doesn't have anything to do with race or creed or gender or nationality. The best happens when we set those things aside to make something together.
Yeah, of course I think "gee, if only I'd stayed a theater arts major, I might have ended up working on the costume team for these films". Sure I want to make magic. But then again, I make the gateway to magic. Librarians link people to ideas, to stories, to the tools that enable people to create. Making software for libraries isn't so very far away from other kinds of creativity.
And I never have to wear prosthetic makeup, work in the middle of the night for 3 months straight, and fall off 30 foot walls. There are some compensations for taking the tamer path.
Normal Work Symptom 2003
Nothing is going particularly wrong today. No one is shouting at me. I haven't been in numbing meetings. I've been getting things done and some of them are even the things I planned to do today. I like my job. All in all, it should be fine.
Still, inexplicably, my brain has spent much of the afternoon going "Aaaaaaaaaah!!! Get me out of here!!! Waaaaaarrrgghhh!"
"Shhh.... Shhhhh..." I say.
It tries to command my body to bang my head against my desk or go drink margaritas.
*sigh* Problem brains.
Zeigarnik Effect? 2003
I'm reading an interesting book called "How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason In Everyday Life" and came across this:
And, as any student of psychology can tell you, there is the "Zeigarnik effect," or the tendency for people to remember interrupted tasks better than those that have been completed.I wonder if that's why I find multi-tasking so invigorating? I can feel more connected and awake when I'm switching between several tasks rather than focusing on just one.
The quote has a reference to Zeigarnik's 1967 work "A Source Book of Gestalt Psychology" and I may try to track down that section. Anyone (Mum? Paul?) know anything about Zeigarnik or this idea?
[December 22, 2003: This post has been noted by spammers and is getting repeated junk comments. I have closed commenting on it for that reason.]
MmHm. Monday. 2003
Some days your brain works.
Some days it doesn't.
Not my most productive day ever.
Thank goodness for mindless tasks that (sort of) need to get done.
One step forward, two steps back 2003
I took yesterday off to relax with Chris and celebrate being together for a year. It was good and I felt this morning like I'd had a weekend.
Unfortunately, unlike the day after a weekend, I had a massive amount of email to work through. It's noon and far from getting to the things I'd hoped to work on today, I'm still only partway through responding to all the stuff brought up in this chunk of mail.
The most comically frustrating sentence from my inbox?
"Do you have an assistant or can you suggest someone else whom I can plague?"
Alas, no and no.
Boy, I wish I was those white dreadlocked phase-shifting razor-wielding twins from Matrix:Reloaded. I'd get so much done. And I'd look lovely doing it.
Tired. So very tired. 2003
Friday through yesterday I was at my first visit to the annual users group conference for the company I joined last August. 1100 customers. Down in San Jose, so no flight this time, thank goodness. Stayed at the Fairmont, so the hotel was nice. Gave 5 presentations, attended at least half a dozen others, lunches and evening receptions with customers, getting stopped in the hall almost constantly with product questions. Very fun. Very hard (except the actual presenting which I love doing). Very exhausting.
Got home around 7:30pm last night. Stayed up reading email and some message lists that make me laugh. Visiting with Chris. Getting the lowdown on our new digital studio device for the electric guitar.
Today I slept until noon. Still sitting around in my bathrobe. Can't seem to muster the energy to do anything. Hoping I'll have enough energy to get through 3 workdays and take care of at least some of the piles of things that need to be done.
Tired. Very tired. But I like my job.
Role Rage 2003
Why is it when I have strategic tasks on my list, the tactical chores that rear their ugly little heads enrage me so?
Mess With Texas 2003
This week I have to give a 45 minute presentation to some librarians in Texas.
This will require spending 50 hours traveling, staying in a hotel, wandering around until it's time to present, staying in the hotel some more and then more traveling.
The convention is in Houston.
The humidity in Houston is 93 degrees.
And it's Houston.
Upon my return I will need to work for 3 or 4 hours, after which I will return to my wonderfully freaky neighborhood where I will spend the evening with men in dresses and lots of makeup who will restore my faith in humanity.
All I can say is it's a damn good thing I'm coming home on Bingo night.
Sense of Scale 2003
It is very unpleasant to find after six months in your new job, that you now know enough to realize there is more to the job than can be done by any two people and that your products are an order of magnitude more complex than your previous mental model allowed for.
Very unpleasant indeed.
I am having a heck of a time recovering from being out of the office for most of a week. My desk is almost completely covered in papers each representing something I should be doing. Very daunting and exhausting.
My circumstances are not helped by having had 3 successive mild nightmares wake me up in the early morning which has left me groggy all day from sleep disruption.
I need an extra two days in between today and tomorrow so I can sleep in and still get a grip on things. I hate having 200+ messages in my inbox! Bleah.
On the bright side, I will get to play with the Sims Online beta test tonight.
Oh well, I guess I'll see how much I can get done in two and a half hours.
Work Juice 2002
Sometimes it's good to work late. Sometimes you just get into it and start slapping that to-do list down and it's all flowing. The headphones are on and the White Stripes "Fell In Love With A Girl" is followed by the Violent Femmes "Add It Up" and you've got the joy and a job well done.
It's a good night here. :)
Quick! Is there a librarian in the house? 2002
Don't panic. I'm a librarian. Now what seems to be the problem?
I was just having a nice light dinner at my new neighborhood sushi restaurant, Midori Mushi, when they mentioned they were about to serve a private party upstairs in their special room. The problem was they thought some of the guests might want kosher meals and they didn't know what the rules were for that.
I finished my delicious miso soup, inari and negihama, and walked the half block home. A moment with Google and I had their answer, not just for tonight's kosher guests, but any future cultural challenges.
Yes, just a simple evening's work for your friendly neighborhood librarian...
(Midori Mushi is located on Grove Street near Gough in San Francisco, they are open for lunch & dinner, closed Mondays and are cash only at present).
Fine, but Brain is Full 2002
Hi. I'm fine. Great actually, but I come home from work and my brain is so full from trying to cram all the things I need to know about my wonderful new job in there that I don't do anything but eat, find clothes for the next day and maybe get one or two things done. Given that dishes, laundry, vacuuming and sleep are cued up ahead of writing interesting things in my weblog, I guess I'm gonna stay boring for a little while.
I got it! 2002
I got the new job! Woohoo! I'll start right after my trip to lovely Minneapolis. Frankly, from what I hear about that place in July, the shock of suddenly working 40 hours a week again, plus the commute, will be mild after coping with heat, humidity and mosquitos.
Not the job for me 2002
In the absence of steady project work with my old company, I'm on unemployment now (under the Lack of Work clause) and doing that little bureaucratic dance. Ugh. I can't wait to get a job again and get away from these horrid forms. This is sucky.
Bumpy Road 2002
Well, I finally reached my limit. My otherwise excellent company has no active projects for me and therefore no way to pay me. I already have way too much debt and so must seek work elsewhere.
If you know anyone looking for an experienced project manager with strong user experience design skills, please email me at this domain. I'd prefer to work in San Francisco or somewhere within an easy walk or shuttle ride of the CalTrain or BART.
To round out the general suckiness of the first day of job hunting, I also experienced my first kernel panic on a Mac. Kind of nifty looking actually, but not inclined to lower my stress levels. *sigh*
Oh. And should I apply for unemployment benefits? Does anyone have any recent experience with this in California? Argh, what a mess...
Those Wacky Swedes 2002
My charming co-workers, Niklas & Emin, have decided it would be a good idea to replace all occurances of "Cut & Paste" in our software with "Yank & Put". The discussion of this comment and of the streetcorner porn rag Yank has reduced me to tears of laughter.
Now I remember why I visit the office.
My big news this week is that I've decided to seek full-time work away from SoftDevices. As much as I love the people and respect the technology, I can no longer afford to wait for the economy to pick up and provide more projects to keep me busy and, more importantly, I want to do work that reflects my personal beliefs. I want to put my work time towards making the world a better place, not just a more profitable place for some corporation.
This was a really hard decision to come to - I've actually been considering it for over three months - but it's time for me to move on. They don't want me to leave, which is gratifying, but I need to put my primary focus elsewhere. I'm not looking forward to the transition, but it is the right thing to do.
Moving sucks, even when you're carrying mental baggage instead of physical.
On the bright side, using compensation from a special project I'm doing, I bought a new computer and have eliminated a major source of stress in my life. After trying to make do with my old PC in the absence of resident sysadmin help and failing to upgrade to OS X the old beefed-up Mac which Mike graciously offered me, I decided to go with a new computer with a service plan. In addition I stacked the deck in my favor by choosing the best combination of system reliability (Unix) and user friendliness (Apple GUI); I am the proud owner of a shiny new G4 iMac with a combo drive. Yes, the one that looks like a lamp. O boy o boy do I love it! No screen flicker, everything just works, it's dreamy!
Soothing my nerves further, I relaxed over the past few days with Patrick. He is easy to be around. We ate sublime pizza from Zachary's and watched Mulholland Drive. I enjoyed the movie very much and even more the theorizing afterwards about what the heck David Lynch was getting at this time. We also saw Spiderman and it was still good on my second viewing. Wonderful to see a film with a strong script and skilled actors! I do recommend it.
Tomorrow I have much to do - a trip to the post office and to stash some things in the storage unit and a conversation with my boss about my leaving SoftDevices (nervous about that one since I know I'll be disappointing him by staying firm on my getting full-time work elsewhere) - but right now I just want to relax a little. I've got Moby's Play on the stereo and am debating between a bath, a nap and a game...
Today for you, tomorrow for me 2002
I was just sitting here thinking "I didn't accomplish much today" and then realized I did a lot, but it was mostly for Edmond. That's not necessarily bad - he is paying me a small stipend for all this resupply work - but I'm glad I've now got enough done to take a few days off to be selfish.
I slept until noon - a prophylactic measure to stave of the handsome man with the good kisses' cold - and felt great when I got up. Edmond had called at about 9:15 - already in Warner Springs! - so I made a post to his site then checked email (via telnet, *sigh*) and found he'd gotten his pocketmail program working and had more messages for me to post, did that, picked up a surprise snack (Space Food Sticks!) package which had apparently come while I was in the shower or the bell hadn't worked, mailed the next supply box, tried to find a luggage cart (for carrying these supply boxes to the post office) but was unsuccessful (better try a luggage store next), bought a few groceries & resupply items, proofed the next resupply box and (argh!) spilled my glass of water into my keyboard, so took it apart to dry and be cleaned while I'm at it. *whew* Not bad for 10 hours, really.
Oh jeez, AND I was finally able to connect to nervousness.org and bail out of about 10 art projects. This computer stuff is eating up time I could spend on fun silly stuff (forgot to mention looking for a monitor cable for the Mac, unsuccessfully, and buying blank CD-Rs for backup today as well). I felt bad about pulling out of something I said I'd do, but I didn't do it for ones where I'm next in line and it does ease the pressure a lot.
Talked to a couple people at Rainbow and it sounds like they don't have rapid job turnover, but since I signed up for a lot of departments I should have some chance of being considered in the next couple months. Gotta find some other work in the meantime, though, being this broke sucks.
Changing Priorities 2002
I've reduced my hours at SoftDevices to just one day a week, plus a few hours here & there as needed. I love the people, but the work has changed a little (more configuration of an existing solution, less creation of a new solution) and, more than that, I've changed.
My grandfather's death really made me take some time to think about what is important to me. Bob was a man who really lived by his principles. He was good to the people around him, made people laugh and think, and inspired his passion for learning and exploring in those around him. He defended our right to free speech. He thought globally before that became fashionable. I'm not saying he didn't live a fairly normal American lifestyle, but he raised my mother in a way that let her respect herself and follow her dreams and strengthened her to provide an environment for me to grow up with the same strong sense of self and love of learning and the world.
Business is a little slow right now, so that's part of the reason I reduced my hours, but more than that, I wanted time to think and explore some possibilities. One realization I've come to is that I want to live in better accordance with my principles and I am willing to get by on significantly less money to do so. I will miss working full-time with the wonderful people at SoftDevices, but these reduced hours will let me do work, both paid & volunteer, which truly feeds my soul.
After a lot of thought about where I want to work (entreprenuerial projects with friends, Tides Foundation or a similar non-profit, returning to bookstores or publishing...), I was walking through my new grocery store, Rainbow, smiling and chatting with staff & other shoppers and realized I'd love to work there. I do miss the public contact in retail. I did a bit of research about Rainbow's workers cooperative and spoke with an employee (Hi Pete!) when we bumped into each other at the Billy Nayer Show Wednesday night. Today I filled out my application and thought I'd share a couple answers with you:
Why do you want to work at Rainbow?
I am tired of working for companies whose primary raison d'etre is to help make corporations make more money. I want to make my work a natural outflow of my beliefs - eco-friendly, pro-creativity, pro-kindness, pro-freak - and I want to create a feedback mechanism where my positive energy flows through my work to the community and back. I want to feel more connected to simple, natural, shared things like eating, growing food, making good stuff, sharing ourselves, and smiling. I'd rather help someone sit down to a good meal than help them sell a computer.
What are your future goals?
- to create more of what I use (both food and things)
- to participate in communities more (San Francisco, global connectedness in general, online creativity sharing in general)
- to have nothing in my home which is not beautiful or useful or both
- to, as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence say, spread universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt
- to walk the city of San Francisco, every street, every block
I'll let you know how it turns out and I'll see you in the bulk aisle. ;)
I Want Busy 2001
Jeffrey says "When you work, the front of your mind pays attention to the problems you’re solving, which relieves the rest of your mind from focusing on the problems you can’t solve. And that’s why God gave us work." Lay those projects on me, boss; I've clearly got too much time to think.