Friday, May 12, 2017

Brown Dirt and Tons of Stuff


It has been a busy week.

We've been cleaning over at Bob's house for the last two days.  We have made a lot of headway. I imagine the house hasn't been thoroughly cleaned for several years at least.  At one point I found a box of mail from 2003, so it probably wasn't thoroughly cleaned since then.  We've got enough junk to fill a 20 yard dumpster, which we're going to order today.

In the last two days we've hit the major junk filed areas - the atrium, the kitchen/dining room, and the living room.  Stripped them all the way down, threw out a ton of stuff, mopped some very brown floors, cleaned some furniture.  Today's plan is to finish up the kitchen and start working down the hall toward the bedrooms.

Meanwhile, in the work environment I've got a project that I am going to have to delay again - we just can't get it to work, it's one step forward and one step back.  Every time we get something resolved, we run into another problem, like peeling back the layers of the onion.  So, as I go through the day cleaning at Bob's, I am going to be cutting back and forth to work to see if I can kick this project into higher gear.

One of the frustrating things about the project is, due to the way the bureaucracies of both companies work, it has been virtually impossible to get all the players on the phone at the same time.  Really, I suspect we could resolve it if we could just get everyone to sit together on the phone and go through it step by step in real-time, but everyone is so overwhelmed with other work project we just can't seem to make that happen.

I'm pretty badly frustrated about it and it's causing me a lot of stress, which is layering on top of the other stress, so I am cranked pretty high right now.  But, I know the secret to getting through it is to just keep the head down and work through it, as painful as it is.  One of my frustrations is that some of the resources (people) involved seem to bump into a problem and then just stop and wander off and do something else.  I always hate slamming people at work, but I am reaching for the big hammer.

Meanwhile, I just keep reminding myself to breathe.  Simply breathe.  Head down, keep moving forward.

Outside of that, things really aren't going to bad.  It has been nice doing to physical labor over at Bob's place, so that has been enjoyable, though I swear I've inhaled a ton of dust bunnies and spider-webs.  I've got a quick work related meeting shortly, then I am going to go over and dive back into the work at Bob's.  I'll take my work computer with me so I can see if I can kick the project forward at the same time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Just Throw It Away. Just Walk Away From It.

It's been a fairly decent Monday here.  It's about the normal level of work chaos for a Monday. There are a lot of meetings stacked up on a single day so it really means that I am lucky if I get an hour or two of clean work.  I already spent one of those hours this morning and I should be able to spend another this afternoon after I wrap up the meeting I am listening to right now.  It is one of those box checking meetings that large corporations have to have.  I'm not a fan of them but I understand their necessity in a complex work environment.  My primary objection is a lot of times they are not functionally necessary.  This one may be marginally necessary, at best.

I've taken three days off this week, Wednesday through Friday, to help Brandy do some cleaning over at Bob's.  As usual, the two of them are out of sync, but not to badly. Brandy wants to get a dumpster and through a lot of stuff away and Bob is balking.  So. we've settled on kind of a hybrid solution - we'll clean, bag and stack in the side yard and then make the decision on whether to rent a dumpster from there.  My only question is around the size of the dumpster - ten yard or twenty yard.  I'm not sure they have that much "stuff" to justify a twenty-yard dumpster.  It might be a ten yard or it might be a couple of pick-up trucks worth.  If it was up to me, I'd be ruthless - but it is really easy to be ruthless with other people's stuff.

I think they'll end up in a better place once the get the full sweep of the cleaning done - just visually and aesthetically they'll notice a big improvement.  I know I have in the times when I've ruthlessly purged my own stuff.  I went through a mini-purge a while ago and ended up keeping some stuff, but, as usual, after a couple of weeks I realized that I didn't need it - that I should have thrown all of it away.  Just close your eyes, throw it away, and realize that most of our junk is pure sunk cost.  Money we spent at one point that we'll never get back.  Just throw it away. Just walk away from it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cool Morning and Steady Work

We had a bit of heat yesterday with the temps up in the mid-nineties.  It was the first true sweep of summer heat and I actually enjoyed it after that long wet winter.  This morning is very pleasant and very cool and the day should be ten degrees cooler than yesterday, into the low eighties, with further cooling tomorrow.

Work is fairly quiet this morning so I think I should have a productive day in that environment.  I started the morning with a long presentation of new functionality from one of the vendors (I'm listening to the teleconference as I type - I am familiar with the new functionality, the briefing is more for our customer set and our new management.)

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I've got lunch planned with my friend Ty on Saturday.  We haven't got together in quite a while, so I am looking forward to the conversation.  We're planning to meet at Olive Garden about halfway between our locations.

Other than anticipation of the weekend there really isn't much going on today, just a day of steady work.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Let's Start The Day

I've got about 15 minutes before I'm going to officially start the work day. It's going to be a challenging morning. I've got a pair of meetings that have the potential to turn confrontational, but I suspect they'll go smooth enough, especially since I'm the only one that knows what is going on. In short I should be able to deflect or defer any serious criticism.

I had a sleepless night. I went to bed about 9:30 PM and then tossed and turned for a while before I dropped off. I woke about 3:00 AM, then tossed and turned for a while before I got up. I've deliberately tried to keep the morning low key and simple in anticipation of the stress that's going to unfold over the course of the next couple of hours.

First thing I'm going to do when I start the working day is spend an hour and a half methodically going the the elements of a process I have to brief on at 8:00 AM. The briefing is scheduled for an hour but I'm not sure it's going to take that long.

Immediately on the heels of that meeting I have what we call the "tools" meeting, where I've got to brief on two overdue projects that have been hampered by constant fire fighting. That should go okay because basically we're almost there and I have a small window left to close on the items.

So, that's the day that lies ahead of me. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday is Quasi-Tranquil

It was a busy weekend, mostly with personal items, but otherwise pretty nice.  I had a bit of epic sleep on Sunday.  I got home from running assorted errands about four PM and laid down to take a nap.  I slept for an hour, woke up on the alarm clock, reset it and slept for another hour, then simply gave up with the whole napping concept and just went to sleep.  I slept until about midnight and then woke for an hour, watched the first episode of "American Gods", and then fell back to sleep for four hours.  Once again, I certainly needed that sleep!

Monday was a bit of blur with the usual work related chaos, but today has been smoother. In the rhythm of work, for whatever reason, I am also light on meetings on a Tuesday, so I actually get a chance to get things done.  The morning has been productive and the afternoon should be as well.

We're heading into the high 80's here in this part of California, so that should be nice, especially after the long wet winter.  We definitely broke out of the drought this year and everything is pretty amazing and pretty green.  Which of course plays heck with the allergies, but that is okay.  I enjoy the green and I enjoy the bird-tribe that congregates on my patio.  They are endlessly entertaining.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Adventures of a Human Being

Quite frankly, today I am exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed, mainly in the working world.  Back in the late January and early February time frame we had two senior level project managers quit on short notice (both because of the exhausting and frustrating work load).  As a result of that my organization absorbed their work load with the promise of additional resources to replace the lost people.  Well, fast forward to the end of April and there are still no replacement personnel yet.  So, essentially two of us absorbed the work of two other people with no reduction in our already existing workloads.

Then, when you layer into it that, as an overall organization (the project teams, technical teams, and customer teams) we seem to be stuck in permanent fire-fighting mode, it's just exhausting.  You can hear the exhaustion and frustration in people's voices on teleconferences and you can see it in the tone of a variety of communications. 

Now, I've been through times like this before and I know that the trick to getting through them is to just keep your head down and keep swimming.  But, lately it has been difficult swimming. I need to roll over on my back and float for a while. I've got a couple of days of vacation coming up around the 10th, so that should provide some relief. But today, it's exhaustion and frustration.  I'm going to meet with my manager a bit later in the day and vent.  I know she's trying to get those extra resources (she's as exhausted and frustrated as everyone else is) but I guess I just need to vent.

So, let me pivot away from the work environment.  (It's always amusing to me how just writing down your frustrations. Those three paragraphs have helped release some of the stress, just that small period of time floating on my back.)

I've really got nothing to complain about in my personal life.  It has been going well enough. The heavy workload has squeezed some of my personal life out, but I am still getting some good personal enjoyment time - some good reading, some good movies, some good conversations and socialization. I'm even getting ample time to write. So, in that aspect, my personal life as a human being is going pretty good, it's just the work frustration that has a pretty firm grip on me.

Today is Friday however, so I have the weekend ahead of me and I am looking forward to that.  I am going to drive up to Fremont on Saturday and have lunch with my friend Ty, who I haven't seen in a couple of months.  I am looking forward to that.  I also want to spend some time minimizing (i.e. throwing crap away) in my apartment.  Strange, but there always seems to be "more stuff". It's like I have a teleporter in the closet that mysteriously makes stuff appear.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Need Blood Flow To Brain

I had a pretty productive morning and then I slammed into the wall here at work.  I am torn right now between the need to refocus and the need to just give up and take a nap!  I thought I would pivot over here and write for a bit hoping it increases the blood flow to my brain. 

I think it's wrapped in the nature of what I do that it's equal parts rewarding and frustrating.  When the frustrating part starts to win that is when I slip into a fugue state where I am working, but I don't feel like I am making any progress.  It feels like I'm moving but not going anywhere.  That is the spot I find myself in right now, so I am hoping thinking about something other than work will kick-start the brain and let me steal a productive afternoon back.

I just noticed that it has been almost a week since I've written out here so I thought I would play a little bit of catch-up.  I had a good weekend all in all.  I only did a little bit of work on Friday morning, mostly watching email, before I slipped into the three day weekend.

Three high points pop out at me as I'm sitting here and looking backward.  I spent about two and a half hours on the phone with my friend James in Oregon on Saturday night.  That was a good conversation and long overdue. We talked about dang near everything, LOL, but mostly around our shared love of fantasy and science fiction in all it's various pop culture forms.

Earlier on Saturday I went out and saw "The Lost City of Z".  That was an excellent movie.  It was fairly long, but you didn't really know it.  It starred Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattison and it's based on the true story of based on the life and disappearance of the English explorer Percy Fawcett.  He was exploring the Amazon and attempting to find a lost city.  He didn't - or if he did he died before he could come back and report it.  I had read the book and enjoyed it, so I was primed for the movie when it came out and the film definitely lived up to my expectations.

Then, on Sunday, I saw "Split", the James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan film.  I got to say, definitely a recommended movie.  A worthy addition to both men's filmography.  I won't tell you too much about the film because I think with Shyamalan's films you have to see them to appreciate them or understand them and all the discussions about them often set your expectations off.  However, in this one, he delivers and I absolutely loved the ending scenes!  I am all in for the sequel.

Monday and Tuesday it was a pair of very full days.  I worked and, well, work was work.  Then in the evenings I went over to my friend Bob's house.  On Monday I was there awaiting the delivery of a power chair I had ordered for him - which didn't show up, so he and I sat around and watched a pair of older movies.  The chair finally arrived on Tuesday, so I popped back over to help him set it up, but they had already managed to get it squared away by the time I got there.  I am told that assembly was pretty straight-forward.  So, I spent most of the evening visiting with him anyway, then headed home.

Tonight, I am planning on no going anywhere.  I am due for a quiet night at home and that is the plan for the night.  Well, this helped and I feel like I've got the blood flowing back through my brain, so I am going to take a short walk and then pivot back to the work computer and dive into the 50+ email I've got waiting for me there.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And Then It Was Thursday

The week has been moving by at a rapid clip.  Work was a wee bit busy - we were down to about fifty percent of our staff capacity (conferences, vacation, leave) so my email exploded all over my desktop and I am still trying to accomplish things and dig out from underneath it.  Nothing critical, just a high volume of stuff.  Stuff makes the working world go around.

I'm coming up on my regular three day weekend and at this point I am planning on taking all three days as clean days off just because I need them. All the critical stuff will wait until Monday because, and here is one of the vast secrets of the corporate world - most things that get called critical aren't. Most dates are imaginary and pulled semi-randomly from the calendar "just because". I try not to let them get to me and just keep working steadily.  We do what we can do with what we have.

On the personal side on Monday I took my friend Bob (cancer) to an MRI appointment and then I was poised to pick him up from chemo last night, but they ended up admitting him for a few days due to internal bleeding.  I spoke with him in the hospital and he seemed to be in decent spirits, all things considered.  I ordered him a power chair a little earlier in the week and it should arrive Monday and he's finally agreed with the idea that he needs a good wheelchair (he has an old crappy one that he's been using but you spend half the time fighting the wheelchair) and a good rolling walker.  Fingers are always crossed there.

Other than that, due to the volume of work I haven't done much on the personal side this week.  Mostly I've just been focused on work and the other obligations of life.  It seems that I used to have more free time, but reading back through my blog, that wasn't the case. I've been complaining about time for years.  Maybe it is just something I do.

Right now, I am going out and getting some lunch here as soon as this teleconference I am wraps up. I'm kind of hungry and I seem to have recovered from the french fry issue earlier in the week, though, like anytime you get a spot of bad food it takes a couple of days to recover from it, so I ate lightly and blandly over the last couple of days.  On that note, I hope your day is going well.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Don't Eat The French Fries

Here is the first thing on my mind. (Warning, Semi-Graphic Content)

Don't eat the french fries!  So, it was a pretty productive morning at work.  I got up, got online, ran through my email, handled a few small things, and then put together my to-do list for the day.  Weaved in and out of a couple of meetings, then stopped for lunch.  Ran out to a local burger joint and got a cheeseburger and some fries.  Came home.  Ate the above.  This wonderful thing that is my body said "nope, uh uh, don't like that" and violently expelled what I assume were bad french fries - probably bad oil at the burger joint.  Ending up taking two hours to lay down and let my stomach settle down, but I am feeling better and back at work now - yet the warning remains - "Don't Eat The French Fries"!

Other than that wonderful experience it was a fairly good weekend.  It was cool, blustery, and rainy here for the Easter holiday, but that was fine.  I managed to relax and enjoy the weekend.  My nephew Tom is staying over at a friends place for the last couple of days (and hopefully a couple of more days after that) so I've had the apartment to myself.  It has been nice.  I've missed my solitude since he moved in so I have been enjoying it while he has been temporarily out of the place.

On Saturday I went out and saw "Ghost In The Shell" starring Scarlet Johansson. Now, the movie has been critically panned and bombed at the box office but, I have to say, it was pretty good and pretty faithful to the source material.  There was a lot of criticism around it for white-washing (casting a white actor as a Japanese character) but that never really effects me simply because as far as I am concerned it's fiction - cast whoever you want in whatever role you want, just make a good movie.

I am a fan of the original graphic novel and I will say the movie is very faithful, both visually and thematically, to the look and feel of the graphic novel.  In discussion with my friend Don after the movie we both agreed that there was one large problem with the film -thematically, the story it is telling (what does it mean to be human) is twenty plus years old and has been told and retold in many other novels and films, so there was nothing new or thought provoking there.  I wouldn't rush out to see it, though it was spectacular in 3D, but I would catch it when it comes out on cable or on-demand.

Now, time to pivot back to work and see if I can knock a few of the other things off my list and make some headway against my email backlog.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Was Full

Well, Friday was a full day, so it was enjoyable in that respect.  I got a good night sleep and had an interesting dream about a long lost love.  Morning was soft and rainy with a gentle start.  A cup of coffee, a bowl of oatmeal, and then I logged onto work for a couple of hours - really long enough to process incoming email, answer some questions, check a couple of things, and then it was off to the office. 

I actually physically went into the office today for a laptop replacement.  We replace out laptops on a two year schedule, so now I am into a new HP Ultrabook with Windows 10.  That took about two hours, but it went smoothly.  The part I am most excited about there is it has Cortana and Dragon Naturally Speaking - whoo hoo - I have been wanting to get Dragon on my work PC for a long time but previously it was not available for our work computers.  I am looking forward to see if it impacts my productivity. 

After the laptop replace I swung by the office and cleaned out my old office.  Though I work entirely virtually now for the last year and a half or so, I still kept an office space for those rare times when I had to physically go into the office.  They've moving my work-group to another building so I've let go of my space.  I didn't have anything of value left there so most of it either ended up in the shred bin or in the trash can.  I brought a few small personal items back home with me. 

After cleaning my office I met Don for lunch at Black Angus in Milpitas where I had the prime rib, crispy shrimp, a baked potato and a wedge salad.  It was a fairly excellent lunch and a good conversation with Don.  From there I came home and found a surprise gift from work.  Our VP sent out a note telling everyone to go home at 2:00 PM local time to get a jump on the Easter weekend.  I liked that - it has been a long time since we had leadership that actually cared about the human aspect of work - so I took that as a very good sign. 

I took a brief nap, then back up for dinner, which was pizza and tasty.  From there, I wandered into the evening with incidental tasks around the house and the DVR. In short it has been a good start to the Easter weekend.  I am about to wrap it up and curl up with a book and read myself to sleep, so whoever you are and wherever you are I hope you're having a good night/day.