Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Then, a quick zip back on 17, ahead of the traffic. The evening was quiet, I read a bit, I wrote a bit and then I watched "John Carter" on BD.
I wrapped up the night reading some more of "The January Dancer".
Last night, I slept well, but I dreamed of work - I dreamed of a big meeting where everything was getting heated. I have jokingly suggested that I am going to start charging the company hour for dreaming about work. I think that is a good idea! I am sure they wouldn't agree though.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
During the night I had three dreams that involved, to one degree or another, me chasing (and catching) people. In the first dream, a group of activists was planning to disrupt an event with a smoke bomb and I was able to track them through their iPad's (idiots). In the second dream, I was pursuing a man who was attempting to abduct his child in a child custody case, and I caught him just as he was trying to get away. In the third dream I am not sure who I was chasing or why, but I caught him and tackled him in the sand in a drive-in theater. I am not sure what sparked all these dreams of chasing, but I thought it was interesting that I caught all of the people I was chasing.
I have a tentative plan for today, but I am not sure if I am going to follow through with it. This weekend is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which will draw about 100,000 people down to the town of Gilroy. I plan on...completely avoiding it. But, I did think that might be a good distraction to open up traffic for a drive over to the coast mid-day with the intention of grabbing some lunch and doing a bit of pointless wandering. So, in a few minutes I will be heading out to get breakfast with Bob and Tony and start the day.
I heard from the island dwelling T.R. this morning where the Kitten Posse is obsessed with the Olympics. I watched the opening ceremonies and I was truly impressed with Danny Boyle's music choices. Outstanding selections.
Friday, July 27, 2012
June and July have flown by, so I really haven't had any chance to enjoy a leisurely summer. My plan is, through the month of August, I am going to try and slow it down a bit, try to enjoy a bit more summer lingering. A few more park walks, a few more evenings on the patio, a spot of incidental travel, some time in the swimming pool. All the basics of summer.
I've been reading a lot this year, which has been enjoyable. Right now I am deep in "The January Dancer" which has been an intermittent and rather rambling novel. I am close enough to the end to finish it up in a few days, or maybe a long day of just reading. I hope that it ends strong, but I suspect there is about a 50/50 chance of that.
I haven't done a lot of creative writing for the last couple of months. I'm not blocked or anything, mostly I am just short of time. I am feeling the need to retask and refocus there. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it. I've always enjoyed writing, even when I am just writing for myself. I have had periodic bursts of creativity, but its mostly just been an outpouring and not really anything defined.
My health is well, and as usual, I keep flirting with the idea that I seem to continually flirt with, which is joining a gym and putting some structure and additional discipline around my overall health related activities. But, flirt with that idea is pretty much all I do. I have managed to come up with some pretty creative excuses to avoid this one and I move through the day with an awareness that this is one of those things that I really simply need to do.
I have written about the assorted flavors of family drama lately, but in the end it has all been good - everyone has their health and is moving briskly (if dramatically) through their lives. Finding happiness is always up to the individual. The best role we have there is as a cheerleader.
T.R. and her kitten posse are off on the island for another couple weeks, and I find myself deep in the grips of island envy.
Well, that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as my personal life is concerned, but it's my iceberg and it's a nice iceberg.
(This was actually written Thursday, but due to technical difficulties, never posted until today.)
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
My calendar is rather subdued this week as well (because of the let of "explain what you are doing to management" meetings). However, let me explain what subdued means. I work four nine hour days this week, for a total of 36 hours. 18 hours are scheduled meetings. Fully 50% of my official work time. Subdued. About 4 hours of meetings that have any meaning/value.
I'm still mulling over what it means to me that sense of fairness (proportional justice) has been tripped. I am not sure how to respond to that. Additionally I am trying to figure out what is the best way to respond going forward - what the best course of action is for me. There is always a way forward, always a way out of the chaos, but the question inside of is - what cost, and is the journey out worth the cost? I don't know. I wish I had an answer. I don't like being so ambivalent in regards to work.
I actually enjoy "work", I can certainly throw myself into it. But I am also human and as such, I need all those things that are the keys to happiness and engagement at work. Appreciation, respect, trust, individual growth, a good boss, compatible co-workers, and a sense of purpose. (List from the Christian Science Monitor "Seven things employees want most to be happy at work." Marilyn Gardner January 28, 2008.) Looking at the list I have two of seven, the other five have gotten very fuzzy over the last year or two.
I currently have no sense of appreciation, either formal or informal, from upper management or in the form of concrete and visible actions. I also have no sense of trust or respect from upper management - we've slipped into a top down, micro-managed world, which I do not like. Individual growth is stagnant, pretty much across the board, unless you are one of the politically chosen. I've completely lost my sense of purpose, in part because in the micro-managed world we're frozen out of the strategic level discussions. There seems, to me, to be a deliberate avoidance of solid definitions and measurements of success.
I do have a good manager. How long she is going to put up with my fighting the status quo and pointing out the Emperor is Butt Nekkid will be an interesting thing to learn. However, having a good manager also makes the process of fighting the status quo more difficult, because to a lesser degree I find myself fighting with someone I like and respect, which contributes significantly to both the ambivalence and the emotional/psychological turmoil.
For the most part I've also got good co-workers as well. The combination of good coworkers and a good manager do make the environment more tolerable, and let's make no mistake - I know and appreciate that I have a job that has good pay and good benefits and in better seasons has been a better job. I just seem to be trapped in a storm season here at work.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I am currently watching the season premiere of "Warehouse 13", one of my guilty pleasures and my plan for the evening is to ease into the evening with a bit of television and some incidental house cleaning/adjusting. I haven't decided if I am going to take an evening walk - I've got enough miles today, as I went through the day, so I am tempted to give myself the night off. I've got a variety of thoughts running through my head, but none of them have really formed into anything solid, so I will wait to write about them in the near future. Perhaps they will pull together before the end of the evening. Perhaps not.
Monday, July 23, 2012
I worked virtually today and focused on getting some of my backlog cleaned out, which I managed to due, getting the bultk of it cut down to two remaining things, which I am hoping to wrap up on tomorrow, then it is back into project world. I kept the day on a low profile, slow and easy, and it passed well enough. Dinner was a tasty sausage, egg, green onion and cheese scramble, with toast. After dinner, it was a pleasant walk through the neighborhood on a warm summer evening.
Right now, I am winding down the end of the day watching one of my favorite movies - "Lost in Translation". I turned to it after having watched "Ramen Girl". I guess I was in the mood for movies about people lost in Japan who manage to find themselves. Who knows what that says about my inner condition right now.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
For the rest of the day, I had breakfast at the Hickory Pit, then stopped by Fry's Electronics to buy a new electric razor. I bought a Braun Series 5 to replace my old Remington. I've had the Remington for about two years, but it was just never quite that good - it wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. I've been meaning to replace it for quite a while and I finally got around to doing it. So, I may report back in the next day or so about how well it works. I have my fingers crossed.
After that, I stopped at the market to pick up the one thing I forgot yesterday, green onions, then headed home. I spent the next two hours in family calls, still dealing with the latest round of drama, and then drove up to Edgies for a couple of games of pool. After that, I had dinner with Don at a seafood restaurant in Milpitas, then circled home. I stopped on the way home and took a nice long walk around a shopping center, then stopped at the drug store to pick up some bath soak, then slipped into the air conditioner here at the near end of the day.
I am not sure what my emotional surges were about through the day - there was not any particular pattern, there wasn't any particular subject, nor was there any particular emotion. It was just like I was emotionally raw or emotionally susceptible or vulnerable. I haven't got any particular lesson from it, nor any particular observation. It just was what it was. A sense of being emotionally vulnerable.
My plan for the rest of the evening is a hot bath, then Longmire, then Falling Skies, then sweet and blessed sleep. T.R. is "off the grill" and I am definitely missing her. Hopefully, she will be back on the grill tomorrow!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
The day itself flowed smoothly - coffee and birdsong at dawn (thinking of T.R.), breakfast with the guys at the Hickory Pit, then helping my friend Don dispose of his e-waste. From there, I connected with Tony and drove him around for a while as he looked for an apartment (not a lot of luck there). A market stop for fresh fruit and salad materials, then off to see "Beast of the Southern Wild" and have dinner at Outback with Don.
Side-track, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is an excellent movie - I highly recommend it if you are into art films.
Then, home for the evening where I am watching "Wild West's Most Wanted" which is amusing.
During the course of the day I came to the realization of what it is at work that gets under my skin about the current big project I am working on. It offends my sense of fairness (proportional justice). In this particular project, because of the chaos associated with it, people are being routinely asked to go above and beyond - in terms of tasks, in terms of total hours, etc. Yet, it is my perception that it is entirely a one way street - people are being asked to go above and beyond, but management is not responding by rewarding them above and beyond.
That definitely offends my sense of fairness. Now, the question is, what do I do about it from here. Often though, knowing what lays at the heart of something is what allows us to work our way through it. I hope this realization helps me.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
So, this is what I "fed back" as far as performance is concerned. The project is basically total chaos - it is not following any project execution plan that I can tell, it is all over the place. (I've completely passed the configuration deadlines for one portion of the process because my own upper management has refused to lock the requirements down and keeps changing them.) It is not that I and my co-workers are not turning out a high quality of project, but rather that its pointless since micro-managing changes it, alters it, and in most cases, frankly, makes it worse and requires additional hours of rework.
The other area I frankly fed back was my manager had commented that I had not offered any creative solutions lately. I simply replied with the truth - until they started actually evaluating and implementing some of the creative solutions I've offered, my approach has become - what is the point? We are in a top down micromanagement model right now, which is frustrating for those team members with a creative bent.
So, we are in a state of detente (at least where the one project is concerned). Management is pressuring me to work more hours and I am pressure back with "stop making me waste time". I have no objections to a reasonable amount of casual overtime, but I can definitely push back hard when it becomes what I consider to be unreasonable.
One of the key responsibilities of management is managing the resources. We do not have adequate resources for the project (which is what led directly and causally to the slipping schedule) - and that failure on managements part brings us to the classic saying - poor planning on your part does not make an emergency on my part. Now, one of the things I always go through the day with an awareness of is that management always has the ability to re-assign resources, which includes firing me. But, I approach it this way - I am very good at what I do, I work smart, I work wise - and if I were to be disciplined or fired for refusing to deliberately do a bad job, well, I can live with that. That said, we get a new director every two or three years - so I sincerely hope this one, who is the root of all the problems at work - is approaching the end of their shelf life.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Here is a hint, if at all possible, when involved in a project, avoid any project where your own upper management is the customer. When the time comes to reel the customer in (which happens on every project) you will not have any back up. One of the things that has made this project particularly insane is that we are deep in design and configuration and we still haven't nailed the requirements down - in large part because it is our our upper management who keeps changing and adding new requirements. On a normal program, you lock the requirements and they your management fights the customers management to keep them locked. This is...not the case.
I had a pair of good conversations with T.R. today and am looking forward to another one tonight - she has briefly come off the island and is back at home for some appointments, before, hopefully, she will get to return to the island for the rest of her vacation. Speaking of vacation, besides another great conversation (and doubtlessly a detailed discussion of why civilians should be allowed to buy throwbots), I am going to spend some time working on my vacation photos. Oh, and I should call home just to check on the parents.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
No matter how far or near your travels, no matter how long or short your journey, it is always good to be home. Today was a traveling day - nine hours, maybe a little more. So, at this moment, I am sitting in the living room with the air conditioner on, feet up, waiting for the arrival of pizza. I've already unpacked and once that pizza arrives, I am going to settle in for a night of mindlessly staring at the television and probably some picture editing. We had a pretty smooth traveling day, long, but smooth. The central valley on I-5 was a cauldron, but that is typical for the central valley this time of year.
I thought I would pop onto my blog here and just record some random thoughts.
-The Marriott's on Coronado Island is very nice, it had great rooms, spacious and relaxing, and the full array of services, all of which met with my approval. It is definitely on my list of places to spend a relaxing weekend!
-We had some excellent food there on the island and then in San Diego itself, probably one of the best parts of the vacation.
-Though we swept through the vicinity of Comic Con and did some of the unofficial events, it was kind of nice to be in San Diego and not be subject to the maddening pace, crowds, line standing and forced marching that is the Comic Con experience. Of course, I am still going to make a shot at getting tickets for next year, since it is the one and only San Diego Comic Con.
-I still find that I travel technologically heavy and I would like to figure out a way to travel lighter, when it comes to my technology. Part of that burden was having to carry my work laptop for a meeting on Friday - that got cancelled. Grrrrrrr. Then, of course, they rescheduled it for Monday which, gee, was also my day off. I swear there has to be some sort of plot.
Well, my pizza has just arrived, which cuts my observations short tonight! More later.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
The hotel (the Marriott's Coronado Island Resort and Spa) is excellent, spacious rooms, beautiful grounds, nice pool and spa - in short, an outstanding place.
Coronado Island has been a nice place to hang out, great views of San Diego (I am going to run out tonight and see if I can get some night pictures once the sun goes down). We've hit some truly excellent food, as you can see from some of the pictures that I have posted.
We spend yesterday downtown, wandering the Con, and then today we went up to the Birch Aquarium and spent as lazy a day as possible. Tomorrow we'll probably pop back downtown and spend some time in the vicinity of the Con and then, during the evening, we are going to meet the array of Tony's friends at Ponce's for dinner.
It's been a well balanced vacation, with left and right and up and down. I'll write more when I get a window.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
I am working a short week this week - today and tomorrow, and then I will be out on vacation until the following Tuesday, heading down to San Diego for a long weekend. We're going to drive down (it's about eight hours) and I am looking forward to the drive.
My motivation level here at work today is very low. I think it is going to be one of those days where I am going to keep my mouth shut and my head down and just check the boxes on the days. Speaking of the surreal, I had the surreal experience today of taking ethics training, delivered by a person I consider to be the least ethical director I've ever had. I am still not entirely sure what to make of that.
My family continues their ongoing feud and the battle lines have hardened. So far I've managed to keep from getting drawn into it. I think I will continue to try and simply stay out of it. Allow them to work through their our trauma and drama.
T.R. continues her journey of walking meditation on the coast, and that brings me a tremendous sense of admiration. Chasing your dreams, whatever those dreams are, is never an easy thing, though it should be. When we see people making those decisions it can't help but be inspiring. Given the low profile, low energy day that I find myself working my way through, its nice to have that inspiration.
I am expecting delivery of a pair of boxes from UPS today, and I am tempted to relocate home and wait for them, but I think I might do that a little later in the day. I hope they don't require a signature, but all too often they do, so if I miss them today, I will have to hang around the house and take delivery of them tomorrow. I think I have five hours of meetings tomorrow, so that might be the best approach.
Well, I reckon I should shift my focus back to the work day, as best I can. I need to put some hours into drawing a flow chart in support of my portion of the project, and maybe spend some time working on a powerpoint deck. Even with low motivation I should be able to get something done. Maybe. (Mwahahaha - insert Evil Laughter here.)
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“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”
- Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
On the homefront my mother remains ticked off of my sister. You always wish that your family members wouldn't fight, but often there's simply nothing you can do about it. Each individual is responsible for their own relationships and though we can offer advice we cannot mend them. So all you can do is offer them all love and support and hope they find their way through it. My sister has the right of that for whatever that's worth. I imagine that on some cosmic level, some karmic level it matters.on the very human level though being right doesn't protect you from the emotional pain that comes from conflict inside your own family. I hold them close my thoughts and prayers.
T. R. And the kitten posse are on the coast of South Carolina doing kitten posse things. My imagination has danced with all kinds of possibilities most of which appear in my imagination is animated cartoons, though I blame that on the approach of comic con. As I mentioned in an earlier post some time ago we had next to get tickets to the comic con event itself this year. There were problems with the web sales and we missed out. Of course the event is so successful now and so much part of popular culture that the demand is very high. It really isn't the comic con we started attending many years ago, it's morphed into something larger, more bizarre and more Hollywood. None of that is a bad thing and I am sure happy for everybody to get tickets this year you're going to have a great time. I'm going to be there as well, I'm just not going to be in the actual event itself, we'll spend our time in all the unofficial events and all the surrounding events. I've been web surfing to check them out and there looks like there is going to be some exciting stuff going on.
Tonight I've got a rather simple plan, having spent some time writing to TR, I'm going to simply kick back and watch "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson. Then it is going to be an early night to bed and maybe a little time reading "The January Dancer".
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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Monday, July 2, 2012
It started okay, a good night sleep, the usual morning routine, but then I slammed right into the wall of frustration at work. The incompetence associated with this project, the absolute lack of any standards or standard practices, is amazing. For my portion of the project I was supposed to have the configuration done at close of business - but they way this ship is sailing, that was never going to happen. They continue to make changes and I continue to get new requirements into today. This is such an insane process I actually have no idea which direction to go.
Consequently, it was a very unproductive day, I spent most of it re-reading email that I had already read because things keep popping up that they think they covered earlier, but that I can't find any mention of - and so far, when I have checked the documentation trail, well, there is no evidence of any sort of documentation. Which is actually a good thing because it means that I am not going insane.
So, in need of break from the insanity at work (notice how many times I've used insane or insanity in this entry), I met Tony and his friend Matt at Patxi's in Campbell for pizza after work. As usual, truly outstanding Chicago style pizza. Good conversation followed and we lingered into the evening. I came home, logged on, did some work related email, but the day is basically a write off. I went through my personal mail (finally catching up on the mail from when I was on vacation), then watched the movie "Hesher" on DVR. That is a strange but amusing movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman. I'd recommend it.
My plan for the remainder of the evening is to curl up and read a few chapters in "The January Dancer", a science fiction novel that I started while I was on vacation in SD.
And oh, I cannot let the day pass without denoting a monumental event. For all the time I have known T.R. she has spoken of her desire to move to Charleston and open a small shop there. (Six plus years now.) Today, with her Kitten Posse (as she calls her circle of family and friends), she made the move - she is now in Charleston. My heart soars at that. So many people in this world have dreams and then never pursue them, in thrills me and inspires me to know that she is following hers. I cannot help but be excited for her!
Sunday, July 1, 2012
-Woke, a light breakfast, coffee and a shower.
-Sorted and bagged laundry for a little later in the day.
-Phone call with my mother, feeling the ground out regarding ongoing familial excitement.
-Breakfast with Bob and Tony.
-Tony and I caught "Brave" (outstanding animation, enjoyable story)
-Drove home and picked up my laundry
-Five loads of laundry at the laundromat on San Tomas Aquino Road and Campbell Avenue.
-Bought some strange things at Ace Hardware - six sponges, Elmers spray glue, rubber feet, and a slender dowel. I am going to do some mad engineer work and see if I can create a vibration absorbing mount for my video camera.
-A late lunch of honey walnut prawns from Tsing Tsao.
-Watched "Kick Ass" on DVD, while folding laundry and doing dishes.
-A nice telephone call with T.R., who is on the verge of starting a Great Adventure.
-Worked for a while, specifically did a stupid survey, sorted email, and worked on project.
-A brief call with my sister.
-A brief exchange of text with my brother.
-Watched the last forty minutes or so of "Snatch".
-Programs the DVR to capture half a dozen movies in the next couple of weeks.
-Heading off to bed to read myself to sleep and start again tomorrow.