Friday, August 30, 2013

Starting The Weekend

I stacked up a pair of productive days at work, so that was a very nice feeling.  I am still about twenty hours behind, but it is better then the thirty I was the other week. This week there was a sense of movement in the right direction. I did log in with sixty plus hours this week, a goodly portion of it on a few long days of travel.  Consequently, I am glad the weekend is here.

I came home a little early this afternoon and tried to take a nap but there were a variety of interruptions that kept it fitful.  I woke and went out and met Tony for dinner at Patxi's, then circled back home, where I am settling in to the start the long Labor Day weekend.  The plan is to pick Tony up at about 8:30 tomorrow a.m., grab breakfast in Fremont, then head up to Pleasanton for the Highland Games, my favorite festival.

Tonight, I am going to watch a few things off the DVR - Copper (on right now), and then a pair of episodes of The Bridge.  I've got some movies stacked up as well, so I might watch one of them as well.  I am really looking forward to the weekend - besides the simple chance to just relax, I am going to do some house cleaning, start the process of getting ready for the fall.

TR has family in for the weekend, so that is a good thing. I am hoping to get a chance to talk with her tonight, but we'll see how that goes.  Family, when it is functional and loving, is an amazing thing.  I imagine it is also amazing when it is not functional, but just in a different way.  I often describe my own family as being "mostly functional". That might be a charitable description. (I say that with a sense of humor.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Good Night's Sleep

It is pretty amazing what a good nights sleep can do for a person.  Last night, I curled up and fell asleep and slept the whole night through.  It was sweet.  Nothing interrupted me and I woke in the morning feeling recharged.  The power of a good night of sleep is an amazing thing.  On the heels of the good night’s sleep I hit the ground and I’ve been pretty productive this morning.  I am anticipating another hour or so of productivity, then my last meeting, then I am heading home with the intention of repeating it all again.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Thousand Names

So, there is this thing called a personal life. I do have one.  I just sometimes forget where I set it down and then I wander around for a while looking for it.  I am about to enter into a sweet little cycle here - first, there is the three day weekend associated with the Labor Day holiday, then I work for three days, and then, due to my 9/80 work schedule, I will be off for another three day weekend.  That should provide me with a nice little decompression schedule for the high work cycle.

I actually flexed out early today, leaving around 1:00 PM and driving home so I could take a nap.  It was not a particularly good nap.  The landscapers were here at the apartment complex with their variety of machines making an equally impressive variety of noises. I slept, but it was fitfully. It did manage to take a little bit of the edge off.  When I was at work and I ran out for lunch I realized that I was dangerously tired, so I thought I would pop home before it became risky to drive.

I fitfully slept about two hours, then woke up to have breakfast (a homemade sausage and potato soup), and a nice call with T.R..  My plan was to watch Ray Donovan off the DVR, but instead I ended up in the phone and had another nice conversation with my mom and step-dad, both in good spirits at the age of 77. By the time I went to watch Ray Donovan, my DVR was fully engaged recording several shows at once, so I decide to let it rest for tomorrow.  I am planning on working short but productive days for the rest of the week, focusing down on what needs to be done.

I start reading a new book while I was on vacation, but I haven't gotten very far into it.  I like the writers style so far and I suspect it is going to turn out to be a decent fantasy tale. The novel is called "The Thousand Names: Book One of the Shadow Campaigns" by Django Wexler.  I am looking forward to dedicating a little more time to reading, perhaps tonight, as soon as I finish this entry. Right here, right now.

42 Hours

It is late Wednesday morning and I’ve already worked 42 hours this week.  Sunday through Tuesday was business travel back east.  Tuesday was a full day of work, meetings, and then an afternoon flight home.  On the plus side, I did make the flight out of Dulles in the late afternoon. The drive from HQ to the airport had a few Popeye Doyle moves, but nothing too drastic. 

There was a ground delay on the Dulles end of the flight due to a broken air conditioner in 1st Class, but the plan was mostly empty, so there was room to sprawl and we were not packed in the sweltering heat.   I got home about 11:00 PM last night, crawled into bed and went right to sleep.  A calf cramp woke me with a sudden stab of pain in the middle of the night, but other than that, it was a good night sleep. 

I am flying low and slow today.  I think my body still needs another night of sleep or a slow and relaxing day to unwind. I’ve got a couple of things here at work that I would like to accomplish here today. I’ve already got one of them off my plate and so I am hoping that I will be able to clear another later today, maybe two. 

Since I took that Friday almost two weeks ago to get reorganized, well, the chaos hasn’t really subsided, but I am not able to cut slowly through the chaos and there is the promise that it might subside at some future date.  Sometimes I think that promise is the only thing that keeps me moving forward, even though, as far as promises go, it seem to be mostly a lie.  

There isn’t much to write about in my personal life in the last couple of days.  (The reason is in the first sentence of this entry.)  But, I am hoping to be able to get out and do some personal things, to spend some me time, over the next couple of days and, most importantly, into the Labor Day weekend when I get to go to one of my favorite festivals - the Pleasanton Highland Games.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Three Good Things

Let's start this entry with a triplet of good things.  Last night I finished up Orson Scott Card's "Earth Afire", the second book in his Formic War series. I enjoyed it very much and found it to be classic Card. I am looking forward to the third book, which I think is due out later this year.  The series comes with my readers readers recommendation.

Then, today, I slipped out and met Ty to see "The Worlds End"', the third movie in Edgar Winter's Cornetto Trilogy (the trilogy that really isn't a trilogy).  It was up to par with the other two entries in the franchise, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  I enjoyed it very much - I may slip out and see it again. 

From there, I came home and basically napped the rest of the afternoon away, then went out and met Tony at a Chevy's for dinner.  Initially, we'd been headed to Frankie, Johnnie and Luigi Too in Westgate West, but, alas, it has closed.  Fortunately, Chevy's was close by and the food was good enough. 

I had a moody day today.  I have a little bit of the work burnout going on - too many projects, not enough resources. I may write about it later, but for now I am going to drop off for a phone call.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A More Mindful Day Underway

After a couple of chaotic days I seem to be in a better place this morning, at least as far as my monkey mind is concerned.  I started early this morning and managed to clear a lot of ordinary chatter from my in-box, which, the business cycle willing, means I should be able to get some project work done today.  My meeting calendar is relatively light, which can make all of the difference.

For me, at work, it is often a daily struggle to stay focused.  Part of the problem is the high rate of interruption and the lack of clear guidance from my upper management.  Part of the problem is my reaction to those factors.  I can’t really control the first (though there are steps I can take to keep the rate of interruption down - mainly turn off my email and IM and not answer the phone on-demand), but I can control the second through meditation.  I just finished a nice little session of sitting meditation that has me nice, calm, and focused. This is the state that I like working in.  It is kind of tragic that the frantic business cycle keeps interrupting it.

I don’t seem to have had much of a personal life this week, mostly due to the demands of work.  Next week will be even more demanding, since I have to spend a couple of days on travel as well. In those few hours of personal time I have managed to read some in Orson Scott Card’s “Earth Afire”, which I have been enjoying.  I think Card is a very good story teller.  I actually carried my enlightened nuns book to work with me every day this week, but I have not had a chance to open it and read anything.  I am going to make it a point to give it a few minutes this morning here as I am getting set to slide into what I hope will be a very productive day.

TR is in the process of having new fixtures installed in her house, so I have been getting my virtual “new stuff” fix through her the last couple of days, which I have enjoyed.  I think one of the significant disadvantages of living in a rented place is you often cannot redecorate to your preferences.  That ability to redecorate is what sets the environment that you live in.  You can do certain things, but you can rarely get in and change the infrastructure.

Well, I’ve meditated, I’ve written, I’ve walked and I have managed to get some productive work out of the way today, so on that note, I think I will focus in on other tasks and see what else I can accomplish today.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Bad Day At Black Rock

It’s been a bad day at Black Rock.  I keep trying to reset the day and I keep banging into a wall.  I was hoping for a productive morning, but instead, it has been a morning of small interruptions. All valid of course, but interruptions none the less. Little nickle and dime things that mainly serve to irritate me.  Because I have had the edge of a head ache (allergy related) for the last couple of days, it is making me more irritable then usual.  Though, thinking about it, work can make me nice and irritable anyway. 

Then boom, it is seven hours later. That is one of the interesting things about working in draft - the reader generally has no idea of any time lapse that occurs.  The day was not good.  On the plus side, I did manage to get one thing done - however, it was not the single thing that I wanted to try and get done today.  I am going to count the single thing as a win though and make a break for the door.  I may come back online from home for another entry tonight.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Redefining A Lucky Day

I swear that, sometimes, I count it a lucky day if I get as much as an hour of productive time here at the office. Under that standard today is a lucky day.  It was mostly a day of one off tasks and chaotic meetings and weird data requests.  We have a real bad tendency here at the office to try and make decisions off single data points. Layer that on top of a tendency to strip numbers of context and a tendency to rely on over-simplification and you end up living in a world of data driven decisions that really aren’t. As an analyst this both amazes me and frustrates me.  I shouldn’t complain too loud though since it also employs me.

On the plus side of the day lunch was very good.  I went to the Mexicali Grill in Santa Clara for the enchilada suiza, which is one of my favorite dishes at that restaurant. That was a nice break from the office.  I often people watch when I am on lunch and simply sit and wonder at the other people on lunch - what they are like, what their workplaces are like, what they are thinking on their lunch hour.  It is pretty each to imagine a room full of people all sitting there watching each other wondering what each person is thinking.  Consider it a massive human people watching feedback loop.

From lunch, I had to dash back to the office for an afternoon teleconference, which just wrapped up. That brings me right into the current moment.  I feel like taking a nap, but I have almost an hour left, then I can head home. My plan at home tonight is to watch the movie “Ruby Sparks”, which TR recommended. I may take a nap before I start the movie. I may just take a nap.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Frustration Paralysis

There is a wall on Monday’s.  I slam right into it when I hit the office door. Unfortunately, I don’t have the common sense to bounce off and go home.  I am not really sure why it is there.  I think it may have something to do with the rhythm of our work.  I am sure many people in the corporation, like me, struggle with the problem of too much work and not enough available hours.  Consequently, they work over the weekend, moving things around. Unfortunately, many of those moving things land on me. (I am sure they, whoever they are, catch their share of moving things as well - it’s not some great work conspiracy aimed at me.)  So a significant part of Monday is spent moving things around.  Then, once I have them moved around I can actually work on something productive.  It’s frustrating, but it also is what it is.  I would like to live in a more ordered work universe, but I don’t see that happening under our current leadership.

Outside of the Monday Morning Collision I had a pretty good weekend.  It was mostly nice and relaxed.  I saw a pair of movies that were enjoyable, though not great.  I had a couple of good meals.  I watched a spot of TV. I finished reading the latest Dean Koontz “Odd Thomas” book.  I started reading Orson Scott Card’s “Earth Afire”.  I had a great conversation with T.R. about synchronicity and the multiverse. I spent most of Sunday afternoon alternating between napping and reading. I found the dual Ergotech monitor stand that I was looking for at the Fry’s on Brokaw in San Jose. So, I there really isn’t any space to complain about anything significant.

Here at work Friday was actually a very productive day.  After slamming into the wall of “too many moving parts” I stepped back and spent most of the day simply getting re-organized and that turned out to be highly productive.  Today, once I get through this sweep of morning chaos and a couple of meetings, I anticipate having a very productive afternoon because, at least for most of my tasks, I have them lined out and I can, hopefully, start ticking things off the list.  I am sure I will battle with Frustration Paralysis, but I am sure I’ll be able to punch through it.

(Okay, and right there, I just barely dodged spilling a cup of coffee on my keyboard when it slipped through my fingers.)

I didn’t meditate much this weekend.  Just a morning session on Saturday, I feel that, in my journey toward simplicity, I am once again nearing a breakthrough point.  It seems to be a very cyclical journey to me.  I struggle, I advance in tiny steps, then I breakthrough and rise quickly and then plateau and start the cycle again. I’m at the point where there next step toward simplicity is going to be fairly radical.  I purge things, objects, stuff, and I think I cannot purge much more.  Then, I become aware of the weight of the things I am carrying and I suddenly learn that yes - of all those things I held onto, well, a good portion of them can be sent upon their journey.  What an interesting journey it is.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Crossing

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Chicken Pot Pie

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Sometimes There Are Messages

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Blueberry Blintzes

Dinner tonight at Holder's Country Inn. Excellent.

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A Quick Surface Personal Summary

I thought I would take a little bit of time today, while I am decompressing between meetings, and write about the overall sweep of my personal life, since work has been consuming a lot of the entries here.  My personal life is going well.  Recently I’ve been describing it as the still-point in the middle of a swirling mass.  The swirling mass is all the stuff that goes on around me, the assorted levels of drama consuming my friends and family. Sometimes I think I spent too much time worrying about them, worrying about things I really can’t do anything about.

But in terms of what is going on with me, I am doing fine.  My health is good, my outlook is good, my home life is good, my relationship with TR is good, and my work, though it is stressing me out lately, is essentially still good.  I realize that, in the work sphere, “this too will pass”, maybe sooner rather than later.  Fact is, I am kind of just generally enjoying my personal life right now.  I just try and keep my work life from crashing into it.

I finished reading Scott Lynch’s “Red Seas under Red Skies” (I recommend it and the other book in the series).  I’ve started reading Dean Koontz’s “Deeply Odd” which has been enjoyable.  I’ve also been bouncing back and forth in reading “Inspiration from Enlightened Nuns”, a Buddhist tract, and an assortment of poetry and short story collections.  I always wish I had a little more time to read.  A little more, then a little more, then a little bit more.  Even that would probably not be enough.

I’ve seen a lot of movies so far this summer, but, unfortunately, I have to say I simply haven’t been really impressed.  There have been some enjoyable ones, but so far, nothing that truly rocked my world. As a matter of fact, movie wise, I have been kind of frustrated with the Hollywood fare so far this summer - lots of flash, little substance.  Even Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”, which had the amazing Cate Blanchett, does really stand up to any skeptical scrutiny and seemed a little too much like a Woody Allen movie stereotype.

I’ve been meditating regularly, but probably not often enough and - at least today - my apartment seemed a little cluttered.  As I walked through the kitchen I thought that my next step toward simplification is going to end up having to be pretty radical.  Part of me says I am ready for that step, but another part of me says that I am not. In terms of that portion of my inner life I think I need to focus on my directed, more purposeful, more intentional activities. I am aware that, even when I am in such a busy and hectic and chaotic cycle I am frittering away a lot of time in purposeless activity.  At work it is driven by too many competing pressures and a lack of informal motivators. At home it is not driven by anything, it is just a choice that I do not seem to be able to make.

Well, that pretty much sums up my personal life right now.  It’s a good thing, I am enjoying it, and if anything I need to do more of the things that bring me joy and happiness.  As the mantra on my wall here at the office says:

“May all beings enjoy happiness and be free from suffering.”



Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Monkey Mind Needs A Rest

It has been a pretty brisk week. I am glad the weekend is approaching. I’ve laid in a set of 10+ hour days at work, so I am already a little bit fried.  I haven’t been able to get to the major task I had this week so it’s still sitting in my to-do tray. I’m weaving in and out of a couple of meetings this morning, but, according to the calendar, if I will have a mostly free day tomorrow.  I may have to block my calendar out, log off the corporate instant messenger, and ignore email in order to get it done.

I battled the Monkey Mind this morning on the way into work.  When that happens I have a tough time getting motivated and moving once I get in the office.  I get overwhelmed with this feeling of “why do I even try”?  Realistically, if I had thirty or forty uninterrupted hours I would be able to catch up, but, at best I get between eight and ten productive hours a week.  One of the things I’ve really struggled with has been this. Since our last re-organization, when we came under my bad director, we’ve never had effective leadership.

I’ve always thought that leadership does two key things. I use a “bright line” analogy.  A leader has to draw one bright line that shows there organization where they are going - the path from here to there.  This line lets people know what they should be doing.  Every task that comes across the desk can be evaluated with a simple question - does the completion of this task move us farther down the bright line?  This helps the field employees stay focused on the goal. 

Next the leader has to draw a pair of lines, one on the right and one on the left.  These lines define for the organization what they do not do, those things that are beyond their area of responsibility.  My current director has failed on both tasks, so, as a result, as an organization we run this way and that way, chasing the whims of the day - while simultaneously pretending we are working toward a greater goal. 

As an individual contributor it’s very difficult to know what you are supposed to be doing. I’ve pushed hard to get clarity. My direct manager has tried on several occasions to give me that clarity, but her directions are relatively pointless when she keeps getting over ridden by her boss, our director.  At the ground level, it is just very frustrating.  I am about a third as productive as I once was, working more hours, because so much time is lost on wasted effort, on whims, and on running this way and that way and accomplishing nothing.

When I contemplate this, especially on my morning commute, it makes the morning that follows a very tough space to try and get anything done in.  It is hard to prioritize your work when, at any given moment, your leadership is going to change your priorities. There are definitely days when it is just overwhelming and today is one of those days.

I sure seem to be spending a lot of time in this space writing about work lately.  It is sure a challenging environment.  I am going to split this entry out into two and write about some personal items in another entry, but for now, I needed the outlet to try and give my monkey mind time to rest.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well, Wednesday

Well, Wednesday was a busy day. I spent the first couple of hours of the morning working on a report and analysis request.  I did what was requested but, as I was going through it I could see that what they had requested really didn't answer the question they were trying to answer.  So, I had to design and run another report that gave them the answer they were looking for. 

I often wish our director would tell us the question she was trying to answer, rather then tell us the report she wanted. Because she doesn't really have a grasp on the intricacies of the systems or the data, so often asks for data that doesn't answer the question she is trying to answer. Of course, I've long suspected she doesn't under the basics of data analysis.

After that, I had a series of three quick meetings, then lunch with a vendor representative at Tao Tao in Sunnyvale.  It was nice to meet someone that I work with on a regular basis in person. I headed back to the office from there.  Another couple of hours at the office spent working my way through my backlog of email and then homeward. 

I want to get a dual monitor stand so I stopped at Fry's.  They had one, but it was a return and missing pieces.  So, I checked Central Computer, but they did not have one.  I think I will have to order one from on line.  I may check the other Fry's tomorrow to see if they have one there.

Once I was home I made dinner. Then, I watched an episode of Longmire.  I followed that with a brief online chat with TR online, and that brings me right into this moment. I am sitting at my desk in my living room listening to The Pogues and bobbing my head up and down.  I love the Pogues - some of their music requires you to jump up and dance around - which I have already done two or three times as the music has moved me.

If you can listen to "The Sunny Side Of The Street" and not feel the need to start madly dancing around, then you've got far better control then I have!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday's Total

Tuesday is off to a somewhat better start then Monday was. I was planning on working from home today.  I have one big project I am working on that requires a couple of hours of quiet time and then I have a four hour set of meetings from 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM.  So, it is going to be one of those days that I am going to be here - but I am not really going to be here.  Those days are best spent working from home.

However, when I was leaving the office last night, I forget my notebook.  I have a working notebook that I fill with the details of things. In this case, it happens to hold the details of the big project work I need to do.  Unfortunately for me those notes were important enough that I felt I needed them. I probably could have done the work without them, but it would have been harder and more time consuming.  So, I figured I might as well come into the office.

On the purely technical geek side, I just got a pair of 22 inch monitors installed here at my desk and it’s nice.  I have one set on portrait and one on landscape.  I do most of the work on the landscape one and I set all my reference material and monitoring tools on the portrait one. I am only half joking when I say I want a third monitor.  It would be nice to have two of them set in portrait, one on each side of the one set in landscape. I like the portrait so much that I am going to see if I can get a portrait rack for my monitors at home.

I slept fairly well last night, though I was woken in the middle of the night by some truck driving down the street outside, since my windows are open.  We are supposed to spend the next two weeks or so in the comfortable 80’s during the day - beautiful California summer weather. I’ll definitely feel the need to head out for a park walk or a hike or something. It will be nice to get outside and enjoy the waning days of summer.

Fall is rapidly approaching. I happen to love fall, so that is fine with me, but it will be a fond farewell to summer. I had a busy summer and I would have liked it to be easier, to be quieter, to be more serene and peaceful, but that wasn’t in the cards.  It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It was simply not as quiet as I would have liked.  Well, I need to settle into the working day, start that cycle of analysis and meetings, so I am going to wrap it up here.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you’re having a great day.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Lunch at Thea

Thea Mediterranean at Santana Row. Gyro, salad, soup. Awesome.

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Mayhem Monday

I realize the day doesn’t quite fit the description of mayhem - but it does pair nicely with Monday. Monday kind of looks like this:  The day starts fairly well, a good night sleep, a simple breakfast, a great conversation with TR. Then, I commute in to the office.  It’s not a bad commute today. It’s a little heavy, a little bit of stop and go, but smooth overall.  I listen to Melissa Etheridge’s Fourth Street Feeling on the way in.  If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it. It’s a great album.

Then, I slide into the office.  The early part of the morning goes well.  I work with a great bunch of people and we exchange morning greetings and tell tales of our weekends.  I dive into the morning email load.  It is not too bad.  It takes an hour or so to go through the mornings email, then into the first meeting of the day.  I have no idea why I start Monday’s thinking I am actually going to be able to accomplish something.  It never quite works out that way.  The morning steadily spins out of control and this time I have the awareness to simply let it go.  I simply cannot control the Monday Mayhem. Rather than get caught up in the grinding whirl I simply step back and let it go.  It is still a bit stressful, but not as bad as it can be.

A few minutes ago (six hours into the day), I hung up the phone on an impromptu meeting and the spinning was basically over for the day.  Now, I have a spot of time here in the afternoon where I am going to be able to get some productive work done.  I am going to tackle a spot of troubleshooting and then the review and analysis of a report. Monday is definitely a day that I should approach with minimal expectations.  I should consider it an intake only day, perhaps intake and filter, without trying to do tasks.

When I go through this on any given Monday, or on any day that spins out of the control for that matter, I often wonder why it is necessary. In the work environment, in general, chaos is optional.  High pressure and high volume can be a requirement of specific tasks and processes - but chaos is entirely optional.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dreams of Searching for a Place

For three days in a row I've dreamed I was searching for a place.  The details of the dreams changed but the theme remained. It was the theme of searching for a place.  They weren't anxiety dreams. They were more of what I would call curiosity dreams.  I was searching for a place from a sense of curiosity. I am sure they were reflective of my ongoing inner search. I will be curious to see if the theme remains.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sliding Into The Evening

Okay, it was a much better day today.  All days start with the sleep of the night before and I got an excellent nights sleep.  I crawled into bed at 9:00 PM, read a few pages in the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, then went out like a light.  I had a great dream about a naked woman wrapped in butterscotch sheets and slept clean through the night. I woke at about 4:30 AM (my normal time) after that solid seven and a half hours of sleep.  I was alert and vibrant.

The morning was spent with waffles and coffee, then a call with TR, then off to the office.  My Monkey Mind went half crazy on the drive in, so I focused on slowing the day down and doing one thing after another and keeping a running list of what I accomplished. 

That is one of the things I learned in stress management.  When you are in a time of feeling completely overwhelmed keep a running list of your accomplishments through the day. If, during the day or at the end of the day, you feel like you didn't accomplish anything or that you spun your wheels all day, you can simply look at the list and it will help you realize that you are doing fine - working hard and steady, moving forward, completing tasks and that it is the environment around you that is chaotic.

I worked ten steady hours. I got things done.  I moved toward goals.  There was minimal wasted time, minimal wasted effort.  The day was filled with productive work. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of chaos at work, but it is not my chaos - it is the chaos of the world around me.  One of the more interesting things I spent the time doing today was listening to a webcast from our vice presidents discussing what is going on and what their future plans are.  It was interesting and amusing and at times quite a contrast to what is actually happening on the ground level.

For example, one of the things they cited as an example was they wanted to do was start whittling back all the customization and make the processes simpler and more direct.  Uh, except that is exactly the opposite of what we actually did over the last year plus on the big project.  Where we made things more customized and more complex.  So, there is obviously a disconnect their somewhere.

But, I have to say, as I slide into the evening. All in all it was a good day on this side of the universe. Whoever you are and wherever you are I hope your day was the same.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brain Fried

I only got about five or six hours of sleep last night.  I went to sleep early enough, but I woke several times through the night. Finally, about four thirty a.m. I rolled out of bed and started the day.  I had a nice conversation with TR, then headed off to the office. I spent the morning working on the analysis I mentioned yesterday, finishing it about mid-morning, just in time to start a four hour round of meetings. A nice conversation with one my analysts about ongoing business conditions and a few e-mail wrapped of the day.  I came home and started the evening with an hour long nap, then a light dinner of peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat. Now, I've settled in for an easy night of watching episodes of Dexter and Longmire from the DVR.  Because of the lack of sleep and the detailed time spent staring at the analytical report I'm pretty brain fried tonight.

Monday, August 5, 2013

So Much Reading, So Little Time

Most of the day was spent with my nose buried in an excel spreadsheet.  One of my co-workers is out on maternity leave for the next couple of months and I've picked up the daily administration of one of her programs. Unfortunately, stuck right in the middle of this program is a manual review process that is done by reading and manipulating a sizeable spreadsheet.  The process is ridiculously long - a total of 17 steps with minimal payback from each step.  If I had the ability to redesign the process I would have designed it entirely different - of course, we can lay this little bit of insanity at the hands of our idiot director as well.  Another example of micromanaging run amok.

So, other than that, I had two good conversation with TR today, on a wandering array of subjects. Then, I watched an episode of Ray Donovan. I followed that up by trying to call the ranch, but no answer.  They are running up to Rapid City for a doctors appointment this week and they may already be on the road.  I will give them a try again tomorrow.  I did send an email off to my nephew asking him to check the phone if he was still at home at the ranch. With that done, I tried to call my sister and landed in her voice-mail.  I swear to God my family is the most antisocial bunch in the world. I joke that I always picture them on the porch with a shotgun and a bottle of moonshine, waiting for strangers to wander by so they can pepper them with rock salt!

Then, I finally finished my Scott Lynch book, Red Seas under Red Skies, in the Gentleman Bastards Sequence.  It was an enjoyable ride.  He has a third book in the sequence coming out in October, so I will look forward to reading that.  Meanwhile, I am getting ready to start the next book. My plan is to hit Amazon real quick tonight for the latest Orson Scott Card and the latest Dean Koontz, both of which are high on my list of favored authors.  Though, now that I think about it, I actually have a pair of Neil Gaiman books in the queue as well.  Not to mention all the other non-fiction that I love reading.  So much reading, so little time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Work Venting

Well, I am back to work a week and I'm very aware of how work effects my mood. I am actually really tempted to blame it on the lack of natural light.  I go into the office and it seems that inevitably two things happen.

First, I find motivation to be very hard.  I just can't get going.  I struggle and stumble and fight to be productive.  On a rare day I make headway, but most of the time each day is a struggle.  For whatever reason the weight of my office environment seems to be so oppressive it is smothering me. I am sitting here in my living room and instantly contrasting it to this space - which is bright, open, spacious, colorful. We are scheduled to move out of our current office area at the end of September. I hope we move into a space where we have access to a lot of natural light.  If we fail to get natural light, then it would be nice to land in a space that is at least new and bright.

Second, I struggle daily it seems to get my arms around what the actual expectations are of my position.  A large part of this struggle I lay at the feet of my incompetent upper management. Since my director is so engaged in micromanaging every aspect, we lose the incentive to seek self motivation.  Since we cannot make decisions, we are compelled into a passive mode where we wait for decisions to be made.

This huge level of uncertainty, of not knowing what is expected of me, either in subject matter or in substance, makes each day difficult.  One of the examples I was giving my boss during my one of one is - I get pressured to become an expert in something, only it seems that no sooner do I start to develop that expertise, then I am switched over to something else.  I don't seem to work on any one thing long enough to develop that level of expertise.  In my manager wants me to develop expertise in certain areas, then she has to give those areas to me and allow me the opportunity to become an expert in them.

Then, you can add into the layers of complexity there the fact that though I am willing to work hard, and I am willing to go the extra mile, I am not willing to allow the company to redefine the mile.  Several times it has been intimated that I need to work more hours - yet that is a zero sum game.  I increase my productivity by working more hours and get nothing in return. It's a loosing proposition.  So, I am willing to go the extra mile and work extra hours when needed, but I really am not willing to work the extra hours as a constant thing.

I know that, in general, the universe is not a personal thing - but I swear, sometimes it seems like my director was sent to be a vexation upon me.  It gets even more complex in that, though I have no problems fighting with management and struggling for what is right, my poor manager is caught ind between me and my incompetent director. 

We're still going through a big re-organization at work and so far it has all been hush-hush.  The higher levels of management (Vice Presidents) have been set, but the lower levels (who the various directors and managers report to) have not yet been set of announced.  I have my fingers crossed that we're going to get some sort of relief from the incompetent director during that whole process. (We've also got the dark horse of the corporate Game of Thrones running out there.)  I am honestly not sure how much longer I can put up with it.

Well, obviously, I've been back one week and I needed to get a work vent out - that is not a good sign.  On the plus side though, it does feel good to get that vent out there.  Thank you for being the people who saw that vent.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Simple and Outward Facing

I thought today was an interesting day and as I sit here near the end of it I am not really sure what made it more interesting than any other day.  Still, it was interesting.  I woke in the still hours before dawn and lingered in bed to watch the sunrise/  A good call with TR set the day in the right mood. 

A shower, then breakfast, then off to see the new Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington movie "2 Guns".  It was very entertaining in a bit chaotic, plot-wise. I'd recommend it as a popcorn movie on the strength of the two lead actors. 

From there I stopped and got the car washed, then came home and watch an episode of Dexter with Tony.  (Tony is in pay-cable exile right now).  I followed that up with a long and lingering nap. 

So, amid all that, what made the day interesting? The pure simplicity of it. 

I just called in an order for pizza and I'm watched the end of the Woody Harrelson, Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek movie "After the Sunset" (2004).

 I have no other plan for the evening.  There is a Sinbad marathon on SyFy, so I might watch that or I might watch something down off the DVR. I've also been promising myself an evening spent almost entirely in reading and tonight might be that evening. 

I am finishing up "Red Seas under Red Skies" by Scott Lynch, the second book in his Gentleman Bastards sequence. It has been a good read and looks to end strong.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Some Quick Day Notes

I'm working from home today, which has been nice.  My office is buried deep inside a fairly large building and so I tend to work in a world without natural light.  I've recently reconfigured my working area at home and moved it from the spare bedroom into the living room.  The living room is spacious and well lit, with sliding glass doors on the west wall. With the blinds open the natural light is great, until later in the evening when the sun slams into the room and turns it into a sauna in the summer.

I got some work done this morning, taking a few things out of the to do list, and then I've settled in for a four hour block of meetings, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Additionally, I am sitting here waiting for the arrival of my new sofa, which should be sometime this afternoon. According to my measurements it should come right up the stairs and, with a twist, drop into place. I have my fingers crossed.  We will see how proficient the movers are.

I've still got two hours to go on meetings today, but the afternoon meetings are mostly listen only meetings, so that should make the day kind of relaxing, all in all.  I think, if the sofa arrives early enough,  I am going to head out and get some sushi tonight.  It has been a while since I have saddled up to the old sushi bar. 

I've got a fairly large questionnaire for discovery that I need to attack today, so that is my afternoon plan here at work.  It is kind of a crazy thing as two different parts of our organization have overlapping projects driving in the same direction. I happen to be on both project teams, along with a half a dozen people.  We were in a meeting for the first project yesterday and I asked the crucial question of "Why are we doing this when it has been overtaken by the other project."  The short answer turned out to be "Because no one has told us to stop.".  I can only shake  my head at that.