Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Road to Recovery

Okay, let me slow myself down a bit here and write an online journal entry, since I seem to be sending nonsensical sentences to one of my vendors.  Where to start, where to start, where to start…

I am physically tired, bordering on exhaustion.  I’ve been sleeping about 10 hours a night as my body struggles to fully recover from the violent bout of food poisoning I mentioned.  I suspect I need several more days of sleep, perhaps through the weekend, to reach the point of full recovery.  It was one rough session.

I am back to work and one of the first things I had to do, on Tuesday morning, was push back, hard, on an unreasonable request. I’ll tell you a little bit about it.  As I mentioned before, this project has four major sections.  One of the major sections is trying to get lined up to enter system test and user acceptance test.  In order to do this they need test cases prepared and staged for them.  Unfortunately, due to poor planning, there are no resources assigned to this intensely manual task.  Since I could see it coming, I volunteered to help them coordinate it. I provide metrics on the estimated person hours the task would require and the complexity required.  We can create about two cases per person hour (it is that manually an intense process given the complexity).  Based on available resources I provide them with an estimate on what the capacity was (pulling the person hours from in between other tasks) and I estimated about 100 cases in four weeks.

Well, needless to say, my recommendations when in one ear and out the other and they decided they wanted three hundred test cases in four weeks, which is simply not achievable given the math - the time to create the test cases and the available resources.  So, they had an alternative - create fewer cases, find more resources.  Of course, they did neither.  When I came in on Tuesday they were already behind and started putting pressure on me.  Since I was near exhausted, I was actually very calm in that first meeting. I told them, straight up, that I could help them catch up, but given that I was recovering from food poisoning and in the crunch time for my own portion of the project, I would help them play catch up over the next couple of weeks.  (I think there is room to improve the cycle time in creating the test cases by lumping similar segments together and have the operators create them in waves.)  Their response was to try and make me responsible for the deliverable, which I simply refused.

So, at this point, they are struggling forward without me (which is fine since I was never actually assigned to the task anyway) and I, for a variety of reasons, simply don’t care.

What is the old saying?  “Poor planning on your part does not make an emergency on my part?”



Monday, February 25, 2013

Adventures in Food Poison

Well, it has almost been a complete cycle of Tuesday to Tuesday.  I briefly considered not making an entry tonight, just to make it a true seven day cycle since the last time I wrote an entry here.  It has been a hell of a seven days, to put it lightly - I am counting Tuesday in those seven days.  So, let me start at the beginning - last Tuesday Evening.

Tuesday Evening - on the way home from work I stopped at Pizza Chicago in Sunnyvale for a pizza.  I carried it home and settled down to dinner.  It was quite tasty. (Sound ominous music here...)

Tuesday, Near Midnight - I wake up.  I enter the bathroom. I begin the first hour of what will be a twelve hour sage of violent food poison.  Of "fire at both ends" food poisoning.  Of "Oh my god when will it stop" food poisoning.  Of "The Power of Christ Compels You!" food poisoning.  (That is a reference to movie the Exorcist, for those of you who may not have caught either the movie or the reference.)  I do not sleep.  I twist.  I turn.  I dash to the bathroom.  I dehydrate. I drink water.  It does not stay in.

Wednesday Morning - I manage to get an email off to work. I remain violent ill until approximately noon, when the last of acute food poisoning seems to pass, leaving me dehydrated and exhausted in bed.  I do manage to hold down ice water.  I sleep, fitfully, through the afternoon - the food poisoning continues, though not as acute. 

Wednesday Evening - I manage to get down and retain about half a cup of chicken broth.  Water is staying in.  The broth stays in.  I sleep, exhausted and fitfully through the night.

Thursday Morning - I wake and though exhausted, I feel better.  I squeeze in a bowl of oatmeal and then head into the office - I have things that need to be done.  I even manage to get a couple of productive meetings in, get a spot of work down, and then realize that exhaustion is dangerously close to overtaking me.  I have my weekly one on one and yearly review with my boss (I'll rant about that later, at the time, I was pleasant and exhausted and simply lacked the energy to raise the proper amount of professional hell).  I go home about noon, take a shower, and crawl back into bed. I wake in the evening and have an easy dinner with Tony - about half a ham and cheese sandwich and a few spoons of potatoes.  I go home.  I shower.  I sleep - my stomach rumbles, a few trips to the bathroom, but no vomiting.

Friday - I wake up and head to airport.  I board a flight to Portland.  I feel better, but exhausted.  My stomach grumbles and rumbles and I sit close to the bathroom on the flight, but I make it.  I am functionally but generally queasy.  We check into the Red Lion Inn near the convention center in Portland, pick up our badges to the Portland Comic Con, then head SOUTH to Lafayette, OR to visit very dear friends James and Jo (and Logan and Cameron).  I would describe myself as functional, queasy, and exhausted.  The visit is great. 

An Ancient Wisdom Cure for Food Poisoning:  Jo and James recommend something that was recommended to them by his mother and that, they attest, works.  Did a cup of water with a tablespoon of vinegar.  I trust them. I do.  (I also knock down some Imodium AD earlier in the day.)  It works. I recommend it.  Even if it tastes like you're drink warm watered down ranch dressing.  Tony comments that I seemed to recover some vim and vigor within an hour and I would agree with that.  I eat a small portion of Jo's excellent beef stroganof.

Friday Night - for the first time since Tuesday evening I lay down to sleep without the outer symptoms of food poisoning.  I pass thunderous gas in the middle of the night - but that is it.  I sleep ten hours. Deeply, soundly.  I am not out of the woods yet, but they are thinning.

Saturday - we all go to Portland Comic Con.  About 1:00 I am hit with cold sweat and feel - exhausted.  I go back to the motel, drink six glasses of water and get an hour nap, then we go to a late lunch, early dinner - I opt for French Onion Soup and a mixed green salad.  It goes in and stays in. We enjoy the Con.  Tony goes off to visit his relatives, James and Jo head to Lafayette, and I go back to the hotel and watch nap, drink water, and watch "Van Helsing".  I sleep.

Sunday - we wake, have a decent breakfast as the Red Lion Inn's cafe, then drive up to Lafayette and spent a few more hours with James and Jo and Logan at an excellent Mexican restaurant. We drive back to Portland and visit Tony's relatives.  They have pizza.  I pass. (LOL - I drink coffee and visit, like Tony, they are great people).  We scoot over to the Portland airport and by 10:00 PM I am home in bed in California.  I sleep fitfully, but I am no longer sick.

Monday - breakfast at Goodies, a lazy day catching up on DVR and power napping, dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, a continued lazy evening watching DVR, a call to my step dad (more on that later) and now, here, this moment.

My generally response to the whole cascade of events - holy crap, I need to rest.  For a week.  Off the grid. Off the map.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Depth of the Work Madness

I certainly have not been diligent here for the last couple of days.  We're still deep in the crazy time at work as we are continuously shuffling trying to accommodate the project that just won't die (being, ultimately, led by the Director Without A Clue).  A little bit of a relief in that I've only been working 12 hour days this week and not the heavy hours I was last week.  If it seems like all I am writing about lately it is largely because it is work that is consuming my whole day.  I am looking forward to a bit of a relief this weekend when I am taking a trip up to Portland, but it is only going to be a temporary relief.  Then it will be back into the depth of the madness.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It Wasn't A Quick Note

Just thought I would take a few minutes this morning and enter another quick note.  Yesterday was a nice day, mostly spent in a semi-coma because of the long run of work hours.  I spent the morning online in queue waiting to get tickets to San Diego Comic Con (with a million other geeks) - and I was successful.  I missed out on the four day pass with preview night, barely, but I got four one day passes for me and three for Tony (no Saturday pass for Tony), but we can make a run at picking up the extra pass later in the year when the tickets come up for resale.  So, that was definitely the high point of the morning and once again, San Diego Comic Con here I come!

Then, breakfast at the Hickory Pit and we went out and say "Beautiful Creatures" - it was a little sedate for a movie, since it is, basically, a love story - but it had some great supporting turns by Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and the always talented Emmy Rossum.  I can't really recommend it for the theater, but I would definitely recommend it when it comes out on cable or any of the flavors of On-Demand.

For there, we had lunch at Red Robin - chili burgers - and I went for a long walk around the entirety of Westgate and Westgate West, then stopped at Office Max and REI to pick up some incidental things.  From there, it was home, a spot of television (mostly staring comatosely at the television because I was too mentally dead to engage in anything that required thought).  Then, a nice long conversation with my step dad Bill, still in the convalescent hospital getting PT. A bit of reading and the off to dream land about nine P.M. 

Then I slept about ten hours straight and woke this morning rested and bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I am ready to leap into the day.  Well, okay, maybe not leap into the day, but definitely go out, get some breakfast, and then spend a little time wandering, letting my brain do a further bit of decompression for the stress of the last couple of months.  I am also hoping to get some time to sit down and write an exceptionally long entry hear and talk about some of the things that have happened. Maybe I will spread it out over a couple of entries.  But first, most importantly, breakfast at the Hickory Pit.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just Be Still

Let me just say, for the record - "Holy crap what a week."  Let's start at the beginning - I worked, uh, pretty constantly all week.  I put in a series of 15 hour work days driving hard toward the deadline.  I actually made the deadline - I made it in an all day and into the night marathon rapid prototyping session, which was exactly what we needed to make the goal.  Then, I collapsed.  The day after the deadline we discovered that - of the four major segments of the project - we were the only ones who actually made the deadline. (Lots of high fives in the conference room.)  For a brief period of time the decision was to let my team go live all by our bad selves and let the other parts of the project catch up, but cooler heads prevailed and they've stepped back to do a more general re-plan and release. We've got next week to close up our documentation and then we'll be pointed at another part of the project to help play catch up.  I was so happy to cross that major milestone that I am giddy - though there is plenty of work ahead, it just feels damn good to move something into configuration lock.  I have a lot of other thoughts, but I am in no condition to put them out there tonight.  For the most part they don't make any sense, even to me. So tonight, my brain is so fried I am not even watching TV because it is too stimulating and I plan to spend tomorrow, perhaps the entire day, and be still. That is all, just be still.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Melancholy And Bobby McGee

Well, I worked 63 hours in four days. I will tell you the full story when I feel a little more human. I logged off a short while ago and the plan tonight is a hot bath, then slip into the bed and do it all again tomorrow.  Project land is a new form of madness and it is eating up the days - combined with family phone calls, there just hasn't been much free time.  I slid into this evening after work tired and feeling melancholy at the end of Valentines Day. I send a Valentines Day text with a simple wish to T.R. and then, for reasons known only to the universe but probably closely associated with melancholy I thought of, and had to listen to, this song...

Me & Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin Version)

It is a pure classic.  Where ever you are, who ever you are, I hope you are having a nice night - and if you are aren't, I hope this song hits you in exactly the right place.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple Steak and Eggs

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Quick Day, A Quick Note

Paused during the day, waiting for a phone call for my brother, and I thought I would make a quick entry.  Today was:

-Two hours of online work
-Breakfast with Tony at the Hickory Pit
-Five loads of laundry at the laundromat
-A stop at the grocery store getting ready for the week ahead
-A stop at the drug store to pick up some essentials
-A stop at the hardware store to pick up some window cleaner
-A stop at the donut shop because it's right next to the hardware store
-Home, unloading the assorted stuff
-An hour more of online work
-This pause
-The call from my brother (any time now)
-Then off to see Stand Up Guys (Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Al Pacino)
-Then, probably a stop for a late lunch/early dinner
-Then home and fold and hang laundry

I sure am cramming a lot of stuff into a single day, but with all the hours working, I don't really see a lot of other options.  I was overdue with laundry and I was into the section of the closet where the clothes we don't wear by don't throw away just in case were hanging for the last couple of days.  I should have done laundry last week, but I was just way too busy.

One of the things I would still like to fold in and may do this evening is spend an hour or so cleaning the living room and kitchen - they're not particularly messy, but it does need to be done sooner rather than later.  I also find the whole act of "zen cleaning" to be particularly restful and soothing. I think I could use some restful and soothing today.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Simple Note, Simple Night

Just a quick post today. Worked way too many hours during the previous week, so I am basically fried.  Worked a bit today, but only about two hours, mostly doing email.  Still have a lot of tasks ahead of me, which means I am going to be working tomorrow.  No way around it.  There is a strong rumor sweeping through the teams that there is going to be another slip - perhaps a few weeks.  Apparently there are a series of problems lining up against the release date.  We'll see.

I woke in a certain melancholy mood and it rode me through most of the day. I am sure a lot of the driving behind it is lack of sleep and physical exhaustion, so I am going to go to bed early tonight and get a full nights sleep.  I did see an interesting movie off a DVD today - "Cat Run" with Paz Vega.  It was entertaining.  Spent some time later in the day shooting pool with Don (a tie overall) and dinner at Red Lobster in Milpitas, a few blocks away from Edgies.

(Yes, Cat Run is a delightfully trashy as the poster makes it look.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fourteen hours. Gained some ground.  Lost some ground.

The high cycle of change continues to sweep around me. One of my good friends at work received her WARN notice today (my overall division is taking about a 20% cut over the next year to bring our affordability back into line with the industry standards). She's at retirement age, so she is going to be laid off into retirement, just earlier than she would have liked.

I am honestly not sure how I am going to react if I get a WARN notice - but, I have been through layoff's and layoff cycles before - and each time I got laid off, I ended up better off.  This is largely due to the fact that getting laid off kicks you in the pants and makes you move onto the next phase of your life, a move you might not otherwise make.  It's also a change to practice not being attached.  Still, it is always a shock to the system.

So, tonight, I think I am going to watch Whitney and then curl up and go to sleep.  I might try and read a bit, but my brain is pretty fried.  As a matter of fact, I might not make it through Whitney.  I think I am going to give it a try though - I don't want to fall asleep too soon.

This is my "short" week, so I will get a chance to only work part of the day on Friday - I've already got a couple of meetings scheduled.  I think I will head into the office early in the morning, just to try and get a jump on the day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Uncertain Places

I was nearing burn out, so I kept today short and to the point (short being relative, I worked about ten hours). I left work a little early tonight to go see H&R Block, then came home for a simple dinner of mushroom soup and a peanut butter and jelly on Paleo Bread sandwich. After supper, I was just settling in for the night, had just kicked off my shoes and I suddenly realized I had forgotten to run to the pharmacy and pick up my prescriptions.  So, the shoes went back on and out the door I went.

A fast errand later I found myself home, where I watched the latest episode of Castle, then turned the TV off to settle into a period of blissful silence before I head off to bed early, My work schedule tomorrow is fairly meeting light, so I plan on starting earlier and running as hard as I can through the day. I have a whole slew of stuff that I have to test and I am going to get settled in test my way through it.  The UAT covered a bit of ground today, which is not too bad.  I wish we had a dedicated test group, but if wishes were horses...

I've been reading a novel called "The Uncertain Places".  It was a good concept,but the execution was just not there.  The main character is inconsistent and there are often lesser characters that appear for no other reason then to show the author did her research.  I wondered if it was the authors first novel because the flow kind of goes "story...story...dump of research data...story...random but cool character...story...dump of research data".  Way more exposition then necessary to move the story along.  I wish I could recommend the book - but it is just to choppy and inconsistent for me to recommend. Go ahead and read it if you like, the overall concept is interesting - but be forewarned it is not particularly good.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Another Thirteen

Another thirteen hour day, with a serious mid-day battle with stress. We've entered what I am referring to as the imaginary UAT and while on a schedule meeting a variety of people kept making statements about UAT that I (as the person actually running the UAT) couldn't agree with - and so I wouldn't and came under a significant amount of pressure. So, after lunch and avoiding a few calls I managed to get things back on track.  Honestly, I cannot wait for this project to end. It is so stressful due to the incompetence and lack of process that have hounded it.  I might write more about it later, but tonight my plan is to go to bed, read a bit, and hopefully get a good night sleep.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wish Me Luck

Today has been mostly a working day.  I slept in a bit, got up, sorted laundry, met Tony for breakfast, stopped at Fry's and picked up a new blue tooth (my Plantronics broke the other day), then came home, fired up the work laptop, and spent the the bulk of the day getting ready for the start of UAT tomorrow.  I am not quite as ready as I would like to be, but that is okay. I am as ready as I am going to be. Dinner was pizza at Patxi's, with an amusing over tipping incident - or at least amusing to me. Then, home again for the evening, a two mile walk through the neighborhood (body), futzing with my new blue tooth (which is charging right now), watching a bit of the Superbowl, and planning to do some more work email while I watch elementary, then early to bed and a quiet night reading.  Tomorrow is heavily loaded in the morning (five hours of meetings starting at 7:00 AM), and then a fairly clear afternoon. I am going to have plenty of opportunities for stress to get the best of me in the coming week, so I am going to try and enter it with the appropraite mindset and move as gracefully as I can through the week, trying my best not to let it get the best of me.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seeking An Easy Evening

It is near the end of the day and I am thinking of it as a conflicted day.  The conflicted part arises because I was unable to get work out of my mind.  I dislike it when, no matter what I am doing, work is never far from my mind and never far from my imagination.  It is an unwarranted intrusion.

But, other than that particular conflict, it was a pretty nice day.  I slept later then usual, until about seven a.m.. I am sleeping late due to work, in my opinion.  The long hours have been taking it out of me and when I get a chance to sleep, I tend to sleep longer then usual.  I don't think I am sleeping deep enough, I think my mind is always spinning, trying to be overwhelmed with all the stuff going on. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I have to remind myself that it is the middle of the night and there is next to nothing I can do about work.  So much of what is going on in my current work world is completely out of my control.

Anyway, after waking, I showered, had a cup of coffee, and then met Tony for breakfast.  We actually had a plan for the day.  Tony is looking for a cheaper place to live - a tough challenge here in San Jose where the cost of living is rather high to start with.  After breakfast we drove up to Fremont to check out some lower cost apartments Tony had found online.  Since neither one of us is all that familiar with Fremont, it was a bit of an exploration.  I wasn't terribly impressed with what we saw, though I credit part of that to the fact that it was a gray and gloomy day. 

There was one apartment complex that I instantly like for the ambience. It was old, ratty, and run down - but it had character.  When it comes to apartments, character counts. The cost savings, to me, isn't that great - he'll add to his commute time and he may only make marginal savings.  Ultimately though, it is his call since he has to live there - and I definitely understand the urge to save money.

After a few hours of apartment scouting, we stopped in Union City and had lunch at Texas Roadhouse, then from there, drove down to the AMC theatres at Cupertino Square and saw the new Stallone movie (directed by a favorite of mine, the very talented Walter Hill).  It was entertaining and it was definitely a Walter Hill movie, which was kind of cool and unexpected.  There were a few false notes in casting, but other then that, it was a pretty entertaining bit of popcorn.

After Tony dropped me off I got in my car and drove up to a health food store in Mountain View to get some Paleo Bread (low carb or net zero carb bread) and a few other low carb treats - some cookies and some health bars.  With all the hours working I am spending too much time sitting and not watching my diet as closely as I should, consequently my blood sugar is creeping up. It is still in the excellent range, but it has been consistent ten to twenty percent higher that I like it. It is going to take a fair spot of discipline to pull it back in the very excellent range.

Then, back home, and I settled in for the evening and watched "Spartacus: War of the Damned" off the DVR.  A nice guilty pleasure that is.  After a simple dinner I took a short and brisk walk around the neighborhood, then slipped back inside to this moment, where I am sitting here writing in my blog.

My plan for the evening is, I think, a little correspondence. I am going to write to T.R., then to my sister and brother, and then, perhaps, watch another show off the DVR before curling up and reading.  I didn't work today, on purpose, because I figured the sixty one hours I worked last week was sufficient to earn me a day off.  I don't know if that was a mistake or not since I could never shake the work thoughts.  Tomorrow though, I am definitely going to have to feed the beast.  I've got what I am estimating is between six and eight hours of work that I want to have done prior to Monday.  Tonight though, I am going to continue just trying to relax and have an easy evening.