Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Yesterday I had the best news I've gotten in 3 1/2 years. After 3 1/2 years under the evil director I am free. Due to a reorganization my entire department has transferred to a new directory. The evil director who used to have five managers reporting to her now has none. She still has a few direct reports, I feel sorry for them. Some of them are my friends so I will do my best to keep a weather eye out for them.
But right now I just feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am sure my boss feels the same way. For the first time in a very long time the monkey mind did not fight with me on the drive into the office. Working under a bad leader who is unpredictable levies a tremendous amount of stress on a person. When that stress falls away you feel as if you are reborn.
As much as I feel that stress ball away I am sure my boss, who reported directly into the evil director, and was our buffer, feels an even greater degree of stress relief. I am trying not to harbor ill will toward my ex director now. It's difficult because I think that her very presence damages the corporate brand. But, in this life, we have to learn how to forgive and forget. Or perhaps forgive, but never forget.
Friday, April 25, 2014
It started out simple enough. I woke to the sound of rain. I wasn't expecting it because I hadn't been paying any attention to the Weather Channel so it was a pleasant surprise. I lingered in bed for a while just listening to the sound of the rain. That is a truly wonderful sound. Eventually though I rolled out, took a hot shower, shaved and started the day.
The work day was divided into three big blocks now that I think about it. The first block was to productive part of the day. I got us couple of smaller projects knocked off and I got permission from my manager to pursue a bit of a vanity project. One of our customers keeps requesting a system enhancement and the request keeps dying on the vine. Having watched it happen through two or three cycles I've come to the conclusion that the root of the problem is they are not adequately prepared.
It is in the nature of conservative corporations such as mine to begin from the default position of no. If they don't like the idea that no. If they don't understand the idea then no. It can be a tough environment to get any change in. So I asked my management for couple of hours to work with them and help them build their business case. It made me laugh because my managers initial response was also no. I don't know I guess I have a totally different mentality where systems should bend to the will of the users and not the reverse.
In our case I think sometimes the people who controlled the administration systems are so swept up in the chaos of their days that they're not listening to the customers. They know they should, they would like to, but they're just too damn busy. But I want to do when working with the customer is show them how to build the business case that will force the decision they want. There is always a chance of course that the decision won't go the way they want it to go but if that happens then I want them to understand exactly why so they can drop the request and not keep resurfacing it.
Work aside, I am looking forward to the weekend. I don't really have anything planned except the usual breakfast with the guys but I'm sure I'll figure something out. Maybe catch a movie, maybe take a short local trip. Definitely get some laundry done, spend a little time cleaning the spare bedroom, and of course a little bit of that all-important time relaxing. With that I'm going to wrap this entry up and officially settle into the lazy evening.
I came home from work today, made a bowl of soup, and then stacked up some crackers and cheese. It was a simple dinner but it was exactly what I needed . I chased it with a short nap and then a long hot bath. So far the bath was the most enjoyable part of the night. But I say that without knowing what remains for the night. I'm looking forward to a call with TR. Then I am looking forward to curling up with a good book.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Today was my photography day at the convention, so I carried my camera everywhere and snapped quite a few shots of the amazing cosplay. We started the day wandering the floor and covered about half of it, maybe a little more. I picked up a graphic novel, by Milo Manara, from his early days. It is a nice addition to my collection.
From there we went to a presentation on the greatest science-fiction movies never made. It was pretty entertaining. Then we went to a screening and panel on the new TNT television series The Last Ship. It looks pretty interesting, it looks relatively well done, and one of the stars is the always beautiful Rhona Mitra, a personal favorite of mine.
We spent a little more time wandering the floor and then headed out for a simple dinner at a local restaurant. Nothing fancy, good food good conversation. Then, back to the convention for the late-night programming. We split up there Tony and I went to see the premiere of season two of Orphan Black and Rick went to see a presentation and panel on The Blacklist.
Afterwards we headed back to the hotel. I bowed out and called it a night at about 10:00 PM. Rick wandered off to partake in some of the late-night programming. I got a solid nights sleep and woke this morning to exchange happy Easter wishes with TR, and then a succession of family and friends. I am about to wrap it up with a call home to the folks to wish them Happy Easter.
Then it will be down to breakfast and back to the show. I still have about a third of the vendor floor to cover. And there is some programming today that has caught my eye and should be enjoyable.
Sent from Wondercon
Saturday, April 19, 2014
From there we basically just wandered the floor. They have a good size vendor hall here so in reality we scratched maybe a quarter of it. I focused down on artist alley and picked up a handful of comic books, graphic novels and art collections. At some point in there we had lunch over at the Marriott. So, all in all a good day.
After the show we went out for dinner at Joe's Crab Shack down the street. It was crowded, but the food was good and the ambience was enjoyable. At one point during dinner they played the song Cotton Eyed Joe and all of the poor waitresses had to dance. It was entertaining to watch but there was an element of guilty pleasure. I have fond memories of the song from my childhood but those memories do not include waitresses dancing in Southern California. I suspect that was a different childhood and an alternate universe.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel, watch a spot of HBO, and then I fell almost instantly to sleep. I was up bright and early this morning and headed down to get breakfast to beat the crowd. Now I'm sitting in the room drinking a cup of hot coffee and waiting for the day to start. It looks to be a very good one. Today is going to be my picture day so I'm going to try to have my camera in hand all day.
Sent from Wondercon
Friday, April 18, 2014
At highway 138 we diverted off into the desert toward Lancaster. One of my coworkers had told me about the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. That was our destination. The trip took us out through some beautiful country on the northern side of the Angeles National Forest. The destination was well worth the detour. Imagine rolling California hills covered with brilliant orange poppies. It was quite a sight to see.
From there for reasons known only to the gods of GPS we drove down through the national forest to LA. Now, it was a beautiful drive, but it was twisty and turny. By the time we got to the end I was threatening to use Tony's denim jacket as my airsickness bag. But we made it safely…
Right into that awesome experience that is rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles. It took us about an hour and a half to get through LA, most of it about 5 miles an hour. But once we're through it was a quick hop to Anaheim, and a smooth check in here at the Hilton. We had a late dinner in the hotel restaurant, a place called mix. It is very good and we split between steak (me) and halibut (Rick and Tony). Very good on both counts.
Then off to the wonderful world of sleep. I slept well and woke up at my usual time about 6 o'clock. I padded around a bit and then crawled back into bed and slept another two hours. During the night my subconscious released at torrent of the dream images. I love it when that happens when I go on vacation because it means that I'm clearing my mind out and settling into the moment. So, from that moment to this one – where I am sitting here savoring the morning cup of coffee, watching the sunrise over Anaheim, and about to dive in the shower.
Sent from Wondercon
Monday, April 14, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
I've also taken to using Siri on the iPhone. Something that happened on the iPhone prompted me to take a different approach to Dragon on the computer. I noticed on the iPhone when I was using the voice-recognition software that it was dependent upon the quality of the Bluetooth that I was using. That led me to wonder if Dragon on the computer was dependent on the quality of the microphone.
The answer is yes. I invested about $40 in a meteorite microphone. It's a small relatively high quality microphone. The difference in Dragon, in Dragon's ability to accurately type what I'm saying, is remarkable. In this entire paragraph Dragon has only made one mistake and that wasn't really a mistake but an antonym. Most voice-recognition software struggles with them and generally takes a best guess based on context. If you have a tendency to write in short sentences, or to talk in clipped phrases, it can often miss them. So if you are using Dragon or a similar voice-recognition software I would highly recommend investing a bit of money in a microphone. Though there is probably an upper limit a good microphone seems to make quite a difference.
Let me fill you in on the rest of the day because it was pretty busy. I slept in a bit then drove up to Fremont to meet Tony for breakfast. Tony had to take his new car into the dealership give vacuum valve replaced. So I met him at his apartment and then followed them over to the Ford dealership there in Fremont. We drop the car off and headed over to the Black Bear diner for breakfast.
After breakfast we wandered Fremont a bit. I don't know Fremont very well so when I do drive up there I like to take the side streets and just kind of see where they go. This gives me a better feel for the city. This is how I learned that Tony gives crap directions. The standard set of directions he gives people to get to his apartment take them about 2 miles out of the way.
Anyway, after a bit of driving we swung over to the Fry's electronics there in Fremont, on Osgood, and just walked about the store that. Were both technical geeks so there are plenty of things we can simply look at and dream about when we are in an electronics store. I picked up some odds and ends there while we killed time. We weren't there very long, maybe 45 min., when the dealership called and told Tony his car was ready.
So, I drove him over, dropped him off and then headed south. I stopped at McCarthy Ranch, at a men's clothing store there and bought some new sport coats at a two-for-one sale. I already had a nice selection of sport coats, but they tended toward business casual, that is black or gray or navy. I wanted to pick up some lighter colored sport coats for a little more casual look. I got some very nice ones and am looking forward to wearing them.
From there I went over to the great Mall and met Don for lunch at outback steakhouse. I've been doing really good with my diet the last two weeks so I treated myself to a steak lunch. It was as good as I imagined it would be.
After lunch Don I took a walk through the great Mall just to stretch our legs. That place is always an amazing zoo. The press of humanity is something to see. From there I headed back over to McCarthy Ranch and stopped the Best Buy and it was at the Best Buy that I bought this new microphone.
After the Best Buy I went up to Baylands Park and took a long walk. It was a beautiful day for it that's for sure. After the park I came home with a stop at the drugstore to pick up some odds and ends for next weekend's trip. Then back to the house and a simple dinner of homemade vegetable barley soup. It was outstanding. I have a fairly good recipe and I'll have to post it here online. Right now I am watching the clock tick off the minutes and I am hoping to talk with TR tonight. They are out to a movie so I'm not sure what time they wrap will wrap up.
Friday, April 11, 2014
I've been reading a pretty good piece of fiction, the last of Joe Abercrombie's "The First Law" trilogy - "Last Argument of Kings". I've had sort of a love/hate relationship with Abercrombie's writing - I love it enough that I am slowly working my way through his catalogue, but I get frustrated because, often, I think he falls short of his own bar. An inconsistency that can be maddening. But, I always contrast that by saying - I like his books, I like his story telling, I like his characters - he just is a hair short of greatness. With that caveat I would recommend him as an author though.
I am excited this weekend to see a new movie that is coming out - Scarlett Johansson's "Under the Skin". I've seen several interviews and read several articles about the movie - enough to pique my interest. As always with independent films, I hope it lives up to the hype.
So, it is with all of that in mind that I am sliding into the weekend. TR is snugged in early tonight, sliding into sleep, which is one of my favorite visuals. I've got a lot of work that I actually want to do over the weekend, both because I want to move forward on the project that I am working on and because I want to offset some of my vacation time with work time. Depending on how much work I elect to do this weekend I may be able to offset at least half of the vacation, which will be nice because I am trying to build my vacation store back up having spent it down last year.
Then, finally, as I wind through the weekend I am going to continue my ongoing quest in the process of once again simplifying my life. I have made some pretty good headway but I am aware that I have a long way to go yet ahead.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The other group is larger than we are and in our history with being co-mingled with other larger groups - we often end up struggling for the essentials, since the larger group can simple overwhelm us. The complicate matters, we are moving into an area with a group with which we have bad history.
Now, it is always a challenge to not let the history influence the present too much - but it is also a mistake to forget the lessons of history. In a rather heated discussion with the manager of the other group today, I made it clear that I am sincerely worried about the issue and the potential issues that are going to arrive.
I am further exasperated because I think the other group gave our group the short shrift in planning the move and in how the area is going to configured. And I am further frustrated because I think our management was asleep at the switch while this was going on. Now, I am going to have to push fairly hard to make sure our group is taken care of. A frustrating day all in all and I get even more frustrated because it all could have been handled much better.
This seems to be one of those things where I should probably just let it go - but that is difficult for me. I have deeply buried within me an unwillingness to just go along to get along. The dehumanization that is possible in large companies is always very difficult for me to swallow and I refuse to (it is the Kool-Aid that I won't drink, LOL, which is what started the whole conflict with my Director, when she told me I had to drink the Kool-Aid) just let it go. Is it a battle I should fight? Probably not...probably not. But, well, temper, temper, temper.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
After dinner I seriously contemplating taking a nap, but decided against it. With the heat, I was afraid it would become sleep and then I would be waking up at two a.m. and wondering why I couldn't sleep.
So, I spent a good two hours of the evening cleaning and arranging things in the master bedroom closet. I still have plenty of work to do in there, but I managed to get through the parts of it that were bothering me so that when I tackle the rest of it, I will be moving rather smoothly.
Typical of closets there is "stuff" in there that I am not sure what it is or why I have it. I am, of course, completely convinced that all closets are quantum portals and stuff comes from the multiverse to land in my closet. That is the only reasonable expectation I can come up with to account for the fact that I keep simplifying, and simplifying, and yet, again, simplifying. But, at the end of the day, there is still "stuff" in the closet.
Five hours into a typical work Monday and I need to pause. It was a beautiful dawn this morning, a pale blue sky, cool breeze, and the promise of sunshine. I paused in the parking lot to enjoy it and I should have paused longer. But the sweep of the clock of the day is inexorable. I came into the office and immediately went into my first meeting. I’ve basically been on solid meetings from 7:00 AM unto 10:45 AM - and I am grateful that the last meeting wrapped up a little bit early as it gives me an opportunity to take a breather before flowing into the next series of meetings. Later in the afternoon I have a window in my schedule to attempt to get something done, but I know very well that, on Monday’s, that is a mostly futile activity. I am looking forward to the week ahead though - I have a lot of work that I need to get done, but I definitely feel like the tasks ahead of me are within my ability to accomplish. I dislike the feeling that comes on some work days (weeks, months, years) where you feel as if your best efforts are going to accomplish nothing. That is not a good feeling. We all like to feel as if we can accomplish something, as if the hours and thought and effort we invest in work will pay off.
Friday, April 4, 2014
If you think the world is an angry, depressing, and dark place; and everyone around you agrees with you, then you are surrounded by assholes. Get out now!"
I love that quote. I wonder why people let themselves be swallowed up by the darkness?
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Early evening. I am sitting on the couch. I've just finished installing my Brother wireless inkjet printer. It was a bit frustrating, but in the end, it worked fine. The frustration wasn't in the installation process, but rather in the instructions for that process. As I well know with years of experience, writing instructions is not an easy task. Or rather, let me say, it is a deceptively simple task - and very hard to get right.
It was a relatively good day at work, though I started with a six a.m. meeting. However, in the form of temporary redemption, the meeting went well. A bit of deft maneuvering by the team resulted in the answer everyone wanted to hear. From there, I just kind of swept through the day, weaving from meeting to meeting, and then wrapping it up with a bit of productivity and successfully completing two tasks.
Tonight leads me into my three day weekend and I am looking forward to it. I don't have any meetings scheduled for tomorrow, but I will probably check in on work a time or two, since my boss is on vacation. It should be quiet though. (How many times have those been famous last words?) I don't have anything planned for the weekend, I just want to relax, enjoy the passage of these beautiful spring days, maybe read a bit, maybe tinker around the apartment.