Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

There is Nothing Like A Dame

Went into NYC this weekend with family and saw South Pacific. Even though we sat in the last row of the Loge, the Vivian Beaumont Theater has great views from every seat, so it was still great.

I do have many many many issues with ticket brokers nowadays who have the gall to charge $230/ticket on a ticket with a face value of $75. Talk about economic stress! Don't you think making 100% profit (charging $150) would be enough? Believe me, if there was any other way to get 6 tickets to this Tony-award winning show, I'd be on it. But when people are traveling in to see it, you have to get them in advance.

Anyway, there IS nothing like a dame...especially when there are a bunch of good-looking, funny, talented sailors singing about her on stage.

And this guy? Matthew Morrison? He is Hot, Hot, Hot. I didn't even mind when his voice broke on a high note. It is cold season after all....

Bali Hai....will call you...where the sky meets the sea....

And there is no doubt in my mind that the right leading man won the Tony...Paulo Szot was wonderful from start to finish. I've been singing "Some Enchanted Evening" since we left the theatre 4 days ago.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Officer, I Saw the Whole Thing

Yesterday at about 7:45AM I was standing in my bedroom and heard the strangest noise - it was like a long twanging rubber band. The sound went on and on and got more and more ominous and I realized it was coming from the wires attached to my house from the pole across the street. I looked out the window and saw some brainiac in a yellow moving truck had caught the wires on the top of the truck and was still driving, pulling two poles into a leaning position and straining the wires attached to my house!

I yelled out the window - but there was no way he could hear me over the truck engine and just when I thought the truck might be flung backward like Wiley Coyote launching off a cliff, the wires finally let go and the truck kept right on trucking!

Even though my lights remained on, I ran downstairs and grabbed my phone book to report the incident to the utility company and after finally getting through all the steps you need to go through to get to a real person and report this, I noticed a police car had pulled up across the street. I walked out and realized there were wires down everywhere. The wires had not juts come unhooked, they had been pulled until they snapped!

After taking my name and number the police officer told me that it was actually the phone wires that had been pulled down (I figured since they weren't sparking everywhere) and asked if I would be able to identfy the yellow truck if I saw it again. Yeah, that wasn't likely. It was a yellow moving truck - there have to be hundreds of them.

When I came home from work, there were 7 trucks with flashing lights still outside my house working on the mess - and still there when I went to bed - and still there when I woke up at 3AM.

I don't have an elegant end or morale to this story - feel free to suggest one - I just thought it was an amazing thing to see this idiot destroy the local phone operations without a second glance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fly on the Wall

Everyone always wants to be a fly on the wall to hear what exactly is said when they are not actually in the room. Obviously our mere presence can change the chemistry of the event and what happens...and then if you are like me and always have to say something...it changes even more.

Today, I got my first chance ever to be a fly on the wall. My team (as I've mentioned before - they are a high maintenance bunch) meets almost weekly with a local group and a dial-in for off-site team members to discuss workload, tips/tricks, problem-solving, etc. I silently joined the conference call without announcing myself because I felt the need to better understand their team dynamics when I'm not in the room.

It was a most interesting exercise. I counted my name being mentioned 16 times. Luckily I never had to feel guilty about listening in because it was always in relation to someone consulting me for direction on an idea or a project. There were so many times, however, that the conversation seemed to be spinning out of control and I know if I was actually participating in the call and not sneaking around I would have jumped in and made a decision, stopped a non-productive conversation, or countered an opinion. Hearing how some of them reacted to one another was also interesting. I could see where there were evident personality conflicts as when one person was speaking, one other person consistently took an opposing view - and after a while it felt like purposeless arguing. Disinterest was also evident with the silence of some team members that became embarrassing moments when they were asked to respond to a question and were completely lost - or had put the call on hold/mute and had not mentioned they were dropping off for a moment. Another strange occurrence was noting that two team members who sit next to one another do not join the call together from a conference room, but choose to dial in separately. Very odd.

So now, my followup begins. I will use a skill taught to me by one of my very first bosses - she instructed me to "Play dumb blonde and call Joe pretending you don't know all about the stuff I've told you and see what you can find out." So I'm sending emails to different team members with suggestions, tweaks, project assignments etc. to see if I can mold some things secretly.

I won't do this often - it did feel like spying - but I may join the meetings more and stay silent to see how that goes over. They tend to defer to me when I'm on the call and I want them to think and act for themselves with minor corrections from me.

If only I could play fly on the wall more often in life - it would definitely be an enlightening experience.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Three Hours at the Salon

I started with this

I brought in this picture

I ended with this

I'm pretty happy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Laws of Economics

With all this turmoil on Wall Street right now, I was remembering an editorial I cut out of the Wall Street Journal in June -

Vanishing Act: The Law of Household Economics
For every financial windfall, and equal, unexpected cost;
Tax Rebate = Appliance Repair

by Karen Blumenthal

"...Just as we prepare to get ahead, some undbudgeted expense explodes in front of us and we have to deal with it. The Law of Household Economics isn't so much about rotten luck as it is about the endless challenge of keeping our financial house in order. Staying on top of the budget, keeping the credit cards in check, and building those savings adn retirement accounts takes real discipline and hard work. Windfalls won't get us there. Instead we have to sweat the spending details, worry about investment returns and, in times like these, cut back or even scrimp....I clearly remember our last rebate. We had high hopes for our expected $500. But a week before it arrived, the air conditioning went out. The bill to repair it? $500."

I can't help thinking this same law of economics is coming home to Wall Street.
And those financial wizards never saw it coming.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Must See?

I was flipping through a magazine recently and stopped on the movie synoposis page - I'm always looking for a good recommendation. This one stopped me in my tracks.

Army of Darkness: A time-warped supermarket worker fights in medieval England with a chainsaw and a '73 oldsmobile.

And...you ever wonder what happened to Bridget Fonda? Yup. She was in this film.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comment Conversations

I've discovered that I'm a faithful reader, and I'm a pretty good commenter (that's probably not a word, but you know what I mean), but I'm definitely no good at the comment conversations that take place on many blogs.

I was recently over at Deadpan and let me tell you, that Wanda and her faithful friends are truly committed to conversation. I just don't have the stamina.

When I first started commenting I would check the box to receive follow-up comments, but my inbox was inundated with stuff I really couldn't care less about reading or responding to, so I stopped that practice.

Then, I started trying to respond to my own commenters, but it never picked up any speed, so I quit that too.

So now, essentially, I am out there on my blog and others saying what I want to say, but not entertaining any kind of two-way conversations. Sometimes I even comment on a random blog I stumble upon that I can never locate again. That's what I call a drive-by commenting.

I know it's a little limiting in building a relationship with my blogger friends - so forgive me my shortcomings. In the meantime, I do read all your comments, so if you want a response - be sure to say that...or email me at wenderina at gmail dot com.

In fact, if you are a lurker, de-lurk now and tell me what you think, ask me a question, or just say hey. I could use some comment-love.

Monday, September 15, 2008


So, I was reading my goals in this post, and thought I'd give myself a progress report. I think this may also have been brought on by the slightly nostalgic and often disheartening review of my high school yearbook this weekend and all of my high school report cards (yes, I still have them, don't ask me why.)
  1. Get to work earlier and leave earlier. Not too bad here, I'm proud to say. I've not been great about getting in a lot earlier, but my late nights have radically decreased. They seemed to spike again just recently, but that was the post vacation deadline-induced workload and I think it is settling down again. I'd like to claim this as a new habit...but I'll wait until a little more time has gone by.

    GRADE: B+

  2. Eat better. This was a really slow starter...I kept putting it off and I am a huge stress eater and work has been a bit stressful, so the vending machine was my best friend. That being said, the last two weeks have been diet central at home and Hubby and I are on track for a good Autumn season of weight loss (fingers crossed). At the very least, we are eating much healthier, including oatmeal breakfasts, light lunches, and light dinners. And sugar free jello and jello pudding are our favorite treats to get us through the long evenings without snacks.

    GRADE: C (but potential for improvement)

  3. Swim every night. I did really well with this for about 2.5 weeks, but I haven't been in the pool now since the 1st week of August We had a short cold spell and I used it as an excuse to break the habit...maybe next year.

    GRADE: C-

  4. Be more efficient with time. So-So here. I find what I have been doing is prioritizing, but sometimes procrastinating too. I've been better at work, and probably worse at home. All those Honey-Do projects are just hanging out there. The good news is, no home improvements means less money spent - and that is a goal too!

    GRADE: B-

  5. Make time for friends. I've definitely done that - going for dinners/movies with friends, a spa weekend, our vacation, some BBQs and other gatherings. Although I don't feel as guilty as I used to if a week goes by without some interaction with friends. I've noticed that if I don't instigate it, it usually doesn't happen, so I guess everyone is busy. My friends are very important to me though, so I'll keep on top of this.

    GRADE: A

  6. Enjoy minor victories. I think my mind has been ready to accept the smaller victories, but I don't think I've paid much attention to working toward any. At least not on the home front. School is back in session now though, work is crazy, but the Fall/Winter always brings a greater focus on those indoor projects and chores, so this could be coming.

    GRADE: I (incomplete)

Yup. This pretty much sums up my high school grades too. Kind of all over the place. Those areas I prioritized or had some selfish interest in went well...those others...not so well.

In the coming months, I'm going to stay focused on these (except exchange the swimming item for walking or some other form of exercise). One thing I've learned the hard way is too many goals just sets you up for disappointment. Keep it simple stupid.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Equality for Women

Throughout my career in the white male dominated industry of engineering, I've pooh poohed the claims of my female colleagues that we are not taken seriously, that we are 2nd class citizens, that our opinions are not considered. After 18 years at this company, where I was given the opportunity to grow from an administrative assistant to a group manager, I was not willing to say I would have gotten farther faster as a man. I've had 6 promotions in those 18 years and I feel my hard work has been recognized and rewarded...well most of the time.

Maybe I don't have the same driving and unrealized ambitions of my female colleagues. Or maybe I'm just deluded.

When Hillary was making her push for the highest office in U.S. politics, I watched with interest, and I was fascinated with the idea of a female president and also by the fact that here we are in 2008, and that idea is still "new and different". There have been female rulers in so many countries for so many centuries that it is astounding that the U.S. - so often thought of as a leader in innovation and forward thinking - can still be so backward on this point.

I remember when I was on the editorial team for my high school yearbook and we were putting together the Year in Review page for 1983-1984, we recognized the achievement of Sally Ride. Next to her photo was a quote, "It's too bad that society isn't to the point yet where the country could just send up a woman astronaut and nobody would think twice about it." Amen Sally.

So now, that we see the Republican's answer to capturing those people who want to see the glass ceiling finally shattering, I just want to remind all of you women out there who are so interested in furthering the cause of equality for women that you might forget this one key fact.

These women?


I felt I needed to point that out, because I fear that there are actually women out there willing to cast their vote ONLY for the gender of the person on the ticket. Now that being said - if you read up on the Republican VP candidate's positions and career history and feel that you are in agreement, vote away. But please, please, please, do not throw away the woman's hard won right to vote merely to make a point about the equality of women. Because, after all, isn't true equality about the right person for the right job, not the person that most looks like me? Isn't that what started all the problems in the first place? And isn't that still the problem when people are hesitating to vote for a black man purely due to the color of his skin rather than the platform he represents?

I'm with Sally Ride. I hope someday NONE of this makes news. Maybe then we can spend more time learning about qualfications than worrying about gender, race, and other characteristics that give no indication about whether the person in question can do the job.

I hope I live to really see Equal rights for all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Subversives in the Classroom

So I think my professor this semester is a bit of a subversive. His longest term at any job has been 4 years in a 30-year career, and he said he has left EVERY job because of an issue with the "jerk I had to work for".

He left one job shortly before the holiday season. He cackled with glee as he told us the story of the "tool I used to work for" receiving a grabbag gift that holiday season - it was a box of dead ants. He thought it was hilarious that his former co-workers called him minutes after it happened to find out if he was behind it.

His response?

"No, but I sure wish I had thought of it."

Is it me? Or is this a slightly inappropriate story to tell his grad students?

And speaking of being a GRAD student. He is going to spend next weekend helping us work on our resumes and cover letters. Ok - if we don't know how to do that yet, we should be in remedial programs. But then again, since he's left jobs every couple of years - he's probably very focused on how to do this.

His other cackle with glee story was about how much he enjoys LYING to his current boss about having a medical appointment and "five minutes later being in another guy's office getting his next job."

I think it is maybe a karmic retribution that he has been suffering from a massive case of Shingles - that attacked (not his stomach or back like most people) his eye, forehead and scalp.

I think he now looks a little like the ghoul that he is.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Idiots...God Save Me From Them

Author's Note:
I know these entries are always a lot more entertaining to my colleagues who live this job with me every day than the general blogosphere. So please forgive my indulgence as I get snarky over our work place.

Author's Note #2:
Have you noticed that everyone seems to be putting a great premium on their own time, and a low value on everyone else's? Have you also noticed in tight economies that the problem is never with our own budget and how we handle money, but the OTHER department that has the issue?

Example #1: Data Management
Ok, Garbage In = Garbage Out, right? But no one ever wants to take ownership of the garbage. I took some of my own precious time to clean up some client records this week. While doing that I sent a note to the Client Managers (who are supposed to manage this data) giving them an update on the records and asking that they check those clients I had not reviewed for potential updates.


Idiot #1: "If I had a marketing assistant I could get this done"
{note - I am a marketing manager and I don't have a marketing assistant].
{note 2 - he proceeded to email me 10 more times with complaints - if he had just done the data cleanup instead it would be complete}

Idiot #2: "Why do I have to keep updating these?"
{note - you are kidding right? One returned mail item I got on this genius' client organization was that the person we addressed the mail to had DIED in!!!!!}

Idiot #3: "How do I know which clients are mine?"
{note - OMG...These guys get paid HOW much more than me?}

Idiot #4: "I spend 4 days of my week out of the office - how am I supposed to manage this?"
{note - I don't know, somehow when I travel I manage it.}

Is it any wonder that when another of the client managers actually picked up the phone to call me and beg forgiveness and ask me to yet again walk him through the process I found this to be the best response of the week? In fact, he then passed a message of "how to" and "please do" to his team to work on their updates as well. My hero.

Example #2: Do It Your Damn Self
My boss, as webmaster, receives all of the general responses from our website. She passed on a request from a client for a publication. Turns out the publication will need to be purchased. The manager who was identified as the right point of contact then asked my boss, a Sr. Manager, to please purchase the publication, mail it to him, and he would hand deliver to client.


Is it me?

He could have ordered it directly...or at the very least asked his very own administrative assistant...but his time is obviously more valuable than my boss'.

Example #3: We Four Mice in A Communication Maze
I was amazed to find that Idiot #1 from above - who has no time to manage his data and needs an assistant - took the time to email three different individuals with unique messages about the SAME ISSUE and ask all of them to solve it. What is this? Competitive problem solving? It's a good thing they all looked at the issue and each independently recognized it was my responsibility (the only person he DIDN'T email) to fix. I took all of their forwarded emails and bit my tongue while I responded to Idiot #1 with a reassuring message that I had it under control. I even deleted the line that said, "In the future, one email request for resolution to an issue like this would be sufficient and might even provide you with some valuable time to take care of your data management problems."

Example #4: Flood Control
I return to school this weekend...first time back after a glorious summer off. And we're expecting the remnants of one of these tropical storms...what are we on now, Hannah? So the Dean sends an email, "Severe flooding of roads is predicted for our area, but we are still holding classes. In the event of a power outage, you can get a flashlight from the Campus Safety office."


Lady, forgive me, but if there is severe flooding and a power outage I am NOT coming to class. You can penalize me by lowering my grade, but I'm ok with that.

Example #4: Short Attention Span Theater
Our department - in the face of budget cuts and threats of ANOTHER reorganization - was recently called upon yet again to "Defend Our Existence" at a meeting. After the higher ranking players finished shoving us Pawns around the board for a while, they concluded that they wanted some reports on our utilization and assignments, to see where we are actually spending our time and money. The report, with cross-references and details, was created with some considerable effort by our resident data guru and distributed to the people who participated in the meeting.

The response?

"What are we trying to report and why?"

Are you kidding me? Why do we even bother to be responsive to these idiots?

In Summary:
Look guys, I know I am PMS-ing today, and maybe I should hang up a warning sign, but give me a break, okay? My admittedly normally short fuse is down to about a millimeter in length and I am just not up to taking a deep breath and counting to 10.

I saw a t-shirt the other day, and I think I may buy it and frame it for my office. It said, "Put on Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It!" I haven't decided yet if that is a message to the general public at XYZ company or if it is a reminder to me that I sometimes need to just suck it up.

After all, Hubby has it much worse than me. He and his lodge brothers are hosting a pig roast this weekend. And did I mention that Tropical Storm Hannah has some interesting plans for them? Nothing like spending 24-36 hours in the rain roasting a pig.

Monday, September 1, 2008