Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

I cannot believe it is Thanksgiving tomorrow. Absolutely cannot. What is happening to time these days? It goes by much too quickly. This blog is the only thing in my life that helps me keep a calendar in perspective...I scroll back through the years I have been blogging and so, I yeah, I remember that moment...was it really 2 years ago?

I'm doing the last minute stuff I need to do to get out of town while my nephew snoozes on my couch. He volunteered to come be here for the delivery of his 9 boxes of belongings - all that is left since he sold off his "household" in Seattle. I believe the sell-off consisted of some 1960's retro furniture given new life from Goodwill, a large flat panel TV (don't need it - have a computer and hulu), and a bed. His remaining belongings will be safely ensconced in our garage until he locks down his new apartment in Brooklyn. I think he has to sell a camera to make the deposit, but such is the life of a 20's guy who likes to freelance through life.

He's grown up though...he's really an interesting human being. We spent last night chatting about any number of random things and (gasp) never even turned on the tv.

So now he snoozes until they arrive with the boxes. While I am doing a (very) little work, running loads of laundry, packing up the last of the weekend needs, and making the last Thanksgiving recipe. Tonight it is over the river and through the woods to Mama Lou's house we go. The weekend is packed with possibilities but not everything is locked down, as is my preference.

Tomorrow is the big meal with cousin Suzie and crew - and if the day breaks early we may stop at an old friends in the evening for a quick hello. Friday will likely be some shopping with Mama Lou - NOT THAT BLACK FRIDAY CRAZINESS folks, but just wandering through the little antique centers we love. Friday night may be dinner with friends if everyone feels like going out vs. leftovers (tempting, tempting) and

Saturday we go to see the live play of "A Christmas Story". I have threatened hubby with duct tape over his mouth if he cannot refrain from reciting every line of it - but I'm sure I'll have to give him a pass on " must be Italian!" because of the unfettered joy I will see on his face when he says it. We'll gather with some dear family friends for dinner afterward and then suddenly it will be time to head home early on Sunday.


It's like it's almost over already.

So I'm going to rewind a bit, enjoy the moments of today...and look forward to tomorrow. I wish you and yours a healthy, happy, prosperous harvest this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Environmental Art

I love it when someone takes something that seems like trash, or waste, and turns it into something interesting....

Check this out (sorry for commercial!):

Monday, November 23, 2009

MERGER Miscommunications

I love trying to learn how to communicate with MERGER company. We truly have different vocabularies and styles...Here is a sample email exchange (some details changed to protect subject info and identities, but I promise no license for comic purposes.)

Wenderina to MERGER Comm Team (MCT):

Hi guys – happy Monday! I was hoping you might provide me with a complete list of MERGER Operating Companies (OpCos)? We recently created matrices for capabilities in the [widget] business (for meeting next week) based on a model [Global Leader] sent us for [other widgets], but I believe we are missing some OpCos. I wanted to cross-check against a master list.

Let me know if you can provide one.

MCT to Wenderina:


MCT Member to Wenderina:
You can find all the OpCos in our annual report 2008 (attached) or on [MERGER Intranet] or at www.[MERGER].com.

Let me know if you need another kind of info.

Wenderina to MCT Member:
Thank you MCT Member. We don’t have access to [MERGER Intranet] yet, but good to know the global website listing is the right info.

MCT Member to Wenderina:
Did you see them in the annual report?

Wenderina to MCT Member:
To tell you the truth, not really. While I saw some breakdowns in financials, as well as the organizational diagram on p. 112…I just wasn’t sure what equated to Operating Company as that is defined.

MCT Member to Wenderina:

???? Yes ????

No, puzzled reader, I did not skip a step in relating this communication string to you. That was honestly the response I got to my last comment/question. This is the professional Communications Team we are joining with. G*d help us.

So, how would I have answered this request if it came from them to us?

Well, within one day, I would have sent an email with a listing of the OpCos clearly defined. Then, I would have pointed to where exactly in the Annual Report and where exactly on the global website the info could be found.

And, if someone had asked me for clarification of definition of Op Co, I would NOT have answered "yes".

Geez. Communications 101, folks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let the Commercial Blood-Letting Begin

Despite all the vampire fervor this week with that Twilight movie thing happening, the bloodletting I'm speaking of is purely in my wallet. Hubby took the weekend and ran up to visit friends and hang some of his photography in a Cape Cod Gallery (Fresh Paint in Yarmouth Port, stop by if you are in the area!) but I, sadly, stayed home. We have been running non-stop since the end of August and I needed a break.

What did I do with said break, you ask?

Well, I woke up at 5:45 AM when Hubby kissed me good-bye and didn't get back to sleep, so that blew my plan of sleeping in. After fighting it for a while, I got up at about 8 and started puttering around the house. I removed the A/C units from the bedroom windows and stored them in our pitifully small closet. The only good thing about a Cape style house is the bottom of the closets are super deep due to the pitched roof. I shimmied those bad boy A/C units all the way to the back and then stacked all the rest of our various junk items in front of them.

I picked up all the odds and ends on the 2nd floor, essentially shifting piles from one place to another, made the bed, wiped down the bathroom, and sauntered downstairs. I fixed myself a yogurt and cereal breakfast and sat down to make some lists. I knew the stores were in my future, but I was reluctant to leave the peace of the house (a regular feeling for me). So, I puttered with laundry, and cleaning the kitchen, and straightening my desk. Then I tackled the 2-year old vat of home-brew that never quite made it to bottling and sent it down the drain. Believe me - it was not tempting to test it.

After shooing away the Watchtower crowd on my front porch, I headed out the back, re-set the pool cover where our overly zealous landscapers had used their leaf blowers to blow up/out everything on site (although the yard does look vacuum clean!) and finally with a deep sigh, got into the car.

I hit ONE plaza y'all. ONE. For 5 hours. After wandering up and down every aisle of the Kohl's and the Marshall's I decided it was time for moi. And I made a beeline for the Annie Sez. Two suits folks. Two suits for $120.00 total. Gotta love Annie Sez. Then I hit the Payless and picked up some cute shoes and my first pair of boots in about 8 years (very cute and very imprudent being unlined and high-heeled, but love them) and a few cute pairs of shoes on their BOGO sale.

Lest you think I am awfully selfish on this my first day of Christmas shopping, I can assure you much more was spent on others than myself, and I made a good dent, but I'm not done yet.

What next on my leisurely day off? I went to the grocery store and (holy hell) spent more there than on 4 suits getting the basics for my contributions to Thanksgiving and a few staples for us. Can you say, "Jacked up prices?" The price on the cranberries and pumpkin was outrageous.

After unloading my car in about 20 trips, I started the cranberry relish (simply yum-deli-icious folks) and just inhaled the holiday goodness of that simmering on the stove. This was followed by my Mom's famous apple bread recipe which bakes for 1.5 hours so I finally got my feet up for a rest. Tomorrow I'll get to work on the Sweet Potato Casserole. Check out these recipes here.

And maybe while things are baking, I'll wrap a present or two. I feel some Luciano Pavarotti Christmas music coming on too. Have you started your Christmas rituals yet?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Define Job Satisfaction

This last couple of weeks were a little tough on Hubby. What I've always known, and appreciated, about him, is his pretty impossibly high standards. He operates by them and expects others to do the same. In particular, he values honesty, integrity, good work ethic, and accountability. Of course he is also very human and can be counted on to be empathetic and flexible and an all round good guy. Yes I know I'm biased, but I can confidently state the majority of people who know him would say the same. Sometimes he's an idealist and I try to ground him in the idea that corporate america is just not the place to find pure inspiration and perfect operation. First of all, it's populated by humans...and second, it is an inherently tension-rich environmental structure.

I won't get into the details here as it isn't my story to tell, but it raised the question in my mind, how do I define job satisfaction?

Unlike Hubby - who has worked at 7 different places in the past 20 years, I have been at 2.001. One for less than a year, the other for over 19...the .001 refers to a job I held for 2 weeks. I definitely experienced my share of job DISsatisfaction at the first two jobs, but the last one always seems to keep coming up positive on the balance sheet.

I guess that is the clue - that there is a balance sheet. There are days - many in fact - that I wonder what the hell I'm doing. But I truly don't dread getting up in the morning and going to work. And I truly don't groan every time my phone rings or blackberry buzzes. And I definitely appreciate the paycheck and benefits I receive. Most of all though, is I enjoy the people I work with, and mostly, for. And therein, I think, is the key.

My cousin, also having a tough time at work these days, just told me of a quote she heard once in a Human Resources seminar, "People don't leave companies, they leave bosses." While that may seem simplistic and there are certainly more reasons than toxic boss relationships that move people from company to company, I see that having a toxic boss is definitely a reason to leave.

But what I can ALSO say, without equivocation is: Having good people around you - at all levels - is definitely a reason to stay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Kind of Snob Are You?

I've come to realize I'm high-class in attitude only.

Today at lunch, I strolled the Whole Foods with BL (Boss Lady) and I was totally intimidated. By the selection of high-falluting foods and accessories, by the wealthy SAHMs and their kids in designer strollers and their coach diaper bags, by the number of foods that I could not identify by package or even by name. Give me a good old Stop & Shop with kraft food products, pre-packaged dinners, and aisle-side coupon dispensers. I'll take my A&P with bright flourescent lighting and give back the flattering subdued soft light and quaint floor tiles of Whole Foods.

The truth is, I'm such a snob, that I need to be able to shop in a place where I can look DOWN on the the shopping conditions. I need to be able to laugh at the mis-spellings on the aisle signs, snort in disgust when I can never find someone at the meat counter, and dispair at the quality of the 99-cent greeting cards. It does not serve my interests to feel "less than" when I am shopping for frozen pizza and bagged salad.

This is likely the reason I don't shop at Nordstroms either. At Kohls, Target, Macy's or Annie Sez there is piped in scratchy pop music - at Nordstrom's there is a live piano player - seriously? a live piano player? I mean THAT is intimidating.

I have a lovely woman who has been cleaning my home for the past 7 years. I cannot be home when she is there, because I can live with the snobbishness of having someone scrub my toilets, but I cannot be there to observe it and feel like I am contributing to a class society.

I can take a car service to the airport, but I have to carry my own bags and I have to be chatty cathy with the drivers (despite the language gaps), because despite my sense of entitlement in being driven curbside to curbside for my own convenience I can't possibly be rude enough to treat the driver as a second class citizen.

My clothes are mostly 10 years old. My shoes are from Payless. I do my own nails because I haven't been able to find a salon where I feel comfortable having someone else clean my nails and scrub dead cells from the bottom of my feet. My quality jewelry is hand-me-down or gifts, or else it cost less than $10/piece and turns my neck green. I throw money at problems and at people, but can't seem to put it into quality when it requires walking into a fancy store.

My friends buy coach bags. I buy pleather.

Yet I have a diva attitude that just won't quit.

I think I am quite the strangest snob on the planet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Ass...

My office, in this post 9/11 world, is rather particular about security. You see, we have in our hot little hands and files some critical design information about the nation's water and wastewater facilities. Because of this, we take securing that info, and of course our people, pretty seriously.

Main doors are open for entry only during fixed work hours. Beyond those hours, you can use a swipe card to gain entry. On 4 floors, entry to stairwells and/or any staff area from the hallway requires a swipe card 24 hours of the day. Needless to say, we keep our swipe cards on our person at all times.

This weekend, I stopped into the office after my full day of school. I plugged in my computer, called Hubby with a location/status update, and determined while the computer was logging in to take a bathroom break and get a soda. As I exited my department into the hall, the door swung shut right behind me and BAM! I realized my swipe card was sitting on my desk.

On any regular workday, no sweat, you borrow a visitor pass from reception and get back in. On a Saturday after 5pm, the place was pretty much a ghost town. After rambling around the square hallway passages for a few moments trying every door in vain and looking for signs of other weekend workers...I sat down in reception to think. I wasn't panicked, but I was certainly and frustratingly puzzled as to how to solve this problem short of calling 911.

I tried the extensions for the IT helpdesk (supposed to be manned 24x7) and the general counsel's office (he is a maniac worker here about 24x7) but no answer. I then determined to call my Hubby....but I forgot the lobby phones are not enabled for external calls. Finally, I decided to try calling the external operator - and after an annoying long pause, it finally clicked through. I made a collect call (what a blast from the past...don't think I've done that since my poverty-stricken college days) home.

For once, my forgetfulness was helpful as I had left my blackberry at home and Hubby was able to mine it for some of my colleague's home numbers. Before any of them could save me however, I heard the telltale swish and clang of the elevator in motion. I jumped to the wall and hit every button there was and started calling, "Helloooooo....Helloooooooo" into the crack in the door. With my lips nearly attached to the elevator doors, they slid open, and there were some rather shifty looking characters as surprised to see me as I was to see them. They were in the building doing some necessary electrical repairs. Their passes allowed me access and soon I was back at my desk.

Today, I considered sending a note to our building manager for a consideration of punch key pads to alleviate this situation, but I was afraid his response would be, "Since I've only heard of this happening once in 30 years here and it was you, perhaps I would suggest that you not let the door hit you in the ass on the way least not without your swipe card in hand."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is that the Death Rattle I hear?

She was a young single girl living in San Francisco. Her first apartment was found over a restaurant downtown. The previous tenants warned her of the disadvantages of restaurant proximity...namely, mice! Thinking ahead, she ensured the landlord would allow for a cat in the lease agreement.

Never having owned a cat, she was pleased when a friend told her she had found a young stray. "Sounds good," she matter-of-factly responded. She refused to be sentimental about the selection of this pet - this animal was to be used as a tool. This animal was to be her mouser. This animal was a co-habitating partner not a family member.

The cat, recognizing a non-cat person, realized that the idea of a handy litter box might not be something her new "owner" would possess. No matter, thought the feline, this potted palm is perfectly acceptable for my needs.

"How neat!" exclaimed the girl, "the cat finds her own patch of dirt, no need for late night walkies!"

That night, the cat determined, regardless of the girl's lack of understanding of the needs of the great feline race, she would cozy up and grab what warmth she could in the night. She curled up around the neck of the young girl and went to sleep.

The next day, the girl determined that a trip to the vet was a necessity and bundled up the cat for a visit. When the vet entered the room, the girl looked at him sadly and said, "I'm sorry to say, I think this cat is fact I think her death is imminent."

Surprised, as the cat appeared to be quite active and healthy, the vet questioned the girl as to her evidence of illness.

"Well," she said, "she has a bad breathing problem...and I'm sure it's only a matter of time."

The vet examined the cat thoroughly, listening hard to lungs and heart to see if he could determine the problem. After he completed his exam, he stroked the cat as he spoke to the young girl some more.

Suddenly the girl said, "There! That sound! That's it."

The vet looked at her with pity. "Ah yes....that sound. Well, that is a sound I know only too well. Tell me young lady, you've never had a cat before have you?"

" is my first time." said the young girl sadly, "Is it very bad?"

"Oh no," said the vet solemnly, "That my dear, is what we in the industry call...a purr."

Told in all honesty to Wenderina by Boss Lady...a most savvy and with-it chick who has obviously learned a few tricks in the past 30 years.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Things You Learn...

Last night I went out with some colleagues. Since the MERGER we're making a concerted effort to get out, have a drink (the club is actually called Just One) and do a little bonding, venting, laughing, complaining, or whatever is required on any given date. This was only the second club meeting - the first was ok, but a little depressing. Everyone was very stressed about the MERGER and we were in the middle of our first budgeting cycle with the new parent company which caused some...well...angst? But last night, we were a little more light-hearted and oh the things I learned.

Story #1: Closing Out Bad Health

The only gent in our group last night - DLR - proceeded to tell us a story of a health scare he had several years a very humorous way. It manifested in waking each morning with a great feeling of heaviness and constriction of his chest and after a couple of weeks, he really feared for a serious condition. He went to the Dr. and was run through an extensive cadre of tests....all coming back clean.

Suddenly, his Dr. asked - do you have pets???

Why yes, answered DLR.

Are they large or small?

Well, I have a cat and a dog and the dog is mid-sized, the cat is large and fat - about 25 pounds.

Do they sleep in the bed with you?

Well, yes they do.

Ok, here is what I want you to do - I want you to set a low volume alarm for about 2:30AM.


Just do it.

Result: DLR sets alarm and at the quiet beep, beep, beep he awakes and finds his cat - all 25 pounds of her - curled up on his chest.

Doctor, Doctor - I woke up and this is what I found...

Aha - that is what I suspected - having 25 pounds on your chest for several hours a night can cause some serious pain and discomfort when you awake.

But what should I do, Dr. to stop her from doing this - I'm asleep - how do I keep her from climbing on my chest??

And then the Doctor - with great patience and solemnity - told my very smart friend:

{can you guess the answer? scroll down to see.}

When you go to bed? Close the damn door.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Humble Thanks

HLM (Dad) 1926-2003

Today is one of the few days designated to remember the fallen and to thank those men and women who stand on a wall and take our national interests to heart and to arms.

Today is one of the many days that I reflect on how lucky I am to live in a country where my right to protest war is as protected by a person in uniform as is my neighbors right to support it.

Today is the day, with no sense of hypocrisy at all, I wore my peace symbol t-shirt while donating to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in memory of my father and uncle, and in honor of their youngest brother - all veterans who served their country with a sense of duty and honor.

How did you thank a veteran today?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's because of my typos, isn't it?

Typos have cursed me most of my life. About 20 years ago, when I was searching desperately for work, I had 4 interviews in one day. My current Company (shall remain nameless here), Reader's Digest (dream job), Pepsi Co headquarters (free DP for life!), and a financial firm ($$$$). My Company was at the bottom of my list.

Because I was going for an entry level job - every company gave me a typing test with my interview...every company except MY Company, that is. You guessed it, one offer on the table when it was over and it was the job without the typing test.

I can't regret it as the journey at this company has taken me from entry-level administrative assistant to a manager of a national team with plenty of interesting side-trips and challenges along the way.

Today, I listened to NPR and the BBC's coverage of the mother of a slain soldier in Britain lambasting the Prime Minister for, among many other things, 25 typos in the letter of condolence he sent to her family. Her real complaint was the lack of helicopters to save her son from bleeding to death, but the typos hurt enough for her to count and present to the Prime Minister as an insult that she took great umbrage with.

Every year, when I do that holiday letter thing (which has shrunk to a holiday post card in recent years) I have a "friend" who delights in receiving it and immediately calling me to point out my typos - which range from the traditional typo to the misuse of a word, or a comma, or other grammatical error. I claim to be a writer. I did graduate with a 4-year degree in English. But hell, sometimes my mind and my fingers are not in sync. And sometimes, I don't care enough to spend the extra time to proof read. So sue me.

In the hop-skip-jump way my thoughts work, I was admiring the new layout and content at the Women's Colony today and recalled Mrs. G contacting me this summer to write an article from the working woman perspective. I took my sweet time getting back to her (a month) with my article, and then suggested perhaps the WC could use a working woman room (a Den?) that I'd love to contribute to on a regular basis.

I haven't heard back.

It's been more than two months.

And I wonder if it's because of my typos.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Despite my masterful procastination....

I entered the weekend convinced I would get everything done that needed to happen. The biggest priority - my term paper for Leading Change class due next weekend. And as my master plan unfolded (or disintegrated)....this is how my weekend went.

  1. Plan to stay late at office on Friday when all is quiet and do some further outlining of paper and annotate articles.
    What happened? Well....a good friend came by my desk to do some bragging on her kids and then we talked for about 2 hours and then I answered some emails and then...I played with some stuff on my desk...and was time to go home.

  2. Plan to get to bed early, then get up Saturday AM and head to the gym. Also hit friend's new store opening in Valley Cottage and maybe Annie Sez for the great sale going on. Then come home, hit the books, while laundry runs and get that paper done.
    What happened? I fell asleep on the couch after hubby went to bed (around 1AM) and woke up at 5AM all befuddled. I crawled upstairs and washed the grime and smeared makeup from my face and climbed under the covers. Next eye opener - 11AM. Given my inability to enact my plan as envisioned, I froze and stayed in bed watching movies until 4PM when I had to get up to have dinner with my in-laws.

  3. Plan to come home from dinner and relax, then get an early start Sunday, go to gym (missed on Saturday) and go to friend's new store (missed on Saturday), and forego the Annie Sez sale in order to get home and do laundry (missed on Saturday) and finish paper (now a must do!)
    What happened? I fell asleep when we got home from dinner (8:30PM!) but at least this time I was in bed - woke up at 3AM dying for water and then found myself awake until about 6AM. Finally fell back to sleep until more acceptable hour of 9AM....but couldn't motivate my ass out of bed. I mean after all - what was waiting for me but a workout, homework, and laundry - yuck.

  4. All Plans abandoned or blown, I finally hit the computer at 12 noon, with a yogurt in my tummy, but no ab crunches completed, at which time I spent about 2 hours surfing and goofing around on blogs, making popcorn and eventually starting the laundry, playing with cats, reading 2 chapters from a novel, checking out HGTV site for bedroom designs, and Bed Bath & Beyond for duvet covers. Finally, as hubby got home from his lodge duties at about 4:30PM I'm settling into the paper...working at a record pace I slam through the materials and write write write write for 3 straight hours and I'm done. 10 page paper complete and proofread, printed and ready to go. Oh - and 5th/last load of laundry in dryer!

I love it when a plan comes together, don't you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Two-Way Communication

I'm thinking I need to change the name of my blog. I've been focusing so much on communication lately - because it is my work, and my school focus...and well communication is everywhere right? Anyway...that's just a sideline to today's topic: Two-Way Communication.


I've been reading more blogs these days. The Women's Colony has some great writers and great readers with blogs of their own, so I've been linking in here and there to check people out who comment on the WC and also to scan through their blog rolls. A little fresh content to read, I guess. And in the way of good blogging, I'm trying to connect with people with a little two - way communication by posting a comment here or there.

One of these forays took me to a great site - Swistle's - and some insights on voting: namely, what should and should not be fodder for our politicians. It thought her post was excellent and not just because I agree with her position. It was clean, concise and unemotional. It was logical and respectful. And let's face it when it comes to issues like voting on gay marriage, people's emotions typically take over. I decided her post deserved some positive feedback and so I moved to the comment link.

And. Then. I. Paused.

She had over 100 comments. Hmmmm. Is this typical traffic for Swistle I wondered or had the controversial topic, even so respectfully handled, driven the crazies out for a ride?

Still, I thought, I'd like to connect with this person. This post was worth my attention and my effort to comment. I scrolled all the way down to the bottom and typed a polite and insightful comment (if I do say so myself). Then I glanced at the comment above and my jaw dropped open. Leaving my draft comment in place, I continued scrolling and realized there was a bit of a knock-down-drag-out happening in the comment section of Swistle's blog. All of the emotion she had managed to keep out of the post was spilling over in the comment section and I could almost see in my mind's eye the rabid hordes of protesters standing on either side of her home screaming at one another.

My blood began to boil as I felt the emotion that too often clouds our judgment in these matters rise to the level of her other commenters. I called on specific names to rebut their arguments and positions, I wrote and re-wrote the response which was growing longer and more emotional by the minute. Any of you who read my blog normally know my rather rigid stance against organized religion and that OR thing was all over this blog. Then, by some happenstance, my computer blue-screened and all of my vitriol was wiped out in one moment.

Today, I went back to Swistle's site and checked on the status. The comments were up to nearly 150 at this point and most of them were a continuing argument between a few rabid players. I was happy, I determined, that my computer had saved me from engaging in the battle as my peaceful little blog has thus far escaped too much controversy and poison from readers somehow offended by my lonely little opinions.

However, I wonder if this very relief is indicative of how the moderates in the world end up allowing the extremists on either side to do their speaking for them. Is this how, on election day, the rights of our fellow humans are trampled upon? Because there are more voices raised in hate than in acceptance? Is it a lesson to learn that quiet acceptance of differences cannot be the norm until LOUD PROPONENTS of differences prevail?

So, from here, I'm heading back to Swistle's blog and put my two cents out there. But I'm going to try and moderate my comments with respect and logic and quiet fortitude and leave the vitriol to others.

But MO-OM I don't wanna go to school

This is echoing through my head as I prepare for my last class of the semester and enroll for my next semester in the seemingly never-ending pursuit of my master's degree. I'm feeling particularly anti-school today because I have a group project (collective groan from all my fellow-suffering grad students) due next weekend.

I work in groups all the time at my office. In fact, I rarely do anything completely alone and thrive from collective brainstorming, consensus building, and co-authoring of written materials. I would NEVER complete something without getting someone else to weigh just sharpens my process and final deliverable.

But at school, with people who just aren't motivated or interested in participating, I'm sick of the group project. Just leave me alone to do my reading, writing, and class participation without the rest of you, thank you very much.

This weekend I must complete my own final paper on "Leading Change" which is more complicated than it sounds because it's about applying the soft sciences to the much more defined workplace environment. A study of human behavior within an organization. I, of course, am using the MERGER as my topic, which adds to the complexity as I AM LIVING THIS EVERY DAY. And while it is great to have the professor tell you to write the paper like you are EMPOWERED to make the change happen as you need it's pretty frustrating to then go into the office and have little to no power at all.

But back to the group.

They bug me. And not ladybug bug, but more like spider bug.

The two "men" in my group seem like they are barely old enough to have graduated high school, much less college and have had little to no interest in making a real effort since the professor shared his grading philosophy of never giving less than a B. Well that's great for all of us who need a B or higher to get tuition reimbursement (professor's reasoning), but what about the group that is hauling around these two teenagers like a couple of bowling balls.

Next week we will have one hour to complete our group project, then we have to do a 45 minute role-play exercise. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I spent the last 3 hours orchestrating the whole thing on paper with role descriptions, class participation notes, and scene by scene breakdown aligned with 75% of the change management tools we've learned about in class.

After this I think I should be allowed to sit in the back of the room and pick my nose and get my A, but I doubt the professor would understand. Then again, according to him I could sit in the back of the room and pick my nose and won't get lower than a B.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ladybug, Ladybug

Nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky. Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.

So, given the work environment and economic conditions, I'm okay about welcoming a few into my office this fall. For the last several weeks my metal mini-blinds have been "tink-tinking" with every lifting and landing of a friendly polka dotted beetle.

This is likely the only insect I can say I welcome. I don't mind if they crawl across my hand, or my keyboard, and no shiver up and down my spine that spiders, ants, bees, and other bugs can induce.

Currently there are about 6 crawling on and around my window. Once in a while, I try to move them onto the friendly green leaves of my plants, but they tend to prefer the window glass, blinds, and papers on my desk.

I would not, however, be so welcoming if the numbers grew to the thousands I read about in Washington and Maryland.
And we might have to revisit that legend about sadness and misfortune.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More New Stuff

Today I visited our soon-to-be new address. Office, that is, not home. For the first time in over 35 years, my company is relocating its headquarters from the outskirts/suburbia to a downtown location.

(Don't get excited, it's not like we are moving to Manhattan, just little old White Plains). We will also be moving from a building that is entirely our own space to a two-floor setup in a high-rise building with many other tenants.

While walking the space with another member of my group, she kept talking about what a change this will be for our culture. I thought she meant being able to walk to public transit...or being able to run an errand at the adjacent huge shopping mall...or having covered parking in the winter...all the GREAT things about this new place. But how naive of me not to think that people dwell on the negative when it comes to change.

When you make a move personally, there are a lot of psychological steps you take. You make the decision. Then, filled with excitement at your decision, you purge, you pack, you clean, and maybe you mourn a little, but then you return to your state of excitement and you go! When your company moves you multiply this by 300 people and then you add on the not insignificant element of upheaval that comes from the first step being skipped by 295 of the people involved. Yes, that's right, those 295 did NOT make the decision to move. (For the record, I am one of the 295, not the 5).

For some reason, in the business world, this means that 295 people feel it is their duty to feel betrayed, to bitch, to whine, to question, and even to revolt. I find it tremendously amusing, and equally frustrating, to watch people act out on this emotional reaction.

I often find myself asking, "If you were to get a job offer tomorrow at a new company how much of your decision to accept or not would be based on the square footage of your cubicle; the height of your cubicle walls; the identity of your cubicle neighbor; the distance between your desk and the bathroom, the break room, the exit; etc? When you look for a job do you think, I will only apply for a job on this street? or do you think within X miles of my home? If you accept that job, do you expect them to buy you a new chair, replace the art work on the adjacent wall, provide you with an extra filing cabinet or book shelf, or move the HVAC unit over your desk??"

Of course not. If you are like 99.9% of us working folks, you just want to know you like the company, you enjoy the work and do it well, you hopefully will like your boss, and you'll get some nice pay and benefits out of the deal.

Why is it then, that just because you have now worked for a company for 3 months to 30 years do you assume that you have the right to dictate individual needs into a space designed for 300 people? Why do you feel that in this economy, or really any economy, it is appropriate to bitch about the company saving money by reducing individual cubicle space by 2 square feet/person rather than doing a 10% layoff?

I understand. Really I do. It's change. No one loves change. But this is business folks. So let's make a business kind of deal.

Go home, put your feet up on your favorite cushion, have a glass of your favorite wine, watch your favorite TV channel. We won't interfere, I promise. We won't dictate that you move the couch 3 inches to the left, turn the volume down on your tv, and change from red wine to white. Essentially, I'm asking you to go home at the end of the day and LIVE YOUR LIFE AS YOU SEE FIT.

And tomorrow, in exchange, when you come into work....well...COME IN TO FREAKING WORK. Don't stress about cubicle arrangements, conference rooms, artwork, or the size and temperature of the breakroom fridge. Let the Company run its business as best it can.

And in the end, please remember, you have a job. Not only that, you have a good job for a good company that does good work.

Deal? Deal.