Wednesday, March 30, 2011

mid-day oasis

Somebody I love is going on a far journey soon. I pray for her safety.

Today was a “hard core” work day. I have been doing too much project admin work and not enough nuts-and-bolts work. A higher-up complained about too many open tickets on one of my apps. I spent the entire day today working the queue. I made at least 45 phone calls, seven or eight netmeetings, IMd, God knows how many e-mails with typical cubicle people-traffic disruptions. Mid afternoon, my cubie-mate across the hall asked if I had time to take a walk. YES – LET’S GO!!! Blessed escape, even if only for 20 minutes.

This is a view of our oasis when standing on the dam. This photo was taken earlier this month. Now we are looking like spring here which is a wonderful thing. As often happens in our part of the county, our forsythia bushes and daffodils got nipped by frost. The Bradford pears and weeping cherries are glorious right now. Perhaps I will make time to take photos this week.

Never ever ever stop thinking about my dissertation. It’s churning in the background even when I’m asleep or working on something else. Hmmmmm….does that mean it’s an obsession?

I made the changes to Chapter 1 suggested by my mentor. It’s not appropriate to call my variables independent\dependent because it will be a correlational study. They are called predictors and criterions. I asked him that question once, but his answer did not make it clear to me, obviously.

The next section to write is an overview of the theoretical framework. I have all the pieces, it’s time to strategize and integrate, like circle the wagons. The theories of the scaffold include (but are not limited to) those on topics of: social exchange, LMX, reciprocation, servant leadership, transformational leadership, Heinrich’s safety triangle, citizenship behavior, OHS, EHS systems, safety climate, safety culture, confidentiality, anonymity, and maybe secrecy if I get REAL ambitious. I'm going into the trenches!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Intermittent peace

Oh, my. The world has no idea what my weekend and Monday have been like! Whirlwind.

Anyway, hopefully that is now at least 20% behind me by tomorrow morning. It’s back into battle for me tomorrow. Defend! Dispel! Deny!

Tonight ends my second session of mentor-led dissertation work. I gave Dr. E. my draft of Chapter 1 for review over the weekend. He returned it to me today and said, “Right on target.” Three words are all I needed to hear, and he gave them to me. The scaffold is in place…

It’s late, if I’m not working I should be sleeping….but not tonight. Good news at the end of a wretched day – time to celebrate. (I have been :)

Erin drew this picture of me…I love it!!!  It gets bigger if you click on the image.  Notice the Book of Crap just above my pencil. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011


The room that I work in is a disaster zone. We refer to it as the junk room, and rightly so! It’s supposed to be the dining room in our house, but it’s a very small room. To make matters worse, we have a gigantic table in it that crowds the whole room. Jerry bought this table – solid walnut antique – for like nothing in a yard sale. The room (and primarily the table) is where everyone comes in and piles junk they don’t want to put away – coats, backpacks, mail, magazines, gym bags, books…you name it, it’s in there.

We have never been a family that sits at a table and eats together – ever! It’s a long story and I tried to make changes when it was time to teach the twins some table manners, but I failed miserably. For one reason, our schedules have always been too hectic. Another reason, Jerry is funny about food and always wanted to eat when HE wants to eat, not at some scheduled dinner-time. It was never a family dinner like you see on TV; none of us really wanted to sit together for dinner.  It’s sort of pointless for us to have a dining room because we have no need for one. In fact, the only time any of us sits with another one of us to eat is when we’re in a restaurant.

So, finally, I have been cleaning the clutter from this room. I came across a small box of old photos, my family photos. I have only a few of these – that’s another long story. Anyway, I found this one of my brothers and me – taken at Christmas obviously when I was home on Christmas break from college. M (holding the cat) is 18, I am 19, and R is 20. I know our ages because of my shirt – I joined an honor society my freshman year thinking it would look good on a resume someday, and I liked the looks of Greek letters. The honor society was pointless and rather stupid – I got the tee-shirt for joining, went to the first (and last) meeting, and left early to meet friends for some serious beer drinking.

The photo is old and faded, like most of the photos in the box. I scanned it because it’s obviously deteriorating and it may be the only picture in existence of the three of us together after we left home.   R looks so good in this photo, nothing like he does now as an alcoholic/drug addict/killing himself every day.   He wants no part of recovery….he won’t be with us too much longer, not at the pace he’s going. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

crap and perfection

I promise never to put my work out here again! It’s the worst thing in the world to write something that I think is decent, then read it back the next day. I read that problem statement (in my prior post) and thought, “Dear God, what a convoluted mess that is!!” Needless to say, I have been working all day on my problem statement and just finished it. It is quite different from what I previously stated. Primarily, the problem is no longer that no research has been done (that relates more to the significance section) – it’s that leaders who recognize they need to change their leadership styles have no empirical evidence to base their decision on – i.e. which style works best to get workers to report incidents? As if my study can help somebody make a decision…unlikely….but who knows? In the real world, managers don’t have time to read a bunch of crap.

I used to video Sarah’s performances (sometimes at her request) and she hated watching herself (usually turned it off). Same with Emily – I bought videos of her dance competitions and she would start to watch herself and then leave the room. Perhaps we are all so critical because we can’t be perfect. Erin is very critical of her artwork….and I love the stuff she draws (and to watch Emily dance and to hear Sarah sing). We’re just a bunch of perfectionists in this family. Why is that?

Gee – enough digression….I have to get back to work. Blogging is a luxury I can’t afford these days. 

Chewy - perfect pet (almost)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ummmm.Can I?

Worked in the office nine hard hours today. Things are crazy for me right now . My standardized truck scale (shelved) project arose from the dead yesterday and morphed into a one-site rush job. The DSP is my #1 priority as of 2:30 PM today. Problems with this are: 1) our project processes changed a few weeks ago (again) and I’m not familiar with them yet (I get check-the-box training on them Tuesday) 2) Detroit wants to start using their bulk loader NOW but more acceptance testing is needed, then I have to catch up documentation before I can release it. 3) My Near Miss project is behind schedule 3 weeks. 4) MapEngineering croaked out Feb 25 and it was reported today. I requested to have EDS Wintel team engaged to delete a file (Can you believe I have to request an outside party to access an internal file for me? This is our model! We can’t trust our own employees. ) 5) TXC can’t view 50% of their PDFs – received authorization but now needs documentation before I can proceed to fix the problem. God this could go on all night. My mental list is usually 12 items or so….you should see my written list. This is my work – what I do.

I’m a circus performer! Maybe a magician at times! Sometimes it takes me 3 seconds to do what it takes somebody else 3 days to do. Sometimes people call me with “Help! I must do the impossible!!!!!” and I’m able to say, “Oh, give me a sec… ya go…”

My goodness that’s a powerful feeling!!! Computers and technology make miracles happen!

Problem Statement

The incident rate for fatal and serious injuries in the workplace has not improved as much as the incident rate for minor injuries. Conditions that cause harm are the same conditions that cause incidents where no harm results. Whether or not harm occurs from an incident or set of conditions is oftentimes a matter of luck. The general problem is that developing a culture that supports reporting near miss incidents and learning from them is challenging for many reasons (i.e. blame culture; fear from job security issues; time, expertise, and amount of work to analyze incidents and implement resolutions; negative management reactions; normalization of risk; perception that management doesn’t care) . The main problem is that changing safety culture takes time and depends on leadership. Leaders may decide to invest in near miss management systems to facilitate reporting, analysis, and continual improvement, but these investments may not yield intended benefits if the organization’s culture doesn’t or can’t use systems as intended. Transformational leadership and servant leadership are effective for building strong safety culture but the relationship of either of these with intent to report near miss incidents has not adequately been studied. Little empirical research has been published regarding intent to report near miss incidents, and few studies could be found that address which style might promote or predict incident reporting. Little empirical research has been conducted to determine how confidential or anonymous reporting may influence workers to report near miss incidents. A quantitative correlational study involving workers in industrial facilities in the United States may produce new information to improve understanding of the relationships between leadership style and intent to report near miss incidents, and the influence of confidentiality and anonymity on intent to report near misses.

Now, I am going back through the literature to support my statements here. All of this was gleaned from what I’ve been reading. For that paragraph, I have noted 11 sources, but I have to find a few more.

I’m learning my sources better and the thought of this makes me smile as I type. Am I finally mastering my topic? Maybe I’m becoming an eccentric old geek. It’s probably true.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

me tree

Work has been hell this week.  I took off time last week to make warp-speed progress on my dissertation proposal.  I did do a lot of research but the writing aspect was….not….just not happening at all.  Anyway, I had like over  1,000 emails and 40-some trouble tickets to wade through when I got back after a weekend and 4 business days off.  I’m still drowning (this is all in addition to my scheduled commitments for this week).  I had thoughts of escape today – I was thinking of turning into a tree and disappearing into a large forest…I doodled a bit during a dreary phone consult.  There are woods behind my office building, but if I’m putting down roots, it has to be far away from here.  When I was a little kid, I used to pray to God to change me into a tree.  Nobody expects anything at all from a tree.  They don’t have to do anything but be what they are and be where they are.  It sounds like a perfect life. 
Chapter 1 is still in progress, currently finishing up the background of the problem section which should be a very easy part, and I’m struggling with it. What is the problem with me with this?? Basically, I’ve about decided I really just hate leadership…the whole topic of it doesn’t interest me at all. Why is that? It must be because I’m not much of a people person. Leadership is a people-related thing. I don’t like making decisions and don’t much care about making decisions for myself or anyone else. Of course I do make decisions all the time, sometimes I even agonize over stuff when I have trouble making a decision. When Jerry asks me where I want to go to dinner, I always say anywhere is fine. Why do I always say this? Two reasons: 1) I really don’t give a shit, and 2) if I pick anyplace other than one of his two favorite places, he will pout about it all evening. Rather than have me guess where he wants to eat, I just let him pick. It’s so much easier!

So, how is it my dissertation deals with leadership when I hate it so much? BECAUSE…it’s the only way I can think of to avoid getting permission from a company that will include something I am interested in – near miss incident management. The truth is, I don’t even care much about management. What I really like is incident investigation, but whatever topic I choose for my dissertation has to deal with business, information systems or technology, and have a leadership component. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn or I’d never get through this damn thing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday is over

The other side of our fair planet - things are in a sorry state. The images are horrifying. Pray for people and our Earth.

We cannot predict and plan for disasters well enough. I saw a video today showing how the skyscrapers in Tokyo swayed, and remained standing!! Score 1 for mankind! This earthquake makes me think my work is important. I could use a motivator right now, but disaster isn’t what I have in mind.

Today, I read much more about the similarities and differences of transformational and servant leadership styles. Pretty much the day was devoted to an excellent piece of work by Stone, Russell, and Patterson (2004). These folks gave me a straight-forward rundown of the differences and congruence between transformational\transactional leadership and transformational\servant leadership. They used a lot of original sources (e.g., Bass, Bass & Avolio, Burns, Greenleaf). I’m not sure these germinal sources are available in the library). I pulled 29 more sources from this article.

Tomorrow, I am writing Chapter 1. My research is complete enough to draft Chapter 1.

My youngest daughters are 15 now. Twins…sometimes I still have trouble believing it. Their first year is still a blur to me. The regimen of caring for twins (no sleep or personal time) prepared me for doctoral work. Gosh – they were so darn cute!!  I think they are not more than three in this picture...maybe two.

The babysitter took this photo.  My girls had the perfect babysitter, what a lucky mother I was to find the perfect person for such an important job. 


Stone, A. G., Russell, R. F., & Patterson, K. A. (2004). Transformational versus servant leadership: A difference in leader focus. Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 25(4), 349-361. doi: 10.1108/01437730410538671.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pray for Japan

The disaster in Japan makes me sad. Devastation is overwhelming, and nuclear plants are struggling to maintain control. I read one is now emitting scary stuff into the atmosphere. Are we to have Chernobyl again?

Scenes of a refinery tank farm blowing were horrifying. I wonder how fast an entire refinery can be shut down? Does it seem possible or feasible to practice that drill? Emergency shutdowns and emergency startups are rehearsed, procedures are written and balloted for approval and publication. What happens in a real emergency? If the procedures aren’t engrained and people conditioned to react correctly, who knows what could happen! The Deepwater Horizon survivors gave us insight.

Today was day three of my quest to complete a proposal draft of Chapter 1. I must do more research on transformational and servant leadership before I begin to write. The most exciting part of the day is I found a lead on an instrument to measure willingness to report a safety issue. Now the big question is….can I get permission to use it? Authors will have to be contacted...somehow.  If you click pictures, they enlarge (FYI).

I took a photo of another page of notes about leadership.  I found an excellent article that compares and contrasts transformational and servant leadership. It’s EXACTLY what I needed to start off with.  The authors state very clearly the greatest difference between the two leadership styles:  with transformational leadership, the leader motivates followers to achieve goals of the organization.  In essence, the leader inspires followers to serve the organization by modeling the correct behavior.  With servant leadership, the leader serves the followers for the good of the organization.  His attitude is that of “let me help you be a better helper.”  The leader works (serves) to motivate followers to be more useful for the benefit of the organization. My objective is to determine if either of these can predict intent to report near miss incidents.  In many organization cultures, workers do not trust management enough to report near miss incidents.  In climate and culture surveys, both leadership styles (as perceived by followers) have high levels of two-way trust.  GOD, I hope I can find participants!!

It’s selfish of me to address God with the current disaster going on.

Does God wear a shirt that says God on it?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In over my head

Where is this thing going? It feels like floundering – like I’m in way over my head and I’ve been in it way too long.

I raised the issue with my mentor – what does it mean for my study if the survey comes back with no participants perceiving servant leadership traits in their supervisors? Quite honestly, I can see teachers, parents, and perhaps ministers acting as servant leaders, but a boss in corporate America? I’ve never had one in corporate or small business America. I don’t know of any. The solution to the dilemma (says my mentor) is assess for both transformational leadership and servant leadership and see which predicts intent to report near miss incidents better. OK…but…it complicates everything. Now I have to make sense of the exact differences between the two leadership styles and use (purchase) parts of two instruments for the leadership portion of my survey. Then, if nobody responds that they perceive servant leadership, I will just do correlation of transformational style with intent to report.  What if nobody perceives a leader using a transformational style either??  The problem does not go away - I'm screwed.

I have taken three days off work to crank out this proposal and my progress is discouraging. My outline of fun facts to include is 28 full pages long and 56 sources so far, with at least that many more to incorporate. Three days was terribly overly optimistic. Two days are nearly gone and I am still outlining the theoretical framework and collecting evidence for the argument.

It has rained for days and flooding is bad around here. The Scioto River is the worst it has been in many years. Our front yard is a swamp today. When I am finished with school and have a life again, I’ll have a couple of truckloads of top soil dumped in the yard. Spreading it is good hard work and then sowing grass will be a chore. Our lawn is pitiful – we have so many trees (which I love) but not much sun because of them and our top soil has run off over the hill. I miss playing in my flower beds and working in the garden. Once this dissertation is done, things will be better (keep telling myself).

Back to work now!! Current topic is organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) theory. OCBs are beneficial discretionary behaviors (or actions) that people do for their organizations. OCB theory is often explained in the literature with social exchange theory – basically, you care about me so I’ll do something to show I care about you, as Gyekye and Simo (2005) explained it. Mullen’s (2005) theory is that willingness to raise safety issues with management correlates to safety climate. He asserted this willingness is an OCB and identified that willingness to report is like Dutton and Ashford’s (as cited in Mullen) issue selling concept. Issue selling is when organization members try to influence those above them to pay attention to issues that are important to them. People doing work within a context are in the best position to identify unsafe conditions or hazards in that context. Bringing unsafe condition to management’s attention is voluntary and could even have negative consequences for the reporter if the climate is that of a blaming culture. A safety culture where workers are blamed for mistakes is associated with a negative safety climate (Edmonson as cited in Mullen).

Anyway, all these “as cited” will never do for my dissertation. I will have to retrieve the primary sources and see if I interpret things the same way. If the primaries aren’t available, I’ll have to find alternatives. The time to get back to work is RIGHT NOW!


Gyekye, S. A., & Simo, S. (2005). Are “good soldiers” safety conscious? An examination of the relationship between organizational citizenship behaviors and perception of workplace safety. Social Behavior and Personality, 33(8), 805-820. Retrieved from
 Mullen, J. (2005). Testing a model of employee willingness to raise safety issues. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 37(4), 273-282. Retrieved from

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Happy Birthday #24 to Sarah

Erin, Emily, and I drove to Maysville today to visit Sarah and celebrate her birthday with her.  Cherry pie was her request (she likes pie more than cake), so I got up early today and baked a pie.  The drive is about 1.667 hours across beautiful countryside – from Greenup County, across Lewis County, and into Mason County.  It rained all day long and flooding is bad in the Ohio Valley right now.  The creeks everywhere were overflowing their banks.  I wanted to stop and see the property of interest along Kinniconick, but didn’t take the extra 30 minutes of my time to check it out.  It had to be bad.  The Kinni creek bottom around Vanceburg was very high - it's possible the road to get out there could have been impassible in some places. 

Sarah said she wanted 24 candles.  Candles don't stand up well in pie so I offered to get a little cake to put the candles on.  Sarah said her favorite cake in all the world is the Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls...shelf life of those is like two years at least!  I bought a box and we used 5 of them to hold 24 candles.  

Sarah's grandparents came over and Woody Sr. helped me light the candles.  He has a fire bug in him just as his son did (as do I :))))).  ANYWAY, we sang happy birthday and Sarah (probably made a wish) and blew out the candles.  Swiss cakes for the brave, cherry pie, and kool-aid, with Thomas exploring the new coffee table and Jack sleeping on Erin's feet. Jack is a good dog, but has that hound dog wandering spirit.  He has to be tied up securely when he's not in the house.  He won't stay home and he's an escape artist.

We drove around a bit today.  I had not been in downtown Maysville since Woody's funeral.  It's such a quaint little town with most of the historic downtown buildings still well-maintained.  We ate lunch in Sarah's favorite Chinese restaurant this afternoon.  Spending Saturday with my chiildren - life is good.

Tomorrow will be devoted to hard-core work.  The new strategy begins tomorrow...actually started it tonight.  Dr. E ticked me off this morning, but after thinking about his comments, I've come to agree with him.  I may have to resort to my sample selection methods, but I should attempt more legitimate methods first.  I'm not a people person - it's a handicap in this world. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

stiletto karate

Hmmm…I was practicing karate (by candle light) and pretended to impale a man on my shoe with a side kick while wearing stiletto heels. :)) Wouldn’t that make an interesting movie scene!! Who should play the parts?

My “learning to negotiate” class ended today. What did I take away? Most importantly, a strategy for negotiating. Two very important things on my plate at the moment:

1. Meeting with boss over an impossible goal he’s holding me accountable for

2. Mentor says my strategy for participant selection won’t hunt in these woods

I used that phrase won’t hunt in these woods because we learned in negotiation class that it’s better to use a crunch rather than use the dreaded word NO or other negative words.

Today, that phrase (won’t hunt in these woods) was used and the respondent replied, “well, what woods can I hunt in?” That was amusing. I was in awe – most of the students have experience with negotiating with external suppliers. A few students were IT. Our clients are mostly internal so there’s less bloodshed. Those people who negotiate contracts as part of their jobs – they can think up some interesting schemes!

ANYWAY..I’m back to karate. Done with computer. Don’t fault me – I drove a jeep like 6 hours today through rain and rush hour traffic in Columbus, sat through an 8-hour class, visited my brother on the way home, and well, got un-positive news from my dissertation mentor. What a day! Practicing karate takes a lot of energy…it is good!

By the way, what does one do when her brother is killing himself?  My instinct is to let him have what he wants.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

World peace is not easy

Today and tomorrow I am in a class to learn how to negotiate. The instructor is amazing – he managed advertising for Pepsi for over 15 years and then took a job with M&M Mars in advertising before becoming a trainer for this consulting company that was brought in. He uses clips from movies to illustrate his points. One of the class exercises we did today was we split into two groups representing two countries with a long history of war. Our goal was to end the war within eight days. Every day, each side could build a total of 10 missiles and each could launch one missile (some days sides could launch 5). We got to negotiate three times (3rd, 5th, and 7th days). If a country had missiles, getting attacked by a missile would take out 10 of their missiles…if they had no missiles, a missile launched on them would kill 20 million people. I forget our populations and how many missiles we had to start. Long story short, in the end, my country was annihilated and they lost 20 million people. They won the war, but the cost was huge. We had two men on my team who were ruthless. If we had voted with them, we would have won the war on the 4th day. Interestingly, the trainer said he purposely divided women evenly between the two teams because women tend to be the most vicious in the exercise. That was not the case regarding my team.  Part of the game is that decisions have to be made with very little time to do math calculations – both sides made math errors that caused us to make bad decisions.

I am in Findlay, Ohio again tonight. Tomorrow is the last day of class and rain in moving in again. Flooding is bad up here.  The water has receded off the streets (they’re still muddy), but people are bracing for it to happen all over again. I hope to be long gone before the water gets too high. As far as negotiating goes, I can see why neither company would let me do the study I wanted to do. I did everything wrong. Maybe not everything…I didn’t do the important things right!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Current state of my dissertation work

 I’m not in the mood to work tonight. Even after another inspirational dream last night about this F’ing dissertation, I am brain dead to it tonight. It’s been a problem to get new theories organized lately; my brain doesn’t like to think chronologically. Fortunately in my dream, I figured out an indexing schema that should get things straightened out, and gee, I would try it if I had any motivation tonight.

I drove 4.5 hours this afternoon/evening for a class that starts tomorrow. Two days of learning how project managers can improve their ability to negotiate. How does a geeky person with no people skills learn to negotiate? We’ll be finding out tomorrow. Class is scheduled to end at 5:00 Friday – at least I won’t be driving through Columbus at rush hour.

So things were kind of weird today. I’m trying desperately to wrap up an estate (my grandfather’s). I stopped by the little bank in a tiny town and picked up one last item from his safety deposit box – emptied it, and released the box back to the bank. The clerk led me into the little room (vault) and opened the box. She left me alone so I could have privacy. I pulled out the box and had an eerie feeling that my grandfather had done this same thing…how many times? I did this today because I had reason to drive down that way (only a few miles detour) while the bank was open. It’s not exactly combining business with pleasure…it wasn’t very pleasant. It was more like combining business with personal business.

He died last summer, just a month before his 95th birthday. Is it bad taste to blog about this stuff? I was with him when he died in the nursing home. I had never seen somebody die, although I’ve been to more funerals and visitations in my lifetime than I could possibly count. What was most amazing to me was how quickly he turned white once he died. A few more details to close out the estate– transferring some stock and dividing the estate account, and then it will all be over. A corpse in a coffin is like plastic or something not real. We had my grandfather cremated per his wishes…so much better.

I spent a lot of the drive thinking about him. Driving through Columbus, I passed Riverside Hospital and remembered about 6-7 years ago, I picked him up at Riverside and took him home. An ambulance had rushed him up there to fix a lead that had come loose from his pacemaker – that could have killed him. My brother called me and said he needed a ride home. I left work and made the 2-hour drive in pouring rain. It was winter and nearly 6 PM before he finally got dismissed. It was like a monsoon all the way home – one of those drives (in the dark) where you have to drive slow with the wipers going as fast as they can and you debate about pulling off because you can’t really see where you’re going. I was on super-alert all the way, hands properly 10 and 2 on the wheel and white knuckles no doubt. My grandfather talked more that night than I’d ever heard him talk in my whole life. That night, I got a chance to know him.