Thursday, April 24, 2014

motherboard overload

There have been no blog posts here for more than a week.  It’s been on my mind to write something, but it seems that when the going gets tough, the will to put out any unnecessary communication stops.  My job is killing me these past weeks.  Not only am I trying to keep up with all the ongoing projects, I’m under the gun (so to speak) to get databases migrated to new servers, update all my asset policy statements, assist unwilling people to complete security reviews, AND…to top that off…on Monday this week, a lady walked into our area of the building and announced “You folks all need to vacate your cubes by May 1 – we are beginning a remodel project.” 

Lovely.  So then we all scramble to find a place to move into.  Fortunately, there are some empty cubes around the floor.  When people leave the company, their jobs are filled at corporate headquarters.  I selected a cube with a window overlooking the front parking lot – at least there’s a window for my plants to get some natural light.  The cube was piled with boxes and broken equipment, all dusty and dirty.  I hauled most of it over to another junked-up cube, wiped everything off with sanitizing wipes, and started the arduous process of packing and moving my stuff.  In spite of all that’s going on, I’m about 40% moved.  Hooray!

So, the constant badgering and stress that is my job all day long, causes me to appreciate when I can take my kayak out on a lake and get away from all of humankind and civilization.  Even if only for less than two hours, the deafening silence is sheer delight.  I am a completely different creature out alone on the water – it’s just me in this time and place, with nobody demanding anything from me.  It’s an amazing freedom.

A day in the office makes me feel like a machine…sort of a robot with multiprocessors that multitask under control of an automated task scheduling system.  It must be that I’ve been working this job for so long that even nonroutine things can be handled without my direct attention.  It’s not uncommon for me to be working on two or three issues while carrying on a couple of instant message conversations while reading/replying to emails while talking on the phone while watching a Webcast presentation.  Today things got really hectic and I had the thought that if I just added a third monitor, my life would be easier.  Ridiculous thought! 

It must be that people who work with computers all day long take on the characteristics of machines.  Perhaps electrons are absorbed by our fingers and travel into our brains through our central nervous systems where they are absorbed by brain cells and morph our cranial DNA.  My double helices that were once enzymes and proteins have transformed into digitized long single strands of binary fiber.  After I’m dead, no doubt an autopsy will reveal that a power surge fried my motherboard.

Monday, April 14, 2014

say what?

I’ve been trying to write for a few days, but my mind has been everywhere but in the right place to construct a blog post that anyone (including me) would ever want to read.  My mental to-do list has become so lengthy that I can’t even make myself consider it.  A few weeks ago, I started a paper list and stopped….it was just too overwhelming.  Alas, my personal life has become as chaotic as my work life.  Who is to blame for this situation?  Me.  Of course, me.  Who else?

I may not have announced to the world that I got that teaching job I interviewed for.  Come August when fall term starts, I’ll officially be Dr. KYLady, IT instructor at a community college.  Oh, but don’t get your hopes up, I can’t quit the corporate job yet.  Teaching one class the entire fall term pays little more than enough to cover our house payment for one month.  I’ll be working two jobs until I build up some experience for my resume.  It’s OK…it’s a step in the right direction, a stepping stone to a new career.

To prepare myself for this teaching job, I enrolled in a MOOC at  It’s called University Teaching 101, an online course designed for graduate assistants who are going to teach college-level courses without any teaching experience – people like me.  It’s been great so far.  I’ve learned a lot, primarily that planning which concepts to teach and what order to teach them is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

We learned about learning styles and the importance of identifying what my students’ and my own preferred learning styles are.  A teacher will most likely prefer to teach the way she prefers to learn.  This is not be a good thing for her students because they will represent a variety of learning styles.  So, we were invited to take two learning style assessments to learn about ourselves.  I was not too surprised by the outcome of these tests.  I was pretty much middle of the road on the continuums of active – reflective learner, sensing – intuitive learner, and sequential – global learner.  But on the continuum of visual – verbal, I am on the visual pole.  I’ve always known I don’t listen well.  This is my proof…it’s not just my imagination.  Even at work, when somebody calls with a problem and wants to explain it to me, I will usually cut them off and ask them 
to share their desktop with me, to show me the problem.

Fortunately for me, the class I’m teaching will be online.  I will do a lot of reading and writing, but very little speaking/listening to students…unless they want to call me.

When I was in school, I was a good student (except for 7th grade….and I have no idea what happened that year).  By good student, I mean I got good grades and didn’t cause trouble.  It’s a miracle because what I remember most about school (at least until my last few years of high school), was that I never seemed to know what was going on or when things were due.  I sat in my chair and stared out the window, or scribbled in my notebook, or read ahead if we had books open in front of us.  It must have been very boring, but I liked school.  It was very predictable, and my teachers were nice to me. 

Even as an adult, Someone and all my kids will say I never listen to them.  That’s a little bit exaggeration, because of course I listen sometimes. But, I do remember a few times when Sarah and Emily were toddlers.  They climbed up on my lap, put their little hands on both sides of my head and put their face inches from mine to command 100% of my attention.  Was I really that bad?  Apparently so.      

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

for whom the bell tolls

Across the road from where my office is, there is a Catholic hospital.  Sometimes I think hospitals and doctor’s offices are taking over the entire planet.  In this area where I live, I’m sure it’s because not only are the majority of us fat sloths,  many of us already have cancer or are developing it because of all the steel, chemical, and coke plants along the river.  The health care business is booming here in the Ohio River valley, unfortunately. 
Anyway, about a year ago, the hospital installed a loudspeaker/sound system so they can broadcast a replication of Big Ben.  On the half-hours, they play a short hymn.  At 12:30 in the afternoon, the hymn is always Amazing Grace, played slightly out of tune.  This is all OK, I’m not complaining.  Still, I imagine a system such as this cost plenty of money and surely the money could have been put to better use somehow.  The clocky-sounds emitted by this feat of technology do not enrich my perception of our civilization.  

Many mornings, I come into work just as Big Ben is sounding 8:00.  If it starts while I’m still out in the parking lot, it makes me feel like Cinderella escaping the ball before the clock strikes midnight.  Hurry!!! My beautiful dress will become rags and my glass slippers will disappear when I hear that last *BONG*.  Actually, it’s more like I imagine myself changing into a pumpkin...I can't even imagine myself as Cinderella in that story.  If I ever become a pumpkin, I hope it will be a tall, dark, warty one with deep furrows….that’s my favorite kind.  They have so much more character than the smooth, round, bright orange ones. 

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by Catholics, their rituals, and their clothes.  As a girl, I use to feel sorry for Catholic kids because they had to wear uniforms to school.  I saw school uniforms as a precursor to the habits and robes worn by nuns and monks.  In the town I grew up in, we had a monastery that sat on top of a hill.  It was surrounded by deep woods and a very tall black iron fence that went all around it.  The buildings inside were made of stone, and there were iron bars over many of the windows and doors.  There were stone paths inside and outside the compound and sometimes I saw nuns and monks walking the paths and whispering to each other.  The monks wore robes with hoods.  In my mind, monks were very mysterious and creepy.  Many of them had full beards.  When they had their hoods up over their heads, they looked like members of a witch coven.  When I was young, I thought all Catholic kids had to become nuns and monks and live in monasteries.  I was truly grateful not to be born Catholic.

As a girl, I loved to climb that thick-wooded hill, walk the perimeter of the iron fence surrounding the monastery, and spy on people.  I imagined myself to be James Bond, or someone from Mission Impossible, or Man from U.N.C.L.E.  When nobody was out and about, sometimes I crawled under the fence and got a closer look at things inside the compound.  The trees were huge and there was lots of honeysuckle and bushes which made good cover for hiding.  The place was quiet, like a cemetery, and somehow holy…or maybe I only imagined it was holy because of all those Catholic people living there.  I sometimes wondered if spying on Catholics was evil, and if God would cause something bad to happen to me for doing it.  Nothing bad ever happened, so apparently God was OK with it.    

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

hope springs eternal

Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.
This little rhyme has been rolling around my head since yesterday morning.  Monday mornings are just so terribly hopeless.  Such is life when one is totally burnt out and completely uninspired with her job.  It’s that hopelessness, that knowing that the work week this week will be like last week’s will be like last week’s will be like last week’s…and fantasizing about anything better than last week… that keeps me wanting to stay snuggled under a pile of blankets on Monday mornings.  I will think, “Oh, if only I could just stay in bed forever!”  It’s a terrible wish and one I would never say out loud.  Sure as shit, God would grant it if he heard me say it. 
It’s not so much that I want to stay in bed really, but more that I don’t want to face another day in the office.  It’s not that my job is routine and boring, because it’s not anything like that.  It’s more like a 12-ring circus with so much going on that nobody can see it all.  When I leave at the end of the day, it feels like I’ve been splattered to the four walls, or ripped apart by hungry wolves, or something devastating like that. 
As horrible and hopeless as my work life is, Spring seems to be here today and has brought its hope to my spirit.  Hope is a wondrous thing.  I stepped out at lunchtime and took in one deep breath that carried the smell of freshly mowed grass and daffodils.  The warm sunshine caused me to shuck off my jacket and look up to see a cloudless blue sky.  It all reminded me that those 60 hours of corporate slavery are nothing that matters in the big scheme of things.  Golf courses to visit, lakes to paddle my kayak on and swim in, woods to tromp through with Gracie, horses to ride, and gardens to plant and tend….all these things are promises of spring.  My hammock!!!  Yes, soon I’ll be hanging that up again.

There is so much to be grateful for.  Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye...but not in the spring.