Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Old age and death camp

Take a look at my African violet now - it's the most perfect plant I've ever had the honor of calling my own!

I posted this photo out on FaceBook and just about all my friends remarked their grandmothers grew beautiful African violets like this one.  It must be true - all my assorted grandmother-in-laws and my own grandmothers were\are able to grow lovely African violets.  Does this skill somehow increase with age?  What is the skill - being more intuitive with what plants need to thrive or being less neglectful?  For some reason, when I look at my lovely plant now, it reminds me I'm getting old.  Thanks FB friends.  

I'm driving to my third-year residency tomorrow; estimated 7 hours 47 minutes to Atlanta.  Last night, I completed my Leadership Statement due Friday morning along with a presentation of it for the class.  The more thought I put into this concise statement, the more I'm sure being a leader something I hate doing.  I found enough references and declared myself to be a situational leader per Hersey and Blanchard's leadership model.  The way I try to persuade people to work depends on the characteristics of the people and the tasks they have to do for me.  The fact of the matter is that I have a hard enough time being responsible for myself; I hate being responsible for others.  

The residency is like combat (I think of it as death camp).  It will be an incredible amount of work - nonstop - if it's anything like the previous two residencies.  Classes all day, team projects in the evening, people in my face all day long, and individual assignments every night until I can't function.  Last year's residency was 5 days - this one is 8 days.  No sleep, high stress, and little time for socializing, eating, or anything else.  Tonight I have another presentation to prepare, laundry to do (for the whole family), and packing.  I decided to drive this year so I can take all the stuff I want to take (two laptops, a printer, books, enough clothes so I won't have to do laundry, and my guitar).  Even if I don't find time to touch it, having it there will be comforting.  Wish me luck - I need all I can get! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Diamondback, Leapard eels and FearFest

I've been stressing out over not getting this dissertation study off the ground, not having my literature review written, not having my presentation ready for Atlanta on Friday, the 8-day marathon death camp in Atlanta starting Friday, not having my leadership profile written for Atlanta, not having time to work on my grandfather's estate stuff, not having time to prepare the house and family for my departure, and 9,999 other things that want my attention.  So Saturday, the family and I went to Kings Island for a one-day getaway.  It was supposed to be a getaway, but getting away is nearly impossible with so much brain-clutter going on.  I had the beginnings of a migraine when we left the house and about an hour before we got to the park, I decided to take a migraine pill...just knock it out so it wouldn't get worse.  It worked, but on our first ride of the day, the Diamondback roller coaster...that in combination with the medicine did some weird stuff in my head.  Hard to explain so I won't try to...look at this crazy roller coaster!  The first drop is the biggest - you can see it in this photo in the far back beside the Eiffel Tower replica.  The first drop is as near straight-down as I've ever experienced.  Definitely a thrill ride....can't say it was really all that fun, although the lesser drops and the coils were fun..or perhaps they just seem like fun because I was grateful the worst was over and it was supposed to be fun.

So what does this have to do with leapard eels?  I woke up in the night from a terrible dream.  Me and some unknown man were trapped on an island that was surrounded by a fence that somehow we knew was anchored at the bottom of the ocean and was too high to climb over.  We put on scuba diving gear and were going to escape under the fence.  I've never scuba dived in my life but I did it in my dream.  We swam to the bottom of the ocean and found a place where the fence gapped enough from the ocean bottom that we could get through.  I was afraid to go but he went on through and no more than got to the other side when a  leapard eel came and ferociously zapped him.  He was dead instantly and then a bunch of what I thought were leapard eels came into sight to eat the man.  When they got closer I realized they were snakes, not eels, but marked like leapards. 

So where did this dream come from?  Just before I went to sleep, Someone was watching a show on TV about polar bears, and I watched a polar bear attack and kill a 2-ton walrus.  The blood on his white fur, and on the ice he was standing on, was vivid.  The snakes had to come from the diamondback logos all over the roller coaster.  I can't see a snake without dreaming about them in some fashion.  The leapard eel?  That's an unknown.  I did google them because I thought it was something my imagination invented...but they really do exist.  We went to Kings Island primarily for FearFest - Erin loves that sort of thing.  Kings Island has haunted attractions to extend the year (i.e. make more money) and celebrate Halloween.  Someone and I went through a couple of the haunted attractions and when you've seen one, you've seen them all.  It must be that I took all the scary things from the weekend and merged them into my own fear attraction in the form of a dream.  And that reminds me of another fear - I tend to be claustrophic.  Some of the attractions bugged me because they were constructed like mazes with narrow walls and the scuba diving was definitely own FearFest created by me in my sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The sky is falling OR was it a good omen?

I got up and ran this morning quite early, before light.  The sky was as clear as it gets in the valley of the beautiful Ohio River, and the moon was full.  Playing shadow games is a great way to pass time in the moonlight.  I noticed the big dipper was oriented a bit differently than when I usually see it (I often step outside to wake up when working late nights), and just as I took a second glance at it, a shooting star came streaking out of the bowl of it.  WOW!  I have never seen one last so long or be so brilliant.  My first thought was that the sky is falling....but then thought, no - it's better to believe something good is happening or is about to happen.  If we're going to be superstitious, it might as well be postitive.

Time is late and I must's what they pay me to do here.  Blogging about my life is not one of those things that adds value to the bottom line.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get the matches!

NO MORE working tonight.  I was messing around on FaceBook and thought THIS is the place to be!  I did quite a bit of reading tonight.  It seems to be how the flow of this whole dissertation thing is going to work for me.  Ride the tide.  Read....Think....Write...Repeat.  I'm in the "THINK" stage.  What I read today had less to do with my study, and more to do with JUSTIFICATION for the study and tactical STRATEGY...perhaps better known as Plan of Attack.  My Plan of Attack says that if I want this, I'm going to have to really fight for it.  That makes me want to evoke FIRE!!!  (and let's insert some :D

  Fire is energy - I need to muster it all, circle the wagons, get it together, or...what other sayings mean that?

I read a speach Jordan Barab (OSHA) gave at a conference in San Antonio on 5/19.  He makes excellent points.  "I'm not telling you anything you don't already know: Numbers don't tell the whole story.  Focusing on low DART rates alone won't protect you from disaster. New metrics are needed."

What if we could have a European organizational culture in the US?  I would go to work for them :)

I must start thinking seriously about getting my literature review out of outline form and into some prose.  We should keep the tone solemn and scholarly.  Do you know what I like most about this field of occupational safety??  When I read their writing, I rarely have to look up words and rarely do I need to re-read phrases...but I'm always having to look up acronyms.  These people LOVE their acronyms.  Education people and philosophy people like to write in complex phrases and really unusual words.   

Other stuff on my mind....still trying to settle my grandfather's estate.  The end is finally near.  I've still some stock to deal with and some undocumented cemetary plots.  Last year's taxes may show he paid tax on them.  I will have to contact some unknown cemetary propieter or perhaps inquire at the court house.

Yesterday everything was grim, but today I am hopeful again.  Where's my grade for this course??.  No grade-related feedback whatsoever during the entire 8 weeks!!  I hope for an A but of course I fear for the worst.  I am going to Atlanta so my grade must have been passing, at least.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stop the World!

Sometimes it's just too much!  What is the limit?  Is there a limit?  Yes, I found it and what does that mean?  Not a damn thing! 

Panic is setting in, and I'm not a person who panics.  I'm going to Atlanta next week and I have to do a presentation TOTALLY UNPREPARED for that.  Everything is falling apart, including me.  Writing about it does no good, in fact, makes it worse to see the truth in print.  Refuse to believe this is how failure happens.  Refuse to consider failure.  Bumps in the road, temporary setback - those are acceptable.  Maybe it'll all seem better tomorrow - goodnight world. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Summer Triangle

One of my favorite constellations is the Summer Triangle.  I had an intro astronomy class and one night a week (cloud cover permitting), we got to walk out on the roof of Lappin Hall and look at the sky.  I thoroughly enjoyed that class.  The professor...Dr. WhatsHisName...was SO handsome.  Like Adonis, he was!  He could have taught me anything!  I really can't remember his name though...hmmmm.

The summer triangle is up tonight...which is what made me think to write about it.  The points of the triangle are Vega, Deneb, and Altaire.  They're easy to spot because Vega in particular is so bright (even in this valley).  Vega is in Lyra, the lyre.  Deneb is in Cygnus, the swan, and also known as the Northern Cross. Altaire is in Aquila, the eagle. The photo shows Saggitta.  I didn't know that was in must be Sagitarius's arrow.  That reminds me that Erin reminded me recently that she, Emily, and I are all Sagitarii. 

My dissertation work is coming along.  Been trying to get some thoughts together about how to measure safety performance and risk.  There are all sorts of metrics but I think the ones that should be used will depend on the study site.  Right now, the study site is unknown.  Today, I've been reading a lot about Heinrich's 1-29-300 pyriamid.  Oh...I will quit thinking about this's my break time. Tomorrow is going to be BUSY!!! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things are Looking Up

Well  now, tonight is a special night indeed!  A kind word from my dissertation mentor has righted my world, at least for the short term.  He tells me not to worry, nothing is derailed yet, keep it generic, and keep working.  Solid advice!  My chapter 1 is coming along, but I am struggling to keep the vPSI philosophy out of the literature mini-overview section.  All my research has been geared one way, and now I must step WAY back for a look at the BIG PICTURE. And this is good!  If forces me to think about what it could all mean for the BIG PICTURE.

Let's practice karate and let that mull around awhile.  I have stopped work and time is short.  A computer has had my attention for almost 14 hours today.  I gotta find a new line  of work!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dare I Be Hopeful?

Somebody threw me a lifeline today.  It scares the hell out of me, but I will grab on and give it all I have; it may be the only chance I get.  If success happens, it will be my greatest accomplishment.  If failure...let's not even go there. This is an opportunity to either look really good, or look really bad.  I best not put specifics here yet.  In time, I can reveal what happened today.

I went for a walk at lunch today.  The goldenrod is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say.  I love goldenrod because it reminds me of Kentucky.  It is our state flower, except it's really more like a weed.  This is an up-close shot of our native beauty.

I also took a picture of the little lake behind the office where I work.  The water level is down a bit since we haven't had rain lately.  I love this place, and not too many people make the walk.  It's a nice quiet place to go and get away from the chaos of cubicle-world.

So, enough procrastinating.  My dissertation mentor told me that I should stay focused on the the things I can control and quit fretting over the fact that failure is more likely than success.  He listed the obstacles for me, I already knew what they were, but I guess it's his way of acknowledging the obvious road blocks.  The lifeline I got today gives me something to focus on.  I will press on and keep my eyes on the to speak.  Now, I work!