Sunday, January 30, 2011

black belt

I became a black belt in Chun Kuk Do last Saturday.  One guy got sick and threw up – I’m not sure if he just got nervous or it was a combination of nerves and exhaustion.  At one point during the katas, I considered asking for permission to "fix my uniform" because I was thinking I might puke out my guts or pass out…or both.  Fortunately, somebody requested permission to start over on a kata and this gave me enough time to regroup.  We are allowed to ask permission to fix our uniforms because the things aren't really made for all that motion - the pants slide down, the belt comes loose, the jacket (gi) rides up out of the belt, etc.  You would think those Japanese/Korean warriers could have come up with a more functional design.    
Somehow, it isn’t as big a deal as I thought it might be.  I’m a black belt – so what?  If I quit practicing for two weeks, I’ll forget 60% of what I’ve learned.  If I quit for a month – what will I remember?  I wish I’d known this stuff when I was younger…it would have come in handy.  Here is a photo from the test I found on Facebook.  I hate pictures of me but I'm putting this out here anyway..for the same reason I include my mug shot on this blog.  I'm an idiot, don't ask.  This looks like we're all doing (or about to do) a heel of the random combinations he called out during the test - heel kick, round kick, backfist, punch.   

And here is a photo of Erin taken by me during her test for UFAF third-degree black a year ago.  This was in Beckley, West Virginia.  She did very well and those UFAF tests are much more killer than the studio tests.  She has a big smile on her face in this picture because she had already completed the hardest part of her test.  Not only that, this was the test.  She did a pre-test the month before.  The pre-test is much more rigorous than the test.  Very few people fail the test because they have to pass the pre-test first.  She looks so much younger then than now...maybe it's all that metal in her mouth.  

Perhaps I will get excited about being a black belt later.  Right now, I’m bummed out about everything going on in my life…or perhaps I should say everything NOT going on in my life.  Mainly, no dissertation going on.  Just pick something.  Why is this so F’ing hard for me?   I don’t even care what it is anymore – all I want is something I can do.  Stephen King wrote a story called Word Processor of the Gods.  If the story were true and I had his word processor, I could easily fix everything wrong in my life.  For now…it’s back to work. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting ready...

Practicing for black belt test.

No way!!


Me = testing for a black belt in Chun Kuk Do this coming Saturday….trying to wrap my head around that this evening. Code of ethic #2 applies: “I will remain in a positive frame of mind and convey this feeling to everyone I meet.” This means displaying confidence and courage throughout the test, no matter how bad I suck. This reminds me to review the 12 codes of Mr. Norris’ ethics.

The test is excellent timing for me. My class ended Monday night; this is the second night of …whatever a holiday might be like….I forget. I’m taking some breathing space. Tomorrow night is my last karate class as a first red belt. After that, I will insert myself back into research. Tonight is my last night to chase turkey.

Work has picked up lately. The lull of the holiday is over. We went into the new year with a bang – the company is splitting July 1st. We got the news two weeks ago. Shared services to split up like you wouldn’t believe, and this right on top of the sale of a chemical plant and refinery + assets last November. We’re still trying to hand off those systems gracefully. I have a lot of projects right now. It’s like juggling balls all the time – how many balls can I keep in the air? Somedays, like 15 or 16 on my HOT LIST. The hot list is the stuff I have to focus on - deadlines tight. My list is independent of all the interruptions: people who walk in, people who call, people who e-mail, people who IM, and various combinations. ENUF about work already!

Time to play some music.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Considering the Topic of Auditing

What about auditing? It’s important, right? In the business world, because audits cost money and interfere with business as usual, we only audit what we care about. What are you not doing that you are supposed to do? What did you do that you were not supposed to do? What did you do wrong or poorly? Nobody wants to be audited.  It's a necessary evil.

My opinion is that the quality (value) of the audit depends on the abilities, knowledge, and motivation of the auditor. Any work I do might be audited. Once a quarter, my boss is required to randomly select a change ticket I completed and audit it. Does this make me do better work? Probably so, but will he really be able to judge the actual quality of my work? Probably not. At best, he can compare my tickets to others he has to audit. He knows very little about what I do; I’m sure he has no interest in what I do other than if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do, he’s going to get blamed for it. Perhaps that is what audits are really all about….finding somebody or something to blame.

Do I want to do a dissertation study on auditing? Safety audits. Are they about finding someone or something to blame? I should hook up with somebody in the trenches to discuss it. Perhaps I can be inspired.

Split infinitives….I excel at splitting infinitives. Sometimes it just doesn’t sound good without splitting the infinitive. Maybe I can’t write well because people around me don’t talk well…as for me…if I never had to open my mouth again that would be fine! Which is best?

A. My boss is required randomly to select….

B. My boss is required to select randomly….

C. My boss is required to randomly select…

Correct answer??? Definitely not C, but that’s what sounds best to me. I don’t know the correct answer, but I’m quite certain my professors would not hesitate to inform me if I guessed wrong (and penalize me accordingly).

Sunday, January 23, 2011


It makes me happy to hear my children make music.  I love music - it's been a passion for me forever.  My first child, Sarah, paid attention to music before she was born.  On Christmas Eve in 1984, Woody and I attended Christmas Eve service in the Maysville Presbyterian Church.  The organ thundered in the little sanctuary and Sarah, born little more than two months later, moved to the beat of the music.  I could feel her everytime the organist played.  I didn't know she was a girl then, but I knew my baby was wired for music.  This is an old picture of the church (the cars date the photo).  Also interesting to note, this church has a cannonball embedded in the side - a remnant of civil war history.   

Here is another of Sarah's videos - Keeping the Fire Warm.  I love it.  Sarah plays the banjo and sings backup to Karly Dawn Higgins.  If that doesn't make you want to cuddle up to the whisky bottle, nothing will. 

Sarah's dad played a banjo very well.  He did the Earl Scruggs 5-string finger picking style (he studied under Leo Blair at Morehead.  Sarah prefers the old-time claw hammer style.  To each his own.  Woody began playing banjo the second year I knew him.  I used to hate the tinny LOUD sound of it.  I was an acid rock fan and prefered the electronic/electric guitar/Pink Floyd style of music.  He practiced often and became very proficient with Earl Scrugg's rendition of Cripple Creek  If he were alive today, I'm sure he'd be very proud of Sarah. 

Meanwhile, during the time he was learning banjo, I was busy on the guitar learning  Mother Maybell Carter's Wildwood Flower on the guitar. The first thing I learned to play on guitar was House of the Rising Sun.  Sarah made an awesome recording of that song when she was 14 years old...I doubt she would think so.  I still like Wildwood Flower.  

Getting late and I have work to do in the morning and all day/night.  Write three posts and a massive paper.  Time for me to go to bed...more later!    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday night, less uptight

I wrote a post earlier today – during my lunch break. Reading it back now – oh my! *Giggle* I must have been in afternoon slump-mode. I was sort of resting from the morning. The industrial plant environment is exciting, I kind of love the process and machinery and yes…….that remote danger factor.

In truth, the morning was very successful for me. I secured a team of four and implemented a change that would have dire consequences if the process should fail. It involved changes to a server, clients, and mobiles. I woke up to snow covering ice on the roads, drove out to the refinery, instigated and coordinated work, and did the client installs. Things went much better than I expected, but the real test will be Monday. Today was implementation, configuration, and accessibility testing. Monday starts operational testing – that’s when the bulk of issues will be discovered. Good MONDAY morning to me *sarcastically*

So, a chat with my academic advisor has set my mind to rest about the urgency of getting my proposal submitted. Honestly, it’s a huge work, but I do huge work. It makes me smile to think that I CAN do huge work. What’s a dissertation? 200+ pages and a lot of repetition. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS!!!! 

The current class ends next Tuesday and then there's a "week off" if... I have 9 weeks to get things moving.  I only have three more classes - everything else is mentor-dissertation work.  Since I'm a private-pay student, I can purchase mentor time as needed (sort of).  This is good!  If I avoid one class - that pays for 6 plane tickets to Phoenix (today's prices).....knowing I might buy 8 tickets if the older girls have significant others.  Grandchildren???  Anything is possible. 

Friday is just another day

It’s Friday. I used to get excited about Fridays – two days of freedom for sleeping in, playing golf, piddling around in the flower beds and garden, watching movies, catching up on things, etc. – but Fridays haven’t meant that for me for over three years now. What is the life of a mother\full time salaried worker\doctoral student\ wife? It’s a life of non-stop guilt. There’s never enough time to do any of it right. Perhaps the real problem is that I’m a perfectionist and I want to do things right. As it turns out, I disappoint everyone, including myself.  I fall asleep at my desk, I still don’t have a dissertation topic, the house is disaster, the kids don’t even bother to ask anymore, and my husband……if I were him, I would have left me a long time ago. So, self-pity is not a good place to be. I should just be grateful he hasn’t left me yet and the kids have survived.  I am grateful to be able to afford school, and to have my job…as dreary as it has become thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley….it does pay well.  I’ve promised everyone that when I am through this program, I will make up for it all.  I hope they will be waiting when that time comes.  College instructors make a lot less money than me, but I will only work like 30 hours a week. Compared to 50+ hours per week – that’s like a whole extra day of life every week!  My life is in the it's always been. 

So – the little lake behind my office looked pretty neat yesterday. I’m not sure why it looked like this. I wonder if it’s a bunch of different depths and it makes it thaw unevenly?  The little lake is my favorite thing about working in this place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day dreaming about success

Is this real or is it a hoax?  It’s supposed to exist in Colorado, but it looks like it belongs out west to me (if it’s real at all).  Maybe not though - those are pine trees on top, but it looks like sandstone on the sandstone prevelent in the Rocky Mountains?  I thought the rock should be harder than that...for some reason.  I got home from work early last night (by 5:15) and went straight to bed.  I woke up this morning (at 6:00 AM) feeling like Rip Van Winkle.  It’s official – I’m caught up on sleep.    

Speaking of “out west”, in summer 2012 my expected graduation occurs in Phoenix, Arizona. To really go through the graduation…is this ridiculous? All the professors tell us we shouldn’t miss it – UoP puts on a big show – bagpipes and drummers lead the graduates into the arena – the doctoral regalia costs like $600…is that crazy?? They have well-known people speak. I didn’t go through graduation for my masters degree. Sarah was a baby and I didn’t want to hire a babysitter….or my thinking was that if I were going to hire a babysitter, playing golf would be a better use of my money than sitting through a graduation ceremony. Not only that, I was not going to graduate with anyone I knew and nobody was going to attend – it seemed pointless. So, I keep thinking about this out-west vacation so that I will stay inspired and motivated to not give up on my dissertation. It’s a heavy weight hanging over my head. One more week of the current class, then I must PICK SOMETHING AND GET TO WORK ON IT. I want to graduate with my friends. To not finish on time will be failure.

So, plane tickets for everyone..motel, car rental, what else? I want to see the Grand Canyon. Jerry wants to go to Vegas. It smells like a lot of money, but what an awesome trip it will be! I hope everyone can come and share the vacation with me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Falling apart

Paper turned in 3 hours before due date.  It was not much fun to put together but it's history now...I'm done with it all.  I did get a crack at creating a proper APA formatted table - a decision matrix in this case.  An exerpt from my reflection statement for this week was:

"The discussions this week were about implementing an ERP financial module and an ERP system for supply chain management. ERPs seem a bit overwhelming but if implemented well the benefits are worthwhile. The scope of such a large project intensifies the challenges. ... I’ve spent much of my career integrating information systems. When everything works the way it’s supposed to, it’s like magic. Thank heavens for reliability in an IT world created by Sarbanes-Oxley-dictated change management. I expect auditing Sox compliance for the first year of an ERP implementation would be an auditor’s dream…or nightmare."

One more week of this class and the future scares me.  It's another one-on-one for eight weeks with my dissertation mentor.  We are to polish up my proposal and get it submitted.  Look at me - I'm still struggling to start over.  I have two ideas and wrestling to select one. I just did a decision matrix to rationalize an outsourcing decision (for my big paper this week).  Perhaps I should do the same for this decision.  Perhaps it's just a bad case of analysis paralysis!  Problem is, I need to research both ideas before I can rationalize a decision.  

I need speed.   

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Crockpot magic

I really have no business being up at this hour, but it's me here....again.  A long day of long?  Today I wrote four posts and planned a paper.  Tomorrow's task is to produce the paper.  This one doesn't feel like writing; it's reproduction.  Last week's big project was a team paper.  I thought my team did pretty well, but we sucked grade-wise.  DANG IT!!!  I left out a reference that I cited in my part of the compilation = my ownership, no doubt about it.  I made sure I had their references and then missed one of my own.  *disappointment*  It cost us .5 of 10.  Other points were deducted for excessive wordiness, acronym not defined, improper cite, bad choice of words, etc. etc. etc. UGH.  So now, the task for tomorrow is to take the team paper and make it mine.  In a way, it's kind of stress relieving.  I can fix all the mistakes and improve it all.

Today's writing involved topics of business process reengineering, ERP systems, supply chain management, impediments to knowledge sharing, and challenges and issues with capturing knowledge into instructional manuals, work instructions, and procedures.  ERP systems are rather overwhelming to me.  They are awesome and powerful when accepted and well-embedded in an organization.  Then when you think about linking these together across organizational boundaries - those connective webs of data flow, and all the processes in between - it's magic.  It can be fun to make webs.

But the topic for tonight is my crockpot!  Tonight as I was washing it - The realization appeared that I use this thing a lot!  My crockpot is an awsome pot that I use I lot.  You just throw the food in, plug it in, and walk away.  It makes enough to feed the family for two days.  This thing is a miracle!
That photo was taken by (me with) my Sony Cybershot camera - a $300 point-and-shoot camera.  It looks like sepia for God's sake! Perhaps it's photographer mismanagement of the camera features, but we are not quite that bland (I hope). 

We went to a Sam's Club today.  I try to carve out a few hours with the family on the weekends.  It was an apalling place.  This is the United States and Sam's Club seems to epitimize what this country is about: 

buying stuff!!!! 

Lots of stuff.  Too much stuff.  Gigiantic carts loaded with stuff people want to buy.  We bought a giant package of chicken, two crockpots full, for $1.97 per pound.  Tomorrow, half will go into the crockpot, and half will go into the freezer.  That was a good deal.  Jerry loves to shop (as do the girls) and we walked up and down the aisles for an hour.  It cost us $107 by the time we walked outta there.  At the end of the parking lot, a man had puppies he was giving away.  He said the mama is a "shamzoo" and the father is a golden retriever.  I can't find any reference to a shamzoo breed of dog (of any various spelling).  They were cute but large for 6 weeks old, and looked like they will be wooly when grown (thick long fur).  We need a low maintenance dog...if there is such a thing!  Also, I thought 6 weeks was a bit young to take a pup away from its mama.  They should nurse until 8 weeks at least...right? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What about Orion? Son of a Gorgon!

My last post ended with questions about why Orion has a place in heaven - what makes him so worthy?  Mythological stories are about great victories, passionate love, innocence, jealousy, dispair, and horrendous suffering - all the stuff that oftentimes makes no sense at all in real life. 

 I started researching Orion today.  This guy has heritage.  He was known as a great hunter - he's the son of a god, Poseidon, and his mother was Euryale, a gorgon.  What is a gorgon, or rather, who are the Gorgons?  The Gorgons are three sisters who pissed off Athena.  The girls are Euryale, Medusa, and Stheno.  Poseidon was "doing" these sisters in Athena's temple.  She caught Poseidon with Medusa - Medusa is blamed and Athena turns her into a gorgon with a snaky body, viperous hair, fangs, claws, scales, eyes that turn people to stone, and wings (although in this image, wings are missing). 

It seems that the sisters saw Medusa after she was transformed into a hideous creature and started making fun of her.  They boasted they were more beautiful than her and then said they were more beautiful than Athena.  Bad thing to say!  Athena put them in their place by turning them into gorgons too.  What I'm really wondering now is if Euryale got pregnant before she was a gorgon, or if Poseidon did her after.  Whoa!  That'd be a double-bagger for sure!

So...what about Orion?  I didn't get that far.  More research is needed!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Silent Night

I stepped out to peek at Orion and breathe some night air.  A little wake-up was needed (I'm waiting for our last team member to (make final edits and) post).  OMG...I'm writing in SQL!

The night is cloudy with wet clouds and the temperature is cold enough to snow.  It's coming...

I coudn't see Orion tonight, so I'll write about this famous hunter.  To imagine him in the constellation (you could Google his photo) he faces you (or in the picture I saw, he was front facing but 45 degrees to his left).  His right shoulder is Betelguese (I believe that is pronounced Beatle-Juice) and his left shouldar is Bellatrix.  His left foot is Rigel, and Saiph is his right.  HMMM....I call myself on excessive use of parentheses.  I'm no writer >:(    

More later (maybe) on this topic.  What was so great about Orion anyway?  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mermaid manifesto

The critic kicks in every time I reread a post.  Yesterday must have been manifesto day!  The headache is most memorable. 

I was screwing around and noticed I could make myself look like a mermaid being burned at the stake.  It makes me feel warm all over!!

But on a more serious note, I had another dissertational inspriration.  Back to small business use of web 2.0 technologies to increase business.  In particular - how artisans of various types use social networking and blogs.  Maybe broaden that to the entire Internet so that Ebay, Etsey, and Craigs-list type sites can be considered.  What documentation of best practices has been made?  Entreprenurial "leaders" perhaps would be interested.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My kingdom for a nap

Sleep deprivation is an ugly thing.  For the past three nights, I have been staying up too late working on assignments – 3 hours of sleep per night is just not enough.  This morning, the familiar hang-over feeling greeted me as I fumbled to squelch the damn alarm clock, bane of my existence.  From the dark side, the succubus whispers “Roll over - go back to sleep – just for 3 minutes, pretend you have a choice.”   “NO!!,” says I, architect and controller of all things mundane.  “Do not tempt me to indulge in frivolities!”  I throw off the snuggly blankets and sit up in bed.  The migraine says “Hello, did you miss me?”  

Rest not, oh weary woman, for ye have children to get to school and bills to pay.  Put thy feet on the floor and get ye to the shower to wash all hope from every last crevice of your soul.  Such is my life.  I’m a self-made robot with a soul of soldered transistors, resistors, and capacitors...and other electronic doo-dad stuff-widgets. 

In a semi-coma, I put myself together, drop the kids at school, and drive me to the office.  As is my habit, bulging laptop bag in one hand, bag of gym clothes in the other, and purse slung over one shoulder, I trudge up the steps to the second floor and fling open the door.  Thia time, I failed to step out of the way and hit myself squarely in the face with the heavy steel door.  “Nice touch,” says the migraine.  Enough already!  I sit down and dock my laptop, switch on, pull out the notepad and pen, strategically arrange paper stacks on my desk, pop a Treximet to quiet the bitch, and flip on my space heater.  Let the games begin!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dragons are winning

Failure is not pretty.  Today is New Years holiday for me.  I planned a productive day but the dragons came out to fight and they are winning.  What do the tough do when the going gets tough?  I thought I was tough.  I dreamed about my dissertation last night - a topic within IT, imagine that - my own field???  How dare my subconscious attempt to suggest research into something I'm familiar with!  I must not have had enough doubts and confusion already, so now let's add something else!  The research question was handed to me in my sleep.  Does Sarbanes-Oxley influence job satisfaction of older IT employees (pre-SOX) more than younger (post-SOX) IT employees?  This can easily be tied to leadership.  There is a world-wide shortage of IT workers predicted, thanks to many factors - fewer people going into the field because of our nerdy persona, perceptions that our jobs are uninvolved and boring, fears that all the jobs are going overseas, etc.  Add to this predicted shortage the fact that 65% of us are over 50 and throw in SOX that really does make our jobs tedious..spells...hard times are coming if you need IT people in this country.  I've been researching it this morning - there's studies about the accounting profession, but not so much the IT profession.  

So what do the tough do?  I felt (still feel) like a total failure.  If I can't be "man enough" to pick a dissertation topic, I'll bake some F'ing cookies for my kids.  Maybe I can be a successful mother if nothing else!  The kids are off to school today so now's my chance to make some home-made cookies to surprise them when they come home from school - just like on TV!!  I was going to make chocolate chip cookies, but guess what, no chocolate chips in the house.  Not wanting to take time to go to the store, I made do with butterscotch oatmeal cookies.  Problem: these are Someone's favorites and when he walks in from work and sees them, he will claim ownership.  Solution: hide some for the kids.  It's just as well.  If I'd made chocolate chip (my favorites), I would have been tempted to eat a couple.  God knows a female in my frame of mind has no business around chocolate of any kind.  I may as well build an atomic bomb. 

Cookies made, now what?  Back to Disturbia.  I can't face it anymore.  My class starts back tomorrow, then there'll be no more time to agonize over topics.  I guess I'll start on assignments due this week and hope the thick fog clears before I crash tonight.  If I can't make a decision soon, there's no hope of graduating on time.  



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stuff - editted

It's New Year's Day, 2011.  My babies are 15.  Time is racing by and I am rambling.  Sarah called me and told me she was beat after just spending the day installing a new floor in her house.  I'm so pleased that she has the courage to tackle things like that, but worried a bit about her using power tools she is inexperienced with.  If I had this school thing under control, I would have been over there helping her out today.  Here is a photo of my lovely Sarah (she is wearing the flowered dress), and performing with Karly Dawn Higgins.  I think that is Jesse Wells on the fiddle.  I'm not sure who the man is on the bass.  I'm sure they were awesome!  Sarah usually plays the banjo - she is amazing with any thingie that makes music, including her voice.

 Two days left to decide  on a topic.  I made those words big to remind me it's time to quit screwing around, get down to business, and PICK A TOPIC.  Today I read about incident investigation: the systems approach to investigation vs. the chain-of-events approach.  The systems approach is preferable in occupational safety, according to the researcher, because the goal of the chain-of-events is to find somebody or something to blame.  Once something or someone is found, the investigation ends.  Finding all the factors is important for preventing future accidents, and the systems approach causes the investigator to look from a broader perspective at all the things that contributed to the incident. 

So, this blogging is a break from what I'm reading now - how to integrate information systems using an audit approach.  I have to believe this is an excellent idea.  Integrated systems are problematic, particular when things aren't stable.  If somebody is accessing my database and I know it, I notify them when I'm getting ready to change something.  Likewise, in the ideal world, I would be given plenty of notice if something is going to change that effects my stuff.  If systems were designed to capture integration information, these notifications could occur automatically.  Systems could intelligently communicate to each other and notify their maintainers.  

Time is tight - enough for tonight.