Almost there...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Healing Power of Heat

Joreth brought me back to life. I hadn't realized how ragged I was til I sat down next to the heater at Nona's, was fed soup and biscuits and latkes and sat around with good friends talking the night away. By 10:30 when we left, I was warm inside and out and felt like a new woman. We made him and Virginia work far too late, but hopefully they'll forgive us.

It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm warm. I wonder what it's like to be a person who has body heat of their own?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almost There?

You know that part where a carnival ride has stopped being powered but it hasn't actually stopped yet, where it's sort of coasting to a halt. I think I'm there. Tonight my late night may actually get me out of here by 7. Better yet, I don't have that crazed, freaked-out look in my eyes that was worrying my coworkers. I've produced a mountain of work in the last 2 weeks and training for Unanet has gone well with all but one group, and that group was folks who were on the project team so they knew too much. We'll see how that all plays out when we get back from Christmas. But all of the Speaking of Computers articles are done, even the evil article of infinite revision. ITS in Bits was published this morning, so there's nothing left to do there. I've got to work on some Remedy stuff today and do one more management training tomorrow and then... I'm done for the holiday? Yeah, I think so. This is good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ammy Clone - The Job Requisition

I looked rather beaten today shuffling down the hall. It was a bad Unanet day. My 9am meeting got blown off in favor of the Holiday Breakfast in Polya Hall, so I didn't actually need to be here before 9, have eaten breakfast since I knew I'd be missing the holiday breakfast, and have stayed last night to be vaguely ready for the 9am this morning. This was not a good way to start the day. The meeting got rescheduled for 2 and didn't go well then. And there's too much to do to get things ready for Remedy 7 testing. And mailing list names have to be at least 9 characters long, so iec-team doesn't work, and neither does iec-news. Nothing is going easily. Don't even talk to me about Christmas shopping. I suspect I'll be wrapping up a lot of IOUs this season.

So Jim asked if there was anything he could do. I said, "All I want for Christmas is a job req for the Ammy clone." He said, "Oh, well that happened today. Did you get the email?"

And then the Hallelujah chorus struck up in my head.

So, if you're interested, the official posting can be found here.
If you know anyone who might be interested, have them submit a resume online and ping me as well.

Here's hoping next year will have less slipping through the cracks.

And in the meantime, I've been summoned to have eggnog down the hall, complete with my choice of brandy or rum. Mmmmm.... spiked eggnog in the office.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Ammy Clone

Someone asked, and I wrote a list, so here's basically what I need for an Ammy Clone:

- a degree in English, Communications, or Education (or something else similar)
- curriculum design experience
- training experience (large group, hands-on systems training, 1:1, etc.)
- excellent business communications writing skills
- technical writing experience
- experience using Captivate
- experience creating online courseware
- comfort and ease presenting to large and contentious groups
- skill with building and managing relationships with various stakeholders
- experience at Stanford and an understanding of the university structure, hierarchy, and the needs and limitations of it's various schools and departments

The problem is, it's a bizarre skill set that most work experience doesn't directly correlate to and that only exists as this role because I (and a few other colleagues) existed as such at the time. Finding a tech writer or a trainer is pretty easy. Finding someone who is both is harder. I mean, think about it, what kind of weirdo likes to be out there on the front line doing stand-up training and giving presentations one day, and methodically creating a detailed user guide the next day. Those are *usually* two different personality types, unless you're me.

And that last requirement on the list, that's the killer. It's just so likely that a person new to Stanford would really stick their foot in it. I did it when I arrived. Now nearly seven years later, I feel like I can go into most conversations with a good grounding in the politics involved, but sometimes folks still surprise me.

Go Elf Yourself

What do I do when I get out of a meeting 20 minutes early and I'm avoiding starting on documentation? I go elf myself.

The elf has got moves.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another One Down

Nothing makes me feel better than finishing something. From 71 pages to two pages in four hours. Whew! Now it's out for review. Hopefully they'll like it and not want 7 major revisions.

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Just had a meeting that was too long coming. The Integrated Email & Calendar project has issues because it got started late because of a security project that leapt out of nowhere and took every resource. So we finally got started on stuff in early November. I wrote up a communications plan and an article for Speaking of Computers and an email to go out to a bunch of folks across campus. That was all over a month ago. None of it has gone out or been completed because it needs to be reviewed by this person or that person or this group is concerned and we need it to come from that person and this committee should review it and...

And well, in the meantime there was this whole plan to clone me which hasn't happened yet, so I'm working my second 12 hour day this week in an attempt to fold space and make more time. If some of the work I'm doing would just become done, I would survive, but after at least a half dozen trips around the mulberry bush on one silly article and still no sign off, I'm exhausted. I'm afraid that really showed in that meeting. But, the upside is that I've been promised a job requisition for an Ammy clone before we leave for the holidays with the fond hope that there will be resumes waiting for me like Christmas presents when I return. But then there's interviewing and hiring and realistically I don't envision actual help until February because this process, like pretty much everything else from the month of November, has gotten delayed in 30+ days of discussion. This leaves me to figure out how to excel at doing at least twice as much as I have time to do in the month of January. One thing is certain - I can't do it all if I have to make extra trips around the mulberry bush. I'm going to lean on Jim and Christopher to enforce efficiency over absolute thoroughness. Hopefully the cracks in my veneer have made it clear that that's the only way I'll survive right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


And what did you do today little girl?

Well, I
- talked to my mom to see if grandpa was still in the hospital or going home today
- had a SIP Client project meeting
- sent Emily a Happy Birthday email
- sent Grandpa a Happy Birthday e-card
- taught the project managers how to enter time, create projects, plan and assign resources to a project, configure shared reports, and save their own personal reports.
- had a Remedy 7 project meeting
- totally forgot to go to my Big Fix Power Management pilot meeting
- which allowed me to file some stuff that was cluttering my desk and read email
- wrote back to Abra at Alameda Ballet Academy to assure her that it was not the ceili dancers who left a mess and broke her furniture
- spent an hour and a half poking through Remedy 7 with one of the techs, her getting QA feedback and me prepping to write documentation
- called Grandpa to wish him a Happy Birthday
- typed up notes for the past five Zimbra Outreach meetings
- updated the Unanet Job Aids
- mailed the Unanet job aids to all of the project managers
- followed up on the Sustainable IT/Big Fix traffic signal/trees/squares debacle
- updated the Integrated Email & Calendar communications plan to prepare for meeting tomorrow
- opened the eyeBeam user guide to find it is tragically 71 pages long. Decided not to cry. Printed the whole thing. Grumble. Decided writing the quick reference guide could wait until tomorrow.
- updated the Sustainable IT communications plan instead
- sent follow-up email to ResComp about Big Fix
- sent follow-up email to Chris about R7 user guide
- entered my time on the old time tracking system

And you know what? With all that, I managed to get a hot lunch, sit for 30 minutes and read a book, and that little detail made all the rest of it so much less stressful. But now I'm a tired monkey and it's time to go home.

Yay! I win!

The greatest compliment I can receive as a systems trainer is, "Well it seems pretty straight forward to me." I actually visibly scoffed when she said that. Straight forward? This product isn't straight forward. I've spent the last few months getting to know it's weird convoluted quirks. But I just managed to deliver what you need to know in a way that made it *seem* straight forward and that leaves you feeling confident that you can do your job, and this makes me mighty.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Janelle in the House

Having Janelle in the house is like having a magical elf who constantly stocks the fridge with freshly made food. I hardly ever see her, but there's always new food. And there's the magical feeling of happy Janelle-ness. Between work and Dickens and her new job, arriving in the busiest time of the year for catering parties leaving her stretched between commute and supervising events after the normal workday, we usually see each other in the bathroom while one of us is showering and the other has to pee. But she's here! She's back! Hooray!

Oh, and by the way...

... this just made me happy.

Somehow it just suits that carol-out on Sunday sort of feeling perfectly.

Stuff That Isn't Dickens

So my life continues to exist regardless of Dickens.

Last night, I picked up Dirk at the train station and we headed to the ceili. Good dancing was had by all. His new company, Tableau Software, sounds like their doing great stuff. It's really great to hear him excited about work again after years of life at Microsoft eating his soul.

I had a plumber out yesterday. After a couple of hours and $185, we have a working sink that actually drains. This is great. Hand-washing dishes sucks. I missed my dishwasher. For the amount of effort the plumber put in, he really earned his $185. Unsurprisingly, the phrase, "Hunh, that's just weird. I don't know why that's like that." came up again. The cleanout on the side of the house seems to be sealed with lead. It spins and spins, but won't ever come open. So, he went through from under the sink. He had to cut the pipe and replace part to get there, but he got there eventually, and now I have my kitchen sink back and a much greater appreciation for how to treat my garbage disposal very kindly.

Grandpa has been in and out of the hospital for the past few weeks. He's back there again today with chest pains. I wanted to go visit yesterday, but I seem to be harboring some of the Dickens epidemic so I figured sharing that would be ill advised. Stayed home and hung out with the plumber instead. Somehow, we have to convince him that his version of taking it easy is not what the doctors are talking about. (His version involves moving firewood and hanging Christmas lights.)

Last Monday (a week ago) Elizabeth and I spent the day together. Sean chauffeured us to the nail salon and while we got our feet soaked and scrubbed and massaged and painted, he took her car to get it washed and went to the watch repair shop to get the battery replaced in her Dickens watch. That man is a knight in shining armor (or at least in shining mini-van at that moment). We went to lunch at Mudd's afterwards. This was also a sublime treat. Afterwards, we sat on the sofa together and read through the email on the cast list. With different email readers, these arrived in different order to each of us. She'd read me a few and I'd read her a few. The very "high school" experience of it all was one best shared together with a best girlfriend.

My former boss Jim reads me awfully well. We talked briefly today and he said, "This is an expression I don't think I've seen on you before. It's almost like a combination of completely exhausted and really frustrated." Um, yeah. He suggested I take a nap. I instead must compose a job aid for a training session I'm doing tomorrow and am completely unprepared for. The Unanet project is getting in the way of other more important projects and that's really annoying. In theory, it goes live January 7th, but I don't believe it yet. Tomorrow I introduce it to the project managers, ready or not. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

PSA: Facebook

So I announced I was gonna try this Facebook thing. Gave it a whirl. Friends sent me stuff. And every time I clicked on something they sent me, Facebook asked me if I was willing to send my personal information to a third party company. To see what that friend had sent me, I am required to grant another company access to all of my information in Facebook. This just doesn't appeal to me. So, I'm backing away cautiously from the land of Facebook. I'm just not really interested in sharing my friends lists, photos, and other info with tons of random companies I know nothing about.

Now I'm just astounded at what Facebook is "worth" to other companies. I guess it is all that shared information between companies that is the value, but I can't be the only one not really comfortable with this right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Beaming With Pride

We had a little foofoorah with one of our newbies on Sunday night/Monday. From this proceeded the most civilized email conversation I've ever seen. Over a hundred messages flew in 24 hours. Then Mr. Fezziwig stepped in and said it was time to stop, and silence fell. For 24 hours, no messages hit the list. And then the silence was broken.

On Sunday night, Mr. Fezziwig had asked us to write up how to teach and call a dance of your choice in character and email it to the list. The silence was broken by Fezziwigs doing their homework.

I really do love my cast. They are the best group of people I've ever worked with. We come from so many different worlds and so many walks of life over a span of so many years and work so hard for no pay beyond the smiles and fond memories we create. And it's all worth it.