flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I flew out to California on Monday morning, and back on Saturday. The point of the trip was to scheme and get brain-dumps regarding a new project my team is taking on -- and it was also my first trip to the Mothership in a while, due to various other things taking up my mental travel budget in the last two quarters.

They rhythm of the days is completely different in California. They have... they have... meetings in the morning, and I mean like all the time. I realize this is a normal business day, that I've become very used to the east-coast ramifications of being 3 hours shifted off of normal.

Here's how it goes in the East, roughly:
* Morning is for working, working out, sleeping in, being productive or lazy. Only once or twice is there a meeting, particularly local Hiring Committee. There's a smallish pile of email to bash through, and one does.
* At noon the Mothership wakes up (9AM there), and there is a block of meeting-heavy time until perhaps 5 or 6. Emails are also flying. Maybe a few code reviews, but not too many.
* In early evening one eats dinner or takes a circus class, and/or just commutes home or works out at the gym.
* One logs back on from the couch and oh, THERE is the pile of code reviews for the day, kicked out by Mothershippers in their afternoon / my early evening. Also, more emails, ditto. One does the reviews, because the authors may themselves log in later in their evening and one doesn't want to delay them; then one does email until sleepy.

See how pulsed that is? Not perfect, but it's definitely possible to take the day in reasonably focused phases. California, no, it's confusingly all mashed up, and meetings happen ALL DAY so I have no idea when workouts are supposed to happen. I only worked out twice -- should have scheduled more aggressively. I avoided evening engagements and fun things (just had lunch with three friends), and just slept early and heavily. A smooth business trip, kept my brain working; I'd say overall it was productive but lonely, and I'm amazingly glad to be home again.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Sooooo, one of the crazy-intense things I did this last week was a three-day leadership training. Three full days, in NYC. There were team-building exercises, and talks and videos and telling of life stories, so this unpacking will be incomplete. Here, though, is Some Stuff.

Read more... )

Probably most important, and therefore last and outside the cut, is that I'm more sure of what I want to do as a leader. While I want to get things done in my own individual work, when I'm leading the people are more important to me. I want them to be happy, supported, enabled and well-informed, so that they can make the right decisions for them about performance and where they want to be on the ladder. TRA LA! That is seriously it! Yay!
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Hey [livejournal.com profile] flexagon,

I wanted to pass along this bit of feedback and I forgot to do so in our 1:1 on Friday. I chatted with M a bit after the last [team] sync meeting and her comment was that if we don't hear back from the [other team] folks on the [confidential] code issue soon, I should put you on it because you'd make sure it got done. She had some really good things to say about your ability to get things done and to make sure things get done.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the positive feedback.
flexagon: (Default)
For various reasons including the fact that we did eventually do some work together this year, and because if I do ever go for promotion I'll need help from people 2 levels above me, I trepidatiously and awkwardly asked the Noid on Friday if he would peer-review me for the fall performance cycle. I said something like how I would normally say "do your worst", but in this case I was kind of hoping not actually. In the resultant conversation came The Quote:

I think you've proven yourself in Image Search. For many reasons Blogger was a bad situation. Sorry for my part in that.

~The Noid

Also, rather later:

me: While we're on this topic... independent of perf, it's been good working with you as an engineer and I have been trying to find a good time to say thanks. Thanks!

noid: Likewise, I've enjoyed working with you. And thanks for being willing to make a fresh start with me in the new role.

Blink... blink... will he really not slam me? It's been just over a year since he told me he wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do the job associated with my title, even given time to learn. If we hadn't then been unwillingly stuck together in the same group by an accident on the part of the Winemaker -- "Can you say AWKWARD TURTLE!? I was pretty dumbfounded" -- there's no way we'd have reached this complex relationship. He'd be on my shit list, and I'd never have spoken to him on purpose again, and I think I'd've been happy enough with that. An alternate universe, simpler and clearer, maybe less healthy.

I'm still not sure if this new guy is actually a pod person who hauled the old Noid under a porch and ate him, but I guess it doesn't matter. It's a quote and it's going on the record. I know that Galahad believes this one is the real Noid, and the old Noid was cracking up last fall just about as badly as I was.
flexagon: (Default)
More layoffs at Zillian, snivel snivel.

They're going in the order I would've expected. The first round was recruiters; next, sales and marketing. This is not a very big round in a company that has thousands of people in sales and marketing, so I wonder somewhat if this was just an excuse to clean up a bit. And I wonder if they'll feel the urge to clean up their engineers. One thing I haven't done yet in my career is been laid off, or survived through rounds of layoffs that happened around me. I've been sort of close twice:
  • there were big layoffs among the engineers at my old Colubrid office a few weeks ago (it was the same day I got my bonus, which made me feel really weird), and
  • the 100 recruiting positions that Zillian cut a few months ago knocked out two jobs here in this office, but those weren't engineers.

On a random note, I think I might need this Possibilities Cardigan from Anthropologie. I really like three (!) of the ways it can be worn, and it seems a lot less fussy than those crazy sari-type dresses that you can supposedly wear a bunch of ways but only if you're really talented.
flexagon: (Default)
Have I really not posted for over a week? I've been in a really strange and dreamy state lately... some of that is literal dreaming, as I have a cold (it got me eight days ago, Monday) and have been sleeping a lot. I'm way underexercised and undercaffeinated, generally not feeling like myself.

Which is not to say that I'm feeling awful. I've been sitting in sleepy amazement as great things happen on the world stage: President Obama is our president (and he can dance! and he fought to keep his Blackberry!), Guantanamo has been ordered closed, the FDA has approved the first human stem-cell experiments and the American ban on funding abortion abroad has been lifted.

Also with dramatic influence on my life, Zillian has decided to haul everyone's underwater stock options to the surface, which for the first time gives me a financial reason to stay there longer than this spring. (My strike price is 675, the current stock price is 327... so my options have been worthless since the beginning.) It's amazing. And this is why I can't seem to stick to a career plan -- Zillian changes things all the time, and not just little things, but big things too. Two months ago I wanted to take time off; now this job is going well and there's a really cool opportunity to work with friends in a building I was once very happy in. I'll have to keep my eye on that one and keep my mind open.

On the downside, raise your hand if you can believe 71,400 people lost their jobs yesterday. And these were manufacturing & services people -- average folks who just don't save much, or earn much unless they're in a quite high earning percentile. I read a number I didn't believe, the other night in Newsweek, about what percentile [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug and I are in... I guess I should have believed it. (And part of me wonders why that is and how long it can last.)

From wikipedia:

I am part of the economy's problem now, for the retail sector anyway. It's one more thing that makes me feel cut off from the world -- I've made the transition and am just not buying things right now. I was thinking lately about a daydream/daymare scenario I used to have when I was a kid (doubtless fueled by all that SF reading), the one in which I'm in a bunker or spacecraft, sometimes all alone, and surrounded by all the supplies I could need for the next X years but with no way to get anything else. Well, I looked around my house yesterday and realized I'm nearly in that situation. Not with respect to food and cold medicine, of course... but I have clothes, dishes, a stack of books I haven't read and hundreds more I wuld enjoy re-reading, yarn enough to knit for maybe a year or so before running out, video games I haven't played or have barely played that could keep me entertained for many hours apiece, exercise equipment (minimal, but I could stay fit at home if I had to), a computer that alone offers hundreds of possibilities. Huh. I practically have my bunker. Though they may be exciting, I don't need new physical objects. Sorry, retailers, I'll be more interactive after April.
flexagon: (putt putt putt)
Today I've been mostly sitting around menstruating. At least, that's how it feels, though I also remember doing a lot of chores today, so something's weird with that perception.

The first full week back at work was quite a culture shock after 2.5 weeks off, and it's changed things, as follows:

The living room looked all exotic and spacious last Sunday when I undecorated it, but I'm used to it now.

Today, on the seventh day in a row of having my alarm clock set after that long, lovely hiatus from alarm clocks, it finally woke me up for real. Perhaps the coming week won't be the fiasco of sleeping-in that the last one was.

I knitted a scarf, because I lost my old scarf. It was fast, and soft, and the colors were lovely. Not my usual kind of project, but quite delicious... and Rafe was happy to model it for me this morning. (That's my warmest coat he's lying on, giving you a fair sense of my typical midwinter ensemble.)

As for work, the changes in food benefits have gone into effect. (The place empties out earlier when it's not possible to get free dinner by working late, who would've thought?) We also got our first paychecks of 2009, and sure enough, 60% of it got withheld, so I'm now living on peanuts. Interestingly, the pay period in question ended on the 31st... there is no rule that 401(k) contributions made in a given calendar year actually come from wages earned in that year. It's just about when the paycheck is processed.

I bought music over the weekend anyway, using up precious peanuts, because I really wanted the Fleet Foxes album. I also really want to get the 2007 album by Sky Cries Mary... and just in case you're put off by the title "Small Town", I'll tell you that the title song is about a city. I live for the silence when the snow shuts the city down. It turns the noise of a million mouths (?) into a very very small town.

Most of my plans for this spring are lying in pieces at the moment. To fail to plan is... I know, I know, I know. But, dear parental voices in my head, what if to fail to plan is just to acknowledge the inevitably unpredictable vicissitudes of the universe? Hmm?
flexagon: (Default)
I never posted about my last day at work before the long, long vacation I'm trying to recover from. It was a good day -- actually, it was a great day, I hesitate to admit just how scintillating I found it. In short:
  • I was working with UI stuff
  • I was hacking up a demo, and realized 2 of my tasks fit together really well, and so hacked up a double demo, by 1:30
  • Social stuff -- got to sing carols in the lobby! Let's not forget the snowstorm.
  • People were interested in my demo, so I spent the afternooon in a tight feedback loop responding to little requests for changes. I felt productive. It was awesome.

Now, hmm, well, after that delicious little reclusionfest I don't feel like working at all, but beyond that I have no idea how to feel. Emotionally I think I'm just coasting. I don't really understand why this team likes my work (so far) any more than I understand why my last team didn't. It seems all too random. I do my work, some people expect a lot, others expect less, or else they happen to value different things. I've gotten in the habit of feeling anxious and sad, but at the same time it's hard to even remain interested. I've got my resume and career website all updated, and 401(k) matching at its legal maximum, so I can be peaceful.

In other news, I finally understand how knitting can be an expensive hobby. You just have to buy hand-painted chunky baby alpaca and make really simple patterns using large needles. Yeah, not my usual thing at all, but I lost my scarf, so what was I supposed to do? :)
flexagon: (Default)
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

Life is complex: it has both real and imaginary components.

I went in to work today (the only day this week I went in to work). What I didn't get done is my goals for this quarter: they are hopeless. What I did get done that was really good: lots of financial chores. One was following up from yesterday's bank business and the other was dealing with 401(k)s at Zillian (I can start contributing!) and my last company (the company matching is done, so I can roll it over). Heads up, all youse who have 401(k)s, the limit in 2008 is still 15,500 -- it is NOT going up this year. The IRS apparently announced this in October and caught a lot of people by surprise, and most of the Internet is still wrong about it.

(This personal finance PSA brought to you by the letters I, R and S.)

Tomorrow I'm flying to Seattle, which I still haven't really internalized. I bought two tubes of lipstick just because they smelled good, and went to kiva.org to try (again) to catch up on my loans through them. They're still limiting each loan to $25, which kind of puts the kibosh on that. For the moment, when they're in that situation I'm just going to donate the money, I think. I gave a $50 Kiva gift certificate to my mom for Christmas... so, oh well, I hope she finds two entrepreneurs she likes.
flexagon: (Default)
I saw a middle-aged woman on the train this morning whose bag said:

Do yoga. Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to.

I used the world's most popular search engine to see what the hell was up with this mangled motto. Turns out it's a small piece of lululemon's ridiculous manifesto, which is why yoga was mentioned, and I'm not the first to skewer it. Really though, "Children are the orgasm of life"? Well, could be, could be... my understanding is that when you're actually dealing with them you're all jittery, and once it's over you feel quite relaxed and remember the whole thing as being wonderful. There are similarities. I admit, though, I have no idea what this has to do with yoga.

* * *

I wrote that this morning. Tonight, I finally had the good workout I've been waiting to have for about the last two weeks. I could tell you all about my discouragement with gymnastics, and how much I wish it emphasized mindfulness the way yoga does, and how 2 weeks ago I was really thinking about quitting (and about crying in class, which I didn't do... quite), but that would be boring. Anyway, tonight I decided I didn't give a shit, and had more consistent kickups to handstand than I think I've ever had before. I even (almost) did a 180-degree pirouette, and had a couple of reasonable handstands that I straddled up to and held briefly. Go figure.

Anyway, I'm glad I went instead of doing the other thing I was tempted to do and staying horribly late at work. (My plan is to go in horribly early, instead. I am so overwhelmed). Because the universe likes to laugh at me, I got email from 23andme.com tonight saying my genetic profile is ready to look at. Very funny. :P I'm not remotely ready to look at it, not until I'm a lot more rested.
flexagon: (putt putt putt)
Ah, jobs and stuff. Things have not been so good at work, things have not been so fun at the gym, I am the tired. I will not get good at gym things if I do not do them each day, and I can not do them each day... great, I will just suck some more, and I will write gross code that fits all the dumb rules.

And, you vex me, my bank. I do not need a more safe way to get on your page. It was quite safe. It is now too safe. It may be safe from ME by now.

I'll sleep now, then talk to Flea ere work, when the sun is back up. "Flea", I will say, "thank you but do not send so much snail mail, it kills all the trees." "Flea, why do you not take my cash on the same day each month?" " Flea, what should I do now with the plan to save cash up when I am old?" "Flea, why are you so damn far from my house? If I get rich will you make house calls?" I think it is nice to have a flea, but it is bad to have to take the train way out to see it. If you get a flea of your own, find a close one. Or at least learn to knit so that you can knit on the train.

There's not a good word for the way I feel, though I have felt it quite a lot. It feels like, ugh, just go, do the next thing, so that one day when things are back to good that thing will have been done. Putt putt putt. I still feel tres bad that I killed a plant last week, yes, at least one of you knows the one. It froze to death. I may have teared up a bit. :_( Last year I brought it in and put lights on it... this year I cut it up and put it in a lawn bag, and fed some of its dirt to plant 2. It feels like a sign... a bad one. One less thing to take care of. Life cuts its own self back to what can be done, which is good in a way, but damn harsh for the plant and things like it.

I am glad my cat is loud and tells me when she needs me. You be that way too, 'kay?
flexagon: (Default)
For my lifting friends, a new adductor exercise to love ) 1:30 and 1:55 handstand holds today for the non-record. I did do a straddle-up when completely exhausted, though. That is good.

Such interesting things are stirring, career-wise: it looks like TBC and Dan the Cat and I may all be making separate bids to get into Google this year, for various reasons. Only TBC and I would be colocated in Cambridge since this would be the Cat's way of making a break for Manhattan, but still, they are probably the two people I would most like to work with again in any capacity, so if this were to work out it could be stellar. Bit of a shame we all have our sights set on a place that's wicked hard to get into. We're good, but going three for three is statistically not likely. Wish us luck... and [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug too, of course, for those tasty little referral bonuses.
flexagon: (Default)
  • Nothing, beyond applying what I learn to my own workouts.
  • Do personal training 1 day a week, possibly by trying to switch to four 10-hour days at a software job.
  • Learn more about the fitness industry.
  • Get better street cred as a gym owner if/when I decide to buy that gym.

I think I think I think I'm gonna do it! Eep.

Pep talk

Dec. 28th, 2006 05:15 pm
flexagon: (Default)
I'm trying to imagine what I'd say to a young woman who came to me with my own current concerns about my job.

Fictional person: This fucking sucks! I'm working in a language I don't like, which nobody else around here is really an expert in either, and I'm working my ass off on software that probably won't ship to anyone, in sort of a guinea pig role, with no guidance, and more or less alone.

Me: So you're asking who moved your cheese? Get out there and find another job.

Fictional person: For fiscal reasons I've chosen to stay at least through August. It's not negotiable unless I get really really miserable.

Me: So, what I'm hearing is that you need to find or create some positives in the situation you're in.

FP: I knowwwwww, it's just so hard to feel motivated. *snivel*

Me: Enthusiasm must come from within, lazy thing. Seriously, what are the things you could do in this project that would make you feel useful?

FP: I could try harder to document things, and put together a talk that would help other people get through this crap more easily. I'm the first person going here, but probably not the last.

Me: Uh huh, and?

FP: I can focus on learning C++ better... that's the one thing I have sort of been doing right. And I can try to help nail down some decent interfaces so that future work of this type can go better. God help me with trying to make a real schedule for the upcoming project though. I don't think it's possible, much less by me. So I'm going to mess it up and keep looking bad in front of my boss until this stupid thing is over.

Me: But if you blow that part, while putting together a good interface and great documentation, and giving a talk on the topic that answers a bunch of people's questions and that you've actually done enough research to give confidently... would you have succeeded, in your own eyes?

FP: All that? Yes, that's more than I'm even asking of myself at the moment.

Me: Recharge in California for a few days. Then come back and ask for that.

FP: I hate you sometimes, you smug, annoying person.
flexagon: (Default)
I've spent half this afternoon daydreaming about either franchising or buying a local gym and turning it into something wonderful. Damn Bally's and the survey they sent me! I wanted to fill it out because I want to ask them to buy a Viper, but by the time I finished fully answering the question of what they could do to improve their space I was basically whimpering because I could see it all so clearly and I know they won't do it. Probably not any of it.

How about this... I buy Fitness First from the current owners. I keep their lovely stretching area.

I sell most of their crappy weight machines and use the space to expand the free weight section with a squat rack, more benches and some kettlebells. I add a tiny noncirculating library, just a small bookshelf with books (and issues of Crossfit Journal, etc) so people can read about things to do.

I add a Viper, a QuadMill, an actual climbing rope, a glute-ham machine, a good pullup/dip station, a pair of rings and a couple of pairs of parallettes. There might not be room for a static trapeze, alas... it's a small facility.

I upgrade the cardio machines, but have fewer of them.

I post the Crossfit "WOD" every day just to give people ideas. (I remain hypocritical and don't do them myself.)

I find people to teach yoga and pilates and handstands, and occasionally fun things like juggling or hacky sack, in the downstairs classroom.

I have fun explaining in my FAQ that there is no women's only area, and no men's only area, and no childcare area (though we have an affiliation with a nearby daycare center).

I have another small bookshelf over by the cardio machine, pre-stocked with cheap paperbacks from The Book Rack. I put up a sign saying "Take a Book / Leave a Book" and hopefully the system keeps itself going.

Sigh... is this out of my system yet?
flexagon: (Default)
Looking for further proof that people are irrational?

My work lipstick was gone from my desk this morning (I don't know whether to suspect foul play, or just me forgetting it in some bathroom somewhere). But I had a web conference at 1:00 I was stressed out about... mind now, we're talking phone call + shared desktop, no visuals. But I couldn't face it without my professional face. I ran across the street and bought more lipstick.*

*Raisin Rage by Revlon. Since there was a sale going on I got Black Cherry as well. Yes, everything that looks good on me has the name of a food.
flexagon: (Default)
Oh god, I don't feel like doing code-type thinking today. I feel verbal. And if anyone names the story that verbal gerbils are from, I'll give you cookies.

* For one thing, I just finished Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (you've heard of her, yes? The high-functioning autistic woman who designs animal handling systems). As with anything on autism, a lot of things she said aroused echos in me. Most especially, it made me really, really wonder again whether the things I feel during social interactions are the things other people feel. Read more... )

* For another thing, I keep having to relearn some really simple physics regarding handstands! Note to self: to straddle up easily you must bring your head forward of your hands before trying to jump anywhere, doofus. Without that, it's hard. Based on yoga tonight, letting the head come through also helps a lot when trying to jump feet to hands with straight legs.

* We just interviewed a managerial candidate today who I would actually like to work for/with. It's a woman I once knew (just barely) from a figure skating club I used to go to, which might have been a little odd but actually wasn't. I hope we have the resources to get her. I don't want a sucky manager.

* Found out what the deal is with "im in ur something verbing ur somethingelse":


* Lastly, house stuff. I just got a letter from my gym letting me sign up for 1,2 or 3 more years, which made me wonder whether we'll have this condo for three more years. Answer: yeah, probably. We haven't even fixed up the kitchen yet! There is some work going on right now though -- the front and back stairwells are both being replastered, which means both sets of stairs are entirely covered with weird, really strong paper, and we can't get out our front door, and it smells funny and white powder is coming in under the doors. I'm glad now that our insurance made us get handrails, because that led to "well, while we're messing with the stairwells why don't we just..." and the walls have been in lousy shape ever since we moved in.
flexagon: (Default)
I realize I've been posting a lot about workouts. A lot of the reason is that my day goes like this: work, work out, come home. I work out hard enough to get my mind off work (which is no accident) so that's what I'm thinking about by the time I hit the computer. Yesterday I just worked 12 hours instead, and until the moment I fell asleep my head was full of things I'd like to do for the group, and things I don't understand about the legacy code I've been reading (and have these people ever heard of comments, yo?) and the direction of the project I'm on.

A post by a friend reminded me to be glad I have my coworkers though. I like several of them so much! There's one that I basically have a secret IM language with. He says:

*$? _|^

and I know what it means and laugh and say "yes!" (It means: are you interested in going to Starbucks? I'm perking up and watching for your answer vigilantly, like a meerkat on guard duty! Starbucks is $* and _|^ is the best emoticon we could create for a meerkat.)
flexagon: (Default)
At home: yay, no more parents! Also, I lost 29 inches last night... of books, that is. Yep, a 29 inch high stack of books. Most of them already went to the Goodwill; the rest are in good enough condition to be sold on Amazon. It's hard to get rid of books, but after I occasionally do it I always feel so light. :)

At work: TBC's ivy plant died in my care (sniff), and we'll soon have some new neighbors; Silver Fox and his other team are all moving today to be near us, and Dan the Cat will be moving away to an office to escape the crowd. Work is starting to feel, not bad exactly, but less personal again, more like acting. I don't care passionately about the project I'm working on, only about whether our team is healthy. In a way this is nice, and simplifies things... like, I didn't get mad at that other team when they broke our build recently, just thought what should a team leader do now? and did those things. In a way, at work, we all play roles. But in a way, also, we want to be ourselves, and we want to care. There are tricks to be figured out here.
flexagon: (Default)
The adult gymnastics class was partially controlled chaos. Read more... )

A nice thing happened at work that I thought I'd mention. At about 4PM another group checked in something that broke our build. I calmly went, talked to the head of that group, figured out their intentions in doing the checkin, stated that our group should have been informed before people did things like that, came up with a plan, went and explained the situation (and my plan) to my boss, got the plan approved, got people working on it and sent out email. Afterward I realized that I hadn't even really broken a sweat... I just handled it. Nice job, flexy.


flexagon: (Default)

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