Monday, April 30, 2012

23 April 2012

Odd, it is that I'd be writing a third time about someone who is changing jobs, but here I am, and yet again, I think this is a positive change, especially for the peep. I doubt the organization she's leaving responds more than to hire someone else. It's very much like the conversation of momentum, isn't it? A small piece breaks off a larger mass, and they both move as expected, but the large piece deflects it's course only a little when compared to the smaller piece.

Smart organizations spend some time studying why a departure occurrs. This is important because, usually, departures are expensive, representing a reduction in efficiency for the organization for some six months or more. If the new hire is more of the same, then the net effect is a permanent reduction.

If the departure occurs for a bad reason, the smart organization will attempt to figure this out to prevent it from happening again. In my some 59 years on this earth, I've worked for exactly one company that was smart with such departures. In every other instance, management wrote them off as something to blame on the persons leaving. Good riddance, in so many words. Such organizations rarely thrive, and more than one no longer exists.

Nonetheless, the peep made a good decision. She will be better off, especially after managing the incumbent sources of stress that accompany changing jobs. I wish her well. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

22 April 2012

I was asked out to dinner this evening to celebrate my ragged survival of yesterday's Rugged Maniac mudder. Well, I did walk out under my own steam, what little there was of it at the finish line. I had a mushroom quesadilla and a huge slice of key lime pie, all washed down with water. Yes, Grandpa is a cheap date these days, but that's a part of the design. I doubt I had a lot to offer that evening, what with being sore from head to toe, but I was glad to step out.

Yes, I drove. I didn't bike over.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

21 April 2012

Back in February, I showed up at the doctor's office for my annual physical, and I announced the part where I'd lost my mind and was aiming for the Tough Mudder in October. He did not skip a beat. He didn't tell me I'd never make it. He didn't suggest I pick a smaller challenge. He only asked what it was about, and then proceeded to suggest that I engage a staged training regimen. I had nine months to get ready, and that should be quite sufficient, even at my advanced age.

Today, I ran and survived a much smaller event to see how I was coming along. There are many things I need to do much better, but here is one man who is not telling me what I cannot do. He suggests more things to do to keep the progression moving forward. Do you have any idea how important that kind of positive and enabling thinking is in this otherwise, or at least frequently, harsh and punishing world? I do, and I'm sending him a card to go with the copay.

Friday, April 27, 2012

20 April 2012

I showed up at the doctor's office, yet again, with a zit from hell. The receptionist asks why I'm there, leaving me to wonder if all those privacy laws really do apply. I tell her what it is and that it's in a very delicate place, and then she dutifully writes what I say.

The doctor asks to see it, does his contracted duty, and send me on my way healed. And without the unnecessary though completely expected lecture regarding STDs. If that's not worth a card, I don't know what is.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

19 April 2012

Some two years ago, Josh started talking to me about something called Vibram Five Fingers. I checked them out online, and then wrote them off as some kind of fad. He finally saved up enough money to buy a pair, and quickly stopped complaining about knee and leg pain when he ran.

About this time last year, I finally gave in and bought a pair. What did I have to lose? The chronic faciitis was so bad and so persistent that I rotated through three and four pair of shoes a day just to keep my nerves confused. It took a week to be able to get them on without swearing loudly. It took six months to be able to wear them full time.

Tomorrow, almost a year into these shoes, I'm running a 5K mudder with about a dozen obstacles. Until this January, I thought I'd never move like this again. I also had, and still have, the weight gain that goes with a decade of 24/7 foot pain.

The weight is dropping slowly. The foot pain is but a distant echo. Well, except for the bone I broke in February because I ran too far. Nine miles with little or no prep. Yeah, it's easy for a monkey to forget, especially when he's feeling good for a change.

Josh needs a card for this. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

18 April 2012

My brother has worked for the same grocery store chain for 15 years or so, and I shop at that chain regularly, though not at the same store. His store was just too far away for me.

A few weeks ago, his first grandchild was born, and Bro was there for the birth, standing just outside the door to give mom a little privacy and the docs a little room. His phone rung. It was his district manager wanting him to come in immediately to attend to a problem. Bro declined. The manager insisted. Bro went in for a few hours the next morning.

A week or so later, Bro tendered his resignation and took another job. That takes some nerve when you're no longer a young pup. Opportunities for old farts disappear quickly. Yet, Bro pulled it off, and I think the world is a better place. I might even change my grocery shopping as well, but we can decide that after writing his card.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

17 April 2012

Ages ago, I worked in a computer shop in Greensboro, and I asked about working from home occasionally to facilitate finishing the development of a long series of documentation regarding computer software. Nope. Can't do that. You might paint your house. This was 25 years ago. It's a little easier now to forgive that boss regarding working inefficiency because he just plain didn't know any better, and he was too close to retirement to risk any change that would have brought him one step out of the Jurassic.

Fast forward to now. It's a busy time at work this season. Every department has it's own set of challenges, and I've been working from home over half the time to facilitate staying on schedule. Few, if any, even raise an eyebrow over my work habits. Well, if they do, they don't say anything within earshot, and yes, sometimes the work day start's late and sometimes it runs late, everything depending on the schedule necessary to get the work done accurately and on time, if not ahead, and still retain some vestige of humanity.

A flexible schedule means a lot to me, and it probably goes as far as anything to keep me happy at work. This means the Big Boss is getting a card for supporting flexible schedules. I don't think he really understands the idea, mainly because he appears personally to need to be in the office to work, but he accepts and permits our scheduling, and that's all I can really ask.

Monday, April 23, 2012

16 April 2012

I finished what might be my best read of 2012. It certainly is so far. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. You can find more about it at Amazon.

If you're an introvert, or if you don't know for sure but you hear people using words like shy, loner, aloof, quiet, reserved, and many more of that ilk to describe you, you need to read this book.

It's hard to live in this loud and noisy world, especially when you prefer quiet and thoughtfulness to yammering on out loud about nothing, at least without thinking something is wrong with you. In addition, you can expect that you'll not advance easily through the corporate ranks for this very reason: Management, at least the weak kind, tends to select for more of itself, and if they like busy social occasions, cocktail parties, and the large dinner table all with their multiple concurrent conversations, you can expect that you really won't be needing that new suit, no matter what other talents you have. You'll need Lady Luck on your side.

I could go on about the systematic extermination of introverts in American culture and the endless losses we sustain when our fake leadership doesn't bother to seek the thoughts of the quiet people who usually bother to think about what they might say, not that such leadership would pause to listen, much less ever ask in some manner that'd elicit the thoughtful response. Nope. I'm not going on about all that. Instead, I'm sending Ms. Cain a thank you note. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

15 April 2012

I rarely go to weddings. Mostly, I can count on one hand the number I've been to. The crowds. The pomp. The dressing up. The pretension. And now we have the current political climate that denies equal protection under the law to gay people. Mostly, I just stay home or go elsewhere.

And so, I made an exception and attended the wedding of a peep from work. A beach wedding. Casual dress. A pizza reception. Pretense checked at the door, and a weekend at the beach where I could run a little and bike a lot, filling myself with some warm salt air, all the while getting to know some work peeps outside the usual venue.

That I'd be the odd man out, that I'd be the one in a crowd of couples, that I'd be one of the few introverts in a crowd of extroverts, this would be a good developmental opportunity for me, and if it got to be too much, I could just fade into a long walk along the shore.

It worked out well. The hotel. The weather. The wedding. The quiet chats with peeps. Yes, at a corner table away from the action. I’m glad I went, and I’m even gladder I was invited to come. Now, if I just knew which last name to use on this card.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

14 April 2012

I checked into a beach hotel for a social event that I'll describe tomorrow, and I won't mention the large student group from Wake Forest University that is expending an excessive amount of energy in the name of relaxation. However, I do wonder what introverts do now for spring break. I went home and work on the farm, or I spent the week camping solo.

However, that's not why we're here. Instead, we're here to mention the staff that remembered my name and room number the several times I checked out a bike and the one time when I locked my keys in the room. They even identified me as I first entered the hotel, and I've not figured that one yet. It's not like I was wearing a badge or anything.

They greeted me by name and with a smile repeatedly, probably because I was not occupied with the destruction of hotel property or despoiling the hot tub, but I'll give them credit for being gracious and hospitable. They made my stay pleasant and, in my case, relaxing.

And no, I had nothing to do with the moonlight requisition at the Tiki bar. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

13 April 2012

A pair of my colleagues share an office, and because of their shared work with me and, more importantly, their wonderful demeanor, they've accumulated a small pile of these cards. Until Friday, I was unaware of how many. What happened? What raised my awareness? I walked into their office to write something rascally on their board, and there, draping the board as Christmas cards in December, were the thank-you cards they've collected over this last season. The sight set me back.

Today, I’m adding two more to that chain.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

12 April 2012

A colleague called me into his office today. He wanted me to review some questions he had written as examples in an online training session for writing test questions. Yes, he was writing questions about writing questions.

As I expected, he had written some good ones, though I think they were too difficult for use with his stated purpose. I told him this, and then suggested that he add some easier questions about questions to soften the blow a little.

I left his office realizing that if I ever find myself back in the professorate, something I really wouldn't mind under the right conditions, his questions could easily be recast for use on a doctoral prelim exam. Yeah, they were that hard.

Nonetheless, he made me think, and carefully so lest I embarrass myself in his presence, not that I haven't already done that a dozen times before. I found that little bit of cognitive stimulation pleasant, much like the earlier false proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. He will roll his eyes over this, but I'm sending a card for that.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

11 April 2012

On Twitter and Facebook, I'm connected to a local TV reporter, and she's one of the most educational, and entertaining, follows I know. She's also one fine person.

Last week, she interviewed Newt Gingrich, and during the interview, his cell phone rang. You might now be wondering what his ring tone is.

Abba. Dancing Queen.

I might never stop smiling over that one. Okay, yes, I'm bruised about the edges from ROTFLMAO for days. I'll send a card as soon as I can get control over myself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

10 April 2012

One of the final things we do before leaving for a road trip is to send an email to everyone else announcing our schedule for the next few days. These things arrive nearly daily in our shop. I've sent a lot of those messages, though lately, there've been fewer from me, and I'm not going to complain about that. Ever.

So here comes yet another out-of-office announcement. This peeps states her schedule just like everyone else, and then she ended with “PS - Why, yes, I am going for the Jim Penny road warrior badge.”

A card will greet her return, and we'll all miss her until then.

Monday, April 16, 2012

09 April 2012

I knocked out a work detail in record time today, or so it seemed, due in a large part to collecting materials ahead of time and leaving them where I could find them. However, a bigger part of the credit goes to someone who never touches this work. He just sets the stage and then leaves it for us to complete.

In this case, he did an outstanding job, which is his norm, and he did it a long while back. It only came to fruition today. Long range thinking counts, folks. It counts for a lot, and he's getting a card for being smart and persistent. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

08 April 2012

I was out at dinner this evening, my Sunday treat, especially now with the weather better. Downtown. In the far corner. Alone. On the sidewalk. My bike chained to the chair opposite me. A light sinus infection trying to up-ramp while I'm not looking.

Time for dessert, and I knew I should leave the heavier choices alone, no matter how good they are. They're good for a reason, and that reason flies in the face of a man working diligently to be ever less of a man.

I thought briefly, and asked my waiter if he could bring me some ice cream. Vanilla. It's not on the menu, per se, but they often serve ice cream with the other desserts, and I hoped he'd be able to work something out for me. I do love me some vanilla ice cream.

He asked a clarifying question about how many scoops, and disappeared. He didn't bat an eye, but he did return with my small bowl of ice cream, adding a delightful end to my very pleasant dinner, the growing sinus infection not withstanding.

He will be getting a card for that.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

07 April 2012

After the series of unfortunate events that led Lily and I to not getting together for what seemed like an eternity, we pulled it off. Tonight, we did it again. Whodathunkit?

I drove over to Greensboro for a late dinner with her after work. I know she was tired, what with working all week and then the weekend. She does seem to be liking her new job with its more cats and fewer fools, but that could be just the honeymoon period speaking. We'll check in again later to see how much is new and how much is real.

Regardless, she made time for her old dad to drop by, check on her and the cats, not see the pup who got a new yellow ball anyway, and then step out to Ham's for a late dinner. I suspect she crashed within minutes of my departure, or maybe she cruised over to check on Seymour first. Seymour's staying with the BF for the time being.

Meanwhile, for taking time to humor her old dad, she's getting a card.

Friday, April 13, 2012

06 April 2012

I don't live in a vacuum, no matter what some people might say, or more likely wish, and I do have my favorite haunts that I tend to visit often enough for the staff to know my name, or at least my face. I just don't tend to stay out late, and I certainly don't dance on bar tops often. My days of reciting Shakespeare and Maxwell's equations from atop a bar in Chapel Hill appear long gone.

I also don't go out with a lot of different people. I never have. At work, there are a few of us who head out for lunch somewhat regularly. After work, you could count on one hand the number of people I tend to go out with.

However, I received a text last night from a young thing across town about stepping out to dinner, and I agreed. We went to my usual, a place she'd never been, and had dinner while chatting about our shared world for the next two hours.

It made for an unexpected and delightful evening. We might do it again in a few years. Until then, she'll receive a card to help her remember me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

05 April 2012

You've probably figured that I prefer writing with fountain pens, perhaps because I bought one just for the purpose of writing these cards. I also like sharpened pencils, but I don't do much with those anymore. Perhaps if I ever return to the classroom, I'll keep 144 sharpened in a box on my desk. You just never know when you'll need an extra, but for now, the fountain pen will do.

When I entered my office this morning, I found a blue Waterman box on the desk. Since I share an office, I wasn't sure whom it was for, but the CEO strolled by a little later and made it clear. He was regifting a fountain pen, and not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I was all over it.

This pen is a little above average for me, and it will not travel with me, lest I lose it in airport security again, like the one I lost in Brussels' airport sercurity. I'm even going to violate my rule and use this pen, not the usual, to write his note this evening.

Now, if the new pen would just do something for my penmanship, the world might be righter, but that's another matter for another day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

04 April 2012

Not so long ago, we put up a chalkboard in the office I share. Okay, we didn't so much put up a board as much as we painted the wall with special paint. Nonetheless, we have a chalkboard, and that means people come by to write on it. We should encourage free expression wherever we can because it often leads to good ideas that would have otherwise gone fallow.

It also leads to some pleasant cognitive stimulation. Today, I opened the door only to be greeted by a mathematical proof that appeared to dispute the Pythagorean Theorem written on the board by a colleague. It took a minute or two, well more like a half-day, to find the problem, but I found it, proclaiming my colleague to be Evil, stressed on the second syllable.

The thing is that it's been well over a decade since someone did something like that, and I found myself missing the intellectual stimulation. Most of us are so busy making a living that we don't take time to have fun with it, and in doing so, we become relatively dull people. Today's peep brought a welcomed spark into my corner of the world, and he's going to get a card that will likely surprise him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

03 April 2012

You don't have to look far in this world to see the importance of health insurance, and companies that skimp, or worse, withhold, insurance deserve what they get. And worse. Okay, that's harsh. Perhaps too much so.

There was some recent discussion by a particular Republican presidential candidate where he bemoaned the opportunity to carry his children on his coverage until the were 26. He wanted them to get a job and get their own insurance. What we have here is a complete disconnect between his rarefied, relatively wealthy world, and the world in which the rest of us, or at least I, live in. Here's to hoping he soon crawls back under his rock much sooner than later.

So a while back, my Lily graduated, took a job with health insurance, and dropped off my policy. In time, the reality of being a corporate drone took it's toll, and she bailed after she found another job. However, said job did not come with a health benefit. I'm biting my tongue over that one, though the owner does help out with health expenses. She just doesn't offer coverage.

This all happened on the last day of our open enrollment, demonstrating Lil's exquisite timing, and I completed and filed the papers accordingly. Then came the cards, both without Lily's name on them. Uh oh. In leaped, our HR director, and within the day, this matter was resolved. She saved Lil from exposure to the devastating risk brought by a lack of health insurance, and that gets today's card. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

02 April 2012

While I was having my dinner tonight, The Rocket, one of the part-owners of the bar, introduced me to Mr. Belvedere. Mr. Belvedere is the ceramic dog that replaced the ceramic chicken that someone stole. You might have seen that chicken if you've been over to Amazon to not buy one of the so-called books I have there.

The Rocket also made one of the best pear cobblers I've ever laid into, and tonight was my second slice. (Friday was the first.) If you hang around me long enough, you'll quickly learn that I, generally, loathe cobbler because of my long-standing exposure to those made by Addie Coats. I won't go into that mess here, but she left me never wanting to see another cobbler for as long as I stalk through this world.

I would have held to that conviction except that The Rocket makes her cobbler with bourbon, lots of bourbon. They should card people before serving that dessert.

Between the dog and the cobbler, that'd be enough for a card, but there's more. As I was leaving, she called me by name and thanked me for coming by. It was a friendly gesture that was better than the cobbler, and that was with me stone sober. All I had to drink was water, aside from licking the cobbler plate. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

01 April 2012

Ages ago, I worked in a university computer center, and among other duties, I supported the SAS System on computers that no longer exist. Things change, you know. Because of that work, I got to know a fellow from SAS user support quite well, and we even went to Reno together one year for a conference. That trip presented my first experience with eating with chopsticks as the restaurant didn't have forks. Yeah, I was out of my league.

Things change, and time moves one. In time, I had lost track of the man, but about two years ago, I managed to find him. He was still working at SAS. I can't imagine staying in the same place that long. Ten years is about the max for me, so far, with five years more like the average. I get bored quickly.

So we traded emails, had dinner at a local bar. A few weeks later, we spent Christmas or New Year's Eve, I forget, with his wife, or girl friend as I don't know which, at that same bar. With that, he fell off the planet. There's not much surprise in that since he's relatively unconnected except at work, and I assumed he had retired, moved, both, or been captured by space aliens.

Then I went back to that same bar for dinner tonight. There he was working on a gin and tonic with his bike tied to his chair just like mine. I didn't recognize him at first. People are a little harder to recognize from behind, but then he turned, and I saw his face. We spent a half hour catching up as I munched my broccoli and decided he was getting a card.  

March in review

March certainly read the poem this year, roaring in like a lion, going out like a lamb. I, for one, and probably far more than one, have appreciated the rush of early summer weather, especially now that the pine pollen season is over. Not to worry, there'll be more pollen, harder to see pollen, more likely to set off the nose pollen before we're in the clear and cruising the beach.

A season into these notes leaves me thinking a couple of things. First, there's the business with what the original author called “extreme” notes. These were the notes he considered, at least initially, to be a stretch, like the card he gave to his barista for remembering his name and his preferred order. I need to take issue with the use of “extreme” to characterize these cards. It's as though he is minimizing them because they're for the small things. Or perhaps I need to reread his book. Nonetheless, I see these cards as the most important. They tell me he was seeing the little things we do for one another to make our lives a little easier, a little better, and I doubt any one will argue that we have too much of that, at least in today's harried world.

It doesn't take much to turn someone's day around, and it certainly doesn't cost us any more than the little bit of time needed to, say, hold open a door. Way back in the day, I asked my daddy why he waved to people we met driving down the road. He said that throwing up his finger didn't cost a cent, and it was important that we be neighborly. That small gesture is about lost on today's world. There's just too much traffic to wave at everyone. Unfortunately, people get used to that, and then they show up in my apartment elevator only to feel, or at least act, discombobulated as I add a greeting when they step in and the door closes. Yes, the introvert in me can, and often does, go a long while without speaking, but it's also interesting in my multicultural environment to express the social pleasantries, and then watch what happens.

My other though after a season sending these notes is a continuation of an observation I had earlier, that being that I send a lot of cards to work. First, that doesn’t surprise me all that much as I spend the bulk of my life at work. Well, I do sleep, but there's not a lot of opportunity to send cards motivated by sleeping. Maybe I could thank my neighbor for being quiet. Of course, we have sound-proofed walls so he might not be all that quiet. I might never know.

That leaves the handful of non-work waking hours to be around people. Well, I tend to seek some form of aerobic exercise during those times, and typically, those are not shared events, not even in the gym where it's packed with people. In the gym, it's all about parallel play, not doing things together. Maybe I should start Tae Kwon Do again. Or not.

So what left me thinking about the people around me, or lack thereof, when I'm not working? Specifically, March found me calling a physician's office to arrange a freaking colonoscopy. They say old farts like me need these things periodically, but I'm pretty sure this is (1) a scan, and (2) medically sponsored torture. I'm sure they're plotting against me. Regardless, that all seems tame enough. Just a medical procedure. Diagnostic. Routine. Done under anesthesia. I won't remember it minute of it. So what's the deal? They require a driver, and it can't be a taxi, to take me home.

Five years ago, I called upon a bud at work, and she agreed, but she's changed jobs, leaving me without a replacement. I suspect this was all a part of her design and career planning. Now, before you start volunteering, I do believe I have someone. It's just that I had to stop and think about it, and that's what triggered the flag. I probably need to get out more. Probably. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

31 March 2012

With the return of the good weather, I find myself pedaling downtown for the occasional dinner. It's about five miles each way, and that little bit of exercise balances, at least in part, what I wind up eating. Like most people, I have my favorite haunt, though I tend to make the rounds lest I become bored.

The sad thing is that I had been missing in action through the winter because of the weather that left me disinclined to ride my bike. Yes, I could ride my car, but where's the fun, and eccentricity, in that?

So, so, so, I show up at my favorite spot for an early dinner. Think 4:30, and yes that is early for many, but it gets me out of there before the crowds arrive and take over. I hate crowds. I loathe loud.

By 6, I had checked out, and was pedaling home. I wondered along the way if the waitress, and part-owner, put my name on the ticket like she did last year. That question had to wait until I arrived home where I quickly found my name right there on the itemized receipt. She remembered me.

They also remember my preference for mac-n-cheese, but I haven't had that in a while. It's that little thing, among the others such as the greeting smile, that keeps me going back. Maybe one day, I'll go when they're crowded. OK, that's a stretch. Someone else can have that duty.

Friday, April 6, 2012

30 March 2012

I grew up on a farm, and my daddy would save the nails from one use, straighten them, and use them again. And then again. He saved everything, and used it until it fell apart, something he learned from his daddy, who learned from his daddy, the one learning from the other through endless generations of not having much more than the dirt beneath their feet, and my daddy never even had that. He was a sharecropper.

My grandparents sold earthworms to fishermen as part of their living, and that meant they saved cans. They used the rusty cans as temporary storage for the counted worms, 100 to a can, until someone bought them. At that point, Papa would move the worms from the can to a clean paper cup with a lid.

Along the way, people fell out of that way of thinking and behaving. I suppose a little money from public work can make that happen, and I've long thought that generations ahead would mine our landfills for the natural resource we wasted. Later, no one had to convince me that recycling was a good thing to do, and that seems to have been passed on a little as I watch Lil and Josh intentionally move things from trash to recycling.

Fast forward to now, and a peep at work sends out an email. Someone left a Coke can in the trash by his desk. He had noticed more cans in the kitchen trash, and he wanted to remind us of the recycling bins all around. He even mentioned reusing the back sides of scrap paper. What do you suppose he'll do with the card I'm mailing today?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

29 March 2012

We are generally always busy at work, and most times, I see this as a good problem, though there are days when I'd like to have a week with fewer snakes to kill. This means we occasionally have bottlenecks, and this despite all the project management that goes on in the background. Last year this month, we had one of those times, and this year this month, it's happening again. With the same activity, mind you.

To make it all work out, a peep across the building offered to step in and take a trip to Rockville, just as he did last year when he took a trip to Budapest. Now, you're probably wondering why I'm giving away a trip to Budapest, and if you are, you need to remember my height and how I so poorly fit in airline coach seats, especially for intercontinental flights.

You just couldn't ask for better collegiality than this.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

28 March 2012

As part of my work, I participate in professional conferences, though no where near like I did back in the day when it seemed like one a month, each with multiple presentations. Maybe I'm just not as smart as I used to be.

This is the week we get proposals ready for presentations in November. I have one. Yes, one. And I'm doing it with three people. Now, that probably sounds like I'm sharing the load, and perhaps I am, at least for the hour we're on the stage.

The thing is, it's hard for me to find people with whom I want to present. I manage presentations as an extended conversation with the audience, and that's all a plan to keep me from droning on for the entire time about, mostly, nothing. With the give and take of a conversation, the energy flows back and forth between the stage and the audience. With multiple speakers, the one can process questions further while the other speaks, and that all means we have better conversations with more energy.

The one fellow I'll present with this fall is an longtime bud. We do this well together, and have done it a thousand times now. However, he also is not afraid to rein me in when I go off on a tangent. Not many seem willing to do that.

The other is a newbie for us. I've been watching her for a year, and I think this is going to work. She is certainly no shrinking violet, and they're both getting cards for agreeing to play with me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

27 March 2012

A large part of our work involves gathering the professional opinions of many people, and although there are many ways to do this, our most frequent design is the focus group panel followed by a large scale survey. The survey is typically held online, as the days of pencil-and-paper surveys are about gone.

Dillman might even have rewritten his survey methodology book to accommodate this fundamental change in administration. Let's hope so. Wait. I think Dillman's dead, and he got a rewrite anyway. Still, I suspect he could use another.

To make these surveys happen, we work with the wife of one of my grad school buds. Said wife consults on a good many things, and we engage her for survey design and implementation. Surveys, like many other things, are not so much written and built as much as they are rewritten and rebuilt. Think about it: If you ask someone for an opinion, you're likely to get one, and now you need to include the upshot of that opinion in the revision.

Our survey manager works tirelessly and without complaint. She puts edits and changes into place within moments of receipt. This means we are able to respond to requests nearly in real time, and that makes us look good. Of course, you're likely aware of just how hard it is to make me look good, and for that miraculous feat, I'm sending her a card.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

26 March 2012

Being an old fart, there are special medical procedures designed specifically for my personal irritation. Fasting blood work is one. The colonoscopy is another. I have a longer list if you're interested.

Fasting blood work destroys an entire day by getting me out of the house before breakfast. There is little to no recovery from this abomination except to trudge along until the next day gets here. Not unlike a reboot.

With the colonoscopy, it's not so much the procedure, but the more prep, both of which is followed by fasting, fasting through lunch in my next instance. You'd think there'd be some federal prohibition on this mess. Where's that extra line in the Affordable Care Act?

So I agree to this nonsense one more time. It's that or listen to it, and I despise listening to it. The nurse on the phone is pleasant, matter-of-fact, and lightly cheering. She didn't ask me to come in for an preliminary appointment. Instead, she covered all the points on the phone. She'll send me some paperwork by mail, and I'll arrive ever so grumpy at the appointed time. I doubt she designed this manner of doing business, but she implemented the design well, leaving me a bit more cheered for the day, and that deserves a card for sure. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

25 March 2012

Of course, getting the one peep in the Ninja run was not so simple as waving it in front of her. Nope. We needed an accomplice, and by accomplice I mean another of the female peeps. The one jumped in after about 30 minutes of reflection, and that set the stage for the other to join the next day.

The reason to go on about this is that I want the world to see how strong these women can be outside the usual and, somewhat, traditional circumstances. It's easy to start taking people for granted as they go through their daily routines, but there's nothing ordinary about climbing 12-foot walls, slogging through mud pits five feet deep, and running through bales of burning hay, all the while demonstrating that we can put our minds together to pass through and survive these and about any other set of obstacles.

Besides, now I get ice cream when it's over. That might be better than the card going out today.