Apr 8, 2010

Update-age

Hey, guys! Just wanted to post a second update about moving over to the new blog, Special Snowflakes and Other Myths.

Update your RSS feeds! :)

Mar 24, 2010

Moving on up!

With my marriage last Tuesday, my last name is changing and so is my e-mail. In an effort to simplify my google accounts, and also to start with a clean blogging slate, I'm moving on over to:

Special Snowflakes and Other Myths

Hope to see you there! :)

Mar 1, 2010

I just thought of another great thing about our wedding date:

So we arranged our wedding date (March 16) largely around when my mom would be on spring break. No, my mom is not a college student. She is a principal for an elementary school. Anyhow, because it was almost impossible to find many days together in the spring where she wasn't going to be doing testing or supervising ballgames or any of the other myriad duties of a small town school administrator, spring break was really the best time for all of us to get away for a few days.

So one great thing about our wedding date: it's easy for my parents to come.

It's also the day before St. Patrick's Day which means Kellen pretty much never has an excuse to forget our anniversary. I never forget dates, but I'm willing to accept a certain degree of inevitability that someday I might not be as sharp as I am today, so in 60 years or so, I'm assuming this will be useful. (Personally, I'm hoping my memory is the last thing to go and that I hold onto all of my memories for-e-ver if for no other reason than to spitefully remind everyone of every time they've been wrong, but I've been right.)

The not so great thing about our wedding date? In addition to being during my mom's spring break, it's pretty much everyone else's spring break too. I'm hoping like crazy that we avoid the throngs of drunk 19-year-olds that are bound to be crawling all over the beach in Puerto Vallarta.

BUT. Tonight I remembered the absolute best thing about our wedding date: we'll be in Mexico the entire week of SXSW.

For the record, I hate SXSW. When I lived in Austin, it was mostly just annoying because if you stayed in Austin for spring break, you couldn't go anywhere without running into bajillions of people. Driving was miserable. Parking was (more) miserable (than usual.) Now that I don't live in Austin, though, it becomes the week that every pretentious d-bag with an internet connection descends on my beloved city and every single social network I'm on becomes flooded with their pretentious d-baggy bragging about going to all of the places I love.

This is incredibly unfair because 1) they get to be in Austin, and I don't, and 2) they are so busy bragging about how awesome they are for being at SXSW, they completely forget that they are in the best city in the world. Austin is not the backdrop for you to demonstrate your superiority against, and for not adequately appreciating Austin as being more than a place where you go to rub elbows with a bunch of other d-bags, what you actually demonstrate is how much you suck at life.

*cough*

So yeah. I have a lot of ire directed toward SXSW. And since I'm going to be in Mexico that entire week for the wedding and blissful honeymoon sans internet connection, that means I get to miss the whole goddamn thing...a complete impossibility if I were anywhere near the internet for that week, no matter how hard I try to avoid the ubiquitous, "Look how cool I am! I'm at SXSW!" posts/tweets/articles/etc.

I. Am. Excited. (Well, even more than I already was.)

Bride brain

You'll have to pardon me. I honestly don't have a lot on my mind lately other than wedding-related stuff. We leave for Mexico in t-minus 13 days. I've been trying to scrabble together some outfits for the warmer weather, since I've outgrown pretty much all of my old summers clothes. I also had to pick up new luggage, buy a new dress and get it altered, and think about all the things I've yet to do, like: finalize a hairstyle, write my own vows, get in touch with the officiant, make a playlist for music during the ceremony.

I've also got about 100 yds of fabric that needs to be washed, pressed, and cut out before our May reception in Texas. I called around to various and sundry cleaners to see how much it would cost to have all of the fabric laundered and pressed by someone else. I was thinking around $100...$200 max. Uh-uh. It's going to be nearly $500. So I guess I'm going to buy a decent iron (mine is a $10 cheapie that doesn't take wrinkles out, even after drenching the fabric in wrinkle releaser) and devote God only knows how many hours to ironing all of this shit (pardon my French) myself.

There are also pompoms to make and wooden cutouts to find and order and bunting to sew.

Yikes.

Then it's on to the Washington reception where literally nothing has been done in preparation, and actually I should be e-mailing the coordinator instead of writing here...

I do have occasional thoughts about other things. Like: the position that I was interested in fell through. Or: I really hope this big all-hands call coming up in a couple of weeks isn't another mass layoff announcement.

But honestly, all I've been able to think about is wedding, wedding, wedding. Expect this to be the case until mid-July.

Feb 17, 2010

Ugh.

Make that 11 plane tickets.

I'm so excited about getting married, but I'll be super happy when all of this wedding business is over.

(Silver lining: Kellen paid off all of his credit cards last week! YAY!)

Feb 12, 2010

Credit card madness!

I officially paid my credit card down to zero back in September. Of course, since then, I've bought a whopping 9 plane tickets and put another $2500 on that same credit card. At the same time, I finally paid off the other credit card with my dental work and my dog's surgery on it last month.

Is this how it always is with credit cards? As soon as you get one paid off, you just pile a bunch of other money on it later? Really, if it weren't for all of the plane tickets (mostly wedding related), this wouldn't be so much of an issue. But still. It's enough to make me want to cut up all of my credit cards.

Unfortunately, I still have all the numbers memorized.

*sigh*

Feb 10, 2010

Turning point

“No, no, no, Lisa. If adults don’t like their jobs, they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-assed.”

- Homer Simpson

So if there is one constant on this blog, it's probably that I complain about my job. A lot. Without being too harsh on my employer, it's worth noting that I think a lot of my criticism of my workplace is completely valid, and that it is more than shared by many of my co-workers.

That being said, I have been pleasantly surprised with how much better work has been in 2010. I mentioned a few months back that I switched teams at work, and to be honest, being under new management has really helped. My supervisor is fantastic. She does a great job of managing our work loads and organizing our assignments for us, and she says thank you and recognizes people for their work. It's amazing how something as small as a "thank you" can really make you feel, well, like what you're doing isn't a pointless waste of time.

I don't think I ever brought it up before, but for about 6 months last year, I was doing the work of 2.5 people pretty much all by myself. One of the developers who was supposed to be on the team was being unofficially farmed out to another project, and the other developer who was supposed to be dividing her time between dev work and a new management position on the team ended up spending most of her time doing management work. As a result, I got stuck with most of our development work, but because on paper it looked like I was only doing the work of one person, I never got any credit for it. (This includes not getting paid for all the hours of overtime I put in trying to get all my work done.) If anything, I caught flack any time the quality of my work dropped off or I had to request to have a deadline pushed back. My HR supervisor gave me a really hard time about it and basically told me flat out that he thought I was a slacker. When I told him that the only way to resolve my "performance issues" was either to give me official overtime to do it in or to cut back on my work load, he just went "Huh" and started to make suggestions like check lists.

It was frustrating. I worked my ass off, and I got worse than nothing in return from my entire team. I became an employee who came with a warning label (no, really, they warned my new supervisor about me when I switched teams and told her I wasn't able to code and that I liked to surf the internet a little too much) for little other reason than complete mismanagement of resources and projects on my previous team. Not super surprisingly (at least not to me), after I left the team, the person they'd move into the management position for the team got taken out of the position, and they hired a third developer. My HR supervisor was suddenly willing to entertain the idea that maybe I hadn't been lying about all the work I had to do.

And despite the warnings given to my new project supervisor, she pretty much treated me like a blank slate when I started. When I told her what I was capable of, she actually let me prove it, instead of simply saying that I couldn't and passing me over. And when I showed repeatedly that I could do high-quality work quickly, she recognized that I was doing a great job. We had a meeting at the end of last year to discuss my performance on the team, and it was overwhelmingly positive, and she passed along her review to both her HR supervisor and mine.

I have received more thank you's and kudos in the last 4 months than I received in the entire 20 months prior. That feels good. And in turn, that makes me feel better about my job. I feel like I'm actually kind of useful.

In January, I got put on a project for another team while my team was experiencing a lull. I got to work with one of our new managers and an entire team I've never had the opportunity to work with before. I did a good job and, I think, was much more useful than they expected. It was really fun working with new people, too, because they didn't have any preconceived notions about me. They treated me like a valued and respected coworker, someone who was their equal and not just some dumb kid who spends too much time on teh intarwebz.

While I know I shouldn't let myself be so easily influenced by how I am treated at work--I should be committed to quality regardless--when you feel like what you are doing doesn't matter or that people aren't paying attention, so who cares if you do a good job?, your work will be influenced by that. There has been a definite shift though in the past few months where I feel like people are paying attention and my contributions matter. There are people invested in me, and that, in turn, makes me feel more invested in my job. I no longer cringe every time I start on a new assignment because I know it's going to be a wasted effort. It's now an opportunity to show what I'm capable of.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, I think. That if you want good employees, you should be good to your employees. That you can't expect people to grow if you shove them in a dark corner and deprive them of water. That you shouldn't let yourself become jaded--keep pushing for new opportunities to prove yourself. And when you get a second chance to do that, don't let it pass you by.

I'm actually kind of excited about some of the things going on at work now, and this has inspired me to work harder and push harder and prove that I am capable of a whole lot more than I have been allowed to show. Now that I have the opportunity, I'm running with it.

Feb 9, 2010

Writing a letter of recommendation...for myself?

So at work, I've been presented with an opportunity. (Yeah. I'm just as shocked as you.) They are considering implementing Google Analytics on my company's entire website (which is pretty substantial), and they're looking for a person or team of people to head that up. One of my supervisors came to me and asked me if I knew anything about Google Analytics and if I'd be interested in the job.

I am fairly familiar with Google Analytics. I've implemented it on several of my own sites/blogs and helped my father-in-law implement it on his business website so he could get better statistics regarding where his web traffic comes from. I understand the basics of Analytics, insofar as they are useful to my sites. (I use the features that give me information on my users (country, language, browser), the content they view the most, and how they find my site (referring sites and keywords are probably the most useful.) There are some features I haven't used: events and goals.

And obviously, implementing Analytics on a super massive site like my company's, which actually has multiple sites within the larger site, would be a whole new ball game in terms of organization and quantity of data. It's not something I've done before...but is it something I know I can do? Yes. Is it something that has pricked my ears up? Oh, hell yes.

I'm really looking for growth. I've been frustrated over the past year or so that every time I've tried to move upward or outward, I've only managed to hit brick walls. The fact that I was approached for this (possibly because some of the managers are kind of snoopy and have seen my Analytics screen a few too many times--oops) is, regardless of the reason, pretty exciting. It means that they're starting to think that I might be capable of taking on greater responsibility, which is reassuring.

They've requested I submit a proposal recommending myself for the new position. I've spoken with the supervisor in a little more depth about what, exactly, they are looking for. I think I've got a pretty good idea but what I'm recommending myself for now, but I've never had to write a recommendation for myself.

Anyone have any suggestions or references?

Jan 27, 2010

Life goes on...

So a lot has happened since my last update.

The biggie is that Kellen graduated! His last college internship wrapped up last month, and he's been gainfully employed in a Big Boy engineering job for over a month now. I'm so proud of him and so excited that we are moving into the next stage of our lives together.

The wedding gets ever-closer. The date is March 16, which leaves us just over a month to get everything together and ready to go. I've been in touch with a wedding planner in Mexico, where we're getting married, and it seems like everything is going to be ready to go when we get down there. We won't be doing the legal wedding here in Oregon until after we get back (name change issues), but...that still will be happening VERY SOON.

On the budget front, we've been trying to figure out things like student loan payments (together, we've got an epic $90,000+ in student loan debt) and getting Kellen a new car. We were hoping his '96 police interceptor would hold out a few more months until we could get together a down payment for a new Outback (it's going to be his baby-totin' car...you know, in a couple of years when we decide to make babies for him to tote), but on his way to work one morning a few weeks back, it threw a rod. Goodbye, engine. Goodbye, police interceptor. We were at least lucky in that we still had the van from Kellen and our roommate, Max's trip to Burning Man, and when Max moved out earlier this month to start his semester abroad in Denmark, Max more or less gave his old '93 Civic to Kellen. It ain't pretty, but at least it drives! And it spares us a large car payment/insurance payment for at least a few months...

I'm almost at my 2-year anniversary at work. It blows my mind that time has passed so quickly. Now that Kellen is working, it's like we've officially become grown ups, as opposed to just pretending to be them. Kind of strange.

Anyhow, I'll try to update more once the wedding business is all out of the way. It's been busy, busy, busy for the past few months.

Jan 3, 2010

The good thing about these little emotional breakdowns?

I usually end up doing something when I have them, and I feel better about the steps I've taken later. They may be baby steps, but at least they're steps!