Friday, July 15, 2011

7/15/2011 Do It Anyway

I need to get OUT of work mode. WHY does this matter so much?

A coworker suggested that our mishmash (diverse?) modern society has few rite-of-passage rituals, such as Bar/Bat Mitzvahs for 13-year-olds in Jewish culture, or Quinceanera for 15-year-olds in Mexican culture. Instead, we get our sense of hierarchy and advancement from work. And indeed, I know in my heart that a large part of the reason I wanted to go back to work after having babies was for the structure, the sense of accomplishment, the belonging.

But it's hard to satisfy those basic needs in a foreign culture in which advancement, recognition and contribution is about people, relationships and loyalty; rather than intrisic work. I'd expect a great deal of subjective judgement in an artistic environment, but in a literal engineering one? That's odd. As regular readers know, I struggle routinely with a boss who values impressions, appearances and loyalty over quality of work and facts.

Yesterday my job changed dramatically. I was instructed to start working on a software application that does failure analysis on IP networks. Actually, it's right up my alley, normally, but it's not close to what I've been doing or want to do. More importantly, it's not in my team's set of responsibilities.

Do It Anyway, I was told today. Never mind that the group that is responsible doesn't need or want my help. So instead of doing in my job description, I've been instructed to duplicate work in another group..."just in case." I hate being given busywork that others have already covered and being told to "do it anyway" with little purpose beyond "just in case."

I don't I trust the CTO's sincere-sounding words that he wants to hear about problems like this? Or will I come off as a whiner? How do you convey that this really isn't your job without sounding like you're trying to slough off??

Speaking of dysfunction, thank goodness I had to leave at 3:30 today, to deal with a wacky kid-pickup schedule that involved kids in a pool on a field trip just before a swim lesson. Somehow I got them all to swim lesson on time. That by itself proves how capable I am!!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

7/14/2011 Thursday night

This has been a really remarkable week so far, and not all in good ways. I made an important and good discovery at work, then my job was almost pretty much re-assigned yesterday. And today I looked our CTO in the eye and told him that his Director is technically incompetent and that people don't understand why the CTO tolerates him. I think I used up a year's worth of courage in saying that.

I need to work tonight, but you know what? There's a new episode of Burn Notice on in 10 minutes! Forget work!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7/13/2011 takeout!

Swim night, and I have a ton of work to do tonight due to an unexpected re-assignment at work today. I will NOT let Mr Horrible keep me from doing real, good work, so that means extra work. It's serious, because I even missed a regular Coffee Night with friends!!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7/12/11 MWF swim

Whew. No swim lesson today -- no trying to coordinate Gabriel and Katrina's field trip with getting them to swim lesson on time. They went ice-skating. Julian left his knapsack that I'd so carefully packed at the CDC and so didn't skate, but Katrina remembered hers and she had a great time!

Tomorrow, Gabriel's field trip is going to some marine lab, supposedly back by 4:30. A few wrong traffic lights will make us late for a 5pm swim lesson. Summer is stressful!


Monday, July 11, 2011

7/11/2011 Swim Lessons

Two weeks of swim lessons for all 3 starting today!! New place, great reputation.

Scheduling constraints meant that Katrina had her own lesson at 5pm, then the boys together at 5:30.

Katrina loved her teacher; I could hear her giggling from far away. For her, it turns out her swim lessons at the previous lame place did pay off to some extent, because she was willing to put her face in the water. The boys have always been fine with dunking their heads due to their early Water Babies lessons in Campbell, but Katrina never took to swim lessons as a baby.

During Katrina's lesson, the boys had fun playing ping-pong by the pool.

This place is a genuine "country club" with a hefty initiation fee to join, but it does allow the rank-and-file scrabble like us to pay for swim lessons without joining. They're not cheap, but swim lessons never are, and most aren't very good.

The boys were next, in a lesson together, against my better judgement. The swim class director assured me they could handle brothers. I was skeptical.

And I was right. Not these brothers. I had to intervene several times to threaten Gabriel (and carry out twice) with the loss of coveted computer-time for every time the teacher had to tell him to quit messing around (splashing Julian, blocking Julian when it was his turn to swim, going underwater and kicking his feet at the teacher). By the end of the lesson, the swim class director (not their teacher) suggested that next lesson, we split the boys up 15 minutes/15 minutes, so they're not in the pool at the same time.

Despite all this, much swim-learning actually occurred. Julian used his arms, and was introduced to the concept of intermingling breathing with actually swimming. Gabriel showed that he had learned something at our previous swim place, but really really needs to reinforce it, since he gives up after only a few strokes. I had to face the fact that at 9 years old, despite having started at 4 months old, he really can't swim.

I was struck by how much nicer it was to deal with an outdoors pool than indoors. It's SO much nicer to wait and watch -- downright pleasant, in fact. No surprise; I've grown to truly dislike indoor swimming myself, and haven't done it for years. I've swum outdoors in the rain and dark in 52-degree weather, but not indoors.

(Actually, I have not gone swimming myself for months until yesterday, when I really felt like I needed to -- and had a horrible swim for the first 20 minutes, then the endorphins kicked in and I felt phenomenal and drove home in a great, inspired, uplifted mood as I always do after swimming.)

3 kid swim-lessons this week, 5 next week. Despite the logistical challenges, I already totally enjoy not cringing at their lameness!

7/11/11 (cool date!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Death Valley Writeup

FINALLY! I finished blogging our Death Valley National Park Trip (April 17-19, 2011). You've already read about it, just check out the photos.

There must be a better way. Next time, photo book!

7/10/2011 The Piano

We've been thinking about upgrading our practice piano. What we have now is a programmable one with 65 keys, a shade up from toy status, but definitely not a real piano.

Dave has an 88-key keyboard that's been in a box since we moved out to remodel, one with weighted keys to give a more piano-like feel. I convinced him that it doesn't need protection from little kids anymore -- so, let's start with that one.

Though we're thinking that a more integrated electronic piano would be better, one that doesn't need separate speakers, metronome, music stand, pedals and tangles of cords, for now Dave's 88-key piano tells us how much of the whiz-bang electronic features we do need. The kids make ample use of the pre-recorded tunes and various playing modes on our semi-toy piano...but we can always keep that one and find another place for it.

Meantime, Gabriel has been enjoying getting to know 88 keys. I'm very curious to see if the better feel and sound of this piano will outweigh the lack of whizzy features for him.

(lots of mistakes at first but he gets his groove on.)

Julian and Katrina have been enjoying freer access to our littler piano, which clearly needs to be in a different room from the 88-key one. And bonus: now Dave wants to play again too!

In other breaking news, it was time to get the kids haircuts. Their hair is never quite in sync -- Gabriel's could have gone longer, but Julian is getting downright shaggy and Katrina's bangs could use a professional touch-up from the occasional hacking I do.

They weren't thrilled about a "before" shot.

And less so about an "after" shot, but there were lollipops at stake here. The boys didn't like the itchiness so took their shirts off.

The lady who did Katrina's hair did a wonderful job. A little layering in the back, giving her thick rich hair a lovely swingy quality. And she did a very nice job angling her bangs in the front.

Katrina actually asked me to take a photo of her haircut afterward.

Gabriel's is inexplicably short, but he doesn't mind, because he says that means he won't need a haircut for longer now. I didn't have the heart to remind him that it's really Julian's hair, which was cut much longer by a different person, that will determine when our next trip to Great Clips will be!