Friday, February 15, 2013

2/15/13 Softie

I'm pretty sure Zorro is the softest animal I've ever felt. His fur isn't as long as his mommy-kitty's, but it has an unusually fine, super-soft quality to it. It's really striking when I touch him, he's so soft.

I don't get to pet him that much, he definitely prefers the kids to me, but occasionally he'll grant me a presence, and when he does, I'm amazed at just how soft his fur is.

It's also fun to tease him on other counts: as big as he acts, he has a pathetic little mew, super-soft fur, and pink paws -- some toughie! Softie!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/14/13 Hurl City!

Been a long time since I've done this: get up in the middle of the night numerous times with a child.

Poor Julian....even though he'd eaten virtually nothing yesterday, sometime around 2am this morning he started hurling. It happened again and again and again, with one towel, blanket, item hit each time. Needless to say, he didn't go to school today!

Poor kid. He was pretty lethargic today.

Unfortunately, since Gabriel too got sent home with a mild temperature at 1pm, he too wasn't allowed to go to school today, but he was pretty healthy. Enough to try to rile and pester poor Julian. It wasn't until I very seriously threatened to bring Gabriel back to school that he finally backed off!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2/13/13 Twofer

Ugh...this morning I got notice from dad that Julian was sick and could not to go school.

Unfortunately, custody agreements must state a handoff time -- in this case 8am -- even though real life doesn't work that way. Whichever parent has the kids in a morning takes them to school, even though that's past 8am, so they keep the kids for technically 25 minutes longer than handoff, so as to take them straight to school. Call that a "gentleman's agreement" for flexibility of reality -- until a kid gets sick. That creates a scramble for everyone, but dad expects me to be available at the letter-of-the-law handoff time of 8am to take the sick kid, and if I'm not, he makes remarks like "I see. I will cover for you then."

Mornings that I don't take the kids to school, I plan for a free morning. I go running, to the Y, drive to the city for work, sleep late, take a shower, meet a friend....No matter what the literal word of the custody agreement says, if I'm not taking them to school, I might not be home at 8am and can't teleport back there then. The parent who has the kids is home, so I think this arrangement needs to be adjusted to match practical reality -- such as changing handoff times to afternoons. I know from experience to brace myself for battle and armor myself against a barrage of double-entendre condescending insults and exaggerations for making any suggested changes, so as usual I have to work around it and live with the literal interpretation of the custody agreement until I'm ready to take it to mediation or court.

When I picked up Julian, I found him unusually lethargic. Usually he milks this for all its worth, but today he didn't have the energy. He just wanted to hang in bed with Zorro, who mostly indulged him. How annoying, that animal won't give me the time of day, but mews pitifully when he misses the kids! He has by far the softest fur I've ever felt on a cat, too.

I set Julian up with his own new lamp, gave him some secret kitty-treats to help incent Zorro to stay with him, brought him his Nook with some new books on it, and went to work in my home office. I honestly don't mind days at home alone with a sick kid; my kids aren't whiners and I like playing mom to them one at a time.

I just wish I weren't under such tremendous pressure at work this week. I usually don't mind pressure. A project that's come up is critical to the company and to individuals' livelihoods, and there is NO slipping schedules. If I can't do it, someone else who's even more overloaded than I am will, and that makes me feel terrible. I'm keenly aware that while I won't necessarily help make a sale, I can certainly impede it. Mostly, it's super-important to me to support my wonderful employer (of under 50 people, so this is the reality of small business, overall a great fit for me). And I really like this project -- a rare treat for network engineers to get to design a new data center from scratch -- in Europe! If anyone can eke out the last painful eensy detail, I can. And I have fantastic support in my other network-engineer coworker. So this is good. But now!

With Julian settled in, i was able to get some work done, until....a call from the school: Gabriel now complaining about a "burnt forehead." He had no temp, so we sent him back to class, but after lunch, he fell asleep in the school office and did measure with 99.9. Enough to send him home for today and tomorrow.

Great. Two boys, sick, home together. Juuust what I need. I don't mind having one home sick, they're mellow and not complaining -- but the boys together??! And Gabriel wasn't that sick -- he can do a lot of damage even with a 100 temp. Fortunately I was able to keep the boys contained with threats of, "If you have the energy to insult Katrina or bounce off the walls, then you are going to school tomorrow!" Gabriel can't, but's borderline. Just gotta count on the girl to hold it together, and if anyone can, she can.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2/11/13 Enjoying Work

My guess is that the (legal??) immigrants who clean my house, and barely understand English, are likely the ones that Mexico most misses: ambitious, hard-working, practical, and humorous -- and able to find small amusements in their work. One of the ladies who cleans my house makes cute flowers out of the TP rolls -- my guess more for her amusement than mine, though it works very well on me too.

I haven't talked much about work here....for good reason. As regular readers know, just over a year ago, I was employed at a struggling company with some wonderful co-workers, but an astoundingly oppressive management, including a boss whose religious beliefs excluded shaking hands with women.

Before anyone rushes to defend that position, consider this: he should have refused to shake hands with all, so as to conform to his strict religious beliefs, rather than singling out a single group. Imagine if he'd refused to shake hands with Blacks or Jews only?! Never! So why should only Women be "ok" to exclude from a common social more? No way. But that was the least of the former boss's religious beliefs and their unreasonable manifestations didn't even make it to my Top 10 of complaints with this jerk.

Problem #1: he wanted to hold me back, to drive me out by squashing my ambition and desire to learn. This "boss" once cancelled a project when he learned I'd volunteered for it, after he'd called for volunteers, instead assigning me absurd busywork that had no bearing at all on the struggling company that I helped build in its early days. Since I'd filed a formal complaint against him, he couldn't do anything overt, but he was extremely perceptive of peoples' dynamics, and knew that he could drive me out by keeping me down technically.

Fast-forward 18 months or so to my current job, found through a former coworker at the same company, who wisely left immediately when the Taliban-mentality invaded our previous employer.

I've mentioned a few times how very much better my current job is, but superlatives don't exist to describe the humanity and competence and kindness and supportiveness of my current employer. My current much smaller company also has absolutely no room for a stupid vindictive person deliberately trying to drive out an employee, and standing up to nonsense is appreciatged, not criticized.

(As an example of how thoughtful my employer is: recently our national payroll processor messed up and delayed numerous direct deposits -- So the VP sent email to the whole company saying if this created a financial hardship for anyone, to please let him know and he'd make sure to cover it out of his own pocket.)

This difference struck me especially today when I was asked to do yet another project for which I have no direct experience or knowledge for. What a contrast -- instead of being held back, I'm expected to step up. Instead of being soundly criticized for talking with reasonable knowledge of something I worked hard to learn in a short time, I'm praised and thanked for the very same actions. Indeed, I've become my company's de facto "wireless specialist," despite my pitiful lack of background in physics, radio frequency technology and digital signal processing -- but my interest and time spent learning is completely recognized and appreciated. (Just wish I could turn that lucrative...)

And instead of begging to have access to new equipment, new equipment is tossed at me and my coworker all the time - it's all we can do to hold it off. It just doesn't get better than that for network engineers! No longer are we passed over for a choice project for a favored junior team member who attends the Mosque with the boss during Friday prayers!

But my technical interest is barely an indulgence. At a sales company, margins are key, and sales are king. I don't mind -- I'm a huge appreciator of the Bottom Line, even though I'm not commissioned (and never want to be). Occasionally this creates a massive "customer is king" scramble, but I understand, even if putting together a complete network design, including choosing and configuring equipment, for a new data center in 2 days isn't my strength (yet --I'm a lot better than I was a year ago!). I thought I'd dread that aspect of my job, but turns out, I really like making customers happy. And it seems, they like it when I do that too.

No job is perfect, but mine is about as close as it gets, despite my rough-around-the-edges-ness that plagues the poor sales reps I try hard to represent. Seems I'm still a bit of an oddity, especially in my favorite technological area of wireless networking. Not often one finds a middle-aged engineer spouting half-baked nonsense about regulatory domains and maximum transmit power levels in a higher-pitched voice; a short, quasi-social-geek with curves who trips over 1" heels (I try, but I just can't handle heels).

In another blog post, I'll spout about my opinions and experiences on the pros and cons of being the only woman in a roomful of men on a regular has its pros and cons. Honestly, I think I've always been better off not paying much attention to that, even if they do.

So though I have no talent for transforming TP into flowers, I really appreciate the lesson it brings to any workplace. And so it will help me even more enjoy my work!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

2/10/13 Bed Cats

The boys, especially Gabriel, love bringing Zorro into bed with them. I don't quite understand why, but Gabriel carries Zorro up to his top bunk (hel-lo, he's a cat, he can get up himself if he wants!), and then Zorro spends all night there with him.

I just have to make sure their door stays open so the poor kitty doesn't get trapped in there!

Meantime, Meow-stache is my nonstop BFF, following me everywhere. She skitters away if anyone makes any sudden moves, but if I'm hanging out on my bed in my room-sanctuary, she shows up within a few minutes, jumps up on the bed with me, and is my purr partner for hours. I love scratching her ears and hanging with her.

Neither cat so far is much of a lap cat, but they're definitely bed cats!