Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death Rummages

So, when you have your period for the first time in several months, and you decide to go off your antidepressants since the doctor keeps telling you that really, your dose is so low it harldy matters, think twice before pulling over at that "Estate Sale" sign.

Especially if the "estate" is a modest little ranch just down the block.

It's likely to be full of the pathetic remnants of some old folks' lives, from the extra baby crib they kept for grandchildren's visits, to the shiny, unused silver tea service she got as a wedding gift 70 years ago.

Sure, you might find a good hedge trimmer or lawn edger in the garage (he really kept the yard quite spiffy), but you won't ever be able to use them.

They belonged to a nice old dead guy.

And you will be haunted by that reminder every time you consider taking it out to whack at the overgrown flowering quince.

Which will subsequently remain overgrown.

And full of leaves.

And unsightly.

I think, to be fair to hormonally challenged women everywhere, we ought to change the term "Estate Sale" to "Death Rummage," just as a reminder of what we're really setting ourselves up for by walking in there with the other bargain hunters. It's only fair.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

BIG smile

Thanks to C Jane, I've had "All the Single Ladies" stuck in my head for days now, but only today found the great SNL parody sketch of it.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Art of Shutting Up

There are some fights you can only win by not joining.

What do you do when that becomes the primary rule for getting along with a coworker? Or, even worse, a supervisor?

As an INTJ, I fit the profile of being frustrated with people who don't immediately follow what I'm saying. I don't want to have to explain everything, I simply want to go ahead and do my job, especially once I've figured out the solution to some complex problem.

I work in software, so maybe what I want to do is go over and actually talk to a colleague and get the answer to the one question we're waiting on to begin (or complete) some big project, instead of waiting for bug reports or specs or meeting after meeting between our supervisors, neither of whom actually understands wtf we're talking about.

Maybe what I want to do is use a new framework to build something so it will work right, and get around the technical difficulty we're currently facing.

Normally, good management involves delegating. Real delegating, in which you actually give authority along with responsibility. When you have a manager who can't delegate, because he can't stand letting someone else maybe make a mistake, or not knowing every detail of what's going on (even when he can't understand it), you've got a problem.

A great blog post I read a while ago about managing programmers points out the problem of pointy-haired bosses (when your reports don't respect your ability to judge their work, let alone to direct it). When this is combined with micromanaging by a boss who freaks out at the idea of delegating, you get to learn the wonderful Art of Shutting Up.

Suggestions are not made.
Explanations are not given.

Stuff just happens - or doesn't - outside the realm of what the pointy haired boss knows.

Especially when the boss is more concerned with how he looks than with whether we're getting stuff done.

Managers: take a look around. If only the new guy is making suggestions, you might want to think about that. Especially if he stops doing it in a few months, just like all the others did.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the idea of women's "choice"

Women like to get all het up about other women's "choices" around staying home with kids or working otuside the home. Well, some women. Not so much the ones I hang around with. But I read this crap online all over the place.

And the biggest piece of BS in the whole pile is the idea that "choice" is normal.

The women having these discussions are not struggling to get through the week with enough food for the family. They are not worried about what will happen if they lose their job and benefits and their sick husband can't get his treatments anymore. They are not wishing desparately they could be home to do all the urgent house repairs that only they can do, as the only able-bodied adult, instead of being stuck at work, feeling guilty about not being home for their kid and resentful of the useless crap they have to do at work.

So, here's a reminder:

It's not always a choice. And dropping a little aside in your rant, "for those women who have a choice," is really not enough. I'm sick of hearing about your choices. You are freakin' lucky to have them.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Modern woodland garden

This past weekend we've had beautiful weather, in the 50s, and I finally got around to dealing with the neglected section of backyard directly behind the bedrooms. With 2 giant weak-limbed trees (one a linden) that also produce copious amounts of leaves and fallen branches, this shaded area has become a place for toys to get lost in the leaf drifts. Oh, and the flowering quince that's roughly 10x10' and full of 2 cubic yard of leaf-compost. Because, you know, you can't rake a shrub.

With the help of a hedge trimmer, the quince is now down to about 2' across. After removing the giant brush pile that's been accumulating for 30+ years, and filling 14 bags with leaves, this area suddenly seems like it could be part of the yard.

So the challenge now is marrying northwest woodland, spring bulbs, with a modern stone-and-cedar Japanesey aesthetic that also complements the bright periwinkle 1950s house. And works for small children. And a rabid gardener. Umm, hmm.

Sounds like fun, really.