Sunday, August 24, 2014

Guest Blogger 8/24/2014

Work Update and Cat Lessons

A few of you have asked, so I'll tell you all: work is... work. Some things have not changed in my new department. I still work mostly with databases, and the to-do list I had twenty-odd days ago when my old department dissolved continues to be my ongoing to-do list today. Well, mostly (more there in a sec).

Some very good changes have been made, as well. I no longer have to travel to the other office at least every other week. In fact, I should rarely need to travel at all. I can still work from home if my workload or the urgency of something demands it. I have a very small team, but I do have a team, which some folk in the office aren't fortunate enough to have. (If you need to understand better why having a team is important, see me after class.)

Some not-so-good changes are happening, too, and today I felt the first rumblings of the mighty landslide I was hoping wouldn't occur. Briefly, I felt surrounded by a cloud of dust. You see, over the last while, my previous half a Manager spent a lot of her half Management time helping myself and another Analyst develop and maintain a process
for what we do. A standard way of seeing that all the work gets touched, at least, even if it doesn't all get done. A fair way of making sure all database requests are handled based on a similar "script," a sorting and prioritizing method applied to each and every request no matter where it originated.

Now, under the new hierarchy, that other Analyst and I report to different bosses. My new boss's boss hinted early on about the "great things" I could do, now that I was on their team.

Over the last week, my time has been consumed by a project I was supposed to have a very small part of. The next couple of weeks looked to be more of the same, with maybe a little time to do the "other stuff" on my database plate. (Currently, the Database Team's inventory has about twenty-five or so items.) Then today I was snatched out of that project and hustled into a meeting room, where several agitated people were sure I could save their day for them.

How? Build them an emergency database.

Within a week, a torturous manual workflow will need to be done again, and they envision that a database could import two files from Excel and magically do most of their manual work for them. Well, yes, it probably can. "But what about...?" I started to ask.

Every one of the agitated people threw a comment into the pot. "Maybe they can do without you for a few days." "We can't wait." "We have to report on this straight to the top."


And so tomorrow (or maybe tonight) will find me working on a database which is not on the database request list. And a project and twenty-five (or so) previous items lie untouched. The landslide begins, and I see no way to save the work we'd done to build a request process that was successful. You all know how it happens: once one thing becomes an exception and makes it to the front of the line, that sets a precedent for the next important item to be an exception, too, and soon there might as well not be a line. Sadly, that's the environment we started with, where anybody anywhere could request a database change and the ones that got worked on were the ones which originated with the people who were the loudest, the highest, or had the clout in some other way to shove to the front. I find myself disheartened to think we might be returning to that way of business life.

However, while work may sometimes be discouraging, home life is not. The kitten, Kona, grows like a weed and is starting to look like a cat, rather than a big-headed kitten. She and Bounty have worked out how to play together and mostly they do well, although Kona is not yet allowed free run of the house when no one is home to supervise. Likely that will happen within the next week or so. She is learning daily lessons, and teaching me some, as well. I think it's time to share a few with you.

Kona's Lessons:
* If it moves, it's a toy.
* If it doesn't move, it's a toy.
* If it's attached to the dog, it's a toy.
* If it has a hole, stick your paw in as far as you can; it's a toy.
* If it doesn't have a hole, make one. It will be a toy.
* If someone says "No!" do it again, faster. It must be a toy.

My Lessons:
* Cats are hard to catch.
* Dogs chasing cats are hard to catch.
* Dogs and cats can learn to get along. Sometimes.
* When you tell the cleaners to lock the cat up again when they're done, make sure you tell them it's Okay to leave the cat under the bed.
* When you and your husband want to make love, lock the cat out of the bedroom.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Hakala


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