Little Ironies

collaboration pieces

It is one of life’s ironies that we are often called upon to do exactly that which we personally find least appealing. I am a collaborator, not a competitor. I made that decision many, many years ago when I realized that I was a very poor competitor. If I was in anything that could be considered a contest, I HAD TO WIN. If I didn’t win, life was sour, the sky was dark, there was no joy in Mudville. Not only that, but I found that if I was in a contest but not really caring for some reason, it made me nuts to be playing with other people who HAD TO WIN. (Remind me to tell you the story of the time I attended a class in how to play Bridge.) I basically stopped playing games altogether, with the exception of computer solitaire. 🙂 I don’t care if I win that or not – I mostly use it to go into a zen state of reflection. It isn’t the winning – it’s the semi-automatic, mindless movement of cards, while I let my brain wander. As a matter of fact, if I find myself starting to really pay attention to what I’m doing, it’s a bit disconcerting. It feels like I’ve wandered through the looking glass because it LOOKS familiar but with a different light and perspective. 🙂

So I’m a collaborator. I realized with my latest project at work that I’m a certain kind of collaborator. I want to collaborate on MY terms. I’m a collaborator who does not actually like working with other people. *grin* I HATE group projects. I hated them in school, loathed them in graduate school, and had issues with them at work if my work depended on what someone else was doing. Yes, I’m a collaborator who doesn’t like to collaborate. *grin* What I like doing is teaching and helping and explaining and figuring out what I might design to help others do their work more productively. I burned out teaching, however, so I can’t do that full-time. I knew that the day I stood in front of my (paying) students and literally said “I KNOW how to use this system. I don’t need this class. You all can either pay attention and I’ll teach you or you can waste the time and go back to your jobs and explain that you don’t know how to run the system.” After that class I went to my manager and said that perhaps it was time to have someone else teach the clients. *grin* I’m a teacher who only wants to teach if I can wash my hands and walk away when the students get too annoying. (I won’t argue if you are starting to think I’m a bit of a princess.)

Someone asked for my “help” in running his project this year. It was about communication and collaboration and data storage. Okay, I can do that – I’m all about those things (on my terms, of course). Huh. It turned out that his idea of “help” meant running the project. Running a project means my work is dependent on what other people do. Even worse – it means that I am also, should the need arise, the one responsible for inspiring the others to do work. Now did I say ANYWHERE here that I am a LEADER??? NO, I did NOT. I am NOT a leader and I am not a visionary. I think I may have mentioned once that the best compliment I ever received was back in my SecondLife/OpenSim days when my mentor told another that I “made things happen”. Yes – that’s me. I’m an engineer. I make things happen. I solve puzzles. I am not inspiring, I am not a leader, I am not a visionary. And oh my word I absolutely hate waiting for you to get it done. Or when you ARGUE with me about what should be done. In the famed words of my father, the engineer: WHY do you ARGUE with me? Or as my pillow says “Never but never question the Engineer’s judgement.”

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The cat hair was an add-on feature. 🙂

So here I am, leading a project. There is actually a great deal more I’d like to say about that but I don’t talk directly about real things in this blog. 🙂 All I’ll say about it is that part of the project has to do with communication with dispersed team members and creating a feeling of unity. We are living in the time of covid19. We are all working remotely. We are all practicing social distancing (well except for the lunatics down in Florida on spring break who are determined to party in each other’s faces no matter what the law or warnings might be). We are all being isolated. This means that every single organization in the world is trying to figure out the most productive way to keep everyone working while maintaining distance. Oh hey! Look at what Ahuva is doing. I bet SHE has ideas. I have found myself pulled into some interesting meetings about communication.

I AM an extrovert. Heaven knows I like going out in the crowds, with people, partying, the thrill of the crush. I’ve written on how I love NYC at Christmas. I can get a thrill out of shopping at the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Contact! But honestly – I really don’t like being deluged with emails and messages and texts that are all assuring me earnestly that they are thinking about me, and primarily about me, and my well-being, and I should KNOW that they are ‘only thinking of me’. I have gotten emails from every online company with which I have ever dealt, every charitable organization, every site that has my email. They are all fervently telling me how my health and the health of my loved ones is their utmost priority. Really. That’s all they care about. The well-being of everyone. My mailbox fills every day with these sincere thoughts. Imagine my chagrin, therefore, as I am asked to participate in the development and creation of such communications. Or as Pogo would say “we have met the enemy and he is us“.

Life Lessons From My Cats

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How to Pass the Time – Option 1

Ah, to be a cat. Or more specifically – one of MY cats. I’ll concede that not all cats have it as good as my cats have it. In this time of covid19, self-quarantining, social distance, what does an extrovert DO all day if there are no other people??? My cats are demonstrating the way to survive. Nay, not survive – THRIVE. Yes, they are thriving. They have no issue with social distance – WC is on the couch, BC is on the chair (MORE than 6 feet away) and GC is in the living room. What to do? Sleep. Do nothing. Periodically get up and eat. Use the litter box. Sleep. Do Nothing. They are the experts. So far the part I’ve learned the best is get up periodically and eat. 🙂

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How to Pass the Time – Option 2

Cat Birthday Haikus

cat poem birthday card

Today is my son’s birthday. As you can see by the picture above, I found a card that I thought was perfect for him. Although he is far from our home these days, and far from his/our cats, his love for them is strong. They love him too, assuredly, that is, as much as cats love people. He does soooooo much for them when he is here. He cuddles them, he plays with them, he finds new toys for them. He will even feed them and clean their litter box if need be (meaning I ask for help *grin*). I thought it would be considerate if they wished him a happy birthday. I offered to help them write a birthday haiku for him. I thought something like this might be appropriate:

Kind hands stroking fur,
Dangling string toys, scritching ears,
We love when you’re here.

When I proposed a poetry writing session to the kitties, I was greeted with scorn or indifference. GC, who considers my son “her boy” (as opposed to his considering her ‘his cat’) suggested this instead.

Feed me feed me FOOD!
More food NOW! poop sleep pee sleep.
Feed me feed me FOOD!

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Do I look like I am in the mood to write poems?

WC is nowhere near as interested in food as GC. WC believes in TIMING, not quantity. She starts the meowing for her dinner sometime after 3:30 pm and will continue until she receives food. At which point she will eat 3 bites, maybe, and then walk away. She spends most of her day in her bed. The exceptions to that are when she’s puking or using the litter box. Somehow I have an unerring knack of walking past that room while she is in the litter box. Why can’t mother cats teach their babies to puke in the litter box?? That would save me SO much cleanup. Anyway, once I finally roused her to creativity, here is what she had to say.

MeNOW! MeNOW! Food!
ick. disdain. sleep. nibble. puke.
MeOW. Just because.

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Too much creativity exhausts me.

BC – *smiling* – yes, it’s true, I’m extremely partial to BC these days. She knows it, too. The other 2 have me hopping and jumping and dancing attendance on them from the time I wake up til the time I go to bed. GC really does spend the most time with my son when he is home, but BC is a close second. They both (my son and BC) like playing games. Once she remembers that he is “safe” she’s very happy to hang about. Poetry is not her main talent, however, nor is paying attention, but she tried.

Do you belong here?
Oh right. You. Amuse me now!
Red laser dot game?

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Look how cute my belly is! What’s a poem?

Sometimes you are better off having a blank card than a poem from your cat. *grin*

February Just Got Creepier

February in central NJ is without a doubt the absolute WORST month. Although the days are beginning to get longer, the residual emotion is darkness all day long. We rarely get snow, but if we do, it’s usually a wet heavy mess that turns dirty and lasts forever causing inconvenience – no winter wonderlands here. This particular winter season we have not had any snow. It’s been gray, dreary, with rain and damp the entire season. Not warm enough usually to feel warm, but not cold enough to feel like winter. Almost no sun, just occasional breaks in the clouds. Not especially uplifting. Which is February in NJ. It’s not been a great month for me personally, even ignoring the weather. So imagine how I felt this morning when I heard a noise outside. BC had her face up to the window at the stair landing, staring outside. Birds. Birds all over all the trees around my house. I opened the door to get the paper (which thankfully was on my porch, not on the walk) and the din from the scores of birds grew even louder. Who knew I was living in Bodega Bay?

So Glad It’s Friday

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Shhh. I’m sleeping. And I’m adorable.

It has not been a good week. Let me be clear – my problems are mostly what we laughingly call “first world problems”. But they are MY problems and they are dispiriting and draining. None of them are insoluble, just very very annoying and frustrating. I know it will all get better. But for today, I’m so glad that I can at least shove all the work-week issues aside and concentrate on more fun problems: my son coming home for the weekend, throwing a Super Bowl party for 30-40 people, seeing my niece and grand-niece, seeing all my friends, going to hear some fantastic live music, and taking Monday as a vacation day.

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Can you NOT see that you are interrupting me???

But it’s gray and dismal again this morning, my back is hurting, I’m tired, and I still have meetings to attend. At times like this, it helps to remember what is truly important. WC will tell you that HER life is always very difficult, no matter the day of the week. You can see that for yourself.

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The new beds are too small. I need an entire chair.

GC will tell you that as long as there is food, there is no problem. BC will tell you “SHE had a bad week??? What about ME??? She took me to the VET!!!!” A beautiful thing about BC is that she does NOT hold grudges. She needed a LOT of cuddling yesterday to recover from the vet trauma. (She is healthy and perfect – it was her yearly checkup.)

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I love you, Mommy. Thank you for my bed!

A Family of Food

Oreo Cheesecake Bar

Oreo Cheesecake Bar pre-cutting

My husband loves to cook. He loves watching cooking shows, reading cookbooks, and creating marvelous yummy entrees. I like to cook MUCH more now than I did prior to renovating the kitchen (it’s so EASY and fun to cook in the new kitchen) but I consider myself more of a baker than a cook. Naturally our son both cooks and bakes. He will often send me photos of his meal or of some treat he’s baked. His specialty seems to be baking for his coworkers. I think it began innocently enough. A good friend there had a birthday. This friend apparently loved the movie (Mean Girls) from whence we get “On Wednesday we wear pink!”. My son baked a birthday sheet cake and frosted it with pink icing. His coworkers devoured it. I think the next birthday was someone who likes bread, so my son baked a gorgeous challah. Also devoured. His office has pot luck meals at holiday times so my son has brought in potato latkes (devoured) and challah (devoured). I know he’s brought cookies and biscuits as well. Hope they all have memberships at a gym. This week’s office birthday treat was Oreo Cheesecake bars. They were apparently a big hit – devoured. 🙂 Now if I can only teach my son to take food photos as great as his baking!

oreo cheesecake

Yes it IS blurry but it still looks yummy!

My Early Valentine’s Day Present

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I WAS going to title this something like “My Husband Loves Me” or “My Husband Knows Me Well”, but after the HORRIBLE experience I had when I first started blogging, and innocently titled a post “Seducing My Sister”, which was about how I got her to join Second Life, I decided to play it safe. There are such … different … people out there. Anyway, my husband DOES love me and DOES know me well. A package came the other day, addressed to him. He brought it to me and told me that it was really for me, an early Valentine’s Day prezzie. Of course I had no intention of waiting until February 14th – he DID say EARLY present. 🙂 He has done this for me in the past – bought me designer chocolate. Apparently he has no problem spending crazy amounts of $$$ on chocolate for me. This time he bought me Amedei, two Toscano Black bars. Oh. Em. Gee. They are superlative. (Of course they are. I don’t think I’ve ever had ANYTHING from Tuscany that wasn’t fantastic.) Texture and taste are out of this world. I don’t know what else is in this, despite reading the ingredients, because there is a divine after-taste. That lingering after-taste makes me want to wolf down the entire bar right then and there. But you’ll be impressed to learn that I am very, very controlled about my Toscano Black chocolates. Only 2 squares at a time, and no more than 4 squares in a day, and ONLY if it was a very very very bad day that NEEDS 4 squares. 🙂 I am savoring this early Valentine’s Day present!


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