Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Hidden Costs

I've been thinking a lot about the hidden cost of the way things are, and how hard it is to see the costs when you aren't the one paying them.

The line of thought was kicked off by a stray tweet that came across my timeline and made me think about how much I still haven't fully processed the events that led up to me quitting my last full time job. I oscillate between thinking I should drag all of it out, perhaps with the help of a therapist, and really deal with it and thinking that I'm doing pretty well now, so why dig all that up again?

And really, the particulars of what caused me to spin out aren't novel and aren't all that interesting. Even I'm a bit bored by them at this point. What is interesting, at least to me, is the way that I could like and respect everyone individually, but that the culture that they made working together was pretty much toxic to me. And how they didn't really notice, even as I was slowly imploding from the stress of it, and how some of them never understood why I left and to this day think I just wanted more time with my kids. (Note: I do not spend more time with my kids now than I did then. I do spend happier time with my kids, but that's just because I'm happier pretty much all of the time now.)

I don't think these guys are particularly clueless. I think that the costs I was paying were so foreign to them that they didn't even see them. I tried once to explain that the way I had to be to interact successfully at work was bleeding over into the rest of my life and making it hard for me to interact successfully with my friends and my kids' friends' moms. But that didn't go well, because I was pretty sure the person I was trying to explain this to just thought this meant I was friends with silly people, and that is not the case at all.

I did get at least one person to understand that a confrontational approach would backfire if I used it at work. But they didn't see the way that meant I was constantly getting stepped on by the people who could get away with a confrontational approach, and the way it meant that I had to just absorb a lot of other people's aggravation. They could direct their emotions out, but I couldn't respond in kind, and just had to carry mine with me.

I never even tried to explain the cost of having to prove I knew what I was talking about over and over and over, because I knew without asking that in their view, that was what everyone has to do. They didn't think they were interrogating me. They thought they were interrogating my ideas, and may the best idea win. And maybe they were. I was certainly not an impartial observer. But since my perspective- both because of who I am and because of the different expertise I had- was often so different from theirs, my ideas were more likely to be interrogated, because they were different.

Ugh. This is getting boring again. Back to the general point about costs.

I've been around long enough to have practice navigating all of those issues. The problem, which I probably should have seen coming but didn't, is that all that navigation had a cost. It was like a tax on my energy and enthusiasm that I had to pay and most of my colleagues did not have to pay.  Probably the easiest way to explain what happened is that I didn't notice the extent to which that tax was draining my reserves, and I went broke.

In fact, I went in debt, and it took me a good six months or so to pay that back and build up reserves again.

Think about all the myriad people this sort of thing happens to, and all the different energy taxes there are. I paid some of them, but I am exempt from a lot more. There are no doubt a bunch that are as invisble to me as the ones I paid were to my colleagues. I have almost certainly contributed to someone else's energy bankruptcy, without even realizing I was doing it.

This has got me thinking: would it be possible to build a workplace that was energy tax-free? I doubt it. But we could perhaps build a workplace that recognizes the taxes exist, and tries to compensate for some of them. I have almost no idea what it would take to do that, but I think it is worth thinking about, particularly if we want to build truly inclusive workplaces, because the taxes are not uniformly distributed and probably never will be.

I don't have a conclusion for this piece, but it has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now and I wanted to let it out. If you're so inclined, help me think this through in the comments. What energy taxes do you pay? Do your colleagues see them? How could your employer help minimize them or at least compensate for them?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Yikes, Is It Friday Again Already? Edition

I'm soooo close to being caught up. I'll get there soon- maybe even next week!- and then maybe I'll finally get to write some of the posts I've got sketched out in my writing notebook.

But for now, let's just get to the links for the week, shall we?

One of the things I did this week was write my next Chronicle Vitae article. In doing the research for that, I came across this old Cal Newport post about the effort it takes to make good use of your time. I may well follow his lead and write a post (at my real name site) about my time management method. It works really well for me, and pays back the effort and then some... but it does take time and effort to do.

I shared that Cal Newport post in this month's Management Monthly newsletter, which comes out Monday. Here's another post I shared there that I think you guys will like: Cate Huston on assessing whether or not someone is giving advice only to white men.

Giving advice in general is fraught even if you are demographically identical to the advisee, which makes it a little ironic that the next link I'm going to share is to the page for my Take Control of Your Time seminar, which is now open for enrollment. I resolve this cognitive dissonance by saying I don't so much give advice as show you techniques to figure out how to improve your time use.

(Consider this a bit of a "pre-sale"- I haven't started promoting this seminar yet. It will go out in the aforementioned newsletter, along with a discount code for early registration for newsletter subscribers. Rather than be coy about that and say "sign up to get it" I'll just say it is NEWSLETTER and will take $2 off the price, making the seminar $18. I think of my readers here as my "core friends and fans" whose support has helped me pursue this wacky new career path, and so it seems only fair you should get the discount. But I'm only going to mention the discount once because I don't want to do too much promotion on this blog... so act now, etc., etc.)

OK, back to the links.

I liked this Jeffery Pfeffer essay about letting money trump everything so much that I will probably share it everywhere I share links. Apologies if that means you see me recommend that you read it three times. But you should read it!

If only the government of Michigan and Flint hadn't let money trump their responsibility to their citizens... I am so angry about what has happened in Flint that I can hardly bear to think about it, particularly when I think about the children whose lives have been irrevocably changed by lead poisoning. I know there are a lot of complex reasons the city ended up where it did- my own city had an underfunded pension crisis a few years ago, and we're in a region whose economy is based on growing industries, not shrinking ones. I understand why there was so much pressure to save money. But, I keep coming back to the responsibility of those elected officials. You do not poison children to save money. Full stop.

And I still don't know how we're going to even begin to make those citizens anywhere close to whole again. Maybe the silver lining in this will be that we as a country realize that there are things our government does that demand reparations, and then we might finally reckon with the damage of slavery, the failed Reconstruction, Jim Crow, years of housing policy discrimination....

Given the current political climate, that is probably far too much to hope for, though.

Speaking of the current political climate, this analysis of the Republican Party is depressing. I am starting to reconcile myself to the idea that they may well nominate Donald Trump. And I am starting to ask myself what I will do to help ensure he is not elected president, beyond vote in my safely Democratic state.

Speaking of really depressing things about the Republican Party: The Koch Brothers may have tried to intimidate a reporter who wrote things they didn't like.

Speaking of really depressing things: a flight attendant writes about human trafficking.

Ugh. Let's have some comic relief: only women turned up at the Senate the day after the big snowstorm. There have been so many great jokes about this, but my favorite may be this one:

There has apparently been a kerfuffle in the higher ed-o-sphere about "killing bunnies" (it isn't really about bunnies, it is about struggling freshmen). I mostly missed it, but I did catch Dean Dad's post on the open admission policy of community colleges, and it is great.

Also, it led someone to tweet this picture at @tressiemc, and it is my new favorite picture:

Speaking of @tressiemc, here she is being really insightful about staying in the lines (metaphorically, of course). I think I find her writing so thought-provoking precisely because she's good at knowing which lines to cross and which to rely on.

Another person whose writing I'm finding really thought-provoking lately is Tim O'Reilly, someone I previously knew only as the guy who published all those awesome tech books I relied on in graduate school. Here he is in virtual dialog with Paul Graham, about inequality.

On the context of making. This is so good, particularly if you've ever wondered why a certain segment of our society lionizes people who use 3D printers, but looks down on people who knit, or bake.

I'll end with a tweet that made me think that David Bowie's parents were pretty awesome.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Show and Tell

How about some good old fashioned show and tell? I've been threatening to post some pictures for a long time, so those can be the "show" part of the post.

Here is the new fishy pet and his snail buddies:

He was not cooperating for the camera, but I finally got a closeup of him next to the smaller snail:

The snails gave me a scare this weekend by ceasing all movement for roughly a day. The internet told me that the way to tell if they were actually dead was to scoop them out and smell them, which I did with much trepedation since the internet also informed me that dead snails smell really, really bad. They didn't smell like anything, which was good news.

Since I was taking pictures, I also took some of the office, but then I realized that there are a gazillion pictures of my kids up on all the shelves I took pictures of, and I can't be bothered going in and smudging out all the faces tonight. So those will have to wait.

I will show you my crocheting progress, though.

My first attempt is on the left, and it clearly shows my trouble with dropping stitches. It makes a passable Elsa doll cape, though. My current project is on the right. As you can see at the bottom, I was still struggling with dropping stitches, but I think I've got that sorted now. Also, I have figured out how to do a proper single crochet, as opposed to whatever weird made up stitch I was doing on the Elsa cape. I still struggle with turns, but my Mom (who is also learning to crochet right now) passed on some advice from a friend of hers, and maybe I've got that figured out, too. A few more rows and I should be able to tell.

Speaking of tell, let's move on to the "tell" part of the post.

I'm in the formatting phase of my next taster flight book. It is called Love and Other Happy Endings, and has stories by Katherine Mansfield, L.M. Montgomery (I really like a lot of her short stories!), Wilkie Collins, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Oliver Curwood. I'll be looking for advance readers soon. I don't have the final cover yet. Once I get it, I'll put up the official web page and post the form for advance readers to sign up.

I am also working on another original book. This one is about Indian film and is called Don't Call It Bollywood. I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about Indian film, admittedly from a very low starting point. I would really like to find an editor for this book who is familiar with Indian film, since I am not. It would be awesome if the editor spoke enough Hindi to check some translations, too, but I can also find someone else to do that. If that sounds like someone you know, please point them to me! They can email me at wandsci at gmail dot com. This is obviously a paid gig.

Finally, I've decided to take the time management workshop I gave a couple of weeks ago and shorten it into a one hour seminar that I can give online. If that sounds interesting/useful to you, you can sign up for the Management Monthly newsletter to make sure you get the announcement. Or you can watch this space for the next couple of weeks, because I'll probably post a link to the sign up page at least once.

From all of that, you might think that I am experiencing no doubts at all about my career choices. That would be wrong. My main contract has asked me to frontload the hours I have for this year, so I suspect I'll be finished with it sometime in summer rather than late fall, as I originally thought. This makes no difference in terms of my total income for the year, but I find it does make me think harder about how I should be spending the time that is not yet under contract. I have a plan... but I am questioning it a bit. If I weren't the one who has to work through the questions, I'd be fascinating by how the change in the scheduling of the same number of hours has changed my thinking.

I think some of the questions are also prompted by the fact that Mr. Snarky started a new job a few weeks ago, and is really loving it. He is in the phase where everything is great and cool, and he's super energized by what his team is doing and what the company is doing... and I look at that and I'm a little wistful for that feeling of being part of a team working towards a big, audacious goal.

And yet, when I think about the things that energize me right now, and that I enjoy working on the most, I keep coming back to the plan I have. I love giving the seminars and workshops. I love building books. I had a new idea for a book project this weekend that I'm really excited about. I think I'm doing the right thing, but things are uncertain enough that I can get distracted by doubts.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to spend some time thinking about my own big, audacious goals. I have them, but I've let them get fuzzy and obscured by the day to day concerns. I'm also going to work a little harder to build a work community. I can't have a team yet, but I can have a community. I have the beginnings of one, and I think I should connect with it more.

I also need to face down my fear of self-promotion. I love doing workshops and seminars, but that won't pay the bills unless I figure out how to promote them. Some of what is holding me back is that I need to find a method of promotion that feels authentic to me. But some of what is holding me back is fear. I'm still sorting through what, exactly, I'm afraid of. I think it is a mix of fear of failure and fear of annoying people. I have to ask myself whether I want to let that fear get in the way of what I want to achieve. OK, I already know the answer to that. So I just have to figure out how to ignore the fear and do it anyway.

So, that's what's up here. What's up with you? Share your own show and tell (or talk about mine) in the comments!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Wow, This Got Long Edition

Here it is, another Friday. So it is time for another weekend reading post. I am still powering through my to do list, trying to recover from how far behind I got during the holidays. I am almost caught up! I am looking forward to getting to slow down a bit... but not too much, because I do have a business to make profitable afterall!

Anyway, on to the links:

More details about the tragic deaths in the French clinical trial are starting to emerge.

From the WTF files: Fox apparently offered Gillian Anderson half the salary of David Duchovney for the X-Files reboot. That is seriously messed up.

This is a sad and enraging story out of Stanford. I am angry for the young women who were failed by the process, and I am sad for the young man who probably would have benefitted from some help with what sounds like an alcohol problem (and a rage/entitlement problem- but it sounds like it mostly manifested when he was blackout levels of drunk). He should have been disciplined much more severely on the first event. Perhaps that would have gotten him to wake up to his problem and get help. Perhaps not. Either way, it might have helped prevent the later assaults.

I hope he recognizes himself in the story and wakes up to his problem and gets help. If he doesn't, I hope the next woman he assaults- because there will be a next woman- kicks his ass and/or files charges.

Speaking of things I hope happen to men who are jerks: I hope the woman who was shot by the drunk jerk in the movie theater sues him into bankruptcy.

And speaking of men who are jerks: I don't feel sorry for the exposed manosphere dude at all. But I do hope he really learns something meaningful and finds a way to rebuild his life.

This cautionary tale about why you should have money in the bank is really well done.

Ari Ne'eman, an autistic adult, reviews two recent books on autism. This makes me want to read NeuroTribes even more. It is on my list....

Tragic Sandwich posted a heart-warming story about a kid who helped her kid get through a tough afternoon.

Apparently, ADHD is often misdiagnosed in girls. There's a lot that makes me sad in that story, but in particular I was sad to read this:

"...many girls internalize their symptoms—disorganization or carelessness—as personal flaws rather than medical issues to be treated through medicine and therapy."

No one should think of disorganization as a personal flaw, if you ask me. Being organized is a skill, and skills have to be learned. Some of us start learning this skill earlier than others, and some people obviously have issues that make it harder to learn this skill. No doubt, some people are more drawn to practice this skill as kids, and learn it earlier. But we all have to learn it.

OK, moving on. This is a really interesting article about parking. No, really! It is. I'll be thinking about this article for quite awhile.

This looks like really beautiful and interesting art.

This wedding story and video is awesome. Really, click through and watch the video. Also, read the story and note that the bride indicates her new husband is also Maori. I've seen several people online say things that indicate they don't realize this.

This not-a-wedding story is pretty awesome, too.

By the way, if you like my more quirky links, considering liking my Annorlunda Books Facebook page or following my @AnnorlundaInc Twitter account. I post roughly one interesting link/tidbit a day there. Not all of them make it to this list, because let's face it, this list gets long sometimes.

Finally, I give you my new favorite gif:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Personal Goals List 2016

Once I instituted the Family Fun list idea, I decided I needed something similar, but just about me. I have to admit, though, that the success of my personal goals list is a little more spotty. Last year was a particularly bad year. That is partly because I completely underestimated how much time the home renovations would consume. However, I also just failed to focus on myself much at all.

So, here's how I did:

My personal goals for 2015:

  • Find a yoga class that fits my schedule and make it a weekly habit. I'm missing yoga, both mentally and physically. NOPE.
  • Take a San Diego Beer Tour with Mr. Snarky. Third time's a charm, right? NOPE.
  • Wear my two new dresses at least once each. I've fallen out of the habit of wearing dresses and skirts, and that's silly. Yes, but only because I looked at the list in December and decided I could do this one.
  • Take a bubble bath. Yes.
  • Go kayaking. NOPE. (So sad!)
  • Read three sci-fi books by new-to-me authors. (I'll be doing lots of other reading, too, but I need a nudge to remind myself to make time to read full length books that won't get picked by my book club...) NOPE. I read one: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. I loved it, and recently finished the second in the series. Now to make time for the third... 
  • Learn how to make a second type of New Zealand pie. I'll do it this year, I swear! NOPE. (Sigh.)
  • Go rollerblading. Yes.
  • Play my violin and viola at least once each. I miss making music, and maybe this will lead me back to it. NOPE.

My writing goals:

  • Complete three kids books. Yes, and one of them might even get published. The other two are stuck, for varying reasons.
  • Write twelve columns for Chronicle Vitae. I've a good 6 or 7 ideas for columns, so this should be doable. Sort of. I wrote 11, plus one short book list post (that hasn't been published).
  • Write at least twelve posts for my blog about management and productivity. Yes, easily. I'm averaging two posts per month there now.
  • Submit another column to a publication or a blog post for syndication. NOPE. I kept talking myself out of making the pitch. Oops.

I discussed my performance on my business goals at length in last month's Founding Chaos newsletter, so I won't rehash that here. I did really well on those, I thought, even though I made a couple of substitutions.

When I saw how poorly I'd done on my non-professional 2015 goals, I almost decided not to write any personal goals for 2016. I thought I might just write professional goals and stop there. But after thinking about it a little more, I decided that would be taking the wrong lesson from last year. 2015 was a rough year for me. Or, more accurately, 2015 felt like a rough year for me. Judged by my accomplishments and other concrete things, 2015 was actually a pretty good year. I brought in enough income to keep my business afloat. We remodeled. We went to France. Petunia transitioned into Kindergarten well. Pumpkin continued to excel at school. Nothing bad happened at all.

And yet, I ended the year feeling depleted. Rather than not write personal goals, I think I need to go back to their original intent. Last year, I mixed personal and professional in my goals, and ended up heavily prioritizing the professional. This year, I think I need to have a strictly personal list. I'm hoping that will help me remember that I get more done and just feel better overall when I allow myself some space to focus on things that are just for me, whether they are fun things, "personal maintenance," or just chores that I want to do because something is bothering me, even if it isn't bothering anyone else.

I decided to put 12 things on my list, not because I will do one each month, but because that just felt right for a year long list of goals.

So here's the list:

  • Revive my yoga practice. Seriously. I have the space in my living room now (!!!!) so I need to just do this. I'll feel so much better if I do.
  • Crochet something useful. I'm really enjoying crocheting! But I don't think my current project, which morphed from a robot blanket to a cape for Petunia's Elsa doll thanks to my confusion about how to turn direction without dropping a stitch, counts as "useful." I think I'll get there by the end of the year, though, unless the kids stop going to gymnastics. (I crochet while they do their lessons.)
  • Finish the Ancillary series. I loved Ancillary Justice so much, and really enjoyed Ancillary Sword... so Ancillary Mercy, here I come!
  • Learn how to make another type of New Zealand meat pie. Yeah, I'm going to try again on this one.
  • Play my violin and viola at least once each. I'm trying again on this one, too. I miss making music. I probably won't get to it until a little later in the year, when our music/guest room is in better shape. I got a new music stand for Christmas, though, so once we get the toys all stored properly, it will be much easier to start playing. (I used to have to unfold a stand I've had since I was a kid, which was held together with twisty ties and paper clips. That stand is in the landfill now.)
  • Develop an exercise routine. I really need to do this! I feel better when I am exercising regularly.
  • Organize my closet. This is one of those chores that is bothering me and only me. But it is really bothering me.
  • Finish setting up the office. We're soooo close. We just need blinds. We must not stall out on this.
  • Get new curtains for the living room/dining room. We have had curtains that we're meh on since we moved in to our house in 2008. And curtain rods we actively hate. We are refusing to put all of the meh curtains back up, hoping this will incentivize us to finally get some new ones.
  • Invent a signature cocktail. Because as much as I love the margaritas I perfected in 2014, squeezing all that lime juice takes a lot of time, and the secret turns out to be expensive tequila. Surely I can come up with something more efficient... which would be an appropriate signature cocktail, right?
  • Organize the tea cupboard. Another thing that is bothering me and mostly only me. Every once and awhile, Mr. Snarky is annoyed when he goes to put something away in that cupboard. But I'm annoyed almost every day.
  • Do one Spanish-learning activity every day. Otherwise, my kids are going to have a secret language soon.
I started with the Spanish goal: I'm on a 15 day Duolingo streak! Next up, either yoga or exercise. I'm allowing myself to focus on getting caught up on my work stuff, first. I know from experience that I need to get that overwhelmed feeling taken care of before I can focus on anything else.

Do you have any goals for 2015 that you feel like sharing? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Progress on the To Do List

My sister took the kids for most of the day today, giving Mr. Snarky and me some time to ourselves. We had a lovely lunch at Stone Brewery in Liberty Station, followed by a stroll around the area. We discovered that there is landlocked  2/3 scale replica of a US Navy destroyer ship near Liberty Station. It is called the USS Recruit, and was used as a training ship. It has been there for a long time, but I was unaware of its existence until today. So that was cool.

We also decided to visit a furniture consignment store. We bought a lamp and a large wooden trunk for our living room. That was cool, too. It is unusual that we can agree on furniture so quickly.

I think we need a couple more sets of shelves and then we'll have our storage for our new room configuration sorted. The trunk allowed us to pull all of the toys out of the garage except one. A lot of those toys are still piled in the guest room, but they are in the location in which they will be stored, waiting for shelves to appear. They'll be waiting awhile, I think. The garage is our priority now.

Or at least I thought the garage was our priority. I learned today that actually, our priority is our front yard. The new roof configuration has water hitting in an awkward spot whenever it rains, and we want to put in some gravel/rocks to help make that less messy. Also, there is a bunch of weeding to do after the last rain storms, and Mr. Snarky wants to do a bit more trimming before we get our native plants guy back out to help us clean up the damage done during construction.

I, meanwhile, am contemplating some big planter pots for our new, enlarged patio. I want to grow spinach, arugula, and maybe some other lettuce-y things. I'd also like some herbs. I have bigger ideas for the bed we want to put in to separate the new room from the lawn, but that might have to wait until next year. We'll see. It isn't a priority right now, but that might change once the front yard is fixed up. One of the nice things about living in San Diego is that I can usually find something that it is OK to plant at any time of the year.

I am letting Mr. Snarky set the priorities now, because I set them for the first burst of activity. My initial top priority was to get everyone into their final rooms. That involved a lot of painting and furniture shuffling. Then my top priority was to get my office functional. After that, my top priority was to get the office nice. That is done. The office is mostly complete now. We just need some blinds. The sun only bothers me for about 10 minutes a day, though, so that can wait a bit.

Once the office was set up, my top priority was to get Petunia the fish I promised her last summer. She waited fairly patiently for her "fishy pet." She didn't forget about it, because she'd ask every so often, but she was mollified by my promise to get her a fish once we had a place to put it. Once the final set of bookhelves went in the office, there was a place. The shelves are short and long, and an aquarium fits perfectly on top of them.

Last weekend, we went and bought an aquarium, some plants for it, and the requisite fake bridge and plastic turtle. The kids also picked out a corny "No Fishing" sign to put in it. We set it up and waited, as instructed. Wednesday, we went and bought our pets. Petunia got a blue betta. Pumpkin got two snails. I'm rather enjoying having the aquarium in the office, which is a good thing, because it is clear that I'll be doing most of the aquarium care. The fish looks pretty swimming around, and it is fun watching the snails scoot around the aquarium. I'd take a picture, but the fish is asleep right now, and I'd hate to wake him up. Maybe I'll take some office pictures later and show you how the entire thing looks.

All in all, I'm feeling like I've made good progress on the home to do list lately. I wish I could say the same for the work to do list! Maybe I can catch up tomorrow....

Probably not. But I will make progress towards catching up, and that will have to satisfy me. I did write a Tungsten Hippo post today, as dictated by my new posting goals. It was prompted by Alan Rickman, specifically his performance as Colonel Brandon and a quote of his about the importance of stories. Go check it out if you're so inclined.

Next up on my posting goals: to get my personal goals list for 2016 posted here. I hope to get to that later this week!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Catching Up Edition

I have a new scheduling rule to add to my existing "don't schedule major work deadlines during the last two weeks of school" rule: Always take a few days off at the holidays. I didn't do that in 2015, and I am still struggling to climb out of the hole that dug.

One of the more ironic parts of my last few weeks has been that in the midst of feeling overwhelmed and incredibly behind on everything, I was preparing to give a time management workshop. Granted, one of the messages in that workshop is that you can never be "perfect" at managing time, that there will be periods when things are out of whack, and the trick is learning to recognize what sort of out of whack things are and take the right steps to fix it. Still, it was a bit strange to be preparing for that during a period when I myself was out of whack.

The workshop was yesterday, and went well (I thought), so that is one thing off the list of things putting me out of whack. Now, if I can just catch up on my schedule for assembling my next book and answer all of the emails with books to review that have accumulated at my Tungsten Hippo account, all will be well again. I made some solid progress today, but I also gave myself an hour to sit in my comfy office chair and read and time for a nice walk. It is not a full repayment of the time I've borrowed over the last month or so, but it is at least a payment to keep the interest from compounding until I can have a proper break.

I have plans to turn the time management workshop into a seminar I can deliver online. My original plan was to create an excerpt that can be given as one of my $20, one hour seminars. Now I'm wondering if I should instead try to figure out how to do a proper workshop online and offer the full thing. I'm going to let that dilemma percolate for a bit, because I don't have time right now to do either thing.

Anyway, enough of that. Let's get to the links. I have some catching up to do there, too, so not all of these are things from this week.

There is some very tragic news from the drug discovery world this week: there has been a horrible accident in a phase 1 clinical trial in France. Phase 1 trials are done on healthy volunteers, to assess safety. To have an incident like this is horrifying. It is a sobering reminder that drug development is full of all sorts of risks. I won't say more until we know the details, but I'll be watching this story.

I found this essay from Bryn Greenwood, a career secretary really interesting and insightful.

This story about a biotech cocktail party in Boston, on the other hand, is just infuriating. Dear men: please don't talk about women as "females" in the way that Andrew McDonald does. "Adding in some females" sounds like something a Ferengi would say.

Want to be a feminist man? In addition to not saying that you're going to "add in some females" you can also pick up a mop. (Hat tip to Bad Mom, Good Mom for this article and the one Bryn Greenwood.)

This book, referenced in the Guardian article above, looks interesting: Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?

It looks like a new editionis coming out later this year.

This is a beautiful post from Tenure, She Wrote. I've been thinking a lot lately about the toll bias takes on those who experience it, and more broadly, the toll the ultra-competitive culture we've built takes on all of us who live in it. Can we find our way to something healthier? I don't know. I know I want to try. Trying to help build that healthier culture is part of my motivation for giving time management workshops and project management seminars. It is part of why I write about management. There will always be a competitive aspect to life, I suspect, and there will always be some struggle. But work doesn't have to be as crappy as we've made it. I really, truly believe that.

Maybe someday I'll get my thoughts organized enough to write about that.

For now, let's end with an xkcd cartoon that really amused me and my favorite picture from the slides I put together for the time management workshop.

Image from wikipedia.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I have that overloaded feeling that means I should take a day off. And by "off" I mean "sitting around reading or doing what I want" and not "doing chores."

I took very little time off work during the holidays, and the holidays come with a huge list of things to do, so that time period wasn't really restful. 

This weekend hasn't been restful, either. I spent yesterday shuttling kids around. We had gymnastics and a birthday party. In between those things, the kids and I went to the pet store and bought an aquarium, some gravel and plants, and several kitschy little things to put in the aquarium. It is set up now, with the walter filtering so that we can get our new "fishy pet" soon. Today, I've mostly done chores. I also spent two solid hours helping Pumpkin clean and organize her room with Mr. Snarky took Petunia to see Star Wars (she begged... but he wasn't really that hard to convince). Pumpkin and I headed into her room and started sorting, storing, and generally organizing. We made progress, but we didn't even get to her desk. We'd really let her room go during the remodel. (This is 100% my karma coming back at me: I had a very messy room as a kid!)

On the bright side, I came across a stack of old clothes that fit Petunia now, so Petunia no longer needs new pants.

Also, Pumpkin found several things she'd thought she had lost. It is unclear if a lesson was learned from that or not. Probably not.

I did at least get to start my day with a pot of tea and some work time. I scheduled my Annorlunda Books and Tungsten Hippo posts for the next couple of days, and also posted my second book introduction guest post on Tungsten Hippo- this one is for a horror novella called The Tale of Sawney Bean. Horror is really not my thing, but it does sound like an interesting story.

Right now I should be working on the slides and text for a workshop I give on Thursday. I'm only about 25% done with those, so I obviously need to get moving on this task. However, for once I recognized the overloaded feeling before the pressure went critical... so I'm sitting in my lovely new office with the door closed, drinking a gin and tonic and doing whatever the heck I want. This can only last until dinner, but I'm hoping it will release enough pressure to allow me to make it through the week. My sister has offered to take the kids for a sleepover next Saturday night, so I have an actual night off to look forward to. 

I might take a half day on Friday, too. The weather does not really allow me to do my old trick of having a margarita with lunch at the local mall, and then spending the afternoon reading in their outdoor chairs. Besides, they tore down the restaurant that used to provide the margarita! But I have a lovely new chair in my office....

Friday, January 08, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Back in the Groove Edition

So, we're all back to work and back to school here. Things are slowly settling back into a routine. I'm energized to tackle my professional goals for 2016, which I wrote about over at my Founding Chaos newsletter. I've also started in on my personal goals for 2016. I'll write about those here, probably next week.

I'm looking for a couple beta testers for a short, focused consulting offering I am developing. The idea is to provide a way to get ideas for tackling specific management problems for a well-defined price. If that sounds interesting to you, click through to the newsletter above for details.

It is also the last days of the Fill Your eReader sale- that ends on Sunday. If you were planning to take advantage of the $0.99 price on one of Annorlunda Books' titles and haven't done so yet, now is the time!

Anyway, here are the links for the week:

I really like Brigid Schulte's latest article, about how we need to get real about how we talk about work and life. My only quibble is that she frames it a bit as a "we should focus on changing the culture and work structures, not individual's actions." I'd rather frame it as a "we should focus on changing the culture and work structures, and while we're doing that, let's also be more aware of our individual actions." For one thing, we all have to live and work while we're changing the culture and structures. Change won't be easy or fast, so someone my age (43) will probably have to handle the current culture for the rest of her career. Furthermore, a lot of us as individuals can actually help make a difference in the culture and structures by changing our individual actions. This is particularly true if we lead a group.

But that's heading towards a full on post about the topic, so let's leave that for another day and move on.

Everyone on Twitter lost their mind when Twitter mentioned they were considering drastically increasing the post length limit. David Roberts has a better idea for how to improve Twitter.

Apparently, some people also lost their mind about Marco Rubio's boots. Here's a smart article about a stupid thing.

The Paiute tribe in Oregon has a perfect response to the extremists occupying the federal wildlife compound near Burns.

I haven't had time to read this Vox article on drugs in supplements yet, but I'll share it anyway because it looks well-researched and it is an important topic.

Do you need a bra that tracks your activity? Cassandra Willyard discusses the limitations of personal data.

These dresses look interesting. I typically like a slightly longer length for work, but I love the idea of making work clothes (with pockets!) out of technical fabrics that will stand up to some actual activity.

My crocheting continues to improve, but I think it will be awhile before I tackle models of hyperbolic space or coral reefs.

Here are some amazing photos developed from 100 year old negatives discovered in Antartica.

I'll leave you with a beautiful picture instead of a laugh this week:

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Family Fun List 2016

It is time for my annual look back at how we did on our fun list last year, and look ahead to what fun things we say we're going to do this year. Last year's post has some of the history of this tradition, if you're curious. (Short version: I suggested the idea a few years ago and we all liked it so we've made it a tradition.)

Last year wasn't a very good year for our list. I think that is because we spent a lot of weekends working on house things, in support of our remodeling project. I should post some pictures of that sometime- basically, we expanded our living room by connecting our house to our garage, and we added on a new office. We also moved Petunia to our old office/guest room and turned Petunia's old room (the smallest in the house) into a guest room/music room.

So, that was a lot of work. There was a lot of boxing and unboxing, and we did the interior painting ourselves. We are still not done- our garage is a mess, and we haven't painted the skirting boards in the hallway. But my office is set up (finally! I just finished putting things in place last week) and things are mostly sorted into their final locations, even if their storage there is not yet optimal.

Anyway, we were busy, and didn't have as much family fun as we'd have liked.

Here's the list from last year:

  1. Go buy a doughnut at a doughnut shop (Petunia) DONE
  2. Got to a candy shop and buy candy (Pumpkin) DONE (This was done on our Labor Day visit to Old Town)
  3. Go on an Amtrak or Coaster train (Mr. Snarky) NOT DONE
  4. Go to an art museum (me) DONE (We visited the Timkin Museum in Balboa Park- perfect size for little kids!)
  5. Have a beach day with friends (Petunia) DONE (We did this more than once, in fact.)
  6. Make a LEGO town in the living room (Pumpkin) DONE (It was done before I posted the list last year!)
  7. Go to the Safari Park and see the tigers (Mr. Snarky) DONE (Their new habitat is cool, and we were lucky enough to see one up close.)
  8. Explore a new neighborhood (me) DONE (I'm calling our after-Christmas visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center and the Chula Vista Third Avenue Village area an exploration.)
  9. Visit the old mission in Mission Valley (Petunia- with some prompting from Mr. Snarky) DONE (The kids liked it)
  10. Walk around our neighborhood and look at holiday decorations (Pumpkin- to be done either at Halloween or Christmas time) DONE (at Christmas time)
  11. Visit the Friendship Park at the border (Mr. Snarky) NOT DONE - turns out, you need to do this in not-rainy season because the access road floods.
  12. Ride a surrey bike (me- I'm telling you, it will be on the list for as long as everyone else lets me put it there)  NOT DONE. Boo. We just didn't get to it.
Here is a picture of Pumpkin taking a picture of a turtle during our visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center:

She got the camera for Christmas and loves taking pictures. She takes some surprisingly great ones of Petunia.

And here are the plans for this year. You'll notice a lot of repeats, but also a few new ones:

  1. Make a LEGO city in our living room (Petunia)
  2. Walk around the neighborhood looking at Christmas decorations (Pumpkin)
  3. Visit the Friendship Park at the border (Mr. Snarky)
  4. Ride a surrey bike (me)
  5. Get ice cream from an ice cream truck (Petunia)
  6. Go climbing at Solid Rock (Pumpkin)
  7. Go on a real train ride (Mr. Snarky)
  8. Go out to brunch (me)
  9. Go the train restaurant (Petunia- this is The Station, in South Park)
  10. Have a picnic at a park (Pumpkin)
  11. Go get a doughnut at a dougnut shop that isn't Krispy Kreme (Mr. Snarky wants us to try some new doughnuts, apparently)
  12. Visit a botanical garden (me)
Bonus: Go to Boomers 

I allowed the bonus to avoid a meltdown when Pumpkin remembered she wanted to do that, but didn't want to drop any of her other items. We all agreed on the bonus.

Here's to a fun 2016!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The End of the Holidays Hodge-Podge

My kids go back to school tomorrow, so even though I worked through the holiday period, today very much feels like the last day of vacation. Tomorrow, we're back to our less leisurely morning routine.

It is also supposed to start raining tomorrow, and then it is forecast to rain for the next seven days or so. That is extremely unusual here (hello, El NiƱo!) and will make my movie-hating eight year old very sad, because her school's solution to lunch recess on rainy days is a movie.

But there is nothing we can do about the weather, so we'll just smile and soldier through.

It is looking like a beautiful day here today, so perhaps we can come up with something fun to do to enjoy this last day of sun and last day of vacation. We wrote our 2016 family fun list on New Year's Eve—it is a bona fide family tradition now. So we have a list of 12 fun things we could choose to do. We'll see.

I'll do my annual family fun list and personal goals list posts soon. They didn't feel "right" for today. Today felt more like a hodge-podge post.


As I've mentioned a couple of times, I'm running a sale at Annorlunda Books. It is going well, and I'm glad I tried it. I won't really know how successful it was until after the sale is over, though. That is when I find out if the boost in sales during the promotional period translates into higher baseline sales after the promo is over.

I wrote about the constraints that still hamper readers and publishers of short ebooks over at Tungsten Hippo. That post also talks a bit about what I hope to do with Tungsten Hippo this year, and ends with a quick look back at some of my favorite books of 2015.

One of the things I will be doing with Tungsten Hippo this year is making better use of my archives. I plan to start tweeting out archive links and quotes, and will probably post them to the Tungsten Hippo facebook page, too.

I've also started implementing my plans for my Annorlunda social media accounts. My new tag line is "learn things you'll feel good about knowing," and I'll be supporting that by posting at least one interesting fact (or word! I love cool words) ever day at both the Annorlunda Books facebook page and the @AnnorlundaInc twitter account.

In other news, 2016 will be the year in which I finally embrace scheduled social media posts.


Yesterday, the kids and I went to the pet store to do some information gathering about fish and aquariums. Back in May (I think), I promised Petunia a "fishy pet." But I told her it had to wait until we had space for the aquarium. Now that our renovations are complete, we have the space. The fish will live in our new office, near the door to the living room. It is a big barn door, which is almost always open, so Petunia will have easy access to her pet. We don't yet have the shelves to put the aquarium on, though. I needed to see how big the aquarium would be so that I could figure out what shelves to get. We accomplished that yesterday, but don't yet have the shelves. Getting those will require yet another trip to Ikea. I had hoped to do that today, but I don't think Mr. Snarky is on board with that plan, so we'll see.

Petunia has been very patient waiting this long, though, and both kids are VERY excited about the aquarium, so I'll try to get this done soon.


I've started learning to crochet. I decided I wanted to learn as something to keep my hands busy when I'm watching the kids' gymnastics classes. I also thought it might be relaxing. I think it will be, as long as I keep my expectations of my abilities realistic.

Here is my first piece, so far.

People keep asking me what it is going to be, and my answer of "a chance to practice my stitches" doesn't really satisfy them, so I've started saying it will be a Barbie blanket. Petunia is excited by that. I figure her Barbies won't care that the stitches are uneven.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Weekend Reading: The New Year Edition

Happy New Year, everyone!

Since I skipped my links post last week, I thought I should do one this week to catch up. But somehow it is already after 5, and I need to go make dinner soon... so we'll just see how this goes. You may get more catch up links next week.

First of all, if you missed me tweeting and writing about the fact that Annorlunda Books is having a "Fill Your eReader" sale in which the ebook versions of all titles are just $0.99- go read about it now. That sale includes the job search book I wrote, so if a non-academic job search is in your plans for 2016, now is a great time to grab a copy of that book.

Let's start the new year on a happy note with a few things I loved:

The 2015 White House photo wrap up.

Aretha Franklin singing for Carole King at The Kennedy Center Honors concert.

Gina Rodriguez speaking to Rita Moreno at the same event.

Let's  move on to things people wrote that I really liked, and that made me think:

This post from Sady Doyle about liking Hillary Clinton. My feelings about Clinton are more mixed, but I found myself nodding along to a lot of things in that post.

This piece from Jess Zimmerman about parody Twitter accounts. I follow @SwiftonSecurity at my real name account and her tweets are great.

The Language: A Feminist Guide blog  had a great year end wrap up of sexism in language/speaking.

This piece from Josh Bernstein about how the GamerGate/4chan/MRA stuff is forming into a counterculture. Sticking with the geek culture bit of that for a minute, Laurie Penny and Damien Walter both have some really good things to say on the subject.

The decision by the grand jury not to indict the officer who shot Tamir Rice led to two very good pieces about what this is doing to our justice system. Jamelle Bouie writes about requiring police to accept risk. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about how it is delegitimizing policing. Conor Friedersdorf writes about how it makes him hesitant to call 911.

I've got more links people sent to me and that I bookmarked, but I'm running out of time. And I still need something happy to end on. Let's end with some StarWars: Carrie Fisher is awesome.

I agree:

Daisy Ridley has big shoes to fill. Luckily, it seems she is up to it. (Click all the way through to the Instagram)

And now, it is time to go make dinner....