Monthly Archives: December 2007

A clean slate for 2008 (hey that rhymes)

Nearly a year ago I became the task lead for a project at work. It meant steady work, something I’d not had since I went [special/variable] part time. It was also kind of scary – being responsible for a portion of a project. I had a steady stream of files to convert to HTML – enough to pass a fair number off to in-office html coders.I even got to go into DC and meet the clients (something I’d never done as a full-time web manager).

All was well and good when I was just converting the word documents to HTML using templates, but in the spring or early summer the clients wanted to switch to using online forms to convert the documents. This would not have been a problem, but the forms were very buggy and not at all intuitive. The training I received was spent mostly listing the bugs in the software and process. Nevertheless, the client wanted the files completed by using the forms, which meant we needed to convert everything to HTML anyway, then upload them with the forms.

Small documents were not too bad, but when a document need a table of contents, we had to create a new sub form for each item in the toc. The process doubled and sometimes tripled the time it had been taking by using HTML templates only.

So, beginning in the spring and up until about an hour ago, I was consistently behind with the files. I never caught up – never finished a batch before three or four would come in. The client and the SME’s became impatient as did my project manager. The file turnaround delay was compounded by my taking some time off for vacations and family issues including a funeral, my Internet connection issues and and a few other unrelated, but deadline driven, projects.

I finished the final batch and sent them back to the client today. I’d planned on finishing up before 2008, and now that I have, I feel partly free and partly empty. Nothing, work-related, is hanging over my head (except updating my resume and a narrative on why I deserve a raise after more than 4 years of part time work).  I guess I should kick back and enjoy the rest of the day and tomorrow, because [hopefully] I’ll be getting more files soon.

8:16 or 8:15 and 9:30 to one

I finally made it to the 9:30 Club. A singer Dean has liked for as long as I’ve known him was playing there last night so I got him tickets for Christmas. When you go they stamp your hand with a time – it was not the time we went in, because we got there after 9. But mine says 8:16. (Actually, now after reading the Wikipedia article, I think it says 8:15 – which was the name of the venue the club moved into in 1996, but that’s a long time to keep rubber stamps.)

The last time I tried to to the 9:30 Club was a disaster. Dan Bern was playing there with Ani DiFranco. While I’m not a fan of Ms DiFranco, I am a rabid Dan Bern fan and since 1998 had seen him every time he was in the area (and occasionally beyond) . I was unaware how popular Ms DiFranco was, so didn’t attempt to get tickets right away. Unfortunately for me the tickets sold out quickly and I was devastated.

I told my tale of woe on the Dan Bern email list – hoping someone might have a ticket he or she was not going to use, or might know of someone who might. Shortly thereafter I got an email from my favorite member of Dan’s former band with whom I’d talked after or before a couple of shows. He set me up with two VIP tickets and specific instructions on how to use them. (get there early, give them my name, etc).

I was delighted and honored. We booked a babysitter (the teenager next door) and cleared our schedule for the event. Dean is not a fan of Dan Bern, but he thought he’d like Ani DiFranco. Go figure.

Anyway, the day came and we got ready to go. We fed the kids and made the babysitter list of phone numbers and instructions. All we needed was the babysitter. It takes a while to get to the club from our house and because we needed to get there early for our special seats we began to be worried when the designated time for Katie to arrive came and went. We called her house — no answer. We knew her mom was out of town, but had seen Katie earlier that day. We went to her house and knocked on the doors — no answer. By this time I was in a panic. We had no close friends, and no family in the area to help us out in a pinch like this. It looked like we were not going to get to see the show.

I wanted to just jump on the metro and go myself — I wanted Dean to suggest it, but he never did. Katie never showed up and we missed the show. I was able to see it online — the 9:30 Club had a streaming Internet video at the time, but it was not at all the same. Katie apologized and said she thought it was the next night and had been taking a nap and didn’t hear the phone or door. It took me a while to forgive her.

The show last night was pretty good. Patti Smith has an amazing voice, she is entertaining and talented. I never got to actually see her, being short and unaggressive and all, but I could hear her just fine.

So now that I’ve been to the 9:30 Club – I think I’ll go back. It’s a great venue. If only they had chairs for the Very Unimportant People. I guess I should have insisted Andrew develop his friendship with the owner’s son more. (Friends of the family are always treated as VIPs)

My Daughter, the Critic

Clare and I went out to dinner last night mostly because I was to lazy to cook for just the two of us (the guys went skiing), but also because we’d not been out of the house for something fun in a few days. I’m not sure if Clare considers dinner with mom fun, but she seemed to have a good time.

P4130055.JPGClare talked mostly about reading – her passion. Once again she thanked me for fostering a love of reading in her, which always tickles me, and she talked about what she loved didn’t like about books.

She loves it when the author manages to describe how people look without seeming to describe anything. She hates it when an author uses worn out metaphors and similies to make points in books.

She thinks Stepanie Meyer’s vampire trilogy is poorly written (even worse than the Harry Potter books, she said) but wants to read the second and third books anyway.  I liked what I read of Twilight, but I always was a sucker for vampire stories and gothic type novels.

She has the same kinds of opinions about films, but perhaps not so hypercritical.

I’m quite proud of how she’s turned out so far. Her love of reading will take her places – on a couple of levels. She’s not too bad in math either – last night she even figured out the tip for me.