Jul 09

TCOB, San Francisco style

For some reason I’ve been having trouble getting into this blog at work.  No problem at home.  Either something is up with my work server, or my version of Internet Explorer is just too old, and I don’t have permission to install the new version.  So now I find myself typing quickly before I lose connection again.  Blah.

The possible move to SF has been dominating my thoughts.  I made the mistake of telling my mother, “We’re going no matter what,” ie, even if MB and I don’t have jobs set up, and she basically freaked out.  I did some quick backtracking and pretended I didn’t say I’d quit my job if they didn’t let me work remotely.  Yeesh.  You’d think I’d learn by now.

I mentioned the idea of working remotely to my boss last week, and yesterday told him our move was a go for sometime in September.  His only experience with a direct report working off-site was a bad one.  The person just sort of announced she was doing it and made arrangements, before getting any approval.  I never assumed that, and had found the guidelines and application a couple of weeks ago.  He seemed surprised there was even an application, which surprised me quitely fankly.

Anyway, I finished up the application yesterday, basically stating my case for why working remotely would be fine, and we have a formal meeting set up for Monday morning.  TCOB!

We also bought our plane tickets for a visit in August.  Hopefully MB will have some interviews set up for that time, and we’ll look at apartments.  Hopefully we’ll have both a job for MB and an apartment by the end of our visit, but at least an apartment.  And also hopefully by then I’ll know if working remotely is a go or no-go.

Last weekend I entered the final edits to my memoir.  As I post sections I’ll probably edit a little more, but just honing – the structure should be all set.  I’m staggering the posts a little more now because I want to get the whole book on Scribd and available for purchase about mid-way through my posts.  So it’ll be, “You can keep reading once a week for free, or you can buy the whole thing now for $2.”  I also changed the template again! It’s back to how it originally was.  I found myself getting mixed up between this and the writing blog.  I know the look should be the same, but I thought slightly different would be okay.

Crap! I still have my assignments to do for the London class, a journal and a paper on a specific topic.  They’re due mid-August, but I want to get them done soon.  I can pull a lot from this blog for the journal, as well as from my notes.  As for the paper, I have to pick a topic – I have a few ideas – and do a literature assessment.  I’m so not in the mood for it.

May 09

A quick one

I can’t decide whether or not to go to BookExpo at the end of the month. I have till 5/23 to sign up for the early bird prices, which seems to be cutting it pretty close to the date of the expo. Maybe they have fewer people signing up this year.

The last time I went it was fun, though overwhelming. I heard some great talks, and got lots of free books. This time I’d have the additional perspective as a wannabe-librarian.

School is finally winding down. I’m nervous about my presentation tomorrow. I’m just talking about my corp speak project, but I don’t know if I put it in the right format. All this design science stuff is hard for me to grasp. I have another presentation on Monday but that’s on my patient sastifaction paper and I’m pretty familiar with that. Sunday I have a final but it shouldn’t be a big deal.

I’ve started trying to up the intensity of my workouts. This past year I’ve been sort of lax, or at least hit a plateau, and ended up gaining about 5-7 pounds. Not a lot but enough to go up a pants size. Actually I was relieved to see that small weight gain; I kept thinking it was more like 10 pounds.

I want to incorporate longer runs into my routine, but lately I haven’t had the time and/or motivation. So instead I’m including some “hill” work (i.e., increasing the incline on the treadmill) and speed work into my 4 miles runs. I think makes a difference. Plus it alleviates the boringness.

MB showed me some exercises he used to do when studying martial arts – they’re supposed to make your butt rock hard, including that area beneath the cheeks. You lift your pelvis off the floor, as high as you can, making sure your upper back and arms are relaxed, and your stomach is flat, and then just hold it as long as you can. I can do a couple of sets of ten slow breaths right now.

Then lift just the right hip,and the left, holding each for as long as possible. Finally, something like a pilates move: pelvis in the air, one leg straight up, and just holding it. In pilates you bring that leg down about 8 times, which is HARD. I don’t know if it’s doing anything for my butt, but my abs and quads are tighter. Maybe I’m doing the exercises wrong. :P

Aight. Back to work.

May 09

Overdue for a post

School school school! What else?

Last weekend I shot a bunch of video for one of my school projects, including footage of Coney Island. MB had a bunch of praciticing and work to do so he stayed behind, but YP was able to join me.

We headed out pretty early, around 10, luckily for us since it took a year to get out there, especially with the F running on some other line. It was hot in the city but chilly out by the water. The season has just started so a lot of booths and rides were still being set up, and there weren’t that many people out at that relatively early hour.

Except for all the freaks. It was very strange – everyone was either inbred-looking or obese, which in a way was good because it turned off my appetite for all the otherwise good-smelling fried food.

My fave pic from our expedition:

Aside from shooting video and taking pics, we actually rode the Wonder Wheel, which was surprisingly scary. I may put up some video footage. It’s not too exciting, but I’m so proud that I was able to figure out iMovie and crop clips, take out the audio, and add different audio. It was fun.

On Friday MB was supposed to fly out to Prague, but he missed his flight. The airline was screwed up, but he also left pretty late. He was able to get on another flight for Saturday and made his flight. Yay!

So we were able to see Wolverine Friday night. It wasn’t bad – some good action sequences, but the plot was pretty stupid. Could have been a lot better.

Saturday I saw a couple of friends from college whom I haven’t seen in ages. We had dim sum (which was NASTY by the way, won’t be going to that restaurant again) and walked around Chinatown. It’s funny how everyone seems the same though so much has changed. For instance, IS has THREE kids. I remember when we used to sit in the hallway of our dorm gabbing for hours. Now she’s a mom. But at the same time, she seems perfectly natural as a mother.

The rest of the weekend was all about schoolwork. Got a lot done, including my library profile and reading cards for Collection Develpment on Sunday; my library organization paper for today; the little film for Thursday’s class (must have redone the voiceover 5 billion times); and a draft of another informal paper for Thrusday. Need to edit that, then finish the write-up for the corp speak project, and throw together a presentation for the same. The bulk of my work is definitely for that Thursday class.

Next Sunday, Collection Development final, which shouldn’t be bad, and on Monday, Management presentation. Then I’m done till London! Can’t wait.

Apr 09

I should be doing homework

Work has been pretty dead this week, what with my boss and his boss in Europe, luckily for me.

I have just two more weeks of classes, and tons of stuff to still do. Here’s a rundown:

Collection Development

Reading cards. 4 more to go (we’re required to do two a week). Reading two articles this weekend, and the next two before next weekend since I have plans on Saturday and class on Sunday.

Bibliographic report. My topic was “The Problem of Bias in Collection Development.” It’s not due till May 3, but I finished it earlier this week. Compared to my patient satisfaction paper, it was a breeze.

Collection Development Policy. I have just a little more to do. It’s due May 3; my plan is to start it over the weekend and finish it early next week.

Final. May 10. Shouldn’t be bad, if the midterm is any indication. I’ll study that weekend and plus we have a study group after class on May 3.


Patient satisfaction paper. I got an A! I was nervous because I thought the professor might think I was totally off topic, but he actually came up to me after class and told me good job. Yay! For a split second I thought hmm, maybe a degree in public health? Then I took one look at the tuition and changed my mind.

Organization paper. We had to interview librarians about how their library is managed. I picked Columbia’s (I was going to do Cornell Medical School, but someone snagged my idea) and did the interview on Wednesday. It was fine. The librarians were very nice, but I always feel like a doork when I’m interviewing. I hate having to glance down at my sheet for the next question, and then there’s all that silence. I should learn some techniques.

The report is due on May 4. Starting it this weekend and finishing it up over the week. May need next weekend too.

Presentation. May 11. We can present on either our management issue (the patient satisfaction one for me) or the organization paper. I felt inspired after getting my paper back that I put it right in PowerPoint. It’s basically done, but the week before May 11, I’ll rehearse and probably make some changes.

Weekly reading assignments.

People-Centered Methods and Design (aka the Crazy Phenomenological Class)

Reading. One article I forgot to read for yesterday’s class, and another chapter of Closer.

Faces of Innovation Project. Due on May 7, but I’m pretending it’s due April 30. Need to finish reading the book, Faces of Innovation, and then write a report about how the different types are applicable to me, and my strengths and weaknesses. Hope to finish it this weekend.

Poe Project. Due May 7. We have to take a paragraph or two from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Man of the Crowd,” and recreate it using pictures, video, and/or sound.

There’s a description of people that reminded me of tourists so I decided to go to touristy places and shoot a few minutes of video at each place. Last weekend I went to Bryant Park and saw they had a carousel. So I filmed that for a few minutes (covertly I hope; it might look weird that I’m filming kids not my own).

Then I hit on the idea of things that turn, of people going in a circle, not really going anywhere. This afternoon I’m going to the Toys ‘R Us in Times Square, which has a ferris wheel, and the carousel in Central Park, which I’ll also ride to show that point of view. Along the way I hope to find some revolving doors.

Tomorrow I plan on going to Coney Island and get “spinning” footage there. I’ll put it all together, possibly with narration and music, if it’s not too hard, next weekend.

Corp Speak Project. Due May 7. I need to fix the survey, which we critiqued in class last week, and write up the last two sections. Since it’s all from my head, it shouldn’t be bad. More work for next weekend!

MB will be going to a conference in Prague on May 1 through the following week. As usual I’ll miss him, but it’ll give me lots of free time to do my work. The only plans I have are on May 2, dim sum with a couple of college friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I’d prefer to meet up with them after my classes are done, but one of them will be going to Japan in mid-May, and will be gone basically all summer. Besides it’ll be nice to take a break and have some social interaction, not to mention dumplings.

Mar 09

A live-alone-and-like-it kind of weekend

At the last minute, MB decided to go to this conference in Chicago. He was hesitant at first because of finances, but then he got paid for this consulting gig, and I encouraged him to go. I knew I’d miss him like crazy, but he hasn’t been to a conference in so long. Plus it’s a good opportunity for networking.

I didn’t have a lot of plans, just a photography outing with YP on Saturday. The theme this month was “self-portraits,” one of my bright ideas, which was hard to do, especially for someone with short arms. Neither of us were too enthusiastic, and ended up taking just a few pictures. Last month’s theme of “food” was better.

Aside from that I ran a bunch of errands: Whole Foods, the drugstore, the Container Store, the Asian grocery store. Dropped off laundry, cleaned the fridge, cleaned the stove. Got rid of my old shredder finally. MB has a smaller one so we definitely don’t need two.

Did some reorganizing using my purchases, folding mesh cubes, from the Container Store. I love them because they’re flexible so you can squeeze lots of oddly shaped things in them (like shoes), and if you’re not using them, you can just fold them up and hide then away. But I always forget how to refold them. It’s like origami.

Worked on homework a bunch. For Collection Development we have this annoying subject analysis assignment. For the library of our choice, we have to map out all the subject headings, including Library of Congress of Dewey Decimal classification, and then rate then according to the ALA codes in terms of depth and intensity.

I’m just going to wing it in terms of the ratings – I mean, who’ll know if they’re correct or not? – but I’m being a stickler about the LC headings. Do I dare say that I’m kind of enjoying looking up all the headings and subheadings and assigning neat little numbers? I guess that’s why I signed up for this gig in the first place.

My Thursday class, People Centered Methods and Design, is cancelled this week since we had an extra class earlier in the semester. Last week’s class was good. At first I dreaded it because I thought we’d have to present our projects again, but the professor just gave us feedback on the reports we had handed in earlier in the week.

Early on I was really doubtful about my project. Everyone else’s was so artsy – a dream archive with dreams depicted in sketches, creating an interface for a repository of digital photos, some type of exhibit in which the person would be attached to various strings and people could pull on those strings, which I guess demonstrates phenomenology, which I’ve only recently begun to understand as having to do with not just thinking or existing in a vaccum (“I think therefore I am”) but existing in the context of a “universe,” reacting to and acting in that universe, and in relation to other people (I know: hunh?).

In comparison mine was so pragmatic: creating a resource, like a wikipedia, to help people to learn corp speak and corporate language, skills that one must have to succeed in the corporate world but which are never acknowledged (only “good communication skills” in a general way).

But I think the professor actually likes my project. He gets exicted when we talk about it while with the others he either sort of rolls his eyes, or presses people to be more specific and concrete. In the beginning he was like, “Go with it!” to the people with artsier projects, but I guess since they are still so abstract, he feels they haven’t progressed as much.

This weekend I also did some reading at the NYPL. It’s out of the way from my place, but I love the quiet of the reading rooms, unlike cafes where people are yakking and there’s coffee spillage and crumbs. Nearby is the International Center of Photography. One of the exhibits there now is Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now, which was, needless to say, very weird but also fascinating. It’s funny how you can see those photos in a magazine and think, Whatevs, but seeing them displayed together was really interesting.

MB is back tomorrow. Yay!

Mar 09

Money in, money out

This spring break I haven’t gotten much homework done, but I’ve TCOB on a few things.

A bit of spring cleaning. I needed to pull out my tax stuff, which was in my hard-to-reach box o’ files, so I rearranged things a bit in the apartment. Also dusted, filed away papers that had been sitting around forever, got rid of copies of manuscripts which I don’t need anymore. Still need to shred though.

MB and I also finally cashed in on all this change that’s been building up for a year. 200 smackers! It was all his since I spend my change regularly. Guys seem to always dump coinage until there is a giant pile. Guess that’s the advantage of having a purse.

Taxes. Filed them on Wednesday. I was nervous, but it turns out I’m getting an unexpectedly hefty return. I should be in school every year!

London trip. I reserved my room a while back, and this week bought the plane tickets. When I checked prices a few weeks ago, they were $900 round-trip – now they’re about $720. I guess they could go down even more, but almost-$200 seems pretty good to me. My room, which is a single in a dorm with a twin bed and not much else, is about $50 a night, including breakfast. Not too bad.

Post-graduation splurge. Also known as an excuse to spend too much on tickets to the Broadway revival of West Side Story. I know it’s cheesy – pirouetting street gangs, the whole Romeo and Juliet thing – but it’s one of my favorite musicals. The dancing gives me goose bumps, and I cry like an idiot at all the same parts.

I got two tickets though I’m not sure who will go with me. MB is not into musicals so I was thinking of taking my dad, who really enjoyed Chicago. It would be like a belated Father’s Day gift.

Getting in a ‘rents visit. MB and I are going down tonight, back tomorrow night. My parents are going to be gone for most of next month on a trip to China. Then at the end of May/beginning of June, they’re off to L.A. to help with my grandmother and of course see my bro. And they just recently got back from San Francisco! What jet setters they are.

Mar 09

TCOB listicle

You know when you put in “listicle” in Google, they suggest “testicle”?

Anyway, suddenly it seems I have a billion things to do, and what better to help me organize than a trusty list.

Jury duty questionnaire. If you follow me (the real me that is) on Twitter, you have followed the engrossing saga of the jury dury questionnaire I thought I lost. I attempted to get another copy via the very lame New York Jury Duty commission or whatever it’s called. I called – no answer. I emailed and got a reply that said, “Please call.” I called again, several times, and every time it said that all the operators were busy, you can’t leave a message, and you can’t wait on hold. Wtf?

But luckily last night I found said questionnaire, and it turns out I don’t have to do jury duty right now since the last time was within 6 years. Score! Not that I mind jury duty. Last time I just waited around in a room for two days, drinking coffee, and writing. I still got paid by my job, and received a stipend as well.

School. This Sunday I have my midterm for Collection Development, which shouldn’t be bad. But last week we all found out the professor expects our library profiles with selection strategies as well. We have these folders that we put assignments in, and he was very surprised to see that none of them had library profiles.

Well, he never said when they were due exactly, and we were all thrown for a loop that he expected then this Sunday.

I switched mine late in the game so I have a bit to catch up on. For example, I’m not sure what he means by selection strategies and how these are different from goals and objectives. Whatevs. I’ll just do my best.

Oh yeah, and I got into that London program in June. No huge surprise since they were practically begging people to apply. Now the question is if I get a scholarship.

Taxes. Crap, I can’t believe it’s tax time already. My goal is to get them done over spring break, which is the week of 3/16. Best to make an appointment soon.

What’s different this year is that I’ve paid for school and I’m not sure how that works. Do I get a break, or do I get taxed on tuition reimbursement? Also, I gave away a shitload of clothes when I moved. Hopefully that’ll add up to more than the standard deductible.

Travel. I’m itching to squeeze in a trip to L.A. and see the family (and drag MB along of course), but I don’t know when. We’re both off from school later this month, but that may be too rushed. May is a thought, after I’m done with the semester, but MB might go to Europe for a conference. June I’m in London, so that leaves sometime over the summer, I guess.

Oh, and I suppose I should book my London flights soon as well. Yay, London!

Feb 09

From Working Girl to Value-Adding Employee of Female Gender

Last night in class we talked about our projects, or at least some of us did. Not me, thank goodness, because I realized that I still have a long way to go.

Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what’s going on in that class. I swear some of my classmates have secret classes with the professor, because they go back and forth about this philosopher or that theory like it’s common knowledge.

At least I’m not the only one who feels this way. Before class started, one woman commented that she totally did the assignment wrong. I said I thought I did my wrong too, and that I really wasn’t sure what he was asking for, and she said that’s how he is in the other class she’s taking with him.

“Every assignment is like that,” she said. “No one knows what he’s asking for.”

Luckily his expectations match his assignments – he doesn’t expect concrete answers or results. He’s more interested in the process of how we’re getting to whatever it is we’re getting to. The problem is what if I don’t even know what that getting to is?

Last night a few people talked about their projects, and he helped them work them boil down their broader ideas to something more specific. What I gathered is that the “problem” we’re exploring in our projects should be very specific and solveable. Mine was way too general – “internal communication in a corporation is often unclear, unemotional, and exclusive.” How do you solve that?

My wish is that people stop talking and writing in corp speak all together, and also that while I understand that in a publicly held company, employees can’t know certain information before investors, it would be nice to have some sort of acknowledgement in plain terms, even after the fact. “You may have seen on Yahoo! Finance that we laid off x number of employees.”

But that will never happen. It would involve a change in culture, which is virtually impossible in such a large organization.

So I started to think smaller and more realistically. There is definitely a “language barrier” depending on function – managers versus secretaries for instance, or those new to the company versus those who have been here for a while. What’s something simple that would help them overcome this barrier?

Our company already has a “wikipedia,” but it’s quite broad, and I’m not sure how much it’s utilized. It would be interesting to see:

  • If there is the language barrier I’m assuming there is
  • If secretaries who want to move up think that this barrier prevents them from doing so
  • What courses and training are currently available for admins, and what gaps there are, if any
  • Would something like a dictionary of corporate language terms be helpful to them, or to anyone new to the company
  • How much the existing wikipedia is being used, and any feedback on it

This would connect back to library science because it’s the library services folks who created and own the wikipedia. I could survey them not only about that but their thoughts on communication as well.

Ideally I’d love to “English” translations of company specific-jargon. For instance, blahblahblah actually means “lay-offs.” The entry for that term very diplomatically points to internal memos. Or to have a suggested use: “Utilize: to use. Better word: use.” I guess the translation on the more political words could be “stealth” through tags and such.

So it seems my problem isn’t just that corporate communication is unclear, but that the language barrier can prevent those not in the club from joining the club. I know at least one former secretary who had such trouble moving up, even with an MBA, and I think it’s because she could not talk the talk. Not that a dictionary will make you fluent, but it may at least give you more of an in.

Also, the dictionary may help people to think more critically about language. Why use long made-up words when shorter ones will do?

In addition to that secretary, I know two others who transitioned from admin to manager. There must be more. Oh, I just remembered one, but she became such an incredible bitch after she got promoted, I don’t even want to talk to her.

Tonight we have *another* class. The author of one of the books we read is coming in to speak, and Friday was the only day he could do it. The professor said we’ll cancel an upcoming class in place of tonight’s, which is cool, but I dread the idea of having more school already. I’m pooped.

Feb 09

So sleepy

Waking up after even 7 hours of sleep is tough after getting 10-12 hours a sleep a night for three nights. Hopefully this green tea and chocolate will help.

It was a low-key weekend. We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day – MB cooked, which he probably would have done anyway. Trout and broccolini, our new favorite vegetable. Aside from running errands during the day, we were both caught up with schoolwork for most of the weekend. And I still had class Sunday and Monday as well. I keep thinking I have class tonight, but I don’t! Yay! Maybe it’s time to hit Sephora and restock on beauty supplies.

Two celebrity sightings: Blythe Danner, off of 8th Street, and the dude from Fringe. Actually, I didn’t see the Fringe guy, only MB did, and he didn’t see Blythe Danner, not that he’d recognize her. So one and a half celeb sightings.

Feb 09


Work hasn’t been so busy this week so I did a bunch of work for my corp speak project.

I found articles on corporate culture and corp speak itself, but also a George Orwell essay from 1946, “Politics and the English Language.” His points are surprisingly relevant to my topic:

[With bad English] the concrete melts into the abstract. . .prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.


The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. . . .a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb. . .

As in “Let’s set up a meeting to kick-start that project.” No, it’s JUST START. And,

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed arms of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

and finally,

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms. . .

I think my hypothesis is going to be something like the further away a company’s culture is from its objectives – i.e., company: “We’re all about helping people!” real objective: $$$ – the worse the corp speak is, specifically the worse and more insincere the internal corp speak is.

For example, a company may be required to report reduction in headcount (aka firing people) to certain government bodies, but in the meantime veils that information from its own employees. For months the employees know it’s coming, reading between the lines of numerous memos – transformation, reorganization, a leaner, more nimble organization, reallocating resources – but they receive no concrete information. They only find out when they read the number on the company’s Yahoo! finance page.


So that’s my theory with evidence from literature, internal memos, timing of memos versus press releases and other publicly available information. But how do I put that into practice? Maybe survey different folks, rating the clarity and sincerity of various internal and external communcations? Not sure yet.

In other news, I signed up on Twitter (under my real name). Yes, resistance is futile.