Thursday, August 31, 2006

Aliens Kept Me From Posting!

ICE Arrests 15 Aliens in Roswell Working For Military Contractor


Y'know, I CAN do better than this. Just not in the time allotted. Look for an update over the long weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Random work venting.

Work has been very busy the last two weeks. I don't talk much about work in this blog, and I expect I'll keep it that way; work is what you do so you can do other stuff the rest of the time. However, instead of classroom teaching this week, which I only did one day, I've been working on a large, multi-session, multi-speaker training event for some 2000 employees that my agency is holding September 20th. We got this thing dropped on our unit by the ├╝ber-boss, whom we'll refer to as Capricia. Every so often, she encounters an idea somewhere, and decides we should do it here, "here" being the very thick of state civil service. Doesn't matter that we don't have resources, or a budget, or a plan for outcomes - just do it, or be prepared to face the consequences. Which can be loud. And involve lasting, carefully-nourished grudges. Or so I'm told. I'm new enough, and far enough down the food chain, that I have yet to face the direct blast; just whiffs of the occasional fallout. And I won't even address any of the the related politics of the situation, which are never far away in any civil service bureaucracy. Just ask Grouchbutt.

This time around, I thought it was a pretty good idea. As a state agency, we don't really get to do much employee development, and a full-day inservice is both efficient and enough out of the ordinary to be kind of fun and exciting. Except...we first heard about it (by which I mean we were press-ganged into compliance) in June, the only reasonable time to do it is September, and lining up 40 or more presenters and presentations that are both reasonably relevant and entertaining, and furthermore have to be delivered for free, because again, no budget (honest, we state employees are really very respectful of your tax dollars.) ...well, three months is not really adequate. Nevertheless, I've put on my best Andy Hardy face, and dammit, we're putting on a show. Actually, I am delivering three sessions myself. And I've had to sell my soul to a few friends in order to get their participation as well. Fortunately, they did not have said soul properly assessed before agreeing to this enterprise. But dammit, it's going to be great. If I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, there are some weeks where it feels like a one-man show, and the last two qualify. Our team is, at best, borderline functional. Most of the time, it's a team in name only - we six all have individual projects that don't really overlap, and none of us can back up the others in any reasonable way. We're all loosely related to "organization/employee development" but that's about as collaborative as we get. Furthermore, we only recently got a non-interim manager - for unknown reasons the manager position was left vacant for about 13 months while the interim manager became increasingly irritated and disengaged (actually, downright pissed off at Capricia might be more accurate), and we largely drifted rudderless for the past year, with regular bitch sessions to keep us vented. Our new manager joined us in late July, well after we'd embarked (by which I mean been shanghai'd) onto this large training event. Unfortunately, the main supervisor assigned to make it a reality, while a great guy, is a terrible project manager. We don't have a task list, we don't have benchmarks, and we don't have scheduled meetings.

This week, the week we really have to publish the sessions so we can get pre-registration going and assign rooms, is also the week that the only member of our team well-versed in the intricacies of logistics, requisitions, and budgets decided he needed to stay home to care for a sick family member. Of which he has several. Mind you, this is the guy who starts each day by telling us how many days he has until retirement (more than 3000 - which is almost 10 years, so shut the fuck up, I don't care, and I don't need to hear it every fucking day - if this event, near and dear to Capricia's heart, doesn't come off well, perhaps you'll have a few less days than that.)

I digress. Let's just say that employee engagement isn't his strong suit at the best of times. See if you can hear the ringing silence when volunteers to help fill the void are me, because the project lead is so not even paying attention. ... Yep, that's the sound. So, see if you can guess who's been trying to come up with a task list, coerce meetings, confirm presentation times and descriptions with the volunteer presenters, write up and layout the brochure (which looks fucking fabulous, thank you very much), figure out how to get it to the printer, accomodate last minute changes, plan meetings (oh, I said that), and still do a small portion of my regular job. Without telling anyone to fuck off, piss off, or bite me. Not even once. Go on guess. Oh, sort of gave it away there, did I? Boo is so! much! better! at this stuff. I'm finding I have a whole new respect now that I'm getting to try it myself.

Nevertheless, and I hate myself for saying this, the thing is, I love this stuff. I have a deadline, some pressure to achieve, and something I care about, and it really is invigorating. Exhausting, but really satisfying when it feels like it's moving forward. It's been a major push to get it rolling, but now that it is, the momentum is starting to drive it forward. I just wish more of my team were inspired about it, because I think it would be even better if they all dug in for it as well.

So, that's why I haven't been writing - I've been spending all day in front of the computer anyway, and coming home I haven't wanted to face a flickering screen for one second longer.

Some things to look forward to, though: Next Thursday, I'm going to see Marty Casey and the Lovehammers at the Varsity. Friday, I'm sleeping late, then going to meet Boo and some friends at the State Fair. And Monday, I'm getting my teeth cleaned, and I just might take the rest of the day off for good measure. Assuming there are no catastrophes. I know this has been the most boring post ever...and now it's over.

Here's some Marty pictures to make it worthwhile getting all the way to the bottom.