Monday, June 12, 2006

Free Time

Since moving here to New Hampshire, I am finding myself with plenty of free time and also with much more freedom to get around than I enjoyed in NYC, having a car and all. I'm child-free, don't have a lot of obligations outside of work, and so I've been thinking about what I can do with some of my free time. I've thought of going to school at night, various possible volunteering opportunities, leasing or buying a horse, and even getting a part-time job. I tend to wallow around on the weekends, the first half of the weekend may be a bit justified as I'm usually tired from crappy and not enough sleep during the week (hopefully my sleep quality will start to get better once I have my new bed), but the rest of it is usually pure laziness. Easy enough to justify when there is torrential rain outside (as has been the case for the past month or so), but this rain has to end sometime.

So, I've been thinking about it and I've come to the conclusion that I should be doing something I enjoy and also something that is completely different from my job (because otherwise, what's the point?) So I think I'd like to find some kind of volunteer opportunity working with animals. Even if it's just walking dogs for a local animal shelter, or brushing horses for an equine rescue or something.

With that decision, I sent in a volunteer application for this place today. We'll see if they get back to me.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Good Week Afterall

Despite my physical complaints, I actually ended up having a good week at work. Things are a bit crazy & stressful at the moment while the project I'm working on is going through a bit of a reorg. The project management is being shifted over to our client side, and I'm trying to get used to the transition and the new project manager in place who I now have to work with. He's a very nice guy and very enthusiastic and approachable, but I don't think he's quite gotten it just yet (as I wrote about previously). I don't think he's grasped the various priorities and scope of the project. I think he also has a too casual attitude about some of the work and the meetings we have on a regular basis. Every time I talk to him he is spouting new and grandiose ideas about all these bells & whistles-type stuff we can do, while I am right now concerned about getting the actual meaningful content and necessary core functionality out to the users. Bells & whistles are great, but there needs to be a natural progression for this stuff and I don't think this guy is really getting that. He also has this habit of dragging me away from my work willy nilly to run over to his desk to help him debug something that he's working on, or to teach him how to do something with the BI tool. It's fine, but it seems to be happening every day now and can be distracting to my own work when I have to drop everything and go sit with him for an hour or so.

All of this sounds annoying and the makings for maybe a bad week at work, but this past week I got the impression from the head guy in the client space that he really appreciates my efforts and that my role is valued there. New PM is apparently going to be on vacation all of this week. One of the problems is, there is an important meeting/presentation that is happening on Thursday. New PM had put together this Power Point document outlining all the various areas of the project and a bunch of other information that is going to be presented to this mucky-muck trader guy who is supposed to be at the Big Meeting. When I found out that New PM was not going to be present for the meeting, I asked him who was meant to do the presentation in his absence (I had put together a bunch of slides with screen shots to represent some of the reporting I've done, but this is only one piece of the thing). So he says, "R" will be doing it ("R" is the head of the tech group on the client side and New PM's boss). So, on Friday I went into "R's" office and asked him how I could help him for the meeting for next week. He looked blankly at me for a moment and then said, "I thought we were just doing a demo?" I said, "well, New PM put together a whole presentation, so I think his intentions were more involved than that". "R" then communicated to me that he was upset that New PM had just announced at the last minute that he was taking a vacation for a week and basically dropping the ball on a lot of stuff. It is particularly bad timing as we're still in this transitional period and the Desk (for whom this project is for) is also in a transition (the new head trader guy who is supposed to be seeing our stuff for the first time in our Big Meeting). We also talked briefly about some of things the New PM is proposing for the project that are positioned to take everything completely off track. "R" thanked me for being proactive about the meeting and my assistance to him and asked me to take care of a few things for him.

I also had a meeting on Friday with my head end user, the trader who is driving all of the requests and requirements of the project. I was able to show him the new module that I am working on for him and he seemed pretty happy with it. We spent some time brain storming on how we could exploit the functionality possibilities to make it the most useful tool for them and I came away with a very clear plan of action for this coming week.

So things are challenging, but I feel like I'm making valuable contributions and am pretty firmly entrenched in my position within the project. I've gotten comfortable with the various players and they with me. Of course everything can change in a heartbeat with one screw-up, but at least I don't feel quite as tenuous as I did for the first few months. It was hard coming from a position that I had been in for years & years to a brand new company, environment, business, project, etc. but my comfort level finally seems to be growing a bit.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Not Having a Good Week

First I throw my back out over the weekend and now I both feel a virus coming on (I'm achy and headachy and I have a sore throat) and also have lots of female-style crampiness in my hip area suddenly. And my back still hurts. I'm just generally a wreck.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Today I Spent $3,000 ...


I bought ...

This bed


This mattress

of course I now have to wait for a few weeks before I can enjoy my new bed, but at least I can look forward to some decent sleep sometime in my near future.


Julia is doing the cereal diet. I am thinking of doing it too. As much for the convenience of not having to cook or figure out what to eat in the evening as for the diet aspect. Actually, I had cereal for dinner last night, so I guess it's on.

I still have a lot of pain in my lower back, but it's a little better. Sitting in one position all day at work isn't helping much however. I just ordered a new bed, now I have to go buy a mattress. I am finally, finally, finally going to have a brand new, just for me queen-size bed. After years & years of sleeping on this full-sized cast-off. Certainly my dismal bed situation hasn't been helping matters with my back!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's Always Something

While standing and reaching for something on my coffee table this morning, I somehow managed to throw my back out and now I can hardly move! Can't believe this.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Julia said:

"So. Are you ever gonna blog again? Or are we going to have to start calling you MJ?

Julia "

I know I know I know. So I didn't even blog at all for the entire month of May. I just haven't really felt like it. There also hasn't been too much of anything very interesting to write about really. I haven't even read a blog in all this time. Sheesh!

So, what's new? Well, my apartment finally, finally, finally closed! That was a complete relief. I had visions of this dragging on and on indefinitely, but in the end everything ended up going very smoothly and painlessly. So this makes my move out of NYC complete and final. Although I have to say that it does feel weird to think of some stranger now living in "my" place. That first weekend in particular I kept wondering if the new owners were in the process of moving in or what. Anyway, it's over now. I'll probably always miss many of the people, but I can't say I'll ever particularly miss Queens.

Work at New Company has been coming along and I feel like I've made progress on my project. I've had some good and positive feedback, both from the customer and from my manager. And my principal end user has in the past couple of weeks expressed a certain degree of satisfaction that I didn't really feel was there for the project previously. So I think I've turned a corner here. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of requests & requirements to fulfill and I'm still stressed and I worry constantly, but I don't feel quite as freaked out.

There have been some other reorgs on the project lately however, and I find myself virtually the last one from my team still a major part of it. I was a bit dismayed the other day to find myself the sole representative from my group in a meeting otherwise full of our customers. ACK! There is now also a new project manager representing the customer who I don't feel has quite yet grasped the scope or complexity or even the various priorities of the project. He keeps talking about alot of bells & whistle type stuff when we are still trying to get the content required and the basic functionality out to the users. So, I'm stressed. I actually feel more comfortable and confident in my specific role, but I am worried about how & when certain necessary steps are going to happen. At least I feel like I know my day-to-day role and I usually have a good sense of the importance and necessary priority of certain steps and can also usually see the "big" picture, so as long as I'm given the freedom that I have had thus far, my end should continue to progress. The customer also expressed that they want me on the project through the end of the year (previously I was meant to be on this specific assignment until about June or July) and also they hope they can use me to pitch in on some other concurrent reporting work in the department during this time as well. So, I would say these are all good things and if you asked my manager, he would say definitely so. Especially since apparently this is one of the more important customers for my group. It's definitely interesting from my point of view anyway.

I'm enjoying my apartment, it's relatively spacious and comfortable and quiet. I love having the little deck and after living in old and semi-decrepit (creaky hollow floors & all) NYC apartments, it's rather nice to live somewhere where everything is pretty new. And you gotta love central A/C. LOVE!

I still have a lot of unpacking to do here though. I sometimes sit here and just look helplessly at the boxes around the place and I don't even know where to start. It's also kind of a bummer not knowing where anything is. At least my kitchen stuff is all put away, but I have no idea where most of my Summer clothes are.

I also love the walking trail out the back door of my apartment. Lola & I have enjoyed some nice, long walks there over the past month. The ticks however are plentiful, so I've taken Lola to a local vet and gotten her vaccinations for Lyme Disease and a new heartworm medicine that also kills ticks. Luckily I've only found one tick on myself though.


We've had crazy rain here over the past few weeks! Complete insanity, real wrath of God stuff. First there was the eight days of consistent rain, culminating in the weekend of over 100 inches. There were many flooded out homes and businesses in this area as well as road closures all over. At one point I drove a route along the Merrimack River where you could see that the river had risen all the way to the bridge. People were all pulled over to the side of the road to view the swollen river and the houses across the way flooded completely over their first floors. Since that crazy weekend, there continues to be periods of rain (like today), much of it torrential (like last night).

Here is one of the things I like about living here: I kind of like thunderstorms, last night some big ones rolled into the area and I was able to enjoy standing on my little deck and watching the storm (the deck has roof with an overhang so I can stand there during the heaviest rain storm and not get at all wet). A part of my trail has been turned into a pond (not a puddle, but a complete pond of standing water) that doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon. There is a bit of a detour up onto a path along some RR tracks. Luckily you only have to cross that path for a few yards, otherwise I would be completely cut off from most of my wonderful trail.

So, things are quiet here in New Hampshire, but that's the way I like it these days. Quiet and serene with purposeful, interesting work to be done. I don't have much of a social life here, but then again, I hadn't really enjoyed much of a social life in NYC these past couple of years anyway, so I'm not really missing much in that regard.