"No internet = no plumbing!"

Seriously and FOR. REAL. I've joked with many friends, co-workers and customer support folks at my internet service provider about this and usually get an agreeable laugh. We're so dependent upon internet connectivity and email these days that when it's down for maintenance or some other sort of broke state it hurts!! Might as well shut off the electricity and running water while we're at it!

I got a strong dose of this very recently as I was getting ready to start my new job. I was expecting additional information via email on when and where to show up on my first day. A couple days later I noticed I had not received my usual volume of emails but didn't think much of it. Then a friend of mine contacted me (via Facebook) that she'd sent me an email only to have it bounce back that my email address was no longer valid. Yikes! And on top of that, I discovered I now couldn't send new emails or reply to existing ones - they were stuck in my Outbox.

After a call with my internet provider I learned my account had been moved to a "temporarily suspended state." THIS is the 'thanks' I get for paying my bill on time each month? Hmmm.

Everything got resolved in less than 24 hours, but it was a jangling wake up call on how much we depend on connectivity. I'd accepted a new job offer and was worried my new employer would wonder why the email address I'd JUST provided to them wouldn't appear valid...would I look like a flake?
And what about other bills or banking statements that are now delivered via email in an effort to be Green and save on paper usage and postage? What happens if those bounceback as undeliverable? Is it standard practice to re-send them or notify the customer via snail mail or a phone call that they can't connect? I wonder, as I'm sure it varies.


A New Rudder...and Changing Seasons

I am back at work, hence the "new rudder" in the title today. That's the old habit I simply can't shed - tying a good chunk of my happiness and self-worth to my job. So, when I don't have a job it hurts in lots of ways. The mind and the wallet for starters. Well, I can dip into savings and collect unemployment but I feel like a combo loser/moocher when I do. Retirement is in the far, far future here, and I am not independently wealthy - yet. Meanwhile, it costs money to live!

After nearly 3 months of job hunting, I "suddenly" had an opportunity fall into my lap. And I "suddenly" had this urge to get a couple home projects done after procrastinating since July this year...and really, since 2002, the year I moved here.

Ahhhh, the home office. I plopped into my nice, comfy leather chair and fired up the laptop every single day. My goal of keeping a daily 'work' routine of getting up somewhat early, showering, drying/styling hair and putting on makeup quickly disintegrated into waking up at 9:30am, putting on shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt and taking a shower around lunch time (or later, if I did a midday gym workout). I got used to seeing myself in wet hair and no makeup in the early afternoon.

A couple of months ago I sat here sweltering during our record-setting heat wave. It got up to 105 degrees here in the Seattle suburbs for 3 or 4 days in a row, which is shocking and unheard of (and most homes don't have A/C as it's just not necessary). I practically stuck to this chair and could feel the sweat literally rolling down my back as I typed away, hair in a ponytail.
And the picture reflects a lot of this time in the home office...these are random scribblings of ideas/thoughts/topics for this blog. Some have been used, some may get used later and some might just get junked. That's the fun of blogging!

In what now seems like a flash, the seasons turned. "Suddenly" the shorts, t-shirt and flip flops gave way to old leggings, my favorite Ugg slippers and an old, cotton flannel shirt leftover from 1995. I stopped automatically opening the window every morning as chilly winds started to blow. The gorgeous maple tree outside once again transformed her leaves from rich green to buttery yellow, carmel and orange. Yards and street medians once again got scattered with election signs.

And I got sick of staring at white walls. Boring, insane asylum white, flat-finish painted walls. This is the 2002 procrastination:I planned to paint a whole bunch of the rooms in the house before I moved in, as I had a couple weeks of overlap between this place and the old apartment. Makes sense to paint before all the furniture gets in the way, right? Turns out I had a last-minute business trip that week before I moved, and I literally got home after midnight the night before the move itself. Fast forward seven years, and while I did get a few rooms painted, this one fell off the radar.

So, I braved the chilly autumn winds to keep the window open here for fresh air while painting and have just about finished. I have a nice cranberry color on the wall with the large window, and a sandy tan for the rest. I'm really happy with how it looks and it feels a lot cozier and "richer" in here. The paint finish is a lot creamier than the flat, dull white from before. Now I am realizing I need updated floor lamps, new doors, casings and new closet doors. I'll need at least one more floor lamp given the darker colors. The "zen" feeling of minimal clutter after clearing the room to get it prepped feels nice. Guess it's time to chuck a few older books and knickknacks, and maybe get rid of one of the smaller bookcases altogether. Do I really need to hang onto "dress for success" type books from 1991, for example? Don't think so. College textbooks? Maybe they're a little sentimental, but college was twenty years ago, so I am ruthless and out they go.
I feel pretty good about things right now. Looking back, the jobless time wasn't so long after all. I literally blinked my eyes and everything changed. But in the moment it's an unknown feeling...is this going to go on for six more months or a year? I guess through all of this I've learned (again) that I can get through tough situations and come out stronger in the end. And, my identity is NOT based on my job. I'm still the same person I was the day before I received the job offer.
Yesterday while getting ready for work I heard a really great song that touched me..."Hang On," by Plumb. She was interviewed on our local dance music station, explaining how her song was written as part of a soundtrack for a documentary about Hurricane Katrina, specifically about a couple who literally hung onto a tree for three days before they were rescued. They chose not to evacuate, as they were in denial on how bad it was really going to get. But, they survived. Plumb's song literally took off after that. Whether it was 3 days or thirty years, looking back it doesn't seem so long. I know my jobless situation was far less severe than losing everything I own in a hurricane but I identify with it still.
I’m so stubborn
That’s how I got here
So alone
Feels like forever
I wanna swim away
And breathe the open air
But I feel so afraid
And then I hear you say

Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Hang on
Just don’t ever let go

I’m so hungry
How can I stay here?
For what I hold so dear
Like a hurricane
It takes everything from me
Wake me from this dream

Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Hang on
Just don’t ever let go

Hang on when you’re barely breathing
Hang on while your heart’s still beating
Hang on
Just don’t ever let go

Three days, thirty years
So hopeless, doesn’t matter
Don’t say it’s too late
If you blink your eyes
The sun is rising
The sun is rising…

Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Hang on
Just don’t ever let go

Hang on when you’re barely breathing
Hang on while your heart’s still beating
Hang on
Just don’t ever let go


It Took One Hundred and Nine Lines

Line 109 on the spreadsheet, shaded bright lemon yellow, reads: "accepted position." Yes, after about 2 1/2 months out of work and a lot of hard core networking I have a new job, albeit very short-term. I will be filling in for someone who has to take an unexpected leave due to a family emergency. The project has a hard stop at the end of December, so this will be a fast-paced sprint to the finish line.

I sowed a lot of seeds in this job hunt, and a few of them recently sprouted up in a huge clump all on top of eachother, literally within hours of getting this interview scheduled. The interview was scheduled in the morning, and by that same afternoon I had yet another in-person interview (completely separate from this one) set for the following morning AND two additional phone screens - each for separate jobs as well - later that afternoon.

After accepting the offer I canceled those other appointments, but explained I would likely be job hunting again in January unless I get extended or reassigned somewhere in this company. Then, the phone rang again - it was another recruiter giving good news that a hiring manager wanted to meet me in person! Oh gosh...I'd completely forgotten he had submitted me as a candidate for that other job a few days prior. So, I told him I was no longer available. It got a little quiet on the phone, but he was genuinely happy. Really and truly - it is feast or famine out there. The email and phone can be quiet for days, crickets chirping, and then all of a sudden everything hits and explodes.

I'm glad. I'm grateful to be getting back to work and to a routine. I suited up many times in a dress, pantyhose and heels, whether it was 95 degrees out or blustery, rainy and 50. I've also spent my days here in the home office in shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops and no makeup more times than I'd like to admit and kind of got used to seeing myself au naturel rather than cleaned up.

But, I now have a job through the end of the decade (what's left of it)! And I have no idea what is "really" going on with the state of things (quick questions about the 'weather report' in the interview but there was not much time to drill in further.) I won't understand the politics initially either, but I'll know they are there. Honestly, the pay is nothing to write home about, but all the more reason to have something short-term. And technically it's a hell of a lot more than my current income level of ZERO...plus I'll stop being a "Professional Check Casher" claiming unemployment. Yes, I'll definitely continue the "Money Diet" I wrote about earlier.

Working short term contract assignments for the past three years has sharpened my edges and street smarts - I've learned and continue to learn how to build rapport and relationships quickly. Shy need not apply!! At times I joke it's like being an Army brat or an exchange student...always the new kid and under the microscope. I've zoomed in and out of very, very different work cultures and continue to draw upon the great things and reject the toxic practices. I've learned what to share and not share, as longterm employees don't always know or understand anything different than where they've worked; my stories and recollections often are greeted with blank nods and stares. [That's OK; just paradigm stuff and all]. And I've learned that no matter how great things seem on the surface, there are fires burning and messes everywhere.

I keep my eyes and ears alert and open all my senses up wide to the vibe and environment around me. I've learned to trust my instincts. For example, I'd never visited this company where I'd interviewed before even though it's very well known and established. It's a large campus tucked away off a 4-lane road full of strip malls. Once I drove past the main entrance, I felt a wave of calm, even though I had the usual pre-interview adrenaline flowing. I thought to myself that somehow, this was where I'd be working. I don't know how else to explain it but that's how it's been every time with each job.

Even if it's short-term, this is where I'm supposed to be. And I can't wait to dig in.


Tiny Dots

Maps and globes fascinate me. It’s hard to describe but even as a young girl I had this innate sense – I just knew - that there was more to the world than my house, my neighborhood and my school.

My grandparents had a double-sided jigsaw puzzle at their house. One side was the United States (each state was its own puzzle piece) and the other side was a map of the world. This puzzle was the coolest thing ever (and I loved puzzles as a kid in general). As we did the puzzle together they would name each state and something about it like a famous river, the capital city or a favorite landmark they'd visited; they had driven in their camper all over the country and through Canada and Mexico too on many camping and fishing trips and had lots of memories to share!

One year I got a globe for Christmas. It had raised mountain ranges and a small, clear plastic dial on the North Pole with time zones. I couldn’t believe it was possible for it to be daytime here and nighttime for other people in the world at the exact same moment! And all those lines…the Equator, latitude and longitude – my parents would try to explain what they meant and that they were just imaginary lines. I was positive they were wrong; after all, the lines were there plain as day, so people living on the Equator must have a big blue stripe going through their cities! Maybe the people were painted blue too. My grandparents traveled several times to New Zealand and tried explaining how the International Date Line works. Too confusing!

As I looked more closely at the globe I noticed there were tiny dots in some parts of the oceans. What were these dots? I learned they were their own countries or islands off the coasts of some larger countries. This was astonishing: how could an entire country just be on one dot? Wasn't it crowded? How did people even move around? I just couldn't comprehend the idea of living on an island.

And later when I discovered my parents' large Atlas (perhaps when I was old enough to be trusted not to tear pages or spill on them), I saw much larger, detailed closeups of the countries I'd seen on the globe. But the Caribbean and South Pacific islands? Still, relatively speaking, just tiny dots.

I guess I was fascinated by these tropical islands because it was such a stark contrast to where I lived. In the Pacific Northwest the ocean is unforgivingly cold, not like a warm, inviting bath. The water is greenish grey rather than clear, turquoise blue. And we don't necessarily need a plane ticket or a boat to get out of town.

My first trip to Hawaii was in high school. I will always remember the moment I first felt the water. A warm ocean!! I didn't want to leave.

Ten years later I made my first of two trips through the Caribbean - the eastern and southern islands from St. Thomas all the way down to Trinidad, just off the coast of Venezuela. This region fascinated me most of all. I couldn't believe the stark contrasts between the islands. Martinique had a boutiquey city vibe about it, while Dominica was much more rural and laid back - lush, green trees and rolling hills. I took a downhill bike tour with a small group and I remember whizzing through hot breezes and the thick honey scent of flowers. We stopped at a little fruit stand to grab a snack - called It's Nice to Be Nice. Love it! On some islands the British influence remained strong, including driving on the left. Others drove on the right. This got confusing from country to country, honestly!

Now I look at those tiny dots with a smile, as I've experienced a few of them firsthand. That glorious, turquoise blue water. Warm smiles. Relentless, pounding sun. Drippy, overhead air conditioners from businesses and apartments in town. Plants and bushes everywhere that would only survive as indoor houseplants here. And a far more relaxed pace.

The next time I visit I'm leaving my watch at home.


A Seat on the Panel with a Paycheck of Zero

This past summer – and now early fall – has been largely about trying new things while continuing the job hunt. Varied things like launching this Blog, running a couple of 5Ks for the first time ever after a couple months of training and attending a local political campaign kickoff event.

I also started doing something I haven’t done since changing beds while candy-striping at the local Hospital back in the 1980s and doing a recurring radio news broadcast at a Braille library in the 1990s: I volunteered my time and started working for free. Guess that keeps my once-a-decade pattern going!

Volunteering has been a part of my memory since childhood, and I owe the lion’s share of that to my Mom. My Mom was an elementary school teacher, supporting both she and my Dad while he completed his MBA studies full-time when they were newlyweds. After I was born, Mom became a full-time stay at home Mom and Dad went back to work full-time. This was the late 1960s so it was perhaps generally more expected that these things would happen.

But what I remember about my Mom when I was younger was that she was never the watch-the-soaps-all-day type of stay at home Mom. Nope, along with raising my brothers and me she was an active volunteer and hard-core at that. The calendar was always out on the kitchen counter, full of blue-ink circles, red-ink birthday reminders, scribbles and to-dos. The phone was always, always ringing. People were coming and going all day long in and out of our house for meetings or maybe a friendly game of Bridge.

I can’t begin to compare my volunteer work with her decades of accomplishments, but I do understand and appreciate the importance for us to take part whenever we can to give back to our community, and I thank her for that message and influence.

In September I began working pro bono for a longtime colleague and friend. He’s launched a consulting firm and I am working around 8-10 hours a week providing very basic project management to the back-end structure of the business as we get foundations built, procedures put in place, while our sales team passionately pursues our first win (and the bank – meanwhile and hopefully – says YES to a funding loan).

Frankly, I was both humbled and honored to be asked to do this work. He and I have known eachother for about ten years, so we already have an essential bond of rapport and trust built up. We're about the same age and have pretty much grown up professionally together through good, bad and really, really ugly. And we both know what we're like on a bad day too which is very important and not necessarily what you would discover about a new hire right away!

Meanwhile, in support for our local community and to promote our business, he has participated on panels at a local college with classes focused on Resume Writing and Interviewing. And when he was invited to return recently he asked me to join him. I was very honored to be asked and more than happy to donate my time to do so. I can be a bit long-winded about lots of things, so any speaking practice in public with pressure to keep answers short and sweet is good!

I found it ironic to be speaking to a class about interviewing and resume writing when I too could be learning from this as well! But once I started speaking about the work A and I are doing, my passion for it and answered questions from the class it all just flowed seamlessly. It felt great to speak about past experiences, things to do and not do when interviewing and to share real-life stories supplementing things that might be taught by the instructor from a textbook! And to see people take notes while you're speaking? Wow.

But I didn't get a chance to share my best interviewing tip on how it boils down to comfort - dress professionally but also stay comfortable and wear the right socks/hosiery/underwear underneath it all. Maybe I'll get to that next time.


I Felt Grown Up When I Got My Own Stairs

My earliest memories are as a young girl in my parents’ first house. I remember running down the bedroom hallway looking up slightly to doorknobs. Light switches were perched just out of reach. It was a rambler – a one level house with a huge back yard. Most of my friends in the neighborhood lived in very similar style houses. It must have been typical suburban housing at the time. We did not have a single step in that house, except for one step up to our front door.

I have other vivid memories of going to my grandparents’ homes for dinner. Every Sunday it seemed my brothers and I were piled in the car with my parents, headed over to visit one set or the other. I feel very fortunate to have had all four grandparents in a nearby city, and to have known them all when they were young, active and healthy (and one is still alive today in her early 90s)!

What else was great about visiting my grandparents, besides endless fun, great food and enormous amounts of hugs? Their houses had…STAIRS. These houses were older, full of character, creaks in the floors, cracks in plaster and fancy chandeliers. Oh, the stories these houses could tell! The faceted, glass doorknobs looked like huge diamonds and I imagined they really were! Some stairs led down to basements – basements! – full of wonderful old artwork, my grandfather’s desk with a black rotary phone, typewriter and adding machine, shuffleboard tiles built into the floor and an easel with colored chalk for doodling. Another basement had small, old machine parts for my brothers to dig through, the washer and dryer and funny comic strip clippings on the walls. It was all endlessly fascinating.

The “up” stairs led to bedrooms, plushly carpeted with scores of old family photos on the walls. One staircase was so steep it just seemed so daunting and enormous to me, especially as a child! What a journey to just go upstairs to bed!

These houses might seem a little small by today's standards, but I can tell you to me they each seemed like mansions. Stairs meant unknown excitement about what was waiting on that next floor - it's very hard to describe but profound nonetheless. And even today lots of my dreams have both stairs and doors in them. I guess it's just something I'm continually mesmerized with despite how simple and basic they are.

A few years later, my folks decided it was time to move us - my brothers and I - out of our rambler to a new house a few blocks down the street. I think we'd run out of bedrooms, come to think of it!

The first time I stepped into our soon-to-be new house, Dad was busy painting bedrooms while Mom was busy packing boxes. I couldn't BELIEVE it...our new house had stairs! This was a floorplan I'd never experienced before: the main entry and living area was on the top floor, and the stairs led down to a daylight basement and family room. This was the most amazing house ever! Yes, at age eight I knew this!

When it came time for me to branch out on my own after college I lived in four different apartments before buying my current place. The apartments? Each was a flat. My home purchase? A townhome. And an end unit to boot; I wouldn't have to worry about anyone stomping above me or below me unless they're were in the house with me. I've got just one common wall with a neighbor. And if I have guests over for entertaining, the upstairs bedrooms can stay a mess as long as the kitchen and living room are cleaned up. It's absolutely perfect, as I get to be in a "house" of sorts, but still connected as part of a community which is very important.

And, I have my own stairs.



It might be a little early to reflect back, but we ARE at the end of another decade. Have we decided yet what we’re going to call these past ten years? We had the 80s, the 90s and we now are just about done with the, ummm…aughts? Zeroes? Oh-ohs (as in ‘double zeroes’)?

Long before the copious discussions about the turn of the century (and millennium), as a young girl I remember wondering what the world was going to be like in the year 2000. I knew how old I was going to be - and that was about the only definite thing that happened as it turned out from my predictions (no, we're not living on the moon yet, for example)! I thought about the big change going from 1999 to 2000…kind of like watching all the nines on an old odometer bending down all tired and flipping over to zeroes.

So what did you do the night all those nines turned to zeroes and the '1' became a '2'? I’d always had dreams of being at Stonehenge or the Pyramids or maybe on a beach in Tahiti.

But rather than hanging out on exotic beaches or at historical landmarks, I spent the night of Friday December 31, 1999 at work, sipping sparkling cider and munching on lasagna from Olive Garden. I was in the Helpdesk/Call Center industry at that time, working as a vendor on the campus of a major software company. There was simply no doubt: that night – and all the preparations leading up to it – was going to be All Hands on Deck. Time off would have to wait.

Our department Director had ordered in food for our whole crew working that night. We had beefed up staff because, well, we had to be prepared for just about anything that might happen, in every time zone we supported (which happened to be just about every single one).

Remember all the Y2K paranoia? We were worried computers were going to crash, power was going to go out, food would get automatically dumped from inventory – people were even hoarding canned food in some extreme cases. Generators flew off store shelves and some people filled up their gas tanks as if they were expecting a hurricane, not a New Year. We heard reports of relief that Y2K would fall on a Saturday - an offpeak time for most business - so the REAL test would be Monday January 3rd. On and on and on.

It might be tempting to laugh about it now but I don't think it's worth a lot of finger pointing. We simply didn't know what was going to happen - or not happen. None of us had ever been through this before, and none of us would be alive the next time around. We were becoming more and more technologically savvy as a global community...and more and more dependent on it too. At the same time we were also learning about the pitfalls and ugly sides of technology, such as computer network virus outbreaks. My team dealt with virus scares, outages and cleanups about every 2 or 3 months it seemed. We were still learning how to protect our networks and respond to reports and threats. What would happen the night of Y2K? We simply weren't sure.

We DID know we were all in it together. And that's probably about it.

I spent part of that unglamorous night at work with my Director in her Jeep picking up forty (yes, forty) lasagnas and delivering them to our teams. We had a glass of wine in the restaurant bar while waiting for the food to be packaged up, reflected back on the year and had a few laughs. We agreed that whatever happened we would get through it together! I'll drink to that!

The lasagnas were each packed in disposable foil baking pans sealed with a layer of foil on top, stacked 3 or 4 high in paper grocery bags. We made sure to drive back to the campus very, very carefully. But when we arrived at the first building we opened the Jeep tailgate and suddenly - SPLAT - a few bags plopped right into the tailgate hinge, creating a huge, reddish-orange steamy blob.

That was a moment where it really helps to have a sense of humor. Thankfully we both did and burst into huge belly laughs! What more could we do? Some of the bags had ripped along with some of the sealed tin foil, so we lost a few trays of food deep into that tailgate hinge. I'm sure her Jeep smelled of lasagna for days! Luckily we had plenty of food to go around despite the casualties.

A few hours later our teams both cheered and breathed a collective sigh of relief when the clock struck midnight. The building was still standing. The power stayed on. No one started rioting in the streets. We didn't have a massive network virus attack. The only glitch we had was a brief phone outage due to outrageously high call volumes for a few minutes! WE MADE IT!

That was my magical turn of the millennium moment. It doesn't seem like nearly ten years ago, but maybe time just appears to go by faster the older we become.
A lot can happen in ten years: I became an Aunt 3 times over. I bought a townhouse for the first time. Worked four different jobs, and had a handful of relationships - some serious, some not. I got rid of "friends" who were toxic and welcomed in new ones. My family said goodbye to two grandparents. My parents became grandparents, retired and survived health scares with flying colors within months of one another. I traveled to ten different countries between 2000 and 2001. Our country experienced its worst act of terrorism ever. Seven years later we elected an African American as our President.
There is just so much to reflect back upon; as we get closer to the end of the year I'm sure there will be numerous retrospectives in the media and perhaps in our own thoughts too. Along with celebrating, I get a little sentimental every New Years Eve.
And I think it's OK to start now.


Weisure: Is it Working for You?

You might have stumbled upon this CNN.com article in May earlier this year.

As I was churning through a few things to write about today the word “weisure” popped into my head again. I’d read the article, but hadn’t really thought about it much.

Until recently.

The article defines weisure (a combination of the words work and leisure just to be clear) as the blurring of the boundary between work and play. Advances in technology have made it far, far easier to take care of business while hanging out at home with our families. And, vice versa.

“'Many who haven't already abandoned the 9-to-5 workday for the 24-7 life of weisure probably will do so soon,' according to New York University sociologist Dalton Conley, who coined the word. It's the next step in the evolving work-life culture.”

This is a new word alright. Even spell-check questions it!

My first “real” full-time job fresh out of college was at the tail end of the 1980s. The hottest piece of technology in our office (other than the constantly busy coffee maker) was our fax machine.

While I love technology, I was a bit late incorporating it into my life. Other than the joyous Commodore 64 my folks purchased back in the early 1980s, well, that was chiefly for fun. I’d rarely touched a computer in college to write papers. Personal computers were either owned by the wealthier students or available by a sign-up list in our computer lab. Another option? The lone Mac and dot matrix printer in a small “office” (really, a spare closet) at the end of the hall upstairs in my sorority house. I’ll also sheepishly admit that it wasn’t until my senior year that I was comfortable using a copy machine! You see, I’d never worked in an office before. My college summer jobs were spent cashiering at a huge department store on my feet all day, not behind a desk.

So in this first office job I was the receptionist. Yes, I got to make coffee, answer phones, greet guests, hang up coats, type and file. Boy, I was pretty good at typing and filing! Every morning I would walk to the back room where the fax machine sat, greeted by a pile of that old-school curly thermal fax paper which had spilled over the countertop onto the floor. (Our parent company was overseas, so while our workday was ending, theirs was just beginning.)

Every morning was a daily battle to flatten out that awful, stubborn and curly fax paper, sorting which page went where (or slicing it up by page if it had spewed out in a long, continuous stuck-together loop like a roll of paper towels out of control). Then, photocopying. Know what our communication method was? We were a small office of just six people, and everyone’s business was everyone’s business. I had to make a copy of each fax for each person in the office, staple them, and place them face down on each person’s desk. Then I filed the curly originals in a manila folder, sorted by week and month.

Sounds a bit quaint, doesn't it? Fast forward 10 years and not only did I have my own personal computer at home, but a laptop for work. And, a remote connection to our corporate network.

The late 1990s job was my first taste of weisure. I remember the pang of panic I felt feeling behind and out of the loop with email one morning because I hadn’t yet read the long, heated discussion that had bubbled up at midnight (by local colleagues, so time zones weren’t the issue here). I started checking my work email remotely before I went to bed each night. I forwarded my desk phone number to my cell when I was away from the office. Now I could take calls just about anywhere – the grocery store, in the car, or even right out of the shower with wet hair in a bathrobe. Yes, the lines were starting to blur. Depending on the group I was working with, I didn't really need to be in the office every day. But I did have to be available and responsive, however, as did all of us.

Posting on social networking sites and checking home email during work is now more and more common. In between working, we can pay bills online, reply to a text, do a few clicks to purchase those coveted boots which are now available - thanks to an email notification, chat over instant messaging with a friend, tweak that spreadsheet on shared network space and respond to client emails. And oh, wow - pictures of my friend's kid’s birthday party just popped up on Facebook…

How many browser windows do YOU keep simultaneously open?

Is it healthy for us to not worry about when or how we're getting work done, as long as it gets done? Does it really matter that I negotiated a business deal on my cell standing in my underwear in a department store dressing room rather than sitting at my desk (and fully clothed)?

Is it wise to bitch about a conference call on Facebook or Twitter during the actual call? Now that I have no work commute due to having no job I am on social networking sites much more often during the day. Call me naive, but I am shocked how much complaining and venting about work goes on...during the workday! And as the week winds up it's a steady stream of "TGIF," or "the weekend is finally heeeeeeeeeeeere!!"

There are so many of us out of work who would love to be working right now. And yet I have friends who are absolutely bored to death or feeling miserable about their jobs. Or, simply ready for a break from the burnout. What a dichotomy! Over dinner one night I shared my job hunt updates with a friend, while my friend in turn shared a dream to take a (unpaid) sabbatical from a well-established job and we talked about ideas on how to make it happen.

While I appreciate not feeling "on call" when not working, I do like the weisure movement. As the artricle so eloquently states, what we're doing now will seem very quaint, just as working vs. playing "rules" from 50 years ago might seem now.

And, with my tongue very firmly planted in my cheek, let me close with some advice on what NOT to ask someone you work with when making small talk over the phone or email:

What are you wearing?


Texting? The Jury's Still Out (Or…The Lost Art of the Vowel)

I had two potential titles for this post in mind so I decided to just pair them up together.

Who’s the guy in green at the center of the painting? Why, that’s Johannes Gutenberg! If his name doesn’t sound familiar, stay tuned for we will get to him a bit later.

- RU bsy?
- LOL no im nt bsy im only drving

Oh…texting. It’s hard to pinpoint when it became mainstream in so many circles. Are many of us now better at typing with our thumbs instead of our fingers? Just the word “texting” guarantees a ton of discussion.

There is a texting love/hate relationship out there which has generated heated arguments. Arguments that have seethed and boiled over in one of the online discussion forums I frequent. Some love it and use abbreviated text speak even in a lot of their forum posts (far beyond the more commonly-known LOL or OMG). I’ve seen some of these forum posts so full of acronyms I concluded it must physically hurt for that person to type vowels. Other people love to text but use full-blown words, the way they’ve been spelled for eons. And others despise it altogether.

Here are just a few comments I’ve heard or read on forums:

- I don’t like talking on the phone. I’d rather text.
- Texting is so much more convenient...I don’t have to talk to the other person.
- Sometimes you can't just pick up the phone and have a conversation if your [sic] at work or dinner, movie, or a meeting and so the only thing you can do is text the person back. So as not to disturb other people around you.

To these statements above I say cowardly bullshit.

Have we become so incredibly de-humanized that we can’t pick up a phone and speak with one another? Do we HAVE to get back with someone immediately (in a non-emergency situation) or can’t we just wait until the end of the movie or the meeting? Do you mind that I would like to enjoy the movie or play in the theatre space we’re sharing? Please don’t ruin it with the glow of your phone screen for a couple of hours!

What would Johannes Gutenberg think about texting? He invented the printing press, completing it in the mid 15th century. His method of using movable type is credited with not only unleashing a revolution in the production of books, but also triggering rapid development in the sciences, arts and religion. Suddenly many scribes were out of jobs I’d imagine. In the book 1000 Years, 1000 People the authors rank the thousand most influential people over the previous millennium. Gutenberg was ranked #1. Yes, he was a forward-looking guy alright. So, maybe he’d be into texting today – who knows?

I know that I’m really not, as you might have guessed in reading this so far. Now, before I go into a little more detail about why, let me explain that I absolutely love technology, as much as a non-technical, non code writer type of person can. I touch technology every day and I applaud it and the benefits it brings to our lives. At the risk of contradicting myself about texting…I love email. I love reading and writing email; in fact I have at last count seven Inboxes in my life due to having various email addresses depending on their purpose. And I do a pretty good job keeping them all current.

I've had cell phones for many years but never used them to text. I guess, coincidentally, most of the people I speak with regularly don't really text much either.

Suddenly one day my phone started chirping in a way it never had before. What happened? I got a text! A text from a guy I had recently started dating. It was a couple paragraphs - yes paragraphs, not a short message - on what he was doing that evening, an evening where he had other plans. OK, that's great and all but it really struck me odd. Over time the amount of texts I received grew and grew in frequency. So did my cell phone bill; I'd gone way over the limit of texts included in my basic rate, unbeknownst to me - what a shock! The amount of phone calls I received from him gradually morphed into texts, not calls.

At best it was flattering – I now knew the sound of that little fluttery text alert.

At worst it felt cheap, flat and even a little sneaky.
I told him how I felt and how I appreciated a phone call far more than a text (he traveled a lot for work so we didn't have a lot of time together in general). He tried as best he could to explain how convenient texting is and how wonderful it is and on and on. But you know, our relationship wasn't established enough for me to jump on board with his reasonings, even though I knew he cared and meant well. I just couldn't build a relationship based on texting! So I guess you could chalk my negative take on texting as having a rather unusual way of being introduced to it. First impressions and all.

On the flip side, a relative of mine and her husband routinely text during the day while he's at work and she's busy with their kids. It works out wonderfully for them. But...they've also been married 15 years. BIG difference there.

I'm not completely against texting, but I think it's best for short communications...and with someone you already know very well. A quick "I love you," or "I'm running late," or "can you pick up the kids tonight; I'm stuck in a meeting" makes sense. Not paragraphs outlining your day, your plans, your musings on the world. Just doesn't work for me. And it's no way to grow a romance either! Know what? I'm worth a phone call.

And in case I didn't make my point earlier on: i h8 wen ppl tlk lyke dis.