got tools?

It’s Friday morning and we had a problem first thing with the Internet connection from the wifi router. Enter Daddy Man, able to (mostly) save the day. But as I was tweaking and unplugging, plugging and untweaking, my right lens popped out of my glasses.

“Oh no, I shot my eye out.” – Ralphie

I looked and there it was on my ample tummy. My glasses were otherwise intact, screws and all. Overtime the right lens screw had parted ways with its friend Mr. Frame far enough to drop Mrs. Lens … well, you get the picture.

My Dad says you can do anything if you’ve got the right tools. I’ll add being able to find those tools and then know how to use them. It’s the same for doctors, lawyers, loggers, DJs, chefs, cowboys, baristas (some of my heroes have always been baristas) – have tools, find tools, use tools.

I went to the kitchen for a butter knife to screw in the tiny tiny screw. Too big. My finger nail was the right size, but the finger it’s attached to is way too large for this task. Then I remembered that I have, can find, and know how to use the previously forgotten optical screwdriver in my handy dandy backpack.

Tool found. Tool used. Glasses intact. Tool put back in backpack for the next time I’m an idiot with a screwdriving kitchen knife.


the payoff

When I left my job of nineteen-plus years last August, I knew what I was getting into – and at the same time I had no clue. I had spent those years in various forms programming for the financial/output side of the insurance industry. More recently, I had been able to do some technical writing in requirement gathering and project planning. I’d traveled to some really cool places – Philadelphia/Lititz, PA; Seattle/Enumclaw, WA; San Juan/Humacao, PR; Staunton, VA; Tampa/Treasure Island, FL; SFO/San Mateo, CA. Over the years, I met with good people also trying to do their jobs the best they could for their own customer bases. I liked that we were doing our best for them to then do their best for their constituents. I liked that I could work meetings into paragraphs, and I enjoyed the back and forth to “get it right” in putting to paper what the client wanted and how we were going to deliver.

Writing first, programming second – some C++ with a mostly text-based script system. We did some good things, and I liked my job. There wasn’t a reason to leave, except that I had had an itch to find something new. Nothing had really panned out, so I had re-settled into my groove and was ready to stay for the long haul. But then there was an opportunity to start something exciting and new… The Love Boat… soon will be making another run…

I stopped Job #1 of my adult life on Friday, and started Job #2 of my adult life on Monday. I was hired to work on social media initiatives, with a touch of graphic design and programming on the side. That was in August. We’ve been planning and working and replanning and reworking things since then, on multiple fronts, multiple platforms, multiple configurations. It was a huge change for my mindset – honestly, the stress level dropped more than anything. I didn’t know how stressed I must have been but today, I have actual fingernails. I don’t chew them off anymore – that’s been a pretty big realization on my part. I’m on a new team that’s once again fun, professional and trying to do good things for customers. That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

So what happened last week? We opened the world to a new website design – I had one small part, helping with some of the “search” capabilities, while everyone else poured themselves into what was happening. It’s a major step forward, and folks worked with a real determination to do what’s right, make it easy for the customer, and to build something they could be proud of and management would be happy about. Internally the kudos were there – people from around the company loved it. When the rollout came there were some issues that became the week’s priorities and were quickly sifted out. It was good for me as a newcomer to see the team work as a team and celebrate as a team. It’s a good tech shop, with great people and big dreams.

So what happened to me last week? The new web design shows more prominently than before that we are involved in social media. For the first time in our process, we were getting major play on our Facebook page, on Twitter – even gained a YouTube subscriber or two. A few folks commented on their enjoyment of the new site. We gained visitors, we saw web analytics from the social media links, and we interacted with folks “in the wild” about real things that mattered to them. For me, it meant the things we were doing were going to pay off, that ideas we were having and challenges we were working out had come to a point beyond conjecture and were now really happening in our system.

There’s a scene at the end of The Incredibles where the neighbor kid sees the explosion of Syndrome and the family being saved inside Violet’s forcefield. His jaw drops, he stares at Mr. Incredible, and finally exclaims, “THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!” – that was me last week. I was so happy one evening, I tried to explain it all to my 12-year-old. I don’t think she was necessarily impressed, but I do hope some of that excitement from doing something you love rubs off on her so she won’t settle for a career path that’s anything less. I enjoy what I do, still putting in home/offsite time to make myself better, to find better ways to do things, to try to look at things differently and stay up with the growth in these areas. The past week or so has reinforced the decision to move on, to make a change, to move out and try new things in new ways.

I highly recommend…

never done it that way before…

This has been a good week at work. Scratch that. From last Friday to today, it’s been a wonderful week to be employed. And that’s really the crux of my conundrum tonight.

I’ve never really blogged about work before.

In the past I’ve posted photos from business trips, and I’ve talked about things that might have happened in the office, or maybe about conversations and opportunities with friends on the job. But I’ve never really blogged ABOUT WORK. Many of you know I started a new job last August 2009, that I left a good situation under my own gumption to take a position working for a friend in a new place with new challenges and new opportunities. But I’ve never really posted anything, since the beginning of my blogging life, on THIS IS MY JOB, THIS IS WHAT I DO, THIS IS WHERE I WORK.

And I want to so bad. But, in all fairness and caution, I am going to defer for the time being. I’ll write something, run it by the powers that be for editorial approval, and I’ll post soon if I’m able. Or if not – and that’s a likely and okay option in my book – then I’ll post “my story” some other way.

Why have I never done this before? Mostly, it’s because some people don’t think it’s a good thing. Companies have reputations to uphold, branding initiatives to run, and shareholders to protect. I wouldn’t want to do anything that would hurt the company first or my job second. Having written that now, though, I confess that in my current position, that line is very blurry, with more of a back and forth going on between who I am personally and who I represent professionally.

This is my encouragement for anyone and everyone: I think it’s a good idea to NOT blog or tweet or set your status on Facebook with anything that would tie you to your workplace. Err on the side of, “hmm, will this get me fired or not?” and leave it alone. That’s been my take for many years, and will continue to be the way I look at the privilege, process, release of being able to blog.

But this one time, maybe I’ll invent my own loophole. After checking with the boss, of course. It’s been a really good week.

breakfast, etc.

This morning was fun. A few of us were able to get together for breakfast at Lizard’s Thicket (fish & grits – don’t knock it ’til you try it), just hanging out over coffee and a meal. One of the things that is neat is that after so much time, not really being or staying that close over the years, it’s still a group of people you enjoyed being around enjoying being around each other again.


I had some other funny “I should totally blog that” lines in my head while I was driving home from the get-together, but they completely escape me as I sit to type. So I’ll just thank everyone for coming, let those who couldn’t make it know they were missed. I think we drank enough coffee for everyone.

It’s been a good week. I’m enjoying the new job, and looking forward to using newly discovered social media tricks in making a worthwhile contribution. I had a good time of just catching up and encouragement with Bobby Thursday evening, and our dinner out with Bruce and Debbie at Punjabi Daba was spicy good, too. I’m hitting a groove, or at least hope so, where I feel productive, feel like I’m making a difference and leaving a mark. And that’s a good thing, because with the economy the way it is, there seems to be enough negative backflow going on out there already. Having a something positive to say about life, the universe and everything is a definite plus.

I even look forward to Monday.

I mean, after a good long weekend full of friends, good food, and a few football games. Still have to have priorities, right?