Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Speaking of Fluffy Things

(HA! When I was typing that title in just now, I accidentally put "fluffly" which is an awesome word. I will start integrating that into my vocabulary immediately.)

My friends are going to Washington D.C. in a couple of weeks. One of them, C, has never been before and is getting excited about planning what sightseeing she wants to do. She's completely geeking out about it to the point of making a spreadsheet (which is usually my department when it comes to vacation planning because I like to make sure I can fit everything in that I want to do). She is calling her vacation planning activity "nerdery," so at least she understands the gravity of the retentive situation she's putting herself into.

Anyway, I noticed that she had left off the Library of Congress from her list, which was my absolute favorite thing I did the last time I was in D.C. Maybe because I had never done it before and so it was absolutely unexpected. It was just up the street from the Capitol, and being left alone that day I was wandering around more or less aimlessly -- not having, for once, created a spreadsheet but was just playing things by ear.

I got myself a Reader Identification Card, because I could (and have used it, on occasion, as an official ID. What? It's government issued!), and requested some sheet music from the stacks because now that I had the Reader Identification Card, I could.

And then (insert glorious angelic chorus here) I saw the Reading Room.

An entire room. Dedicated to just reading.


And. And? It was beautiful. Perhaps the most gloriously beeeeeyoooootiful room I have ever seen, and I've seen some doozies, believe you me.

Which, several years and many pop-culture references later makes me say, "It's so fluffy I could DIE!"

Because that is how much I love this room:

If reading and books and light and wonder give you that peculiar fluffly feeling, I highly recommend visiting this place next time you are in Washington D.C

Friday, August 6, 2010

Things I Wouldn't Have to Say If I Didn't Have Cats

* Stop licking my butt. Please.
* Go away! I don't come check out YOUR bottom while you're in YOUR litter box!
* Get your nose out of my nose!
* Ugh. You're especially farty tonight.
* Hey, I can't breathe with your entire body blocking my mouth and nose. Move. Please move. Move. Move. Moooooovvvvve! MOVE!
* Stop licking my mouth.
* Stop licking my ear.
* Stop licking my nose.
* Stop. Please stop. S T O P. (I still haven't found my "safe word" with my cats.
* Hey! That's MY vitamin B pill!
* No, the toilet is not a source of viable drinking water for you.
* Hey, you got a little...something...on that tail of yours. Yes, please, lick it clean.
* When will you learn to cover your poop?

Yes, I realize that complaining about poop, barf, hairballs, and the occasional accidental claw in one's nose is fruitless -- you can't stop a cat from being a cat or a kitten from exhibiting all its kitten attributes. So please allow me to add here that for all their stinks, messes and accidental destroying of property (people OR things) that they've inflicted on me over the years, for the most part I feel like Agnes from Despicable Me about a good stuffed unicorn. "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

While I'm Baring It All...Some Facebook Thoughts

(I hope the title of this post doesn't get all sorts of p*rn hits).

I have been on Facebook since the dawn of time. That's because I went to Harvard and that's what we did back then.

Okay, not really. Just checking to see if you're paying attention. But I have been on it for longer than you. Probably. But this isn't about bragging rights. This is about things that make me laugh on Facebook. Or that I like (insert thumbs up symbol here). Or that I dislike (still haven't found an app for that). This isn't comprehensive, certainly, just now.

The Good
I have been able to find many old friends. Not aged friends, but friends from my past. That has been fun. Some of the good finds have been college roommates, missionary companions, girls' camp buddies from back in the day, high school pals (less of those). Conversely, some of those people have found me, and that's been good too. It's fun to catch up and stay caught up when I don't think that would otherwise have been an option. With name and address changes, Christmas cards, though I do send them regularly, aren't always effective with keeping up with people if they don't return the favor. Through this medium I can get occasional updates, or see current photos, and that's fun. It can be impersonal, but I think that as a society we're trending more towards that.

It's also easier for me to stay in touch with family (especially nieces and nephews) that I wouldn't otherwise. I'm rotten at sending birthday cards, etc., and am not going to win any "Favorite/Bestest Aunt" prizes anytime soon. At least this way I am able to know what's happening in their lives, despite distance, busy-ness, and ... life.

The Bad
Finding people on Facebook you used to be friends with but realize that now you have nothing in common with them...and don't care.

The Ugly
I have been able to find many old acquaintances. Not aged acquaintances, but ones from my past. Some of these finds have been college roommates and missionary companions. I have had to completely block one person from cyber life for fear of complete intrusion into my "real" life. Not cool.

Another not-so-great-find was a former college roommate. She was abrasive and hard to get along with back then. I was hesitant to accept her as a friend because of the very rough year we had together, but figured that if I've mellowed with age and over the years, maybe she had too. It was tenuously okay until she commented on one of my status updates alluding to one of our constant disagreements about the apartment cleaning schedule...24 years ago! If it wasn't clean when she wanted it to be, then in her eyes you were worthless. In her comment, she expressed sarcastic amazement that I knew how to clean my own house now since I certainly didn't back then.

What I wanted to say: I guess if we were going to judge people on their behavior from two decades ago I would still expect you to be the same loud, foul-mouthed, drunk, boyfriend stealing mean person.

What I did instead: Delete. *poof* Friend gone. She hasn't tried to re-add me.

The "Eh, Whatever"
I think there should be two categories of Facebook friends: Friends and Acquaintances. Not to just necessarily label as such (think of the social faux pas being committed left and right if that were the case!) but just because every time I get a friend request, I tend to take it literally and think to myself, "Friend? Because you talk to me at church all the time and we hang out together? More like acquaintance because you're in my ward and know my name." "Friend" is a very broad term in the Facebook world.

Socio-politically, though, it's all good. I have a friend (a REAL friend, not just FB friend) who joined Facebook just so she could let people think she's their friend. Otherwise, she would be getting emails and phone calls from people that she doesn't really care about in real life. This way, they feel as though they have a connection to her, and she can keep them far away from her real life, filed away in a cyber life -- again, that separation of the cyber world that is making our culture more impersonal and less intimate.

The Funny

* Thank you, Facebook, for suggesting that I "like" BYU. I guess if you knew that that fine institution and I parted ways not-so-amicably you would not suggest that. Even now, if I ever visit the campus, I get nervous parking in the visitor lot because I'm sure that the Administration office is going to find me and tell me I still have no business being there.

* Bejeweled Blitz. My biggest competition each week are my extremely intelligent nieces. I get a kick out of trying to be the top scorer in the family each week. Uh oh. I've just now admitted that. I'm sure that will bring on some intense competition next week.

* Yes, I realize we have 38 friends in common, but I don't actually KNOW this famous person and think it would be laughable to try to become "friends" with him.

* Yes, I realize we are related (distantly or otherwise), but I don't actually KNOW you. Plus, you are slightly famous, and, well, see the "laughable" part above.

* Let's not all get our panties in a bunch because we're posting what color bra we're wearing that day. No, it may not ultimately cure breast cancer, but it's not gonna hurt anything either.

* I'm not thrilled either with all the Farm, Zoo, Cafe and other virtual world games. But if you're playing one, it sure does help pass the time! (I played a lot of Zoo back in the day.)

* Thanks to Facebook quizzes, I have found out that my aura is green; my color is blue; that my literary character is Jane Eyre; that my animal spirit guide is a bear; my old lady name is Adelaide; my redneck name is Cletus; I was a cheerleader in high school; my parents should have named me Bonnie, I'm going to die on August 11, 2044; I am a tritone chord; and I am earth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thoughts Better Left Unsaid. So Against My Better Judgment...

Every once in awhile I peruse a website that caters to single LDS people. You know, on the off chance that since I'm unlisted and Prince Charming can't ride up to my house on his white horse because he can't find my address so I need to find him. On the world wide interwebs. Where true love... Okay, so I'm not really very hopeful. But I can do it in my sweats while I'm watching TV, and you can't say that about going to a Friday night dance.

I'm picky. I can afford to be. I've waited this long to find The One, I'm not exactly desperate. Here are some thoughts I've had tonight while being anxiously engaged but not engaged.

* Oooh, nice user name, clever and creative, shows a spark of creativity. Ack! I can't see anything else because of the glare of that shiny pate! [click]
* Anyone who adds "-ster" to the end of their name definitely does NOT deserve a click. Next!
* Oh, that's nice -- a cool Hinckley quote as part of your introduction. Nice. Oh, dear. What's happened to your neck? I think your shirt swallowed it. [next]
* You live in Salty Lake, huh? I don't think I want to swim all the time just to get to know you. Next.
* Why did you call yourself San Francisco when you live in North Carolina?
* Oooh, I love that photo from 1987! What do you look like NOW?
* Oh, do you only have one arm? I can only see one in all your photos. Oops, never mind. You're the guy who takes pictures of himself with his camera phone in the mirror and tries to post those. I'm sorry, but if you don't have a friend to take a picture of you, you probably won't succeed on a date.
* Is that a graduation gown or judge's robe?
* If you're 44 then I'm 28.
* Fabio? Is that you?
* Hey! It's Newman, the mailman from Seinfeld! I didn't expect to see you here!
* Hmmm the only photo you have is the one of you and your ex on your wedding day? Thank you for being considerate enough to at least crop her out before posting it.

And just for the record, "cruise casual" wear should only be worn by men of a certain age. Take note, guys. If you are under 60, no one thinks that's a good look. That floral print just isn't doing it for me.

What I Don't Do

One day a couple of years ago, two of my sisters were visiting me for my birthday. It was close to the holidays and I knew that work would be slow and that I could get away with working a half day, as long as I put in an appearance in the morning and did some time-sensitive things. I also wanted to show our new, state-of-the art facility off to my family. Since I work for a fairly well-known and popular company, I thought that was something my sisters would enjoy. Then we'd be able to enjoy the rest of the day together.

As I sat at my workstation doing...stuff, my sisters kept themselves entertained by reading some magazines and books they had brought with them and asking me an occasional question about what I was doing.

I completed my requisite activities, wrapped up my day, turned off my computer and we left. On the way out to the car, my one sister said, "Well, that was nice, but I still don't know what you do."

The problem is, somedays I don't either.

Well, I do know, but unless you work in my industry and speak the foreign language I speak (hint, not Spanish), it's not fun to try and explain to a layman. That makes one of my least favorite questions, "What do you do?"

Instead of trying to explain what I do, it's easier to tell you what I don't:

* Fix your computer

* Fix my computer (I have a technophile friend to do that for me, and it's not even her industry)

* Wear a big furry costume and take pictures with your kid. Or anyone else's. (Except for that one time, but that's another story).

* Write code. No, I don't work for the CIA. That's computer talk. If you don't know what that means, you're the person I couldn't even begin to explain what I do for a living.

* Get you into any amusement parks for free or discounted.

Sometimes I try to put people off by answering with my title, but it's a meaningless title with my department and "Senior Analyst" in it. It really only exists for HR purposes. So then I try to make it generic, "I'm an IT analyst." The problem with that answer is that about half the people I talk to know what IT stands for and the other half don't. The half that do think that means I'm going to be their beck and call computer gal and fix their computer for them.

The half that don't know what that means get yet another answer -- "I do computer stuff," after which point THEY think that I'm going to be their go-to computer gal.

If I sense that someone will have no concept of IT or computers or are otherwise apathetic, I placate by providing the name of the company I work for. I usually try to avoid this answer because this then conjures the image of me putting on a big furry costume to take my picture with your kid.

Worse still is when someone assumes that means I like them enough to get them and their extended family of 82 into an amusement park at a discounted rate or free. Nope, definitely not that. I don't even get that good of a discount.

Things I do (do):

* Write requirements specifications and other technical documents

* Analyze systems and business processes and make recommendations for improvements

* Manage projects

* Liaison between Enterprise IT and my division service managers to coordinate things like patch releases, upgrades, fixes and other changes that impact clusters, servers or applications

* Create ICOM, swim lane, business flow and process flow diagrams

* Create and maintain technical policies and request forms

* Work with end users to understand and document their processes so that those can be understood by more technical people and then developed into an application to then be used by a business person.

* Manage the contractor (SOW) request and creation process for hiring managers

* Create disaster recovery documents

* Excel...stuff

...And that's why I give you the answer I do when you ask me that dreaded question, "So, what do you do?" Isn't it more fun to envision me in that furry costume than think of spreadsheets?