mm022: Unblocked

June 15, 2007

MUDGE’s Musings

I guess it’s the sophomore slump.

It’s been more than a week since I last posted to this blog, vs. my strong beginning last month. See I read somewhere that you have to get into a habit of daily blogging, exercise like any other (and if you saw what I look like, you’d note immediately that blogging is not the only exercise I’m failing to perform daily!).

So the new has worn off, and no one seems to be reading this anyway, so what’s the point?

How about, I like to write! How about, I’d like to be read, and I certainly won’t be if I don’t write! Simple, right? On the other hand, jillions are blogging; who is taking the time to read them? I’m sure that, aside from the professionals and the few hugely talented amateurs, most blogs go unread except for family and close friends. Even then, how many people have good and/or close enough friends that they would have patience enough to read the most interesting blog on a daily basis? Based on WordPress statistics, I apparently do not!

And the pros have one on me, since they can get away with blogging on the job — perhaps their job is in part or wholly the production of a regular column — lucky them! Working as I do in the Heart of Corporate America, I have the nagging impression that blogging on the job (no sir, not me!) — even blogging offsite explicitly about the job — would be a terminating offence. So, the few times I have written about what I do I have forced myself to be most indirect, uncomfortably so, since I’m proud of the work I do, and absolutely proud of the company I work for and the work it does in its often under-appreciated industry. My employer and its industry, and the business conducted by our country, and its capitalist system, is certainly not above criticism, but the good outweighs the not so by orders of magnitude.

And although I’ve been told I’m diplomatic, my usual impulse is to be very, eloquently, shockingly, direct — and it’s sometimes painful to dial that back. But, I love my job, and I’d hate to risk it over a few words. See last month’s rant about my retirement plans — I don’t have any, so this is one boat I choose not to rock. So I’ll continue to try to find interesting things to say about what I do, which I am passionate about (even my bosses say so), constrained by not speaking too distinctly about where I do it.

So, it’s been a little slow there for me the past week or so, and isn’t it just so true that busy people get lots more done than those who aren’t so. I’ve been content to accumulate a few more links for a future clipjoint or two, which I hope is not the total copout it feels like! But, tonight, we’ll write a little more.

And, I’ve been working on a project at home, that due to its multimedia content has been quite time consuming. My older son’s wedding is coming up, and I’ve been working on a slide show for the rehearsal dinner. It’s been fun, but frankly something of a chore (a hobby with a deadline is a job, folks!), scanning in quite a number of photographs (let’s face it, snapshots!) from years long past, and wrestling with the software purchased for the purpose of combining the photos and a music track into a DVD playable at that event, now just three weeks away. My PC, seeming so powerful just three short years ago, seems often driven to its knees by the demands placed on it for such a project. Like any complex software, Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite 9 has a steep learning curve, but it has repaid my persistence with what I will modestly term a very nice result.

So far, the slide show has consumed the long Memorial Day weekend, this past weekend and still another couple of hours during evenings this week as I fiddle with the audio software, having beaten into submission (or at least as far as my patience has allowed) the visuals. I’m really happy with the results — but like any creative effort, viewed often enough it has become difficult to stay objective. Not the worst of its genre (amateur slide shows must be almost as numerous as blogs!), hardly the best. Ken Burns’ job is safe. But, I think my precious son and his darling bride to be, and our families, will appreciate it, or at least will be polite about it!

It’s it for now (whew! I wrote something at last!).

Thanks,
–MUDGE

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mm008: Working

May 14, 2007

MUDGE’s Musings

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Telecommuting

I have a friend who for years has commuted 50 feet to work and back. Self-employed in the best sense of the word (on purpose and would have it no other way) his work week is seven days long, but he has flexible hours. He works long and hard because he loves what he does, but also can stop and grocery shop in the quiet middle of a week, away from the weekend crush that devils mortal man, and as what he does is very high quality and fairly unique he knows that if we wants to take a couple of weeks of vacation in Europe or China he can, because his clients will be there on his return.

That’s him. Here’s me: a 30-mile one-way commute, made bearable for those two hours a day only because an otherwise contemptible employer some years ago introduced me to books on tape. (Now I read and stay connected in several media: audio books, real bound paper books, and this newfangled Internet thingy I’ve heard so much about. I’m so flexible.)

A few years ago, I made the leap from hourly contractor to salaried employee at the Heart of Corporate America (remember? HCA — not the name of a real place I really work!) I call my home away from home. Honestly, un-curmudgeonly, an excellent place to be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: far and away the best place I’ve ever worked.

But the commute is a killer, book on tape or not. Unfortunately, or not, with employee status came a couple of things: a pay cut, of course, since overtime is now on me; and the opportunity to participate in the golden treasure of the white collar working stiff in HCA – Working from Home, WfH for delicious short.

For a day or so every couple of weeks, I get to enjoy the 50-foot commute I have long envied in my entrepreneurial buddy. In fact, this is one area I can trump even him: I have a much smaller house; the commute is about 20 feet. It’s a beautiful thing. Due to the nature of my work I take home a laptop computer every evening, and on those lovely days that I can eschew the highway, I pull it out, plug it in, connect to my home wireless network and in short order I’m connected to the corporate world only slightly less directly than had I invested the nonreturnable two daily hours of my all too short life in my mobile library, dodging the clichéd but all too real coffee drinkers, cell phone gabbers and makeup applyers all the while. My auto insurance company should send me a valentine!

And here’s the deep dark secret: I’m a better employee for it. I’m sure that for some, “Working from Home” is code for “goofing off on company time.” In fact, the first time that I heard the expression regarding a former colleague at a former company (and I do mean former – 9,000 employees swallowed up and spit out in a typical episode of corporate bulimia), my boss illustrated it with the sardonic two-handed quote mark gesture.

I’m connected – on line I do everything I do at work, including conducting on line classes and providing high level technical support on the on line tool for which I’m the local champion. I religiously check office voice mail for my two lines every 30-40 minutes, and I’m always available via the corporate instant messaging tool.

And it’s quiet when I WfH. No unwanted intrusions from the cube dwellers all around me at the office. I respect your single-parenthood but I can only tune out so much for so long. And I respect the management work you do, but I wish I learned about it in smaller doses at times of my choosing. And your analyses of last Sunday’s game is fascinating, BUT I HAVE WORK TO DO!!!

And I know it reciprocates. If I had laryngitis, I can name several candidates who I’m sure, through osmosis and sheer repetitiveness could fill in for me in one of my classes.

Dilbert is an optimist.

Or, maybe it’s not quiet WfH. When I’m not on the phone, likely as not I’ll be enjoying Pandora.com, as marvelous a construct as I’ve seen recently in webland. Check it out while you can, as the riaa-monsters are preparing to pounce.

But, it’s my choice – quiet or not so, and if not, I choose the content. Tell me that doesn’t make me more productive.

But, don’t get me wrong – I like the people I work among, and I really don’t have a problem spending most of my employment on the man’s premises. But he (and I’ll bet he does), and now you, should know what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to telecommute occasionally.

Thanks!
–MUDGE

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mm008.1 QuickLink

May 14, 2007

MUDGE’s Musings

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NYTimes is very meaty today!

A must see story for anyone intrigued by the cultural quicksand we live within.

And, an interesting story regarding Pandora, my favorite internet radio station.

Thanks!

–mudge

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mm003: they’re going to throw me out of the guild…

May 10, 2007

Left-Handed Complement
MUDGE’s musings

Things I’m liking today…
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Pandora
Wow, what a great internet radio station: You tell it what song or artist you like, and it builds you a channel to suit.
Sometimes the choices seem odd, but I’m especially liking my “The Girl from Ipanema Radio” channel, all instrumental and latin flavored jazz. Had a little trouble with it at work on Monday (it has sounded wonderful on my broadband connection at home since I fired it up last Sunday), but the stream has come through loud and clear at work the past two days, and I’m very pleased.

Besides the above channel, listened to at home almost always (very spouse-friendly), here are my other channels:

* Green Onions Radio
* Ruby Tuesday Radio (the song, not the restaurant!)
* The Turtles Radio
* Perez Prado Radio
* Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Radio
etc.

My pop music tastes are stuck in the late-sixties—early 70’s, obviously. Mostly I’m a classical guy, but I like to be at least a little eclectic. I’ve a son who creates beats for hip-hop performers and I find some of his stuff quite listenable though he’s never invited me to a concert to hear what words are matched up to his foundation – maybe he’s not sure that I’m young enough!

Netvibes
I found Netvibes this weekend also, and was I ready for it! For years and years, I was a pleased customer at My Yahoo! I had it tuned to perfection, with everything I like in one place: stock prices, news, sports scores, weather, etc., a great home page. Then, one day a year or so ago, my page was about 2% of its former self, and I never could get their support people (ha!) to pay attention. So, grumbling (I am the mudge, after all) I did without. Oh, eventually I found that I could gussy up my Google home page, but it never had the functionality or look of My Yahoo!, and I was bereft.

Netvibes has brought it all back, and I am thrilled to bits. When I get a little better at this blogging routine, I’ll show you what my General page looks like – it’s a thing of beauty. A few bugs, it’s beta after all (ha!), but I am most pleased. They’re going to throw me out of the Curmudgeon’s Guild for sure!

Thanks!
–mudge

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