2013 August : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

So Hard To Resist

Earlier this week we had occasion to experience a surprise fire drill in my office building. Well, mostly a surprise. For the people working away in their cubicle farm, they noticed the designated safety prevention people suiting up in orange vest and hard hat and figured things out pretty quickly. I was in a meeting and had no such tip off.

When the alarm went off, like good little children, we rose from our seats and milled around, lost. A safety coordinator pointed at me and told me to go through the emergency exit right there in the conference room.

Okey dokey, I hit the safety bar on the door and “weeoooo weeoooo weeooo” a second alarm sounded loudly, sharper than the already blaring fire alarm.

I have to say, that was kind of fun. A little bit of a rush. To be able to actually open the emergency, don’t go through it or an alarm will sound door was awesome!

While milling around outside at our designated checkpoint, I was chatting with one of my coworkers about the happy adrenaline run I had from setting off an alarm.

He said, “You must be the kind of person who wants to pull a fire alarm.”

“Well. Yeah.” was my reply. “But not just any fire alarm, one of those alarms they have in our really old buildings. The ones with the little pane of glass and a tiny hammer? Yeah, I can hardly walk by one of those without wanting to smash that little glass window.

And so, dear reader, to make my point, I snapped a photo of the kind of ancient fire alarm I’m talking about. These things are peppered throughout a building that dates back to the 1940’s, and my fingers itch every time I walk by.

If weren’t for that whole being against the law thing…






Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons License in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Where Credit is Due

For all the ways she made me who I am…


Today is the celebration of the birth of my own dear mom. I don’t think she would mind me saying that today she is 79 years old. If you met her on the street, you’d probably guess her age was much, much younger (like early sixties). That alone inspires me.

If you have read my blog for a few years, you will have learned a bit about the patience and understanding of my mother.

Here are a few choice places to get caught up:


There was the time I threw a snake at my mother.


There was the time I shot her in the arm with a BB gun.


Or when she thought I’d drowned in the bathtub.


And one of the many times I crushed the aspirations she had for me.


But mostly, a story about when she was just being, quite frankly, awesome.


I am the sum of all my parts and much of the good stuff I owe to my mom.

I am proud of her and I’m lucky she was kind enough to give me life.

Happy Birthday, Mom! You deserve cake!





Easter 1976, Albuquerque, NM. We are a good looking crew! Thanks mom!




Image from the family photo albums.




The Bell Curve Beat Down

Me and the bell curve are going to tussle today. We are going to mix it up real good and you can bet’cher sweet ass it’s gong to be significant…statistically significant.


It’s that time of year again. The part of the annual work cycle that makes managers everywhere cry, cringe and procrastinate.

Yes, it’s performance review season. We are game ON.

I have been a manager for over a decade and I have written lots of these bad boys, but they never get any easier.

This year at the new company I have found an HR process that is the most confusing of any I’ve ever known. And that’s saying something.

First, they make us use an archaic file sharing system. The damn thing is so old the original software publisher doesn’t even support it anymore. Hell, they won’t even admit they ever owned it, it’s so clumsy.

Then there are the confusing and overblown review forms to be filled out. It takes about two hours per performance review to fill out every section in the twelve page document and do a decent job of providing good constructive feedback.

Then there are four levels of review. This goes all the way up to C-level people who, I kid you not, read every single review. (downsides of working for a small company, I suppose)

Then the obtuse guidance from HR on due dates and what has to be done by when.

All of that said, I am fine wading through the morass of bureaucratic argle-bargle, but there is one aspect that gives me pause.

Just like college exams, it turns out that our performance review ratings must adhere to a bell curve. There must be some small quantity of poor performers, some small batch of extraordinary performers, and a fat-in-the-middle quantity of medium performers.

So if you have a team of five and four knocked it out of the park this year…good luck with that. One can get a great review and the rest will get a middlin’ review.

That’s not fair. That’s not an actual evaluation of performance.

Yes, I know that my company isn’t the only place that does this, but it drives me absolutely bonkers.

And! It gets worse. All of my peers and I had a big pow-wow with our department head. We went through every employee’s performance and gave ratings, defended our ratings, argued our ratings and finally after many hours, we all arrived at our department wide bell curve.

Fine. I was told to go forth and write my reviews. So I did, with supporting evidence for the ratings I had agreed upon for my team.

But wait! There’s more!

Once reviews were written, my boss then took our ratings to her boss (a C-level) and they did this rating argument across the entire division level. And scores were again forced into a bell curve which means some ratings changed.

Based on this second meeting I was told to modify some of the reviews based on new ratings. So I did.

And now comes news that the boss’ boss has to take our ratings to her boss, the head of the whole ding-dang institution. Once again everything will get shoved into a bell curve and ratings may change again.

Oh. Hell. No.

Now I’m worked up. Now I’m on fire. Now I am officially Cheesed Off.

You’re making me revise performance reviews three times and you are comparing my team to all the other departments in the company who do totally different work? And not it’s not just that four of my five people don’t get their deserved awesome reviews, but all of our high performers across the department my succumb to bell curve’itis.

Did I mention that rating = how much salary increase is handed out?

Gah!!

And we wonder how we can better incentivize our employees. Har.

I really hate bell curves. They may have been my friend in college but they give me zero love now.







Image found on FaceBook and several places on the ‘net.




This Is Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

I always thought I was a good, solid responsible kind of girl. I keep my shoes tied, wear my safety belt and look both ways before crossing the street.

I try very hard to keep myself in check.

Actually, that “keep myself in check” sometimes wanders over in to the range of OCD. Ahem, yes.

One thing I have always been good at is hanging on to a pen. Doesn’t have to be a good pen or a fancy pen, just…I tend to hang on to a pen I like until it runs out of ink. I rarely lose pens. I have handfuls and handfuls of the things. I always have a couple spare in my bag, several in my car, a lots on my desk. I am the girl who will hand out pens to forlorn people in the meeting who show up without.

But lately it seems I can’t be made responsible for a damn simple blue felt tip PaperMate Flair pen. I am shedding these things like I am a Siberian Husky living in Death Valley. I have gone through half a box of these freaking things in the past month alone and lost another one just this morning.

One was jettisoned when I put my work notebook and pen on top of my car because my hands were full. I had to load my computer and other things into the backseat. I remembered to get the notebook but not the pen. I felt such sadness when I heard it roll across the roof of my car and then I saw it whip off on a curve, over a guardrail and down an embankment near my office. Ooops.

I’ve lost several more in the parking lot outside of the building where I usually meet with work clients. I have found three now that I dropped while heading into a meeting and as they lay there abandoned, another car drove over them. Smush. Blue ink bleeding out while the pen I callously dropped lay there dying, telling me how its cap feels so….cold….

Also, I recently discovered a sizable hole in the pen-holding pocket of my favorite messenger bag. So I think a few more cherished felt tips have exited my life that way.

Then there are those simply unaccounted for. Lost. Wandering this world alone, just begging for a nice piece of paper so they can feel useful.

The careless disregard that I show my favorite office supplies is appalling! Shocking. I don’t recognize the person I have become.





Have you seen me?




The Sum Of Who You Are

Genetics are a funny thing. A real funny thing. Not funny ha-ha as much as “oh, wow….”

I had quite a bit of time to ponder this over the past several days as The Good Man and I traveled to Oregon for a family reunion.

In attendance were my mom, my brother, and my sister along with a whole host of other extended family. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen since I was in high school. I met cousins I had never met before.

It was a really nice day and we all ate and chatted and got caught up. I had a few moments to look around the party and think, wow, that’s my family. We share genetics and even the relatives by marriage are part of the dna chain through their kids.

So many people, so similar and yet so dissimilar all related by the common threads that run through our molecules.

And then there was the really fun conversation I had with my cousin’s oldest son who last I recall was toddling about and slobbering over Cheerios. Now he’s a full-fledged adult, married to a wonderful woman and being an awesome part of the human race. Wow, does time fly.

I think the best part of the day was when a good ol’ fashioned thunderstorm rolled in over the warm Oregon day. The raindrops started slowly and picked up speed. We all backed up our chairs under the porch awning of my cousin’s house and watched the storm roll through.

Yes, it’s true, the big event of the day was watching a storm. Man how I miss rainstorms that come with a show. This was a pretty darn good spectacle, too. As drops plopped and lightning cracked the sky, I sat next to my cherished aunt and we laughed while she teased me for being so chicken about the thunder. Then we discussed the rain and the day and life in general and were just simply…family.

I had been rather nervous going into the event, unsure what to expect and wondering what I have and haven’t made of my life since we were all together last.

I left the event a little tired but happy and a bit content. My worries were for naught.
And The Good Man got to learn a little bit more about who he married.

It only scared him a little.








Image found here.