Who Is -phile’ing Who Here?

  • No Comments

As long time readers of the blog are aware, last year my very multi-national job had me on the phone at all hours of the day with coworkers and suppliers across the globe.

While I have always enjoyed dealing with people from every country around the world, I do have a certain affinity for the good people of Britain. One might even call me an Anglophile. Oh yes, visiting the motherland last year felt so right, like coming home. My ear always perks up to the sound of a good British accent and over this past Fourth of July weekend, I found myself maudlin remembering how I’d spent last year’s fourth by the Thames.

I changed jobs in January and I now work for a very, very American centric institution. Doing business with other countries is rather, ahem, foreign to my coworkers.

To be honest, my global background is part of the reason I was hired, but in moving to this job, I had to let go of my dreams of further global travel. It was a tradeoff I was quite willing to make in order to salvage any auspices of a work-life balance.

So imagine my delight when, yesterday morning, I had a call scheduled with a counterpart in Cambridge, UK.

And not just a call, but Skype video call. Big fun.

I smiled broadly to hear my very British counterpart discuss important matters of business. I giggled to myself at “Cheers, Karen!” when I’d made a useful point. And as the nice gentleman spoke, I found my eyes drifting over his shoulder and looking through the windows of his office and out to the green hills just beyond.

Oh England! How I miss you!

And maybe England misses me too, you know? Because damn, I am the one who walked away, and look, here it is again, loitering about, hoping to get my attention. We were only apart for a scant six months.

Cheers, Britain. We’ll be together again someday. Hopefully soon.





The Thames, taken just one year ago from the Westminster Bridge. *sigh*




Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.




From A Goat to A Hero in 148 Pitches

  • No Comments

“Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”

— Ernie Harwell, Hall of Fame Broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers

As a longtime baseball fan, I’ve often spent time pondering this very notion, that baseball is an awful lot like life. I have even written yards of stories and words on this very topic. After watching thousands of games, I personally believe that across the nature of nine innings of baseball, in each and every game, a story is told.

One of the most curiously fascinating concepts to me is that a player can make a terrible error in one inning (thus making him the goat) and then be the hero of the game in the very next inning.

Local broadcaster Mike Krukow has often commented that it’s just an unwritten fact of baseball, the guy who bobbles the ball in one inning is going to be at bat the next inning. Or, the guy who made a spectacular catch will also be up in the next inning.

It’s an odd philosophy but I’ve observed that it is pretty spot on. Baseball with all of its flaws and issues is an awfully democratic game. Second chances are given. Third, fourth and fifth chances too. The player who is a super star can slip into an 0 for 42 slump. That guy who can’t seem to hit a damn thing can suddenly make a key play that propels him to a 40 for 42 streak.

You just never know. And that is pretty much like life.

It was with this in mind that I joyfully watched a guy on a real bad downswing named Tim Lincecum, who plays for the San Francisco Giants, complete a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

Tim burst on the baseball scene in 2007 as a first round draft pick. Everything about him does not scream baseball. He is a very small person, running about 5’11” on a day he’s standing up very straight and clocking in at maybe 170 pound soaking wet. He is an unlikely pitcher compared to the usual broad shouldered and well over six-footers that dominate the mound.

In addition, Tim’s delivery style is rather unique and eyebrow raising among followers of Major League Baseball. In order to get speed from his small frame, he contorts and twists his body back and delivers a pitch with a whipsaw motion. This delivery and his ability to baffle quality hitters has earned him the nickname “The Freak.”

As no major league batter had ever seen this kind of delivery, Lincecum dominated MLB for his first several seasons, racking up two Cy Young awards, several trips to the All Star Game, and much respect.

But as baseball is the great equalizer, major league hitters began to get used to how Tim pitched. They watched hours of tape and they started to work him out. Suddenly the phenom fell to earth and his pitching was not so freakish anymore. He was, as they say, getting “touched up” pretty regularly.

Over about three years, Lincecum has struggled mightily, and last year in the post season leading to the World Series, he was taken out of the starting rotation and placed in the bullpen. This is an ego bruiser for even the most easygoing of pitcher.

But Tim took it in stride, pitched well in relief and helped the team win the 2012 World Series.

This season, Lincecum has been showing marked improvement, but his teammates are batting so poorly in support of his outings that his record looks dismal. His quality outings have been a bright spot in a pretty terrible season for the San Francisco Giants.

Recently everyone (especially this Giants fan) has been wondering if this is the end of the era of Tim Lincecum.

So it was unlikely to see our small Mr. Lincecum on the mound pitching for his life on Saturday night. He worked his way through all nine innings and threw 148 pitches to close out his first no-hitter.

To be honest, I felt certain he’d throw a no-hitter in the first few years of his career, his stuff was that baffling. But in many ways, it has to be almost more satisfying to have been a phenom, then struggle, then battle back to show Major League Baseball that maybe the era isn’t ending, but simply starting a new chapter.

What a great story. What an amazing game. What an accomplishment.

Lately I have been wavering a little in my allegiance to the San Francisco Giants, as they have been playing sloppy baseball and embarrassing themselves left and right. I was becoming bored with this season’s story. Saturday night I turned the page and a new chapter filled with twists and turns greeted me. I’m now back in the game.

Thank you, Mr. Lincecum, for winning back my heart and mind and for telling me, a storyteller in my own right, one hell of a tale.

Much deserved.








Bonus!

Another priceless moment from that no hitter game: A pitch accidentally hits the umpire in the gut, right at the bottom of his chest protector. Ow. Watch Lincecum’s reaction. Awesome.








Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons 2.0 licensing agreement with attribution.

Footage belongs to MLB, .gif was found here.




An Open Letter To An Inanimate Object

  • No Comments

Dear Package of Fruit of the Loom chones that were on sale at Target:

Look, let me just start with the end in mind. It’s not going to work out between us. Mostly because of the way you have behaved around my hind end.

Oh sure, the early days were grand. Glorious. Filled with anticipation. You lured me over to your side by wearing that fabulous “on sale” tag from my local Target store. Your price was so shiny and new and your colors, oh your colors. Yes.

I’d been with my old yonderwear brand for years. And years. YEARS I TELL YOU, and I had been wanting to get some new pairs since time makes fools of us all, including rear-covers. Yes, the holes, the leg elastic is shot, the droopy nature of the old drawers made me long for something fresh.

The store for the usual chones is a bit of a drive and I thought hey, maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe I can make a new friend with a new brand and I won’t have to drive over hell and tarnation and deal with a jacked up parking lot just to get undergarments.

Just as I was thinking this, you entered my life. There I was already at Target and your price was right and you looked cute and I thought “why not?”

Why not, indeed.

I flipped over your simple package and I looked at the sizing chart on the back. I checked and double checked and yes, I bought the right size in the right colors in the right style.

Oh how excited I was to bring you home and try you on! I’d also procured a new nightgown so I looked forward to all of the newness and shiny and happy and joy in my house!

I did hesitate for a moment. Yes, I did. I also walked over and considered another brand of undershorts but they were more expensive. You got me on price. Oh ho ho, you sure got me.

I put you into my basket and then took you out again. Then I decided I was being a fool and put you back in there.

That warm Saturday evening I took a nice long bath, scrubbed up, shaved the ol’ legs and then toweled off, ready for my new garments.

I opened your pack, picked a color and slid on my new skivvy fashions. Ah yes, they fit perfectly. Excellent!

But then, oh then, I began to move around. I picked up some towels and hung them up, put some things in the hamper, emptied out the trash in my room.

The bending over. That’s where things took a long bad trip. Instead of being supportive and helpful, each time I bent over you packed up shop and moved north.

Very. Far. North.

And so I’d forcefully put you back in your assigned location only to have you shoot North again at every turn.

Twenty minutes. That’s how long you lasted on my nether regions. Twenty. Minutes.

Then you were cursed at and quickly removed in favor of a pair of the ol’ standby. The brand that knows my curves and cherishes them so. I did a bend test and nary a problem in Ol’ Faithful. Everyone stayed in their assigned campground and didn’t drift in wrong directions.

So here’s the thing Fruit of the Loom knickers…it’s not me, it’s you. Very much you. One hundred and ten percent YOU.

I’m so disappointed, and so ashamed I cheated on my loyal and trusted brand.

Thus, I must banish you from my home.

Don’t go away mad, just go away. Forever.

Unkindest regards,

K








Image found here.




Who is a Good Dog? YOU are a Good Dog! Yes you Are!

  • No Comments

It’s amazing how little it takes to motivate me.

Here’s my story:

About a month ago I was sitting in staff meeting with all of my peers and my very high performing manager. She is a take no prisoners, get to it and get out kind of leader. She has been an executive for a long time and knows her business inside and out.

In the course of the meeting, there was a review of open projects that took me by surprise. It was on the agenda, but I misunderstood what was listed and as a consequence, wasn’t prepared. When a tracking spreadsheet opened up on the overhead screen, I was shocked to see my project listed first, and doubly shocked to see that the team project manager had listed my project with a red status.

To put it in the terms a bluesman would understand, I was not on the good foot.

Execu-Boss of course took one look at the screen, her eyes snapped to the red status and she whipped on me like a guard dog, then asked me what was going on with my project.

Ill prepared, I wavered into a not very good answer. Now smelling blood, she went in for my jugular. And connected.

Not to cross metaphors (but I’m gonna) on that day I was fitted with a brand new pooping device. Oh yes, I was taken down like a gazelle on the Kalahari.

This, understandably, upset me greatly.

Execu-Boss then wrapped up her slaying by saying, “Clearly you are not ready to discuss this. You’re on the agenda for next week to come back with some answers.”

Through teary eyes I wrote a note in my notebook and I felt really poorly for many days after.

But, I rallied. I stepped back, cleared my head, and over the course of the next week I put together a short PowerPoint slide deck showing a nice road map with milestones achieved, where we had gone off track and the very good reasons why, next steps and recommendations. Then I got feedback from a few peers and made changes.

I had only a short week to prepare, but I was ready. As luck would have it, the next meeting was cancelled.

The following meeting was taken up by a guest speaker so I was pushed out again.

At the meeting the following week, I was nervous as hell and really not ready to give the presentation. I had my slides ready to go but it just didn’t feel right. Luckily, after missing two weeks of meetings, our agenda was full and as we got to the end of our allotted time, I graciously agreed to push out my presentation again.

Then it was Fourth of July last week and we had no meeting.

I mean really, a four week stay of execution? Not bad.

Today I was on the agenda front and center, but there were some other pressing matters. For a while there it looked like I would get pushed again. No, I was ready today. Damnit, it was time.

: cue the Rocky theme song :

And so, it came my turn. I was handed the video cord for the overhead projector, and I plugged it into my laptop and my slides came up.

All in the room sat back and awaited my words, remembering the brutalizing I had received just a month before.

I said my words exactly how I’d practiced. I made clear at the beginning what I wanted from this presentation, I made my points, I asked for the support of the team, I answered questions and I wrapped it all up in less than ten minutes.

When I said “and that’s it” at the last slide, Execu-Boss looked me square in the eye and said, “Nicely done.” I swear to goodness fireworks went off in my head. Elation filled my veins. Jubilation washed over me.

I felt like doing a mic drop and walking out of the room. Karen has left the building. Thankyouverymuch.

That’s all it takes to motivate me. Those two words will keep me going for WEEKS!

Something to remember as I manage my own team.








Gif image found here.





You Will Be Assimilated

  • 8 Comments

Over the past year I have gone from working at a huge highly institutional company that had no time or inclination to give a rip about each individual employee to a very small company that really cares a lot about each and every person. Everyone keeps an eye on each other which is both beautiful and positive and also has some downsides.

As such, this place is very big on having these company portraits taken of everyone. These are to be used on our website and as our icon on our email and generally used as the official image of record for the employee.

Since I had missed the quite recent window for portraits taken by our official photographer, I offered up this photo for use:





I think it’s a nice photo. It was taken by a professional photographer and it’s one I’m not ashamed to show.

Many people complimented the photo, they really liked it. There was just one problem…..

The background. It’s green. The “official” photos have an institutional blue background, so my photo stuck out. Heck, I was fine with that. I don’t mind sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, but this caused much, much consternation among the compliance type people.

So phone calls were made, calendars were checked and the official photographer was called in on a Friday morning to correct this issue.

Here is my new, official, doesn’t stick out, looks like everyone else crappy photo:





Observations: Well, first of all, my hair was HUUUGE that day. I usually wash my mane at night and let it air dry naturally which makes it soft and gives me nice easy waves. I was utterly lazy the night before the photo shoot and instead showered and washed the locks in the morning, which means blow dry city. Add a little humidity that day and *booosh* I had one big hair entity all unto itself.

Next, I look like a school principal. Ugh. The angle, unflattering. The backdrop, bleah. My crazy, crazy eyes. All of it.

Finally, the official photographer guy really Photoshopped this up. While I appreciate the kindness he did to the zit on my lip, he also boosted the warmth a little too much and now I look a little flushed and my hair is not really that red in real life.

So. Weird.

But the folks who hang the photos on the wall and post them to the corporate webpage are very happy. My photo blends in with everyone else. Nothing out of place. Everybody looks the same. No sore thumbs.

In other words, I’ve been assimilated.

Not sure how I feel about that.

______

Edit: This afternoon, several hours after I wrote this, I ran into the guy who had his photos taken at the same time as I did. He brought it up. “Hey, do you like your photo?” he asked. “Not really” I replied. “Yeah,” he said, “I don’t either. I look weird. Do you think we can have them retaken?” — I love this idea. Stay tuned!