You, there! Stop That!

Yesterday was quite an important day for me at work. As a still fairly new employee, I am required to complete a whole list of mandatory training courses and over the past six weeks, in addition to being thrown into the deep end of the pool on work matters, I have been finding every spare minute possible to knock my training items off the list.

Most of the subjects are online courses and can be started and stopped at will, so that helps. There are a few, however, that are required to be taken in person.

Yesterday I had to travel some distance to another building at a far flung campus in order to attend : cue very dramatic music : Safety Training.

Oh yes, I am employed by a very safety minded entity, and that’s actually quite ok. There are lots of people here who perform very dangerous work and making sure those employees are safe and looked after is of vital importance.

However, in the parlance of The Good Man, I pilot a desk for a living. So do the kind souls who are forced to report to me. This means the risk factors tend to drop off dramatically to include things like aggressive paper cuts and oh damn I tripped on the copy machine.

But rules are rules and every manager MUST take this training regardless of function.

So of course about 85% of the training class didn’t apply to me. As I sat there listening to the types of harness that can be used for overhead work and then a hearty debate about whether or not a lab worker should be required to wear safety glasses when looking in a microscope, my well documented monkey-mind took a whole other journey.

I recalled back to the very early years of my employment when I worked for Sandia Labs and as part of employment I had to take both rattlesnake and coyote training. That’s right, we had to learn to spot, avoid and deal with these common inhabitants of the New Mexican desert.

Even though I also piloted a desk back then, rattlesnake training certainly grabbed and held my attention for the duration of the seminar. Today’s detailed dissertation on eye-wash procedures less so.

So then I started thinking about other safety courses that would be fun to take. Advanced crocodile wrestling, perhaps? How about Zip Lining To Freedom for Beginners? Dog Sledding and You: How to remain the leader of the pack? Or…Golden Gate Bridge painting, how to cling to the wires on especially windy days.

C’mon! That’s actual safety! That stuff is not only cool it matters!

No, instead I learned that while typing your wrist can bend to between zero and 25% and you should be ok Carpal Tunnel-wise. More than 25% and I need to fill out a stack of forms and evidently point and taunt. (Ok, not actually on that last part but would that be fun? “Jimmy’s gonna Carpal! Jimmy’s gonna Carpal!”)

Well I can tell you, those two hours of a dry PowerPoint presentation really made a big impact on me. I’m now fully compliant and safety trained. I’ve already warned The Good Man that safety walk around of the apartment is coming soon (surprise inspection, of course). Oh yes, he and The Feline are gonna get inspected real good. “You there! That fuzzy felt mouse with one eye ripped off is just lying in the middle of hallway! Trip hazard!”

A monkey-minded woman with a little bit of knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

Next course: Surviving Life With Karen, a primer for man and beast.

Image from Clay Bennett.

Whoa, I didn’t know…

The upcoming film “Hotel for Dogs” was a book penned by none other than New Mexico’s own Lois Duncan. As a kid, I loved many of Ms. Duncan’s books.

I understand that the hype from the film has given new life to her writing career that went a bit off track after the brutal unsolved killing of her 20 year old daughter.

Back in the day, my mom used to take us kids swimming on a hot summer day to the Coronado Club on Kirtland Air Force base. Occasionally we’d see Ms. Duncan there (I believe her husband worked for Sandia Labs).

That was back in the days when mommies stayed at home and would take the kiddies to the pool and we would meet daddies after work for dinner. It may do my mom’s heart good to know that I have incredibly fond memories of those days.

And that fondness includes Lois Duncan. I’m happy to see her back in the show.

This was all brought to the front of my mind by a great article written by Joline Gutierrez Krueger for the ABQjournal:

“Real-Life Tragedy Almost Derails ‘Hotel for Dogs’ Author’s Career”

The MacWorld Report

Back from a day playing boss-sanctioned hookey from work. Had a chance to head into San Francisco for this year’s MacWorld.

While there I tried to remember when, exactly, was my first trip to MacWorld. I believe it was 1994 and I was gainfully employed by Sandia Labs. Sandia, at the time, bought quite a bit of Mac gear. Because we were such a good customer, I got a ticket to see the keynote. This was before Steve had returned and Gil Amelio was still at the helm. Anyone remember him?

That was the year that Jeff Goldblum opened the keynote with a bit of promotion for the movie “Independence Day”, a copy of which was taped to the bottom of each of our seats. I think I still have that VHS tape in a box in the garage.

Ah well, the good old days. Back when grabbing the entire collection of Iomega Buttons was cool and schwag fell like manna from the sky (I still use some of the t-shirts gained at past Comdex and MacWorld shows to check the oil in my car and polish fingerprints off my guitar).

But those days are over.

This year’s MacWorld was….to say the least…underwhelming.

It’s hard to top the buzz and excitement of the 2007 MacWorld what with the lickable iPhones twirling in jewelry showcases, so close and yet SO out of reach.

But last year’s show had a lot of buzz for the iPod too. Lots of cases, accessories, and audio software to make it fun. There was some of that this year, but it was pretty much the same gear on display as last year.

A lot of the buzz was gone too, the energy was low, there were empty booth spaces and even the Apple booth, usually the showpiece of the floor, was less than usual.

Here’s the booth:

Here’s the show floor (taken from the Apple booth):

The Apple booth was the same sort of set up as in past years. Thick gray carpet, minimalistic fixtures, highlight on the “star” product.

Last year, as mentioned, the iPhone was this dizzying spinning tantalizing thing.

So I was excited to see how they would display the new MacBook Air.

Well, here’s the answer:

That is five MacBook Air bodies hanging from a string. Uh. Okay.

I went over to take a look, and it was cool, but the swinging MacBooks were not accessible, unable to be opened, and not actually functioning machines. So it was…odd.

I did get a change to belly up to the bar and test drive one with the help of a very nice and knowledgeable Apple employee. The thing is scary light. Amazing. Three pounds. Compared to my MacBook Pro, which now feels like a ton of bricks, this thing is a feather and I can see it SO easily tucked into a bag for hitting the road.

It has this cool flip out door for the ports. Only one USB port, which I’ve read some bloggers complaining about online, but I think that can be easily managed. The screen is delicious and it just looks good. Nicely done!

The rest of the show was only ok. Like I said, low energy and not really any new products to get excited about. I had expected to see a lot of accessories for the iPhone and was gravely disappointed. The Cute Boy™ bought a new case for his, I held off. Didn’t find exactly what I wanted.

Saw a pretty cool camera case/backpack that they wanted a lot of money for, but it was really functional. Didn’t buy it, but it was nice to dream.

Tried to get close to the Canon booth, but to no avail. That one is always very popular.

Got only a few schwaggy items, but came home mostly empty handed.

So to sum up MacWorld 2008, in my opinion, it was kind of like the keynote, to quote NewMexiKen, “is that all there is?”

Oh, I tried to “live blog” from the Microsoft lounge, but it was totally packed in there. I hadn’t brought my own MacBook with me to the show, and the few iMacs they had for use were taken up by squatters. Oh well, you get this reacap instead. It’s semi-live cuz after this day, I’m dead on my feet.

All photos by Karen Fayeth and grainy cuz they were taken with an iPhone.

The times, they are a changin’

Just because it’s time, almost over due, doesn’t mean there isn’t some sense of disbelief that an era is over.

According to the ABQjournal, Senator Pete Domenici will announce his retirement later today. He has been Senator for 36 years, just a few years less than my lifetime. Growing up in New Mexico, Domenici’s name was always in the news. He went from a “who is that” to a fairly powerful guy on Capitol Hill. I was always happy for a New Mexico guy to make good, make a name, so people knew we had smart folks from New Mexico over there.

I know lately he’s fallen out of favor for a variety of misdeeds. I’m not much of a political person, honestly. I can’t talk articulately about Domenici’s career, the high points, the low points. I’ll leave more of that to my friends Avelino at his Live From Silver City blog and of course former Mayor of Albuquerque Jim Baca at his Only in New Mexico blog.

My lament today is how much things in my world seem to be changing. Today we have a lunch to see off one of my best and favorite employees. She’s moving on to a great job and we’re all really happy for her. It’s a big blow to our team. But change must happen.

There are a lot of huge changes going on in my personal life too, most changes for the better, but changes nonetheless.

My “woo woo” teachers would say that’s the hallmark of Fall. The days shorten up, the ground goes cold. Circle of life. Death and rebirth. All of that.

Give me time, I’ll be philosophical later. For today I’m just sad. Ok, not that I’m all broke up about Domenici leaving office, just the huge change it brings (just skeered as hell that Wilson might get that seat).

I remember my days working at Sandia where we called him “Saint Pete” because he was always able to finagle funds to keep Sandia rolling, despite all the protests to reduce funding to the nuclear labs. How far he’s fallen…

Anyhow, I guess it’s owing to my sign of Taurus that change is troublesome. I’ll follow my family tradition and worry myself sick about it. Then, I’ll rebound, get perspective, and be fine.

I’m always fine, eventually.


Well…off to the going away lunch…..


Going to borrow a page from Natalie over at Petroglyph Paradox and mull over the implications of Father’s Day a little bit. Though I’m a day late (and a dollar short), as the old saying goes.

My dad was an odd fellow. Odd in all sorts of ways. My sister who is mother to a couple boys with as yet undiagnosed problems has been forced to read up on the markers for autism. My sister has said that had my father been born in a different time, he probably would have been tapped as a high functioning autistic.

He was smart as hell and obsessive about numbers. He worked hard but had a nasty temper. I chalk up the temper to being of fiery Irish and German descendentcy. His full-blooded Irish mother is the only person I ever knew who could yell at HIM. And boy did she.

He was bitterly type A. He put in a hell of a career at Sandia Labs, was an engineer to the core, and probably was a better man that I ever gave him credit for.

I could talk a lot about all the bad things he did to me personally, or the bad things I saw him do to my siblings and mother. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t any sort of physical abuse, no. I don’t want to mislead. He never laid a hand on us. He just had a cruel mind and would say hateful things in a fit of fury. And words can hurt too.

So I won’t talk about the fact that he was a bitterly mean and insecure man who lashed out at his family because he could.

I also won’t raise him up as the model of a father, then join hands and sing the praises of dad.

What’s it’s taken me most of my life to learn is that he was an incredibly imperfect person. Fraught with fears about boogeymen around every corner and demands for us to be better, he actually did try very hard to run his family.

Out of three kids, we all turned out with our fair share of “issues”, but we also turned out to be three decent people, all contributing members of society. In the case of both of my siblings, marriages and kids of their own. So I guess to raise three more or less well adjusted kids, he must have done a few things right, in the end.

And so I’ll give him credit for that.

On this Father’s Day, some two years after his passing, I didn’t exactly miss him. He never liked celebrations of holidays and such. I was sort of relieved that I didn’t have to find some meaningless gift and card to send. It’s nice to be “off the hook”. Instead of mourning my Dad, I spent the day with my partner’s Dad who is chock full of his own set of insecurities and missteps, but is a hell of a good man.

And it doesn’t pass my notice that he reminds me in many ways of my own father.

But the one thing that the father of my love remembered to do that my own forgot was to love his child unconditionally.

I’ll take that as the lesson for Father’s Day…and Mother’s Day…and every day.