Archive for April, 2007

Except not the Ambien sex parties

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Just got back from a Nashville Pride fundraiser where both mayoral candidate David Briley and Al Gore’s gay cousin Doug were in attendance. I guess maybe we’re finally getting established enough here to get invited to the interesting parties.

On a lighter note

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I love this, but then, I would.

Even as their music became increasingly bogged down by vintage cheesy synths, Sonar drums and other trendy production tricks of the time, the Philly soul element still managed to emerge from it — “One On One” is a prime example. If you listened closely enough, you’d find that John Oates was a better than average singer. Daryl Hall’s singing was simply outstanding, and you don’t have to listen closely at all to know that.

Garden drama update

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Fence dude says it’ll be six weeks before he can get started. Bleah. Anybody want to place bets on what’ll be the next plant to disappear? Daylilies? Wintercreeper? Lavender?

I tell you what: it better not be the resurrection lilies I dug up from my parents’ yard the day my dad died. I’ll personally hunt down the creep who takes those.

Of course anyone who wants to come pull up weeds is more than welcome. There are always about 20,000 hackberry seedlings scattered around the yard from all the trees. I can spot those things from across the yard now. I find myself absentmindedly plucking hackberry seedlings out of neighbors’ yards as we chat, just out of force of habit.

All this garden drama reminds me I was going to mention here that one of our next-door neighbor’s friends referred to our yard as “Cheekwood Jr.” I really liked that.

I can’t think of a subject stupid enough

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I backed out of the backyard into the alley this morning — naturally, we’re parking out back these days — and was detoured when I got to the end of the alley by Morgan Park Place construction blocking my normal route out to I-65. So I didn’t drive by the front of our house, as I like to do each morning.

Ten minutes later, I got a call from Karsten asking if I’d driven by the front of the house this morning. Strange that he should ask, I thought. No, why?

Well, apparently, someone nicked seven boxwoods from our front yard garden.

Let me just repeat that. Some clever burglar determined it worth his or her while to yank boxwood shrubs out of our garden. Small ones! I mean, have you seen our garden? I’m definitely not claiming it’s the most splendorous garden in all of the South or anything, but it’s got some pretty nice plants in it. The underwhelming hedge we’ve been attempting to grow with a bunch of young boxwood plants is pretty much the least appealing thing in the yard. And this wasn’t just a random act of boredom — someone took the time to grab seven of these things.

Now of course after explaining all of that, I’ll admit that I’m now dreading the disappearance of nicer plants in the garden — they’re sure to be the next to go.

Karsten and I have been told by folks who’ve lived in the neighborhood for a while that plant thefts used to be more common when some vendors at the Farmer’s Market used to buy plants from folks off the street to resell them, no questions asked. We’ve heard that this practice has been discontinued, so I have no idea what the boxwood thief is planning to do with the young shrubs. By ripping them out of the ground as he or she apparently did, the thief probably shocked them enough that they won’t do well when replanted (especially since pretty much all vegetation is still in recovery mode from the Great Easter Freeze), so if the idea was to plant the boxwoods, it’s not likely to be a happy outcome. Maybe I’m mean-spirited, but somehow that makes me feel a little better.

Also worth noting is that, a few weeks ago, someone apparently stole a young but still pretty large tree from the front yard of the house next door (which is for sale — the missing tree was noticed about an hour before they were having an open house). Earlier that day, I’d seen a guy riding by on a bike carrying a shovel. Not to say that’s related, but it could be. Apparently it wouldn’t be the first plant theft in the neighborhood involving a getaway bike, believe it or not.

We were already planning to install a period-appropriate iron hoop-and-spear fence, but all this makes me want to get right on it. (We already have enough motivation because of the bird feeders that keep getting stolen.) Karsten’s calling the guy today to see when we could get started.

Attention Nashville Bloggers:

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I think we should pitch in and get this for Brittney.

Convergence-minded developers and engineers, now’s your chance!

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

See, this is exactly why I’ve said that Twitter is just a convergence generation ahead of its time.

Mac geeks?

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I upgraded the RAM in my PowerBook from 512 MB to 2 GB last night but it’s still a bit sluggish. Must be a different problem. Hard drive, perhaps. Suggestions?

Missing Inaction

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

I’ve been chastised by multiple people in multiple circles within the past week for not posting enough. I think about it a lot, but I never seem to make the time. Part of it is I feel like I’m scrambling to keep up with my work responsibilities, and part of it, if I’m honest, is a increased feeling of restriction on my posting since I started this job. Not that anyone has given me reason to think I need to do that… well, other than letting me know that people at work know about this journal/blog. But whatever. I know I have options. I could always use friends-only posts, but at this point a good deal of my friends and readers are outside of LiveJournal and I don’t want to ignore them. I could adopt a different persona, set up a different blog, and talk freely about whatever I want, but I’ve always enjoyed being myself online. I could talk about things in a veiled way, but there are always those who know what’s being described and who’s who and all that. I could just throw caution to the wind and write whatever I want, but I’m not sure I’m up for that.

But I think the latter is closest to what I’m going to have to do. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, by way of update:

  • I’ve been at the “new” job almost 3 months now and it’s very cool but very demanding.
  • I haven’t really had time to think about songwriting since I started here, but I’m still holding out hope that that’ll change.
  • The staircase and front porch have been gone for several weeks now but we still don’t have a new staircase yet, which looks really funny.
  • My mom got elected to office at the local level last week. She’s now a politician. That’s weird.
  • I was part of an amazing gathering of women bloggers over the weekend, and was very humbled to have been invited.

And by way of apologizing for my lack of recent activity, I give you a picture of a robin.

There. Isn’t that better?

Now (about to be) hiring!

Friday, April 20th, 2007

I haven’t finished writing up the job descriptions yet, but we’re about to hire two new positions at the e-commerce company here in the Nashville area.

Titles are not final, but they’re both intermediate level; one will involve some basic project management and coordination along with requirements analysis, and the other will involve usability testing and other site optimization functions. I’ll be sure to post more helpful information when I get farther along, but in the meantime, maybe you can start thinking about smart, motivated people who might be interested in working in a tech-savvy marketing group.

And now this!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Palm targeting women

Except, of course, in this case I’m cool with it if it means I get to have a slick new handheld in interchangeable cool colors or something fabulous like that. I mean, that’s totally practical.

Question for women and other travelers

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Am I being short-sighted not to see the point in the new women’s travel center AA.com just launched? I realize there are safety implications for women traveling alone, and I realize there are planning considerations for families, yes, OK. And yes, many times the vacation planner in the family is the woman, but I bet it’s pretty often the man, too, so it would probably be better (from a marketing standpoint) to target that information and those resources and promotions to parents, not women specifically.

So beyond additional “smart solo traveler” safety concerns, what else distinguishes women’s travel needs from those of men?

Call me cynical, but this feels like way too heavy-handed an attempt to court the female dollar. Either that — or possibly in addition to that — and here’s where I hint at my e-commerce geekery — someone at AA.com just figured out how to segment their traffic and commerce data by gender, which revealed that women either spend too much or too little time or money on their site (I could speculate either way) and now they’re inventing excuses to draw more women to the site, draw us there more frequently, or draw us there and keep us engaged while we’re there long enough to buy a trip.

None of which are bad things — they’re just obvious. And the obviousness of it feels kind of, I don’t know, patronizing or something.

Or maybe it’s just me. Is it?

Nashville people: Highballs and Hydrangeas

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Any other Cheekwood members (or interested non-members) out there going to this?

And after all, I only do it to pay for all the cat food…

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

A former coworker just directed me to a picture he has up on flickr, and I noticed he had a bunch of coworker pictures — he’s always taking pictures, so he catches some interesting moments. So anyway, that got me exploring to see what other pics he had sitting around. I found two from October of last year that he took of me in the office (I kind of remember that, but clearly I was engrossed in conversation) and they made me do a double-take. People, I look SO pissed off in these pictures. And of course, I can’t remember why. I mean I have a vague idea, because I remember some of what was going on at that time, but as far as what specifically made me so mad, I have no clue.

Dude. That is one humorless, pissed off chick.

Two lessons from that:

1 - As much as I loved the people at the former workplace (and I did — and still do — adore them to pieces), the day-to-day work stuff got pretty intense sometimes.

2 - Is my job really worth getting that upset about? You know what I mean? Because, as a passionate person with a solid work ethic, and because at the end of the day I really want to have contributed something worthwhile to a meaningful project, I sometimes get really caught up in the little dramas and minutiae of my work. But seriously, it’s not like I’m curing cancer or defusing bombs. I could probably stand to take my work — and myself — a little more lightly.

You know. More like this.

Even if you love coffee as much as I do

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

I splashed hot coffee in my eye this afternoon. I can’t recommend it as an experience.

Happy hour ups & downs

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Hanging out with the coworkers from my last gig — who are awesome — and I just found out that one of the guys went quasi-mullet and dyed his hair. Word has it he looks just like Morrissey now. But he’s not here tonight, dammit! What a tease.

The Dumbest Country Song Ever

Friday, April 6th, 2007

I happened across this video clip from some guy’s radio talk show in which he was skewering the song “Ticks” by Brad Paisley. Now Brad Paisley isn’t my favorite artist or anything, but he’s talented and pretty clever, and his fans understand him. So what the host was suggesting in his bit seemed really off to me. I decided to let him know. Here’s what I wrote:

Hey, just a random commenter taking a moment to provide feedback on your “Dumbest country song ever” video pertaining to Brad Paisley’s song “Ticks.” I assume, based on your set of videos and your user name, that you are the host of the show, so I’ll direct my comments to you.

I know you were probably just mining for material, but your skewering of Brad Paisley’s song “Ticks” couldn’t be more off. I think you really missed the mark on this one. I mean, I get that it sounds incredibly stupid when you take it out of context and all that, and I also get that you need to do that kind of thing for comedy every once in a while. But how much of a sense of irony does it take to realize that the “wink wink” intimacy suggested by saying “I’d like to check you for ticks” is completely tongue-in-cheek?

It may be that you need the context of knowing that Brad Paisley is known for this type of offbeat humor in his songs. But still, I don’t think it’s missed by the average country listener that what Paisley is actually proposing has little to do with ticks and much more to do with closely exploring the naked body of the person being addressed by the lyrics.

So… what does it say about you that your sense of humor is not as sophisticated as that of the average country listener?

Ooh, sorry, that one may have been a little below the belt. Might want to have someone check you for bruises.

- Kate O’Neill
Songwriter & Queen Bee
Honey Bowtie Music, Nashville, TN

Geeky love

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Karsten’s profession of love to me this morning: “You’re the improbability closest to impossibility.”

Tell me, who wouldn’t swoon?

My (apparently) atypical Netflix experience and my typically messed-up mind (apparently)

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Have you seen the news stories about Netflix having a flexible vacation policy? I’ve been seeing them everywhere for the last week or two, and have been avoiding reading them. Yesterday I finally read one, and I’m sorry I did because of quotes like this:

“I’ve never terminated a salaried employee for being tardy or being absent,” [Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord] said. “There have been issues when people didn’t come to work — but the issue is the work, it’s not the time off.” [...]
“You’re not measuring my daily hours, so why are you measuring the number of days I work?” [an employee] asked. [...]
And the culture allows the company to hire independent, creative types like Director of Product Management Todd Yellin, who spent much of his first several months on the job traveling to Los Angeles to complete work on an independent film.

Why does this bug me? This is exactly the way I’ve always managed. And I work hard and have always felt like I should be managed that way, too, when it can be arranged.

See, my tenure at Netflix was perfect posh and wonderful except for one thing: my boss. She singled me out for much harsher treatment than any of her reports, and we consistently had a difficult time understanding each other. And my work times were definitely less flexible than I would have liked.

When Karsten and I started thinking about buying a house in Portland (we were in a common Bay Area financial quandary: doing well enough that not owning a house was poor money management but not making enough to afford a house in the Bay Area), I asked her whether I’d be able to work around the weekly commute schedule. (For context: I’d been working at Netflix for almost a year, and had managed my group well. I had taken on extra projects and made them successful. I was not an unproven risk.) My plan was to fly in on Monday mornings, stay in San Jose during the week, and fly out Friday afternoons to Portland for the weekend.

My boss endorsed that approach (she was considering a similar move herself) but had some concerns about whether I’d be arriving early enough on Monday mornings. There were two options: the earlier flight would get me in to the office by 8:30, which was earlier than I ever made it in on Mondays, but it would mean leaving the house in Portland by about 5:30: yuck. The later flight had a more reasonable wakeup time, but wouldn’t get me into the office until nearly 11 AM. But my reassurance to my boss was that I was going to be effectively living alone in San Jose during the week and would be able to dedicate plenty of extra hours getting my work done to make sure I made up for the late Monday arrival and early Friday departure. She agreed to the schedule.

But lo and behold, the first week I traveled in from Portland, arriving around 10:30, some issue had crept up in the call center and I wasn’t there to help manage our side of it. She put her foot down and insisted that I get in earlier on Mondays; I felt she was overreacting to a fluke situation and said so. We fought. It was not pretty. By early afternoon I had turned in my resignation. She asked me to leave that day.

Moreover, my boss misreported the hours I had taken for vacation (I had several trips scheduled that I canceled at her request, but she submitted those as if I’d taken them) and I spent the next several weeks emailing back and forth with Ms. McCord of the quote above to work out what my vacation pay out should be. For me, it’s ironic, then, to see all this press about Netflix having this wonderfully relaxed vacation policy that rewards hard work. I don’t feel like I was even working at the same place they’re describing.

So here’s the quote from the article that sums it up:

Yet open-minded treatment of workers isn’t without its challenges. Chief among the problems [...] is that managers are inconsistent. Some might grant their team two months vacation and two days working at home per week, while others choose two weeks and no telecommuting.

###

In other news, I stayed home sick from work today. My body is horribly achy, I have miserable cold-like symptoms (a fever, a cough, head congestion), and I feel run-down and totally worn out. Both Karsten and my boss have stated their suspicions that it’s a mind-body connection thing, which is probably true, but that doesn’t help me feel any less physically miserable.

I had a bit of a breakdown last week over the stress I’m feeling from work, from the house renovation, from not getting enough done on songwriting, from always feeling behind on my personal projects, etc. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve been starting to feel like a big old mess. And now I feel that way physically, too.

Ever since my Great Depression, I have these cycles of total confidence that I can do everything and anything and mind-shattering fear that I can do nothing. It’s not random, but I don’t have a complete handle on exactly what sets me off in either direction. I do know that part of what gets me down is feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything, and that’s been a big part of my life over the past few weeks.

During the six months I was at my last gig, I went through these cycles several times. I can’t even count how many times I swung through them during my nearly three years at the hospital company. It sounds like bad brain chemistry, I know, but I really don’t think it’s just me. I think because of my strengths and capabilities, I often find myself plopped down amidst heaps of chaos and asked to get big, lofty things done. Clearing through the chaos isn’t usually part of what I’m asked to do; if it’s even acknowledged at all, it’s usually just understood that it will happen in parallel with whatever big things I’m trying to do that matter. And I’m not always good about articulating to those I report to how important it is that the chaos be dealt with, even though by necessity I find myself heavily involved with (or, depending on your reading of it, distracted by) the tidying of chaotic elements. And then I take it very hard when I don’t manage to get things done, or at least not done to the quality level I feel good about.

So obviously I need to get better at communicating to the people I report to about when I’m facing obstacles, about how I intend to deal with them, and about when I need help in getting rid of them. I guess I tend to think I’m doing people a favor by trying to take care of as much by myself as I can, but then when it gets to be too much I go right into freak-out mode and that’s not helpful to anyone.

It’s funny how I sometimes think I’m so good, but I’m really just learning such basic things. Life has a funny way of smacking us down sometimes, doesn’t it?

twitter-esque update, but longer

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

LONG day. Many hours in the garden. Many new pretty things planted. Many weeds eradicated. Several things transplanted.

Very sore & tired now. Writing on my Treo while lying in bed. Ready to fall asleep. G’night.