Friday, September 26, 2008

Halfway There!

Oh, we've got to hold on,
Ready or not.
You live for the fight
When that's all that you've got.

Oh, we're halfway there,
Whoa-oh! Livin' on a Prayer!
Take my hand,
We'll make it I swear!

-Bon Jovi
Livin' on a Prayer

This week marks exactly the halfway point in my Master's degree program. Halfway through the sixth course out of eleven total. But it's not all downhill from here. That line of thinking leads to complacency. I can't afford to get cocky, lazy or just plain scared. We've reached the point of no return. Best thing to do now is stay the course and see this through to the victorious end.

I have learned a lot going through this program. Not just new ideas or filling in the gaps between what I know so that I can be better at my job. I've learned a few things about myself too. For starters, I can do it. However tired and frustrated I get, I know that I can buckle down and fight my way through the problem.

I've stayed up till 3am working on assignments, then got up the next day and put in 11 hours at work, come home and visit with the family, cook dinner and do it all over again till the work is done and turned in. I've read, re-read and re-re-read the same case study, rewrote the same analysis, tweaked the problem answers for the umpteenth time till they're right. I've aced open-ended essay exams on less than 4 hours of sleep.

I've had teachers and classmates tell me I'm working too hard. That I could "get by" on half the effort. Bullshit. When I write my assignments, I'm writing for myself, not the class. I'm getting something out of the exercise that I can keep long after the grade is written down. I'm learning for myself, about myself, to better myself.

I'm also learning a lot about budgeting my time. I have a feeling that once I'm done, I'll have my schedule nailed down so well that I'll end up bored stiff. What will I do with all that extra time?

Don't tell The Missus I said that!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Accounting For Sleep Deprivation

The new mattress arrived today. So why am I not snuggled up in bed testing it out? Simple: accounting homework due by 12 midnight Pacific time.

Nothing like pushing those deadlines, huh?

The delivery of the new wondernest was a nightmare and a textbook case of how a company can lose business one pissed off customer at a time. More to come on that story. First, I gotta finish learning how to balance a goddamn annual statement. Then study for a test tomorrow.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Door Closes And Another One Opens

My last day at the old job was Tuesday. As expected, it was total chaos. I feel bad for my teammates I left behind. The last two weeks I really tried to get as much knowledge out of my head as I could and put it down on paper where they could use it, but there are some things that can't be put into words. Like knowing when a project manager has his head up his ass or how to tell when a QA tech needs a little support in saying "No!" to impatient business sponsors.

That's one of the shortfalls to documentation: you can't write down every piece of knowledge and experience a person has pertaining to their job. There are some things that have to be re-learned every time a new person takes over a given job and you have to stand back and let them go through that process or it will be very difficult for them to grow into being effective at that job.

The problem is, if you have high turnover on a job, you lose more than just that intangible experience, you lose a little bit of the knowledge that can be written down but isn't for one reason or another. My predecessor knew more than me and she was only able to impart a certain amount of transferable knowledge before she left. I in turn was only able to write down so much of what could be documented before time ran out on me.

This is why retaining good employees is so critical to a team's success and ultimately the company's success as well. We've now had 4 people leave this team and when we each left, a little bit more was lost from the team that can never be recovered.

This point is just as important (if not more so) than making the numbers balance on the quarterly statements. What good is it if the numbers look pretty if you have a revolving door of amateurs in and out of a team that is highly specialized and whose work is critical to the business's operation?

I started my new job on Wednesday. Big difference from the old job. Higher expectations (my own being the highest on myself), bigger shoes to fill, more people depending on me not to screw things up. My first day was the usual: Greenhorn Orientation, nickel tour of the office and lots of faces and names I'll have to relearn all over again because I definitely do not have a photographic memory, set up my office.

Yes. I have an office now. With a door. And a view. Happy Gnu.

Second day on the job, I walk in to a 21-flaming-server salute. Yikes! All the troops scrambled to put out the fires. The day's plans took a flying leap right out the 10-story-high window.

On the plus side, I got to observe how the team operates under pressure.

In other news, it turns out I didn't bomb the final exam last week. Got an A for the class. Five down, six more to go!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labour Day

Time to put away the white shoes. Summer is officially over.

We're all taking a breather this weekend. The Gnu Herd piled into the car to go down the road aways to a wedding, in the land of Trains, Cheerwine, and Liddy Dole. Very, very dear friends of the family and for all rights and purposes they are family to us, their son was the groom, complete with the traditional "deer in the headlights" look and everything else that goes with the grim passing of bachelorhood. All is well in the world, he found himself a keeper. Raise a glass of Guinness to the happy couple!

Meanwhile back at Gnu Central, we're just relaxing, taking a break from most of the things that tend to keep us busy and scattered across three counties. Grill up some burgers tonight, pop open a couple of brews, and just relax and be thankful for all that we have been blessed with.

Good news of the day:

1. My term paper for the last class came back with a 100. So assuming I don't go into negative points on my final, this one's a wrap. Onward to Financial Accounting! (Bleah)

2. The Skating Gnu is settling in to 7th grade nicely. At the least, no notes from the principal and the SWAT team hasn't been called out to the school. Yet. She keeps reminding me that she will be a teenager next year, to which I reply that's why I have the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office on speed-dial. Yeah, that usually shuts her up.

3. Another dear friend of the family (who is also honorary family) is fighting back against cancer and appears to be winning. Cheers and prayers for him and his family are encouraged.

Last, but not least, what would a holiday be without another episode of CoTD:

Time: This afternoon
Place: Phone conversation with Buddy

Buddy: "So, whatcha been doing today?"

Me: "Wife and I went and bought a new mattress."

Buddy: "Nice! So, tell me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) did you break it in yet?"

Me: "Yep. Didn't wait around for that."

Buddy: "Nice!"

Me: "Not really, we're not allowed back in that showroom anymore!"

Buddy: "Bwuhh..."

Ask a stupid question...