Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Wonderful World Wide Web

Where have I been?  Have you been to  I had maybe several months ago and just didn't explore it well enough ... until today.  I'm trying to find new websites with new technologies to make me more successful and efficient.  I researched e-Portfolios, Ning, Moodle, Wikis, then stumbled my way back to  I'm mesmerized.  You mean I can watch episodes of my favorite childhood sitcoms, previously hidden, now in their brilliant glory?  ALF?  Charles in Charge?  The Facts of Life?  WKRP in Cincinatti? Newsradio?  All on the web, full episodes?  (To mock the young girl in her pajamas promoting online education for for-profit diploma mills, "How is this possible?").  Sidebar:  Don't pretend to think that ALF is a substandard piece of pop culture, I cannot be the only person who finds his acerbic wit and charm wildly amusing.  

Okay, what's my point?  We have so much available to us on the internet we wouldn't even have believed it two years ago, let alone 25, when I was first learning to program using a small green turtle on a primate computer larger than me.  While the web can be a huge time waster, it is also the one piece of technology that I cannot believe we ever lived without.  In fact, just a while ago, our internet blinked out for several minutes (I am hoping it's not because I was watching ALF and using all the bandwidth), and I almost couldn't function.  Everything I wanted to know about is contained in cyberspace.  You may as well cut off both my arms than ask me to live without the internet.  Again, how is this possible?

Are we working more efficiently, though?  Or are we allowing ourselves to become sucked into a black hole of needing more, more, more?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Martinis and Me

Josh and me at a Snuggie party .. blankets are so cumbersome!

I love martinis.  The crisp, cold chill of vodka with a faint splash of dry vermouth, some olive juice, and olives.  If you can make me a perfect dry and dirty martini, you'll be in my good graces forever.  Unfortunately, so few can accomplish this task (and I've yet to find anyone in southwest Wyoming who can make me a good martini, the best martini of late came from Albuquerque of all places!).  After a tough day on the job, and a challenging one wrangling resources for my Ph.D. class (okay, so my dirty little secret is that I prefer to work alone, rather than rely on a group, probably why I'm afraid to be a manager, I think  I can do things on my own because it stresses me to no end having to rely on others), tonight I made myself a perfect martini.  It was icy cold (I keep the Ciroc vodka in the freezer - I shunned my former favorite Gray Goose in favor of Ciroc), slightly dirty with that elusive, sexy olive juice, and jalapeno stuff olives.  Mmmmm ... Just one is all you need to take off the edge, to feel like things are going to be okay, to taste a bit of perfection in an otherwise craptacular day.

I am on top of my classes, taking 9 credit hours of doctorate-level work.  The classes thrill me, entice me, challenge me, even while working full time (which is not fulfilling at all of late).  I've found purpose and meaning.  And I find I have very little tolerance for incompetence.  Which is probably to my detriment.  But now I'm sounding like a snob.  I love my education, and I place top priority on this endeavor.

Now that I've had my one martini, I'm moving on to reserve Chardonnay while I watch American Idol, a guilty pleasure for an overstressed HR worker.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Talent Management

My 34th Birthday party at our house - family, friends, food and fun

In HR, the latest buzz word is Talent Management.  I normally abhor buzz words, trends, and the "next best thing."  But today I had the opportunity to sit with our plant management team to talk about people.  An amazing thing happened, we talked about people in a constructive way, in a way that will help them grow and develop - and be ready for the next challenges of our business.  We focused on the human resources aspect of the business, which is an HR person's dream.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to facilitate these discussions, and I must admit, my bossy personality has finally paid off.  My parents probably didn't see a benefit to this obnoxious personality trait, but I keep people on task and on time.  I felt like we were productive in creating a game plan to fill the upcoming retirement vacancies, and to provide meaningful opportunities for our most talented people.  This goes further than the most talented people, though, we talked about all levels of the organization, how to keep people engaged and minimize the retention risk.  

The day wore me out, though.  Facilitating managers two to three levels above me, and 20-30 years older than me is challenging, at best.  I've been in my role for 4 years and feel comfortable doing this, but I know in the back of their minds, I'm still just a 'kid' - and one without an engineering background, which is to my detriment (to them).  This kind of attitude will likely drive me away from manufacturing in the long-term, but I can't speculate that now.  I work for a great company that believes in developing and challenging people.  However, my status as a women and the fact that I didn't take a manager position offered to me (which would have uprooted my family at a time we couldn't take that risk) makes me feel like I'm being left behind.  I've expressed this concern, only to have it swept under the rug.  Yet I still feel like my decision set me back a couple of years in my career.  It's something I have to live with now.  My decision to earn my Ph.D. was my own remedy to this woe.  This terminal degree will take 4-5 years, but it's worth every moment I spend, because I will be able to write my own destiny, instead of wallowing in the "woe is me."  I think for women, we have to have this ability to control our own futures, which is why more and more women leave corporate America to start their own businesses.  

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Working from Home

Turner Field - home of the Atlanta Braves

I took a 6:30 a.m. conference call this morning, to accommodate callers in China, Europe and the east coast.  I decided to work from home today, and I couldn't be happier.  I love my home, I love the independence of designing my own workday.  But then I think of how many roles I play.  While I don't have children at home, I still have a full workload at home.  I still feel the pressure of 'women's work' being cooking, laundry, cleaning.  I can get everything done, full-time job, housework, full-time+ of Ph.D. work, but I still feel like I'm clinging to those traditional woman's roles.  I'm hoping my interactions with classmates, discussions, case studies, research - can help me stand up and demand equal rights in the home, but I realize it's up to me.  Unless I start asking for help (which as a woman, I have always had trouble doing - believe I can do everything), I will continue to feel trapped in the gender role into which I was born.