prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
1: Vacuumed and cleaned today, and got to spend all day with that feel-good feeling of a clean house around you. ^_^

2: The weather was stunning today, and I had nowhere better to be than lounging around in it.

3: I truly do have an amazing job.  I enjoy it, it challenges me, and I know I'm making a difference, both for the bottom line of the college where I work and for the students and scientists.  It's the kind of job that people talk about when they say, "If you love what you do, then it never feels like work."  Well...truthfully it does feel like work, but it feels like work you WANT to do, which makes all the difference.  I had a hell of a week this past week, but I knew it was only in passing, and that furthermore a lot of it was due to the overabundance of success in the past couple of weeks, and most importantly that it was WORTH it.

If you're wondering how you get a job like this, incidentally, I got mine by working my butt off for it.  I decided somewhere around 2006, working a job that was already beginning to impact me from long-term stress and unhappiness, that I wasn't going to rest until I got a job and career I loved.  I then spent two years searching for a field that I could both enjoy and make money in, another year and a half preparing and researching for grad school, another two years mining grad school for everything I could get out of it, and finally a year on the job market while I filled my time with short-term freelance work, refusing to settle for positions that sounded only kind of okay.  It took a lot of preparation and a fair amount of luck, and more than once I had months of abject terror and anxiety as I jumped into the void and trusted that I'd land safely.

It was not easy, and I did it because I knew that my long-term happiness and security were at stake.  I am not a person who CAN work in a job I don't love for very long without it impacting my physical health.  It all started with me confronting that and admitting to it, and then deciding what I needed instead.

But listen.  It wasn't ONLY luck.  Those times when I cast myself into the void, it wasn't at random.  I looked at my goal and what it would take to get there.  I lined up the skills and resources I'd need.  I looked at the risks and did things to minimize or survive them as much as possible, lined up as many points in my favor as I could manage, and then sweated through the wait and anxiety attacks to discover the fruits of my work.  A change like this is terrifying.  A goal like this is huge.  But it IS something you can orchestrate.
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
"Of course if they'd teach engineers to write, that might help. "They're engineers, why would they ever need words?" Well, to communicate with other engineers, as it turns out they do not in fact speak solely in a series of grunts. Contrary to popular belief. I know. I was surprised too."
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Everything's falling apart around here today. This is resulting in a day where, despite the fact that I have a whole pile of work to do, I can't do any of it because none of my tools are functional.

And I'm pretty sure I've used that subject line before. Who cares? I love that poem.

I'm so far behind on LJ. I ran off and marinated myself in Fullmetal Alchemist for a week and a half, catching up on the manga storyline (which is almost finished, whooo things have gotten exciting!) and the new anime (which is available for free--if you don't mind English subtitles--and quite legally on FUNimation's official Youtube channel...which by the way also has a whole bunch of other good stuff).

Despite that, at this point the pop culture centers of my brain are mostly occupied by the fact that ONLY TWO SUPERNATURAL EPS LEFT omg. I still remember sitting down with my sister the evening the series premiered and being blown away by how I had never realized how much I wanted this show. We're having a viewing party the night of the finale. It'll be epic, so long as our cable doesn't randomly kick out.

Well, yes, they've signed on for one more season, which according to Robert Singer (the other exec producer) will be returning to the original formula of Monster + Winchesters = Kersplat, along with "brotherly relationship-building" tag. I guess it'll basically be the brothers putting themselves back together after all this.

So in conclusion, hey I'm still alive.
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Oh my GOD these monitors are mind-blowing.

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but our old!equipment was old. Productivity-wise, we've been falling apart at the seams around here for the past year. But! The technology life-cycle was due to come around this year; that magical time that occurs every four or five years when the IT department upgrades and/or switches out every computer in the building to get our technology roughly up-to-date. The standard bulk-buy units, however, are office productivity machines with about the same specs as our current computers, which already curl in on themselves on a regular basis screaming, "No more, no more!"

So I spent the spring hassling our supervisor into hassling the IT department into agreeing to let us buy customized new rigs for the life-cycle. Supervisor even had me spec out the new machines and everything (whee, tech-shopping!), and IT nobly offered to go halfsies on anything we spent above the price for the baseline units. (IT incidentally has become such an impressively functional department since Mairead Martin took over that I'm actually giving her a shout-out in my blog.)

We tore the office apart Wednesday, replaced seven computers, hosted the entire IT tech support staff for two days and fed them chocolate, and at this point it's all over but the cursing and stray driver error messages. Sooooo, we now have monster data-crushing machines with top of the line 24" LED monitors courtesy of EIZO, whose beauty is such that I'm still adjusting to them.
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Today I head off to Yale for my first business conference. Well, technically it might be a tech conference. It's a business tech conference! It marks the beginning of an adventurous time for me, since I have the conference from today till Friday, and then Saturday I attend a baptism a couple of hours away from here, and Sunday the final project for my class is due, for which I am the head writer and still waiting for the rest of my team to get their material to me so I can do my job.

Fun times! To think, a few weeks ago I was looking back and wondering how I managed to get all my work done for my degree. Now I remember!

At any rate, I hear they have some fantastic restaurants in New Haven, and I get to eat on the university's tab!
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Hallelujah, WE HAVE A/C!

Budget Assistant thinks they should come back and climb back into our ceiling in order to turn it on and off whenever she's feeling too cold. In this, at least, she is stymied by the awful power of Office of Physical Plant, who think that's the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard and by the way, no.

For your additional edification:

Me: You should come check out the Tower. This is legendary.
Friend: No thanks, I don't need to experience it. Frodo can go there to destroy the ring.
Me: I don't want to work in Mordor! I don't get along with orcs! We're racial enemies!
Friend: True...but our diversity statement gives you little room.

I told you Lord of the Rings jokes would commence.
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Was in the worst mood I can remember earlier this week. Much dissipated now--possibly due to the almighty cleaning binge that swept the kitchen last night. We had ANTS! Not swarms of them, but the idea offends me. I hadn't been able to give the kitchen a good scrubbing in a few weeks because we were either on the move, out of cleaning supplies, or people wouldn't get out of the kitchen long enough for me to do it. But now that sucker is gleaming!

For another few hours, anyway. Still. Good while it lasts. And it cleared the anger-cobwebs out of my head. No idea why I was so ticked off at the world. It's not really like me. Maybe it's just the stress from things being so crazy lately.

Oh! And speaking of crazy! I'm now working in Guantanamo Bay! That's right. They emptied the prison because they wanted to move it to central Pennsylvania so that we could use it for an office. Our work area, called the Tower (jokes about Isengard or Barad-dur may commence), sits in a little outcropping that protrudes from the top of the building, about 100 feet square with glass on all sides. We've currently got no vent system because they've got the HVAC off in order to remove asbestos from the pipes (heh), and for the last couple of weeks we've had no water because the plumbing has "rotted out" and they have to do a mass replacement (also heh).

This week the weather finally stopped screwing off and settled into the 80s, which means I'm now working in a greenhouse. Only without water.

We're pointedly-not-promised-but-assured-nonetheless that this situation will be remedying itself next week, when they believe water will be restored and theoretically the maintenance guys will be fixing the A/C portion of the HVAC. We shall see.

In the meantime, have another inking attempt.

Don't Get Et Inked
by *Bluesrat on deviantART

I love Etherites. This is Ambrose Quintrell, aka Doc Quantum. I've wanted to color this since I drew it, but I could never get it going with the pencils. Apparently it wanted to be inked, because it's working much better now.

But it's still going slowly, because my sister just bought a PS3 and I keep getting distracted by Assassin's Creed.

I return!

May. 26th, 2009 02:33 pm
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Back from vacation! I'll tell all about it later--my sister's getting the photos up--but in the meantime I'll mention my bemusement at returning to work. Not only is the A/C still off (and last week it finally hit the 80s, so arriving at work was like getting hit face-first with a sauna), but now all the water in the central building is shut off for at least two weeks. This is because--hardly a shock--the workers renovating in the basement discovered that the water pipes have rotted and need to be replaced. But it means that for a minimum of two weeks, any time I want a bathroom, I'll be traipsing down two floors and then over into another wing of the building. What fun!

I can't wait till they get to renovating the west wing and discover that the floors have warped too badly to carry weight and the walls are separating.

Anyway, I discovered another thing. To entertain myself on the train, I took along a bunch of radio plays. Some of them I knew I liked (yay, Shadow and Sherlock Holmes!), while some were nice new discoveries (Jack Benny's still funny, surprise surprise!). But I discovered that The Saint, recorded by Vincent Price, is the best of all of them. This may be because Vincent Price can do no wrong, but generally they're just fun, witty, and bouncy little stories that are still charming and engaging after all these years. To have a listen, follow this link! These old plays are apparently now in the public domain, so help yourself without guilt.
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Like the subject says, I'm looking for recommendations on monitors. We've been using the same 22" CRTs for five years now, not because the library is too cheap to upgrade us but because the LCDs they want to stick us with are small and cheap and not sufficient for our purposes.

We haven't switched to LCDs before because we want at least a 22 inch screen, and at that size, most LCDs begin to suffer color bleed at the edges due to the viewing angles. Also, most LCDs do not feature the depth and range of color that CRTs do.

So what I'm looking for is opinions from anybody who's in art or graphics design, who's going to art school or something like that and can speak on what their place uses, or who keeps an eye on display technology, or just has a really nice rig or knows people who do. We're looking for a 24" display with a wide viewing angle, to avoid color bleed, and a wide color gamut with good blacks. Recommendations, in particular or general. Advice, warnings, opinions, facts to take into account while shopping. I've filled myself in on the current interfaces, so you can assume I know how to deal with DisplayPort or HDMI. (What's really damn sad: the video cards in our current machines don't even offer DVI! But never mind; we'll deal with that as we have to.)

I'm particularly interested in anything anybody can tell me about LED screens (a subset of LCD screens with an LED backlight). They seem to be almost too good to be true. I've noticed a few models are being released this year, and from all accounts, the display is mindblowingly fantastic. Did anybody manage to make it to a trade show to check them out? Are there side-effects? Sacrifices? Particular models to avoid?
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We just got CS4 at work today, and it is both several kinds of awesome and bugger-all.

The library still runs on XP--certain security holes in Vista make it impracticable or something--and, somehow, we apparently don't have Service Pack 3. Which CS4 insists it needs in order to run properly.

X( And it's right. In the past two hours, I've been slammed with four BSODs with the code "Page Fault in Nonpaged Area." Never mind what caused it--I already looked it up, it's easy enough to sort out--but blah! I got to play with Photoshop for about ten minutes before it crashed and it was sweet!

I want a copy of my own. My staff discount actually makes it startlingly affordable...except that I was going to be fiscally conscientious and not blow $200-$300 on things besides my car and vacation this year. :P I keep telling myself, I have a Plan. I'm going to pay down my credit card debt and save up for a new car and for moving.

But I use these programs, and at that price, that suite is a steal, and if I wait till I'm not saving, then I won't be working here anymore, and it'll be $900 like it is for the rest of humanity. :P

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Courtesy of [ profile] x_los: comment to this post and I will give you 5 subjects/things I associate you with. Then post this in your LJ and elaborate on the subjects given.

1) She Blinded Me With Library Science.
2) Office Politics: How A Nice Girl Like You If Forced By Circumstance To Care About The Doings OF Stupid People Like This
3) Reading Fanfic As Literature
4) History/historical fiction in lit
5) Foooodz.

1) She Blinded Me With Library Science.

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!

I stumbled into this job, actually )

But I feel like I should make an effort to target the requestor's (requestrix's?) intent. )
prettyarbitrary: (Default)

Okay, now here's something cool I learned about at work. I know a bunch of you are history buffs, research nuts, writers, genealogy geeks, and you'll all get some use out of it. Accessible Archives

is a full-text database of American periodicals from the 18th and 19th centuries. Newspapers, broadsheets, magazines. Having done some head-first delving through old documents, I can tell you there's nothing better for learning things about olden times--the way people spoke, the things they were interested in, their daily routines, where they went shopping, what they did for entertainment, how they praised insulted each other. It's not a huge database yet, but they're expanding it.

Also, to that I'll add Penn State's own digitized collections. It's mostly Pennsylvania-centric, but still: interesting stuff.
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Which, of course (get your minds out of the gutter, you perverts!) is a term indicating books and libraries worth drooling over.

Now Scanrobot apparently wants you to get your minds back into the gutter.

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*sigh* Our department boss has decided she wants to be more "engaged" in the daily goings-on of the department. The first thing she's noticed is that sometimes we appear to be screwing off rather than working.

We've tried explaining to her that when we're, say, copying 200 GB of data from a hard drive onto the server, it's a bad idea to be doing anything else resource-intensive with the machine because then the data transfer, which is already going to take an hour, will slow down to a glacial crawl. Or when we're scanning 2-foot-wide maps at 600 dpi, the image program will hog all the system resources for minutes at a time and the computer will lock up, preventing us from doing anything significant, which, if you're scanning 100 of the bloody things, means that you're spending most of the day waiting.

Thus we may appear to be doing nothing of consequence when in fact we just can't do other work at the moment. She doesn't see what that has to do with anything, but I don't see what choice she's got. If she'd prefer we not surf the internet, we could always read a book (looks real professional, reading a book while you sit in front of your computer at work obviously paying no attention to it), or sit here like stumps staring blankly out the windows. Sometimes there's other work around the office, but there's only so much that needs to be done around the room, and four bored people to do it, and...well, we finished all that last week while we had no other projects to work on.

:P I knew this would come up eventually when they moved us all up here. Pretty much the only thing we can do is grin and bear it and wait for her to get busy again.

She suggests to our office supervisor that he be present at all times while we're working, to make sure we're not screwing off. Considering she's the one constantly sending him off to take care of things she doesn't have time for, I'd be interested to see how long that would last.
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Well, there he goes. Awesome cookie-baking boss has left for the final time. He's moving to Michigan, where they will pay him more to do the same job for less freaky people. This place seems less cool already.
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Well, how about that.

When you call technical support for a full-blown computer crash&burn, the usual first step they suggest is "unplug it and let it sit for a few minutes." I always assumed this was the obligatory Step 1: Wishful Thinking of computer maintenance. But today I saw it work! I wonder if our technical support will be as surprised as everybody else to hear it.

Yesterday, I bought a laptop! HP has their Pavilion tx2500z (aka their less fancy 12" screen tablet pc model) hugely on sale. I bought mine for $768, including tax, which nets me a 2.GHz AMD X2 processor, 3G Ram, 160GB hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD burner. Free shipping. Acceptable. I'm now in that murky post-consumer realm of shock that I spent $700, that I had $700 to spend, and turmoil over whether this was an unjustifiably hasty impulse buy that makes me a horrible person (never mind that I've been shopping for a tablet pc for two years now because I want it for my art). Am I the only one who does this?

Just finished a Simon R. Green novel (Man with the Golden Torc) about a druidic James Bond, which was rather shallow and terribly good, pulpy fun. It was...well, Mage: the Ascension super-spies. We had Men in Black in secret helicopters, a guy who was everything but called a Virtual Adept straight out (because that's copyrighted), chaos-loving Verbena chick, Jack the Ripper (though probably that's just myMage), and incursions by madness-inducing hyper-dimensional beings from a higher or lower plane of reality. Good times.

Our beloved cookie-baking boss is leaving us! He has taken a job at University of Michigan, and is due to bail out the last week of September. I have until then to drain him of every bit of knowledge I can manage about our programs and projects, because he's pretty much the "the world is exploding, solve this now!" guy, and once he's gone, somebody has to try to keep these degenerate piles of code operating. That won't be our supervisor, who's more the admin type, or our other guy in my position, who's the photography specialist and doesn't do troubleshooting on anything that's not either a camera or a printer. Panic! Chaos! Cramming on XML!

Which, ahem, is why nobody has heard much of me lately. I've been up to my elbows in actual work, which admittedly does feel rather nice. It's good to have a challenge again. I'm setting myself up for workplace exploitation, here, I know. This is the kind of place where they will take every advantage of any skill set you show them, including those that are technically above your pay grade, without ever giving you a raise or even the least kind of consideration for going above and beyond for them; and while oh yes, the increase in pay and ability to actually go to the dentist once a year is lovely, I do not get paid enough to take on the responsibilities of an administrator or supervisor. I am, however, willing to suck this up for a couple of years in return for 1: challenges I can sink my teeth into, 2: some awesome stuff to put on my resume when I'm ready to move on, 3: that lovely lovely tuition discount. Frankly, my skills are not up to snuff for a job beyond my current level (I can teach myself anything technical, but it's the stuff you can only learn through experience that I'm lacking in--project coordination, effective committee work, leadership skills), and I look forward to this giving me what I need.

Oh, the other thing I wanted to publicly mope about: our performing arts venue is hosting the premiere of a concert tour by Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about it until this month, and tickets went on sale in June. Needless to say, they're now sold out. I've been brooding over this since I found out, and now I invite you to lament with me!

Finally: a week till new Supernatural! I'm going to go eat a bagel and see if it makes time move faster.
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I'm told it's "Blog like it's the end of the world day." I would say something about it, except that around here's it's really hard to tell apocalyptic zombies from the zombies we always have.
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The supervisor of our Bindery unit (responsible not so much for actually binding books as for mailing them out to the company that outsources the job for us) is a creature inimical to technology. She's also Sasquatch's destined Forest Bride, for those of you keeping track.

Now, back at the end of October, we held a librarians' conference here at the university, and our department got volunteered to help out with organizing and staffing the thing--namely as AV staff. As I said at the time:

"Anyway, I'll be working A/V tomorrow, and alternately delighting in the chaos and screaming at the ineptitude of our Luddite bindery staff, who for some inexplicable reason our department head decided would be helping in the A/V duties (bindery supervisor managed to jam the blinds in one room through her panicked random button pushing, when no one had asked her to meddle with the blinds at all; God help us if she gets near an actual computer)."

Yesterday, she was given access to our server (which, for obvious reasons, she normally does not have) in order to fill out her section of an inventory spreadsheet detailing all our computer equipment and software. From which she promptly managed to erase all data but hers. And then, in a marauding orgy of random-button-pushing panic, she deleted the backup clearly labeled "DO NOT TOUCH" in that folder. And the backup copies stored in two other folders on the server to protect against the near-inevitable. AND, somehow, the backup that our new employee, apparently needing no more than 15 minutes to take this woman's measure, had cannily decided to save on a completely different server. (Still, he gets points for initiative.)

This only surprised the rest of us in that we hadn't thought she had enough grasp of computers to navigate to all those locations in order to lay her destroying touch upon the documents. The head of our department attempted to protect the Forest Bride's good name by insisting that the perpetrator remain anonymous, but she gave that up for a lost cause since the overwhelming response was, "...It was her, wasn't it."
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Oh, indeed it is. Monday, we had temperatures in the -20s (that's about -30 C)--fun to walk to work in. Tuesday, we got about 6 inches of snow that the road crews utterly failed to clean up. Which was just as well, because today we're getting a good old-fashioned ice storm.

Why am I at work, you ask? Because I'm stupid. Well, no, I'm here mainly because my roommates needed someone to test the situation, and also because we're just about out of toilet paper and I had to walk into town anyway to get more. Because driving certainly isn't happening.

Oh! That reminds me of another one for the meme:

1: When you ask me specific questions, like "What do you want for your birthday?" or "What movies would you like to see?" or "Name seven unusual facts about yourself", the answers tend to fly right out of my head.

2: I have the mysterious ability to walk across anything, no matter how slippery it is, without falling. I once towed a friend of mine across campus over two inches of wet ice after he found himself trapped on a sidewalk with no way to get traction. Another time, I had to stand in a puddle of spilled motor oil in order to pick up my motorcycle after it fell over.

3-7: I'm working on it!

In other news, I spent yesterday afternoon rescuing books from a burst pipe in our Earth & Mineral Sciences library. That was exciting: the EMS library is in a different building elsewhere on campus (in the EMS lab building, actually, which makes sense), so we got to trudge though the snowstorm I mentioned (which, really, yay! Trudging through vigorous snowstorms is not a punishment for me) and then spend a few hours wrapping paper towels around damp books, page by page.

This, by the way, is called interleaving. It keeps the moisture from wicking throughout the book, of course, and lets the paper towels absorb some of the water from the book so it dries faster. But more importantly, it's absolutely essential when you're dealing with wet glossy paper to keep the pages from touching. Glossy paper is an effect created by coating paper with a thin glaze of fine clay. If it gets wet, the clay clumps to itself, as clay does, and f you let the paper dry that way, the clay will cement to itself like glue, and your book will be permanently ruined. At that point, there's no way to get the pages apart without tearing them. So you have to interleave the pages to keep the book from being wrecked.

This I mention for the benefit of the bibliophiles on my f-list who may someday find the information useful. Another tidbit: if you're dealing with a completely soaked book that doesn't have glossy paper, throw it in your freezer and leave it there for a few months. Don't wrap it or put it in a baggie, because that'll be counterproductive. Just toss the bugger right in there. The faster the better: if you're able to freeze it before the pages start wrinkling, then after the water sublimates from the paper over several weeks, you should pull it out to find it quite dry with minimal distortion.
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I sat at the kitchen table this morning talking with the male half of my married roommates about all the crud they've dealt with recently. He'd just finished talking about how relieved he'll be to wrap up his brother's estate this weekend (he died just after Christmas), and was explaining that his wife has been high-strung lately because the day before his birthday (end of the month) will be a year since her miscarriage. "That's why she's been so upset," he commented, pushing his glasses up his nose.

And then they snapped in half and fell off his face.

I had the sort of feeling that's normally reserved for frightened animals in need of help.

My sister and I have been doing our best to cheer up the hapless duo: we've cooked special meals, run errands for them so they can sit down and breathe, dedicated "screw off" time so they can blow off steam (often requiring elaborate staging for optimal temptation to relax), indulging their personal obsessions more than usual (you know how it is; we all have that one thing that we love but everybody else gets sick of hearing us go on about). Whatever works. We're good at taking care of people in my family.

But now I find it's apparently contagious. I just discovered that for the past week and a half since our printer's network card died and got replaced, everything I've been trying and failing to print has in fact been traveling across the building and printing out on the printer for his unit, which might I add is on a completely different branch of the network and I don't even have the network drivers for that machine. So yeah. Apparently somebody kicked a gypsy. Please god, don't let me be unknowingly spamming the whole system.


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October 2015

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