Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SketchUp: my new nemesis

Meet my many dormer windows.

I'm trying to learn Google Sketchup, since I think it will help me with my work.  I figured that with lots of practice, then given in about 6 months, I should be able to do basic illustrations for proposed projects at work.  I signed up for an online SketchUp class and was feeling pretty optimistic about my abilities to learn and master this new tool (with lots of practice, of course), almost all the way through the first lesson.  Then, at about 80% through the lesson, the instructor demonstrated how to create a component--in this case, a dormer window--and add it to a house we had already created earlier in the lesson.  We created a window, made it a component, and then (basically) pasted the window onto the other side of the house.  Well, of course, since it was created on the other side, when we paste it, it faces the wrong way, and we needed to rotate the windows so they faced out instead of in.  My windows wouldn't rotate properly, to start with.  It took me about an hour to figure out how to rotate objects.  To be clear, I can see what I'm supposed to be doing, but I can't seem to do it, and I know it's operator error, which is very frustrating.  I finally got the window facing the right way, but when I add it to the roof, it just sinks right into the building.  I've tried changing the axes, I've tried creating a new version of the component that will glue to any surface, I've read several different help pages and watched a video from a different instructor, and still no luck.  And even if you don't know anything about Sketchup and don't know what all these terms mean, let me break it down for you:  there's a task in a drawing/modeling program that is supposed to be very simple, and everyone else on the planet seems to be able to do it, and I can't figure it out, and I feel like an idiot.  But I will triumph.  It might just take me a liiiiiitttle bit longer than I'd planned.  Maybe about 8 years.

Anyone have any ideas how to make my windows work?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Anipang-motivated Gift-Giving

Some years ago, when I lived near Deals, I expressed an interest in taking up running (again).  Deals seemed excited about the idea.  I’m not sure if it was because she would have someone to run with or because I was finally going to stop talking about exercising and really do something, but in either case, she wanted to eliminate any obstacles in my path to physical fitness.  So when I put off buying running shoes because of the expense, she threatened, er, offered, to buy me a pair shoes.  Deals seemed rather serious about buying them, so I went out and bought some, toute de suite, just to keep her from buying them.  Not to be deterred from spending her hard-earned money on someone who didn’t deserve it, she bought me an Ipod shuffle instead.

That shuffle has had a lot of use over the years, and although very little of it has involved playing music while I work out, thanks to Deals, it was at least an option.  It was so kind of Deals to help me out in my efforts to get in shape, and I was really touched by her thoughtfulness. 

I told you that story as an introduction to another one about friends being kind and giving me things, this time involving not exercise, but games.  M.J. recently sent a link to JLR and me for a mobile phone version of a game called Anipang.  You may have heard of Anipang; if you haven’t, you probably soon will, because it is one of those things that spreads.  JLR had already heard of Anipang before M.J. sent us the link to download it, and what she had heard is that this game—like many mobile phone games, apparently—is rather addictive.  And as it turns out, what she had heard was correct.  JLR now plays it frequently.   

This is the kind of thing that leads stories about government workers being unproductive.

As it also turns out, my mobile phone won’t play Anipang, the phone being too old to handle the latest gaming opportunities.  When I mentioned this to M.J., she immediately said she would send me her old cell phone, since it might be able to work.  I said that was so sweet of her, but why not take some time to think about it before sending away her backup cell phone.  No, she said, she has a working cell phone, and that’s all she needs, and as soon as she downloads all the pictures, she would mail it to me.

Now, this is not like when I worked swing shift in the job I had right after college, and I drove home from work at 10 or 11 at night, so my mom gave me her old cell phone for safety reasons, so I wouldn’t be phone-less if my car broke down.  No, M.J. is sending me her old cell phone so I can play a game.  And it’s not even like I’m comfortable playing Anipang, since the permissions you have to give them basically let them track everything you do on your cell phone.  So I should have told her “no, but thank you” on her offer, but I didn’t.  Because, you see, I have played Anipang, and I would like to play more, and I don't want to be dependent on JLR letting me use up some of her pangs or hearts or whatever it is (I don't even understand it, and I can't stop playing it!).  Come to think of it, I understand now why M.J. wants me to have that phone.  Once a person is addicted to something, she wants everyone else to be addicted to it, too, right?  So that you all suffer together?

And on that note, here's a song for you:

Yes, that video is what you think it is.  


Monday, January 14, 2013

Personality Profiles at Work

Today, our HR department sent out a link to Myers Briggs tests we were supposed to take today so we can discuss the results in our department head meeting tomorrow.  It's been years since I first took a Myers Briggs test, and I used to think it was a nifty way of figuring out people and how to communicate with each other.  Recently, though, I've read about how unreliable and unproven they are, and how they shouldn't really be used in hiring or career-placement decisions.  The Powers That Be at my office are not likely to use personality profiles as a basis for employee advancement and retention, so I'm not really worried about their finding out I'm an introvert trying to make do in an extrovert's job.  They probably know all about my being an introvert already, just like They already know about my keen ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time ("This one is not destined for a lengthy career in public service," They must say to each other).  What I'm worried about is that They might figure out just how much, really, I am unsuited for my job.  Even if Myers Briggs is generally inaccurate (and I have no way of knowing if it is), the results from my taking their test did hone in on a few key characteristics.

(1)  I'm not deadline-oriented. 
(2)  I'm not detail-oriented.  I hate worrying about details, and I often miss little things with major importance.
(3)  I'm an introvert (as mentioned above).
(4)  I like to spend my time coming up with new ways of doing things, or ways to improve existing processes, and then leave the implementaiton of those new ideas to someone else.  [Question: who *wouldn't* prefer to come up with the ideas and leave implementation to someone else?  Isn't coming up with ideas the fun part of any project?]
(5)  I don't like conflict.

Here are a few characteristics about my job:
(1)  Deadlines are very, very important.  By law, I have to put notices in newspapers, send out letters, post agendas, and post signs on a regular basis, all by very strict deadlines, or we can't move forward with a project when we're supposed to do so.  We have had to cancel public hearings because I've missed these deadlines.
(2)  Details are very, very important.  Accidentally leave out one important detail in the aforementioned notices, letters, agendas, etc., and we can't move forward with a project when we're supposed to do so.
(3)  Introverts lose energy by spending a lot of time around a lot of people, and I work in the public sector.  People drop by unexpectedly, my phone rings and I'm supposed to answer it, and other things that drain my energy because they involve dealing with people are part of my job on a day-to-day basis.
(4)  My boss hires consultants to do the creative part of my job and leaves me to do the implementation, with all the details and deadlines included.
(5)  Conflict?  I work for local government.  My work involves telling people what they can and cannot do with their property.  My work involves reviewing cases for natural gas permits.  My work involves telling people why part their property is being taken for right-of-way for a new road that someone else decided we needed, but I happened to be the person they could find, so I'm the one who gets an earfull.  Conflict is a regular part of work in local government.  No matter what decision we make, someone is going to be unhappy, and some of these people are at the come-down-to-the-office-and-yell-at-someone level of unhappiness.

Fortunately, I've restructured my life to fit my job--everything, every little task goes into a To Do list program, everything gets broken down into mini-tasks with due dates, everything gets a calendar reminder and a checklist.  Everything goes by the rules.  So when I took the Myers Briggs test, it spat back at me the personality description that does fit my job, except for the introvert part.  Now that I think about it, maybe I don't have to worry about the discussion after all.  I may be completely unsuited for my job, but no one needs to know...unless I open my big mouth and say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  But They're used to that.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Absolutely Nothing to Report

This is one of those days when I wish I used my blog like an old-fashioned journal, where one simply wrote entries like, "Sunny today, warmer.  Went to grocery store with JLR.  New soup recipe for lunch, not bad."  And so on.

You see, I have absolutely nothing interesting to report.  Not even any incidents.  I must not be as clumsy or as socially awkward as I used to be...on second thought, it must just be that I don't remember the clumsiness or awkwardness.  Surely I would notice if I had become more graceful?  Anyhow, I don't have any incidents to report, unless having a horribly dirty car counts.  I tried to get a gas station car wash the other day, but the pay-with-credit-card option was broken, and I didn't want to go into the store to pay for it, as lately it has been quite cold and, okay, the real reason is because I'm lazy.  I don't have the heart to take my car to a fancy car wash because the old thing looks so terrible these days. The paint is fading, and the head liner is starting to tear and sag, but the car still runs so well, I don't have the heart to buy a new one.  Plus, I like not having a car note.  Makes me feel more organized and thrifty and financially responsible (I am none of those things).

So my car is horribly, horribly dirty.

In other news, my nose is peeling, which is as unattractive as it sounds.  But on the plus side, peeling, irritated noses are a normal sight for winter, so I don't think people will stare and point.

That's it for me for now.

Happy New Year!