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paradigm shifts hit the fan

My Management & Organizational Learning class has three required texts:

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
2. The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
3. The Leadership Handbook by Peter Sholtes

While getting my undergraduate degree (a BBA), the 7 Habits was so frequently referenced that I thought I had a stronger familiarity with its principles than I really do. Heck, I've had to do reports on the 7 Habits before, but the book was only ever a reference book, not something that I was required to read cover-to-cover as I am in my current class.  I am pleasantly surprised to really be enjoying this book.  I am typically skeptical of self-help books, probably mostly because my mom was always so obsessed with them and used to give them to me as gifts for my b-day and Christmas, which I always scoffed at with all the rebellion and annoyance a teenage girl directs at her mom. But also, because those self-help books that I have ventured to read have been full of wordy ways to state points I found very obvious and simplistic and frustrated me with its overstated "no shit"-edness. While I was knowledgeable of the 7 Habits in concept, reading through Covey's explanation and connections between them has been both very interesting and very compelling. The 7 habits have become so cliche to any business student, that I am nearly chagrined with how revelational I'm finding them.  I appreciate the way he gives personal and very relatable examples from his life.  It's a book whose next chapter I eagerly await rather than dread.

I am struggling big time with The 5th Discipline. (SPOILER ALERT: it's "systems thinking"). It's as dry as a popcorn fart. I've got a lot of reading to go in that book so I'm trying to keep an open mind, but so far, it seems that what I've read in the first 68 pages could have been summed up pretty succinctly in about 10 pages with no loss in making its point.  The author makes is very clear, repeatedly, that his work is based completely off of the teachings of that old TQM ninja, W. Edward Deming-san. I wonder why no professor of either my undergraduate or graduate classes hasn't just made us read any of Deming's works directly.  I feel as if I've had years of Bible study without ever being told to read the Bible.  I.e., just like being back in catechism at ol' St. Leo's, where I was forced to go for 12 years and cannot recall ever once being asked to crack open the Bible. I took it upon myself to read it - well, at least the New Testament, while I was in college. I do not anticipate taking it upon myself to read Deming, however, just so's we're clear on that.

The Leadership Handbook - eh. I do like the way it's organized and it employs a lot of interesting little stories and anecdotes to help convey concepts.  I've only read 2 chapters so far, so again I need to keep an open mind, but so far all Sholtes has done is shoot down every normal method of managing people I've ever been exposed to in my career. I'm waiting for him to get around to making suggestions on just what we 'leaders' should be doing differently and hope it's not all about telling us how we suck and we've just got it all wrong. I also worry that he isn't going deeply enough into normal human behavior and performance issues. Ok, ok, I get It, and I totally agree that we are all part of a system and organizational problems are symptoms of a troubled system and not directly the fault of its employees - actually I am pretty keenly in agreement with much of that - but let's not discredit the fact that there are some behavioral factors within some employees to contend with as well. I am uncomfortable with how little he's acknowledged that thus far, but, I still have a lot of reading to go.

Ugh. I have been reading too much dry material. This is why I typically read a smutty romance novel at the end of each semester. I needs me a heroine with a lavish name, like Octavia or Raven, who gets swept off her feet by a muscley, poetry-quoting man who is destined to a large inheritance with a fancy title. Pronto, please!

 

Have I mentioned...

...how sick and tired I am of supervising people? Yes. Yes indeed. Oh yes indeed I am.


The holidays have passed since my last post. They were eh.  We had a good time visiting Dave's parents and a good time at the NYE dinner bash at Jim & Mel's, but everything inbetween just seemed sorta boring. I was always just a little too busy to really just enjoy the R&R, but not busy enough with fun things to say that I had that much fun, either. I think the next time I take a staycation like that, I'll need to somewhat plan in advance fun things to do. As it was it felt like I wasted some vaca days for nothing. Eh.

I did, with Dave's help, get our wedding album 98% finished, so that's something to show for my time off. There's 1 more photo that we need a print of, and some day I'd love to go back and add some narration labels to just a couple of pages, but, for now, I'm done and have returned the dining room for its usual purpose; sitting empty and looking pretty while we eat in the living room.

School started this week, the usual 2 classes this semester. Mondays after work I have a lecture, Management and Organizational Learning, meaning I leave my house at 7:30 am and get home at 10:30 pm, tired, hungry, and cranky.  My other class is online, Managerial Accounting.  Both classes have a quiz every week, and the M&O one has a 3 page paper and a shitload of reading to do each week on top of sitting 4 hours in class. MA has online presentations to listen to, graded homework to do, and a shitload of reading weekly, as well as 3 exams, including the 1st one next week, and I haven't even cracked a book yet.  I canNOT wait for school to be over. But I know, I know, lots of people go through this, I should just shut up and stop complaining.  I've already finished 10 classes and just wished that the last 4 classes sound like "not long", but it still seems like an eternity before I'm done. I have lost my steam and it's torturous now.

After this semester, it's looking likely that I'll do my capstone in the spring and then finish up with 1 last required course in the summer that unfortunately wasn't offered this semester or in the spring. It is on the tentative long-term plan for the summer semester, and if they pull it, my head will likely explode, which is just as well, cuz I could not withstand the idea of extending my finish date so I'd probably never graduate anyway. Meanwhile I've NO CLUE what to do for my capstone. Not even the remotest, foggiest idea. Panic is creeping up on me, I can feel it, but I keep pushing it away.

The only exciting news is that Benny finally asked Errin to marry him.  I think he got himself a great girl and am glad he came 'round to marriage. He's had several long term girlfriends but none who compelled him to take the plunge - he's always been very skeptical on the desirability of marriage.  I just hope they try to live together first, but I'm not sure they will with their churchy beliefs.

The rest of this month is busy. Elvis movies this weekend. An out of town get-together with my family next weekend + a paper, an exam, a quiz, and a presentation all due that Monday - not sure how that will work out. A mini reunion with some old HS friends + spouses on the 31st.

That's all. Wow. Boooor - ring. Fuck I miss wedding planning. =-/

 

overdone

$400 spent
+4 days of preparations
+1 trashed house
+3 beer-soaked christmas gifts, along with tree and curtain
+2 raw, scaly hands, cracked and bleeding from cleaning
+68 invited

=19 showed

The math just doesn't add up. We will definitely do some scaling back next year.  Although the crowd that came was great, we just had apparent delusions of grandeur that resulted in some inevitable disappoint.   We're thinking maybe just a smallish, fancy dinner next year.

364 days to think about it.

Greek intersex fictional autobiography joy


I'm reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and I'm totally loving it. 

I had heard about it a while back, just that it was about a hermaphrodite growing up in mid-20th century Detroit.  Ho-hum, the Detroit part sparked a momentary interest, but it quickly died out with other books at hand.  But I was at Borders recently, looking for new reading material and there it was on a shelf. When I saw it had won the Pultizer, my curiousity piqued and I grabbed it on a whim.

I'm a little over a hundred pages in now and I'm totally hooked. The first person narrator starts off telling the immigrant story of his grandparents coming from Asia Minor in the 1920's. He describes how Detroit looked to them, during prohibition and the rise of the auto industry.  I really enjoy how the narrator "talks" to you, the reader. He tells you when he's joking or when he's exaggerating or simply just guessing at his grandparent's history. He jumps back and forth between the 1920's, his childhood, and his present,  yet effortlessly draws parallel synapses between the moments throughout the years .  It flows fluidly and there is no risk to the reader of getting lost or missing his point despite the time discontinuity. It strikes me as a remarkably well thought out plot.  Apparently it took the author nine years to write, so I suppose there was plenty of time for him to think it out thoroughly.

Eugenides is a terrific storyteller, and as always, I'm a sucker for a good story.

Mmmmm.

Victoria's Secret Vanilla Blackberry Bliss products smell just like those chewable vitamin C wafers tasted that my mom used to give me as a kid. I loved those vitamins.

It's odd because I don't really care for vanilla-scented things, and can't say that I've ever found the scent of blackberries to be particulary distinguishable, but together, now there's clearly where the bliss comes in. It's slightly citrusy smelling, very invigorating.

I was given a set of lotion, bath gel, and body spray for my bachelorette party (courtesy of Amy, Michelle, & Mel). Using them has become part of my evening post-shower ritual, my "home perfume". The scent is gone from me by the morning so I'm free to reapply 'real' perfume, but the Vanilla Blackbery Bliss lingers on my pj's and bed linens.  And, unlike my "Brown Sugar Fig" set, another personal favorite, Dave doesn't think it smells like earthworms. Score!

Weekend To-dos:




Not necessarily in this order: 

 

  • Stay in and watch Christmas movies with Dave on Friday night
  • finalize guest list and menu for our Holiday Party and buy everything
  • return the millions of cans and bottles in our garage to help fund said party
  • maybe Noel Night on Saturday. I feel lukewarm on this and I'm not sure why cuz it sounds cool.
  • sign off on all the mountainloads of paperwork that our financial advisor has sent to us
  • have lunch with Kim at the Polish Market on Sunday, buy fresh pierogis and sausage for later use at home
  • start the arduous process of putting photos in wedding album, at long last
  • make list of holiday card-getters, steal from wedding invite list.
  • write holiday letter for this year's cards
  • start filing out holiday cards
  • bake something using almond paste. I bought some and am itching to try it out. Found a yummy sounding recipe for Marzipan Date Nut bars that might win.
  • maybe start Zur, or "Polish Bread Soup", another recipe from Simon's mom. It's what I need the polish sausage for. It takes a couple days to make.
  • panic because I'm still completely idea-less for the holiday party gift, and get a little terrified at the thought of going to a craft store for "inspiration" as attempted last year, which resulted in me calling Dave in tears. I really hate crafts. Craft stores give me anxiety attacks. My mom & Jill are so creative and talented at making beautiful things, but the ability allotment skipped me and I've always felt completely inadequate when it comes to artsy stuff.  I'd like to do something other than food for my gift, but...*sigh*
That's sort of a lot, may not get to it all.  The wedding album I plan to complete during the 12 Glorious Days Off that I have planned for over Christmas & New Year's, so that may need to wait.

Next week I need to get registered for January classes. Ugh. Dread. Yuck. Blech. Shit.

Updates

Had a good/bad week.

I'll start with bad to get it over with: work is crazy busy, stressful, tempers flaring, worked late, etc. Felt sorta-but-not-really crappy all week, like my ole bod couldn't quite decide whether it was really sick or not. I never felt horrible, but I never felt all that well, all stuffed up and tired, always, always tired, and Oh My G.D. Aching Back. This week is going to be more of the same, but at least it's short with the holiday. 

I like happy endings so I'll move on to good.  Got to go to the Madonna show for free, and they were the best seats I've ever had at a big show. One row up from main stage, they were really sweet. Better yet, got to hang out with some girls who I used to work with 8 years ago and only recently reconnected with due to the magic of facebook. They are fun types, like to get their drinkin' & dancin' on. We had met up for drinks a week or two prior and so when Laura scored the 15 freebies, I'm glad I made the cut of those they asked. Probably on the second round, but who cares.  Between my slumber party and this concert it's been super fun to make "new" old friends. Facebook has been cool, except for a couple of freaks who I had to de-friend, but never mind them.

This weekend was also lots of fun. The low key Friday night in was just what the doctor ordered while I was still recovering from the Tuesday night concert. Saturday was errand-running with Dave, got an unbelievable deal on a sweet necklace at Anthropolgie for Mom, whose birthday is on T-giving. Saturday night was JT's birthday and he and I both got a little schnockered, and danced our butts off at Vincente's. He spun me around so much I ceased to be able to tell if it was me or the room spinning. Wee!  Today I met him and some friends of his, and Michelle, for brunch and bloody marys at the Woodbridge Tavern, followed by the IMAX movie about the Great Lakes at the Science Center. The movie was only an hour and hit on a lot of points...how the lakes were made, the threats of pollution, the threats of invasive species, the endangered sturgeons, the repopulation of caribou on some islands, the threats against bald eagles due to toxic fish, and shipwrecks. I just liked being able to lean back and enjoy the view. The scenery was so pretty.  I am always in awe of the natural resources that bless Michigan.

Dave and I made dinner together tonight, Simon's mom's recipe for Polish dill pickle soup that turned out great. I was able to successfully tweak the Polish translations and metric conversions so that it was much better than the last time I made it. We also had pan fried sundried tomato & garlic polenta and a salad with lots of fixings.  We ate it while watching The Savages, which was a tad disappointing, but ok. Overall my favorite way to wind-down the weekend.

Big props to my man all week. He was a trooper with North & South, Twilight, and he even danced with me to some hoochie mama music last night. All while I've been stressed and feeling not-so-good and tired and probably overall not a peach to be around. What a guy. I soooooooooo appreciate that he's willing to do things like that for me.

Now, three days and counting... I am looking forward to seeing my family this weekend. It's been a while and I miss my parents and Jill, so yay! Please please please let there be no drama with my brother. Ugh. My fingers are crossed!

Nov. 15th, 2008

This morning has been a perfect example of my favorite time of the week. I love waking up at leisure, rather than to an alarm clock, and then sit curled up on the couch next to Dave, cuppa joe in my hand, and Max & Eco cuddled up next to us. Dave & I never turn on the TV or the radio. We sit and talk and laugh for a couple of hours like this, until we begin to feel much too lazy and guilty and obligated to do something productive with our day. I treasure these types of mornings soooooo much, because I know they are short-lived. Once I start school again in January I won't be able to ease into my days so luxuriously for several months, and once we have kids, probably never again. So I revel in them now.

My back has been hurting again, consistently, which is a scary sign. Sitting at work, or at the movies last night, or even lying down in bed, it's tough to get comfortable. I squirm around constantly,  trying to find a position that doesn't hurt, and my squirming probably drives Dave a little nuts, although he's sweet not to complain.  I haven't had to have an epidural since shortly before our wedding, and I'm worried that it's heading in that direction again. Kickboxing is really rough on my back, although I try to protect it as much as possible, and think it does do it some good, too, by working the muscles there better than any other exercise I've ever done.  So I booked a therapeutic massage today, which has always been a gazillion times more effective than any physical therapy, but makes me feel a wee bit guilty due to the cost. I sure wish insurance would cover massages here like it does in Europe. Well, in Germany at least. Simon would always go get massages free of charge whenever his back hurt. If I hadn't received a profit sharing check yesterday, I wouldn't feel as if I could afford this.

I got to talk with Jill for over an hour the other night, it's been a long while since we really got to catch up. She and Al are still loving having the kids. She says she feels as if she was born to do this and although it's been tough at times, they've never given it a second thought. They are still being totally let down by the state agency. Their agent/social worker person has continued to lie to them, misleading them through every step. The agent's entire goal is to just get the kids adopted, even if that means pushing Jill & Al into it unethically, from Jill's point of view. While they were once told the entire adoption process would take about 6 months, they are now being told it will be well over a year. The agent dropped off the adoption petition contracts, one for each kid, which were these standard-looking template forms, except that after printing them out, it appeared that she had inserted them into an old-fashioned typewriter and added text to them, all statements to the detriment of Jill & Al, mainly about reducing the state's provision for health care for the kids.  Jill knows they need to hire an attorney and plans to do so before proceeding with the adoption petition, but of course money is an issue. Al's company is not doing well now and so it's now closed one day each week, and 20% of his salary has been cut as a result. And instead of giving all the employees their usual week between Christmas & New Year's off as paid holiday, the company is closing for 2 weeks, everyone unpaid.  So, stress, stress, stress. But she seems to be taking it in stride. Mom & Dad are loving having their new grandkids, and Jill's been sort of in awe of Mom, watching and learning from her with the kids, with a renewed appreciation as a fellow mother, rather than from the point of view as the child. The last few times I've spoken with Mom & Dad, they have sounded happier than they have in years. They both are at their best with kids to focus on, and unfortunately, not when they are just focusing on each other.

Yech. There are several errands I should be running today, but none are critcal and this weather, and the subsequent sinus headache that I've had all week because of it, is not helping with my motivation.

Slumber party

The slumber party with old HS friends was a blast. They all arrived within minutes of each other around 6:30. We talked and drank right up until 3 am.  I had a pitcher of cosmos chilled and waiting, and they brought a ton of booze and snacks too.  Amici's frou-frou pizza and  Rachel's Yucca concoction were the big hits. We just passed it around the Yucca, drinking it out of the giant jar rather than bothering to get glasses for it.

My girlfriends looked and sounded great. Erin doesn't look like she's aged a day from when we were 18.  We actually didn't talk much about old times and instead passed most of the evening telling each other about our lives now and cracking each other up with funny stories about our husbands. Oh, men. They are so darn funny.  Then I totally won the naked tickle fight championship!  ;-) Rematch in 6 months when we hope to get together again.

I am completely tuckered out. Got up at 7:30 am yesterday and busted my bum getting things ready right up until the moment they arrived last night.  In addition to massive in-depth cleaning, dog bathing, and linen overhaul, I prepared an egg casserole to have ready for breakfast this morning and broke down what was left of the bouquet of flowers that Dave had given me for my b-day and put small bunches of them in the living room, dining room, and guest room. I love that, wish we could have flowers around the house like that every day!   They all left around 1:30 today and I've been cleaning all over again ever since then. Drinks had been spilled, food crumbs were on the floor, linens needed to be washed and changed again. Whew!  My back is screaming warnings at me to take it easy now. But it was worth it.  And I finally got to use the fancy martini set that Jill had given me as a house warming present! I take such strange joy in that.

Now it's off to shower, eat leftovers, and watch The Other Boelyn Girl. A great way to round out a happy weekend.