Got home just after 4 PM yesterday and vacuumed the entire house, took out the trash and recycling, and tidied up a bit. Carmen arrived just as I was about to pick up Kelly. I dashed up to Pentagon City while Carmen waited patiently at the new place. When we got back home, we gave Carmen a tour of the new house. Shortly thereafter, Leanna arrived, and finally Jen. Carmen brought us a bottle of wine and Jen came bearing cupcakes from Cakelove. We sat around talking, drinking beer, having a good time. We ordered some pizzas and ate them, and also had some of the cupcakes that Jen brought over. Around 9 PM, everyone headed home. It was a lot of fun. Kelly and I watched another episode of Dexter before heading off for bed. I had some trouble falling asleep, so I went downstairs and read another chapter in The Science of Science Fiction Writing.
Up this morning before 6 AM. Today is Kelly’s Friday off (she gets every other Friday off because she works 9 hour days). That’s a good thing because we have more guests coming in for the weekend. Kelly’s parents should arrive sometime late this afternoon. rubysnina, he11o_sunshine, and stubiebrother get in around 10:30 tonight.
Normally, Friday’s are relatively quiet days in the office. Not today. Somehow, I managed to get wrangled into meetings for the majority of the day. The first one is at 11:30 AM and after that I’m stuck in meetings until 4 PM. Odd for a Friday.
On Friday’s I always review my work calendar for the next week to see just how hectic things are going to be. Here is my calendar for next week. It’s fairly typical:
As usual, Wednesday is the busiest day of the week. But the other days aren’t much better. You may be wondering about a few things, so let me explain:
I display both Pacific and Eastern (SM/DC) time zones on my calendar because 90% of my meetings are with people in the Pacific time zone and I have to keep in mind what time it is there so that I don’t schedule meetings during their lunch hour.
You may notice that I block out my lunch hour. This is because people in the Pacific time zone like to schedule meetings at 9 AM PT, and forget that this is lunch time in Washington, D.C. I like my lunch hour and so this serves as a reminder that I am not automatically available at this time. I also block out the end of my business day in the same way (I go home at 4 PM, which is 1 PM Pacific).
The double-booked meeting on Wednesday is not really a double-booked meeting. It’s due solely to the fact that someone does not know how to update meetings properly in Outlook. I don’t blame them. I hate Outlook, but one does what one can.
Yes, I have two “APT design meetings” on my calendar for next week. Actually, before the end of the day today there will be three. “APT” is my big project at the moment. This project will be ongoing until October 2008.
There are usually several long, boring meetings which have little direct value to me. The one on Monday from 1:30 – 3 PM is one of them. There are also a couple of meetings that I have no idea what they are about. The “InfoShare” meeting on Monday is one example of that.
As you can see, my mornings are usually pretty good. Everyone in Santa Monica is still sleeping. I wish I was still sleeping too.
I’ve been mentioning for a few days that I have a busy schedule today, Friday. Here’s a look at my calendar for Friday, September 7, 2007*:
8-9 AM: Meeting w/Casey on CSC requirements
11-noon: Design meeting #2 for APT project
1-2 PM: Meeting w/pubs on AllBooks/APT integration
2-3 PM: APT steering group meeting
3-3:30 PM: Softball captains/coaches strategy meeting
Okay, looking at it like that it doesn’t look too bad, but it is very unusual for a Friday. (It looks more like a Wednesday.)
We’re doing a Happy Hour after work, but I can’t stay out too late because I have to be up early on Saturday for the softball tournament.
A significant day in my biography for at least two reasons (he says, mysteriously).
Almost 11:30 PM and just home from the Happy Hour after our last softball game of the regular season. We lost. Badly. So badly it was hard to take seriously. We finished with a record of 7-2 which places us 3rd in our division and guarantees us a place in the playoffs on September 8th. After the game we went to an English pub on 13th and Penn and I did my fair share of drinking to celebrate our season.
I had 6-1/2 hours of meetings today. One meeting was 4 hours long! In fact, I had to leave that meeting for an hour and go to another meeting, then come back. I spent the entire morning preparing for the second meeting, and the last meeting of the day, a short half hour number, was postponed until later in the week. Not even time for lunch today. Let’s just say it has been a Long-Ass Day.
Spoke to Doug tonight and he sounded good. I even got to speak briefly to Ruby, who said, in a cheering, voluble voice, “Hi, Uncle Jamie!” How can you resist something like that! I had a message from he11o_sunshine, who I think is back from her trip to L.A. I called her back, but got her voicemail, so I’ll try talking to her tomorrow.
When I got home from work, I had a package from Powell’s Books awaiting me. Two books that I look forward to reading: Robert’s Rules of Writing, which I am exciting to read in conjunction with mabfan‘s series of blog essays called “Robert’s Rules“. I also got Damon Knight’s classic book, Creating Short Fiction, which I am equally eager to read.
But for now, it’s into the shower, and then off to bed, to start all over again 6 hours from now.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
[Written on May 27 and backdated]
We had the second half of our “retreat” Friday morning. Overall, I think it was successful, but time will tell for sure. I had lunch with Derrick and Pam on Friday, which was fun. Our CIO let everyone go home at 3 PM in order to get a head start on the long holiday weekend. Seeing as how I was having dinner with Jim and Janet, however, I stuck around. I got some extra reading on CVS implementations done. We’ve been using CVS at work for some of our revision control, but we are looking at switching to it wholesale so that we only use a single system.
I did have dinner with Jim and Janet tonight. We went to Cezzane and it was very good, as usual. I got back to the hotel room by about 8 PM, packed up all of my stuff and headed off to bed early. I fly to Las Vegas tomorrow morning.
I had the main day of my work-related “retreat” yesterday. We got started at 8 AM sharp and finished up just before 9 PM. I felt like a limp noodle when it was all over. Sitting around in a conference room all day and talking can be extremely draining. We were well-fed, breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it was still a long, tiring day.
We have the second part of our retreat tomorrow (Friday) from 8 AM – noon.
There was some light at the end of the tunnel, however. The Yanks beat the Red Sox to take 2 out of 3 from them in the recent series.
I got back to the hotel at 9 PM, went right to bed and slept in late. I didn’t get up until 6 AM and I skipped the gym this morning.
People trying to call me this week have occasionally expressed their frustration in the fact that I always seem to be in meetings. If they feel frustrated, imagine how I must feel. I change my outgoing message everyday, giving people an idea of when I am going to in meetings. In order to defray some of those frustrations, and add a little humor to the mix, my outgoing message today is as follows:
This is Jamie Rubin on Friday, April 27. I’ll be in the building all day today, however, I have the dubious pleasure of being trapped in meetings all afternoon.
I was tempted to say, “I have the dubious pleasure of being trapped in meetings all afternoon, when I could have been at the dentist enjoying a root canal.” But that may have been taking things too far.
Moments ago, one of the office assistants came up to me in order to schedule a meeting with me next week. We went through the usual dance, and I finally told her any time on May 1, 2, or 3 was fine.
A few minutes later I received an email that said:
How about May 1 at 9 am?
I could simply not resist replying with:
“May-day, may-day, I’ve got a meeting at 9 o’clock, I repeat, I’ve got a meeting at 9 o’clock!”
Fortunately, she thought it was as funny as I did.
Every once in a while, I’m in a good meeting. I was presenting a demonstration of a prototype project meta-data-tracking application to a group of people today and the presentation went well. We started and finished on time and they liked what they saw. It’s a good experience to have a worthwhile meeting every now and then. It makes all of the other meetings almost tolerable.
The meeting for which I have been preparing for the last two days is now over and it went pretty well. I demonstrated the updated application prototype and there were even a few oohs! and ahhs! which is always nice.
This essentially means that I am done for the day (and the week), but I am hanging around here for a happy hour taking place at about 5 PM after work. I don’t plan on drinking very much at this happy hour (still not 100%) but it will be nice to unwind for a little while.
Two and a half work days left before I head for Orlando!
…head! I don’t get headaches very often, but I’ve got a doozy of a headache right now. I attribute it to a ridiculously long and boring meeting that I have to attend in about 10 minutes. It’s one of these meetings where everyone is asked to report on the status of their projects. There are something like 50 projects to get through and rather than treat it as a status update meeting, it gets treated as an opportunity for everyone involved to make their Oscar speeches.
I purposely say as little as I can get away with in these meetings:
MODERATOR: Jamie, so was the funding for APT approved?
MODERATOR: Uh, do you want to give us an update?
ME: Sure. The funding for APT was approved.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of my own voice just as much as they next guy. I just find it annoying that when most people speak in these meetings, you’d think by the tones in their voices that their project was the single most important project in the entire universe, and that the future of all life in the universe was dependent on them saying “a few words” about it.
I’ve entered into one of those busy phases at work where things keep piling on, no matter how much it seems that you get done. In the last couple of weeks, I finished up a significant project only two have two other projects hurled at me, both of which are, of course, on tight deadlines. And naturally, I have to continue with the other projects that I had going. It means that for most of this week, until I strike the right balance, I expect my days to be very fragmented: a few hours on project A, a short meeting on project B, a training session for project C, another hour or so back on project A, etc.
These circumstances make for a stressful time at work, and so I do what I can to counter that. Under these circumstances, I avoid at all costs staying any later than 4 PM. I do not work during lunch; I reclaim that time to have a quick bite to eat, and then spend the rest of the hour reading or napping. I don’t think about work after I go home.
My schedule today is typical for the week thus far:
- My morning is relatively “free”, meaning I can spend the time doing real work, in order to stay up-to-speed on my various projects.
- 11 AM: Code review meeting. For those of you who have never participated in code review, they are hard to describe. The closest I can come is that they are very much like watching grass grow.
- 1:30 PM: An 1-1/2 hour long Application Staff meeting. These can be amusing, but on days when I am this busy, I tend to work through the meeting. (I have the advantage of being the only one in the D.C. office that participates in this meeting and I do so via phone. I can therefore mute my phone while everyone else talks and get some additional work done, at least until I hear my name called.)
- 3:00 PM: Training session: I am leading an hour-long training session for an application I developed and that was moved into production a few weeks ago. I have not prepared for this at all, but that’s what happens when you get this busy. I can improvise so I’ll wing it, but I will be glad when it is all over.
In additional to all of this, our performance review cycle is about to begin, which means I’m going to be asked to do my self-evaluation soon, yet another thing that takes up my ever-diminishing supply of time. At this point, my one anodyne throughout the day are these blog entries, which I squeeze in between stray thoughts of database architecture, web server performance, and search algorithm efficiency.