Friday, June 7, 2013

A Lull

Things at work still seem to be feast or famine, and I'm taking advantage of a little lull today to try and catch up here. I'm still learning, and I'm still asking for additional training/guidance/instruction on the same things as I was a month ago. It's frustrating.

On the up side, my superiors are now acknowledging the requests and the fact that they have been lacking in providing the direction and resources. So, yea.

My latest frustration has been discovering that there seems to be no standard process documentation, either that or there is too much documentation. I like to have a main overview checklist, with milestones and responsibilities clearly laid out—Do X, then hand it off to Dave and proceed with Y. Even better if it includes a time frame—X should take about 6 hours.

I like to save the really detailed documentation for procedure—To complete X, step 1, step 2, step 3, ... I usually only need the heavily detailed things when I'm learning something new, once I learn the procedure it is nice to have the reference but I don't usually need on a day-to-day basis. But I do still need the overview milestones and it is frustrating when the two types of documentation are combined as one; it just means I have to repeatedly sift through unhelpful information to find what I need.

So I have begun creating the documentation I want, sharing it with my boss, and pointing out the holes that still need to be filled with training. I am good at distilling a massive amount of instruction down to the main points.

As of yesterday, I've also been given more direction on how my position will grow within the company and how it will intersect with other departments—I will be the conduit between the clients and the Solution Center, educating the client on our workflow and how they can expect to interact with us during production, and facilitating getting price quotes and SOWs to include what the clients' need.

And again, there does not seem to be a standard process, each sales rep seems go go about it in a different way, and the price quotes they get from the Solution Center all seem to be structured differently. I don't mean to say I think it should be a soulless process, but there should be some standardization. And they should be able to tell me what information I need to gather from the client in order for them to produce an accurate quote.

Additionally, Four of the six clients I'm working with have asked for guidelines for multimedia assets—what resolution should images be, what audio format to use, maximum files size—and each time the sales rep has written the information in an email, and not all of them are saying the same things.

So this week I created a one-sheet table for asset specifications by ebook platform and had each of the tech teams sign off on the accuracy of the guidelines. And someone said, "Wow, that would be a really good resource for the sales reps to have and provide to clients."

Ya' think?

Oh, I don't mean to grouse so much, especially since you don't hear from me that often these days. I do still like the job and find it challenging, in a good way. Sometimes I wonder how they decide which titles to assign to whom. Some of my most recent assignments have included a book for getting organized (I lost track of an assignment and had turned it in late just before getting that assignment), a guide for wine lovers (maybe I'm mentioning having a glass too often on Facebook), a guide for hosting dinner parties (posts about supper club), an encyclopedia of trees and shrubs (posts about gardening), but I have no plausible rationale as to why I was assigned 3 OBGYN titles and an anesthesiology title.

Speaking of medical things, I am happy to say my migraine has not come back today. (Knock on wood.) I began getting migraine auras last Friday off and on. Monday night was miserable and I could be found either huddled and whimpering in bed, or hanging my head over the toilet. Even though the excruciating part passed by Tuesday, I was still getting auras and would have hours where I could not see or write, so Thursday I went in to the doctor's office and got a Toradol shot. The pressure on my head was gone after about 20 minutes and I've been aura-free for 24 hours! Woot!

So, last time I wrote I promised to share our front yard project. We got way more yard than we bargained for when we built the house, and Scoob does not like to mow it. Or water it. Or weed it. So we thought we would make a few adjustments and reduce the amount of lawn we have to deal with. Scoob and I have been talking about doing this for a while, and in April we got to work expanding the planting beds in the front yard.

The before.

The area around each of two trees was expanded 3 feet all around.

We expanded this flowerbed by about 4 feet so we no longer have to mow around that water box.

Scoob cut out a 3 foot strip along side the walk to the front door.

We topped off the existing planting beds and the newly expanded areas with hardwood mulch, and added some clay breaker and compost to the new areas to help condition the soil. We've planted a few things along the front walk, but the other areas are still empty. Money is still tight as Scoob is getting his business up and running and we have more important priorities.

I'll have to get some daylight pictures of the walkway with the plants, but it's been raining here for the last few days, and it is forecast to keep right on raining for the next 4, so I'm not sure when that will be.

I added solar powered path lighting and I love it.

I got 10 of these little solar-powered path lights back in February. We've known we wanted to add the lights since we moved in, so I finally bit the bullet and bought them. Easily worth the $30 I spent. I enjoy hanging out on the front porch in the evenings and watching them flick on one by one. Yes, we have an exciting life.

Our new walkway to the garden boxes.

I got the inspiration for this DIY walkway from Pinterest and this path made from a recycled wood pallet. Scoob wasn't too excited about it at first because if felt too Asian-inspired for his liking and because he wants a flagstone walkway. We had a realistic conversation about what we could afford to do and we knew we needed to make the path a more permanent fixture if we didn't want the forest to keep trying to reclaim the path.

(I really wanted to try pouring concrete to try to get this look:)

(But that may have been a bit ambitious for us.) As luck would have it, one of our neighbors needed to lay down some sod, and they had all these left over 2 x 6 boards from foundation molds. So we traded them our ripped up sod for their boards. I think the wider boards sort of give me the look I wanted from the concrete pavers.

Scoob cut the boards to 3 foot lengths, weatherproofed them, and gave them a termite treatment. We then worked to level out the area, laid down some weed cloth, spread out some sand, placed the boards, which Scoob then anchored in place with some big spike nails, then added some pea gravel and hardwood mulch along the edges.

I think it looks great!

We're now making a similar pathway along the side yard near the kitchen. Eventually we'll cut out another 4 foot swath of sod from the front steps to the end of the front yard and add a walkway there, too. Eventually the boards will rot out. Maybe by then we'll be able to afford the stone, but until then, I think this looks great and does exactly what we need it to do. I love that we did it ourselves and it doesn't look like a cookie-cutter walkway.

(You do know when I say "we" and "ourselves" I really mean "he" and "himself," right?)